Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free ebooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Listen, it's true that prayer changes things. It's also true that prayer changes you. And sometimes prayer changes you, and you change things. Prayer brings heaven's power to earth. And today on A New Beginning, from the book of Nehemiah, Pastor Greg Laurie has insights on the transformative power of prayer.
God changed Nehemiah, and Nehemiah changed things. If you want God to answer your prayer, you have to be willing to be a part of the answer. A modern combustion engine does one thing, it moves a piston. But the piston is connected to a crankshaft, and the crankshaft to a transmission.
And the knee bone is connected to the leg bone, and pretty soon your car is moving. Well today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that prayer moves things. And today we'll say we may be the prayer, or we may be the thing that gets moved.
But wherever we fit, let's see today how we can put our efforts in gear for the Lord. Houston we have a problem. Those are the words from Apollo 13. By the way that phrase, Houston, we have a problem with the most famous words uttered in the history of space travel. Five words could have been NASA's worst disaster ever. And of course it was Apollo 13. Five-sixths of the way on their journey to the moon, and gases were released from the spacecraft, and all of their instruments went dead. And they called back and said, Houston, we have a problem. Man, did they? Well fortunately there's a happy ending to that particular story.
They were able to get back again. But maybe you've said that recently, we have a problem. There's an unexpected problem that has come your way in life. Your spouse just came to you and said they want out of the marriage.
Or your child came up to you and said, I don't want to be a Christian. Or maybe you found out you have a serious health crisis. Or maybe your cat walked out the door this time for the last time. I just wanted to throw that in. Just something random in the midst of all this. You're clapping for that.
Thank you. But seriously it's something beyond your ability to fix. Houston, we have a problem. Well it's not Houston, it's Heavenly Father, I have a problem. We call out to God when we have crisis.
We call out to the Lord when we're in trouble. And that's what Israel was doing. When their city lie in ruin. The temple had been rebuilt under Ezra, but the great walls of Jerusalem that once stood proud around the city protecting it were now lying in charred burned out rubble. Enter Nehemiah the cupbearer who was going to bring the solution to the problem. By the way, Nehemiah was not a builder. Nehemiah was not an architect.
Nehemiah like I said was the cupbearer. Which meant that he tasted the food the king ate before the king tasted it. And he drank the wine before the king drank it. It was actually a great job because you lived in the very lap of luxury in the palace with close proximity to the king.
He may have been the second most powerful man in all of the kingdom. But one day some of his fellow Jewish brothers came to visit him and he said, hey how are things going back in Jerusalem? And they said, do you really want to know? Things are bad. And I think sometimes we don't want to know what's going on somewhere else, especially if it is bad news.
Right. I don't want to hear about that problem out on the mission field. I don't want to hear about that crisis over here.
I don't want to hear about that problem over there. I think we are afraid information may bring obligation. But it is true.
It will. But listen. We are all in this together. And so if some Christians are suffering we care about that because the Bible says when one suffers we all suffer.
And when one of us is exalted we are all exalted. So Nehemiah cared when he heard this news. And by the way it was a day like any other day for Nehemiah in the court there of the king. And that was a day that would change his life. Just like it was an ordinary day when David went out watching this flock. And that was the day the prophets showed up and anointed him the king of Israel. It was a day like any other day when Moses was shepherding his sheep when the bush wouldn't stop burning and he heard the voice of God. It was a day like any other day when Peter, James, and John were mending their nets after a night of failed fishing when Jesus called them to go fishing for men.
And so it was a day like any other day when Nehemiah was there in the court but when he heard the news of the plight of his fellow Jews he decided to take action. Listen. Some people talk about things.
Other people do things. Some people are part of the problem. Other people are part of the solution. It is very easy to be a critic. It is very easy to say well I don't like this here you know. I don't think this is good the way they do this at church or the way. It will then be part of the solution. Don't just stand around and critique it. Say hey I have an idea.
Well we could do this more effectively or be more efficient. He took action. Again the walls of the city were in ruin. This all goes back to how Israel got thrown into captivity. They kept worshiping false gods.
God said, all right do you like false gods? I will send you to idol central Babylon. And though they were captives for 70 years well Nebuchadnezzar ultimately replaced by his grandson Belshazzar were overthrown. Enter Cyrus and the Medo-Persians. And Cyrus let the first wave of them go back and Ezra the priest rebuilt the temple.
But the walls of Jerusalem are still in rubble. So a lot of time has passed now. And then the news reaches Nehemiah in the king's court. And now Artaxerxes the ruling king is going to allow Nehemiah to go and do something about it. See the walls of the city were important. Obviously they served a function of protection.
