The following is Part 2 of The Nehemiah Challenge.
Text: Nehemiah 1:11b -2:8; Isaiah 62:6ff; Philippians 4:6-7
- Pray and Wait
- Waiting is not Wasted Time
- A God-given Calling will Result in God-given Enabling
- Give God the Glory
Pray and Wait
Chapter one reveals that Nehemiah has a heart that follows after God. He is a man of prayer and compassion and within a few verses of reading, I notice that he is also a man of character and integrity. Nehemiah sensed God calling him to act, and his radical trust in God is evidenced by his courage to pray and wait for God to unfold the right plan.
Application: A radical trust in God gives courage to wait and not to act hastily. God’s timing is everything. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Waiting is not Wasted Time
Nehemiah identifies foremost with the quest of God’s glory and praise and is accompanied in prayer with godly friends–“servants that delight in honoring God’s name.” (Nehemiah 1:11) They waited on God to answer their prayers today and nothing happened; at least not what they expected. Through their persistent prayers, God was strengthening their faith and Nehemiah’s resolve for the incredible task before him. This was a God-given call in Nehemiah’s heart and along with his loyal band of prayer warriors, would not rest in praying. Wrote Isaiah: “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” (62:6-7)
Application: A time of unrest and waiting is not wasted time. Courage to wait on God’s timing is also strengthened through the prayers of others. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
A God-given Calling will Result in God-given Enabling
As cupbearer, Nehemiah had the important job of tasting wine before it was served to the king, to see whether it was poisoned or not. It was an important job that granted him access to the king but it was also very risky. If the wine happened to be laced with poison, the cupbearer would pay the ultimate price, give up his own life, for the king to live. It was a good idea not to look distressed or sad in front of the king at any time, but especially after tasting the wine, yet Nehemiah did. The king noticed the sadness and asked Nehemiah, “Why are you sad, when you are certainly not ill?” That one question was the catalyst God used to launch his plan for renewal and change. For Nehemiah the waiting was about to end.
For months, Nehemiah has been asking God to answer his prayers today. I imagine a rush of adrenaline pulsing in his chest, knowing all to well that his answer to the king’s question should be crafted well. So here is Nehemiah, a man who puts his life at risk on a regular basis for the king yet becomes very much afraid at this moment to answer a question about the mission he has been praying over for months already!
God worked through that fear and rush of insecurity, giving Nehemiah confidence to honor and show homage to the king and with that same confidence, to speak boldly on behalf of his people and a city in ruin.
Application: Always expect God to answer prayers today. A God-size calling will result in God-size enabling.
Give God the Glory
Once again, there is another question from the king for Nehemiah to answer: “What are you requesting?” Nehemiah’s immediate response was not fear but to pray to the God of heaven. A “flash prayer”…a silent prayer lasting a few seconds. Oh, how Nehemiah was depending on God to enable him for this mission. And without fear or hesitation, Nehemiah humbly asks the king for everything on his long and well thought out, prayed over and memorized plan.
And the king said, “Yes!” For the good hand of God was upon Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8) That’s where the glory is to land…not on Nehemiah but directly upon God. Nehemiah humbly acknowledges the gracious hand of God upon him, and the gracious kindness of God in using him, rather than conceitedly supposing that the result is due to his own skills and talents and wisdom and gifts or experience. 
Application: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things for his glory. It is not about me, it is all about Him!
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