Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012 … Called To Serve

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 269

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 1-5 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 1: 4; 10-11 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah on hearing from his brother of the walls in Jerusalem being in shambles…] 4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  
[Nehemiah humbly prayed as he felt called to leave his position as cupbearer to the king and to go to Jerusalem to lead in rebuilding the walls] 10 “We are your servants, [GOD] the people you rescued by your great power and might. 11 O LORD, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” … In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 2: 4-6; 9-10; 11-12; 17-18 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah, fearful of showing his grief to the King, asks Artaxerxes for the favor of going to Jerusalem.] 4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” … With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please Your Majesty and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” … 6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” So the king agreed, and I set a date for my departure. …
[Artaxerxes graciously granted Nehemiah’s request for letters of passage and resources to use in the rebuilding project, illustrating the deep relationship Nehemiah had with his king.] 9 When I came to the [Persian] governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, I delivered the king’s letters to them. The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me. 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of my arrival, they were very angry that someone had come who was interested in helping Israel….  
[Upon arriving and getting settled, Nehemiah carefully scopes out the scenario.] 11 Three days after my arrival at Jerusalem, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us, except the donkey that I myself was riding. …  
[The people on hearing Nehemiah share God’s ambitious plan caught the vision and took ownership of the vision given through Nehemiah.] 17 But now I said to them [i.e., to the Jews near Jerusalem], “You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins, and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. … They replied at once, “Good! Let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. …  
[Opposition to the project continues; but note where Nehemiah places his open confidence, … in God … not revealing that he had letters from Artaxerxes to give him the king’s permission.] 19 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing, rebelling against the king like this?” they asked. … 20 But I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We his servants will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no stake or claim in Jerusalem.” 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 3: 1; 28 : [NLT] … 1 Then Eliashib, the high priest and the other priests, started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel. …  
[The people followed the lead of Nehemiah’s charge and their Priests example, building near where they lived and close to their own abodes. And note how the names of the people in this chapter were listed, documenting God’s people being involved in God’s kingdom work.] 28 The priests repaired the wall up the hill from the Horse Gate, each one doing the section immediately opposite his own house.  ============
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 4: 4-5; 8-9; 15-18 : [NLT] … [After mockery and intimidation from Sanballat and Tobiah and others, we read of Nehemiah’s first response – PRAYER!] 4 Then I prayed, “Hear us, O our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! 5 Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked You [LORD] to anger here in the presence of the builders.” … 
 [When the opposition was massed to come against God’s people/project, note Nehemiah’s first-line battle strategy – yes, PRAYER, but also strategic action.] 8 They [Sanballat, Tobiah, and others] all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and to bring about confusion there. 9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. …  
[Note the balanced battle/building strategy Nehemiah instituted, having the people build and defend and all the time God was in control with His people doing His kingdom work.] 15 When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The officers stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The common laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 5: 9-10; 12 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah ran into a snag involving some of the richer Jews using loans to get control over the poorer in Jerusalem; and being their leader, Nehemiah reminded them of the Old Covenant way of handling loans. And seeing Nehemiah’s Godly leadership, the people complied.] 9 Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10 I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of loans. … 
12 Then they replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised. … 

My Journal for Today: Another enormous gulp of scripture in today’s chronological reading plan segment by going through the first five chapters of the book of Nehemiah. There are many angles which could be the subject of my journaling here … such as the surrendered faith and devotion of this man, Nehemiah, whom God called to step out of his role as the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the Persian king, and to go back to Jerusalem when he learned that the walls of God’s city were in shambles.

I could write about Nehemiah’s brilliant and gifted leadership with many instances of leading the thousands of resettled Jews in a miraculous rebuilding project. Also I could comment about Nehemiah’s skillful political strategies in dealing with local opposition from greedy and jealous leaders when the Jews went back in this third migration from Persia back to Jerusalem. And I could write about how organized and careful Nehemiah was in having the people take both builder and battler positions, always building with their trowels but always carrying their swords as they rebuilt God’s kingdom. Oh, so much could be written about how God called this common man to do a very uncommon task.

But the one aspect in these five chapters I want to highlight is Nehemiah’s primary administration and battle strategy which was exhibited often and powerfully during this wondrous 52 days as Nehemiah’s became God’s rebuilding agent; and that strategy was PRAYER. And I hope you take the time to read and study through either the first five chapters of the book, as I have this morning, or to read through my “Cliff notes” summaries, copied above.

 If you do you’ll note that each time Nehemiah was confronted with his calling or by set-backs in the operations or circumstances, Nehemiah prayed. And reading these prayers, some of which are documented by Nehemiah, likely dictating his memoires to Ezra (whom the scholars believe was the scribe for this book), we read how personal and serious were these prayers.

All of this says to this humble seeker that surrendered and humble prayer needs to be my primary battle or building strategy for life. When I feel God calling me, as Nehemiah certainly did, I need to do what this man of God did … to PRAY! When I’m confronted with set-backs as I seek to do life God’s way, I need to do what Nehemiah did … and that is … to PRAY! And I hope we all see that God wants us to come to Him when we are seeking His will or His way, not relying on self, but seeking direction from the Savior.

As I’ve often taught, from learning that life is spiritual warfare, … prayer is taking the high ground for battle; and we need to take the hill and to hold it – EVERY DAY – just as Nehemiah did; and when we do, God will lead us to victory … just as he did Nehemiah.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I come to you … seriously … today, surrendered to do Your will in Your way; so, show my Your way from Your word and I will follow, prayerfully leading others to you in the process. Amen

No comments: