This job stinks!

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Not every job is glorious. There are some jobs that are just downright crappy. Necessary, but they kind of stink. Mike Rowe stars in the Discovery show, “Dirty Jobs.” In the show he find the filthiest jobs in America and then does them. He discovers that there are necessary jobs out there that few people want to do. There’s a guy in the book of Nehemiah who had one of those jobs.

Nehemiah 3:14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. 

It was called the Dung Gate. What do you think was somewhere nearby? That’s right: something that stunk. This couldn’t have been the most desired job in the rebuilding process. There were many places on the wall and gates to rebuild. Yet someone needed to rebuild the Dung Gate. Malkijah was that guy. This job stinks!

When I was reading Nehemiah 3 today, I found the details of this situation amusing. Prior to verse 14 is a listing of all the other gates that were rebuilt and who built them. In the case of the other gates, they were rebuilt by a team of people. The smallest team was 2 people, but most of the work on the other gates and areas of the wall was done by a group of people. Not the Dung Gate. Apparently, no one signed up for that one. Poor Malkijah got the job; maybe he had the least seniority. And so he worked, alone, with the “help wanted” sign still hanging from the wall.

There’s something I appreciate about Malkijah that he probably doesn’t get credit for. He did the crappiest job on this whole project. It wasn’t beneath him. He just did it. Sometimes we tend to think that we are “above” some things. We leave the little stuff, the stinky stuff, to the little people. Yet Jesus calls us all to become little people. THAT is the path to greatness. 

In the words of Jesus: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

Where can you serve today?

Haters gonna hate

I don’t like being mocked and ridiculed. Who does? Nobody that I know. It doesn’t feel very good. Over the Christmas season, I watched the movie Elf with my family. One of my favorite scenes is the snowball fight. The poor kid is a joke because he is hanging around with a guy dressed like an elf. But when kids start throwing snowballs at them, Buddy gets even. Take that! I will not be mocked.mocking1

 

Today’s reading is a little longer, but bear with me. This is good stuff.  Nehemiah 2:17-20

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Right off the bat, Nehemiah faced opposition to the very thing God had called him to. He would later receive threats, but he set the tone early as to how he would respond. He basically said, “haters gonna hate” and left it at that. It didn’t seem to phase him. There was no worry, anxiety, fear, or trepidation. He wasn’t phased. Instead, he simply didn’t listen to those that set themselves up against his calling.

When we step out in obedience to the things that God calls us to, we will often hear the voices of those who tell us we can’t do it. They will give us all the reasons why it won’t work. They will tell us we aren’t qualified, that we don’t have the resources. The problem is that they are trying to focus us on what we don’t have. We need to focus on what we do have: God! And a calling from Him. 

There are places that God is calling you to. He has a mission for you. Are you listening to His voice? Or are you listening to the voices that tell you it will never happen?

 

Responding to bad news

“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you; what do you want to hear first?” Okay, what kind of question is that? I mean, really. Most of the time the good news is just some reassuring garbage to make us feel a little better about the bad news. Right? When someone makes that statement to me, I know that they really just have bad news. “The bad news is that your hot water heater is not fixable. The good news is that I can replace it for a price that is higher than you can afford.” Someone tell me what the good news was again?

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To be honest, I don’t really respond to bad news all that well. “We messed up your reservation, your warranty expired last week, we’re leaving your church, it didn’t work out, etc, etc.” These things honestly just bum me out. And I think that’s an okay response, as long as it isn’t our only response. Let’s turn our attention to Nehemiah and his bad news.

He found out that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been burned. The city of the Lord that he loved so much had been destroyed. Nehemiah 1:4a When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. 

See, Nehemiah was bummed out too. Here’s the thing: bummed out as he was, that wasn’t his only response. Let’s continue to Nehemiah 1:4b-6a For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. 

THEN I SAID… The bummed out feeling isn’t what ruled this situation. His first response may have been crying, but his next one was crying out… TO GOD! Lord, we need you. We need your forgiveness and we need your rescue. We need your courage and we need your strength. We need your blessing and we need your favor.

This is the truly great response to bad news. This is how Nehemiah changed the course of his nation. He cried out to God. He hit his knees and made his request known. Friends, this is how you respond to bad news.

So if you find yourself discouraged today, cry out to God. If you find yourself bummed out, hopeless, or depressed, cry out to God. If you just got some really bad news, turn to the God who is greater! Trust him, lean on him, take refuge in him if you need to. He is the God who turns our mourning into dancing, and our sorrows into great joy! Nehemiah would rebuilt those walls and you can rebuild yours, too.