Posts Tagged 'God’s promises'

God’s Best Gifts, Part 5

As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the noun “gift” means a few things. First, a “gift” can be present given from one person to another. It may also mean “something that is surprisingly easy or cheap.”  For example, “I can’t believe how easy that test was! It’s like a gift.”

But a “gift” may also refer to a talent we posses. We often speak of a “gifted piano player,” for example.

As good as the Cambridge Dictionary may be, it falls a tad short in the spiritual realm. “Gifts” are also things that our Heavenly Father gives us, His children. They may be special talents. They may be fortuitous abilities that a church member is given supernaturally for the time their church needs a person with those abilities. God also gives us spiritual gifts for our benefit and for the benefit of other believers. Yes, our God is a very generous God who knows what we need, why we need it, and the best time to give it to us. God is a giver in every sense of the word.

The apostle Peter, in his second letter, very briefly mentions another precious gift from God to us:

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4 | TNIV)

God has, apparently given us some “very great and precious promises.” Just are those promises? What did Peter have in mind when he wrote that sentence? How can any promise help us to be more like God? Let’s find out!

Why a second letter?

We don’t always know what occasioned the writing of New Testament letters, but in the case of Peter’s second letter, he tells exactly why he wrote it:

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (2 Peter 3:1 | TNIV)

Really, Peter has done Bible students a great favor, because in that single verse he has told us why he wrote two letters: “to stimulate [his readers] to wholesome thinking.” Both letters were “reminders.” In other words, the content of both Peter’s letters was not unique or the result of some kind of special revelation from the Heavenly realms. Peter’s letters are jam-packed with stuff his readers already knew about but needed to be reminded of. It’s important to for Christians to be taught and re-taught the same things over and over and over again. Repetition helps to reinforce essential truths that sometimes get lost in our Memory Palaces.

But what did Peter mean by “wholesome?” It’s a Greek word that refers to that which is “pure,” “uncontaminated,” and “good.” Plato used the same word to describe thinking or reasoning that was uncontaminated by the senses. So “wholesome thinking” to Plato was thinking that was completely objective. Paul’s concept of “wholesome thinking” is best summed up like this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 | TNIV)

Peter knew full well that Christians needed to be reminded from time-to-time about the things they already knew. And wholesome thinking – thinking correctly – is vitally important because what’s in the mind will eventually work itself out in the world in the forms behavior, actions, and attitudes. Everything we do and feel starts out as a thought. How important is it to think wholesome thoughts, then?

More and more grace and peace

So this letter, then, was mailed to Jewish and Gentile Christians in northern Asia Minor; that is, “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Pet. 1:1). In between the writing of the two letters a change of circumstances had taken place among Peter’s friends. Whereas the first letter had been written to prepare them for suffering, perhaps at the hands of an unfriendly government (1:7; 2:12-15; 3:14-17; 4:3-4, 12-16; 5:8-10), the second letter warns against the encroachments of false teachers (2:1-3, 10-15, 19-22; 3:3-7, 15-17). In each case, though, the believer’s best offense against either a hostile government or the bad theology of false teachers is knowledge. But not just any kind of knowledge! Knowledge of God’s Word.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2 | TNIV)

This is actually a prayer. When was the last time you prayed that “grace and peace would be” somebody’s “in abundance?” That was Peter’s prayer for those reading this letter. He was asking the Lord to super-multiply “grace and peace” in the lives of his friends. But what’s particularly interesting here is that this request of God is followed by what is essentially instructions to the reader on how to make it happen: “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” In other words, if you, as a believer, can create the necessary conditions – which involves acquiring more knowledge of God and Jesus – God will super-multiply grace and peace in your life!

The word translated “knowledge” here is one of Peter’s favorites; he uses it some 13 times in his letter. It does not refer to cold, academic knowledge. It’s not knowledge gained second hand from listening to a  teacher or from reading a book. This kind of knowledge is experiential knowledge; firsthand knowledge of God and Jesus gained through a relationship with them through the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. It’s knowing God and Jesus as they really are, not how some theologian says they are. It’s a personal knowing. That’s what you need if you want more and more “grace and peace” in your life.

Miraculous provision

Here are two very powerful verses full of deep spiritual truths:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3, 4| TNIV)

When you think about what Peter is claiming in these verses, it’s truly an extraordinary claim. In fact, had anybody else said what Peter said, I’d say they were insane. But the man is writing from personal experience. Peter had seen the power of Christ calm the stormy sea and enable him to walk on the water (Matthew 14); he had heard the resurrected Christ make the claim that all power was given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28); he had received the power of Christ into his life by the sanctifying baptism of the Spirit of Pentecost (Acts 1, 2); and he knew, along with his friend Paul, this simple fact:

but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24 | TNIV)

If anybody knew how beneficial the power of God and the promises of God operating in the life of a Christian can be, it certainly was Peter. These two verses give us everything we need to live a successful Christian life.