But they were more than that. They were a symbol. And even more at the gates of the wall that is where the leadership would meet and make decisions where the elders would meet. Walls matter. And walls matter in our lives as well. The walls of faithfulness protect our marriages. The walls of marriage protect the family.
And the walls of the family protect the nation. I think you could take almost every social little in America today and trace it directly back to the breakdown of the family. And sometimes the redefinition of the family as well which is also part of the breakdown of the family as God created and intended it. I mean you look at the rise in crime. You look at out of wedlock pregnancies.
You look at the drug epidemic and so many of the other problems in our culture today. The gang issue. So often it goes back to a broken home. A divorced home. And more specifically the lack of a father. It has been said and I have repeated this quite a few times that a family can survive without a nation but a nation cannot survive without the family.
So America needs the family. How do the people of Israel rebuild the walls? Answer. One brick at a time. How do we rebuild our country?
Answer. One brick at a time. One home at a time. One family at a time.
It starts in your home and it starts in mine. So Nehemiah heard the news about the broken down walls and the Bible says he wept. He wept. After his weeping came working.
Listen you cannot lighten the load in someone else's life until you first felt the pressure in your own. So Nehemiah takes action. And really he shows us how to take action. As I pointed out earlier Nehemiah in many ways is a book about leadership. We are all called to be leaders in some way shape or form. So let's learn from the leadership example of Nehemiah. Let's start with point number one. And this would be a little bit of a recap of what we looked at.
Then we will dig into our text today. Number one. A good leader is first a good follower and acknowledges their need for God.
Let me restate that. A good leader is first a good follower and will acknowledge their need for God. Look at verse five. Nehemiah when he hears this news prays and says oh God of heaven Lord the great and awesome God who keeps this covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands. So first he just acknowledges the greatness of God. You are the all-powerful all-knowing sovereign God in heaven.
You Lord are awesome. And that is how Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer. He said pray this way. Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Before you hit God up with your laundry list stop and contemplate his glory. And if you do your list will change.
It will. Because your problem seems so big. Maybe you come to church today with a big problem. Well I think as you get a better idea of how big your God is you'll realize God's bigger than your problem. So you start by acknowledging the greatness of God. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a joy to hear when these studies have touched lives. Listen to these comments from one of our listeners. Pastor Greg I remember the very first time I heard your voice and I knew I would have to listen more.
It was about five years ago and I was driving in my car. A snippet of one of your sermons came on between songs on a Christian station and I've been a fan ever since. I really like your jokes too.
Sometimes corny but always funny. You make me a better Christian and I thank you for that. I need all the encouragement I can get to walk the straight and narrow. I appreciate you my brother in Christ.
If you have a story to share why not call us and give us all the details. Here's the number one eight six six eight seven one eleven forty four eight six six eight seven one one one four four. Well we're learning about leadership today from the example of Nehemiah. Pastor Greg has pointed out first a good leader is a follower and acknowledges his need for God.
Let's continue. Number two Nehemiah reminded God of his promises. He says in verse five you keep your covenant. In other words Lord you made a promise to Israel and they messed up and now we're turning back to you and we want to make it right so Lord keep your promise and and he will and he did and he will for you too. Remember I pointed out there's like three thousand promises in the bible for the believer. Sort of like unclaimed gift cards.
Let's not just leave them sitting in a drawer. Let's appropriate those promises in our life. Number three good leaders know they don't have all the answers and they confess their sins. Good leaders know they don't have all the answers and they confess their sins. Look at verse seven of chapter one of Nehemiah. I confess we've sinned against you yes even me and my own family and I have sinned. Notice he says we and my own family and I have sinned. You know it's interesting as you look at the life of Nehemiah you don't really read of any sin in his life.
I'm not suggesting he was sinless but what I am saying is he was not compromised worshiping false gods like others were yet he admits his sin which we all should do and he wants to be a part of the solution. Listen it's true that prayer changes things. It's also true that prayer changes you and sometimes prayer changes you and you change things.
Think about it this way. God changed Nehemiah and Nehemiah changed things. If you want God to answer your prayer you have to be willing to be a part of the answer. So you don't just pray about it you say what role could I play in this. My friend James Merritt who's spoken here quite a few times said this and I quote, there's a difference between dreamers and leaders. Dreamers dream about things being different. Leaders determine to make a difference end quote.
