Time in the Scriptures
Pray: Ask God for strength and courage when the world threatens us.
Often the world tempts us to abandon God’s call. Today’s reading is in the context of the conquest of Judah prophesied by Jeremiah (in yesterday’s reading). God called to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with the blessings of the Persian emperor. The work is almost completed, when:
Read: Nehemiah 6:1-13
Some enemies of Nehemiah’s work try to distract him with political fears. They work further intrigue and hire a prophet to frighten Nehemiah. Shemiah urges Nehemiah to run to the temple for sanctuary, so that his political foes will not be able to kill him. Do you think Nehemiah’s responses reveal faith? courage? folly?
Jesus warned his disciples that, when they acted upon his words and publicly carried out his mission, they would be persecuted. Do you think this is true today? Why or why not?
Most people consider Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be a man of great courage. On the flip side, someone who jumps off a tall building and expects God to protect them at the bottom is acting with folly. How do you tell the difference in your own life – how do you know when to act in spite of danger, and when to run from danger?
Nehemiah does not back down. He recognizes that God is not behind everything that happens (verse 12), but that sometimes evil agents are at work. Ultimately Nehemiah’s faith in God is stronger than his fear of the power of evil. How strong is your faith? What kinds of evil are you able to stand up against?
Spend time in prayer for people working with courage in the midst of great danger.
Caring through Action
Support a humanitarian agency working in or near Ukraine. One way to help is through the United Methodist Committee on Relief on the ground in Ukraine: https://umcmission.org/umcor/how-to-assist-the-ukrainian-people/.