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A teacher in my son’s public school pulled me aside in the hallway one morning before school started.  Although my son didn’t have her for a teacher, we were acquainted with each other.  She asked if I prayed.  When I confirmed that I did, she asked me to pray for the children in her class. She gave me two specific prayer requests and concluded her thoughts with a comment I will always remember.  She said she could tell which children were prayed for, and many in her class needed someone to pray for them.

Be sure to pray for your children.  Following is a prayer I wrote in August of 2005 as my children started a new year of school:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I seek Your presence, coming before You with thanksgiving for the wonderful blessings You have given me through my children.  Raising a child is an awesome and often overwhelming responsibility, yet You have entrusted these children to me, so I come to You now to lift them up to You as they begin a new year at school.  Please, Lord, keep my children safe from harm and evil.  Please keep the buses and carpool vehicles safe.  Please let Your presence be in the school to keep it safe, positive, and a place where children can be comfortable and able to learn.

Although we cannot speak of You or pray outwardly to You in many schools, let the Christians in the schools share Christ’s love and the lessons He taught by their words and actions.  I pray that my children will be positive influences on those around them, conducting themselves in a Christ-like manner and resisting temptations to behave in ways that are not acceptable or allowed in school.

Lord, I thank You for the many gifts, talents, and blessings You have given my children and pray that they will continue to use and grow those gifts; and that their actions and accomplishments will be pleasing to You and bring glory to You.

Lord, I also pray for myself as a parent.  Please help me to be there for my children in the ways that they need me to be.  Help me to understand them and to know how to support them, even ‘fight’ for them, if needed.  I pray that You will give me the wisdom to know when to help, when to encourage, when to motivate, and when to sit back, being more mindful of their needs and what is best for them instead of giving in to my protective and dominating tendencies.  I pray also for wisdom in helping them when they face difficulties and challenges.  Help their father and I to rule with patience and grace – even in the most frustrating of situations.

And Lord, I pray that You will instill in their hearts the desire to learn, grow, mature, and thrive in their educational settings.  Most importantly, please keep in them the desire to keep You in their lives, not allowing less godly influences to push You aside.

Please also help us to communicate and stay close.

I pray for every parent who shares these prayerful concerns and ask that You guide and bless them as they love and care for their children.  I pray, too, for the children who don’t have someone to pray for them.  May those children find people in their lives who can lead and inspire them.

Oh, dear Lord, thank You for being there for us, for hearing our prayers and for being a loving God who cares for us, watches over us, and looks out for us.  How reassuring it is for us as parents to know that we can give our concerns, fears, and questions to You, especially when we pray for our children, and can trust that our children are safe with You.

To You, my Heavenly Father I pray, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and in the love of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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To review, Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed and the Israelites taken into Bablonian captivity.  They felt lost without their Temple, as God’s presence had been there.  Finally the Israelites were released from captivity.  Over time, three groups were led back to Jerusalem and the Temple rebuilt.  Not all Israelites returned, though.  Some had been born in captivity and raised in other lands and were comfortable in their lives.  Others held onto to their religious heritage, but remained where they were.  Nehemiah was in that category. 

Although Nehemiah did not immediately return to be with the Israelites, his heart was with them.  It grieved him to learn that the city was being rebuilt, but that the city wall was still in ruins, leaving the city and its people very vulnerable to enemies and future attacks.  He felt called to return to his city and his people to restore the city wall. 

Restoring the wall was a HUGE undertaking!  It was certainl not something one man could do on his own!  The Book of Nehemiah chronicles his calling, his methods, and his efforts, challenges and successes.  It also illustrates how Nehemiah made God his prayer partner, taking everything to God in prayer and trusting in Him to help him see the project through. 

In Chapter 4, Nehemiah is faced by his enemies.   Sanballot, governor of Samaria (region north of Jerusalem) and Tobiah, and Ammonite, mocked and scorned Nehemiah and the people of Jersulem for the rebuilding of the wall.  Enemies will often try to discourage our efforts when we threaten their evil ways or pose a threat to their plans.  Nehemiah knew what to do, though.  Instead of firing back with his own insults or furthering tensions between the Israelites and Samarians, he went to God in prayer.  And this is what he prayed:

Nehemiah 4:4-5 “Hear us, O our God, for we are being mocked.  May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives ina foreign land!  Do no ignore their guilt.  Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in the presence of the builders.”  

Wow.  What a prayerfully disciplined man he was!  He was mocked and insulted in front of those he was leading in the building project.  Instead of defending himself to maintain his pride and dignity or firing back at his enemies, he gave the situation to God. He did not pray out of spite asking for bad things to happen to these men.  Instead, HE TRUSTED GOD to give them the justice they deserved. 

In verse 6, Nehemiah continues by stating that the wall was finally completed to half of its original height because the people of the city had worked very hard.  This infuriated the enemies!  They announced their plans to fight against the city and bring about confusion.  Remember, when the enemy feels threatened, he strike out.  Nehemiah knew the best defense was a good offense and went to God in prayer.  Then the city people guarded the city day and night. 

