“Brick by Brick”
By Pastor Kent Munsey
January 6, 2019
“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’”
Nehemiah 2:4-5 NIV
What would you ask for if the wealthiest, most powerful man in the world asked you what you wanted? The king of Persia asked Nehemiah this very question. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. This was not a servant or slave role; this was a position of privilege and honor. The king asked him what he wanted because he could tell he was sad.
The Israelites had been disloyal to God and taken over by the Persians. Nehemiah had not grown up with the Jewish culture because he had been raised and educated in the Persian culture. He was an ordinary person who God put in an extraordinary position. In the first two chapters of Nehemiah, we can learn three things from Nehemiah’s character and connection to God.
1. God's heart
Where there is criticism there is usually corruption. We live in one of the most critical, judgmental generations of all history. Nehemiah, however, did not criticize his people for their failures, but rather he wept when he saw their distress. Nehemiah 1:1-11 says that Nehemiah spent four months mourning for his people. We see God's heart through Nehemiah--God weeps when he sees our failures and distress.
How is the condition of your heart? The condition of your heart determines the capacity in which God can move and work in your life. If you find yourself constantly critical or complaining, it could be that there are corruptive agents in your heart. We are called to be light bearers and reflectors of God's heart.
Often we look at people and what they have without ever discerning what they had to go through to get what they have. God's heart for you is love, it is compassionate and it is good. When was the last time you let your heart break for the things that break God's heart? Nehemiah aligned his heart with God's heart, and he wept. This year, it’s important that we align our hearts with God's heart.
2. God’s character
Prayer is how God begins to develop his character in your life. When you begin to pray and connect with God, you become more aware of his righteousness and more aware of your sinfulness. Prayer promotes a level of authentic appreciation for God's grace in your life. Developing godly character in your life begins through prayer. You know your prayer life is strong start praying the words and the promises of God. Through praying God's word we begin to realize the character of God.
Over a million people were mobilized to help with the wall and they built it in 52 days. But Nehemiah didn't even say anything to anyone about the wall until he had prayed about it for 4 months. Oftentimes what God wants to do through you is easier than what he wants to do in you. It takes a lot more time for him to develop the character in you than for him to do the thing through you that you think is impossible.
3. God’s hand
“And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.” (Nehemiah 2:8)
We see Nehemiah’s heart is in rhythm with God's heart. We see Nehemiah spending time in prayer and growing in his character and capacity for four months. We see him wait strategically to make his request until he has God's heart and God's wisdom on the matter.
After Nehemiah had prayed for four months, the most powerful man in the world asked him what he wanted. Nehemiah then asked the king for the money, land and authority he needed to rebuild a wall that's a thousand miles away and finish what God started. Nehemiah told the king everything he needed, and it was given to him. Through this exchange, we see God’s hand granting Nehemiah favor as he made his request known to the king.
Happiness doesn't come from external things. True happiness can only come when we are aligned with God’s heart and pursue the dreams that he places in us that are bigger than we could ask, think or imagine. When we pray and seek God’s heart and character, we receive God’s favor to step into the purposes he’s designed specifically for us to fulfill for his kingdom.
If you could have anything in the world, what would you ask for?
When others fail, do you find yourself critical or compassionate?
How strong is your prayer life? How can you strengthen it further in 2019?
How have you seen God’s favor on your life to pursue the God-given dreams in your heart?
What purposes has God placed on your heart this year?