Power. The Greek word for “power” is dynamis, which looks like our word “dynamite.” It refers to a self-contained, inherent power that is steady and dynamic. The exact same power that God exerted in raising Christ from the dead is in every believer. Stop and think about the implications of that statement. That supernatural power is now housed in you, enabling you to live a life of righteousness, live a positive and uplifting life that is a powerful witness in your community. This provision – or gift, if you will – is activated and assisted by our knowledge of God. No matter what, it seems like you can’t get away from knowledge of God!

A verse like verse 3 compels us to ask the question: How important is knowing God to me? Is getting to know God a priority to you? It’s sad but when looking around at the state of the average Christian life, it seems as though knowing God isn’t a priority. It’s more of a convenience. How to be a top notch Christian is no mystery. The first step is simply getting to know God more – not gathering more information about Him, but getting to know Him as a person through a living relationship with Him. Don’t get me wrong. You have to know about God. You have to know the facts of God; you should be curious about Him, and that curiosity should lead you to the Bible. But knowing God as the Person He is involves something supernatural that the Holy Spirit is involved in. This supernatural, intimate knowledge of God and Christ enables us to access that “resurrection power” whereby we can live a supernaturally empowered life that glorifies God and keeps the spigot of His blessings open.

When we come to Christ, the power is given to us, and as we learn how to access it and allow it to work through our whole being, things like this happen:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 | TNIV)

A lot of Christians want that provision without realizing that God has already met that need through the “resurrection power” in you!

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9, 10 | TNIV)

As a Christian, you have everything you need – everything – for spiritual growth. That’s what’s indicated by the word “fullness.” It’s all in you, like a gift waiting for you to unwrap it.

Promises. Not only has God given us His supernatural “resurrection power,” He has given us some very special promises. We don’t know which promises Peter had in mind when he wrote verse 4. But we may speculate. Maybe he was thinking of these:

The promise of forgiveness of sins – past, present, and future sins.
• The promise of adoption as sons and daughters of God.
• The promise of the Holy Spirit’s help in living life and spiritual growth.
• The promise of comfort during life’s darkest moments.
• The promise that all of our needs will be met.
• The promise of eternal life in Heaven after we die.
• The promise of bodily resurrection when Christ returns.
• The promise of reigning with Christ in His kingdom.

Chuck Swindoll came up with that list, and I think he was on to something. Those promises, in addition to things like the promise of abundant life in Christ and Christ’s ongoing presence in our lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, enable us to live victoriously in the face of things like, in the case of Peter’s readers, false teachers.

Fellowship

Ultimately, though, the purpose of God’s power and promises in our lives is to make us “partakers of the divine nature.” That’s referring to perfect fellowship with God the Father and God the Son through the God the Holy Spirit. Peter used Greek words, of course, but also Greek phrases, like “divine nature.” He could have simply used “fellowship with God,” but remember his audience; they would have been very familiar with phrases like the “divine nature.” The Greeks, not unlike Christians, viewed the world as corrupt, but to them, the only way to overcome the corrupt world was to become a god – to assume a “divine nature.” Peter twists the Greek philosophy and straightens it out. Man can escape the corruption of the world, not by becoming a god, but by fellowshipping with the only true God.

God has given His people great gifts. Here, in Peter’s letter, we have the gifts of God’s power and of God’s promises. These are marvelous gifts that too many Christians leave unopened.

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How To Inherit God’s Promises

Canaan

Numbers 33:50 – 56

The Israelites were so close to the Promised Land, they could look across the Jordan right into it. Up to this point in Numbers 33, Moses recalls the past for the sake of his people and of the inspired record he set down. If you were to read Numbers 33:1 – 47, you would be struck with the seemingly never-ending patience of God as He preserved His people during their travels, beginning with their Exodus from Egypt. The trip from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land should have been quick and simple. Thanks to the people’s rebellious, sinful attitudes, God forced them to turn back from the Promised Land and He made the walk around the desert for almost 40 years until that sinful generation died off. Essentially, God would start fresh with a new group of people entering into the Promised Land. During the 40 years, God preserved and put up with almost constant complaining, murmuring, often thankless people until He led them right back to where they started: the border of the Promised Land.

