God commanded Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, as prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 9:10; even before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the wall. However, God broke Nehemiah’s heart first by opening his heart to the devastation surrounding His people. Before that, Nehemiah lived a somewhat plush life as King Artaxerxes cup-bearer. Now, his call took him out of that comfort to face many enemies. Before, he understood the call; with a broken heart of compassion, he prayed for many days. What is needed to serve God with all your heart? We gain insight into just that by examining Nehemiah’s prayer. Within his prayer, we find seven key elements necessary to hear God’s call, heed God’s call, and the fortitude to see it through to completion; regardless, of the opposition one faces.
Some Christians remain very content with their positions in life, never seeking to discover God’s bigger plan of service for them. What changes a man’s heart to make him willing to leave everything familiar behind, face whatever trials confront him, and go into full service for God? Every Christian is at some point called to serve God. Often it is inconvenient, calling us to leave that which is comfortable to embark on a very treacherous journey confronted by mountains too daunting to consider. However, nothing is too difficult for God. The seven elements, found in Nehemiah’s prayer are what you and I need as well. They are: compassion, vision, conviction (leading to repentance), humility, submission, commitment, and faith. Today I will focus on the first two; then, over the course of the next week; we will delve deeper into each of these elements.
The book of Nehemiah begins with his asking Hanani about the Jews who had escaped captivity and returned to their home. They responded by telling him that the people “are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:2). Hearing those words broke his heart. He tells us in verse four that he wept and mourned for many days. Broken hearted by the news, he wept; and then, turned to God for an answer. What could he, a cupbearer, do? He wasn’t a priest or a king. Instead, he was a laborer. How could God use him?
In an exposition concerning Nehemiah, Alexander MacLaren aptly declared:
God prepares His servants for their work by laying on their souls a sorrowful realisation of the miseries which other men regard, and they themselves have often regarded, very lightly. The men who have been raised up to do great work for God and men, have always to begin by greatly and sadly feeling the weight of the sins and sorrows which they are destined to remove. No man will do worthy work at rebuilding the walls who has not wept over the ruins.1
Until one’s heart becomes broken for that which breaks God’s heart, there is no hope for commitment to complete any task God calls one to. Christians must first weep for the lost before they can passionately go out “to seek and save those who are lost” (paraphrase of Luke 19:10). True compassion will drive one to their knees in earnest prayer to the only one who can “supply all our needs” (paraphrase from Philippians 4:19).
Compassion alone cannot propel one to action without also having a clear vision of God and his plan for humanity. Nehemiah begins his prayer with, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments” (Nehemiah 1:5). In this opening, Nehemiah declares both who God is and his plan for mankind. So, the vision is two-fold: a vision of who God is and a vision of His plan for mankind.
Of Who God IS
God is the Almighty, Sovereign, Lord. He is the creator of Heaven and Earth. The great I AM for which nothing exists without Him.
As I wrote in Abiding, Steadfast Joy: “The essence of everything begins with God who IS the creator, controller, majestic ruler of the Universe. Outside of His Being, there is nothingness. With that truth, I realize I am nothing until I am found in Him who breaths into me, life. He who created me, formed me in my mother’s womb: knew me before He created the earth. Think about that. My very existence is because of His Being the Great I AM.2 This is what Paul meant when he stood on Mars Hill and spoke to the men of Athens, ““For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Until the Christian fully recognizes his or her nothingness before the great I AM; they labor in vain. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
You can read more about God as the great I am by going to a previous blog post: When Being and Nothingness Collide in the World
Of God’s Plan for Mankind
Beyond having a vision for who God IS, one must also have a vision of God’s Plan for Mankind. Nehemiah recognized God’s covenantal love and mercy for those who seek Him. When God called Moses to lead His people, He told Moses of His Name being Yahweh: I AM. (Exodus 3:14). Furthermore, God said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:7-8).
Following this comes a series of God’s responses to every question that Moses brings, “I will be your voice. It is I who will deliver my people. I AM will do it.” Recognizing this, Nehemiah next prays, “Let thine ear be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant.” When God hears the cry of His people earnestly praying, He responds with “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10). For, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it?” (Numbers 23:19)
GOD PLAN OF SALVATION THROUGHOUT THE AGES
With great mercy and love; God never turns His back fully from His redemptive plan. From the moment He promised Adam and Eve in Genesis that He would send salvation into the world in Genesis 3:15; God has steadied His hand, withholding the final judgment. He sent His own son into the world to save the world. Furthermore, having provided the means of salvation; He patiently bids all who would believe to come. He does this because of His great love and mercy.
“For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:16-19).
So, the first question is: Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Then, for all who believe; comes question two: “Are you ready to serve Him with all your life, your heart and your soul?”
Frederick Buechner once wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”3 Nehemiah now saw the despair in Jerusalem and it broke his heart. He could no longer be happy as the cupbearer. His only hope for happiness was to go where God calls him to serve; regardless of the danger he faced. Furthermore, He fully recognized God as the great I AM who has a plan of salvation for His people. All who would seek Him, calling upon His name; will eternally saved by faith.
CONCLUDING TWEETS:If your heart breaks for those who are suffering, God is calling you to serve. Click To Tweet
DO YOU KNOW CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR?
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior: I urge you to go to my page titled How to Be Saved by clicking on this link. Because there is nothing more important than this, I urge you to seek Him today.
OR ARE YOU IN OF NEED PRAYER?
Two Newest Books Available
A labor of love, this book provides you with 3 foundations of truth from the scripture which once known will provide you with abiding, steadfast joy. Undaunted by the storms of life; your joy will overflow.
WHEN INJUSTICE AND VIOLENCE REIGN:
Through a study of Nahum, Habukkuk, and Zephaniah; I brought their message into our modern times. Answering the questions of “Why, God?”
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©Effie Darlene Barba, 2017
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned except for my own books. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
14Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 95.
1 Alexander MacLaren, MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture: A Reformer’s Schooling, (Dallas, TX: Graceworks Multimedia, March 9, 2013), 187, Kindle.
2 Effie Darlene Barba, Abiding, Steadfast Joy, (Columbia, MO: Effie de Barba Publishing, 2017), 17
3Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 95.