Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Cure for Loneliness

For Christians, Easter Sunday is actually Resurrection Sunday. Although for the world the Easter celebration is just fun and games, true Christians are not focused on those things. Actually Christians are celebrating Christ’s resurrection from His death that occurred on the cross many years ago, and are not celebrating some cute little Easter bunny and his basket of eggs. Christians are also celebrating the fact that Christ conquered eternal death for all of us through His resurrection from the grave. For God has told us that “… the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.– (Romans 6: 23. NASB)

The Wages of sin is death? Yes! In fact, the wages of our sins means that we will pay with our lives for the sins that we have committed. But so many people do not think that they have ever sinned. They believe that they are basically good, and that may indeed be true. However, it does not matter how good we think that we are, because the fact is that we are all sinners. Furthermore, our sins start at birth, for we are all born into a body that commits sin and into a world that promotes sin in every area of our lives. So, no matter how small the sin, our sins have earned us death. But, Christ’s resurrection offers us the chance to escape eternal death. In fact, Christ paid for our sins by dying on the cross for everyone's sins so that we would not have to pay for them. He paid the price and then arose from the grave conquering the eternal death that comes as a result of our sins.

Everyone knows that they will physically die someday. However, there is also a second death, which is actually a spiritual death. This second spiritual death is an eternal death, if we do not ask Christ into our hearts before we die our physical death here on earth. For, it is only through Christ that we can receive eternal life. Moreover, each person will either pay for their own sins in eternal hell, forfeiting eternal life, or they can through their trust in and faith in Jesus Christ receive eternal life. Furthermore, all the good works you have done here on earth will not offset your sins nor will good works earn you a place in heaven. Your only hope for eternal life is to receive God’s free gift of love and mercy that was purchased for you through God's Son, i.e. Jesus Christ. It was paid through Christ's death and resurrection from the cross.

God's Abundant Love versus Loneliness

Resurrection Sunday is also the story of God’s abundant love. A love so great that no one ever has to feel alone and unloved again. For, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to give all people a way to have a loving personal relationship with God and to have Eternal life through God’s loving forgiveness of their sins. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its names, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” – (Ephesians 3:14-19. NASB).

How many of you have ever experienced utter loneliness even when you were in a crowd of people or had friends surrounding you? There is definitely a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Certainly most people have experienced both at one time or another. But, to help us understand the difference between the two, we need to understand that God created us to be in relationships with other people, but more importantly to be in a relationship with Him and His Son. God knew that relationships with other people would keep us from being alone. But, only a relationship with God and Christ can keep us from feeling lonely. However, until we trust in and believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will always feel that there is a empty place or something missing in our lives. For, even when we are having momentary happiness and fun, at the end of it all there is still no joy in our lives and we are still lonely.

The reason for this loneliness is that you do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Yes, you can have many friends, but they will not get rid of that empty lonely feeling that you get when you have time to think about your life. But, with Christ in your heart, you will never be lonely again. Certainly, there is no doubt that Christ changes your life, as He not only cleanses you of all your sins, but He also gives you His Holy Spirit who walks with you always. With Christ and the Holy Spirit you are never alone again. So, to never have to experience soul loneliness again, ask Christ to come into your heart and to cleanse you from all your sins. Then you can “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” and you can “be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

He is Risen

While Jesus was on the earth, many people would believe on Jesus and accept His gift of forgiveness and love, as they actually saw him lovingly perform miracles to help people. Many even saw Jesus Christ raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet others only believed in Christ after they saw Him alive again and walking among them three days after He had been pronounced dead and buried. Indeed, Christ had been resurrected! Because they saw Him with their own eyes, they believed that He was the Christ, the Son of God who was now alive after He had been dead. Still there were others, though, who did not actually get to see Him alive with their own eyes, and so they refused to believe. But, just because they didn’t see Him alive again didn’t change the fact that it was Resurrection Sunday and Christ was no longer in the grave; indeed, He is Risen.

Even some of those, though, who believed that Christ was the Son of God and who saw with their own eyes Christ crucified, could not get their minds around Jesus Christ coming back to life, even though Jesus had told them that He would live again. “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” But, on that Sunday morning when some of His followers went to the tomb, Christ was not in the tomb. “So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping, and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb: and she saw two angels in white sitting one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’”

Suddenly Mary turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But at first she did not know that it was Jesus standing there. Then “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ (Then) Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.– (John 20: 9-18. NASB)
Yet, even when Mary reported to Christ’s followers and His disciples that she had seen the risen Christ, there were those who refused to believe. Even Peter and John had to run to the tomb to see for themselves that Christ was not there. Later, Christ would appear to all the disciples and to many others within the next three weeks. In fact, Christ was seen by many other people besides His disciples and friends, for the Apostle Paul tells us that “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, …– (I Corinthians 15: 6. NASB). So, word spread quickly that Christ had arisen from the grave, and many believed in Him.

The Cover-up

Many of those in power positions, though, refused to believe Jesus was the Christ. Initially they had feared that their earthly power was going to be taken from them by this man called Jesus. He just had too many followers, which made them think that this Jesus might try to usurp their authority. So, in order to protect their power structure, they believed that the status quo with them in authority was better than believing that Christ is the Son of God. Even though many of these men and women in power were emotionally lonely and emotionally tired, they at least had power in a world that is run by those who have power. As a result, they chose to accept the emotional loneliness and sins of their lives over God’s loving and cleansing gift of mercy by refusing to allow the love of God to be bestowed upon them through belief in Christ the Son. So, when word came that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, they denounced His resurrection as false; telling each other and any who would listen that it was a hoax.

The Sadducees, Pharisee, politicians, Roman governors, and King Herod did not know what to expect next. It couldn’t possibly be true that Christ had really risen from the grave; could it? Even if He arose, they couldn’t let themselves believe that Jesus was the Christ, because if He was, that meant they had maliciously crucified the Son of God. If He was the Son of God, could they now expect the wrath of God to come upon themselves? Certainly they knew that long ago God’s wrath had come down upon Pharaoh when God punished him after he had reneged on his promise to let the Israelites go. The wrath of God came down on Pharaoh after Pharaoh and his men tried to follow the Israelites through the Red Sea to capture or kill them. However, instead of Pharaoh and his men capturing and killing the Israelites, God sent the sea water back over the Egyptian army drowning all of them. But receiving the type of wrath and punishment that Pharaoh had received did not scare the Pharisees as much as the Jewish people believing that Jesus was the risen Son of God. How could they control a people who believed in Christ's resurrection. Decidedly, those in power believed they needed to nip in the bud those stories of a risen Christ before things got out of hand, and before the Roman government decided to come in with martial law.

 Certainly, the Jewish leaders and Roman governor needed to do something quickly, as many people were now reporting that they had seen Jesus alive. The only recourse of those politicians, Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and others who had crucified Jesus, was to now try to cover up His resurrection. But a cover-up was not going to be easy.
The reason that a cover-up would not be easy is because the truth of the situation could not be refuted – Christ is alive. In fact, there is undeniable proof that Christ arose from death, i.e. that the resurrection really took place, for Christ’s resurrection has the power to transform each of our lives. It is in that transformation of our lives that we know that Christ is alive. Certainly, there were many whose lives were transformed when they believed in and trusted Christ as their personal Savior. There have been many more down through the centuries who have been transformed because they have believed in and trusted Christ. The changed lives were the proof of Christ’s resurrection and love. No cover-up could change the fact that millions of people have been given eternal life and a cleansed life through Christ the Lord.

