Title: Are you ready to be used?
Text: Neh 1:-11
Introduction: Are you ready for some football? Football season is in full gear. The preseason is over. Pro football players had two months to get ready for the next 17 weeks. But I heard something last week an all pro defensive end said, “if you stay ready you never have to get ready!” This statement says a lot about the dedication, discipline and professionalism of this pro athlete. His constant readiness is all about his heart for the game. In his book the Servant Leader, Ken Blanchard says that leadership is about the heart. It is what is on the inside of person that makes him/her a leader. From this athlete’s statement, I know he was a leader on his team who wants to make an impact and lead his team to victory. It is my understanding that this athlete heart was in the right position to ready use his abilities and influence to impact his team to victory. Our text is about a man also with a heart in the right position ready to use his abilities and influence to help his people. Nehemiah had the heart which made him ready to be used. This problem with the church today is that people don’t have the right heart to be used by God. We have the skills, abilities, ambition and the resources but we don’t have the heart. My beloved, are you ready to be use? Do you have the right heart?
I. Personal Problem vv. 1-4
On a certain day in the month of Chisleu in the 20th year of the King Arterxeres reign while Nehemiah was in the palace doing what he normal does, he got some news that would change his life forever. One of his brother’s came in with some other men from Judah. Nehemiah had a heart for the well being of his people Israel who have now come out of captivity. He was probably hoping to get a good report because it has been some time and maybe he thought they would have got back on there feet. Maybe he thought since they were now free that their spirit would be uplifted because they were no longer in bondage. But this was not the case at all. He got a report on this day that would rock his world. He was in the palace but the report he was about to get would put him in the pit. In verse 3, Nehemiah gets told that things are not going well for those who return to the province of Judah. They are in great affliction, the city walls are in ruin and the gates are broken and the people are in reproach. This is not a good day for Nehemiah. My brother and sisters, have ever had a day like Nehemiah? His world was shattered with one message! He was brought from a high place to a low place with a problem that was personal which is our first point. You just doing what you do normally then something happened. In one day your whole life can be altered by one problem that became personal. But in one day you can also discover your destiny. (Why doesn’t God making our destiny enjoyable). It is in life changing events that makes us who God wants us to be! And in one day it could happen! This is what happened to Nehemiah. He asked a question out of care and concern for people he loved only to discover that he would have an eternal burden. But something is birthed out of burden. God produces things in pain. Creation comes out of chaos. From his problem, Nehemiah did something we should all do before anything else when we have a personal problem that is to pray. Prayer is born out of burden in your heart. Look at the text.
II. Prayer vv. 5-11a
When he heard the news, he wept and mourned certain days and fasted and prayed. This would give him spiritual fortitude to deal with his dilemma.
a. Reverential prayer of Praise vv. 5-6a
He prays, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants”. That is a reverential prayer of praise. In his time of pain, he goes to God Source in humble reverence. He did not get on his horse and got back to Jerusalem to handle his business. He worshiped God first. He went to the One who is almighty to help him.
b. Penitence vv. 6b-7
Not only did he have reverential praise in his prayer but it is also a prayer of penitence. That means he confessed his sins not only for children of Israel who were wayward and disobedient not keeping God’s commandments but for himself also. Look at the text. Nehemiah knew that he also had to be clean before God. His personal sin could affect those around him. My beloved, when we have a problem that affects us, we have to ask God to remove it. One person’s sin can cause everything around to fall done. But if we confess our sin the Bible says that God is faithful and just to forgive us from all unrighteousness. God can only fill a clean vessel. Confession cleanses you and removes the sin lid so God can fill you. It is time to confess your stuff to God and stop pointing at other people stains when you are dirty!
c. Promise vv. 8-9
Next, Nehemiah show us in our time of trouble when we pray we have to pray according to God’s promises. Look at the text. In verse 8, he calls to God remembrance what He promised Moses, “Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses… This first tells us in the telling of our trouble you have to know the Word of God for yourself not by inference. Pause. That is the problem with church today too much about God is inferred, no truth! Not only do you have to know the Word, you have to hold on to its promises. Nehemiah was praying for the people of Israel because they were in a bad place. In verse 9, he knew what the word said and knew that God promise a better place for them. Nehemiah prayed according to scripture that related to his situation. My beloved whatever you are going through there is a Word you! It is in the Book. And if God said it will come past! You may have to wait but delay is not denial! God don’t break his promises!
d. Put them in God’s care vv.10-11a
Nehemiah was faced with a problem that was too big from him to handle but he gave it to someone who could. In verse 10, I like how Nehemiah places the people he so cared about into God’s care. He says,” Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.” My beloved you may not be able to change people’s situation but you can always put them in to the care of God! Turn them over to Jesus. Nehemiah was ultimately saying, “it burdens me Lord, but these are your children. It hurts me but you can help them”. My beloved you can be confident that according to God’s word He will work it out!!!
Nehemiah concludes his prayer in verse 11a by calling God to action. Look at the text. “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day”. He prays to God “this day”. Not tomorrow but this day. Not next week but this day. God I need you now! I can’t rush you but please God move! I need to learn something from Nehemiah because I need a blessing this day. I need a miracle this day. I need a breakthrough this day! I need healing this day! God I need you this day!
Nehemiah goes to God and asks Him for exactly what he wants. We have to be specific with God when we pray. He says show me mercy (or favor) with this man (the king). Before you can prevail with man you have to prevail with God in prayer. Not only does Nehemiah have a burden for what is going on, he wants to do something but he needs God’s help to do it. He doesn’t ask God to send anybody, he wants to help. He wants to be apart of the solution. Too many of us have a burden or concern but instead of praying about it asking God for help and lending a hand, we complain and spread negativity slowing down the process and progress and God is not pleased! Instead of putting your mouth on stuff, put out you hand and help!
III. Under God’s Providence v. 11b
“For I was the king’s cupbearer”
In this verse hangs the crux of the message. Here it answers the how and the why we are ready to be used. This statement is the answer. “For I was the king’s cupbearer”. Nehemiah was under the king’s authority serving in the king’s palace. In other words, the text informs us that Nehemiah is under the king’s providence. Providence means preservation and governing. Biblically it means foresight. As a cupbearer, Nehemiah was the king’s providential care in which he was in a prominent position. He was prosperous and he had power. In his position as a cupbearer, he was responsible for making sure the king’s food and drink was not poised. This was risky. He risked his life for some one else. Since he was in the palace, he was in a place of prosperity with resources and abundance all around him. Lastly, Nehemiah as the cupbearer had power because he had influence because he was close to the king. All of this was because Nehemiah was under the king’s providence. However, we know that God does not make mistakes. You may think that Nehemiah was a fortunate Jew who escaped the perils of captivity. But this was all a part of God’s plan and His providence. In God’s providence, his foresight, preservation and government, Nehemiah was God’s cupbearer. Nehemiah was in position, prosperous, and had power to be ready to be used by God to rebuild the fallen city of Jerusalem. My beloved, I am here to tell you that where you are is where God’s need you to be to be a cupbearer to the King. You are in the right position to make a difference. It is risky because you live faith! You have been provided with resource thru God to be prosperous in your endeavors for the Lord. You can have influence because have power! God is calling us to be cupbearers, bearing burdens for the Kingdom yet ready to do something. So are you ready? Problem? Prayer? Providence? Are you ready to step it up, walk by faith, be obedience, follow the move of God, to strive for holiness? Are you ready to a leader? To a servant? To be a disciple in the kingdom?