So a dreamer will talk about it. A dreamer will dream about it but a leader will come up with a plan and do something and if we learn nothing else from the book of Nehemiah we learn this. Whenever you face walls in your life that are falling down whether it's in your own life or in the life of your family or at your job or wherever the first place to go is to God in prayer and ask him for help. Number four Nehemiah was specific in his request to God. Look at verse 10 to 11. Lord hear my prayer and listen to the prayers of those who delight in honoring you.
Grant me success today. Listen making the king favorable to me put it in his heart to be kind to me. He had a plan. He's going to go to the king and ask him to pay for it. Nehemiah was going to go to the king and say I'm building a wall and you're paying for it.
That's what he was saying. He wanted Artaxerxes to pay for it. That was the plan. So he brings the plan to the king reminding us that there is a place for this spiritual as well as the practical in your life. Every one of us is going to have a Nehemiah moment. A moment where we come to a fork in the road and one road leads to comfort and the other road leads to sacrifice. One road leads to treasures on earth. The other road leads to treasures in heaven. It's a moment where you take whatever position you're in and you say I'm going to leverage this for God.
This is not about me. This is about God and his glory and this is really what it is to be a disciple. Remember we were looking at what the Bible teaches about discipleship and Jesus showed us that if we want to be his disciple we must love God more than anyone or anything else. Love him more than our husband or our wife or our son or our daughter or our career or even our own life. Love God more than anyone or anything else. Number two we learned that if we want to be his disciple we take up the cross and deny ourselves and then we find the life we're looking for and thirdly if we want to be his disciples we surrender our claim to everything that we have.
We realize it belongs to God so we give the title deed of our life over to God or we give the pink slip of our life over to God. That's discipleship. That's what Nehemiah was about to do. So let's read his plan.
Here's how it came down. Nehemiah 2 starting in verse 1. Early the following spring in the month of Nissan.
That's different than the month of Toyota. During the 20th year of King Artaxerxes reign I was serving the king as wine. I had never appeared sad in his presence so the king asked me why are you looking so sad?
You don't look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled. Then I was terrified but I replied long live the king. How can I not be sad for the city where my ancestors are buried in is in ruins and the gates have been destroyed by fire? Then the king asked well how can I help you? With a prayer to the God of heaven I replied if it please the king and if you're pleased with me your servant send me to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried. Well the king with the queen sitting beside him asked how long will you be gone?
When will you return? And I told him how long I would be gone and the king agreed to my request. That brings us to our next point. Nehemiah spent more time praying than he did building. Let me say that again. Nehemiah spent more time praying than he did building.
Four months had passed before Nehemiah popped the question to the king. Sometimes the Lord will give you an idea. He'll give you a vision.
He'll give you a concept. But timing is everything. So you just sort of wait for the right moment to go to the next place there. And I think we don't like to wait. You know we like everything now.
Everything fast. I mean we used to have to wait for stuff. I remember when we first started being able to access movies and we'd go to Blockbuster.
Remember Blockbuster? And you would buy something called a video tape or excuse me you would rent it. And then remember the little sign Be Kind Rewind.
Remember that? So you rewind it. And oh you go down there. They don't have the tape you want. Then we moved to DVD technology. Ok now I am going to rent the DVD. Then Netflix comes along and they mail you the DVD.
Ok so you order the one you want online and it comes when it takes a day or two for it to get there. Well now we just stream it. We don't have to wait for anything.
We just click it and we stream it. So everything comes fast to us. So when we hear about waiting that is an alien concept in a culture that is used to immediate gratification. But Nehemiah waited.
Know this. Waiting time is never wasting time. They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not be weary.
They will walk and not faint Isaiah 40 tells us. Point number two. Or really point number six. I don't know.
Whatever number you want put it. Next point. How is that? There is a time to pray and there is a time to move. There is a time to pray and there is a time to move. The king asks why Nehemiah looks so sad. By the way the job description of a cupbearer was pretty specific. You needed to always be there at the king's beck and call to taste his food. And you were to be encouraging. Because you would be a counselor to the king.
A confidant of the king. And so you know this was not a good job if you were one of those people that had a dour disposition right. And we all know people like that. They are just downer people. And you know I have summed them up as a couple. It is Debbie Downer and her husband Bobby Buskill.
Ok. So if you are having fun when Debbie Downer and Bobby Buskill show up the fun stops. Because they always have something depressing to say or negative to say or critical to say.
And I just hope you are not those people. The very opposite of them was Nehemiah. I think it was a cheerful guy. An upbeat guy. So much so that the king actually noticed he looked sad.