Transformed Lives

Why are our lives transformed?  Well, God gave the world the greatest gift of love that He could give us. “… God gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – (John 3: 16. NASB).  Eternal life is exactly what those who believe in Christ receive the moment they repent of their sins and ask Christ to come into their heart. In other words, the proof of Christ’s resurrection is within each person’s heart; a heart that believes in Christ as the Risen Lord. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit gives us proof that Christ arose from the grave and has now transformed the lives of those who have believed in and trusted Him. 

You may ask, what kind of proof do you really have that Christ arose from the grave?  Well, the proof that Christ arose from the grave could first be seen in the eyes of those who saw Christ firsthand after He arose. But, the proof of His resurrection is also recorded in the Bible by those who saw the heavy stone rolled away and an empty tomb. Later, the proof of Christ’s resurrection can be seen from the experiences that Christ’s disciples had with Jesus Christ, which were recorded before He was translated back to Heaven to be with His Father. The proof, too, can be found in the historical records of the frantic search conducted by the authorities for Christ’s body; a body that could not be found. Further proof is in the testimonies of those five to six hundred people who saw Christ alive. But the greatest proof of Christ’s resurrection from death and the grave is found in the hearts of all those who have personally met Christ through their Salvation.

Throughout the centuries, unbelieving people have asked Christians, i.e. those who have asked Christ into their heart, how they know that they have not been duped by the resurrection?  How do we know that Christ is alive? Well, it is very simple. No matter how the Pharisees, Sadducees, etc., tried to cover up the Truth of the Resurrection, there was one thing they could not account for. They could not account for the transformation that takes place in the life of one who truly believes in and asks Christ into their heart.

The love that God sent to us through His Son is an all-encompassing love that permeates every cell in our body and transforming us once we ask Christ into our heart. No longer are we to be afraid of this world and what it can or might do to us. No longer do we feel alone, i.e. no longer does a “Saved” person experience the kind of loneliness that can’t be eradicated with sex or a spouse or eradicated through friends and parties. For those who are “Saved”, i.e. those who have believed in and trusted Christ as the Risen Son of God, Christ now lives in their heart. There is no longer any loneliness to be found in the hearts of those who have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for He is always with us. That is because Christ sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of each “Saved” person. So, instead of being totally alone, those who have repented of their sins and asked Christ to come into their heart are now secure in not only who they are, but they are also secure in Who they belong to, and secure in His love for them.

What the Sadducees, Pharisees, government officials and Scribes failed to understand was, that try as they might, they could not get rid of the people’s belief in Christ. So no amount of trying to discredit Jesus Christ could change believer’s minds that Christ was alive. These unbelievers and naysayers also forgot to take into account that God is all powerful and can do anything, including bring His only Son back to life. Furthermore, the naysayers could not account for Christ sending His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who repented of their Sins and believed on Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit transforms people. In addition, these hypocrites and politicians did not understand that no one can discredit the Holy Spirit Who lives within each “born-again” Christian. For, try as the devil may, every true “born-again” Christian knows that She Knows that She knows that Christ arose from the dead and that He lives in her heart, assuring her that she has an Eternal Home with God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is proof that Christ is alive.

A Spiritual War Against the False Teaching of the Devil

This assurance means that those who believe on Christ can and do have their sins forgiven, and they will get to spend Eternity in Heaven with God. However, at the same time that many are “Saved” with the assurance of a living Christ and the assurance that they will be in Eternity with Him, there is also a spiritual war going on for the souls of man. But the one doing the warring is the devil who constantly tries to keep people from believing on Christ and from asking Christ to come into their heart. The devil hates mankind because we are in the image of God, and the devil hates God. Therefore, the devil wants as many people has he can get to not believe on Christ. Sadly, those who don’t believe in Christ and His resurrection will go to Hell when they physically die. Their punishment will be total separation from God and separation from His love. Can you imagine living without love of any kind? Well, that is exactly what the devil wants for mankind. I don’t know about you, but I believe in Christ as the Son of God who came to earth to give His life for my sins, so that I can, in believing on Him, spend Eternity with God.

The only way to battle against the Devil is to put on the Armor of God, starting with the Helmet of Salvation. Once you have the Helmet of Salvation then you can add the rest of God's armor to protect you from the slings and arrows of the devil. The Apostle Paul describes God's Armor this way: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth, and having put oh the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace: in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." -- (Ephesians 6: 13-18. NASB)

We all need the armor of God in order to battle the false teachings of the devil. If you are not yet "Saved", I encourage you to reach out to Christ and in repentance of your sins, ask Him to come into your heart and forgive you of all your sins. Then, you will no longer have to deal with all the world's issues alone. Just as importantly, you will never be lonely again. Furthermore, with your Salvation you will be assured of an eternal life with God.

True Love

On this Resurrection Sunday, stop and ask yourself if you have a loving personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. I hope you can say in your heart of hearts that you have received the assurance of an Eternity with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for then you are indeed “Saved”. Do you feel that no matter where you are in the world, that you are never alone because you have Christ and the Holy Spirit in your heart?  If you cannot say that you have the comfort of the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you need to talk to Christ and ask for His forgiveness for your sins. Christ will forgive you!  Christ will give you a peace that is beyond comprehension. Only God's love will suffice. If you have God's love in your heart for others, you will no longer think hateful, mean thoughts about others or the problems of this world. You will know for certain that God is in control and that He wants you to show His love to everyone that you encounter. If you have hate in your heart, though, you do not know Christ as your Savior.

Only Salvation can bring about redemption based on Christ’s love for you, and Salvation expresses what love really is. For, only Salvation can show you what God's true love is like. This glimpse into true love was given to us by Christ and His Father when Christ died on the cross for us. For, out of true love Christ gave His life on that cruel cross so that you could someday be cleansed through the blood that He spilt on the cross for you. Then in His going to the cross, Christ showed us that love is not selfish. For, Christ could have said that He would not experience so much pain and humiliation and thus would not die on the cross for our sins. But, Christ willingly out of an incomprehensible love went to the cross for our sins. On the other hand, God could have demanded vengeance or retribution for all the sins that we commit. Instead, God showed us that love does not demand vengeance. “But love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes, all things, endures all things.”  -- (I Corinthians 13: 4-7. NASB).

Christ is the epitome of love! Through His love for us, we learn about kindness and righteousness. We also can see through Christ’s love for us that He did not hold it against those who crucified Him, but instead forgave them, setting the stage for our forgiveness of others who have done us wrong. Moreover, Christ bore all things and endured all things in order to show us the pure love that He and His Father have for us. So, what can we show in return? Can we, too, be an example of loving purely those we encounter? Can we help others? Can we love our neighbor as ourselves?  If we can do that, we are shining the light of Christ and His love upon a world that is desperate to know the Truth of Christ’s love. So, if you are a Christian, step forward to actively mentor another or share the Gospel message during this season of the celebration for our Risen Lord. You can do it! You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor to either a believer or unbeliever. You can share the Gospel message and share the love of Christ.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Humble Work is Holy Work When Done for the Lord

Did you know that your service for the Lord is important? Well, it is. In fact, even the lowliest of jobs in service to the Lord and to His Kingdom of believers, i.e. His Church, is important. Indeed, each service, no matter how small, has divine importance. As a matter of fact, God has given each person the ability to do His Kingdom work. Likewise “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” – (Romans 12: 6. NLT). Accordingly, God calls us individually to particular services and ministries, so that we can be of help to others and can shine the light of Christ upon the world. Therefore, no matter how little you think that you can contribute in working for the Lord or in helping others, if you are doing it with your whole heart then that amount is a very great amount in the scheme of things, and it is equally important as other Kingdom work in the eyes of the Lord.

