Happy 4th of July
We don’t have anything super special planned for today so I though I would share this simple patriotic table setting that I found on Pinterest instead.
Now… on with the rest of the post.
The StoryA man weeps, fasts, and prays for a city in ruins. Not the city he lives or works in but the city of his relatives, Jerusalem. After confessing his sin and his people’s sin, he prayed for strength to approach the king with his concerns and plans from God. Despite all the odds being against him… The king gave permission to Nehemiah to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its walls. King Artaxerxes even gave him letters that gave him the ok to travel through foreign lands along the way. Nehemiah began his journey to Jerusalem to help his relatives but not without some resistance from Sanballat and Tobiah.
This is a summary of the first chapter and a half of Nehemiah. I am blown away by the compassion Nehemiah had for Jerusalem. Sometimes, I feel like it is so easy to become immune to the poor, weak, or suffering in our world. All most of us have to do is turn off the t.v., stay in the comforts of our own home or never reach out to those in need. But we must remember that behind every news story, every face and need, is a person. A person equal in the eyes of God to you and me.
And because as Christians, we are filled with the love of Christ, our hearts should weep for them. We should devote prayer time to the poor, weak, and suffering.
To be honest I haven’t been doing a good job of this. Often times I find my thoughts centered around me. I mean wouldn’t life be easier if all we had to do was pray and plead with God to make our lives easier… to bless us more. That’s not how it works or what prayer is intended for.
Nehemiah heard about the weak, poor, and suffering, and his first instinct was to pray. Pray fervently, pray scripture. Often times when faced with a problem or stressful situation, I forget that prayer should be my first mode of operation. I long to be able to pray scripture… to weave scripture throughout my speech during the day. What greater way to talk and hear from God than from the Word He has given us.
One of my friends (Mary Beth of New Life Steward) wrote an excellent post on how to pray scripture. I am going to go back and read and work to apply it to my prayer life. I challenge you to do the same.
Do our hearts break for the poor, weak, and suffering? Many times mine does not, and there is no excuse for this. As Kelly says in Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break,
“Though many of us do not have unlimited wealth or descend from royalty, most of us dwell in a far wealthier state than the rest of the world. This is not a truth meant to paralyze us beneath the weight of overwhelming guilt but an urgent call for us to stop and ask the Lord, “What have You put in my heart to do?“
I fear that while much of the Western church slumbers in its palace of comfort, many who desperately need our resources, both spiritual and material, are suffering greatly. Like David and Nehemiah, we must be willing to sacrifice our own comforts and protections for the sake of others. Here’s the wonderful news: neither of these men dreaded the thought of making sacrifices. Their hearts were so taken up with God’s that they prayed and planned and dreamed about how they could quench the need that so troubled their souls.”
I hope you have enjoyed this first week of the study… I have. Kelly says so many great things that I wish I could share them all with you. I wish we could sit next to each other, so we could see each other’s favorite parts and all our comments we have written all over the pages. Instead, I listed a few questions below from the Leader Guide. Don’t feel that you have to answer all of them, but I would love it if you would answer just one. You may not have an answer for all of them. God works in His own timing and will reveal it to you in His timing.
Week 1 Questions
- What was the most impacting moment for you this week? (It may be a Bible verse, principle, prayer experience, revelation, new understanding, conviction, or other.)* When I realized how self centered my prayers normally are. I hardly ever intercede for others or pray scripture.
- Nehemiah’s heart broke for the suffering in Jerusalem while living in a Persian resort. How did discovering this impact your own heart for the poor, suffering, sick, or a family member?* Nehemiah left his home of luxury to help those his heart hurt for. God may not call us all to leave our current homes but we must be willing to. Everything we have must be available for Him to use for His glory! Joy comes from giving.
- How did the study on prayer this week cause you to think differently about prayer and/or encourage you to persist in prayer? In what ways is prayer difficult for you?* This week has really challenged my prayer life with my lack of intercessory prayer. God is the Creator of everything and who am I to just blow Him off as if it’s nothing. I think I make prayer difficult. I don’t allow time in my day for it, and when I do I am easily distracted. I want to challenge myself to pray more and to pray for more than just myself. Through this I know God will break my heart for what breaks His.
- Nehemiah 2:12 says that God put the desire to rebuild Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s heart. What do you believe God is stirring in your heart to do for someone?* I have spent a lot of time praying about this. I mean I know God has placed on my heart a desire for adoption, but besides just perusing the actual path of adopting a child, what more can I do? Finally, I sensed God revealing to me His desire for me to help with a local ministry here in town, Jessie’s Place. I can minister and serve women and children who are working to get their feet back on the ground. And the best part is that Noah can do this with me… children are welcome! After watching the Tyler Perry movie, Good Deeds, I was just broken by the thought of children being physically taken away from their mothers because she couldn’t provide for them. I want to help these women gain control of their life (or give it to God) and keep the custody of their children.
Memory Verse Nehemiah 4:6
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