Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Welcome to Day 282 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Just fyi, Ezra is considered to be the author of Nehemiah, not Nehemiah himself, although much of the content came from his personal journals. Nehemiah (and Malachi) the last of the OT canonical writings, both in terms of the time the events occurred and the time when they were recorded by Ezra. gty.org
Nehemiah 1:4 “For several days I [Nehemiah] mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5 ‘Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6 Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7 We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9 But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’
10 “Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength. 11 Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.”
Nehemiah 2:3, “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 “The emperor asked, “What is it that you want?” I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5 and then I said to the emperor…” (See Application.)
Psalms 133:1, “How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!”
Luke 22:60, “Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
When asked, “What is it you want?” Nehemiah prayed first, then gave his answer, even though he already knew what he wanted. (I’m certain he didn’t pray long, because the king would have demanded an answer.)
“Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province, instructing them to let me travel to Judah. 8 I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.”
I love how Nehemiah was specific in the detail of what he wanted. He gave the “Why?” because it brought shame upon him and his people, and the “What?” to rebuild his city, what it would take to get the job done, including safe passage, supplies and time-off needed.
This is a great story of leadership and vision-casting. Also, how to deal with nay-sayers, inevitable to any project.
This is also another great story of promotion from obscurity to Governorship. Nehemiah was a cup bearer in the king’s presence, but was elevated to great position by the Emperor.
This story is very much like Joseph in Genesis who interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was elevated to Vice Pharaoh immediately, because of his wisdom and insight.
You never know what God will do if you have a heart for your city. Nehemiah realized that his city laying in ruins brought shame upon him and his people. I’m guessing many, if not most, didn’t care. They just… moved on?
But not Nehemiah. He carried concern for his city and how it reflected on himself and his people, in his heart.
And it showed on his face…
The very last verse of Jonah, verse 11 says, “the Lord said… “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Is God concerned about our city? You bet he is. He is concerned for every city. Every town, every village, in every country on every continent.
And he knows the state of the people there (“Who cannot tell their right hand from their left…”) and exactly how many there are (120,000).
I am so thankful for what we get to do in our city… to care for those in need… to feed the hungry and provide prayer and support and friendship to the disenfranchised, the lost, hurting, lonely and broken. Thank you Lord for providing all that we need to fulfill the mission we are on.