There is just one stipulation that God makes on those who are doing the work of the Lord and who are showing their Christian love by helping others. That stipulation is humility. God expects us to do our individual services and ministries with humility. For, God loves the humble in spirit. But, the opposite of humility as we well know, is pride. Certainly, God does not want us to be prideful, and He has even told us that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – (Proverbs 16: 18. NIV). But, we are then told that “… humility precedes honor.” – (Proverbs 15: 33. NLT). So, the one stipulation that God makes on our service to Him and others is for our service to be done with humility in order to receive honor for what we have done.

Humble service is actually holy service or holy work when done for the Lord. So, no matter what kind of service that you perform for the Lord, for His church people, and even for those who have yet to come to know Christ as their savior, you must be sure that you are not serving with pride. Instead you are to serve in humility, which shows the light of Christ in your life. For this reason, the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – (Colossians 3: 23, 24. NIV). Therefore, if we keep in mind that every service that we perform is actually holy work for the Lord, whether it is simply caring for someone who is sick, doing missionary work, teaching Sunday school, or engaging in Active Relational Christian Mentoring, etc., then we have a better chance of remaining humble in our service. We have a better chance of remaining humble, because we are not working or serving for self-glorification or recognition, but are instead doing holy work or service for the Lord, so that the Lord will be glorified.

Humble Holy Work and Service for The Lord.

God knows that it takes all kinds of different work and service in order for His children to be able to accomplish His goals and for us to be able to aid each other and ourselves in our endeavors. That is why, God created us with different talents, abilities, and strengths. Each person can then accomplish a specific thing that needs to be done in the Kingdom of God. In fact, the very first but very important job that God gave to man was that of being a gardener and overseerer in the Garden of Eden. Later, Adam and Eve's children took on different jobs according to their strengths and talents, for we know that Abel took care of the animals while Cain was a gardener. (See Genesis 4: 3,4.). Obviously, their jobs were to compliment each other's talents, so that the whole family could obtain the food that they needed to survive. Then much later, as the population  of the earth grew and different jobs and needs developed, other people took on specific work that needed to be done for themselves and the community. People were able to aid each other when someone else needed help by using their personal talents and strengths to be there for another person.

God did not force Himself on the people He had created even though He was there for them. But, a time came when God became angry with all the selfishness, greed and immorality of the people on the earth. That is when God called Noah to do humble work for Him. He called Noah to build an ark, which took 120 years to finish. But, Noah had faith in God and did his work humbly. The rest is history, as you know. Because Noah obeyed God and served God in the job that he had been given to do, Noah and his family survived the world-wide flood. But, even with a new start, the people who replenished the earth became prideful and did not want a relationship with God either. Again, though, God did not force Himself upon the people, but instead, He found one man, Abraham, who wanted a relationship with Him and wanted to serve God.

God wanted to have a close relationship with the group of people that came from God's promise to Abraham that Abraham would be the father of a great nation with many descendants. Indeed, Abraham had many descendants and God would take care of them. So, when the Israelites cried out to God for help from their persecution under Pharaoh in Egypt, God sent them a deliverer. This deliverer was Moses who led them through the Red Sea and eventually through the desert to the Promised Land. All along the way, though, God taught them through trials and tribulations how to have a closer relationship with Him, as God spoke through Moses to the people. 

God wanted to dwell with His people, i.e. with Abraham's descendants, the Israelites. So, when the Israelites finally arrived at Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the blueprint of the Tabernacle that God wanted them to build. Indeed, God had very specific plans, for each part of the tabernacle was a picture of God’s Holy Temple in Heaven. Furthermore, every specific part and every specific item that would be built or used in the Tabernacle represented and foreshadowed the coming Deliverer, Jesus Christ and the ultimate sacrifice that He would make for the people. For that reason, not only was the Tabernacle to be built to God’s specifications, but those who had a part in building it and later dismantling it to move it and then reconstruct it at a different site, would be doing holy work. Furthermore, they were given specific assignments or jobs to do with responsibility and humility no matter how seemingly unimportant the job might be.

To accomplish everything that the Lord wanted done in regard to the Tabernacle, the Lord told Moses to give certain clans in the different Israelite or Hebrew tribes specific responsibilities. For example, when the Lord told the Israelites to move camp and dismantle the Tabernacle, Aaron and his sons, who were Holy Priests from the Levite tribe, would enter the Tabernacle and carefully wrap all sacred objects for travel.
Then the Lord told Moses to tell the Kohathite tribe that “The duties of the Kohathites at the Tabernacle will relate to the most sacred objects. When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the sacred utensils, the Kohathites will come and carry these things to the next destination.– (Numbers 4: 4, 15. NLT)

The Kohathites had been given a very important holy job to do, and they could easily have become prideful, as their tribe was chosen to be the ones to carry the sacred objects. However, it would be hard to become prideful when you knew that you could easily die if you did your job wrong, for the Lord said, “But they must not touch the sacred objects, or they will die.” – (Numbers 4: 15. NLT). This particular clan then had a responsibility to carry the objects, but they were not to touch them. Although this may have seemed like a prestigious job, it was a dangerous job or service as well.

Other clans were given less prestigious jobs in regard to the Tabernacle. For example, the Lord told Moses that the Gershonite division of the tribe of Levi would also have specific duties. “The duties of the Gershonites will be in the areas of general service and carrying loads. Aaron and his sons will direct the Gershonites regarding their duties, whether it involves moving or doing other work. They must assign the Gershonites the loads they are to carry.– (Numbers 4: 24, 27. NLT). So, the Gershonites were essentially movers. They were like the movers today that come into your home and pack up your house to move your things to another town or house. The big difference, though, in then and now, is that there were no trucks for them to put the items on. Instead, these men were to be the transportation themselves. Certainly, they had no reason to be prideful or glory in the job they did. For, they were going to work hard at carrying all the items in and around the Tabernacle that Aaron and his sons told them needed to be transported to the next camping location. This was indeed a humble service that needed to be performed God and all the people. But, it was also holy work for the Lord.

The Merarite clan was also given service duties regarding the Tabernacle. Again this group of men would have a humble job to do for the Lord and the people, as the Merarite clan’s duties also consisted of carrying loads. But in this case, the loads this tribe carried would be considered even less glorifying or less prestigious than the other tribes’ service to the Lord. Yet, the job needed to be done in service to the Lord and in service to the Israelites people, so that the people would be able to have a Tabernacle in which to worship God. So, God told Moses to tell this tribe that they “… will be required to carry the frames of the Tabernacle, the crossbars, the pillars with their bases, the posts for the courtyard walls with their bases, pegs, cords, accessories, and everything else related to their use. You (i.e. Moses) must assign the various loads to each man by name.”   -- (Numbers 4: 31, 32. NLT).

Obviously, the men of the Merarite tribe were to be like pack mules in that they personally had to carry the parts of the Tabernacle building itself to the next camping location. These men would be working for the LORD, though, so they, like the other tribes, understood that they were serving the LORD even as they carried items or building supplies to reconstruct the Tabernacle in a different location. This service needed to be done and the job needed to be accomplished with humility and care. It certainly was not a prestigious service or job, but it was a holy service to the Lord.

