Summary: Nehemiah had a pretty impressive resume and instead of leaving a path of destruction behind him, he was about to tackle the path of destruction in front of him
How to Tackle a Tough Job
I came across some lines from actual resumes this week:
I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreasheet progroms.
Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year
It’s best for employers that I not work with people.
I’m a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.
I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.
Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.
Finished eighth in my class of ten.
References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.
Nehemiah had a pretty impressive resume and instead of leaving a path of destruction behind him, he was about to tackle the path of destruction in front of him. His resume would include the following accomplishments: “Cupbearer to the king for many years. Great job stability as long as no one tried to poison the boss. Served in the court and well connected with the power brokers of Persia.” Under the section of his resume where he listed personal information, you’d see this:
I’m concerned about problems
I have a strong conviction about God’s character
I confess my sins on a regular basis
I have confidence in God’s promises
And, I have a commitment to get involved
This is really a summary of what we learned last week in the opening chapter of his memoirs as we focused on “Learning How to Pray.” [Place Building Block #1 on stage].
As we move into Nehemiah chapter 2, I wonder how many of you completed your assignment to read the trilogy of Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah this past week? I saw someone here on Wednesday night, reading the book of Nehemiah, as she waited for her child to get done with AWANA. I won’t ask for a show of hands and I’ll even give you a one-week extension! I encourage you to complete this homework because it will help you get more out of our Time to Build series.
Before we jump into the text, let me remind you of how the Book of Nehemiah fits into Old Testament history.
Nehemiah did not rely on his resume when it was Time to Build. He got out his tools so that he could handle the tasks ahead of him. In verses 1-10, we’ll see that he had at least 5 tools in his toolbox and in verses 11-20 we’ll look at the 5 tasks that he tackled. Building Block #2 in our Time to Build series is called, “How to Handle a Tough Job.” [Place Building Block #2 on stage].
Tools in Nehemiah’s Toolbox
I don’t have a lot of tools because I’m not very handy. I would rather a buy a book than a belt sander any day. This is a problem for me, however, when I need to fix something or tackle a project. Fortunately, my dad has an entire Ace Hardware store in his garage and whenever he comes down to visit, he loads up his truck with tools. He’s got so many tools that I don’t know how he can keep track of them. He was down last weekend to help me do some work in our basement actually; I’m helping him do the work! He’s like the surgeon and I’m his assistant I just hand him the tools and wipe the sweat off his brow!
Nehemiah had a lot of tools as well. He pulled them out, one by one, just when he needed them.
1. Waiting. The first tool Nehemiah used was the tool called waiting in verse 1. He was a man of decisive action, and when he prayed it was natural for him to ask God to provide an early, if not immediate, opportunity to speak to the king. Remember the closing verse in chapter one indicates that Nehemiah wanted success “today” in the presence of the king. He waited patiently on the Lord for an answer, just as we’re urged to do in Hebrews 6:12: “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what was promised.” Nehemiah could weep and pray and he could also wait and pray.
Have you had to wait for God to answer a prayer? In Nehemiah’s prayer journal, nothing was entered for four months because nothing happened. Friends, waiting time is not wasted time. Quiet reflection may have provided Nehemiah with fresh insight about how to approach the king. God wants each of us to get real familiar with this tool we’re going to have to use it a lot.
2. Trusting. The second tool he fished out of his toolbox was called trusting in verses 2-3. Nehemiah was “sad” in the last part of verse 1 and this word is used three other times to describe how he looked when he was in the presence of the king. The king asked him a question to find out why Nehemiah was not his chipper self. Nehemiah wigged out when Artaxerxes asked him this question because he knew the king only wanted to be around happy people. In verse 2, Nehemiah says that he was “very much afraid” which can literally be translated, “a terrible fear came over me.”