Nehemiah cared. We are gleaning some great insights on leadership from the cupbearer to the king. Today on A New Beginning Pastor Greg Laurie is presenting a practical study based in the book of Nehemiah. And there is more to come from his message called How to be a Successful Leader. And Pastor Greg will have a closing comment in just a moment. Have you heard about Pastor Greg's new book? It is called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.
It examines the way so many of the top music artists had it made. But their lives soon unraveled. And you know Pastor Greg I have tried to imagine what it must be like to be extremely famous. You know where you can't even go to the grocery store without a mob developing. You know you can't even open your window blinds for fear of paparazzi with telephoto lenses.
And that's the point you make in the book. These music stars have a lot of stuff but they have a lot of stress too. Yes they really do. I mean it's been said careful what you wish for you might get it. And these are people that got what they wish for and then it even went beyond their wildest dreams.
But the problem is the dreams in many cases turned into a horrible nightmare. You know when you look at the founders of rock if you will they called them the Millionaire Quartet, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins. They were all produced by a man named Sam Phillips who had Sun Records. These guys came from abject poverty in some cases. They were just country boys. All of them was sort of a gospel foundation. All of them were taken to church as young men and of course they all rebelled against it.
But interestingly every one of those founders ultimately came to realize they needed to turn to Jesus. Elvis struggled through the years. He often sang gospel songs. There's a lot of fascinating revelations about Elvis Presley in this book, Len and Dylan, Alice and Jesus. Jerry Lee Lewis is the only one alive still of the four but in recent interviews he's talked about his need to get right with God. And of course Johnny Cash became very strong in his faith. I wrote a whole book about him as a matter of fact called Johnny Cash the Redemption of an American Icon. And then finally Carl Perkins who wrote Blue Suede Shoes and other great songs.
He was a raging alcoholic and actually came to the Lord while he was on tour with Johnny Cash and took his bottle of booze and threw it into the ocean and committed his life to Christ and served the Lord for the final years of his life. So yeah these guys experienced it and in some cases girls experienced it and saw the emptiness of it. So this is a very honest book. So I start the book with these words. There'll be three surprises when we get to heaven. Number one some of the people we thought would be there won't be there. Number two some of the people we never thought would be there will be there. Surprise number three you'll be there. So these are some of the people you never thought would be there who will be there because no one is beyond the reach of God.
Yeah yeah that's right. Well we hope you'll contact us for your own copy of Pastor Greg's new book Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the lives of dozens of artists who show us where the pursuit of fame and fortune ultimately leads. And we'll send this book your way to thank you for your partnership. It's only through the investments of listeners that we can continue to bring Pastor Greg's insights your way each day. So thanks for prayerfully considering how you can help.
And we'll thank you with the book Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514.
Or go online to harvest.org. Pastor Greg has been talking about Nehemiah the cupbearer today and how the cupbearer's job was to be a counselor and an encourager to the king. He'll have more insight next time but he closes by mentioning someone he knows that's an encourager by nature. One of the happiest guys I know, you know him too, is Pastor Ricky Ryan, right? I mean this guy is always happy. People have asked me what is he like in private?
He's the same. He's that way all the time. He's excited about ordering food. Then he's excited about ordering dessert. Then he's excited about going surfing in the morning. Then he's excited about taking a nap later in the day. Then he's excited about Bible study that night. And he's excited about praying. And he's excited about everything and he's always smiling. He's just that guy.
In fact he smiles so much that one time when I saw him not smiling he was like Nehemiah. Like what happened? Well I knew what happened. In fact I was responsible for it. Him and I were going surfing and he had a brand new surfboard. And you know if you're a surfer and you get a new board you hate getting that first ding right? So we're tying the board down on the top of the car in the racks and he let me tie it down.
First mistake. I have no board tie down skills at all. So I tied the board down and I am driving behind him.
We are driving down to the beach. He is ahead of me. I see the board stacked and all of a sudden that board just came off the top of the car just in the air just floating around. And then he hit the ground. Boom and boom and boom and splat. So we both pulled over. I am like oh no.
And Ricky gets out. He was not smiling. What happened?
I guess they didn't tie it down very well. Sorry. I will buy you a new one. Then he sort of smiled again. So that's Nehemiah. Why are you so sad?
You are always smiling. Well I am sad because of the plight of my people. And now Art exerts these the ruling king is going to allow Nehemiah to go and do something about it. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life share your story. Leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 21:25:22 / 2023-04-19 21:35:52 / 11