What does it mean to be a follower of integrity?
Nehemiah 7:2 says that Nehemiah was put in charge along with his brother Hanani and Hananiah. The text calls Hananiah a man of integrity. So...what does it mean to be a follower of integrity?
The verse above talks about God's servant Job, saying he is both God-fearing and a man of integrity.
So what are some characteristics of disciples with integrity?
not bending to sin
What about God-fearing people?
They serve only the Lord: "Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name." ~Deuteronomy 6:13
They shun evil and want to grow closer to God: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity." ~2 Peter 3:18
They walk in obedience with him, love him, serve him with their whole hearts and souls, and observe his commands: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord ask you but to fear the Lord your God, walk in obedience with him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul." ~Deuteronomy 10:12
Note: Read Nehemiah 7:5 and notice that Nehemiah says, "So my God put it into my heart..." We may not have an account of Nehemiah's prayers here, but we know that Nehemiah is listening to God and praying to him. He continues to listen to what the Lord is saying and does what he wants Nehemiah to do.
One Body, One Church
In Nehemiah 8:1, "all the people come together as one." I remember seeing a drawing in Sunday School of lots of little human stick figures that make up one big body. There's a circle for a head on the top that says Christ on it.
What this drawing is supposed to resemble is that many people make up the body of the church. We are all different, but we are united because of Jesus.
Another example of this church's powerful influence is in Nehemiah 8:6.
Everyone at this church is completely submitting themselves to God!
The Key to Joyful Worship
In the first installment of Nehemiah, we talked about praiseful prayers. Yes, we should pour out our hearts to God and tell him about our suffering. But we need to remember who we are talking to! God is omniscient and all-powerful. He is a powerful and majestic Lord, who has raised us from the dead and given us new life!
God wants us to enjoy things. In Nehemiah 8:9, Nehemiah says, "This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep." He continues in Nehemiah 8:10, saying, "Go and ENJOY choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength."
Nehemiah 9:5 says, "Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host. and the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give birth to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you."
Whenever the Bible talks about joyfulness or contentment, I always think of Pollyanna! Her "glad game" made her arguably the most cheerful girl in the world. When our faith is in God, shouldn't we be that joyful too?
What are you hungering for?
Philippians 4 is a powerful verse that talks about being content in the Lord and grateful for everything he gives you. Nehemiah 9:15 says, "In their hunger, you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock."
What are you hungering for? It might be something physical like actual hunger, but most likely it's something deeper. Are you hungering for good relationships, to be loved? What about feelings of success or fulfillment?
God is sustaining and fulfilling you. When you are with God, you lack nothing. After all, what are earthly desires next to the Lord? Pray to God earnestly about what you are hungering for. Look for ways that he is fulfilling you. Maybe if you are longing for deep relationships he's introducing a new friend or giving you a phone call with your mother. Maybe he is opening up a new job opportunity or laughter. Pour out your heart to the Lord and praise him!
That is the end of today's installment in the Nehemiah series! Stay tuned for the next post over the final chapters of Nehemiah. Let me know in the comments what you learned, insights, or any questions. Ciao!