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January 21, 2011 – Nehemiah 11

It’s often both painful and humorous how God has to force us to be blessed. CS Lewis once said that after years of running from the Truth he was eventually forced to admit that God was God, and he entered the Christian life as “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” It would be difficult to find a modern thinker who has had a more profound impact on Christian thought, and yet he was “conscripted” in a way. Ironic much?

In today’s chapter, we see Nehemiah trying to find people to populate Jerusalem. In chapter 7, we saw that the wall was fairly ready, but the city was deserted. Jerusalem still had a big ole “Sack Me” sign written on its newly reconstructed walls, and those troublesome neighbors were still hanging around. Many people thought that staying out in the suburbs suited them just fine.

What’s a civic leader to do? 1 – Ask for volunteers. 2 – Find “volunteers.”


Verse 2 notes that the people commended those who “volunteered” to be in Jerusalem. There are two interpretations of this verse: one, that there were two groups of settlers,conscripts and volunteers, and the volunteers were honored; two, the “volunteers” were the conscripts, and the people honored those that had been chosen by lot as a sign of divine favor.

The word used for “volunteer” here is kind of difficult to translate. It’s used in reference to a “love offering” in Exodus, but it’s also used to indicate when someone’s heart “moves” them to action. In other words, it’s a voluntary choice that sometimes has an element of inner compulsion.


So who are our volunteers today? Pastors of course. Talk to any pastor, and many of them will tell you that going into the ministry was not exactly a “choice.” For many, they have an inner compulsion, or calling, or whatever you want to call it when God grabs ahold of your heart and won’t let go. Living the life in a stained-glass fishbowl or with a big ole spiritual target on your back isn’t always the fun you may imagine, but they have been chosen by God, and they should be honored for it.

So, for those whom you know who are living in the “holy city” today, those that willingly (or not) stand on the front line and work in the shadow of the enemy’s threats, find a way to honor them today. Yes, Pastor Appreciation isn’t usually until October, but an email or phone call or free pizza to encourage your shepherd is still ok in January.

You never know who God might “volunteer” next.

One thought on “January 21, 2011 – Nehemiah 11

  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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