The Israelites learned a lesson, and so should we. The life we Christians enjoy in Christ, our “land of rest,” depends on the same grace of God. If you are serving the Lord, you may experience supernatural provision, happiness, and peace in the here-and-now thanks only to God’s grace. The children of Israel were often discouraged because of God’s will – their wilderness wanderings. God’s will may not always be exciting or something that you particularly enjoy either, but it is God’s will none-the-less and rather than “kicking against the goad,” it’s best for you to submit to His will and enjoy all that His grace has to offer. It’s a lot less work, a lot less frustrating, and a lot more rewarding experience.

They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim. (Numbers 33:48, 49 NIV)

So here are, after four decades, Israel found itself standing on the plains of Moab, directly across from Jericho and the wonders of “the land flowing with milk and honey.” The Jordan River was the only thing between the people and the promise. The tens of thousands of Israelites were occupying an area of about five miles square; plenty of room for them to wait for the word to enter Canaan. Ronald Allen, in his commentary on Numbers, makes six keen observations of what was going on in Numbers 33. Of those six, two are worth noting here.

First, in the midst of Moses’ account of the Israelite’s travels, he abruptly pauses to mention something else:

While they were at the foot of Mount Hor, Aaron the priest was directed by the Lord to go up into the mountain, and there he died. This occurred during the fortieth year after the people of Israel had left Egypt. The date of his death was July 15, when he was 123 years old. (Numbers 33:38 – 40 TLB)

Moses was dying and he knew it. Much of this chapter may be regarded his obituary, written ahead of time by himself. In the midst of his obituary, Moses memorializes his brother Aaron. It’s a small point but a remarkable one that speaks to the character of both Moses and his brother. Moses, the reluctant hero, deliverer, and leader of a nation and his brother, Aaron, the nation’s spiritual leader, were both significant men of God and significant men in the history of Israel. They were not sinless. They were far from perfect. And, when God called them into service, Moses and Aaron had already lived half a lifetime; these were not young men. But they both rose to their callings. They both, no doubt, got more grief than they deserved, and yet both men kept on, walking the road God had put them on. Neither man would be allowed to enter Canaan, but they were men of God.

Secondly, as you read Numbers 33, there is absolutely no mention of the rebellion of the people; no mention of the 40 years of judgment and punishment. If all you knew about Israel’s history came from this chapter, you would rightly conclude that Israel marched faithfully, from one staging point to another, from Egypt to the Canaan. Why is that, do you suppose? In God’s records, the new generation had replaced the old one. As far as God was concerned, there had never been a previous rebellious and sinful generation. The people who arrived at the banks of the Jordan were regarded by God as the people who had left Egypt.

What do we take away from this? God’s will; His eternal purpose and plan for His people will always be realized, despite the loss and disappearance of an entire generation. Or, in other words, with or without your help or co-operation, God’s will is going to come to pass.

That Land of Promise, like all of God’s promises, could only be received and entered into by faith. Like the children of Israel, let’s take a few moments to look into the Promised Land.

What was it like?

From all the songs and hymns we sing, you might get the impression that Canaan Land was just like Heaven. In fact, it probably wasn’t. Canaan Land, far from being like a place, was like a Person: the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about this: Canaan was the following things.

A land of plenty

Remember how God Himself described the Promised Land:

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8 NIV)

Remember what the spies saw when they spied out the Land:

When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. (Numbers 3:23 NIV)

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” (Numbers 3:27 NIV)

Canaan was everything God said it would be. Would it have been anything else? It was something – some place – God had given to them. God only gives good things to His people. Even during their time wandering around the desert, God was still giving them good things (whether they fully realized it or not!).

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV)

Even when you don’t deserve it, God will provide for you. What a foreshadow of what Jesus Christ does for His people.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

A God-given land

Canaan was a piece of property God gave personally to His people. It was a Land of Promise for every Israelite to enjoy. All they had to do was receive it. Jesus Christ is a Person given to every human being:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16 – 18a NIV)

But just like the Promised Land, Jesus is a promise waiting to be claimed. Until the Israelites went in to possess the Land, it really didn’t belong to them even though God gave it to them. Until a lost soul reaches out in faith to possess the gift of God in Jesus Christ, He doesn’t belong to them, either.

How to possess the promise

Believe

If you, like the Israelites before you, want to “possess the land,” or possess the promises God has in store for you, you need to remember what a “promise” is. The promise of God must be accepted by the one God made it to. The promise He has promised man is eternal life in Christ Jesus. You must believe, not only in Him, but in what He accomplished for you. It was unbelief that kept Israel out of the Promised Land for 40 years and it is unbelief that keeps eternal life elusive to so many lost souls.

Possess

Canaan could not be claimed and owned by the Israelites until they were IN it. They had to claim it with their feet!

