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Pursue Your Purpose

Pursue Your Purpose | Nehemiah 1 | Kingdom Builders 1

What is your purpose? How do you pursue your purpose?

People around the world find themselves facing the greatest struggles of their lives today.

People are squeezed financially by rising costs, unemployment is on the high, and then the fears of a national recession. On the other side, there is corruption, suicide, atrocities against women and the struggles are just increasing.

People individually are going through challenges; relationship problems, emotional challenges, physical illness, and spiritual dryness. These are tough times. From the kingdom perspective, the gospel has to reach 97.7% of the population in India. That makes almost 130 Crores of Indians.

Do you know that God wants you to be a catalyst of hope to the world in the midst of this? You are not an accident. You have been called by God with a purpose to make a difference to the world.

SERIES: KINGDOM BUILDERS | PURSUE YOUR PURPOSE

How to start working towards the purpose God has for you?

Today we are starting a new preaching series called ‘Kingdom Builders’ straight out of the book of Nehemiah. We are going to look at the introduction to the book of Nehemiah today. This message is going to deal with how to work towards the purpose God has for us.

Ezra and Nehemiah provide a biblical background for us. They led a people facing far more difficult circumstances to a point of great success in their work, in their national identity, and in their new understanding of faith.

This Series will also answer us the following:

How to pray when there seems to be no human solution to our problem?

How to face spiritual and personal challenges?

How to plan our work and work our plan and trust God?

How to boost morale in God when it is failing?

How to face personal attacks and how to react when lies are told about you?

Historic Background:

Jewish history began with God calling Abraham out of Ur to go to a land where he would become the father of a great nation. But the descendants of Abraham didn’t become an influential power in the world until 1,000 years later.

It was during the time of King David (1000 BC) that Israel became the richest & most powerful nation in the world. That was Israel’s golden age! David passed the kingdom to his son Solomon. His heart went away from God. When Solomon died, the kingdom divided. The northern section became the nation of Israel. The southern section became the nation of Judah.

Finally, Assyria attacked the northern kingdom & wiped it out in 730 BC.

Years later the armies of Babylon conquered the southern kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar & destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC. The finest of the survivors were taken back as hostages to Babylon some 1300 KM away from their homes. They lived as captives in a foreign land.

Nebuchadnezzar passed the kingdom to his grandson Balthazar. This situation lasted for almost 70 years until Cyrus, King of Persia, attacked & conquered the Babylonians. Now the Jews were under the rule of the Persian Empire with Cyrus as King.

A King with a heart for the Jews

Now God moved the heart of Cyrus and Cyrus freed the Jews to go back to Jerusalem. Was Cyrus a believer? No. He did not believe in God, but God can use both those who believe & those who do not believe in Him to accomplish His purpose.

So the migration back to Jerusalem began. Three separate times large groups migrated back to Jerusalem.

Group 1 was led by Zerubbabel and this group immediately started rebuilding the Temple, & building homes for themselves. But they left most of the city & its walls still in ruins

King Cyrus dies & during the next 45 years, several kings rule over the Persian Empire. Then we come to Xerxes I, the greatest of the Persian Kings. Xerxes was also the one who made Esther his queen. When Xerxes dies, his son, Artaxerxes, who is the stepson of Queen Esther, becomes King. He also treats the Jews very kindly & authorizes the migration of another group of Jews back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra, the Scribe.

Ezra’s group, Group 2, arrived at Jerusalem 80 years after Group 1. But Ezra was not a builder. He was a teacher of the law, & outside of building a few homes, they leave the city & the walls just as they found them in ruins.

Here is where Nehemiah comes into the picture.

Nehemiah lives in Babylon and worked as a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah 1:1-4

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 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.” 4 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 inquired about Jerusalem and his people. How many of us are really bothered about what is happening around us? The political situation, the economic situation around us, the suffering of people and also the spiritual condition of our nation? Nehemiah had a burden, therefore he inquired regarding his people.

Nehemiah learned that the walls were in ruins. The walls are important as it gives security to a nation and most of the commerce happens around the walls. The Lord’s work had to be done.

Listen, the Lord will do his work, his way and in His timing. But the Lord chooses to look for people, the right person for the job. There is always the right man or the right woman for the job.

Will you be that person?

