Someone Else’s Living Hope: Will You Be the One Who Steps Forward?

Will You Be the One Who Steps Forward to be someone else’s Living Hope?

I have read that when D.L. Moody was just starting out in the ministry he heard a preacher say, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully who is surrendered to Him.” That night Moody said, “By God’s grace I will be that man!” Moody had little formal education, and he was not a polished speaker. But God used Dwight L. Moody to reach two continents with the Gospel. He presented the plan of Salvation, by voice or pen, to at least one hundred million people. He often spoke to audiences of ten to twenty thousand people. It is estimated that over a million souls came to Christ as a result of his ministry.

Now, it may or may not be that you will reach a vast number of souls on a multitude of continents or in as many nations that claim sovereignty over a population of people within its borders and boundaries. It might be just as simple to be someone else’s Living Hope by just coming upon them in their situation and aiding or helping them when they appear to be in some need. They may ask for your help or they may not, but you make yourself available anyway. You may or may not know what exactly is going on in that moment, but it will be for them a moment in time when they’ll know that at least one person cares.

Throughout the length and breadth of the Bible we have many inspirational examples where God used a single surrendered individual to accomplish great things for Him. God used Noah to build an Ark and preach repentance to a corrupt generation. God used Moses to deliver His people from the strong hand of Pharaoh. God used His Prophet Elijah to oppose the evilness of Ahab and Jezebel. (He prayed fire down from Heaven and slew 450 prophets of Baal.)

God used a reluctant preacher named Jonah to bring revival to Nineveh. God used a little shepherd boy named David to slay the Giant of the Philistines named Goliath. God took a Tree Dresser named Amos, God took a Cup Bearer to rebuild. God took a handful of fishermen, a publican and a few other common men and used them to turn the world upside down in the name of Jesus Christ! God took a man named Saul of Tarsus who had been the greatest persecutor of the church and transformed him into the greatest Christian who ever lived.

Today’s devotional offering looks upon the inspired life of that Cup Bearer.

Nehemiah 1 Easy-to-Read Version

Nehemiah’s Prayer

These are the words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa in the month of Kislev. This was in the 20th year[a] that Artaxerxes was king. While I was in Susa, one of my brothers named Hanani and some other men came from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had escaped captivity and still lived in Judah. I also asked them about the city of Jerusalem.

They answered, “Nehemiah, the Jews who escaped captivity and are in the land of Judah are in much trouble. They are having many problems and are full of shame because the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard this about the people of Jerusalem and about the wall, I sat down and cried. I was very sad. I fasted and prayed to the God of heaven for several days. Then I prayed this prayer:

“Lord, God of heaven, you are the great and powerful God. You are the God who keeps his agreement of love with people who love you and obey your commands.

“Please open your eyes and ears and listen to the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. I am confessing that I have sinned against you and that the other people in my father’s family have sinned against you. We Israelites have been very bad to you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules, and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Please remember the teaching you gave your servant Moses. You said to him, ‘If you Israelites are not faithful, I will force you to be scattered among the other nations. But if you Israelites come back to me and obey my commands, this is what I will do: Even if your people have been forced to leave their homes and go to the ends of the earth, I will gather them from there. And I will bring them back to the place I have chosen to put my name.’

10 “The Israelites are your servants and your people. You used your great power and rescued them. 11 So, Lord, please listen to my prayer. And listen to the prayers of all your other servants who are happy to honor you. Help me today as I ask the king for help. Make him pleased with me so that he will be kind and give me what I ask for.”

At that time, I was the king’s wine servant.[b]

The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

God did not stop with the men we read about on the pages of the New Testament. He has continued to use men and women throughout Church history to bring glory to His name. People like: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, C.H Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoffer, Corrie Ten Boom, R.A Torrey, A.W Tozer, D. L Moody, Billy Sunday, Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, Billy Graham and O’ so many others.

These individuals were successful in the Kingdom work because they chose to become fully entrenched into and surrendered to the will of God in their lives.

God does not seek out those with the greatest ability or the most education. He chooses to use those faith-filled, faithful and fervent servants. He uses those men and women who possess a great burden and a big desire to move forward.

It is abundantly clear that the church needs restoration and revival. There is no shortage of people who claim that they want to see revival. But there is also a tragic shortage of those who are willing to actually do something about it!

