DAY 1 – NEHEMIAH 1:1-11

01‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy

I am a Nehemiah fan. I have always seen Nehemiah as a visionary leader and a man of action. As the book opens he describes how his calling has come to him – he hears the report and is drawn to act. For sure he was already seeking and following God in his everyday life and service to the king. That he was “in the Word” is evident. But the news from Jerusalem has dropped an idea in his head and as it swirls around he is lead to prayer. I’m a firm believer that I almost always don’t know the full concept of what I’m thinking until I speak the words. I think Nehemiah began to find his clarity as he spoke to God.

Problem solving begins with learning how we got there in the first place. The bridge collapsed due to inferior building materials; the bank failed due to corruption within; Israel was scattered because they were unfaithful. The remedy for rebellion and sin is repentance. Nehemiah begins there.

Nehemiah confesses his sin and the sins of his people as well. He didn’t just badmouth Israel; he claimed them as his own. In my life confessing my own sin has always seemed the obvious thing to do. It really pushes the envelope to realize “they”, over whom I have no control or influence, is actually “my tribe”. If God is calling me to serve Him it is not for my own personal objectives. He is an inclusive God with an inclusive mission. I would go so far as to say – though I’m not completely thrilled with the concept – holiness is a team sport.

Got some big idea swirling in my head I think might be a God idea? Inspiration is one thing empowering is another. Nehemiah’s conversation leads him to compare his own thoughts with God’s thoughts. What a great idea to help rescue God’s people but if God never said He was interested in that particular thing – well, it’s going to be a bust. You gotta go there. What’s the real point to pursue a passion I think is from God if I’m unwilling to hold it up to the light and look for anywhere it might have holes?

Testing leads to more clarity. It also leads to assurance – which leads to passion – which leads to sustainable action. SUSTAINABLE ACTION should be one word. The trying of one’s faith – (that is what anyone’s calling is predicated upon, you know) – produces endurance says James. To be sure, God’s call will not be smooth sailing, pothole free, or without turbulence. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

Though it may be my struggle it is God who has promised and He who will accomplish His plans.

…though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.

This could have been a touchstone for Nehemiah. I can feel the God’s power surging through these words. What seems impossible, God plans to restore and all for His glory.

As for me, I’ll paraphrase Moses. “LORD, if you’re not going , don’t let me go either!”

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5 thoughts on “DAY 1 – NEHEMIAH 1:1-11

  1. My prayer in the words of Nehemiah.

    We have hope. Why? Because our God is “the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” His love endures forever. Amen and thank God!

    “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant.” Yes Lord and right back at me. Let my ears be attentive and my eyes open to your speaking and working in my life. Hear me, but then remind me to sit down and shut up so I can hear you.

    “Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” Even I? How about especially me! Let he who is without sin throw the first stone. It won’t be me. At least, it shouldn’t be me. (Sometimes I become a Judgmental Judy, but that is just one more sin and one more reason it’s especially me!) “We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.” Forgive me for my sins, including my judgmental tendencies.

    “They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.” With great power (through redemption) comes great responsibility (through servant hood). You redeemed me through your Son because of your love and power. Thank you. Because of that, I owe you my life. May I remember that each day. I am here to serve You, not me. And in that service, I am called to serve others. It’s not about me.

    “Give success to your servant today.” The measure of my success is not earthly or selfish standards. The measure of my success is the extent to which I have served Him. May I be successful in my service to God. All the other things, including right relationship and service to my family as well as diligence and effectiveness at work, will fall under that goal. God has placed me here on this earth in this place and with these people to serve him. Thank you for your divine placement. Help me to to serve you effectively.

    Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Oh Lord be attentive to the prayer of your servant.” Even those unintelligible prayers that I don’t even know how to pray. You know my heart, better than I.

    As I was going through the feedback I had gotten from the group on what Bible studies they were interested in doing this year I was overwhelmed. First, I had never received so much feedback from almost everyone in the group before. Second, there were no clear cut answers. Third, this is just one more thing on the “overwhelming me” list of late. I must say I was thrilled with everyone responding and I really expected that there would be several people wanting to do the same thing (generally in the past there’s a lot of “whatever you think”) and I would have an easy clear cut plan for the year. Not a chance! Not a clear cut item in the bunch!

    To organize my thoughts I wrote an email to the group outlining all the feedback I had gotten on all topics I had asked about. As I got to the end of that cathartic litany I came to the conclusion that as much as my organizer self wanted to just write and a plan and have everyone follow it (and they would) what I really needed to do was pray about it and not just me pray about it but have them pray about it. And not just a quick prayer tonight and expect and quick answer but pray for the rest of the week. So I put out a call to prayer.

    Then I remembered that the new IF study started today so I headed over even though it was late because I didn’t want to start out behind.. In the back of my mind I knew it was on Nehemiah and leading up to a call to prayer event. But when I go there it was like a direct in your face confirmation that a call to prayer was what I was supposed to do and not just make decisions on my own which would have been the easy way out, at least in the short term.

    So Lord be attentive to the prayers of your servants. We want to build Your Kingdom. Show us the rocks to put into the wall and which ones we should put aside. Amen.

    Interesting side note – one of the studies on the list that was suggested was on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter.

    Like

    • Prayer in the face of overwhelming tasks and to do lists Prayer in the face of indecision. Prayer in the face of a desire to assert control.

      Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

      If these are the things we learn on day one, I think this could be a great study for us!

      Liked by 2 people

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