This past Sunday we had a guest speaker from India share a message from Nehemiah (chapter one) with our church. He made some great points as to why Nehemiah was effective in his mission. I thought I’d share with the readers here. Enjoy!
Nehemiah Was Filled with Compassion
When Nehemiah heard the news about his people, he wept and mourned for many days. Verse four says, ”When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” When was the last time we really mourned for anything, not directly related to ourselves? When we really got on our faces in intercession for another person or people group? When we felt the pain on injustice burning deeply in our own hearts?
For many of us, it’s been too long, I’m afraid. It’s inconvenient. It’s stressful. It’s not easily scheduled, and it doesn’t seem very productive. Oh yeah, and it’s pretty uncomfortable too. And to prolong the mourning for days? That seems like too much. But what if it did it? What if we really thought about the spiritual state of our country or even our own neighborhood? The souls of our friends and family? What if we truly mourned, fasted, and prayed for those things that we say we really care about?
Check out this great soundtrack about the subject of mourning:
Nehemiah Was Connected
- To God (through prayer, fasting, and making the Lord a priority)
- To the People: “…while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem” (vs 1-2). Nehemiah took the time to ask about his people. How often are we so busy scurrying around with our to-do list that we don’t have time to ask (and listen!) to how people are doing.
Nehemiah Was Filled with Prayer
Check out Nehemiah’s prayer (vs 5-10):
“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. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
In this prayer, Nehemiah was opening his whole heart to God. He was revealing his true feelings and he wasn’t holding back. He understood the holiness of God and sought righteousness by confessing both his own sin and the sins of the nation before making a request. He prayed with confidence and a firm trust in God.
Remember Jacob when he wrestled with God? He said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26). Do we have the confidence in God to make such a request? Do we persevere in prayer till we see results? I for one, am not such a diligent prayer. When I think about the lives that are possible affected by my ministry, I am ashamed that I do not take praying for these souls more seriously.
Finally, Nehemiah Was a Man of Sacrifice
Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the King. He lived a comfortable life, and he knew in order to rebuild the walls he would have to leave that life. Once on the build site, he was criticized by his people, attacked by enemies, ridiculed and more. It was worth the sacrifice to him, though. He was a man on a mission.