Whether you are serving God in some large capacity or in some seemingly small way, you just need to remember that you are working for the Lord, and He sees everything that you do for Him. Furthermore, you will receive rewards for what you have done for God and His children while you are here on earth. For, you will be rewarded for your service once you get to Heaven. However, while here on earth, you are to do all your service work with humility and from a heart that cares about and loves others. All Christians are to reach out and help those who need our specific help. Obviously, we are not to work just to receive heavenly rewards even though, we will obtain rewards in Eternity for the work that we have done for the Lord and others. Undeniably, those Eternal rewards will be wonderful too, and they will be given for some of small services performed for the Lord or performed for one of His children, i.e. if you have done the service with humility.

Maintaining Humility in our Service to the Lord
Humility, though, is often hard to maintain, especially if you are good at your job, service, or ministry. It is even harder to maintain humility if you receive lots of accolades for what you have done or accolades for what you are presently doing. That is because our human need for recognition and the need to be reassured of our worth or abilities can quickly erode any wisp of humility that we may hope to cling to. In other words, we can easily become prideful. But, if we realize that everything we are and everything that we hope to become has been given to us by God, then we should really have no basis for our pride. Even if we know that we are good at a particular job or service, we should maintain humility in doing it.

Unfortunately, our personal desire for glory, no matter how minuscule, often leads to pride in the things that we do. This is especially true, if we are good at what we do. However, we need to remember that God has given to us everything that we need to perform holy service for Him and others through our God-given individual DNA and our God-given individual talents and gifts. So, in recognition of a job well done or when receiving accolades for our work, abilities and gifts, we need understand why we can do such things. Then we need to put aside our desire for personal glory and instead work at maintaining humility and giving God all the glory.

Starting with the Garden of Eden and the first two humans, we can see that God created us to work and to do service for Him and others. However, we often fail to view our ability to work as an important part of our responsibility to serve God and others. Consequently, we easily work for ourselves and our families to provide for theirs and our needs and wants. But, we also often fail to even think about the needs of others and the needs of Kingdom of God, because we are living day to day without no thought of tomorrow or others’ needs. In fact, we often become very selfish with our time and our abilities unless we can get something out of our work or service for ourselves. However, God has made “born-again” Christians His holy people and as such, we are told to “clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. … And the most important clothing that you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  -- (Colossians 3: 12, 14. NLT).  However, we cannot do godly holy work and service for God and others, if we do not truly love God and others, or if we are thinking only of ourselves or what glory we can get.

To change our attitude toward our work and service for God and His Kingdom of believers, we first have to ask Christ into our heart. In other words, we have to believe that Christ is the Son of God who came to earth to conquer eternal death through His resurrection so that we can spend Eternity with God.  In our belief, we must repent of our sins and ask Christ into our heart, if we want to have our sins forgiven and be a part of God’s Eternal Kingdom. Then, with Christ’s glorious Salvation, we will receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who, among other things, gives us the desire to live for Christ. However, it is not just a matter of desiring to live for Christ that we need, but we also need to change our attitudes and begin to view ourselves as a servant of the Lord’s. Accordingly, we have to understand that the work or service that we do for Him and others has eternal consequences. What we do or not do here on earth will be reflected in our Eternity. Have you believed on Christ and ask Him into your heart?

Jesus Christ told His disciples that pridefulness causes people to do things that hurt other people. He said, “You know that in this world kings and tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life a ransom for many.”  -- (Matthew 20: 25-28. NLT). Jesus came to earth to serve and not to have others serve Him, so, like Jesus, we must serve with humility and not with pridefulness or in desiring glory for ourselves. Neither should we expect others to serve us. But, whether you desire to be a leader or just to help your neighbor in some capacity, it is only through your own humility that you can appreciate the worth of others and realize that you are not above any job. Therefore, rather than hurting others or refusing to help someone because of your insecurity, your pride or in your thinking that the job is beneath you, think instead about what Christ would have you do.

Pride can Derail Your Work for the Lord and Others

Many people have been gifted to be a leader, while others are gifted to do other “seemingly smaller” things for the Kingdom of God. But whatever your gifting, DNA, or talents that God has bestowed upon you, God knows that you can serve others in humility and love. So, never let anyone tell you that you can’t serve. Also never let your own insecurity or pride get in the way of doing holy service for the Lord. Instead, get rid of all pridefulness by remembering that you have gotten the accolades and have acquired certain knowledge, because God has given it to you or God has helped you to acquire it through some manner or another, so it really isn’t about you. In fact, the basis of our self-worth is our identity in Christ. For without Christ, we aren’t capable of very much by God’s eternal standards. But in Christ, we are capable of valuable humble and worthy service for the Lord.

The world that we live in, though, expects pridefulness, and the world expects people to think only about themselves. In fact, we live in a world where self is glorified. But, those who glorify self, are soul lonely, and they will certainly have a big surprise one day when they find out that God is the One they should have glorified. The Apostle Paul even told the Romans long ago: “Don’t copy the behavior and the customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.– (Romans 12: 2. NLT).  But, you have to desire to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ, before you can change your way of thinking. It is only when the Holy Spirit comes to live in your heart that He will renew, reeducate, and redirect your heart and mind. Then and only then will you be able to shed pridefulness and give up living for the world.

Rewards for serving in Humility

We have mentioned the rewards that we can receive when we get to Eternity in Heaven. For many, though, Heaven seems like a long way off. But, we don’t have to wait until the Eternity of Heaven to receive some the eternal rewards for our humble service for the Lord and others. For, in the here and now while we are still here on earth we can receive some rewards that will follow us into Heaven. In fact, the moment that we are “Saved” we have entered into the beginning of our Eternity that starts even before we die. Consequently, we will receive some earthly rewards from our humble and loving earthly service while we are still in this physical realm. Some of those rewards will come from the specific services that we engage in. In fact, one of those rewards is the joy we can receive in serving others and the joy that comes in our unity with the body of Christ, which comes from our humble service for the Lord and others. This joy is part of our eternal rewards.

In order to receive this joy, though, we first have to lay aside our personal selfishness. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.  Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too. And what they are doing.” – (Philippians 2: 3, 4. NLT). Can you imagine the joy that everyone would receive if we all thought about God and others first and then did things for the betterment of others? The reward of joy is something that everyone on earth is hoping for and searches for constantly. In fact, joy is much greater than momentary happiness, but is hard to come by on this earth. Yet, that joy can so easily be obtained through Christ and our service toward Him and others. Moreover, our eternity and our eternal joy starts here and now when we ask Christ into our heart, and then our joy grows in what we do for others and God; giving us a joy that comes from our humbleness and unselfishness in serving God and others.

Besides joy, there are three other specific rewards you can receive here on earth for serving others that I would like to tell you about. Certainly, it doesn’t matter what kind of service that you are preforming for God's Kingdom as long, as you do it with humility, because all work for the Lord and His children will bestow upon the humble Heavenly rewards. Some of those rewards, though, can start here on earth. So, whether you are in the humble service of Active Relational Christian Mentoring, the service of working at church, or some other humble Christian service for a neighbor or friend, you can receive rewards for your humble service to God and others.

The first reward that most Christians receive for humble service is spiritual growth. We grow spiritually as we share our faith and love of God for others to see. In fact, people respond to kind caring Christians. Consequently, they are often open to more personal growth in knowing Christ, in living for Him, and in doing their own godly service in humility and love. In other words, both the server and the one that is being served grow spiritually as they express and exchange the love of caring about others in a godly way. Sharing the love of God, His Word, and the Gospel message in humble service brings spiritual growth as its reward. This reward of spiritual growth will help us here on earth and follow us into Heaven.

The second earthly reward is the emotional infusion of love that one receives when doing something good for another person without expecting anything in return. There is also a certain emotional high from humbly giving of ourselves without expecting a “pat on the back.” Furthermore, we do not have to tell others what we have done, because God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ all know what we have done for Him and for others, and that should be enough for the humble in spirit. In addition, the Holy Spirit is the One who acknowledges what we have done, but others will also see the love that we have given in our humble service. That infusion of love also keeps us wanting to provide humble service again and again.

The third earthly reward is that we have through our humble service been shown our real purpose in living. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.  If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.– (Matthew 16: 24, 25. NLT). In these verses Jesus is telling us that the only way to have Eternal life is to believe on Him and follow Him. But, if we believe that there is nothing more than this life here on earth, then we will ultimately lose our eternal life and enter into eternal damnation. In other words, it is only by giving up our old ways and with repenting of our sins and then asking Christ to come into our heart, that we will find true life and our purpose in living. 

Our true eternal life, starts the minute we ask Christ to come into our heart. Moreover, this new life in Christ is service oriented. By serving the Lord, we are giving up our mundane and selfish lives for the Lord. We then begin doing the Lord’s, work, which is helping others and sharing the Gospel message when we can. However, if we live only for ourselves, our lives turn inward. Sadly, it is in thinking only of ourselves that we lose or fail to live God’s intended purpose for our lives. But, with eternal life in Christ and our willingness to be the light of Christ to the world through our humble service to others, we find our purpose in life.

Our life on earth, is our introduction into Eternity. In fact, our life here on earth will determine our eternal state after we physically die. In other words, our souls will live somewhere after we die, but we have to choose where we will live eternally. If we choose to ignore God and Christ we will live eternally in Hell. But, if we choose to ask Christ to come into our heart, then we will live forever with God. Admittedly, we only have a brief time on this earth, so how we choose to live our lives in the here and now will affect not only our lives here on earth, but our Eternity as well. However, gaining the highest earthly rewards or honors cannot earn us entrance into Heaven. Neither will we receive Eternal rewards because of our high wages, civic rewards, honors, etc., which we may have received here on earth. The eternal rewards we receive will instead be based instead upon our Christian actions, i.e., on our humble, loving, caring hearts that are displayed through outward actions, which represent Christ to others in this world. Our eternal rewards are also based upon our humility in doing God's holy work.  “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happen to you.” – (I Peter 5: 6, 7. NLT). Through our lives lived on earth, we are to prepare for our Heavenly eternity. Therefore, we must seek a humble spirit in doing our earthly service and in our introduction into Eternity through our Salvation and in our life lived for God.

Humble Servanthood

God cares about what happens to you and how you grow spiritually. In fact, God’s recognition for what you have humbly accomplished counts more that earthly praise. Indeed, eternal greatness comes from humbly giving of ourselves to work for God through helping others come to know Christ and live daily for Him. Moreover, it is through our humble service that we can be aware of the needs of others. Humble service also keeps us from focusing on just ourselves and keeps us from becoming selfish. Furthermore, according to God’s word there is no place for selfishness or for self-glorification in the life of a Christian. For, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – (Matthew 23: 11, 12. NLT). Obviously, true humble service to God and for others keeps us from engaging in self-serving work. Rather, humble service gives us work that will actually give Christ the glory. Moreover, true humble service is actually a cure for selfishness.

To live for God and have true unity within the Kingdom of God, we must love one another with one spirit and purpose. In order to do this, we must come humbly before God seeking His will in our lives and then be willing to do what He has asked us to do. Remember that humble work is Holy work when done for the Lord. So, even if the work consists of picking up trash from the side of the road, or cleaning out sewers for others, it becomes holy work if you are doing it for the Lord with humility and with love for others and for God’s world.

Whatever the Lord has asked you to do in service to Him and others, it should be done with happiness and humility. However, you must also have a willingness to care about the problems of others and then be willing to pray and help out when we can. For, when we think humbly about ourselves and put others first, we are presenting Christ’s example of love for the world through our lives live for Him. As such, we are serving the Lord.  You can do it! You can serve others with a humble spirit! And if you choose to mentor others, you can become a humble Active Relational Christian Mentor for the Lord. But whatever you do, remember it is holy work for the Lord when it is done in humble service to Him. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rejecting Apathy Within a World that Expects It

One of the worst things that Christians can do is to be apathetic or unconcerned about the things that are going on around them. Indeed, many people think that if something doesn’t directly affect them at this moment in time that they don’t need to do anything about a situation, event, or the surrounding life numbing beliefs that overtake others. But, as Christians we have a responsibility to lead by example, to be there to stand for God’s Truth and be an example of God’s directions for a moral upright life to be lived for Him. Sadly, though, Christians can be some of the most apathetic people in this world.

Human nature is such that apathy can easily creep into our lives. In fact, one of the best quotes regarding apathy comes from Billy Graham, the evangelist, who said, "One of the ironies of human nature is that it often has a way of rejecting the best and accepting the worst."  -- (p. 90. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011). Humans reject the best when they reject Christ, when they reject their responsibilities, and when they reject stepping out to help others or to do their part in making the world a better place. Yet, we can easily accept the status quo and end up accepting the worst. 

Christians need to reject the apathy of this world and get involved in helping others, involved in standing up for what is right, and involved in showing the world what it means to be a Christian. However, it isn’t just Christians who can be apathetic. In fact, until recently with the current presidential campaigns, many American’s even failed to vote in the general election or for that matter failed to vote in any local elections either. Failure of people to vote in primaries will give us the establishment’s desired candidates to choose from in the general election, which, of course, will lead to one of the candidates getting into the White House whether they are truly qualified or not. Unfortunately, in the last two presidential elections, we got someone who was not only not qualified to be President, but we got someone who had his own specific agenda for America.

Rejecting Apathy in Voting

Many people, including Christians, have in the past been apathetic about their right to vote, which has led to many of them not voting at all. However, because many people have recognized the present negative course of America under our current president, they suddenly have less election apathy than before. In fact, many people have come out of their apathy, because they have gotten angry at what this president and congress (or the establishment) have been ramming down their throats. So, we are having more people get out and register to vote than we have seen in many years. But there are also many people who still think that they do not need to get out and vote in the primaries. Unfortunately, if people do not get out to vote, they will just have to accept what they get in the way of a leader for this country, which could be a leader that believes in socialism which is just one degree from communism.

Still there are people who say that their one vote won’t matter. However, that is not the case. In fact, several local races have been won with just one candidate receiving one or two votes more than her opponent. Certainly, the freedom to vote is a responsibility that every American needs to take seriously, or they may find that they do not have that freedom in a few years. 

Whether it is in getting out to vote or in sharing Christ with others, Christians need to reject their apathy and become involved in servanthood for the Kingdom of God. This servanthood can encompass Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) or a myriad of other ways to do the work of God and help others at the same time. Indeed, Christians must understand that apathy about sharing the Gospel, about standing up for God’s Truth, about service to the Lord and about many other things relating to our walk for the Lord, will eventually lead to the world’s agenda trying to put out the Light of Christ. ISIS is already trying to put out the light of Christ in the world. Furthermore, our present government and judicial judges are also trying to snuff out the light of Christ on a daily basis with all the laws and rulings against our freedom to express our belief in Christ. Because of our apathy, the courts have been chipping away at our freedom to worship Christ in all aspects of our lives for quite some time now.

