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November 8, 2019 12:00 am
This is one of those short SOS emergency prayers. Nehemiah what do you want all our God in heaven.
When I told what he said it was short. I think it was one ancient Hebrew word pronounced all you have been in those situations, it is with a child. It is with a boss who summons it might be any number of things, and your call. Then, and immediately matter how much you have planned.
No matter what you have done in the past and you have time just to say I know you're up there. The Lord God of heaven and that's about after that all you can do is move on and face whatever it is you're dealing with. As you wait for God to work but you know those short prayers are significant when they come from an authentic walk with Christ. If that kind of prayer is all you ever do.
That's one thing but if you're walking closely with God.
Those brief prayers are significant today on wisdom for the heart Stephen baby is looking at someone like that. He's an example of an authentic follower of God's name was Nehemiah.
In today's lesson is called the real late one night around 1842 slaves in Kentucky slipped out of their shack and into the dark night this husband and wife stole away from their plantation and were soon.
The newest passengers on the underground railroad didn't stop. They went from safe house to safe house until they finally reached the promised Northland freedom they continued on until they made it to Canada and there they lived out the rest of their lives. In 1843. They had a son and they named him Elijah because of the safety of that culture.
Elijah was able to get a good education and he did well was a bright student and his father. In the meantime was prospering in business prospering so well that when Elijah was old enough they were able to send him to Edinburg Scotland where he studied mechanical engineering earned his degree when he finished he moved back south to Detroit and try to find work. He was unable to find work in his field and instead landed a job working as a fireman on the Michigan Central railroad in those days.
He observed the trains would have to be stopped.
Every day at great cost to be lubricated. They could not have lubrication applied while in process of operating and he knew that that was costing the Michigan Central railroad time and money so he went about inventing a security US government patent for his newly designed lubricate her cup which allowed these steam engines to be lubricated while in operation, thus saving his employers much time and money, but he wasn't finished. He didn't stop there. He kept refining his invention and adapting it to other machinery until he had procured 42 patents and his lubrication systems work.
Use literally around the world. There were others.
Of course who try to copy his work, but his inventions were so superior that people would settle for nothing less than the original PC Elijah's last name was coy and the phrase was coined in honor of this man's work spoken by people who, in this day would settle for nothing less, than the real McCoy. That expression is now part of our American vocabulary and it is ordered to this day by people who do not want an invitation, a knockoff substitute. They either are observing or identifying or they want nothing less then the real McCoy. Having studied the life of Nehemiah together now for many weeks I have come to the conclusion that Nehemiah was a real McCoy, a genuine, authentic follower of God, like perhaps a woman or a man, you have observed in your own spiritual journey and you have lots them and then you have commented to a friend of yours about them that man or that woman is real.
There didn't seem to be another way to express what you were trying to say you are in effect saying they are the real genuine item.
The biblical book that bears the name of Nehemiah is as real as he is. It doesn't spin the story to make them look good.
In fact it doesn't even show you his best side at all times.
You are allowed to see not only the strengths of Nehemiah, but his weaknesses as well.
You're able to watch him when he is filled with faith.
Encourage and then you are allowed to watch him when he is filled with fear and uncertainty, and in fact our study today. We will see both sides of that in this man, would you take your Bibles and turn to your copy of Nehemiah's personal diary and I want to go to the second chapter and verse one and why you're turning you may remember that for four months. Nehemiah has been fasting and praying in the morning and beseeching God that God would move on behalf of the people of Israel. He has in fact been praying for for months that God would use him to lead the people back to rebuild their city and rebuild their lives in the holy city of Jerusalem, but for four months. God has not answered the heavens as it were, are made of brass. There has been no movement. Chapter 2 will suddenly change everything. The chapter opens with what will call a sudden crisis. Look at verse one and it came about in the month lease and in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes that wine was before him and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been said in his presence.
So the king said to me, why is your face sad though you are not sick. This is nothing but sadness of heart. Then I was very much afraid of for four months. Nehemiah has been keeping it all in. Obviously, the implication is here that the king is not known of his agony.