Prayer is necessary, but prayer alone won’t take care of our problems.  We begin with prayer and then must follow up with God-led actions as Nehemiah did.  He immediately organized a schedule of guards, moved all the people inside the wall, and the guards carried weapons 24/7.  They also started working even harder to complete the rebuilding of the wall. 

Jumping ahead to Chapter 6, we learn that on October 2nd, just 52 days after building began, the wall was finally finished!  This is an amazing feat.  Men and women stacked stones and built heavy gates, all by hand, eventually working day and night – building and keeping guard – until their city wall was complete in less than two months!  This was only possible because Nehemiah, as their leader, sought God’s blessing and help in all that they did.  And he gave all the glory to God, acknowledging Him every step of the way.

Although I originally intended to walk us through the entire Book of Nehemiah, I will bring our ‘study’ to a close here.  I hope you will remember Nehemiah when you face challenges, begin new projects, and feel callings on your heart to proceed in new directions.  He prayed, prayed, prayed every step of the way.  And if you recall, even though he felt called to help the city of Jersualem, it was months before he began as he waited upon the Lord for the right timing to do so.  He didn’t hang back thinking about all the reasons why he shouldn’t take on this project, and his writings don’t indicate that he never felt the job was impossible.  He put his total trust in the Lord and followed His guidance.  In return, God lifted him, enabled him, provided for him, and even protected him.  And because Nehemiah gave glory to God and publicly and witnessed through his words and deeds to those assisting him, God showed himself in awesome ways to the Israelites as he enabled them to work together and complete the wall in such a short time. 

There is much more to this story and I hope you will read Nehemiah for yourself, taking note of all the prayers he prayed to God.  And when you do, take a moment to think about how you might react in those same situations. 

My Bible (Life Application, NLT) gives a summary of situations Nehemiah faced and how he dealt with them through prayer.  I’ll share a little about that with you:

1:4-11  Recognized God’s holiness.  Asked for a hearing.  Confessed his sins.  Asked for specific help.

2:4 “Here’s where you can help, God!”

4:4-5 “They’re mocking you, God.  You decide what to do with them.”

4:9  “We are in your hands, God.  We’ll keep our weapons handy in case you want us to use them.”

6:9 “O, Lord God, please strengthen me.”

13:29  Asked God to deal with the enemies and their evil plans.

5:19; 13:14; 22, 31   Reflecting on his own efforts to serve God:   “Remember me, God.”

Let’s all remember Nehemiah and try to be more like him.

Dear Lord, Just as Nehemiah sought to serve and glorify You, I do the same.  And I pray that this little study we’ve done on this site will help and inspire others as it has me; that we may each strive to be more like Nehemiah, remembering You always with our prayers and putting our trust in You in all that we do.   In Your holy name I pray, Amen. 

For previous ‘lessons’ about the story of Nehemiah, please scroll down to my previous posts. 

Your thoughts about the study of Nehemiah or other posts on this site are always welcome!  Please share them with us!  We can always learn from each other.  To respond, just click on the word ‘comments’ below the title of the post to which you are responding. 

Blessings to all,

Renee

Dear Friends,

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve updated my site.  The boys and I were out of town for eight days and I was unable to access my site during that time.  We’re home now and it’s good to be fully connected to cyberspace again!! 

I took the boys back to Indiana to visit grandparents and family.  We were fortunate to see a few friends, too.  Then we went to West Virginia to visit my Granny at ‘her home in the hills’ and got to catch up with cousins, too. 

My family lives in a small WV town, Hillsboro, that I describe as being one of the last Mayberries  left on earth (remember The Andy Griffith Show?).  The people are good, hardworking, and live by much simpler standards and expectations than the people in my city area do.  And that’s a good thing.  The people in Hillsboro have their share of struggles – just like people everywhere – but they stick together and look out for each other, maintaining a good sense of community.

Do you have that sense of community where you live? Although we live in a largely populated and busy city area, we found ‘community’ in our church.  I’ve said many times that I’m the richest I’ve ever been, not in terms of money, but rich in the goodness of my life.  Since truly offering my heart to Christ, I’ve been blessed in incredible ways, and my greatest treasures are the people in my life.  And when I think in terms of community I think of my church family.  In today’s busy world that tells us that life is about getting ahead, acquiring stuff, and living for self, my church family is there to live for Christ, find contentment in the Lord – not the world, and to be there for each other.  In fact, just last night, when a church member learned that we returned home from our trip in 100+ degree weather with our AC having gone out, he called offer to let us use their nearby get-away cabin that would be cool and comfortable.  We were able to get our AC fixed so we were ok, but I can’t describe how touched I was that he would want to call and offer to help us like that. 

And you know, in Christ, the community of church extends well beyond the church grounds.  God has blessed me with a community of wonderful people throughout my life.  Some are new friends I’ve encountered along my life’s journey, others have become friends online,  and others are special ‘gems’ from my past.  Just last week I was blessed to be reunited with a dear friend of the family that I hadn’t seen since I was married 16 years ago.  Her friendship was just as sweet and dear when we tearfully embraced as it had always been.  And now it’s even more so after realizing how special it still is. 

Dear Lord, Thank You for the wonderful community of people you’ve put in my life- family and friends, past and present, from near and far.  I’m truly blessed, indeed.    Amen. 

Love and blessings to all,

Renee

PRAYERS sought for members of the Proverbs 31 team who are leaving Friday, Aug 10 for a mission trip to Ecuador with Compassion Intl .  Eleven women from P 31 are going including Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, the Senior Editor of the daily devotions that I assist, Charlene Kidd who was the leader of my speaker eval group at She Speaks!, and other writers and members of their speaker team.  They will be meeting children they’ve been sponsoring and filming the experience which will likely be very emotional.  Please pray for their travel mercies and for God to be with them as they meet the children and interact with the locals, that they will shine the light and love of Christ into the lives of all they meet.  Pray also for their families while they are away and for their safe return.  Thank you!

PROMO:  Speaking of Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, they co-authored a new book for the Proverbs 31 Ministries that has just been released.  I got my copies today!  It’s called “God’s Purpose for Every Woman” and is a compilation of previous daily devotions.  I was blessed with the opportunity of helping with this project, so I’m very excited about it!  

For more information about Compassion International, and to order your own copies of “God’s Purpose for Every Woman”, go to www.Proverbs31.org .    

“The God of heaven will help us succeed.”    – Nehemiah 2:20

Have you been reading Nehemiah with me?  While at the beach last week I read chapters 3 and 4.  We’ll review chapter 3 now.

Chapter 3 is about the actual rebuilding of the wall.  As mentioned in my previous post “Nehemiah – Part 2”, the diagram of the wall in my bible looks like a footprint.  It details where all the gates and towers are.  There were 10 gates, 11 towers, and stairs descending from the City of David.  By my measurements, it appears to have been approximately eight miles long and three miles wide at its widest point.  The walls and towers were made of stone and the gates are described as being ‘heavy wooden’ gates. 

Nehemiah describes each section of the wall and records who built each section.  One might think that just construction-type laborers built this wall, but that is far from the truth.  In fact, the first people listed were the High Priest and other priests.  People from nearby Jericho built next to them.  Also listed were people from other nearby towns, fathers and sons, citizens of Jerusalem, leaders of districts, Levites, priests from surrounding regions, a father and his daughters, Temple servants, and goldsmiths and merchants. 

It fascinates me that all these people came forth to do such hard, physical labor, especially since many came from out-of-town to help.  Also interesting is the fact that people with such diverse backgrounds worked side-by-side for the purpose of accomplishing a single goal, to reinforce the city of Jerusalem.  Why would they do this?  Only one answer comes to my mind.  Because Nehemiah was being radically obedient to God taking on this project and had made God his partner in prayer, God’s blessing was upon this project and He led the people to do His work.  Lessons to be learned from this?

Dear Lord, Help me to be like Nehemiah in all I do, doing the work You call me to do and entrusting my endeavors to You through constant prayer.  In Your holy name I pray.  Amen.

Please excuse me for being absent from this site for a while.  We were on vacation at the Outer Banks of North Carolina this past week. 

Have you ever been to the Outer Banks?  If not, I highly encourage you to go sometime.  The Outer Banks is a thin chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. They lead north into Virginia.  We were on Hatteras Island. 

The beaches of the Outber Banks (OBX) are not lined with palm trees like tropical beaches.  They have a picturesque beauty all their own with sea grasses blowing atop natural sand dunes.  The Atlantic Ocean is on the east side of the islands and the Sound is on the west side between the island and the mainland of NC.

We rented a beautiful beachside home.  From the upper deck I could look out over the sand dunes covered with sea grasses that gently swayed in the breezes to the expanse of the Atlantic spread out as far as my eyes could see.  Soft sandy beaches were on the other side of the dunes, although they were hidden from view by the dunes.  Because the island was so narrow where stayed in Salvo, NC, we could look out to the east and see the ocean and to the west to see the Sound.  I could never tire of the views.

We rented the house with my sister-in-law and her family.  It was great being with family and having fun on the beach, but the time I enjoyed the most was the time I spent on the upper deck looking out over the ocean, hearing the splashing of the waves, watching sea gulls and sand pipers fly overhead while a little bunny scurried around the grasses and flowers of the sand dune below, and seeing the light of the Son reflect on the waters below.  The best time to catch His reflection was at night when the light of the silvery moon sparkled and danced upon the ocean’s ever-moving water. 

I usually try to have my prayer and meditation time in the morning, but at the beach I found myself going out on the upper deck at night after everyone else was in bed to spend time with my Lord and feel His presence in the beauty of the world around me.  It was as if His presence was to be found in the light of the moon, and that made sense to me.  You see, the moon doesn’t possess its own light.  The light we see from the moon is actually the reflection of light from the sun.  For me the moon was the reflection of the light of the Son and I was so graced by His presence all week.  A few times I actually fell asleep outside on the deck, blanketed by stars and covered with the presence of God.  Yes, I was graced, indeed. 

Praise be to the Father of Creation and the Giver of beauty and salvation.  Amen!

Beach blessings to all,

Renee

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