Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.
After the work was complete, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to his service with King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 13:6). However, he did not forget about the work in Jerusalem and obtained a leave from his duties once again to conduct a review. What he found upset him and he set out to confront the evil that had invaded. When Nehemiah found out that Eliashib the high priest had traded favors with the enemy, Tobiah, Nehemiah expelled Tobiah from the temple courtyards and demanded that the rooms be purified (13:7-9). Leaders must always be on the watch for problems that creep into the ministry, even after it is well established. A great leader purifies and restores the ministry immediately when outside influences and unbiblical teaching have defiled it.
A successful ministry, like a successful character-driven leader, is devoted to pure biblical principles without compromise. When Nehemiah realized that the Levites were not receiving what was due them, he confronted the leaders and inquired about the problem. When he learned that people were misusing the Sabbath day, he confronted and rebuked them, correcting the problem by making changes in policy—having the gates close on the Sabbath eve.
He continued by confronting people who had intermarried with foreigners. Nehemiah didn’t cower from confrontation. In fact, he was quite harsh, even beating some of them (13:25). We certainly shouldn’t beat anyone in our ministries; however, Nehemiah shows us that it is important to maintain a godly standard (Nehemiah 13:30-31).
Nehemiah appointed leaders and assigned tasks, making sure they knew what he expected of them. He gave them the supplies they needed to execute their duties. Great leaders continue to assign tasks and equip people for the work. Leaders have continued opportunities to establish and equip others as leaders. We must provide opportunities for them to grow personally and to worship God, celebrating Him. We must ground people in the Word of God through teaching and training them, and grow them into maturity through discipleship and accountability./p>
A key aspect of Nehemiah’s completion of the mission and dedication to the ministry was in the vows he and the people wrote in Nehemiah 10. By writing them down, he established accountability. When we equip and train others, we must provide them with opportunities for accountability. “To give an account simply means to tell the truth to the person to whom you are responsible for what you have done or said.”
There are doors of utterance in every life, doors to high achievement and wide usefulness and spiritual discovery. However, they often go unperceived because they are hidden by difficult and unattractive circumstances. Too often we look upon our circumstances in life as barriers to attainment, but in our moments of truer spiritual perception we discern that the imagined prison bars are in reality open doors of opportunity. Our circumstances only look like barriers because the inward eye by which we recognize spiritual values may be warped and distorted.
It is important that we learn to realize, like Paul, that there are rarely great open doors without opposition. We just need the gumption to follow the footsteps of the master as he stands at the head and leads.
I Corinthians 16:9:
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
There is an opportunity in every difficulty, and a difficulty in every opportunity. That is why so many blessings are missed, so many heights left unscaled, so many fine chapters of service in our book of life left unwritten. Some of our finest witnessing adventures are those never attempted! We heard the call; we felt the urge; we saw the open door and would have gone through; but there were adversaries, obstacles, discouragements. Then comes the hesitation and the vision fades, and the grand adventure is never pursued and fulfilled.
I trust you are learning to turn your eyes to the great new door of opportunity which every new day sets before you. There are many who go blindly into their day without a thought that it is a God-given door of opportunity. The “god of this world” blinds their minds. Let’s not be like them. May we see each new day to be as it really is — a “great door” opened to us!
We have a new nature that hungers for fellowship with God and has great capacity for spiritual delight. At the break of each new day our heavenly Father invites us into a closer fellowship with Him and greater usefulness for Him. Let’s live with no regrets, no wistful looks backward. How loyal and willing and active we ought to be, despite all discouragements? Let’s use the rest of our days to do our utmost for His highest! It has been said that a pessimist is one who sees a difficulty in every opportunity; whereas an optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty. Let today be a day of seeing opportunities rather than difficulties.
If we have eyes to see, there are “open doors” everywhere. Stay true to your God-given vision and pursue it with gusto. He has wonderful things in store for you as you go through the doors He is excited to open before you.
By Wayne Clapp