Right now the Lord is looking for people to work through. God is looking for a man. God is looking for a woman. He is looking for someone that he can say. I will work through that person. Would you be the person that will step forward and say, Lord, “Yes Lord use me. I will give you what I have. I will do what I can do.”

Now here comes Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a very devout Jew who lives in Babylon working as the cupbearer to the king Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah, the cup-bearer:

Now, “Cup-bearer” is a very important person. His task is to taste the king’s food & wine to make certain that no one has poisoned it. The king’s life is in his hands. So the person who serves as cupbearer must be someone the king trusts completely.

Historians say that the cup-bearer oftentimes was the king’s closest friend & adviser. Probably no one else had more influence on the king than his cup-bearer.

In the eyes of the people, Nehemiah is an important man. He is very important in King Artaxerxes’ eyes too, because it is not easy to find someone you’re willing to trust with your life. And when you do, if you are a king, you never want to let him go.

When Nehemiah hears that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down & the gates have been burned with fire, he is so disturbed by the news. Nehemiah is concerned about his homeland and his people in Jerusalem.

He wanted to go but he is working for a Persian King. Now history tells us that King Artaxerxes, was a very autocratic ruler, stubborn, strong-willed, & very difficult to deal with. So, either Nehemiah has to ask for leave or he has to give a 30-day notice to resign his job, and he does not know what the king’s response would be. Now, the king’s will is beyond his control. What did Nehemiah do?

Nehemiah mourns for days, stops eating the king’s food & starts praying to God for Jerusalem, asking, “What can I do about Jerusalem?” Somehow, someway, he must go to rebuild Jerusalem!

He could eat the world’s best food. He was literally living in the lap of luxury. He would influence the king. This is not a job anyone would jeopardize.

Nehemiah pursues and takes action

Nehemiah decided to take action. Everybody has something that is broken in our own lives. Everybody is burdened with something that is happening around us. We all have something that is beyond our control. Nehemiah’s hope-filled visionary leadership is a powerful example for us. No matter what your position in life may be, no matter what is broken down into pieces; God can use you for his purpose.

So what did Nehemiah do? Nehemiah prayed first. He would have crowdfunded. But he prayed first.

In every area of life there almost always seems to be someone with authority over us or situations of which we do not have any control. So, how do we handle that?

In what manner do we deal with the one who is over us? How do you deal with your passion or burden in life?

Pursue Your Purpose, how is it done?

1. Start Working On What You Can Control

Remember we are not in the business of changing people’s minds or will. The more we try to do that the more trouble we cause. Now Nehemiah is in such a situation that he could not do anything about the broken walls, neither could he do anything about his King.

However, Nehemiah knew there is one and only one thing under his control, prayer. Daniel prayed when he had a difficult situation. When things are beyond your control focus on what is in your control. Prayer can change a person’s heart.

Nehemiah’s Prayer

How can we pray for our burden?

How to pray when there seems to be no human solution to our problems?

Nehemiah 1:4

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. See the intensity of his prayer.

Nehemiah 1:5-9

Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 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. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees, and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 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.’

Nehemiah 1:11

Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

A. Wept.

Have you ever wept in the presence of God for something? Do you weep for the torn down walls around our nation? Have you ever wept over the spiritual condition of the people of God? Do you ever cry over your own spiritual condition?

B. Acknowledge The Greatness Of God.

Pray by praising God for who He is.

Nehemiah 1:5-6

Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 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.

Only God is great. Only God is awesome. We say the steak was awesome, pizza is awesome But only God is completely awesome. Today you may be here with a big problem, but your God is bigger than your problem. He is a great and awesome God.

This prayer is more like the Lord’s prayer the Lord taught his disciples.

Matthew 6:9-11

9“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 1Give us today our daily bread.

C. Confessed His Personal Sin.

Nehemiah 1:6-7

6 I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees, and laws you gave your servant Moses.

Notice as far as the scripture reveals to us Nehemiah has never sinned. He has not worshiped false gods nor intermarried. But he is taking responsibility.

Confess your own sin and acknowledge that our collective sins have caused the mess we are in.

It is easy to point fingers at others, that they are the problem. They are like this. They talked about me. Always it is others that are the problem, but has it ever occurred that it is you? Why is that everyone is upset with you? You say my marriage is in trouble, my wife is so bad, she needs to repent Lord.

All of them are the cause, Lord. Did you ever pray Lord, change me?

Stop complaining about others. Start with you.

