“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[c] 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.”
Last time we saw that building starts with brokenness. We will never commit until we are concern enough to care. Nehemiah’s pain took him to prayer, instead of being consumed by the concern he chose to commune with God. The first building block in Nehemiah’s wall was prayer, without prayer we have no power and if we are going to pursue God’s purpose we need power. As we follow Nehemiah’s example from last week like him we should be able to say:
I’m concerned about problems not calloused
I have a strong conviction about God’s character
I confess my sins on a regular basis not careless
I have confidence in God’s promises not my circumstances
And, I have a commitment to get involved
Now as we come to chapter 2 we are faced with this question: what are we really pursuing? It’s here that we see Nehemiah not only concerned about the problem but willing to commit to pursuing God’s purposes. The problem with many Christians is that they are concerned enough to complain but not to commit. Today as we look at pursuing God’s purpose, His project, we will discover two things, we need to possess the right tools and we need to be pursuing the right tasks. The passage starts first with the tools not the tasks. You see many of us want to jump into the task, but we don’t have the right tools for the job. Have you ever been there, you’re working on a project and you need a specific tool, without it you are stuck. So what tools did Nehemiah have in his tool box?
The first tool is one many of us don’t want, it’s the tool of:
- Waiting – Vs 1
It’s the Wrench of waiting, have you ever used a wrench in a tight spot where you only get a ¼ turn at a time, where it takes time to loosen and remove the nut. We get upset because it’s taking too long. You see if you compare the dates in chapter 1 when Nehemiah first starts praying and the dates in chapter 2 when he goes before the king and is released to pursue God’s plan there are 4 months of praying. How persistent and patient in prayer are you? If there is one thing, I have learned in 20 plus years of ministry it’s that God’s people have a patience problem. We whine when we have to wait, interestingly our whining starts at a young age the problem is that most of us never grow up and grow out of the waiting and whining. Because we don’t see patience as productive, we don’t see waiting as worthwhile. Waiting did a wonderful work in Nehemiah’s heart, it made him dependent on God, it taught his heart to trust. Instead of his heart being tied to trying it was tethered to trusting. It became about God’s work not his work. Most of us get focused on the project instead of the provider as a result we end up focusing on the frustration instead of the Father. Isaiah 40:31 say: “But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” One of the reason we are worn out before the war ever begins is because we won’t wait. God wants to work in you so that He can work through you, and often that requires the tool of waiting. The problem is we like the doing but not the being. What or who are you waiting on? Are you waiting on the provider or for the problem to be resolved? You see while Nehemiah was an incredible administrator the real source of his success was not his ability but his availability. How available to the Almighty are you?