Last month I introduced you to the Book of Nehemiah and wrote about broken walls and broken lives. Today, I want to follow up in Nehemiah, beginning in chapter one and sneak over into chapter 2 verse 10, where we are given a pattern with specific steps and a specific order on how we can rebuild. May you find during this season of Lent, a time to reflect on areas of brokenness in your own life and discover healing and restoration in the process. Selah.
To remind you of the context, Nehemiah who had been exiled and living in Babylon, had just been informed by his brethren that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and had been burned by fire. Read March Article here. What follows is a prayer by Nehemiah (1:4-11) that gives us a blueprint on how to rebuild our lives when facing both community and personal trials. (1)
“Now when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” When our lives are devastated, the first action we must take is to go to God in prayer. It must be an honest prayer—a cry from the depths of our soul. We will never rebuild the broken walls of our lives until we weep over the ruins.
Step 1 is concern.
I said, “Please, Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and faithfulness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.” First, Nehemiah recognized the character of God; the Great and Awesome God, the one who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments. We too should begin our prayer with a recognition of God’s greatness and infinite power and majesty. “Let your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.” Second, Nehemiah confessed and repented of his own personal sins, the sins of his family, and the sins of his nation.
Step 2 is confession.
“Remember, please, the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘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 those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I have chosen to have My name dwell.’ They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.” Third, Nehemiah reminded himself of God’s gracious promises. In Deuteronomy 28 through 30, God made a prophetic prediction through HIs servant Moses—a prophecy that outlined the entire history of Israel. God told the Israelites, if you disobey me and my covenants, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you turn back to me and confess your sins, I will bless you and bring you back to your land. God forgives, redeems, and restores every prodigal. “Please, Lord, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and please make Your servant successful today and grant him mercy before this man.” Third, Nehemiah requested God’s help in rebuilding the broken city. He asked God to move in the heart of the King of Persia (this man) as a plan had apparently formed in his mind and he, as the King’s Cupbearer, was intent on making his plan known to the King in God’s perfect time. (It is very important to note here that the time from when Nehemiah heard the words about Jerusalem’s walls and fell to the ground distraught and when he went before the King with his request, was a timeframe of about 3-4 months). Let us remember, in our expect-God-to-answer-us-now mentality, that God’s timing is often not ours.
Step 3 is commitment.
There is a fourth step that is found in Nehemiah, chapter two. After Nehemiah requests of the King that he would like to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and is given permission to do so (2:1-8), he then sets out and upon arrival faces his first signs of opposition—opposition that will plague and obstruct the rebuilding process from beginning to end. “Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the Euphrates River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. And when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.” (vv. 9-10) Nehemiah will need to demonstrate courage and persistence in the face of opposition—not reckless courage, and not foolhardy courage, but a wise tempered courage.
Step 4 is courage tempered with caution.
There will always be those who oppose our efforts to build or rebuild. Whenever God’s people say, “I will rise up and build,” Satan, acting through fallen human agents, says, “I will rise up and oppose.” Perhaps there is someone in your life where your relationship has broken down, or something that is clamoring for your attention. Wherever you are in this season of life, there is a process we can take to restore and redeem our lives. It always begins with a heartfelt prayer, followed by: Concern, Confession, Commitment and Courage.
- Excerpted from Ray Stedman’s book, God’s Blueprint for Success.
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