Summary: Exposition of Neh 2:1-8, about his wise decisions toward attaining his God-inspired vision for the Kingdom
Text: Nehemiah 2:1-8, Title: Carpe Diem, Date/Place: NRBC, 9/2/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: In 1944, Leander McCormick-Goodheart, a recruiter for the Ford Motor Company, toured fifty universities across the United States to recruit the outstanding graduating student of each institution. At Leigh University, he met a young man named Lee Iacocca and offered him a position at Ford. This was a dream come true for Iacocca. His greatest ambition was to one day word for Ford. Yet Iacocca asked if he could delay the starting date of his employment for one year. He had the opportunity to earn a master’s degree from Princeton University. Even though the ambitious and talented Iacocca had the opportunity to launch his meteoric auto making career immediately upon his graduation, he determined to be fully prepared for whatever opportunities might come his way in the future.
B. Background to passage: About four months has gone by since Nehemiah’s learning of the situation in Jerusalem. After having a burden for the city, and a leading to do something about it, and a prayer that identifies the man in whom he needs favor, Nehemiah is prepared to act. But as any wise leader knows, he must be selective about how he pursues his vision.
C. Main thought: Nehemiah shows us four principles of wisdom as we move on our God-inspired visions and burdens.
A. Choose the proper time (v. 1-2)
1. So after mourning, fasting, and praying for many days, why not just go up to the king and ask for what you know you want to do? Why wait for four months? He was waiting on God’s timing. He was letting the crock pot simmer and the burden grow. He was trusting God’s time, not Nehemiah’s time. There were certain feasts in which the kings would be especially favorable to his subjects. And certainly the cupbearer had served the king these four months, but had never shown sadness. And the king immediately sees it, so I think that Nehemiah chose this time.
2. Est 4:14,
3. Illustration: like when you have been waiting at to eat for two hours and a new bottle of ketchup at a restaurant and you have to wait for it to come dribbling out the end to eat. I remember hearing the director of the George Muller Foundation telling of God’s perfect timing in the provision of guidance and resources. The Foundation had been requested to commence a new child-care project which would require a great commitment in time and resources. The trustees decided that they couldn’t go ahead unless they received clear direction from the Lord, and so they committed the need to God in prayer. The day came for a decision to be made, but no definite leading had been received. Then on the day of their meeting a substantial sum was received from a donor earmarked for such a project - and what was more remarkable was that the gift had been designated over 20 years before but because of legal problems over the estate it had just become available. “Everything has its time, and the main thing is that we keep step with God, and do not keep pressing on a few steps ahead--nor keep dawdling a step behind. It’s presumptuous to want to have everything at once” –Bonhoeffer,
4. Most of us exhibit great difficulty when we are forced to wait for things. We whine and manipulate and beg and moan about waiting a few days, let alone months. But God tends to work in seasons, and provides windows of opportunity for us. God wants us to work when He works, not just start out on our own. We need to be about the business of seeing His opportunities. We must work to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leadings in our lives. You need to know what God is calling and leading you to do, so that when the opportunity arises, you are ready.
B. Choose the proper words (v. 3-5)
1. Notice that Nehemiah was very tactful in his wording of his answers. He addresses the king with proper respect, not with flattery, but with sincere best wishes. He leaves out the name of Jerusalem for the king had halted rebuilding efforts there several years earlier. He defers to the king’s judgment and favor. Surely he had had time to rehearse all that he might say, and the potential reactions.
2. Est 7:3-4, Pro 10:32, 16:13, 25:11, Eph 4:29,
3. Illustration: Stopping the flustered mother with an upraised hand, the white-haired, courtly, soft-spoken General leaned down and, motioning toward his chest, whispered something into the boy’s ear. Instantly, the boy calmed down, gently took his mother’s hand and quietly fastened his seat belt
4. Sometimes simply choosing the right words can really allow us access to things that we wouldn’t otherwise get to. Sometimes rephrasing things to a more palpable language is helpful. Certain words are inflammatory. We are especially good at finding those words when we are in the middle of an argument with our spouse or children. The biggest thing that we can do is adjust our attitude. Make sure that you do truly seek the good of others that may help you. Manipulation is not our goal either. If our motivation is simply to get what we want to use it in our own ways, we will probably not choose the best words. Finally, we you are placed in a situation where anger is aroused, wait a couple of days before responding.