The problem is that the majority are always waiting on “someone else” to do something. However, nearly every great move of God began with one or two people who developed an immense burden. That was the case in Nehemiah’s day. Jerusalem had been ruins for many years. Many of the Israelites noticed the problem, but no one did anything about it. In Nehemiah, God found a man with a king sized burden. And that burden led to action and that action led to revival!

Here in chapter one, we get a glimpse of the immense burden of this man named Nehemiah. As a young man, Nehemiah had been appointed to the office of “Royal Cupbearer”. A cup-bearer was one who would serve drinks to the King. The cupbearer had the burden and responsibility to guard the cup in order to prevent the King from being poisoned. At times he would be required to test the wine personally before serving it to the King. The position of cup-bearer was greatly valued and not given to just anyone. One who held this position would often gain a trust and great favor and great influence with the King.

At this time in history, Artaxerxes was the King. Artaxerxes and Nehemiah had developed a close relationship. So much so that one day Nehemiah was heavily burdened and the King could tell by his demeanor that something wasn’t right.

Nehemiah began to explain to his master the reason for his sudden, sorrowful demeanor. One day his brother arrived and Nehemiah asked about the people of God and the city of Jerusalem. Hanani informed him that the people of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were in a terrible condition. – verse 3.

Verse 3 – “And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.”

Over 150 years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon invaded Israel and carried many of the people away as slaves. At this point, Cyrus has released the Israelites and allowed them to return to Jerusalem. But not all of the Jews returned to Jerusalem, Nehemiah was still residing at the palace in Shushan. Notice how Nehemiah responded to what he learned from Hanani.

Verse 4 it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, Nehemiah was greatly burdened for his city and his people.

Nehemiah did not know it at the time but God was preparing him for a great work. God was moving in his life and would soon use him to restore Jerusalem. God had found a man with a vision, God had found a man with a burden, God had found a man of prayer, and God had found a man of action! God was going to use him to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, God was going to use this humble servant to bring about the restoration of the nation of Israel.

Many people have the idea that they are only one person and alone they cannot possibly have any measurable impact. That pessimistic mindset has been proven false time and again. It was President John F. Kennedy who famously said; “One person can make a difference and everyone should at least try”. Are you willing to “at least” try to make a difference? Will you be that willing vessel that God can use to accomplish a great work for someone in this day and age? If you are that one, then you will surely possess the same attributes as Nehemiah.

1. You will have a concern for the things of God.

2. You will have a burden for the people of God.

3. You will have a passion for the work of God.

Nehemiah 1:1-6 NASB

Nehemiah’s Grief for the Exiles

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the [a]capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, [b]and some men from Judah came; and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped [c]and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and disgrace, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Now 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. I said, “Please, Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and faithfulness for those who love Him and keep His commandments: let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.

Let us take a hopeful, hope-filled look to verses 1-6 and ask the question:

I. WILL YOU BE THE ONE WITH A CONCERN FOR THE THINGS OF GOD?

Though Nehemiah was serving the King in Shushan, his mind was focused on his homeland. He asked his brother Hanani about Jerusalem. Jerusalem is often called “the Holy City”…. it is the “city of God.” Nehemiah would come to learn that God’s city lay in ruins. The walls were broken down, the gates had been consumed with fire. In these first two verses of chapter one, we can see where Nehemiah’s heart was. He was a man who was focused on the things of God.

What an incredibly inspired response from Nehemiah! Oh how we need people like this in our day. There is such a great shortage of men and women who are focused on the things of God. One of the most devastating issues plaguing the Church today is the transitioning priorities of its members. There are many men and women who claim to be born again, many who profess their un- dying love for Jesus yet they seem to put everyone and everything else in front of Him.

Where are the “other people – our neighbors” on our list of priorities? Where is our worship on our list of priorities? Where is prayer on your list of priorities?

Where is bible study on our list of priorities? Where is evangelism on our list of priorities? Where is our Acts 3 Christian service on our vast lists of priorities? Do the things of God come before or after our career? Do they come before our family? Do they come before our recreational activities? Do they come only after our leisure time? Do the things of God come before our hobbies? What is the focus of our lives? What is most important to you? Where is God in your life?

Let me remind you what Jesus had to say about priorities.