The Need to Overcome Apathy in Parenting and to Stop the Disrespect Our Children Show to Others

Both Christians and non-Christians are beginning to reap what we have sown, as both groups of people have been apathetic about teaching their children about the reasons that they have been given the freedom to express themselves. Worse still is the successive generational parental apathy, which has occurred in regard to teaching our youth and young people the importance of respect. For, we have failed to teach our young people that those on both sides of a debate or an opinion should be able to express themselves through town hall meetings, rallies, protests, and other forums while respecting each other. In other words, we have failed to teach our young people that both sides have been given the right to say what they feel with decorum, deference and respect. Furthermore, the right to express ourselves has not just been given to the ones who can shout the loudest or the ones who can disrupt the other person's right to speak. Instead, we are supposed to be living in the Republic of America, which prizes democracy for all, not just for the minorities or for those who can shout the loudest and disrupt the most. But, our failure to teach successive generations about everyone's rights and the need to respect all has led to, in this case, reaping what we have not sown.

Unfortunately, because we have failed to teach our young people common courtesy, etiquette, manners, and general caring about others’ views just as they care about their own, we now have young people who are verbal bullies. The most obvious and current example of this negative attitude toward others’ rights to speak happened this past Friday night, March 11, 2016, in Chicago. Hundreds of young people did not want Donald Trump to be able to speak in Chicago, so they got together to protest his campaign rally; even punching others in the face who disagreed with them.

Thousands upon thousands of people had come to hear the candidate, Donald Trump, speak. Some had even traveled hundreds of miles to hear Mr. Trump speak. Of those who bought tickets, some wanted to hear what he had to say, even though they did not think they would vote for him. Still others wanted to lend their support to his campaign. But, then those that did not want Mr. Trump to have the freedom to speak, took away all the peoples’ freedom to hear him and then make a decision on their own, because they shut down the rally with fear tactics, technological negative tweeting, and through verbal protests. Why cannot they see, that both sides have the right to speak, even if we disagree with what the other side is saying. The next step in the deterioration of our personal rights to say and believe in what we want is communism, wherein even those who have the right today to bully others verbally, will in a communistic country be punished for speaking out against the establishment or the group in power.

We are indeed reaping what we have sown, though, and in this case we sowed apathy in our homes and instilled it in our children, which has led to college professors being able to inspire our students and call for revolts. The inspiration of these professors is something new for the young people who have never had anything to cling to. Indeed, many students have gone to college without having a personal belief foundation based on knowing God and Christ and of loving others as themselves. Consequently, these students are ripe for the picking by those professors who see starved souls needing something to believe in. So, along with negative and false liberal views, many of these professors then teach the students that they have the right to say and do whatever they want. But they do not teach the students that it is a two-way street, wherein the other person has the right to disagree with them without being ridiculed and protested against. The professors, and in some cases the parents of these students, have sown disrespect.

But, even when parents, who are paying for their child’s education, see their child behaving in a disrespectful manner that takes away the rights of others to speak through protesting and cruelty, these parents do nothing. They are still apathetic. The very least they could do is to withhold the tuition money and the money they give to their student to go to college on, unless the child (and that is what they are at this point) quits acting like their voice and their rights are the only ones allowed. For, parents who do nothing to stop their son or daughter from becoming a bully and thinking only of themselves are, by continuing to pay for their education, enabling their student to behave badly. Sadly, though, many parents are apathetic about what their college student is doing.

Christians must not be Apathetic
It has always been easy to be apathetic about things that don’t interest us, or about things that we do not think will immediately affect us. But, having a spirit of apathy is exactly what Satan wants for everyone, and it is what he especially wants for Christians. For, if Christians have a spirit of apathy, then Satan doesn’t have to work as hard to tempt us by his traps, nor does he have to work as hard to keep non-Christians from learning about Christ from us or from coming to know Christ as their Savior.

Jesus, though, knew that the best way to bring in lost people and to save them from eternal damnation was to send them Christians who were truly His followers to go out into the world to actively tell others about the Gospel Message of Salvation. That is why, Christ said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples (Christians) to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.– (Matthew 28: 19, 20. NLT)

Obviously, one cannot be apathetic if one is sharing the Gospel message with others.
Christians need to reject apathy and be a  servant-style leader even without being given the title of a leader. In other words, we have to lead others into doing that which is right and true by actively setting examples, actively becoming involved in the lives of others who need our help, and by actively standing for Truth through endeavors that will benefit others and our nation. Although becoming actively involved and rejecting apathy is not necessarily easy, it is something that God expects all Christians to do. But, God gives us help and shows us in His Word that we are never alone in rejecting apathy. For, within His Word God gives us the story of Nehemiah, so that we can see the importance in rejecting apathy. Moreover, it is through Nehemiah's story that we can see the hand of God at work within the lives of His people. This story also shows us that in rejecting apathy, Nehemiah became a servant-style leader who helped others get a needed and important job done.


God’s Word is important to our lives, and we should be read daily, because God gives us examples of correct attitudes and behaviors, of obedience, of faith, of hope and of examples or lessons on living for God, as told through the people who have gone before us. One such example and important lesson to be learned from the Bible is of a man who truly rejected apathy. This is the story of Nehemiah, who obeyed God and taught others to obey and to have faith in God.

It is important for us to understand the background of Nehemiah’s story before we get into his specific actions. You may remember that the Israelites had been captured by King Nebuchadnezzar with many of them taken to Babylon. There they languished for over seventy years under the Nebuchadnezzar and his sons. Later, though, the Persians came in and overthrew the Babylonian kingdom adding that territory to an already very large empire. This overthrow of the Babylonian empire was good for the Jewish exiles, because the Persian king allowed a man by the name of Zerubbabel in 538 B. C. to lead the return of thousands of Jews back to Jerusalem. But, as we know from the story of Esther, some of the exiled Jews did not return home at that time. Then in 458 B.C., Ezra led another group of Jews back to Jerusalem to restore the temple. Finally, in 445 B. C. Nehemiah led the third group of exiles back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah lived in Susa at the King’s palace. Certainly, Nehemiah did not have a plan to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the city.  But like His plans for Nehemiah, God has plans for us, if we are just willing to listen to his call. Although Nehemiah had a good job in the palace of the King Artaxerxes in Persia, he also had a heart for the Lord and for listening to Him. In fact, the Lord had put Nehemiah in a position in Susa at the King's palace that would make it possible for Nehemiah to do God’s work back in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s position at the palace was that of a cup bearer or wine server to the King. But, one day Nehemiah had guests come to visit him. The guests were his brother and some travelers from Jerusalem in Judea. When Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem and about how the people who had returned to Jerusalem were doing, the travelers told Nehemiah that things were not going well for those who had returned to Judah. Then they went on to tell Nehemiah that the people living in and around Jerusalem had many troubles and problems including the fact that the wall surrounding Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been burned. In other words, the people were without protection from their enemies, looters, and robbers. Immediately, Nehemiah wept for his country and the city. Little did Nehemiah know, but God had a job for him to do. Although it would take a few months, the plan would be put into action even as Nehemiah was serving the King.

