Planning is essential.
This is part of a series of posts about planning:
- The Biblical Imperative for Planning
- Plan with God in charge.
- A Biblical example of planning.
- How to set God-sized goals.
This post is set up with statements and questions deigned to help you see the benefits of planning.
Make the effort to answer the questions and fill in the blanks.
Let’s discover what Nehemiah can tell us about planning.
Nehemiah discovered or was presented an issue which touched his heart – Jerusalem was in distress.
The wall was broken. It was breached when Jerusalem was attacked.
A city wall in ancient times was a critical line of defense. This is God’s chosen city. To people, a broken and burned wall was a poor reflection of what God thought about His city. (v 1:3)
He became distressed himself and decided He wanted to help. (v 1:4)
”¨The Bible does not say directly that God selected Nehemiah to lead the project, but He did.
God knew Nehemiah’s heart. He knew his love for his homeland even though he had never seen it. Nehemiah was born in captivity. He had never been to Jerusalem. But the history of Israel was written on his heart beginning at an early age.
Nehemiah turned to God. He prayed. (vv 1:5-11)
He recognized God’s awesomeness, that God keeps His promises, and that God is love.
Nehemiah used God’s covenant name. This linked the present situation back to the very promises God made to Abraham and Israel. God does what He says He is going to do. It is good for us to recognize this in our prayers. Many laments in psalms come to resolution after the psalmist recognized the power and promises of God. (v 1:5)
What promises has God made to us?
He was fervent in his prayer. (v 1:6)
What is fervent prayer? This may help.
He repented. He repented for Israel, for his family and for himself.
The sins of our fathers fall to us. How? The manifest themselves in the belief system we developed from our parents. What they believed, we came to believe. Much of this is buried deep within us. They surface when we are confronted by stressful situations and decisions. God can exorcise these false beliefs through prayer and the power of the resurrection. (vv 1:6-7)
Do you take time to repent during prayer? Do you ask God if there is anything you need to repent?
He recalled and confessed that God did what He said He would do if Israel did not keep God’s commandments. (v 1:8)
He reminded God (not that God need to be reminded, but it showed the essence of Nehemiah’s heart) of His promises. (vv 1:9-10)
Do you understand what God expects from you? What promises apply to your plans and goals?
He asked God to answer his prayer for success because His people revered His name. (v 1:10)
He asked God for opportunity.
He prayed for the opportunity to rebuild the wall. He did not pray for a miracle; that God would rebuild the wall Himself. He asked God for the king to be compassionate, that the king grant him favor.
From the time Nehemiah heard of troubles in Jerusalem, he prayed for opportunity to correct the situation. When we’re convicted of or have passion for a situation we should pray continuously about it.
Read the Psalms and notice how often David prayed a similar prayer. When one feels this strongly about a situation, one keeps praying until opportunity is presented. (v 1:11)
Do you pray for opportunity; for God to give you the wisdom and the means to accomplish something?
God answers Nehemiah’s prayer. (vv 2:1-9)
These events took place four months later. Chapter one took place in the month of Chislev (our November-December). The month Nisan (v 2:1) corresponds to our March-April.
Events take place as God sees fit. We do not know when or what God will do. We have to be aware and when opportunity is presented.
Nehemiah was one of the captive Israelites in Babylon. He was the king’s cupbearer and had daily access to the king. For anything to happen, the king had to give permission.
One day the king noticed Nehemiah was sad. The king asked Nehemiah what was wrong. Nehemiah became dreadfully afraid. It was very improper protocol to be sad in before the king. The king could easily have Nehemiah disposed of. In addition, the king had been the one to stop work previously started to repair the wall (see Ezra).
God presented Nehemiah with the opportunity. Of all the times before the king had Nehemiah been sad or did God place this countenance in his heart at that moment. Or maybe he had been sad before and the king had not noticed. God had closed the king’s eyes to Nehemiah’s countenance until that moment. The four months was used to prepare Nehemiah.
When he had the opportunity to talk to the king he needed to be prepared; he had to know what he needed to do and what he needed from the king. This was not the time to respond to the kings question with”¦ I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.
When we have opportunity to ask someone with the resources we need to advance our goal, we may have only one shot. We have to be ready. God knows this and gives us the time to prepare. When goals are first placed in our hearts, we begin the process of defining all the aspects of the goal: activities, timing and resources.
What steps can you take to prepare for opportunity?
Nehemiah overcame the fear because of the conviction God placed in his heart and jumped on the opportunity to state his problem – that Jerusalem was distressed. We must have courage to act and to ask. This courage comes from God.
The king then asked what he could do. (vv 2:2-4)
What do you when you feel blocked”¦ fear”¦ doubt”¦ distracted”¦ etc?
Before Nehemiah said anything, he prayed for God to give him the words to say. We need to practice small, silent prayers during stressful situations.
If we don’t know what to pray, a deep breath will do. The Holy Spirit know what we need to pray. (v 2:4)
Nehemiah asked the king to give him permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall.
When the king asked how long he would be gone, Nehemiah knew he could go. Nehemiah answered him (there is no specific time frame given so Nehemiah must have told the king what God had said.)
In verses 3 and 5, Nehemiah referred to the burial place of his fathers. To Asian kings (king Artaxerxes was Persian) of the time, tombs were sacred territory and of great importance. Nehemiah used this to get the king’s attention and sympathy. Nehemiah had reached the king with emotion, not facts. I suggest that God gave him the words. (vv 2:5-6)
Nehemiah immediately asked the king for the resources he would need and the king granted his request because God was good.
While resources were given by the king, Nehemiah knew they were a gift of God. When God gives us a project, He provides the resources. So when God asks us to do something, our response shall be yes and not that I don’t have the money. (vv 2:7-9)
God presents us opportunity. He has prepared us for the opportunity, otherwise He would not have asked. We must listen with our heart and not or brain. God works with matters of the heart.
God knows the plans of our heart. He knows our desires. We have to ask God is what we want what He wants.
We must pray fervently and expectantly.
We should pray for opportunity; not miracles.
When Nehemiah wanted to accomplish something He prayed God for the goal and for the plan.
God gave him his goal (rebuild the city walls), the means to get to where he needed to go (king’s permission), the timing of the project and the required resources.
Later in the story God gave him activities, the people he needed, leadership and management skills, and the means to handle adversity.
What did you learn from Nehemiah?