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. (Joshua 1:3 NIV)

Don’t think this is another “name-it-and-claim-it” message, because it isn’t. Nobody can claim the promises of God until they are IN Christ. If you are in Christ, you will receive the promises of God in due time.

Confront

Sometimes, as in the case of Israel, possessing God’s promises may take a little bit of work.

“When you pass across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there and destroy all their idols—their carved stones, molten images, and the open-air sanctuaries in the hills where they worship their idols. I have given the land to you; take it and live there.” (Numbers 33:51 – 53 TLB)

There may not be people in between you and your promise, but maybe you may have to deal with some sin in your life. Or maybe some doubt or faithlessness. Whatever you need to “drive out” in order to receive your promise, it will be more than worth the effort to do it. There is an enemy determined to keep you away from the promises God has given to you and you may have to deal with him, too.

A warning:  You may fail

God had given Canaan to Israel, but it wasn’t a done deal by a long shot. Failure was possible.

But if you refuse to drive out the people living there, those who remain will be as cinders in your eyes and thorns in your sides. (Numbers 33:55 TLB)

It’s hard to imagine, but living in disobedience to God’s revealed will can literally turn the blessings of God into small curses that make life hard for you. Israel had to do exactly what God told them to do, otherwise they would forever be plagued with aggravations and irritations all the years they lived in the land gave them.

How many Christians are genuine, true believers, yet live miserable lives because they are just slightly out of His will?

Disobedience is fatal

If failing to do all that God wants you to do results in you living a sub-standard Christian life, then outright, continual disobedience is deadly.

And I will destroy you as I had planned for you to destroy them. (Numbers 33:55 TLB)

NEHEMIAH, ANOTHER MAN OF PRAYER

Remnants of part of the walls of Jerusalem restored by Nehemiah,

Nehemiah was a man of prayer, but he wasn’t perfect. When God’s people began their Babylonian captivity, God’s Word to them through the prophets was that it would eventually come to an end; eventually they would be allowed to return to their land. Seventy years after the Captivity began, Cyrus, king of Persia, ended it. By royal decree throughout his empire, all Jews were permitted to return to Judah and rebuild their homes. However, while there were millions of Jews scattered throughout the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, very few wanted to leave and go back home. In fact, there were probably only 65,000 Jews who were obedient to God’s will and chose to go home. The vast majority chose to remain in Persia, where they had built their lives and were enjoying safety and prosperity. One of those who decided to say put was Nehemiah. Clearly, he was living outside of God’s will.

Having said that, we can understand why it would have been so difficult for Nehemiah and others to go back home. He was part of the generation that had been born in Persia; he had no connection whatsoever to Jerusalem. Nehemiah and those other captivity babies had never seen Solomon’s Temple. They may have heard the stories from their parents and grandparents, but the only world they knew was the world of Persia. Nehemiah had been born to educated, wealthy parents and he had a good job: he worked in the palace for the king! He was a high government official.

In spite of that, Nehemiah was not aloof from his people. Though he was outside of God’s will, Nehemiah still loved God and was faithful to Him as he lived and worked in the palace. Nehemiah was also empathic to the those who chose to go back home. There were a lot of problems with resettling in Judah and Jerusalem. Those who chose to go back encountered problem after problem, set back after set back. Nehemiah felt their pain and their burdens were his. God moved on Nehemiah’s heart and Nehemiah decided he needed to do something to help his people, and the very first thing he did was to pray. His prayer is magnificent and we may learn a lot about the nature of prayer as we study his.

1. Concern

Before Nehemiah prayed for the exiles and their return to Jerusalem, he was made aware of just how bad things were for them:

The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 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.” (Nehemiah 1:1—3)

The picture Nehemiah’s brother painted of life in Jerusalem was not a pretty one. Things were tough and getting tougher. Now Nehemiah, hundreds of miles from Jerusalem, living in luxury, could have spoken any number of cliches when he heard the news. However, Nehemiah was a man of honor and this bad news moved him:

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven… (verse 4)

Nehemiah was so concerned about the plight of his people back in Jerusalem, he couldn’t work and he couldn’t eat. He fasted and prayed for days and days. It took a while, but Nehemiah got a heavy burden for his people.

This is a rare thing in the Church these days. We are very quick to take our needs to the Lord in prayer, as we should, but most of us rarely have a burden for a particular need or situation like Nehemiah had for those who went back to Jerusalem. Do you know what a “prayer burden” feels like? Don’t be ashamed if you don’t; not many Christians do. A “prayer burden” feels like a spiritual weight you can’t shake. It’s a heaviness of heart, a drag on one’s emotions, a spirit of mourning, or a feeling of restlessness that arises because you can’t seem to get your mind off a certain need. This comes directly from the Lord; it doesn’t originate in you or in your emotions. A burden of prayer is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer.