The following spring, Nehemiah was serving the king his wine, when the king noticed that Nehemiah was very sad. So, the king asked Nehemiah what was wrong. Nehemiah told him, that his home city of Jerusalem was in ruins and the gates had been burned down. Astonishingly, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he could do to help. Quickly Nehemiah grabbed the moment of generosity by the King and quickly asked for time off to go back to Jerusalem and help them rebuild their walls. But, Nehemiah didn’t stop there with his request. Suddenly, Nehemiah was emboldened to ask for more. Indeed, God had given Nehemiah the courage to also ask for letters for safe passage through the territories that he would have to go through in order to get to Jerusalem. Then, Nehemiah went on to ask for letters for lumber from the king’s forest for the rebuilding of the wall. Graciously, the king then granted all Nehemiah’s requests. It seems that God had been working on both the King’s heart and the heart of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah’s rejection of apathy

This begins Nehemiah’s rejection of apathy in regard to himself and others. For, while leading the group of Jews and workmen back to Jerusalem, and even after he got there, Nehemiah would be faced with apathy from every direction. Moreover, Nehemiah would face moments of despair and many trials that could lead anyone into a state of apathy, but Nehemiah refused to succumb. Furthermore, Nehemiah would have to deal with the apathy of others that he encountered in Jerusalem and from those living around the city of Jerusalem. Worse still, though, were the threats, rumors, and fear that their enemies instilled in everyone during the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But, by rejecting apathy, Nehemiah was able to do a mighty work for the Lord. In fact, with all the trials he encountered, it is truly amazing that Nehemiah was able to inspire the people in Jerusalem to work together to rebuild the walls and gates. How did he do what the Lord wanted him to do? Well, he kept his eyes on the Lord, and through prayer and dedication to the Lord, he was able to reject apathy.

Apathy can come in many forms. For example, had Nehemiah simply wept for the people in Jerusalem and then forgot their situation, he, too, would have fallen into apathy. Moreover, had he believed that he could do nothing to help anyone from where he was in the palace of the King at Susa, then nothing would have been done to help those in Jerusalem. But, Nehemiah rejected apathy or the idea that he was only one person so what could he do. Instead, the first thing that he did was to pray for the people in Jerusalem. Obviously, Nehemiah did not just say one quick prayer, but rather, prayed for the people of Jerusalem over several months even before he ever knew that he would going to be able to personally help them. Surely, in those prayers Nehemiah must have asked God what he could do to help the people. Then God put Nehemiah and the King together on a day that God knew that the King would have an open mind and be willing to help the Jewish people. It seems that neither the king nor Nehemiah were indifferent or apathetic to the needs of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. In fact, God was going to use their positive beliefs and initiatives as well as their desire to be of service in order to help those living in Jerusalem.

Sometimes we can overcome our own apathy when we have a particular situation that is near and dear to our heart. However, overcoming or rejecting the apathy of those around us, can not only be hard to do, but can also be another catalyst for our own return to apathy. But, we can’t let the apathy of others influence our decisions or cause us not to make decisions. Nor can we fail to take action for our beliefs and our servanthood for the Lord. Instead, like many Christians today, Nehemiah wanted greatly to help his people, but he also needed help in helping them. So, the Lord not only gave Nehemiah the desire to help, but He also gave King Artaxerxes the desire to help as well. Then, God made it possible for Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem with supplies provided by King Artaxerxes; supplies for the trip and supplies that were needed to rebuild the walls. But what would Nehemiah encounter once he got there?
What kind of situation or apathy would he encounter in Jerusalem?

Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem

Nehemiah did not know what to expect when he got to Jerusalem, but he certainly did not expect the opposition that he encountered. Then, shortly after getting there Nehemiah said that “... when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard of my arrival, they were very angry that someone had come who was interested in helping Israel.”  -- (Nehemiah 2: 10. NLT). Who were these two guys and why were they angry? Well, it seems that nearly 300 years earlier that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been captured by the Assyrians who carried many of the Jews away into captivity, while leaving only a few of the Jews behind to work the land. Later, Sargon of Assyria repopulated Israel with captives from other lands and with some of his own people who wanted land of their own. Eventually these people that were sent into the area intermarried with the Jews that were still in the land. This created a mixed race of people who became known as the Samaritans.

 Unfortunately, when the Jews started returning to their land from Persia and other countries, they wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans, because they considered them to be unholy people. They believed they were no longer true Jews. Some of these Samaritans had even been given permission by the Assyrians to become leaders and governors of this mixed race of people. One of those governors was a man named Sanballat who was the governor of Samaria and over all the Samaritans living there. Samaria was a region just north of Judah, which made it easy for Sanballat to know what was going on in Judah. Perhaps Sanballat even had hopes of someday governing Judah, but with the return of Nehemiah his hopes were certainly dashed.

There are always people who want to block God’s purpose and who will oppose those who are actively trying to live for God. What those negative people don’t realize is that if we are doing God’s work, God will be there for us every step of the way. We just have to be willing to step forward and do the work that God has put on our heart to do. In fact, apathy does not have a place in God’s Kingdom. Neither are we to fail to do what God wants us to do. For, if any one of us fails do not do what God has asked us to do, God will simply find someone else to do his will. Therefore, we cannot allow those who want to block God’s purpose to stand in our way of accomplishing His will.

The first thing that Nehemiah encountered when he got to Jerusalem was the apathy of the people living there. Many people had just accepted the fact that they had to live in constant fear, because they had no protecting walls. As Nehemiah took time to look around, he saw that the people were not doing anything to rebuild the wall, and many of the people were actually living outside of the city, because there was no better protection from living in a city without walls. But Nehemiah did not just start telling everyone that they were going to rebuild the walls. Instead, Nehemiah took three days to scout out the walls to see what needed to be done and to make plans to help the people rebuild the walls and gates. Then, when Nehemiah was ready, he presented the leaders and the people with his plans, and they were impressed and said, “‘Good! Let’s rebuild the wall!’ So, they began the good work. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. ‘What are you doing rebelling against the king like this?’” – (Nehemiah 2: 18, 19. NLT).

Sometimes all it takes is for one person to step forward to take on a task that no one else wants to do, and then others can become involved and help too. Interestingly, God often gives one person the vision or plan, and then the vision or plan can be implemented by others. But, it also takes a person who is willing to lead and to put himself or herself out there by laying out the plan and vision before others will follow. Nehemiah was able to express his vision and the plan to rebuild the wall in such a way that the apathy of those who had been living in Jerusalem without a wall was turned into excitement. The city officials were now willing to work at rebuilding the wall. When we get out of our state of apathy and encourage and inspire others, we can get God’s goals accomplished through teamwork, while disregarding the threats and rumors from others.

Notice too, in the above verse, that there were immediately those who ridiculed and threatened Nehemiah’s vision and plan. Sanballat and Tobiah threatened Nehemiah’s plan by starting a rumor that he was going against the King by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. If what they said was true, Nehemiah could have been thrown into jail. Little did they know, but the King had actually sanctioned the rebuilding of the walls and gates. Nehemiah knew the truth, and he would just let the rumors fly, because he had a job to do for the Lord. Like Nehemiah, we cannot let the negative people and naysayers keep us from doing the work that God wants us to do. We have to overcome our fear and the fear of failure to accomplish our goals. In fact, all Christians and those who choose to serve the Lord as Active Relational Christian Mentors or in some other service for the Lord will have road-blocks put in our paths. Obviously, Satan does not want us to accomplish anything for the Lord, but we have God on our side, and He will enable us to do His will.

