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August 2008

Nehemiah Gives Us A Great Lesson!

In The Book of Nehemiah, in the first Chapter, it tells us that he was the Cupbearer in the Palace of King Artaxerxes.

Chapter 1 tells us some friends visited him from Jerusalem who told how that great city was broken and in disarray.  Nehemiah was saddened by this bad news, and so he prayed and fasted that God might forgive the sins of his people and that He would help them rebuild it.

Some time later when it was time for him to take the wine to the King, the King asked him why he looked so sad.  Nehemiah told him how the city of his fathers was in ruins.  Then the heathen King asked him, "What can I do to help?" We probably would have answered, we need this and we need that, we need a whole lot of things, but not Nehemiah.

In verse 4 of Chapter 2, he writes, "I prayed to the God in heaven". His relationship with God was such that he would never consider making a big decision without first consulting God.  "I prayed to the God in heaven." This was one of those prayers shot up to heaven like an arrow, and just as quickly, the answer came.  This is what we call an exclamatory prayer, which means 'a sudden cry or call for help!'  This example demonstrates that prayer for Nehemiah was as natural as breathing.

God's answer was instant, and He gave Nehemiah the wisdom to answer in such a way that the heathen King ended up helping Nehemiah fulfill his desire. Now, this was an astonishing thing, but God did it because in Nehemiah He had a man who was a true servant.

A couple of important lessons we can learn from Nehemiah.

Nehemiah truly loved God with all his heart and soul. He understood and experienced the unconditional and unlimited love of God as described in 1 John 4:19; "let us love God because God loved us first".

His habit of being in communion with God was so strong, like Daniel and others, that as soon as he found himself in a dilemma, he flew, as it were, away to God, just as the dove would fly to hide herself in the clefts of the rock. Whenever we find ourselves in a like situation, let us not be too hasty with our reply. We might think we know how to answer or we think we know what to do, (ever had an experience when you said something you wish you hadn't) instead, let us send a quick prayer to God for wisdom so that the solution will be the wisest and best one.

Remember where this was being played out, in a King's palace and Nehemiah was the Chief Cupbearer which was an important job in Bible times. Nehemiah could have felt quite proud of himself in his high position.  This was heady stuff, he could easily have forgotten about prayer. Instead, he instinctively sent up a prayer. I am sure our lives would be more fruitful if we did likewise.

This exclamatory prayer I commend to all of us as among one of the very best forms of prayer.  It does not take the place of daily devotions. Nehemiah could, at any time, send an SOS or a meaningful prayer heavenward because he was very familiar with the God of heaven. I want that kind of relationship don't you? And of course, it only comes by daily walking with God through Bible Study, Prayer and obedience to His Word. We must read the Bible not just for information, but also for transformation!

Exclamatory prayers are of great value to people who live in fast-paced, & stress filled cities of the world. The example of Nehemiah shows us that a prayer can be offered anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, and if our prayer comes from sincere motives, then the God of heaven will answer.

I want to close this part by reading a verse in Nehemiah that has become extremely important to me.

It's the last half of verse 10 in Chapter 8; "the joy of the Lord is my strength."

These are words to live by. No matter what is happening to us or around us, we can still have the joy of the Lord.  How?  This true and lasting joy comes from knowing that God loves me unconditionally; it comes from knowing that this trial will not always be like this; it comes from knowing that Jesus is coming back soon; and until then, I have all of God's grand and glorious promises to keep me joyful and peaceful.  Nehemiah knew and believed all of these things. It's the reason he could reach the ear of God at any time.

May this be our experience as well, is my prayer for all of us.

Dear Heavenly Father, Help us to commune with you daily through Bible reading and prayer so that you will always know our voice when we call. Thank you for hearing us as we pray in Jesus Name. Amen.

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