No one, including the king has been able to observe the morning and the lamenting the beseeching that he has been involved in for the past four months, but on this occasion. It's as if Nehemiah can keep it in any longer. He inadvertently lacks how he feels slipped.
The king asks him why this sadness of heart Nehemiah out. Why are you sad that you would think that this would be an invitation from Artaxerxes for Nehemiah to pull up a chair, or maybe sit on the couch and say well our old buddy. It's so nice of you to ask how I'm feeling. Let me spell it out. Why would Nehemiah say I was very, much afraid well remember Nehemiah's job was to protect the king from any assassination attempts, primarily those who try to slip poison and was goblet of wire and was casserole any change in Nehemiah's behavior or demeanor or countenance would arouse suspicion in the life of an already paranoid king. His own father was assassinated.
Furthermore, you can actually translate that Hebrew word sadness in an entirely different manner. You could render the king's words in verse two. This way, why is your face troubled with evil.
In other words, the king says look I don't know what's going on was something's wrong here.
I can see it in your face, why are you troubled, is it in fact evil.
Nehemiah said I was very much afraid verse three and I said to the king, let the king live forever. That's another way of saying there's nothing in your drink. I promise live forever. Now we have that out of the way. Why should my face not be troubled when the city, the place of my father's tombs lies desolate, and its gates have been consumed by fire for four months. Nehemiah has been asking God to gain favor in the eyes of the kings of the my return to Jerusalem. This is the same king, who by the way, another chapter 4 ordered the works stopped, God would have to do something really unusual to change this man's heart. So Nehemiah has been praying and fasting and beseeching God. Lord, give me an audience with the King.
Then suddenly well out of nowhere unexpectedly. Nehemiah, having shown his feelings for just a moment the king picks up on it demands an explanation. Nehemiah in my mind is answering sort of like well I'm I'm sad because my father city lies desolate in his cage of burning fire and I wonder if, at that moment.
Nehemiah thought 01 and I say that's not the way I wanted to come out this this is and in fact of the moment.
I had prayed for and that didn't come out right. I can help it stop here and observes it is true no matter how long you plan, you can never plan enough for the unexpected. I don't need them. I would've picked this day. I doubt he would've picked this particular way to bring up the subject is now on the defensive. The king is now suspicious.
He feels threatened. This is not the way you planned to happen and now he is afraid. Ladies and gentlemen, the real McCoy of authentic Christianity is not the person who is self-assured, not the person who is always together was never afraid the real McCoy may be in fact the person who at times is caught off guard. Those unexpected moments that come into your life and I'm sure they have been you're unsure of yourself, but you are like him reaching for some solid representation of God totally dependent upon him for strength. He is now afraid. What follows.
Secondly, from the king is what I believe to be a surprising request. The king said to me what you want. That is what would you request and now I'm turning my head is spinning.
He hasn't asked the king for anything. He has even said it right so that the king would know he wanted anything but.
But somehow the king something is moving in the heart of the king to discern what he has not heard that Nehemiah has a request Nehemiah has something to say. The Nehemiah wants to ask him for a favor you think is moving the heart of the king part of the king is in the hand of the Lord.
Proverbs 21, one and the Lord moves the heart that came in any direction, like channels of water that he chooses to. And so Nehemiah.
Here's the king. Say what you I love the next phrase verse four. So I prayed to the God of heaven. I love that stuff right there for a minute.
Nehemiah 50. I prayed to the God of heaven. This is one of those short SOS emergency prayers.
Nehemiah what you want.
All Lord God in heaven. When I told what he said it was short. I think it was one ancient Hebrew word pronounced so you have been in those situations, it's unexpected.
