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When God Wants Something to Happen

We seem to have a lot of reasons for not setting goals to do what clearly needs to be done. Have you ever thought?

  • It is not possible to see the future so I am just going to take what today gives me.
  • I don’t think we should try to plan out our whole lives. That is God’s job.
  • I think it is presumptuous to set goals. It feels like I am telling God what to do.
  • It gives me a headache.
  • I don’t need to set goals. My wife will tell me what to do.
  • I am not a leader at work. My boss sets the goals we all pursue.
  • There are too many people against the idea.

This is was the mindset of the residents of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 2. The most obvious project that needed to be pursued was the rebuilding of the wall around the city. Without a wall, every family, every citizen, every business was in danger. The town was surrounded by legitimate enemies who could at any moment cause trouble without hindrance. It wasn’t hard to figure out but the obstacles were real. “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.” (v. 10)
When God wants to move a project forward despite the impediments, He provides leadership and resources. In chapter 1, God had stirred up the heart of Nehemiah. He entertained a plan, prayed diligently and took appropriate risks to pave the way. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he did things that others had either not thought of or were unwilling to do because of fear or frustration. Sometimes it just takes fresh eyes of faith to see opportunities that are hidden behind obstacles. That is what this seasoned leader brought to the scene. In a short period of time, Nehemiah:

  • Researched the problem strategically. He went at night so he would be undisturbed and not subject to opinions of those who had grown content with “we can’t.” (v. 11-16)
  • Clearly and emotionally described the problem. “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.” (v. 17)
  • Gave the people a vision. “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (v. 17)
  • Presented the people with valid reasons to trust God. “I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.” (v. 18)
  • Stood up to the source of discouragement. “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. . . I answered them, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’” (v. 19-20)

Add to this kind of leadership the resources needed to complete the work and people get very motivated. Nehemiah came with “a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy.” (v. 8 ) The hardest resource to secure was the wood for the gates. There was plenty of stone around to make the walls but timbers would be in short supply in the city. To instill confidence in the workers, an abundance of lumber would be necessary. By the time Nehemiah called the people to action, everything they needed to rebuild the gates was in hand. The response was simple and straightforward, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. (v. 18)
Lord, please guide us by providing astute leadership and abundant resources for the projects you want us to be involved with. Then, give each of us the courage to be involved as leaders, suppliers or workers.

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