Matthew 22:35-40 NASB

35 And one of them, [a]a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [b]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 Upon these two commandments [c]hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do the priorities in our lives reveal an immense love for the Lord? Nehemiah’s priorities certainly revealed that he was concerned about the things of God! Will we likewise be the one’s who are concerned about the things of God? Will we be the one who is concerned about the condition of our communities? Many would love to quickly answer that question with a hearty… YES! But as the old cliché goes “Actions speak louder than words”! If we are really ones with a concern for the things of God, it will be evident not by what we say, but, too, by what we do!

Let’s move on to question number 2:

II. WILL WE BE THE ONES WITH A BURDEN FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD?

Verses 2b – 4

Even worse to Nehemiah than the news concerning Jerusalem was the report he heard concerning the Jews that survived the exile. They were enduring “great affliction and reproach”. The Jews were a despised people and oppressed by the neighboring nations. Anyone one of us can easily say that they have a burden for the needs of others and not mean it, but a true burden will prompt action.

Nehemiah had such a burden that it caused him to grieve for his brethren – v4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven …,

There was a 4 step response by Nehemiah…. He Wept, He Mourned, He Fasted and He Prayed.

Nehemiah says that he “sat down and wept”.

He was brought to tears by the condition of the people and the city of God. Oh that we would be brought to tears by the condition of our communities.

When we see how far our communities have drifted from God’s original intent we should be moved to tears. When we see the “I will just cancel everything” that is prevalent in our society it should move us to tears. When we see the apathy among any professing Christians in our day it should break our hearts!

When we consider that many of our brethren are being persecuted, brought to shame and reproach because of the name of Christ we should weep and mourn!

When we think of the multitudes of hopeless people who are not being reached with God’s Gospel, we should not hesitate to all fall down and weep and mourn.

One of the greatest pictures of Jesus in the Bible, is when He approached Jerusalem and wept over the city. Jesus saw the people as “sheep having no shepherd”. He had so much love for those people… (the very people who would crucify Him) that He was brought to tears over the condition of their souls.

As His followers we should have that same compassion. How long has it been since we have wept over one single soul? How long has it been since we have cried out to God on behalf of our Acts 3 lost loved ones? We say that we have a burden that needs Jesus’ focused attention, if so WHERE ARE THE TEARS????

Nehemiah did not just weep and mourn, he also fasted and prayed. Fasting had become a frequent practice among the Jews during the captivity. Daniel fasted (Daniel 9:3; Daniel 10:3), Esther fasted (Esther 4:16), Ezra fasted (Ezra 10:6). Now we read in Nehemiah, that he was crying, praying, and fasting before God.

Though he was a close friend of the King, Nehemiah went way over his head with this issue. Nehemiah humbly bowed and cried out to God almighty on behalf of his people! In great anguish, great hope and great faith Nehemiah prayed one of the most beautiful and powerful prayers recorded in the Bible. This was not a selfish prayer, this was the prayer of an intercessor. Nehemiah went to God on behalf of his brethren. Take a moment and listen to his cry:

Nehemiah 1:5-10 ERV

Then I prayed this prayer:

“Lord, God of heaven, you are the great and powerful God. You are the God who keeps his agreement of love with people who love you and obey your commands.

“Please open your eyes and ears and listen to the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. I am confessing that I have sinned against you and that the other people in my father’s family have sinned against you. We Israelites have been very bad to you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules, and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Please remember the teaching you gave your servant Moses. You said to him, ‘If you Israelites are not faithful, I will force you to be scattered among the other nations. But if you Israelites come back to me and obey my commands, this is what I will do: Even if your people have been forced to leave their homes and go to the ends of the earth, I will gather them from there. And I will bring them back to the place I have chosen to put my name.’

10 “The Israelites are your servants and your people. You used your great power and rescued them.

As he cried out to God on behalf of his people, Nehemiah recounted, reclaimed the heritage and promises of God. God would soon honor that heritage and His request, but, in the process, God would require a commitment from Nehemiah.

Do you have a burden for the people of God? How long has it been since you’ve prayed for the people of God? You cannot profess to have a burden if you are not moved to tears and prompted to intercede on their behalf! If you will go to the extra mile, to Lord in prayer… if you will be an intercessor on behalf of others, then you (like Nehemiah) can claim the heritage and the all promises of God.

What promises you ask? Here are just a few:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23)

These are promises that we can cling to!

But also I want you to notice that when Nehemiah began to claim the promises of God, God enlisted Nehemiah to go to work for Him.

The prayers concerning the vast burdens of the people of God would be timely answered, but Nehemiah would have to roll up his sleeves and go to work. This is the part of the devotional where I sadly expect to lose quite a few people.