It's at the end of a phone call. It is with the doctors report it is with a child. It is with a boss who summons it might be any number of things and you're called in and immediately no matter how much you have planned. No matter what you have done in the past where and you have time just to say I know you're up there. The Lord God of heaven and that's about it. I was on the phone the couple of days ago with a gentleman from our past. I called him on the phone's name appeared on the prayer list is a policeman. He was on the third level of the parking deck at Crabtree Valley Mall in his patrol car. When the news came over his radio that larceny was taking place and he was right there by the back door and after the description immediately after a man came running out that back door toward the patrol car. Billy my body jumped out and hollered halt. The man saw him and turn directions and began running the other way with Billy in hot pursuit. Billy told me we were running toward the edge of the parking deck. Three levels up and he said right as we got to the edge. I was only inches behind them. That man jumped and he said I knew there was a grassy knoll about 5 feet below us and I jump to only to discover after we both jumped the grassy knoll was over there and we were 25 feet above ground.
I said Billy what was going through your mind as you were going that he said it was a short prayer meeting my life flashed before my eyes affect. He was very grateful. All that he had only a few broken bones will now none of us are chasing criminals across the third level of the parking deck at Crabtree Valley Mall is I don't think so but you and her crises in your life and your heart begins to beat and it is unexpected and you are unsure of yourself. In fact, you may be filled with fear. This is exactly what was happening here. What you observe in his life is that kind of fear he is not in control. He doesn't have it all together.
We are allowed to see him as the genuine, authentic follower of God as a terrified, unsure man gasping of very quick prayer to the God of heaven. By the way I ought to add here that a short prayer is best preceded by a long, obedient. The key to effective praying before God is not length but loyal when you seek to follow him to come to those emergency moment. You don't have to say much he already knows everything. Anyhow, right, and he knows how he needs to respond on your behalf.
I want you to notice Nehemiah's submissive appeal verse five and I said to the king if it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you send me to Judah, the city of my father's tombs, that I may rebuild this by the way is very gracious on Nehemiah's partisans is he didn't say I'm glad you basking in on God's chosen man got is a job for me on a leave of absence. I'll be gone 12 years. By the way, and when God's finish with me I'll be back have a problem. No Nehemiah is willing to allow God to move through the heart of the king to willingly grant him permission to go that it would be easy to miss what I believe to be a subtle influence by a woman whose presence is mentioned. Nehemiah just sort of inserts. This rather awkwardly verse six. Then the king said they made a Queen sitting beside him. How long will your journey be and when will you return so it please the king to send me and I give a definite time wideness rather awkward obvious insertion of the fact that the queen was sitting beside the king because the Queen does not sit beside okay. Starters you remember how an earlier Queen dared to enter the presence of her husband the king without an invitation.
The implication and I believe the insertion here is the implication that that woman was exerting influence over the king.
I made my request to the king and the queen was sitting by him I don't know if if she nudged him with her elbow or whispered something to him.
In the interim, but something was going on here and he wanted us to know the queen was there. We don't know what he knew, of course, but there are some who have pointed out that if this was the Artaxerxes. We think it is chronologically.
I do agree with it and this was not Artaxerxes wife.
The phrase queen was also used for the queen mother, and the queen mother in this case or stepmother was none other than Esther herself had be real easy to take a trail off to the left or just talk about that for a while when it but I will say that here's an aged woman, her husband has been assassinated. Her stepson is now ruling.
Maybe she has wondered why is she in this position. After all, all yes she save her people years earlier, but now, now she has come to the kingdom for such a time as this will having gathered his wits about him. He now launches into presenting a rather solid plan of action verse seven. I said to the king if it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the province is beyond the river, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the force, which is by the temple for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go no Nehemiah here is anticipated needing two things from the king number one permission in writing, as were foretold as the king stopped the work with the decree and he said in a decree don't start the work again until I send another decree so Nehemiah knows that nobody will believe him that he's come from the king as he has written permission. Secondly, he needs supplies for building like our mission teams that have gone to El Salvador.
It's it's useless to send them unless we send the money to buy the materials when they get there is nothing for them to build with lose nothing for Nehemiah to build with, and so he just sort of start on a roll and he has this last he has an open heart from the king. Perhaps he knows that God is moving begins to ask. One commentator humorously said that this may sound like a girl going to her father asking for money to buy a new skirt when he says yes. She informs her father that if she gets that new skirt shall need something to wear with it and then before long, were dealing with toenail polish and ear rings. And so a wise father says no to the very first thing a man but when Nehemiah walked into the king's presence this day.