2. Intercession

Praying for the needs of others, or on behalf of others, is arguably the highest form of prayer. Paul stated the importance of the prayer of intercession like this:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

Notice that serious prayers “for all the saints” are part of praying in the Spirit. What is praying in the Spirit? It’s a prayer that is prayed by the Holy Spirit through an individual. Like Nehemiah, we are not perfect. We don’t always have a lock on God’s will even though we are supposed pray for God’s will to be accomplished! Romans 8:26, 27 helps us understand what it is to pray in the Spirit:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Nehemiah began his prayer with a sense of reverence:

Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God… (verse 5a)

His was a prayer prayed with the understanding that God was far, far above the world He created. Nehemiah’s view of God was impressive and “awesome.” And yet, as huge and as mighty as God was, He wasn’t so far away as to miss one word of this prayer:

...let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying… (verse 6)

So, Nehemiah’s big and busy God was “attentive” and “open” enough to hear Nehemiah pray. This tells us that as far as Nehemiah was concerned, God may have been the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” and the “national God of Israel,” but He was still a personal God who listened to a persona prayer. This is a pretty significant attitude for an Israelite, living in Persia, to adopt. No formal, liturgical prayers for Nehemiah! He slaughtered no animal and made no offering.

That’s not to suggest this prayer was easy an easy prayer to pray.

...let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. (verse 6)

Notice three points. First, Nehemiah prayed “day and night.” In other words, this royal cupbearer didn’t just pray about this situation in the morning before he wen to work or at night before he drifted off to sleep. He literally prayed all the time as he went about his daily duties in and around the palace. He prayed not only from his lips but also from his heart. This is something the great apostle Paul would pick up on in his letter to the church at Thessalonica:

…pray continually… (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

This is a two word (or three word in the KJV) verse that should form the basis of the Christian lifestyle! A mature believer is one who “walks in prayer” all the time. It’s an attitude of prayer; it’s a burden of prayer that is always “in the back of your mind,” wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

The second point is that Nehemiah recognized Israel—all Israelites including himself—had sinned. Sin is something we don’t hear much about in church these days. It’s a very unpopular subject; it is not a topic that draws the crowds. Who wants to hear how bad they really are? The fact is, God wants you to admit how sinful you are; it’s important that when we approach God, we recognize His perfection and our sinful state. However, Nehemiah didn’t stay there, and neither should we:

Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ (verses 8, 9)

The third point of Nehemiah’s prayer is an important point. He acknowledged God’s will concerning the Israelites and he acknowledged God’s promises concerning Israel. In Israel’s case, His will and His promises were two sides of the same coin. The nation had sinned and as God said would happen, they were exiled from their homeland. However, God promised that exile wouldn’t last forever; it would come to an end, and Nehemiah reminded God of that great promise. It’s important to remember God’s promises and to claim God’s promises concerning you.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

It’s good to remind God of what He said; it can lead to salvation!

3. Submission

This prayer of Nehemiah’s was remarkable and it certainly got God’s attention. But Nehemiah was moved to pray about a particular situation. His prayer was not the end of his burden. He acted upon his prayer; his prayer led him to do something about those he was praying for:

Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man… (verse 11b)

What is this verse referring to? Who is the “this man” referred to? The last sentence of chapter one tells us:

I was cupbearer to the king.

In other words, Nehemiah was about to and speak to the king about the situation. He didn’t just pray about, he was going to do something about it by going right to the top on behalf of his people. The cupbearer will talk to king about how he may be able to help the Israelites who went home.

How many of us pray about something or pray for somebody but then leave it there? Now, sometimes we may not be able to do anything, but, sometimes was can. For example, have you ever prayed for the salvation of a family member or friend or co-worker? That’s a good prayer to pray, by the way. But have you ever approached them about the subject? Have you ever actually shared the Gospel with them?  It’s fine to pray for them, but there are times when “doing” is better than praying.

We all know what Jesus said in Matthew 9:38—

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

But a lot of us don’t what He said a few sentences later:

Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. (Matthew 10:6)

Our Lord said to pray and ask God to send missionaries out to save the lost, then He told those same people to go and do that very work! This is exactly what Nehemiah did:

…and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (Nehemiah 2:5)

So our cupbearer asked his boss for a “leave of absence” to go and help his people rebuild their city. Nehemiah not only prayed but he did. He submitted to the will of God and went to a part of the answer to his prayer.

(c)  2012 WitzEnd

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