Summary: As Christians, often we must choose the more difficult route even when we could have it earthly good!
“Can You Identify?”
Doug Brown FBC (SBC) Lawrenceville, Ill. 62439 P.O. Box 403
Hedonism, Dionysians, Epicureans, and Stoics.
(R.C. Sproul… Lifeviews pp. 129-138)
There is no sin in enjoying that which is pleasant and fleeing from that which is painful. But there are times when the Christian must choose the pain. Doing that which is difficult out of obedience to God is the better route. Hell is the ultimate of pain, and Heaven is the ultimate of pleasure.
Pleasure is defined differently for the Christian than it is for the Hedonist. Pleasure is defined as doing that which is pleasing to God, who has our ultimate best interest at heart.
There is a human restlessness looking for fulfillment, but if all we do to try to satisfy it is to follow the Hedonist’ philosophies, then we will come up short, particularly for the Christian because the Flesh wars against the Spirit.
The Road To Peace is Found In Doing The Will of God.
That is the road upon which we find Nehemiah seeking to travel.
SIX COMMON ELEMENTS THAT DESCRIBE HIS CHOOSING THE PAINFUL ROAD.
I. SITUATION AT HAND v1
Neh 2:1 “twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,”
Historical Background. Artaxerxes I, whom Nehemiah served as cupbearer, was the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who took Esther to be his queen. The Feast of Purim (Est 9:20-32) was instituted on March 8, 473 B.C., only eight years before Artaxerxes I became king. In the spring of 457 B.C., Ezra led an expedition of Jews back to Jerusalem with the blessing of Artaxerxes;
One of the by-products of the revival under Ezra seems to have been an effort on the part of the Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This in turn provoked the wrath of Rehum and Shimshai, who wrote an accusation against them to Artaxerxes Ezra 4:23 “ Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease.”
Rehum and Shimshai, upon receiving this decree from the king, hurried to Jerusalem and "made them to cease by force and power," presumably breaking down the wall that had been started and burning the gates. It was the news of this fresh disaster that shocked Nehemiah and brought him to his knees before God. (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)
Things were not what Nehemiah would have them be. In one sense, they were very much out of his control. The Odds were against him. He couldn’t just walk out and go home doing what he wanted to do.
His Hands were Tied and it was not within his power to untie them.
His Hope was Limited, He must find a way to rise above it.
His Honest Appraisal of his situation seemed to be short-sighted. After all, it was the king who brought the issue to the fore front. He undermined making a simple request.
While not in captivity, how many of us are like this? Challenges and goals await us. But what good do they do if we do not allow ourselves to go about attaining them? We Must Push On, Or Lose Out!
How do we do that? God says to take it One Day at a Time… and that is where He comes into Nehemiahs’s life… as he is working…
II. SERVANT AT WORK v 1
“ and it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king.”
Not a very glamorous job is it? I mean giving something to drink to a king. All He Was Is Someone To Check To See if The King’s Drink was poisoned. And if it was,… O Well, get another slave!
Folks, when Jesus came in the lowly fashion he did, God was communicating that He comes to everyday people in the the every day world. Koinania is the word used to describe one phase of Greek literature. The common language of the day.
Many times we look for God in the grand and Glorious.
And He is there… i.e.. Creation. However, when it comes to daily experiences. He is found working through the day to day stuff of life.
So, what is required of us is Submissiveness In Our Daily Walk of Life Living For The Lord. Submission says Lord I am here to do as you would have me do, no matter how small, large, menial or important the task. In the mean time I will live my life.
One Person’s Prayer goes as follows:
Lord, You said if I want to follow you, I will need to carry my cross every day. I want to follow, Lord. But there are days when I’m dragging my cross, making a trail for everyone to see. There are days when I’m pushing my cross, making my own path miserable and dusty. There are days when I’m sitting on my cross, trying to get comfortable and going nowhere. There are days when I’m giving my cross to somebody else, who already has one of his own. Help me, Lord, to carry my cross on my shoulder. When it’s up there, it leaves no room for a chip!