Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nehemiah Chapter One

A few things stuck out to me as I read through Nehemiah chapter one this week. Take a moment to read Nehemiah 1.

1. Nehemiah reacted to the bad news from home with prayer. But, before he prayed the prayer recorded for us in chapter one he prepared himself for prayer. He mourned. He fasted. He prayed. For some days. And then... he prayed. (v.4) Even though the majority of this chapter is Nehemiah’s prayer verse four leaped out at me.
How often do we take the time (some days in Nehemiah’s case) to prepare ourselves to come before God? How often do we pray before we pray? Nehemiah prayed and then he prayed.

2. The structure of Nehemiah’s prayer makes it evident his priorities are in order.
Let’s look at the four key components to his prayer.
A. Praise:
Notice how Nehemiah starts his prayer in praise and recognition of who God is:
Nehemiah 1:5 “Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,”
Do we come before God with a proper view of who He is?
B. Penance:
Nehemiah knows the condition God’s people are in and recognizes the need for repentance. Before he makes any requests he confesses his sins and the sins of Israel:
Nehemiah 1:6-7 “let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.”
Do we humble ourselves, confess our sins and admit our guilt to God?
C. Promises
Nehemiah knows who God is and that he can claim His promises.
Nehemiah 1:8-9 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”
An amazing rainbow stretched across the sky as I drove to work this morning. As intended it was an instant reminder of how trustworthy and true our God Almighty is; faithful to keep and carry out His promises.

Do we claim God’s promises with confidence?
D. Petition:
Nehemiah understands before he makes a request to the King that he must lift up his needs to God first.
Nehemiah 1:11 “Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
Do we ask God before leaping into action?
3. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the King. The cupbearer historically was one of the most influential people in the King’s court. God placed Nehemiah is a position of prominence that made it possible for him to make a request of the King.
Can you think of some people through out the Bible who God placed at just the right time for specific purposes?

Esther and Joseph come to my mind.
Esther: Esther 4:14 “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Joseph: Genesis 50:19-21 “But Joseph said to them (his brothers), “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
Where has God placed you?

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