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Nehemiah’s Problem

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.
–Nehemiah 1:3

Yesterday, we saw that Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia after the fall of Jerusalem, and he was serving as the king’s cupbearer. Now let’s look at Nehemiah’s problem. In verses 2-3, he wrote: “Some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province . . . are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.’” The fact that the wall was in ruins made the Jews not only open to attack from the enemy, but also to ridicule. People were saying, “Look at this condition of this city! God must not be much of a God at all, if He would let His city look like this.”

What was Nehemiah’s response to this news? Look at verse 4: “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.” Here is the mark of a true follower of God: He is more interested in God’s glory and God’s kingdom than he is his own peace and prosperity. I think one reason so many Christians walk around in a fog, seeing no supernatural work in their lives, is they have the wrong focus in life. They think this life is about their prosperity, their happiness, their fulfillment. As long as that is the focus of your life, do not expect any supernatural working of God in your life. God has left you here for one reason: to glorify His name. Nehemiah understood that, and that is why he was distressed about the condition of this wall. He realized that it was giving reason for people to blaspheme the name of God. He said in his heart, “I cannot allow this to remain this way. I am going to do something about it.”

Every leader begins with distress about a certain need, and that distress turns into a determination to do something about that need. That is what happened with Nehemiah. As soon as Nehemiah heard the news about the wall, he dropped to his knees and began to pray. I want you to notice something: Nehemiah never prayed, “Lord, if I am the one to rebuild this wall, give me a sign that I am the one to do it.” There are a lot of people out there waiting for God’s call when God has already called them. If you see a need that you feel passionate about that is a part of God’s kingdom, and you have an opportunity to meet that need, then you are called to meet that need. That is exactly how Nehemiah responded. He prayed for God’s assistance in what he had already determined to do in his heart. I want you to notice the progression. Leadership begins with distress about a situation that needs to be fixed. From that distress he moves to determination–“I am going do something about this.” From that distress and determination, he moves to dependence upon God’s power. As Nehemiah thought about all of the things he would have to do to repair the wall, it did not drive him to discouragement, but it did drive him to dependence upon the power of God. That is why we see Nehemiah on his knees beginning to pray.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living Your Dreams” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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