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God's Servant- A Person Of Passion!

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Arise And Build!  All Things Are Possible With God’s Help

God’s Servant:  A Person Of Passion!

Nehemiah 2:1-10

The Value Of Zealous Tears

       One day while the famous English preacher George Whitefield was exhorting from the pulpit, he was overcome by emotions and he began to weep quietly.  Then lifting up his hands, he exclaimed, “O my hearers, think of the wrath to come!  Think of the wrath to come!  Flee to Jesus for refuge and salvation right now while there is still time.”  One who heard him said, “His earnestness brought tears to my eyes, and for weeks afterward I couldn’t get the picture of that concerned soul winner out of my mind.  My own heart was warned by his zeal.  Eventually the Gospel that he preached with such conviction resulted in my conversion.”

       George Whitefield was an example of passion!!!

Do you have any zeal or passion about anything?  Does any subject or value or injustice make your blood boil?  Zeal or passion is not something that many have nowadays.  Most people are apathetic about life in general, but there is a man in the Bible by the name of Nehemiah who was a man of passion.

(Let’s see if we can identify the passion of Nehemiah.  Please notice with me Nehemiah 2:1-10.)

I.     The Passion (vv. 1-3).

In verse number one, we see that the month is March-April.  This is four months after Nehemiah had begun praying.  God does not always answer immediately, but he always answers.  He answers, “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.”

       Now, Nehemiah didn’t quit his job and run to Jerusalem.  He kept working until God answered his prayer.  There are many principles that we can learn from Nehemiah.  Principle number one when waiting on God to answer your prayer:  “Don’t be in a hurry!”

I remember an old song that says:

“You can’t hurry my God; no, no, you just have to wait.

You have to trust and give Him a little more time,

No matter how long it takes.

You don’t have to worry—He’ll be there in a hurry.

He may not come when you call Him, but He’s right on time!”


       Now, some of you are wondering, “So what should when we do, while we are waiting on God?”  Well, principle number two:  “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything!”  Simply wait on God.  The psalmist wrote in

Psalm 27:14 (NASB-U), “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote in

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV), “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

       Even though Nehemiah didn’t quit his job and run to Jerusalem, he was still concerned about his people and his capital city.  He was so concerned that it showed on his face.  This was most noteworthy because he had not been sad in the king’s presence before.  Perhaps Nehemiah had no real reason to be sad before, but He has one now!

       Do we have this kind of concern today for our spiritual brothers and sisters?

·        Are we sad about the plight of those who are believers…in the world and right here in The House of the Lord?

·        Does your concern show?

·        How does it show?

·        Are you concerned about other things?

·        Does that show?

We are more concerned with blessings and wealth and material, than we are about our spiritual brothers and sisters!

(Be that as it may, let’s get back to the story.)

When the king questioned him about his sadness he became afraid.  Why?  Because being sad in the king’s presence was a serious offense in Persia.  Ryrie says that a sad countenance was not tolerated in the royal presence.  You were not supposed to rain on the king’s parade.

In addition, being that he was the chief cupbearer; the King could have suspected foul play or treason on the part of Nehemiah.  You could get your head cut off for less, but either Nehemiah couldn’t help his feelings or he let them show on purpose to get the king’s attention.  I think Nehemiah chose to let his real feelings show.


·        It saddens me when my brothers and sisters are suffering.

·        It saddens me when things are not going right at the church.

It’s about the Kingdom, and I want people to know it!

What saddens you?  Familiarity robs us of the passion or enthusiasm that we should have about the things of God!!!  Norman Willis wrote in his little book Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, “Often we are guilty of familiarity and not even aware of it.  We would never consider ourselves to be familiar, because we feel deeply about a particular thing.  The problem is we never express the deep feelings we feel, so familiarity is unintentionally communicated.  Feelings of appreciation, honor, and thankfulness need to be expressed.  Your enthusiasm about the Kingdom of God must be communicated.  Your enthusiasm about your church and what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life must be expressed.  Where there is no expression of enthusiasm, there is evidence of familiarity.  Enthusiasm comes from a Greek word whose root is en theos, which means to infuse with a divine spirit.”[1]

·        I have a passion about the Kingdom of God.

·        I have a passion about the Church.

·        I have a passion about you, God’s people!