I heard the story of two ladies who were afraid of flying, both of them took a propeller plane and sat next to each other for the flight. They could not see through their window but they could see the other side of the airplane. But they could see the propeller. When the flight landed they heard a big sound and one of the ladies looked outside the other side widow and she, “Look, I am afraid the engine and the propeller have stopped.” She said, “What do we do.” Her friend said, “I would not worry about that, that is their side of the plane.”

Now, if the engine is down, the entire airplane goes down. It is easy to say when someone does this, if someone changes, things will be fine. You cannot control someone, let us start with you.

You say the nation needs to see Jesus. The church needs a revival. True.

Listen, revival starts with you. Nehemiah confessed his personal sin and took responsibility for others’ sins.

D. Reminded God Of His Promises.

Nehemiah 1:8-9

8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 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.’

Nehemiah says that the people are obeying God once again so he asks God to let them go back & rebuild Jerusalem according to his promise. Claim promises from the word and pray. When you claim the promises, you remind yourself as much as you are reminding God.

It is true that prayer changes things but more importantly prayer changes you.

E. Pray For God’s Favour.

Pursue in prayer. Pray for the person or the situation beyond your control.

Nehemiah 1:11

Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah realizes that before he can go to Jerusalem & rebuild the walls that the king must approve of it. So he prays, “Change the king’s mind & show me favor in his sight. God, I cannot do it myself. You must do it for me.”

Remember God does not always answer us at the speed at which we would like him to respond, so pray, pursue and wait!

2. Wait For God’s Time

What happened after Nehemiah prayed that prayer? Nothing seemed to happen.

Does that sound familiar to you? Have you ever fervently prayed, “God, please take care of these problems in my life just take them away!” We pray & we pray about them, but nothing seems to happen. Weeks may pass & nothing seems to happen! So what do we do? We usually stop praying.

Well, Nehemiah learned a lesson. He learned that prayer & waiting go hand in hand. He started praying, “God, please change the heart of the king.” And it took four months before Nehemiah saw any answer to his prayers.

Nehemiah had been praying for four months, but he did not let anyone know that he was sad. I appreciate Nehemiah for that! Nehemiah was in mourning, but nobody knew it.

Most of us are different in that respect, aren’t we? When we’re distressed about something we usually let everybody know. But not Nehemiah! This cup-bearer walked around with a smile on his face. He was the same old Nehemiah as far as the king was concerned. He did his job & he did it well!

For four months that went on until finally suddenly everything changes.

Nehemiah 2:1-2

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.

The King Confronts Nehemiah

The king & queen have just finished a sumptuous meal. The fragrant aroma is still in the air. Now it is time for them to partake of their favorite wine.

Nehemiah tastes it to make sure that it is all right & then he serves them. The king asked Nehemiah, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

Nehemiah had come to a point where he could not control his emotions any longer. He has prayed & borne the burden for so long. And as he comes into the presence of the king even though there is nothing physically wrong with him – Nehemiah’s appearance makes it obvious that something is weighing heavily on his heart.

And this powerful, arrogant, stubborn, self-centered king notices it & asks, “Why are you sad? Why are you remorseful? This is nothing but sadness in your heart.”

This concern for someone else was totally out of character for King Artaxerxes! Nehemiah tells us, “I was very much afraid.” He had reason to be afraid. Persian history tells us that anyone who upset the king was subject to execution. If the king was displeased, he could execute Nehemiah just for bringing sadness into the king’s life on that day.

But God was working on the heart of the king.

Nehemiah 2:3-4

but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

For four months Nehemiah has been praying for God to open the King’s heart. He had committed the whole situation to God & now the king asks the exact question that Nehemiah had been waiting so long to hear, “What is it you want?”

If you are prayerful and careful God will bring you to such a position where your opponent will ask you the very same question that you wanted them to ask. If you are patient and trust your circumstances to God, as well as follow Him he will change your situations so beautifully that it would seem as if you are seeing a dream.

Conclusion:

Do you know that God wants you to be a catalyst of hope to the world in the midst of this? So how do you pursue your purpose? How do you start working towards the purpose God has for you?

Start working on what you can control.

You can start praying fervently about your passion. Pray with tears. Go with acknowledging how great God is. Confess your personal and corporate sin. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Pray for your burden. Once you pray, wait for God’s timing.

“You are at positioned at the right place, at the right time for the right purpose.”

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