Bathed in prayer and with the king’s permission, Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem. A city in ruins. After touring and inspecting the wall and all it’s gates one night, Nehemiah shared of God’s plans for the walls to be rebuilt and the city to be returned to glory. Everyone set to work rebuilding the wall, all working together. Jerusalem’s enemies threatened and planned attacks on the city. Nehemiah responded with prayer and by appointing everyone to be armed and on guard at all times. Through all this the entire wall was rebuilt to half it’s height with all the gates reinstalled for protection.
That is a very concise summary of Nehemiah, chapters 2-4 that we covered this week in Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break study.
One thing I keep noticing in this study is that Nehemiah was a prayer warrior. Prayer was his first response to everything; sharing his concerns with the king, recruiting the locals to help rebuild the wall, and dealing with accusations and threats from Jerusalem’s enemies. I wish prayer was my first response to everything. Do you ever have those moments when all of a sudden you hear that still small voice saying, “Why don’t you just pray about it already!”
Often times if I sense God leading me to do something, I get so excited that my mind starts racing ninety to nothing. Then halfway through the planning process or sometimes even the action process I realize… I forgot to pray. And not just a “God bless this idea” prayer but a “God this all yours and not about me prayer”.
Besides being an excellent prayer warrior, Nehemiah was also a wonderful leader. But let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s look at how everyone worked together to rebuild the wall for good. Everyone. Lower class and upper class, skilled and common man, political leaders and citizens. No one group sat out of this task. They all united together to rebuild the wall.
We are all blessed with different skills and talents. Each one can be used to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). How beautiful it is when we all come together corporately to work for the Lord.
I have had the opportunity to go on a couple of mission trips in the past few years. Some of them have been medical mission trips. While I have no medical training (besides being able to specify finishes for a hospital, surgery center or other medical facility) God was still able to use me on the trips. I got to play with the children, give eyeglasses to people, and share the gospel after patients were attended to by the medical professionals. Even though I lacked medical skills, I in no way felt like I was able to contribute less than others. We were all there as a team. And we all know the saying there is no “i” in team but there is a God!
Kelly stresses the importance of gates for the city and also for our own spiritual lives. Now I don’t have any physical gates up in my life. Although sometimes having one in the kitchen separating me from the chocolate wouldn’t be such a bad idea! I do have areas of weakness that I feel I need a hedge of protection around.
For instance, I feel that I, like probably a majority of our over publicized to country struggles with materialism. Show me some cute clothes, cool gadget, or great piece of furniture long enough and I’m going to want it. When these desires begin to take over my thoughts they also begin to take a precedence over God… essentially becoming an idol. Since I am aware of this weakness I try to limit what I am exposed to. I no longer roam the mall being enticed by all the window displays. We really don’t watch a ton of T.V. so my mind isn’t bombarded with all the commercials and product placements of cool gadgets I might want. And while I do love me some Pinterest I try not to keep a lot of decor magazines lying around. Doing all this doesn’t mean I will never face material temptations though…. I still do. It does cut down on the number though and helps me stay focused on God. When I do stumble and convince myself I need.something, like Nehemiah I pray for strength and remind myself that Christ is all I need.
You may not struggle with materialism like I do. Maybe it’s gossip, over eating, or who knows what. It is important to recognize your weaknesses though. That’s where Satan will choose to attack you most. Turn to God for strength and remember you can’t resist the temptation alone but with God you can!
The more we realize that God is all we need the more our hearts will break for what breaks his. As I was searching for what breaks my heart I wrote in big letters in my journal “Give me a Kingdom passion!” Then I just allowed myself to write anything that came to mind with a question mark behind it. Next, I prayed for God to continue to reveal to me ways he wants to use me.
If you are still searching for what breaks your heart you might want to give this a try too.
Nehemiah 6:16 (ESV)
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
(Please don’t feel that you have to answer all of them… one would be great though. I love to hear what is going on in your lives.)
- Nehemiah took time to pray and plan. Are you the type of person who likes to dive in and get going, or do you take time to ponder and pray over your ministry plans and desires?
- What Unforgettable memories do you have of serving God with other people?
- How has working side by side next to people of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds both challenged and built up your faith?
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