Summary: How to effectively deal with insecurity, difficult tasks and pessimists.
We’re in the pre-series "Getting Ready for Something More."
Last time we saw Nehemiah, a Jew living in exile in the foreign land of Persia, serving as the king’s cupbearer, the person who tested the food and drink served to the king to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. He had received a report of how the city of Jerusalem was still a pile of rubble and he immediately began praying with fasting. For four months he prays. And then he records:
1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Neh. 2:1-4 (NIV)
We’ll pick up on the king’s response in a little bit, but for now, skip ahead to the last verse of Nehemiah chapter 2 - verse 20…
"The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…"
Where did that kind of “Unshakeable Confidence in Something More” come from? What was it about Nehemiah that he could boldly say, “The God of heaven will give us success!” That’s stirring! Nehemiah expected a very positive outcome – a successful outcome! He expected “something more” from God!
This was NOT because Nehemiah lived on easy street. What’s so encouraging about his story is that he overcame such challenging obstacles! This encourages us that we too CAN receive “something more” from God – and it lets us know HOW it can be done!
Chapter two of Nehemiah’s book describes THREE PRIMARY ENEMIES each of us must face and overcome in order to experience confidence:
1) Personal insecurity. We’ve all got to break the spell of our own negative thoughts and emotions. Each of us needs to see ourselves the way God sees us. We need to believe in ourselves the way that God believes in us!
2) Pesky circumstances. Any condition or situation that chronically stands in the way of the realization of God’s best for our lives must be dealt with head on. Nehemiah is an inspiring example especially here.
3) Pessimists. These are the people who mock us with their negativity and tell us that it can’t be done. If you’re going to experience “something more” in your life you’ve got to come up with a plan to deal with the people who confront you with all their contradictory and gloomy obstinance!
How am I supposed to handle my personal insecurities, those pesky circumstances and the pessimists? With confidence! Confidence is the primary requirement for receiving “something more” from God! The Bible says,
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. And it is impossible to please God without faith… Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:1 & 6 (NLT)
Nehemiah’s example is hard to beat when it comes to STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE. He dealt effectively with his own personal insecurity, with pesky circumstances and with pessimists!
Here’s how he did it and how you and I can too!
The FIRST STRATEGY FOR BUILDING UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE:
SHAKE YOUR PERSONAL INSECURITY BY PLACING REVERENCE FOR GOD BEFORE FEAR OF MAN.
I like Nehemiah’s authenticity, his transparency. He said, in verse two, when the king asked him why he looked so sad, “I was very much afraid.”
For four months he had prayed with fasting that God would open a door to allow him to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls around the city. But when the time came to get permission from the king his mouth got dry and his knees got wobbly. His apprehension was not unfounded. His life was in the hands of the most powerful man on earth at the time. Just showing up with a sad face in the presence of eastern monarchs could have been fatal. Besides, Artaxerxes could have mistaken Nehemiah’s motives as those of a rebel. He could have concluded that Nehemiah wanted to use his position in the king’s court to lead Israel away from the Persian Empire.
So how does Nehemiah overcome his personal insecurity? The key is in verse 4 where we pick up the story.
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven.