Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from Nov. 3-9 are written by Pastor Yohan Lee of Radiance Christian Church (S. F.).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.”
Recently, my two-year-old son has been getting out of bed at night looking for any and every excuse to not sleep—this habit is killing my wife and me! The other night we had this interaction:
My wife: “Jonny, why aren’t you in bed?”
Jon: “I can’t sleep. There’s a (hard to distinguish) in my bed.”
My wife: “There’s a lion in your bed?”
Jon: (contemplating if this is believable) “Yes.”
My wife: “Well, I’ll go see and chase the lion away.”
My wife then proceeded to “look for” and “chase” the lion away so that my son could go back to sleep. Great parenting, right? Wrong. Within five minutes, my son got up again—this time claiming thirst; then five minutes after that, he was afraid of the dark. Finally, after a few of these incidents, we had to talk straight to our son: “Jon, if you get out of bed again, you are going to get spanked. And that is going to hurt.” The message was sent—he did not come out again.
Sometimes, in order to cut through the baloney and the silly excuses, we need to talk straight and make some difficult call outs. Look at today’s passage: When Sanballat and Tobiah hear that the wall of Jerusalem is almost done, they invite Nehemiah for a visit with the hopes of harming him and halting its completion (v. 2). At first, Nehemiah tries to redirect them by saying that he is “too busy” (v. 3), but after four more similar attempts, Sanballat comes back with this fictitious treason accusation (vv. 6-7). Finally, Nehemiah is forced to shoot straight and calls out Sanballat’s baloney: “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind” (v.8).
Now how does this apply to us today? Let me share something: Whether they are two, thirty-two, and presumably seventy-two years old, people will still come up with elaborate excuses as to why they are not doing what they should be doing (or doing what they shouldn’t be doing). Of course, as they grow older, the excuses become more reasonable than having a “lion in the bed,” but they are nevertheless excuses. So you may have heard of the following: “Everyone else does it”; “I’m just trying to be real or true to myself”; “I’m not hurting anyone”; or “I have unresolved daddy issues,” etc. As a community in Christ, it is probably most loving to start subtly in helping another get past the elaborate excuses. However, there may come a time when we must be willing to cut through the baloney and shoot straight with our friends and call out sinful behavior, misguided thinking, or selfish hearts.
Father, thank You for the community I have. Help me to be wise and bold to share the truth in love. Also, let me see what excuses or stories I am using to disobey You.
Bible Reading for Today: Zechariah 10-11