·        I have a passion about the miracles that God is working in our midst!

·        I have a passion about the healings that are going on!

Today, God has instructed me to do battle with the devil about negative passion!  Why, because negative passion cancels out positive passion!  God has me doing some research concerning how negative emotions and thought patterns bring disease and destruction to the physical body.  Many of us are physically sick, because we are emotionally sick.

Norman Willis, in this same little book identifies two agents of negativity:  sarcasm and negativity!  Willis says that sarcasm is negativity vocalized.[2]  Sarcasm is sharp negative language designed to inflict pain, but it is dressed in acceptability.[3]  Sarcasm bites and tears not only those it is aimed at, but those that it proceeds from.  God only spoke three times from the New Testament and they were always words of affirmation.[4]

This is why I don’t curse and why I strive to be positive and affirm people!

(But it goes deeper than that!)

       The second agent of negativity is envy.  “Envy is negativity vocalized.  Envy is the negativity projected onto someone else due to a built-up resentment over a perceived advantage they may have.”[5]  It’s about what we think we deserve.  When we actually deserve nothing but death!!!

       “Envy is a poison that destroys the body from within.  Much of the disease we face as a society comes as a result of greed and envy.  The writer of the Proverbs wrote in

Proverbs 14:30 (KJV), “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (emphasis mine).

Proverbs 14:30 (NASB-U), “A tranquil heart is life to the body, But (negative) passion is rottenness to the bones” (emphasis mine).

“Envy also takes its toll on the body of Christ!”[6]  James wrote in

James 3:16 (NASB-U), “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

Underneath sarcasm and envy is anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness, which is ultimately—although subconsciously—aimed at God!

One antidote to negativity is what Paul wrote to the Philippians in

Philippians 4:8 (NLT), “And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

“Whatever we set our minds (and hearts) on we reproduce.”[7]


(Well, let’s continue on with the narrative.)

Nehemiah was an educated man and a wise man.  He addressed the king properly and wisely before he states his reason for being sad.  He says in effect, “It is certainly nothing that you have done, O king, but, “The place of my father’s tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire.”  What a terrible situation!  Jeremiah says in

Lamentations 1:1 (NASB-U), “How lonely sits the city That was full of people!  She has become like a widow Who was once great among the nations!  She who was a princess among the provinces Has become a forced laborer!”

Both Nehemiah and Jeremiah were talking about Jerusalem, The holy city, even Zion.  The spiritual, political, financial center of the Israelite people was in shambles!  It was desolate and its gates had been consumed with fire.  And this condition was a constant reminder of the sins of Israel.

“The gate was the place for great assemblies of the people as they passed into and out of the city.  This naturally led to the custom of using gates as places for public deliberation; reading the law and proclamations; holding court; gathering news and gossip; attracting the attention of the sovereign or dignitary at his going out or coming in.  The priests and prophets seem to have delivered their discourses, admonitions, and prophecies at the gates.  Criminals were punished outside the gates.  Being positions of great importance the gates of cities were carefully guarded and closed at nightfall.  Gates are thus sometimes taken as representing the city itself” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 392).

       Don’t we see the same thing in the world today?  Don’t we see the same thing in the Church of Jesus Christ!  Sure, there are Islands of health in various local churches and movements of the Holy Spirit, but the visible Church is in distress.  The Church of Jesus Christ, which was once great in this world, now sits desolate, lonely, and in shambles.  We no longer carry the weight we once carried in this society!!!  And shouldn’t the condition of the Church of Jesus Christ cause us concern and sorrow?


(Next, we shall see that Nehemiah does not just pray when he is in trouble.  Nehemiah is a man of prayer.  Most of us are not people of prayer, but people who pray when we are in trouble.  Thus, we try to become in the moment of trouble, what we are not outside of that moment.  Not so with Nehemiah!!!  So, let’s consider Nehemiah’s prayer.)

II.    The Prayer (vv. 4-8).

(First we see:)

A.    The Petition To The King Of Kings (vs. 4).

It is said that, “Opportunity knocks only once.”  So you must be ready to answer that knock.  You must be prepared.  Nehemiah was prepared by four months of prayer, yet he prays again before he speaks.  He doesn’t get down on his knees.  He doesn’t ask the king for a 15 minute break, but prays quickly and silently.  He stands before the king of Persia, but He prays to the King of kings.