He was a cupbearer and when he walked out he was the newly appointed leader of the construction project that had permission from the king and also all of the supplies that he would need as he rebuilt the city of God for the people of God. Let me provide you two more thoughts that I have summarized in my thinking, under the title real McCoy's the real McCoy's of authentic, genuine faith are further revealed by people who are willing to live by these two truths number one, they are people who realize that God's delays are not necessarily God's denial if you go back to chapter 1 and I want you to turn back there.
Look at verse 11. There's a little word in that verse that I didn't want to say anything about because I wanted to say it now.
It's a little word that says a lot. O Lord, I beseech the made eye near be attentive to the prayer of thy servant in the prayer by servants who delight to revere thy name and make thy servant successful.
Here it is today. Lord, do something today Lord do something today and he prayed for four months. Lord, today is the day do something today Lord. This is the day do something today Lord today and 100 days later he is still asking Lord, would you do something today. It seemed that God was not doing anything God was in the process of doing something he was doing something in Nehemiah before he would ever do something through Nehemiah, we tend to get all hung up about what God does through us right, the better. Work is what God does in us, he was not only preparing Jerusalem for Nehemiah. He was preparing Nehemiah for Jerusalem and his delays were not denial number two real McCoy believers refused to accept the credit for the work of God that is finally accomplished. God does. They do not accept the credit and Nehemiah leaves little room for doubt, by the way that he fully understood what happened. Just moments earlier. If you missed it. He recorded in his diary this rather telling statement found in the latter part of verse eight and the king granted my requests to me because I was clever because I had a plan because I was God's choice to lead. Know the king granted my request to me because the good hand of my God was upon me. Nehemiah recognize that what had just happened. Got it done.
It it wasn't because Nehemiah was smart was because God was sovereign wasn't because Nehemiah was great, it was because God was gracious, but Nehemiah here has just been released from the king's palace.
He is Royal permission, with all the financial backing necessary to rebuild is humble enough as it goes with those documents in his hand. The carte blanche endorsement of the king with the choice of God and the recognition that God's hand is upon him. He recognized that success was granted because of God. Verse nine that I came to the governors of the province is beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters that the king had sent with me officers of the Army enforcement when send out the horror night and so buyer the Ammonite official heard about it. It was very displeasing that by the way, just sort of drops into our minds the names of these men who will be his dark enemies throughout the rest of this entire book. They will dog at his heels, but for our point. What I want you to see is the self descriptive use of words that Nehemiah chooses to use. It was displeasing to them. Go back that someone had come not that the cupbearer of the King income not God's choice of a leader to rebuild and come, but that somebody come somebody come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel, genuine, authentic, down to earth, real believer never gets caught up with what he or she has done or can do. This is just somebody. In fact, you could translate that a man tell he refers to himself as he writes to himself in this diary that a man at to be a real McCoy. You avoid the popular profile of Christianity, the pseudo spiritual language. Well, you want to avoid the knockoff imitations of piety and people who show you that you must have it together and you must be ready for everything and well take a look here to man who was filled with fear, but who allowed himself to be the instrument in the hands of God for his purposes and for his glory. And then when God did move through him. He didn't forget, didn't somebody has come to seek the welfare of the sons of friends, some defendant and I fit into that category because were just some and upon closer inspection, we discovered that he was a genuine, authentic man, sometimes filled with fear sometimes moved by faith. Yet overall impressed with the fact that a good God had his hand carry. Nehemiah was the real McCoy well I hope you are encouraged and challenged by Nehemiah is ample today. If you're like me you want to be authentic. You want to be the real McCoy. The principles we learned today are going to help us if you joined us late you tuned into wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi, the senior pastor of colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina.
Today's lesson is called the real McCoy and it's part five in our current series through Nehemiah if you'd like to listen to this message again or get a copy for your self to own.
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