Text: Nehemiah 2:1-9
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:19
Basil King had a stormy and difficult childhood. Before becoming a clergyman and renowned author, the adolescent had suffered loss of sight and thyroid problems early in life. He faced countless days of loneliness, depression, and agony over the fear of waking up one day and having total loss of vision. He went about his days allowing a “wealth of ability” to lie fallow, until a certain teacher mentored him to tap into his dormant potential. It became a major turning point in his life, waking him to adopt a whole new mantra. King began to live by the phrase: “Be bold—and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
Many people think that they have a resource problem, when actually they might just have a vision problem. The Bible says: “Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). In 25+ years of ministry among underserved communities, I’ve seen that people can rise up and overcome immense hardship and extreme disadvantages when they swell with a vision for a better future. But when vision doesn’t exist, neither does hope or movement toward positive outcomes. Helen Keller wrote: “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”
In our last devotion, we saw how Nehemiah’s heart broke for the things that break God’s heart. In his spiritual heart trouble, he began to weep and pray over the ruins of Jerusalem. The more that Nehemiah prays, the more he expects to become part of the answer. Tucked away in the safest place in the land, this exile could’ve easily boasted himself as a gifted intercessor and never left the comfort of the king’s palace. His potential could’ve easily wasted away in the lull of luxury. Yet the more he prays, the more he is moved to make a difference. When the news headlines are at their worst, we see the power of vision swelling up in Nehemiah to champion a great cause.
When the king of Persia recognized Nehemiah’s heart trouble, he asked, “What is it that you want?” When the king asks you a question like this, you think about it carefully! It says, “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” What happens next is nothing short of amazing…
Nehemiah is about to go on his first mission trip to Judah, as an ambassador of the God of heaven, to rebuild its walls and restore the welfare of its people, and guess who’s funding the mission? A pagan king!!! Once Nehemiah captured his God-sized vision, the resources were quick to follow. He was bold—and mighty forces came to his aid. Not only did he get the resources and the funding, the king grants him a full military escort as Nehemiah goes about God’s bigger-than-Persia kingdom business.
“Depend on it,” said Hudson Taylor. “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”
Consider: We don’t have a resource problem as much as a vision problem. Too often we focus on the dilemma of our needs rather than the blueprints of God’s agenda. Beloved, recall and marinate on this red-letter command from Jesus: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Do you believe Jesus and His promise? When we get a hold of God’s kingdom vision for our present days, and are determined to flesh it out in faith, all of the resources of heaven’s throne stand behind us. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Heavenly Father, Your arm hasn’t shortened in the least bit since the days of Nehemiah. You are the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. You love to flex your muscles over our lives, especially as we step out in faith to serve you. And while your hand is sure to provide all of our need, your finger points us to focus on your kingdom agenda over our perceived immediate need—to seek IT first over all else. Like Nehemiah, break our hearts for what breaks yours, teach us to act boldly in matters of faith, and grant us favor to make a difference in the world around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Questions for personal reflection, small group discussion, or dinner table conversations:
- If God gave you a blank check to help people who are hurting, lost, or in distress, where would you begin?
- How did Nehemiah describe his problem to the king, and what did Nehemiah do before he told the king what he wanted? (Nehemiah 2:3-4)
- What did Nehemiah ask of the king and what was the response? (Nehemiah 2:5-9) In what ways might this seem amazing or even miraculous?
- How did Nehemiah overcome his fears? How did Nehemiah demonstrate his dependence on God? What fears do you need to overcome?
- In what situations in your life do you need to depend more boldly on the Lord? What can you learn from Nehemiah about the role prayer should play in your everyday life? How can you practically seek God’s kingdom first over your perceived immediate needs this week?
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