Mr. Smith taught 9th grade Science for years. He was former military and had rigid standards by which we all must live. It was during these years that I was testing every boundary. Our family had moved to the community the winter before and I was still adjusting to the new surroundings.
We did not get along.
Now, that is not to say he was a bad teacher. I was a disruption in the class. I was more concerned about popularity than physical science. I would sit in the back with Tuck and we would crack jokes. Well, the joke was on me when the semester grades came out. I had a “D”.
That was unacceptable. At that age I did not fully comprehend what that meant. I pulled it up to a “B” by year’s end, but the damage had already been done. There was not enough extra credit to make up for my mistakes. Even though, Smith had mercy there was little grace.
I praise God every day for the grace he provides. Each and every day of life our standard is Jesus. We are to be like Jesus. God said that we are to be holy like He is holy.
How can I be holy? Is it a feeling? Is there a certificate? Does Lifeway handout pins? Wait, what?
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
I read this verse and it talks about giving my body to God as a holy sacrifice, which is the true way to worship. I would rather just show up on Sunday, right? Couldn’t we work out some kind of plan for practically holy? I don’t want to be “holier than”, but I do want holiness.
Nehemiah gives us insight. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. Because he made the right decisions toward holiness. Here’s how he did it and you can too!
Nehemiah was comfortable, then he became courageous. (*)
Sitting in the summer home of the King was a cushy position. He worked for the King, but he was more white-collar than blue. In his comfort he had not considered life any other way or in any other place. He got up and worked and that was it. As Nehemiah gave his heart to God his attitude changed. Nehemiah moved from comfort to courage. Are there areas of your heart God wishes to adjust from comfort to courage?
Nehemiah was confronted, then he became captivated.(*)
There is nothing like good friends who will tell you what you need to hear! Hanani came to visit Nehemiah. Was it social? Was is business? Was it political? Needless to say, he answered Nehemiah’s question forthright. Nehemiah was confronted with the stark reality of his home. He became captivated with this knowledge. He wrestled in his mind night and day over the problems Jerusalem was facing. As Nehemiah gave his mind to God his awareness changed. Are there areas of knowledge and reality God wants you to be captivated with today?
Nehemiah cried for the people, then he was called out by God.(*)
As Nehemiah wrestled with this new awareness, he was overrun with emotion. He cried. He lost his appetite. He prayed. How long has it been since you have shed tears over the realities of your life? I often wonder if we have been taught to shove it down. Others make everything dramatic and over sell. God wants a pliable soul. During these times of deep prayer and crying out to God, Nehemiah was aware of what he was supposed to do. God called him out. What is God calling you out to accomplish? What is it that keeps you up at night? Does God want you to be the solution? Have you asked?
Nehemiah was a cup-bearer, then he became a contractor.(*)
Nehemiah was suited for the position he held. He did it well. He did it for God. Why would he change in the middle of life? So often we are allowed to navigate through crises in order for us to see the change God desires in our lives. Blackaby calls it a “crisis of belief”. Will my belief change my behavior? God led Nehemiah from being a cup-bearer to the King to being a contractor for a country. What might God be leading you toward right now? Like Nehemiah, God can use you to change the world!
Nehemiah was an ordinary Jew that would do extraordinary things that changed the world. He did not do it all perfect, but he tried. He did not always make the exact right move, but he desired to honor God. He followed God to the ruins of history and was a part of shaping a more preferred future. He was practically holy. Are you?