Summary: Follow the example of Nehemiah as you learn to overcome the mountains that challenge your faith.
Are you facing any mountains in your spiritual life: doubt, disease, financial problems, fear, anger, relationship problems, a job you want to do for God and the like? This past week we witnessed people struggling with mountains. A number of people in west Texas lost their homes in the teeth of vicious grass fires. A number of families in West Virginia lost family members in a mining accident. Your mountain may not be as large as those but we all face them.
Last week we began a series of studies from the book of Nehemiah. I preached a message entitled “God’s Spark Plug.” I compared Nehemiah to the spark plug that ignites our engines. God used Nehemiah to inspire the Israelite people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. That project lead to a spiritual revival among those people. Once Nehemiah agreed to lead that project things did not fall into his lap. It required effort on his part. It required faith. Nehemiah was willing to face the mountain. He was willing to face the challenge. I want to see what was involved in Nehemiah climbing the mountain of faith and completing the task God laid before him.
I want to share four principles from the life of Nehemiah. These four principles resulted in Nehemiah climbing a mountain in his personal life and for God.
I. Principle one: take a bold step for God. We find this principle in Nehemiah 2:1-8. In verse 1 we read where Nehemiah, who was the king’s wine taster, came before the king to fulfill his job. (Never seek to do God’s will unless you are doing the task set before you at the present.) As Nehemiah came before the king the king noticed him to be sad (vs. 2). The king inquired as to Nehemiah’s sadness. The Bible says Nehemiah became “dreadfully afraid”. This is because such kings had the right of absolute power. He could have Nehemiah put to death at the drop of a hat. In verse 3 we find Nehemiah telling the king the reason for his sadness. In verse 4 the king asked Nehemiah what he desired. At this point we see Nehemiah take a bold step for God. He asked the king (vs. 5) if he can take a leave of absence to return to Jerusalem. Nehemiah makes his request at a time when the queen is sitting beside the king (vs. 6). Bible scholars tell us this was a very special moment between king and queen. Nehemiah requested a leave of absence and he does so in the presence of the queen. In addition, Nehemiah requested letters giving him authority to travel (vs. 7) and authority to cut down trees from the king’s forest to fulfill his building project.
Nehemiah does four things that appear risky but they reflect his willingness to take a bold step for God:
1. He asked for a leave of absence
2. He asked in the presence of the queen
3. He asked for letters of permission to
4. He asked for permission to cut trees from
the king’s forest
If you are going to get into trouble you might as well do it big time. Do not be afraid to take risks. When we step out to do something bold for God we usually face two competing emotions. There is the desire to be bold. However, the human side tells us we are taking a risk.
Illustration- You have heard me say “Babe Ruth was the home run king but he was also the strike out king.” He was bold to swing but he was also bold to take risks.
What bold step do you feel God leading you to take?
1. Accepting Christ?
2. Submitting to God’s will?
3. Sharing your faith?
John Wayne once said “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
(Contributed to Sermon Central by David Hill)
Illustration- Several weeks ago one of our Godly young men shared with men that he had tried fasting for a day. He admitted that it was a struggle. At least he tried!
Illustration- Some of you may have tried teaching a Sunday School class and discovered that you were not gifted for teaching. There is nothing wrong with trying and striking out. At least you tried.
Boldness and risks go hand in hand. Who has ever heard of Harriet Tubman? Her story is an exciting one. She was a runaway slave who was able to get to the north with the help of some sympathetic people both white and black. She was so thankful for the help that she had received that she decided to risk her own life to become a conductor on the famous Underground Railroad. Although she could neither read nor write and was rather frail, she was bold in her efforts to assist escaped slaves in getting safely beyond the Mason Dixon line. In her many years of service, she made nineteen trips and freed over 300 former slaves, including several of her own family members.