My eldest son headed off to Middle School today! Hard to believe but true. 🙂

Anyway, while getting him all pepped up for the school year, I realized he was a bit understandably nervous. So, Christian writer that I am, I shared experiences from my life and the Bible, but I thought go a little further and share a quick-write with you about another man who had to face a new challenge of his own.

I hope Nehemiah’s story inspires you. If you have back-to-schoolers in your life, may it inspire them as well.

JP Robinson

It was the scariest day of my life! At least, that’s what I thought then. Why, you ask?

Here’s what happened.

 King Artaxerxes, the sole ruler of an empire that spanned more than 2 million square miles, had just asked me a question.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that talking to such a powerful man was scary. I am his cupbearer after all, and he trusts me enough to ask my opinions from time to time.  The problem today was the question itself. You see, he looked right at me and asked, “Nehemiah, why are you sad?”

To you, that might sound like something nice. To me … it sounded like a death sentence.

You see, as the guy that made sure the king’s wine wasn’t poisoned, and spent a lot of time in his presence, it was pretty much against the rules for me to be sad when around the king. Artaxerxes thought of himself as so important that he banished all sadness from the life of anyone around him. Everybody had to be happy in his presence.

Weird, I know, but that’s the way things were.

Well anyway, even though I knew I shouldn’t be sad around the king, I just couldn’t bring myself to smile. Not today.

 Some of my relatives, who lived near the Lord’s city, Jerusalem, had come with news. Bad news.  They told me the city was in ruins and the gate still broken down. I knew that I had to do something. But what could I do? I was a thousand miles away from Jerusalem. I was just a lowly servant to the king. I was no Joshua that could command the sun to stand still or a David that could kill a giant!

I was a cupbearer. A soon-to-be-executed cupbearer.

But then I remembered that yesterday I had asked God to allow me to make a difference for my people back in my home country of Israel. This was my chance! I could either let things go as they were and pretend everything was okay, or I could take the plunge.

Scared stiff, I whispered a prayer in my heart for God’s help. Then I licked my lips, straightened my shoulders … and asked for permission to go back to my home country and rebuild the city.

Yes, I thought that was the scariest day of my life. Little did I know that things would get even scarier. But I learned an important lesson that day. God can use cupbearers as well as conquerors.

No matter who we are, kid or adult, once we trust Him, we can tackle the biggest challenges—and win.

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

One of the most striking parts of this biblical passage is the father’s brutal honesty. While Jesus’s declaration that everything is possible to those who have faith inspires us to “ask abundantly so our joy may be full, (John 16:24),” it is the raw, naked confession of the father that really tugs at my heart.

He’s not lauding the reasons why he deserves a miracle nor is he just nodding his head, like many today, and saying “thanks for the encouraging sermon Pastor Jesus” while expecting nothing to change in his life.

With all the sincerity he could muster, the father confessed his faith—admitted it wasn’t perfect— and asked Christ to help him get rid of his lingering doubts.

What a refreshing reminder that we can be HONEST with God!

Every Christian struggles, but too often we prefer to cloak our fears and insecurities behind a veil of good works, piety, or self-righteousness. How much better to be open with the God to whom all things are naked and bare (Hebrews 4:13).

But the grief-stricken father didn’t stop at admitting his flaws. He went on to ask for Christ’s transforming power to help him rise above his fallen humanity.

It’s easy to become apathetic about our frailties. I see it all the time as an educator. Some students become unwilling to try because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re just going to fail anyway.

But this father showed us that God is interested in our success. He’s willing to meet us where we are to give us power to conquer ourselves through His Spirit.

Like him, may we freely confess our weaknesses then cry out to God to help us rise above our condition. That’s when God’s power is displayed in our lives.

JP Robinson

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

—John 8:36

Freedom is the greatest of gifts, and it’s one that comes with a heavy price.

But freedom doesn’t mean we do what we want; it means we are gifted with an opportunity to live above ourselves. For truly, there is no greater slave driver than self-indulgence.

Christ’s freedom liberates us from guilt, shame and the desires that drove us to self-destructive habits. We are now empowered to serve others as He served, to deny our own wants so that others can be blessed.

That is the true power of freedom.

What a blessing!

JP Robinson

Discover the power of Freedom. Northshire Trilogy #1: In the Shadow of Your Wings

While drafting an article for a Christian magazine, I was struck by the rugged nature of the early church. Against all odds, the believers challenged social norms, upended the religious traditions, stymied a pagan empire that spanned the known world, and crushed political opposition.

Who were these warriors?

Ordinary men and women, most of whom couldn’t even write their own name (Acts 4:13). But they possessed the power of the Holy Spirit and, through it, they turned the world upside down.

21st century Christians should look in awe at those early believers. They crossed cultures, conquered resistance with zeal, love and a rugged faith in a miracle-working God. Today, we must also face a world ruled by fear, superstition and, political correctness. Boycotts have become the game of the day as the Bible predicts would happen (Revelations 13:16).

But there are individuals who embody Christ’s answer.

Let us be the warriors that Christ ordained, proclaiming His Word with boldness and faith. Let us challenge the darkness, recognizing we are not weak but strong in Him.

We insist He is alive and prove it by letting Him work His supernatural wonders through us.

Let us be His witnesses, empowered by His Spirit to carry on His life. Fear must be met with faith, darkness with the conquering power of light.

Only then, will the world see God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
1The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:13-14

What an amazing experience it must have been for the millions of former slaves to see God’s power deliver them from their oppressors. But the best news is that, for the child of God today, His power is still ready to work in our lives.

Whether we’re struggling against an addiction, emotional turmoil or health issues, it’s important for the Christian to remember that God is on our side. No matter the chaos that surrounds you, remember that He’s the greatest warrior ever.

Stand firm upon His words of promise, believe, and watch Him do amazing things.

Have a blessed weekend!

JP Robinson