Summary: It's easy to think that business meeting is boring, but church business is God's business. We may be too casual with God's business. Every vote should be bathed in prayer. We should pray until the answers come.
“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and said...” Nehemiah 2:4-5a.
This is not part of the original series, but it offers us an opportunity to apply what we have been studying.
Last week, we voted on the disbursement of gas lease income. The motion passed by two votes. Those of you who follow the church’s facebook page on the internet know that Thursday morning, I posted that there were two lessons we should learn from that vote. Just this morning, a very obvious third lesson occurred to me. Some lessons on prayer keys have been taken out of order, for various reasons. After lessons on sincerity and submission as prayer keys, two weeks ago we went back to praise as a prayer key. Last week we had our business meeting. Our next study will be on giving thanks.
Between studies of praise and thanksgiving as prayer keys, we voted on how to respond to God’s providence. The obvious lesson is that God’s timing is precise. Time and again over the past several months, our study on Wednesday nights and the sermon on Sunday morning have had parallels. We never consulted each other, we never said, “I’m going to use an illustration of Psalm 1 on Wednesday, would you like to preach on it next Sunday?” We never planned those things. God did. God’s timing is precise. Between studies of praise and thanksgiving as prayer keys, we voted on how to respond to God’s providence.
Thursday morning, after the vote last week, I posted on the church facebook page, “Two lessons from a divided vote.
“Lesson 1: God’s wisdom and providence are indescribably incredible. He is worthy of praise.
“Before last night’s business meeting, before First Baptist Church, Everman, was formed, from the foundations of the world, God knew he would have a people assembled here doing His business. He knew the opportunities for ministry we face and He knew the needs we would confront.
“Before last night’s business meeting, before First Baptist Church, Everman, was formed, from the foundations of the world, God planned the geology under these property lines to include natural gas.
“When His church here struggled in the past, the gas was there. God reserved it for such a time as this.
“God’s wisdom and providence are indescribably incredible. He is worthy of praise.
“Let’s praise him!”
I don’t know how many of the 70 members of the facebook group read that post. Only 2 commented and they both agreed. “God’s wisdom and providence are indescribably incredible. He is worthy of praise.”
Lesson 2 was posted Friday morning.
“Lesson 2: Church business is God’s business. We may be too casual with God’s business...
“I have been in business meetings for churches, associations, states, the convention, and various ministry organizations. It has been common, after a divided vote, for a pastor or organization president who favored the outcome to say that all should regard the majority vote as God’s will. I know there is no scripture supporting that in a day when churches vote to ordain unrepentant, practicing homosexuals as deacons. This vote would have been easier if it had been that obviously defined in scripture.
“Changing two votes at our last business meeting could have... reversed the vote. People I respect were on both sides of the vote. A few did not vote at all. Did God tell some to vote one way and some to vote another? I doubt it.
“Church business is God’s business. Every individual’s vote should be bathed in prayer. Every vote counts, whether it is in submission to God or not. We may be too casual with God’s business. Rather than ramble on here, I will mention in the next prayer meeting something we should learn from the prayer in Nehemiah 2:4...”
I don’t know how many of the 70 members of the facebook group read that post. No one commented. No one agreed. No one disagreed.
Leaving aside for a moment the question of whether God’s will can be determined by majority vote, can we agree that church business is God’s business? Can we agree that sometimes we can be too casual with God’s business?
Now let’s look at Nehemiah 2:4 and the beginning of v 5, “The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and said...”
This is an easy verse to pass over, but it is filled with meaning. To understand, let’s go back to chapter 1.
In the month Kislev, Nehemiah gets bad news about the homeland. “They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,” Nehemiah 1:3-4.