Here is the third principle that we should consider:  Pray before you speak or act!  You don’t have to make a great display of yourself or of your prayer.  You don’t have to assume some position or posture.  You can simply pray quickly and silently, in your spirit, when you are faced with important or difficult situations!

If you a person of prayer, then it won’t take long to touch the throne room, because you are continually in contact with it.  Paul exhorted the Thessalonians in

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB-U), “Pray without ceasing.”

This means to pray incessantly or as if you have an incessant, persistent cough!

(Secondly, we see:)

B.    The Petition To The King (vv. 5-8).

Now, Nehemiah asks for what he wants.  He doesn’t play games.  He is not dishonest or closed, but straightforward.  Nehemiah says in effect, “If I have been a good cupbearer then grant me this request.  I want to rebuild the city of my father’s tomb.”  If Nehemiah had not been a good employee, I wonder what plea he would have used?


       This is trouble right here!  There may come a day, when you need to ask your boss for a favor.  When that day comes, will you be able to rely upon your Christian witness to commend you to your boss?  Will your boss feel compelled to listen to you and help you, because of your honesty and integrity?

       We must establish a credible Christian witness on our jobs, so that we can ask for favors, when our spiritual brothers and sisters are in trouble.

       Here, in Nehemiah’s petition we can see that he had a vision.  Webster’s Dictionary gives two key elements of this kind of vision,

2a. the act of power of imagination;  b(1):  mode of seeing or conceiving (2) the unusual discernment or foresight.”

Nehemiah had a mental picture of what God wanted to accomplish through his leadership.  Nehemiah could see the walls rebuilt in his mind!

He also had foresight to see the kind of organization and administration that it was going to take to get the job done.  Men and women of vision are far and few between.  If you find one, bind yourself to him/her through the power of the Holy Spirit.

       God has given me a vision!  I can see our church as God wants it to be and I can see Akron evangelized for Jesus.  I can see 5,000 to 10,000 in average attendance and the facilities and ministries to minister to them.

I can also see the organization and administration that will be necessary to sustain such a church.  I want to rebuild the walls and repair the gates of this local church, so that we might win souls to Jesus, then disciple those souls into believers who living abundant Christian lives, and make an impact in the marketplace and in society!!!

       What is your vision?  What can you see that God wants to accomplish through you in this local church?  You must be able to trust God, trust me, see the big picture, and pray that God will give you a vision for personal ministry that will correspond to the overall vision.

       He wants to use you in this eternal work that is for His glory!!!


(Let’s continue to review the story from verse six.)

Nehemiah was a wise and discerning man.  He had done his homework.  When the king wanted to know how long he would be gone, Nehemiah gave him a definite time for his leave of absence.  He had calculated how long it would take.  He was no wild-eyed, fanatical Israelite running off in all directions.  He had thought about it, thought it through, and prayed it through, probably during the four months of prayer.

       My best thinking and planning is done in my quiet time in the morning.  If you don’t have regular quiet time with Jesus Christ, you aren’t planning anything; you will just react to the things that happen to you.  Howard Hendricks said, “When we react, we are in danger of setting up an extreme!”  He also said, “Anyone who is not spending some consistent time in planning and think time is only kidding himself/herself if he thinks he is a leader!!!”

Now, please notice the fact that Nehemiah asked for more than the bare minimum.  He asked for what he wanted and needed to do a complete job.

We’ve got to learn to ask God for what we want!  We have not because we ask not!  We have not because we ask with wrong motives, so that we may spend it on our pleasures.  If we were asking God for riches for the Kingdom, he would give them to us.  I have asked God to give me the best here, in buildings and materials, for the Kingdom of God and for His people, and He is answering my prayer.

In addition, Nehemiah had a plan!  God’s man or woman always has a plan!!!  He didn’t go out to the walls and sit down and start praying, “Lord send the bricks.  Lord send the mortar.”  He had a plan to come up with the necessary materials.  But, Nehemiah had more than a plan; he had faith!!!

       As money is the currency of our society, so faith is the currency of heaven!!!  We can get things from heaven, when we have enough faith and it is for the Kingdom.