You and I will start talking about Acts 3 work and people will tune us out and turn us off in less time for our hearts to beat. We wont like it, but it is necessary for the people of God to do more than just pray to God, we must labor for Him!

To explore this, pray look with me to verse 11 as we consider question number 3:

III. WILL YOU AND I BE THE ONES WITH A PASSION FOR THE WORK OF GOD?

Nehemiah 1:11 AKJV

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Please take careful notice of that last phrase “for I was the king’s cupbearer”. This speaks to the selflessness and the sacrifice of Nehemiah. He was a man who lived a great life. It was a life of peace, prosperity and power. He spent his days tasting the kings food and wine before it reached the king. His duty was to protect the king. King Artaxerxes quite literally trusted Nehemiah with his life.

Nehemiah was a man who lacked nothing. He didn’t live with the others in the ruins of Jerusalem. He spent his days in the king’s palace. He ate the best food and drank the best wine. He was protected and provided for.

But God was doing a great work in his life. God had placed an immense burden in his heart for Jerusalem and the people of Israel. Nehemiah was about to step miles out of his comfortable lifestyle, he would “sacrifice his life of plenty” to leave his trusted job with the king in order to do a great work for God almighty.

i. He had a concern for the things of God.

ii. He had a burden for the people of God.

iii. He had a passion for the work of God.

His burden to accomplish this God given task was so passionate and purposeful that King Artaxerxes could see it all over his face. (Nehemiah 2:1-8)

The king supported Nehemiah and allowed him to return to Jerusalem for a time in order to rebuild the walls and replace the gates of the city. And immediately, Nehemiah went to work doing what God had called him to do.

I genuinely believe that it was a direct result of Nehemiah’s prayers that God worked in the heart of Artaxerxes to allow his servant to go to Jerusalem and do this work. If you continue to read this great book of the bible you will see how God used this one man to have a tremendous impact on Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. Jerusalem needed to be restored and Israel needed revival.

Today, undoubtedly, there are many of the things of God and our neighbors which absolutely need to be refreshed and restored – things like hope, trust.

We need people in our communities, who (like Nehemiah) are willing to step even a few inches outside of their comfort zone and get to work. We need some people who will dare to look around and realize that the walls are broken down and the gates of somewhere or another now lay in ruin and it is time to rebuild.

Will I be the one?

Will you be the one?

Will we be the one?

a) who will say that we have a genuine concern for the things of God?

b) who will say that we have a genuine burden for the people of God?

c) who will say we have a genuine passion for the work of God?

If we will be the ones that God can use to spark that fire that is needed: It will begin with us being passionately concerned about the current situation of our community. God will reveal what is broken and in need of repair. He will show us those people that hurting and in danger. He will give us such a burden that it will cause us to weep, mourn and pray. Following that period of grieving and prayer, God will show us the proper steps to begin the process of restoration.

As for myself, I am publishing this Blog titled “LivingRomans15verse4Hope.”

As for you, I cannot say, nor will I even begin to speculate your contributions.

God is the only One who can bring revival and accomplish the restoration of His people. But in His infinite wisdom He has chosen to use His people to do a great work in this world. It is vital that we become willing vessels that God can use to bring revival and restoration. “Will I be the one? Will you be the one? Will we?”

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us Pray about it,

Savior Jesus, I embrace You as my Burden Bearer. I name each burden one by one (take time here and be specific) and release them into Your care. I thank You that You daily bear my burden. I thank You that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. I am so used to working things out on my own that I need Your help so I can depend on You more. I am sorry for all the times I have tried to bear my own burdens-not leaning on You.

I lift before You Father, those in my community who are weighed down with cares and burdens too great for them to bear. May they be filled with joy and peace and overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Give them grace to trust You in all things. (Pause and pray for those people and places the Holy Spirit brings to mind.)

May we at (name of community or church) become those who reach out to those who are burdened with cares of all kinds or who have fallen away, become discouraged or doubtful in their faith journey. May those who are weak in faith, in hope and in love be raised and strengthened and all who stumble be lifted up!

Lord I need Your peace that surpasses my understanding, so according to Your Word I open my heart and receive it from You. I have cast my cares on You, and I am grateful that this peace will guard my heart and mind. Thank You Jesus for being a Burden Bearer! Blessed be Your holy Name, Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: