Peace Amidst Mockery — Peace of Advent

Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 4.1-3
4  When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” 

John 18.36-37
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

Reflection: Peace Amidst Mockery — Peace of Advent
By John Tillman

Nehemiah and the builders were surrounded by mockery. Some of it surely stung. If Bible nerds were to list “sick burns” in the Bible, Tobiah’s comical comment about foxes knocking down the wall would probably rate a mention. Nehemiah, however, doesn’t respond.

Nehemiah had the force of government behind him. Soldiers, the king, and the law were all on his side. But he turned instead to prayer. Yes, he took practical steps to protect the lives of the workers, but his primary strategy was to turn over the mockers and their threats to God.

Building God’s kingdom will always seem impractical because, as Christians, we are building the kingdom Jesus described as being “from another place.” (John 18.36) Waiting on this kingdom and the peace it brings is one of the lessons of the season of Advent.

Building a literal, physical, or political kingdom is something people understand. Building this kind of kingdom may lead to power, praise, or wealth. Building the kind of kingdom Jesus describes leads to mockery. Pilate mocked this kingdom when Jesus mentioned it. His opponents mocked this kingdom at his trial and as he died. The soldiers mocked this kingdom as they beat him and as they hung him on the cross.

When we devote ourselves, primarily, to building Jesus’ intangible, immortal, and immanent kingdom we may be mocked. Called impractical. Called foolish. Sometimes this will come from enemies of the gospel and sometimes from those we would expect to join us. In either case, we do not need to reply in kind.

Like Hezekiah, who laid out the insults of Sennacherib before the Lord, (2 Kings 19.16) Nehemiah lays out Sanballat and Tobiah’s insults and threats. So let us turn Sanballat and Tobiah’s mockery into a prayer.

We praise you, God.
We wait and pray for the peace of your kingdom.
You, through Jesus, will make the feeble strong.
What looks so frail a fox’s feet could topple it will prevail against the forces of Hell.
You will restore what is broken beyond repair.
By offering the sacrifice on the cross, in one day, Jesus has finished the work of salvation.
In rolling away the stone from the tomb, God brings dead stone hearts back to beating life.
Like you, your kingdom is from another place.
Jesus, your kingdom is, was, and will be. (Revelation 1.8)
Bring that kingdom through us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me… — Psalm 101.6

Today’s Readings
Nehemiah 4 (Listen 3:38)  
Revelation 13 (Listen 3:20)

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Read more about Peace of Endurance
Chains shall He break
for the slave is our brother
And in His name
all oppression shall cease.

Spiritual Vigilance Needed :: Worldwide Prayer

Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 4.14
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.

Reflection: Spiritual Vigilance Needed :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Like the families stirringly described by Nehemiah, most people would never shirk from giving their all in defending their homes from physical attack. If one’s family or children were under a physical threat, the instinct of every person is to rise up, to stand between them and danger.

But the dangers of spiritual life are more subtle than a home invasion—and more dangerous. And though we would risk our lives to stop an intruder armed with a gun, often the more dangerous invaders of idolatry, greed, and selfishness pass right through our defenses.

In many cases, our spiritual vigilance is lacking.

May we all, parents or not, pray this prayer solemnly, recognizing that whether biological children are in our arms or not, Christ expects us to bring ALL the little children of our world to his arms for protection.

A Prayer for Our Children
From Jamaica

Father of all the families of the earth!
Hear now our prayer for the children.
May those who would bear children recognize your great grace in according them a part in the mystery of the generation of life and your judgment upon all who cause your “little ones” to stumble.

Remember in your love the children at risk in our time— those whose homes are the streets of great cities, those who have been displaced by war and other calamities, and who by experience understand the feeling of Him who said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Loving Lord Jesus, sometimes “despised and rejected of men”, You know the pain and distress of youth who feel rejected and neglected and starved of affection.

So bless all those who as parents or mentors, offer love and guidance to the young.

May we so live, and so order our societies that the youth of our time, like the perfect Son of Man, may grow and develop “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Hear this our prayer O God and answer the yearning of our hearts for the renewal and redemption of all your wonderful Creation, especially for our young people, our glory and our hope, for the sake of your loving Son, Jesus Christ our Savior.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad. — Psalm 14.7

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Nehemiah 4 (Listen -3:38)
Acts 14 (Listen -3:54)

Read more about God Shivering on Concrete
God’s love is evident…in the many Christian and secular organizations that move, at times into dangerous circumstances, to help the downtrodden.

Read more about The House God Desires
When we make room for God in our hearts and lives, he will enter.
And when our lives are over, we will awake in the house of God.