Nehemiah's Call

“In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”

 -Nehemiah 1:2-4

Nehemiah was so burdened by the news of his ancestor’s home land, that he fasted and mourned for days. He was a cupbearer to the king of Persia and the king noticed how sad Nehemiah was. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor, so Nehemiah returned to the land of Judah where he would endure hardships and opposition.

The storms of life are inevitable. We all have gone through and will go through hard times. We are not promised an easy life. And being called by God will cost us something. Our cultural viewpoint tends to be that God calls us to something better than we were at before, but reality is that God’s calling is not about our comfort. Most of the time God’s better for us is not what culture or even we would think our better is for our lives. God’s calling isn’t about our comfort or rationality, it’s about faithfully fulfilling the Father’s mission.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of our storm we can’t see how things are going to work out, but if we trust, God can blow our minds. The hardest thing can be giving God total control over our situation. We can be so blinded by our own sin and pride that we can’t see what is broken. Where there is brokenness, there is a place where our enemy can get a foothold. And after we let him squeeze in even just a little, before we know it we have a huge mess on our hands.

How can we begin fix that? Restoration begins with repentance. There are some biblical promises that God has in store for you that can only happen if you are restored. The first step in fixing brokenness is acknowledging the brokenness and acknowledging that God has a plan to fix it.

Each of us should have genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblical. At times we may have to give up our own comfort in order to love and serve others well. We must totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with the right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will know it is God's work.

Acknowledge today what is broken. What is God calling you to do?

Pastor Aaron challenged us to fast something this week, whether it was a meal, social media or just something that preoccupies our time. Consider doing that this week. By taking our eyes off the things of this world through prayer and biblical fasting, we can focus better on Christ. Matthew 6:16-18 says, "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.

-Angie Butcher

Aaron Perry