Nehemiah 1-3

God’s Man With The Plan.

“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer. – Nehemah 1:11 NLT

Nearly a century had passed since the first group of exiles returned to Jerusalem to restore the Temple and rebuild the city’s walls. A second wave a exiles had returned under the leadership of Ezra just years later, but the walls of Jerusalem still remained un-restored and the gates of the city burned and broken. News of this sad state of affairs reached Nehemiah back in Susa, the capital of Persia, where he was serving as cup-bearer to the king. His reaction? Shock and sadness. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. And he knew he had to do something about it. So he took the issue to God in prayer where he confessed the sins of the people and appealed to God’s mercy and grace. He asked God to give him favor with the king because he had already come up with a plan to do something about the problem. Nehemiah was a take-charge kind of guy who was not willing to sit back and enjoy the relative safety of his royal position when he knew he could be of help back in Jerusalem. In fact, Nehemiah used his position as the royal cup-bearer to request of King Artaxerxes his permission to return to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the walls and he even asked the king to help fund the project by providing timber for the construction.

God graciously answered Nehemiah’s prayer, giving him favor with the king and seeing to it that Nehemiah had everything he needed to accomplish what was on his heart to do. Less than a year later, Nehemiah made the long trip to Jerusalem and, upon arrival, made a late-night inspection of the walls. What he found was disappointing, but not discouraging to Nehemiah. He had a job to do and he knew that God would honor their efforts to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah was well aware of the fierceness of the opposition and the magnitude of the project. But he also knew the faithfulness of his God. “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We his servants will start rebuilding this wall” (Nehemiah 2:11 NLT). And that’s exactly what they did. Nehemiah organized the people into teams and assigned them sections of the wall to work on. The effort was community wide, with everyone involved. This cup-bearer to the king had showed up in town on a mission to make things happen and in a short period of time had rallied God’s people to take action and do what they had neglected to do for over 90 years. His enthusiasm and planning turned the apathy of the people into action. Nehemiah saw a job that needed to be done and determined to use his God-given abilities to do something about it. There is no evidence in this passage that Nehemiah was “called” by God. He had no dream of vision. He received no direct word from God. He simply heard about the situation in Jerusalem, was burdened because of it, and determined to do something about it. He simply asked God to bless his plan and graciously provide favor with the king. And that is exactly what God did.

What do you see that needs to be done in the kingdom of God today? Where is the work of God being neglected in our community? In what ways do you see the people of God neglecting their God-given responsibilities and allowing the work of God to go undone? Perhaps you are the Nehemiah God is calling into action to do something about it. Maybe God is waiting for someone like you to see the need and step up to meet it. Nehemiah’s efforts all began with a burden. He saw the need, then came up with a plan to meet that need. He asked God to graciously provide a way to bring his plan to fruition. And God did. What is God giving you a burden for today?

Father, there is so much that needs to be done in the world today. The body of Christ, Your Church, is not making the impact on the world that You have called it to make. We are not the salt and light You have commanded us to be. We are not the ambassadors we have been commissioned to be. There are so many unfulfilled tasks that need to be done. Raise up some Nehemiahs who would be willing to drop what they are doing and pick up the mantle of leadership required to lead Your people into action. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men