“Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. 2 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified, 3 but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” 4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please the king, 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?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request. 7 I also said to the king, “If it please the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. 8 And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me. 9 When I came to the 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 displeased that someone had come to help the people of Israel.”
After seeing the tool of waiting we now come to the hammer of:
- Faith – Vs 2-3
Hammers don’t just pound on things they drive home the nails that secure buildings together. Faith is the foundation, it provides a platform on which to build and it holds everything together. How big is your hammer? Even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Verses 2-3 tell us that Nehemiah was “sad” and when the king enquired as to why he was down cast Nehemiah freaked out because subjects who were sad in the king’s presence were usually killed. We are uncomfortable with sadness and so we tend to try to cheer people up or avoid them, but when you are king you just kill them. But I also think there was a deeper reason driving his fear, he was about to ask the king of the Persian Empire to reverse a written policy he had made several years earlier about Jerusalem’s reconstruction. This edict was recorded in Ezra 4:21: “Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.”We all have fears, but the question is what is going to rule your heart fear or faith? Let me ask you, “What are you afraid of right now?” Some of you are afraid of the past. You’re worried that your past failure will ruin your future. Maybe you’re afraid of the present and find yourself crippled by the fear of people. We all have fears that if not dealt with will control and cripple us. Several years ago, I got a call from a man who had recently been released from federal prison who needed some help getting on his feet. He used to be a big-time drug dealer, but God got a hold of his heart in prison and he was saved through Chuck Colson’s ministry prison fellowship. He told me about how he met Jesus Christ and was saved from his sin, how he found real freedom before he was ever released from prison. He told me I would recognize him as he was a 6’10” black man. So, I went and picked him up and took him to buy the few things he needed. A can of shaving cream, a pair of sweat pants, a handful of quarters and to do laundry and some soap. It amazes me how little it takes to love. But what really struck me is something that he said right before we parted ways. He said thank you for not being afraid of me. Then he told me about a pastor in his past who had given him a certificate to stay at a motel but was unwilling to give him a ride to the motel because it would not be safe. Of everything I did what meant the most to him was that I was not afraid of him. Despite being a massive man on the outside inside he was afraid I would judge him and reject him. You see he was a big man, but God is bigger. Nehemiah’s faith was bigger than his fear because his focus was on God. The king was a big man, but Nehemiah’s God was bigger. Instead of being paralyzed by fear Nehemiah was propelled into action, because months of prayer had prepared him to focus on God’s promises not his fears. Instead of being timid he took out the tool of trusting. Why are many of us missing the miracles of God because we want to play it safe and serve the Savior. Today we are settling for the scraps and the small left overs because being comfortable is more important to us than Christ. What are you willing to risk for God, Nehemiah was willing to risk his life. Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”The most secure place we can be is in the will of God. I’m not saying that you won’t be fearful I’m saying you don’t have to follow your fear, you can fall back on your faith. So, let me ask you 2 questions, first what would you do if you weren’t afraid? And second what ministry opportunities and what miracles are you missing because you are following fear instead of faith? Nehemiah let his fears feed his faith because he believed that what God originates, He orchestrates.