Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
This is the day the Lord has made, may we rejoice and be glad in it! In last week’s sermon, we looked at Jesus’ call of Levi (Matthew) the Tax Collector and Jesus’ dining with sinners. The great truth of the love of Christ towards the ‘least of these’ has many applications for our lives, but two are worth mentioning again. First, the reality is that we are all the least of these – undeserving of Christ’s love. Thus, reflecting on our salvation should drive us to our knees in worship. And second, this is the love that we are to show to our neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. We are to demonstrate this ‘other-worldly’ love of Christ to others. In this fallen world, showing the love of Christ to others is a powerful testimony!
A couple of announcements:
A ladies’ dinner out next week (time and location coming soon)
Ladies’ Mugs and Muffins will be Nov 16th! Mark your calendars!
Finally, this week’s devotion is a reflection from Nehemiah on prayer and the Christian life.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Prayer, Scripture, and Action”
Nehemiah 2:4, “So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
In the year 445BC, Jerusalem and its people were in disarray. The walls of the city were broken down (a major issue in a culture where walls provide protection from enemies), the city gates were destroyed, and the Jewish remnant was in trouble (Neh 1:3). And Nehemiah, a Jewish man drafted into the service of the Persian King, hears this report and is deeply burdened. He is burdened for his people and for the holy city (1:4). Nehemiah immediately goes to the Lord in prayer and the Lord puts it on Nehemiah’s heart to return to Jerusalem to aid in the rebuilding of the walls (1:5ff; v. 11).
As the page turns to chapter 2 four months have passed. Nehemiah, still deeply burdened and troubled by the condition of God’s people, is summoned into the presence of the King. And the king asks him, “Why is you face sad, seeing that you are not sick.” After Nehemiah explains the devastation in Jerusalem, the king asks him the million-dollar question, “What are you requesting?” (2:4). The next verse is simply stunning: “So I prayed to the God heaven. And I said …” (vv. 4-5). We must remember that Nehemiah is at the mercy of the King. Say the wrong thing, and the King could have his head with wave of his hand. Yet Nehemiah prays and acts! Nehemiah sensed the Lord’s leading – this was the time to act – the door was open – he gives it to the Lord – and he speaks and requests a leave of absence to help his fellow Israelites. And how does the King respond? Verse 8b, “And the king granted me what I asked (including supplies to help in the rebuilding process), for the good hand of my God was upon me.”
There is much for us to learn from Nehemiah in terms of living the Christian life and following the will of God. What was Nehemiah to do after hearing of the trouble in Jerusalem? What was God’s will for Nehemiah in this particular circumstance? There are three things that characterized Nehemiah as he walked with the Lord and followed the will of the Lord: (1) prayer (2) the word of God (3) action. First, Nehemiah was a man of prayer. The book of Nehemiah – essentially the memoirs of the man – is filled with prayer. Nehemiah’s short, quick prayer before he answered the king (2:4) did not arise out of nowhere. Rather, it arose from a life saturated in prayer (see 1:5ff). Prayer was the heartbeat of his life. Thus, a short prayer before the king was his ‘gut reaction’ in a time of trial and decision. Secondly, Nehemiah was a man of the word. We see his love of the word expressed in his prayers. For example, Nehemiah’s prayer of chapter 1 (1:5ff) was filled with Scripture – grounded on Scripture and claiming the promises of Scripture. And finally, Nehemiah acted. When the Lord opened the door, Nehemiah – in the strength of the Lord – stepped through. Nehemiah did not act in his own strength nor on his own timetable (remember 4 months pass between chapters 1 and 2). His actions were according to the word of God and steeped in prayer.
What great wisdom there is for us as we consider Nehemiah! May we be Christians of action! But may our actions and our life not be in our strength, not according to our will, nor in our time. But may our actions and our life – like Nehemiah – be according to the word of God and directed by the will of God. That is, may our life be characterized by Scripture and prayer!!
I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,