Chair Time Reflections - November 26, 2018
God Made You to Be a Gift
Posted by: Kim Stiver
Sermon Text: Nehemiah
Focus Verse: Nehemiah 2:18 "And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work."
The book of Nehemiah tells one of the most encouraging and relatable stories of the Old Testament. It’s all about an ordinary guy who was used mightily by God to bring unity, healing, restoration and hope to a weary and discouraged population — the Israelites. He wasn’t a prophet or priest. Like most people, he had a regular day job. Nehemiah was employed by the ruling government at that time, and like Joseph and Daniel before him, he remains an amazing example of God placing and using people in secular job positions to accomplish His purposes through "after-hours” service to others. Nehemiah may have gotten out of bed every day to perform a routine administrative role for the government, but he loved and lived to serve an extraordinary God, which made all the difference in how he’s remembered.
Nehemiah is most known for boldly asking the king for not only permission, but also the resources to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. To understand the significance of his courageous request of the king, that would be like going to your boss and asking him or her for permission to take a paid leave of absence from your job to clean up and repair the most stigmatized and marginalized neighborhood in your community. Oh, and don’t forget the part where you ask your boss for company funds to do the work as well! As crazy as his request was, God was leading him (Nehemiah 2:18), so the king granted all that he asked and more.
But this incredible story wouldn’t be in the Bible if Nehemiah hadn’t recognized that God made him to be a gift to others. God created Nehemiah and placed him in that exact position in order to provide for His people, just as He has with you and me. We are each made to love and serve others in partnership with one another. Nehemiah didn’t do it alone. He recruited thousands of people to help him carry out God’s work. How did one ordinary guy become such a gift to others and accomplish the impossible? Here are four clues to his success.
He made prayer a priority (Nehemiah 1:6; 2:4) — Nehemiah saturated every decision, every step, and his team members in prayer before, during, and after the entire project.
He wasn’t afraid to feel and take action (Nehemiah 1:4, 2:2-8) — In an amazing display of vulnerability and authenticity, Nehemiah allowed God to prick his heart for the cause and the people he was called to serve. He didn’t shy away from obedience, knowing that God would supply his needs.
He saw strength and hope in partnerships (Nehemiah 2:18, 4:6) — Nehemiah didn’t try to do anything alone. He saw strength in numbers and encouraged everyone who got involved.
He trusted God against the opposition (Nehemiah 4:9, 4:14-15, 6:16) — Enemies always come out of the woodwork when God is working, but the opposition didn’t phase Nehemiah. He knew if God started this work, He would finish it if His people, prayed, trusted, worked hard, and remained humble before God.
If God is nudging your heart to serve today, rejoice, pray, and accept the calling in the fullness of what He will do through you, not in who you are right now. Don’t worry if you feel ill-equipped to serve because our amazing God will transform you into the gift He’s made you to be.
Scripture Meditations for this week:
Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Wednesday: Galatians 5:13
Thursday: Romans 12:1-2
Friday: John 12:25-26
Want to grow more? Check out the resource below!
- "I am Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down," sermon by Andy Stanley in his series "This One Thing". This sermon uses Nehemiah to teach about the principles of commitment, focus, and following God's leading.
- Nehemiah is an amazing story! Watch the Bible Project video about Ezra and Nehemiah
- Twelve Ordinary Men, by John MacArthur
- Hand Me Another Brick, How Effective Leaders Motivate Themselves and Others (Lessons from Nehemiah), by Charles R. Swindoll