Nehemiah’s Plan

Most of the citizens of Jerusalem did their part in rebuilding the wall. But, to make it easier for everyone, Nehemiah gave sections of the wall and the building of its gates to different groups of people who were living in that area of the wall. Each group would then be overseen in their work by their specific group leaders. But, one group of leaders from Tekoa refused to help, because they were lazy and did not support the building project. This was no different than today, for we have people within the church who are apathetic in different ways. Some people will simply refuse to work, while others just refuse to get out of their apathetic state to help. Some people in their apathy will actually try to put up roadblocks, while others in their apathy will simply do nothing. But, this type of negative naysaying apathy doesn’t just happen within a church family or church building. This apathy occurs in many people who just don’t think that something will get done, and it occurs in people who just see no reason to put out the effort, simply because things are going pretty smoothly for them at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that things will always go smoothly. If we don’t step forward to do what needs to be done, we can find ourselves wishing that we had done something before it was too late.

The people in and around Jerusalem were able to get rid of their apathy, because they had a good strong leader to show them the way. On the other hand, others who wanted Nehemiah to fail were already starting rumors that Nehemiah was rebelling against the King. In fact, Sanballat and another man named Tobiah even started making false statements and threats against Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall. But, Nehemiah was not going to be discouraged by their shenanigans, false statements, or threats.

The Enemy Wants to Attack

At last the wall was completed to half its original height around the city, for the people had worked very hard. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall were being repaired, they became furious. They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and to bring about confusion there.” – (Nehemiah 4: 6-8. NLT). But, Nehemiah and the people heard about their plans and prayed to God. Then they guarded the city day and night to protect themselves and the work that they had already accomplished.

Sometimes when we take on a large task, or just a task that seems large to us, we can often feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Such was the case with those building the wall. Nehemiah said that “Then the people of Judah began to complain that the workers were becoming tired. There was so much rubble to be moved that we could never get it done by ourselves. Meanwhile the enemies were saying, ‘Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down of them and kill them and end their work.’” – (Nehemiah 4: 10, 11. NLT). So, Nehemiah set up round the clock guards to protect the workers. Half the men worked while the other half guarded the workers. By dividing the workers and those who would guard them into specific groups, Nehemiah was able to get the people to look out for each other so that others could do great work. If we work together and don’t get discouraged and feel alone, we can get more things accomplished, and then everyone benefits, and no one feels overwhelmed or discouraged.

Nehemiah provides us with a great example of a leader who is also a godly servant. He did not just sit back and tell everyone what to do. Rather, Nehemiah said in his autobiography: “I devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my officials to spend time working on the wall. I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands.” – (Nehemiah 5: 16, 17. NLT).  Where did all those officials come from?  Well, when Nehemiah came from Susa in Persia, he brought with him court officials and those that carried the timber for the wall as well as those who carried other supplies. Along with the workers, he also brought back another group of Jews returning to Jerusalem. That meant that Nehemiah had a large group of people to oversee and feed. However, he did not let them sit back and do nothing just because they were from Persia. Instead, he himself worked, setting the example for the people under him to work alongside of him as well. Nehemiah was being a true servant leader who leads by example.

Then Sanballat and Tobiah became desperate to get Nehemiah to stop work on the wall. The rumor that Nehemiah was disobeying the King had not worked. So, they attacked Nehemiah’s character. They even promised to report back to King Artaxerxes that now that the wall was nearly finished that Nehemiah and the Jews were planning to rebel against the King. They said they would tell the King that Nehemiah had also appointed prophets to prophecy about him in Jerusalem, telling Nehemiah that they saw him as the king of Jerusalem. (See Nehemiah 6: 5-7).

Nehemiah then sent back a message to Sanballat and Tobiah, and he told them that they were lying and that there was no truth in their story. Nehemiah told the others that “They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could break our resolve and stop the work. So, I prayed for strength to continue the work.– (Nehemiah 6: 9. NLT).
It is easy for most of us to be intimidated, because we do not want others to think any less of us. In fact, we all have a tendency to want to fit into the same mold as everyone else, so that we don’t stand out in the crowd for fear of being ridiculed. But, God wants us to stand out. He wants us to be the light of Christ shining out in this world. So, if we do not step forward to shine the light of Christ in our actions, behaviors, and attitude, we are failing to do that which Christ has asked us to do.

In fact, a good servant leader will not only be able to lead others, but will also work alongside those he is leading. Such was the case with Nehemiah. For, Nehemiah not only oversaw the entire construction project, but he also worked alongside all the workers in building the wall. Meanwhile, he also took care of the rumors and problems with those who were trying to thwart the project. Through his leadership and strength of character Nehemiah was able to get the wall finished.

The Wall and Gates are Finished

Finally, the wall was built. But, when Sanballat and Tobiah as well as the other Arabs found out that the wall was finished, they were again furious. Now, they were also desperate, for Jerusalem was now protected. So, they decided to ask for a meeting with Nehemiah. But, Nehemiah knew that they were planning on trying to kill him, so he refused to meet with them. Instead, Nehemiah continued to pray to God for protection and to be able to do the work that God had asked him to do. So, on October 2nd the wall was finished in only fifty-two days from the time they started.

The wall was finished in spite of those who did not want it to be built. In fact, it was built in spite of those who in their apathy, refused to give Nehemiah their full support. It was also finished in spite of those who had attacked Nehemiah personally. Why did Nehemiah have such determination? The answer lies in his willingness to do what God had asked him to do. Nehemiah not only desired to help those who lived in Jerusalem, but this was God’s desire for him to help them as well. That is why Nehemiah constantly prayed for strength, protection and the ability to fight off those whose apathetic attitude and behaviors could possibly derail the plan.

Although many people said it couldn’t be done, the job was finished. Today, we have to realize that this is the type of strength, encouragement, and faith that we should have in our day to day lives. We, too, are to join together in helping those who need our help. That is why Active Relational Christian Mentoring can be a wonderful way to serve the Lord and serve others in the Kingdom of God. Nehemiah certainly mentored the leaders of Jerusalem. He encouraged them to do what God wanted them to do in the rebuilding of the walls and gates. Then, he showed them how to do it even has he monitored the workers and guards. If we, too, get rid of our apathy and reach out to help people, we can accomplish great and wonderful things for the Lord. Moreover, we should never let the size of the problem or the length of time needed to get a job done, keep us from accomplishing what God knows we can do. That is why reaching out to help another person, can not only create in them a spirit of encouragement and empowerment, but it can help another overcome a life of apathy. If you haven’t given of your time and energy to help someone, please step forward to do so. In the process, you will not only bless that person, but you will receive God’s blessings for having done what He has asked you to do.

Get out of the apathy boat. Start by registering to vote. Then actually get out to vote. This will give you a feeling of empowerment. Additionally, start talking to your children about right and wrong. Teach them to respect and love others even if they disagree with what the other person says. Teach them to be leaders instead of followers. Also, please teach them what the Republic of America stands for and why they have the freedom to express themselves in the first place. Most, importantly, though, teach them about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Take them to church and Sunday school so they can learn about God and His Son, which will open them up to having a personal relationship with Christ. That relationship will give them the personal foundation they need to get through college and the rest of their life without falling for everything that comes their way. For, they will always have God's Truth, the ultimate Truth to lean upon. Best yet, they will know that they have an Eternal home awaiting them for when they are called home. Finally, remember too, to talk to them about apathy, and then show them what apathy can lead to. As parents you are the best and most important example or role-model that your children will ever encounter.

Last, but not least, ask the Lord what you personally can do for the Kingdom of God. When he tells you to step forward to help someone, to stand up for the Truth, to share the Gospel message with another, etc. then do so. You will be surprised at how becoming involved in service for the Lord and actually doing something that God wants you to do will take away all the doldrums and all the apathetic tendencies that Satan wants you to cling to. You can do it! You can serve the Lord by helping others and standing up for God’s Truth. You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor.