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Introducing an Ordinary man

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2024 12:00 am

Introducing an Ordinary man

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 21, 2024 12:00 am

Have you ever wondered about your purpose in God's eyes? Do you feel ordinary, insignificant?

In this message, Stephen Davey delves into the remarkable story of Nehemiah, an ordinary man who achieved the extraordinary through his unwavering faith and character. Discover how God used Nehemiah to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem and restore hope to a discouraged nation.

Through Nehemiah's example, you'll be encouraged to embrace your own unique calling and discover how God can use you to make a lasting impact on the world around you. Uncover the 26 characteristics of ordinary people who God can use in extraordinary ways and learn how to apply them to your own life.

If you're looking for a message of hope, inspiration, and practical guidance for living a life of purpose, this episode is for you!

For more life-changing Bible teachings from Stephen Davey, visit


If you want the maximum attention of God, he must first have the maximum attention of you. If you want him to be available to you, great. Are you available to him? You want to move his heart, great.

The question is can he move yours? We'd rather look at what Nehemiah did rather than who Nehemiah was, and the burden that preceded the birth of his life ministry. We didn't know that we would be uncomfortable. We didn't know that fellowship in his sufferings and to have his attention meant that we would also share his agony. Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, I'm just ordinary, nothing special?

Well, I have news for you. God loves using ordinary people. In the Bible, there's this amazing man named Nehemiah. He wasn't a king, a priest, or a famous warrior. He was just a regular guy who loved God and had a heart for his people.

And guess what? God used him to accomplish extraordinary things. Today, Stephen Davey begins a series called Nehemiah Memoirs of an Ordinary Man. He'll dive into the book of Nehemiah and discover how you, as an ordinary person, can be used by God in powerful ways. I imagine if you asked a thousand people the questions, who are you in the sight of God? What kind of person will God use?

I imagine we'd get a thousand different answers. I want to introduce you to a man who had the answer. His name was Nehemiah. He knew who he was. He seemed to have an intuitive sense of what kind of person God was looking to use. But I want to say something about this man that may surprise you.

It may not before we even launch into a study, which will only cover the first phrase of verse one, and that is this. Nehemiah was an ordinary man. Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah.

Can't get any more ordinary than that. He was run of the mill. He was common stock. He had a good job, as we'll see later. He had steady income. He had respect. But something happened one day that jarred his world, that seemed to remind him of who he truly was. And the rest of the book that bears his name simply records what an ordinary person can become when fully surrendered to a sovereign God. Before we get too much further, let's back up for a moment and take a look at the historical setting and the background of history.

Now, when I say that, I can imagine your eyes glazing over. Oh, wonderful history. This past Christmas, I gave my wife a beautiful bracelet. I knew it was going to be a special gift to her. And when I got it, it came, of course, with an exquisite looking box, black velvet. Even when you open the box up, the inside was lined in something that looked real satiny. Beautiful, beautiful box. I knew that even when my wife began to open it, she would already be very excited. Some of you wives are saying, honey, he's preaching to you. Now, take note.

Listen up. And just as I imagined it occurred, but my wife to this day has not yet thanked me. For the box. Nor did she take that bracelet out and set it aside and try to strap the box onto her wrist. If she had of, we would have called for help.

No, she threw it away. The value of the box was in introducing the object. That's history. The testimony of Nehemiah shines with brilliance. The remarkable nature of his integrity is even more remarkable when you notice that it comes from such a dark setting.

In fact, if we could travel back in time, the reason this ordinary man seems so unusual and extraordinary was because of his setting and his times. He lived in a generation of Jews who had been saying now for 90 years, it'll never be done. It can't be done. We can't do it.

We've been in captivity now for generations even though Cyrus said we can go back. It's a rubbable win. He tried. He failed.

We knew it. Ezra went back and tried to restore. He never fully accomplished the job and we just can't do it.

We're stuck here. In fact, if you go to one of the Psalms and you read, you get a picture of the mentality of the Jew who is living in this tragic era of time because of their disobedience to God. Even though he was allowing them to be restored, listen, by the rivers of Babylon there we sat down and wept when we remembered Jerusalem. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps for there our captors demanded of us songs and our tormentors mirth saying, sing this one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? If I forget you, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth. If I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. See, now for years there hadn't been any singing.

They had hung their harps on the willow trees. No joy. They were sobbing as it were with national grief. They had disobeyed the Lord. They had ignored his word. Now no joy.

How could we ever sing in a foreign land? And when a group of people goes back to restore it, it never really happens. The walls of Jerusalem are broken down. The gates are burned.

We're a laughing stock to the nations around us. Who would be our champion? Nehemiah? He wasn't a Levite. He wasn't a member of Israel's priestly tribe. He didn't have royal blood flowing through his veins. He didn't have any physical strength we read of. He didn't have any leadership experience. In fact, you won't even find his father's name anywhere else in the Bible. Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah.

So what? He will be our champion. He is nothing special or spectacular. He is just common clay. Frankly, I have been arrested by this deeply burdened man. A man who had to have God's maximum attention because it came out of his broken heart over this broken world. You can see his the evidence of burden and broken the evidence of burden and brokenness. Verse six, please listen to my prayer. He pleads in verse 11. He says, Oh Lord, I beg thee, listen to my prayer.

I beg you, please listen. Eleven times throughout this book, Nehemiah is imploring the attention of God. Three times in the closing chapter, Nehemiah cries out, Oh my God, remember me. In fact, the book ends with the phrase, Oh God, remember me. It's the same phrase in the Greek translation of the Old Testament that you find in the gospel by Luke that comes from the lips of that dying thief hanging on the cross beside Christ when he says, Oh Lord, remember me.

It is this lamenting wail that basically says, I want to be where you are. I want to go where you go. I want to walk where you walk. I want to think after you.

And Oh God, please think after me. Nehemiah was a man who desperately wanted the maximum attention of God. And he, like all others like him are the living illustration of people I think God was thinking about when he said to his prophet Jeremiah, you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29, 13.

Now wait a second. Aren't we all into the sovereign gaze of an omniscient God? Nothing on earth escapes his attention. What is God talking about when he says that he will be discovered by those who desperately searched for him with their whole heart? What did David mean when he said blessed or happy as the one who seeks after God with his whole heart? Psalm 119 2. Or Paul cried, Oh, that I may know him.

Didn't you already know him? The power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings. Philippians 3 10. What did the writer of Hebrews mean when he said that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after him? Hebrews 11 6. Who is the man today? Who is the woman today that has this intimate close rewarded pursuit discovery of God?

How do we gain the maximum attention, this intimacy with God, where we beg of him his close attention, but somehow is different from the attention we already have? The answer is in chapter one of the memoirs of a man who one day stopped what he was doing and began to weep over the condition of Humpty Dumpty. See, before Nehemiah ever began to rebuild, he first sat down to cry over brokenness that just couldn't be fixed by any power on earth. The Hebrew name Nehemiah means the consolation of God.

It's a wonderful name. He'll live up to it. Nehemiah will bring to the people the consolation of God, the relief of God, the solace, the encouragement, the condolence of God. He will be the instrument of restoration and rebuilding and lives, not just walls. In verse 11, if you look there, chapter one, Nehemiah tells us that his occupational title was cup bearer.

He doesn't say much more. We know from history that he would happen to then be the best person in the entire kingdom to get close enough to the king to poison him. The enemies of the king knew that and no doubt often bribed him or attempted to to overthrow the king in their coup attempts.

Assassination attempts were commonplace. In fact, you may remember in the book of Esther that Mordecai overhears an assassination attempt on this man's father. Mordecai rescues him. Perhaps you remember the story of Joseph, how Joseph is languishing in prison and Pharaoh throws into prison his baker and his cup bearer. And evidently, an investigation takes place to discover which one of them was guilty, evidently, of trying to poison him through his food. It was the baker who was found guilty and later executed while the cup bearer was exonerated. And Genesis 40 21 says, and he returned to his place and put the cup back into Pharaoh's hand. Nehemiah put the cup into Artaxerxes' hand. Xenophon, who happened to be a student of Socrates, said this, giving us a little insight. Now, it's a well-known fact that the cup bearer, when they offered the cup, drew off some of it and swallowed it down so that if they should put poison in it, they may not profit by it.

I love the way that's put. In other words, long live the king, but no more cup bearer. The cup bearer was the most trusted man, perhaps, in the kingdom by the king. By the way, the cup bearer was the most trusted. And by the way, the king that Nehemiah served knew full well the threat of death for his father, whom Mordecai had rescued. His father later died in an assassination attempt that was successful.

The role involved more than handing a cup. The apocryphal book of Tobit gives a little insight and saying that the man was the administrator of the accounts. He was a trusted associate of the king, close enough to kill the king, but put there closely by him to save his life.

You notice, if you go back to verse 1, that we're given a chronological clue of when these things are about to happen, and we're also told where Nehemiah was. It happened in the month of Chizlev. It's around December in the 20th year, while I was in Susa, the capital. So here he is the king in the cabinet in the palace of Susa. This was the winter resort of the kings. This was the playground of the kings. The palace and grounds covered 5,000 acres. Archaeologists have uncovered gems and gold built right into the architecture. Murals have been uncovered with bulls bearing wings, glazed bricks.

Not exactly our choice of painting for our home, but it must have been an absolutely stunning sight. If you were in the king's palace in Susa for the winter time, you are in the middle of power and influence and affluence. All of that to say he had it, so to speak, made in the shade. As a Jew in a foreign kingdom, he had risen. He had achieved an enviable life. He had powerful friends.

He had financial security. He was worlds away from a broken down city called Jerusalem, 800 miles away. And that little Jerusalem, by the way, was four times smaller than this one palace.

Why would he ever care? Little broken Jerusalem. Verse two, and Hannah and I, one of my brothers, literal blood brother, one of my brothers and some men from Judah came, and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity and about Jerusalem. Now, is this just polite? How's it going out there, and how you guys doing? How's the weather?

Snow? What do you know? No, he says, tell me about the people and tell me about the city, and did they ever tell him? Verse three, and they said to me, the remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.

Now, this is not news. Babylon did this years ago. Didn't he know?

Why ask? Because the walls were under construction during the return of a man named Ezra, and Ezra and Nehemiah will later team up together, but Ezra has gone ahead of Nehemiah, and he's attempted to rebuild, and the building had started on the walls, ultimately getting high enough to perhaps hang a gate or two, but in Ezra chapter 4, the work was forced to stop, and most believe that the enemies of the Jews came and broke down and burned everything they had done up to that point. So Nehemiah is basically asking, hey, how's it going under Ezra? How is the work that's been started again after all of these years? How are the walls coming? Oh, they've been torn down. The work has stopped.

The people have thrown in the towel in total discouragement and despair. Nehemiah later writes in his journal in verse 4, it came about when I heard these words. I sat down and wept.

What in fact happens are several things. I want to give you them. They're what we could call five responses of a broken-hearted man or symptoms of a broken or a burdened heart. That's all we'll have time for, just to talk about his burden. Number one is the word contemplation. I sat down.

In other words, I stopped. Nehemiah took time to think and to contemplate the report he had just heard. He didn't just listen to their report. He heard. There's a difference between listening to someone and hearing them, right?

Have you fellas ever had your wife tell you that? There's a difference between and you're going, yeah, I'm hearing you, you're right, right, but oh, okay, I didn't hear you. Now I'm listening. I hear.

There's a difference. He is not only listening, but he is hearing. He felt the anguish of those who were talking. He stopped his normal life of cup-bearing to listen and to hear the news. Number two, compassion. He says, I sat down and I wept. Proof that he heard.

I wept. The world monitor reported some time ago, quote, preschool teachers, administrators, and child development leaders, specialists, say the most important thing for a child to learn is, quote, self-reliance. Seven times more educators said that children should learn self-reliance and self-confidence than sympathy and concern for others.

So the solution, then, of the average educator in our community today would be to go out on the street and tell Humpty Dumpty to get it together, to just pull himself together. He fell off the wall. You didn't believe in yourself. Have faith in you.

The answers are in you. Now pull yourself up together. The rhyme would go something like this. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and all the humanist scholars and professors just told Humpty Dumpty to get it together. People are broken. It's their fault. They didn't believe in themselves enough. Don't develop sympathy or empathy.

Oh, look at this man. He cried. When's the last time you've cried over a broken world?

The third thing that marked him was concern. I sat down and wept and mourned for days. The word mourned is the Hebrew verb aval.

It literally means to mourn for the dead. It's a deep, sorrowful morning. It doesn't soon pass away. It lingers on.

In fact, we know from the text it'll spend December till April. He will mourn for about four months. He is weeping, and he is in deep lamenting and deep mourning. One author writes, how few the men in these days who can weep at the evils and abominations of our times. How rare those who are sufficiently interested and concerned for the welfare of the church to mourn. Mourning and weeping over the decay of religion, the decline of revival power, and the fearful inroads of worldliness into the church are almost an unknown quantity that was written by E.M. Bounds a hundred years ago.

If he had a problem, then can you imagine what it is today? And again, I ask you and myself, when is the last time we have cried over a broken world? The fourth word is concentration. I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I was fasting. Now, this wasn't simply Nehemiah taking a little time off of work and skipping his sandwich to go pray and cry a little bit. The word implies the fact that he had lost his appetite. He was fasting not simply because he wanted to so focus on the burden that God had given him in his lamenting before God for God's maximum attention. He was actually fasting because he couldn't eat. You've had a burden before, I'm sure, like that where food is of no interest to you.

He, for four months, had lost his appetite. This was the burden of this man's heart. After all of that, and during all of that, all of these things happening simultaneously, there is fifth communion. I was praying before the God of heaven.

Now, a number of different words are used in the Hebrew Bible for praying. This one involves pleading. This one involves begging. It implies deep emotion. It is a lamenting before God and desperation that you've got to hear from God. You've got to know. You have to decide.

You must hear. You've had times like that in your own life, perhaps, where you are brought in agony to your knees, like Abraham Lincoln in that classic quote where he said, I've often been driven to my knees knowing there was nowhere else to go. And you lament before God and you cry out to him, you must have his maximum attention. Can you imagine weeping and mourning and fasting and praying for four hours, for four days, for four weeks, for months?

We have trouble if we don't hear from God and get an answer in four minutes. A man with a burden like Nehemiah's was named John Knox. He was the Scottish reformer who happened to serve our Lord during the time of the reign of Mary. But he had the habit of praying in her garden outside her palace windows. She feared his prayers more than anything on earth.

And he would pray in her gardens loud enough for her to hear, oh God, give me Scotland or I die. Have you ever prayed, oh God, give me my children for you lest I die? Oh God, give me my family or I die. Oh God, give me that co-worker or I die.

Oh, I'm so burdened. Oh God, give me this city or I die. Nehemiah had every reason not to care. He had been born in captivity. He'd been reared outside of Jerusalem, had never been there. He'd never worshipped in the temple. He had a great career in Persia.

He was the king's right hand, confident and protecter. Why would he ever pray, oh God, give me Jerusalem or I die? Oh God, give me that co-worker or I die.

Oh, I'm so burdened. Oh God, give me this city or I die. Nehemiah had every reason not to care. He'd been born in captivity. He'd been reared outside of Jerusalem, had never been there.

He'd never worshipped in the temple. He had a great career Oh God, give me Jerusalem or I die. Why would he ever go to a broken down city, to a people he didn't know, into a problem he didn't create?

That's for somebody else. Why should I care? He cared because he ultimately, as a man, was burdened for the glory of God to shine in and through Jerusalem, the holy city, and for the people of God to be restored in that city so that they could once again worship with freedom and great joy, this one and only living God. If you want the maximum attention of God, he must first have the maximum attention of you.

Bad grammar, but you get the point. You want him to be available to you? Great. Are you available to him? You want to move his heart? Great. Question is, can he move yours?

Has he moved yours? If you want the maximum attention of God, you must be willing to receive the maximum burden from God. I would define burden, this burden of Nehemiah in three different ways or three different aspects. Number one, an overwhelming concern with some aspect of human distress or sin, an irresistible conviction that God has an available remedy and unreserved compliance that God use you to deliver the remedy. In other words, you are convinced there is a problem and you are passionate before God that he used you to provide the solution or to be a part of it. You know, it's easier, isn't it, just to say, oh, Lord, you know, do this, Lord, do that, Lord, bless this, Lord, bless that, Lord, bless him, Lord, bless her, Lord, help her, help him, and Lord, move in this way, Lord, Lord, come through for her in that way, Lord, deliver him. What if a voice from heaven came and said, hey, nine out of the ten things you just prayed about are your situation, up to you, your responsibility, I'll wait for you. That's exactly what you need exactly the application of Paul's words to the Galatians when he said you bear one another's burdens.

Try that one on. Nehemiah will bear the burden of a broken Jerusalem and a broken nation. One author wrote a burden God is at work in the world today and he's looking for burden believers through whom he may work. Is it any wonder why we would rather dash to the prayer and say our little A-C-T-S? No wonder we don't want God's maximum attention. No wonder we really don't want to be part of the solution. We really don't want to be the fixer, the restorer, the rebuilder.

Is it any wonder why the church plays religious games for a couple of hours a week rather than restore and rebuild broken things? We didn't know God would start with us. We didn't know God would so hammer away at our hearts before he ever asks us to hammer up a wall. We'd rather look at what Nehemiah did rather than who Nehemiah was and the burden that preceded the birth of his life ministry. We didn't know that we would be uncomfortable. We didn't know that fellowship in his sufferings and to have his attention meant that we would also share his agony.

Didn't know it'd mean that. Could we rewrite that again to say Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and to all the king's horses and to all the king's men. Do we really care enough to put Humpty back together again?

Anybody here willing to have a broken heart? To feel the weight of what burdens God's heart? If you are and you're prepared to begin to pray this prayer and you are in so praying prepared to gain the maximum attention of God.

That was Stephen Davey and this is Wisdom for the Heart. With today's lesson, Stephen began a series examining Nehemiah's life. Be sure and stay with us in the days ahead as we work through this fascinating Old Testament book. To learn more about Stephen and our ministry, visit That site is filled with resources designed to help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means, and apply it to your life. Visit there often. If you'd like to speak with us, our phone number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. We're in the office on weekdays and we'd be very glad to speak with you. Join us next time to discover more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-21 01:09:27 / 2024-05-21 01:19:50 / 10

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