Focal Passage: Nehemiah 2:1-8, 11-18
For a number of years it has been my pleasure to serve as congregational coach to several N.C. Baptists churches through the journey Pursuing Vital Ministry.
Though each congregation was unique in their settings, histories, and ministries, they each shared similarities. Regardless of ministry environment, a passionate desire to see and experience God’s will in their setting is prevalent.
Working with these congregations I sensed that they wanted to do more than influence their relevant communities — they wanted to bear witness to what God had powerfully done in their lives and what he seeks to accomplish — no matter the costs.
This insight did not come to them simply through some new, in-vogue program or theory. Instead, it developed out of seasons of continued prayer and corporate spiritual inspection. Like Nehemiah, in today’s text, each congregation had individuals sensitive to not only the changes occurring in their communities, but also to that divine unrest that seeks and discovers its respite in God’s presence and acceptance.
Nehemiah did not apathetically discard the report brought to him from his brother. He did not shrug his shoulders and discount his possible role in being used by God to bring positive change to Jerusalem’s disgraceful situation. Instead, he prayed and planned.
Nehemiah recognized that any progress he or his people would experience would have to come from God.
Any success would only be possible through divine intervention. According to the text, we see that Nehemiah’s actions were not an emotional rush to judgment.
Instead, it was cautious, courageous and visionary. He prayed to God before making a decision to approach the king.
Having prayerfully examined the problem he presented a logical, practical plan that successfully received the financial and military support of the Persian government.
Because not everyone will be supportive of the vision that the Lord gives to the community of faith, we must continue to be sensitive to God’s calling and leadership.
We must prayerfully recognize our part in the vision and involve ourselves in its actualization (2:17).
Verse 18 of today’s text describes what happens when individuals open themselves up to God’s vision and will — “So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” The Jewish leadership and “followership” all were encouraged and empowered to do what earlier seemed impossible!
They, as well as congregations today, began to envision what God had promised to His covenant people. Their journey into God’s future had begun.