WHOOHOO! We’re on week two, DAY 6 and we’ve just intentionally spent 2 1/2 hours in the Word and in prayer with the Lord (not to mention your weekend and your time throughout the day)!
Grab your Bible, your journal or print out the FREEBIE, Journal Your Way through the Word and go get your 30! 😉
A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT NEHEMIAH:
Okay…I confess, I have always LOVED reading through Nehemiah! It is so rich and so power-packed that if you go away without life-change occurring, then something definitely needs to be changed.
So, here’s a little 4.1.1. on Nehemiah.
Remember, it was originally part of the book of Ezra, referred to as Esdras 2 or Esdras B. Some believe Ezra penned Nehemiah but others believe Nehemiah chimed in and wrote the second half of Esdras 1 & 2, a/k/a ~ Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’s cup bearer. His position was an important one, but it also proved that those who were appointed to cup bearer were also very dispensable, since their job was to drink whatever would be served to the king to assure it was not poisoned. If the cup bearer lived after taking a drink, the king would drink it. If not, the king would be spared, but the cup bearer would obviously perish.
A job held with high regard, yet also menial and dangerous…and not one that I’d be standing in line for. Just sayin’! 😉
The children of Israel had suffered the consequences of their disobedience to God through three separate events led to their captivity. First by the Assyrians (722 B.C.), then by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) and finally by the Medo-Persians (539 B.C.). After a period of captivity, the Lord in His mercy began setting His people free again. Ultimately in three separate events.
Ezra was led to rebuild the Temple and Nehemiah comes on the scene in the third event, in which through the decree of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah would lead God’s people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
The book of Nehemiah not only records the physical rebuilding of the wall, but also the spiritual restoration of the people of God.
Nehemiah was a courageous man of faith, a man of prayer, a man of integrity, a man who refused to use his position for his own gain or refused to let others prevent him from fulfilling God’s will.
We have much to learn from Nehemiah the man and Nehemiah the book of the Bible. So, sweet friends, let’s dig in!
Nehemiah 1 is a beautiful illustration of what happens when a person loves God and loves people. Specifically his own people. There is so much tucked in today’s two chapters, so rather than go through each one, I’m just going to share some highlights. In your own time, I’m sure the Lord has shown you some amazing things too and I hope you share those things in the comments!
Broken over hearing that the survivors (which meant there were many who did NOT survive) were in their own land in distress and reproach. Think about that for a minute. In their own land. But yet in distress and reproached. The NLT says, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
So, going back home didn’t solve all their problems. Living in their own land didn’t mean they would be afforded the freedoms they longed for. They were living in dire times and life was hard. Maybe they couldn’t get work or afford to buy seed to farm the land. Perhaps their economic situation was below poverty level and for sure, they were still the brunt of the surrounding nations’ jokes.
It’s not easy to live in a land where you can barely afford the to put food on the table. Life is hard when you can’t find a job or the means to sustain yourself or your family. It’s never easy to be the brunt of other people’s jokes. Especially when you tell them you are a child of God and yet outwardly, it appears as though your God has abandoned you.
Sweet sister, maybe you aren’t seeing the financial or family blessings others seem to be experiencing. Each journey is very different. Paul’s life is a testimony to the fact that being in the center of God’s will doesn’t mean things will be easy.
But we are to be faithful even when times are hard. To believe God is good, even when things are bad.
And we are to have a heart for those who are walking through a season of distress and reproach.
In Nehemiah’s 1:5-10, we see a great example of how to pray. Pray God’s Word back to Him. Remind Him of the works He has done in the past and the promises He made. Not because He needs reminding, but as a way of saying you trust Him and you know He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.
Sometimes, we need those times of prayer when we just stop everything, seek His face, fast, pray, mourn over our sin and the sin of our nation. I need that because I need the Lord. And God delights in when we come to Him like that. Realizing He is not only everything we need. He is all we need.
In Nehemiah 2:4-5, we see another example of prayer much different than the one we saw in Nehemiah 1:5-10. This was one of those ‘on-the-go’ kind of prayers. Nehemiah didn’t have time to find a closet and get alone with God. But God answered Nehemiah’s shooting prayer as clearly as He answered his prayer that came with fasting and mourning.
Prayer is a consistent conversation with God. We have those times on a daily basis where we get alone with God and shut the world out so we can bask in His presence, spend time in His Word and seek His face in prayer. That’s what the 30/30 Challenge is all about.
But sometimes, we are in the middle of the madness of our day and we don’t have time to find a secluded place. I Thessalonians tells us to pray without ceasing. That’s what Nehemiah was doing. I’m sure this shooting prayer was not Nehemiah’s first. And I’m sure it wouldn’t be his last.
I need to spend time in the presence of the Lord where it’s just Him and me. But I also have unlimited access to the ear of God where I can pray and seek His face in any and every circumstance. And the beautiful thing is, He delights in it when I pray. Whether in that secret and sacred place, or in the grocery store or the bank or at work.
A few other lessons I learned from Nehemiah 1 & 2…
* God hears all our prayers. Those we cry over in our prayer closets and those we make in the hurry of our day. (Nehemiah 1:11, 2:6)
* The Lord does exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think. (Nehemiah 2:9)
* Opposition is inevitable and relentless when we choose to serve God. (Nehemiah 2:10)
* When God calls us to do something, it’s important not to impetuously jump in, but to survey the situation, seek God’s face and zip our lips until God shows us what to do. (Nehemiah 2:11-16)
* Nehemiah teaches us that a good vision caster is someone who not only casts a vision, but clarifies a successful plan and garners the support of the people in spite of and in the face of opposition. (Nehemiah 2:17-20)
QUESTION: HOW DID NEHEMIAH 1 & 2 SPEAK TO YOU? WHERE YOU ENCOURAGED BY THE WAY NEHEMIAH WAS SO BOLD AND PRAYERFUL?
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