We have a plan!  That plan is to preach the Gospel, witness, win souls and make disciples of all nations.  The plan is to disciple believers in the Bible and relationship-centered discipleship and teaching until they become spiritually and emotionally healthy.  The plan is to have a Christ-centered, Bible teaching and preaching, Bible-believing, family-oriented, faith-operated, loving local church that will send soldiers into the marketplace to make the kingdoms of this world the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.

Our plan is also to build buildings that will facilitate these souls.

       I also have the faith to believe that God is going to fulfill His vision through us!!!

(We have seen the petition to the King of kings and the petition to the king of Persia, now what is the payoff?)

C.    The Payoff (vs. 8).

God changed the mind of the king of Persia.  The king wasn’t a believer in Jehovah God, but God changed his mind through the prayer of Nehemiah.  The king granted Nehemiah what He had asked for, because the hand of God was on him.  Nehemiah was called by God and blessed by God to accomplish this mission.  Nehemiah realized that his success was due to the grace of God.

       I realize that I have been called to accomplish this great vision and I am trusting God to change the minds of those that He wants to help me.  Time and time again, He has changed the minds of people who were against us, and they have blessed us without knowing why.  But, the why was through prayer, and ultimately through the grace of God.

I also believe that you have been called to accomplish this great vision.  God will change the mind of your boss or others, so that you will be able to be a significant part of this great vision.  And, in so doing, you shall accomplish your own vision, which is in conjunction with God’s vision for this church, through prayer and through grace.

All that we have accomplished, all that we are accomplishing, all that we shall ever accomplish, we accomplish because of the grace of God.

(Nehemiah’s passion and prayer brought about spiritual prosperity.  Let’s consider:)

III.   The Prosperity (vs. 9).

We can see that Nehemiah’s prayer request was answered, but God did more than answer Nehemiah’s prayer request.  God prospered Nehemiah!!!  The king sent along with Nehemiah an armed guard to escort them to Jerusalem.  When God answers He opens up the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing that we don’t have room to receive.

       Look around and see how God is blessing us beyond measure.  He is giving us buildings and beginning to give us favor with the officials of the city.

       If you are passionate about the things of God, the God of heaven will physically prosper you!!!  I can’t say to what extent, but He will give you more than enough to do what He wants done.

(Even though God has prospered Nehemiah, there is always a season of trial or probation.)

IV.   The Probation (vs. 10).

The word ‘probation’ means a period of testing or trial.  God allowed testing in the life of Nehemiah to purify him and strengthen him.

       God allows opposition in our lives that we may grow and draw closer to Him.  I know that I am in the fiery furnace right now, so that God may purge me of any dross that might get in the way of what He wants to do in the next season of breakthrough.

You are also in the furnace right now, particularly if you are going to be a part of ushering in the final manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

As we read through the book of Nehemiah, we will see a six-fold opposition to the work of God.  The careful study of this six-fold opposition will yield great spiritual profit and arm us against the wiles of the devil.  Remember that the number six has to do with man; it the number of imperfection.  Six is the number of man, destitute of God and under the influence of Satan:

1.     Nehemiah 2:10:      Grief or displeasure at the work of God.

2.     Nehemiah 2:19:      Laughter at the work of God.

3.     Nehemiah 4:1-4:     Anger, indignation and mocking of the work of God.

4.     Nehemiah 4:7-8:     Fighting and open opposition to the work of God.

5.     Nehemiah 6:1-2:     An attempt to distract them from the work of God by gossip.

6.     Nehemiah 6:10-14:          False friends working against the work of God.

When you walk by faith, you always walk right into enemies sent by the devil.  They want to see you fail.  They say,

·        “It can’t be done!”

·        “You’re biting off too much!”

·        “Faith is one thing, but don’t be ridiculous!”

·        “We’ve never done it that way before!”

       As a matter of fact, you can expect naysayers, detractors, and enemies when God is doing something great, but don’t forget your vision.  Don’t forget your passion!  Don’t forget to pray!!!

Godly, biblical passion + fervent prayer = spiritual prosperity!!!

(Now is the day of salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 18.

[2] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 32.

[3] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 18.

[4] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 33.

[5] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 33.

[6] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 34.

[7] Norman Willis, Enemies (From Within):  Exposing The Stronghold Of Negativity And Familiarity, Christ Church Publishing, United States of America, 1995, p. 35.

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