Since Nehemiah started praying for his people in Jerusalem, 4 months passed by, and nothing happened. However, he did not waste his time. Instead, he waited. Waiting is different from wasting. In order for Christians to wait (not waste), two things are needed. One is prayer to discern whether it's God's will or personal resolution, and the other is prepare to do actual job. That's what Nehemiah did. He continuously prayed for 4 months to request his king and prepared how and what to talk. That was seen through the conversation between the king and Nehemiah. When he was asked, Nehemiah prayed (v.4) and answered very wisely, referring Jerusalem to the city of his ancestors' graves(v.3). And the gracious hand of God works for those who wait.
It seemed impossible for a Persian king to revoke his decree. And Artaxerxes himself made a decree to stop rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem 13 years ago. There was no possibility for that king to send one of his closest men (cupbearer) to restart the cancelled job. However, the gracious hand of God (v.8) made the impossible possible.
When he face the difficulties inside and outside, Nehemiah was able to go though by the gracious hand of God. His people was heard and saw that God helped him, and they were motivated. To the enemies who mocked and despised, Nehemiah told 'the God of heaven will make us prosper.' Nehemiah did not rely on his king's letter or army, but he relied on the one thing, which was the gracious hand of God.
Nehemiah is the story of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. However, the wall in that era is not just a wall. It was very essential element for the community. Therefore, the story of Nehemiah is the story of rebuilding the community.
God rebuilds his community through a man who has love. Nehemiah was the cupbearer of Artaxerxes who was the king of Persia. Because of that, he was supposed to know what's going on in the country. So he asked his brother, Hanani from Jerusalem what looks like in Jerusalem (v.2). When he heard that they are in great trouble, it wasn't just helpful information for him to know. It touched his heart. So he wept, mourned, and fasted (v.4) Why? Because he had love for his people. And God chose him to rebuild his community.
God rebuilds his community through a man who pray. Nehemiah when he had a burden in his heart, he bring it to God, and prayed. His prayer was to the living God who is great and awesome. And he prayed and repented as if he was responsible for it. It is easy to blame others but it is hard to include himself to those who are responsible. Yet, he did that.
And God rebuilds his community through those who are willing to make sacrifice. In verse 11, Nehemiah has a plan already in his mind. That's why he was praying to God. He was ready to risk everything he has (reputation, career, money and power) as a cupbearer.
As we try to build EM community, we should be like Nehemiah, so that God can work through us.
Vision is accompanied by suffering. More precisely, Christian vision includes suffering (1 Peter 2:21). As sojourners, those who want to live a godly life (want to live for a vision given by God) will suffer. If you are not suffering for your vision, either your vision is not from God, or you are not living for your vision.
Vision grows through suffering. When we face suffering, we pause and think. Through the process that we evaluate what is important and what is not, what is to be kept or what is to be cut out, we learn how precious our vision is. Apostle Paul learned his vision is more important than his life through those sufferings that he had borne.
Vision overcomes suffering. Paul didn't know what to come in Jerusalem, yet he is going. Likewise, being faithful to the vision is more important than achieving the goal. And it always bring the victory because our victory is not what we achieve but the faithfulness to our vision.
Jan. 5-7, we had EM winter retreat with pastor Kwangeul Kim.
We are called to WORSHIP GOD. That's the only calling for Christians. Under it, each of us have many different visions which must be grounded to the calling, so that through our visions we should worship God and when it happens people will come to worship God.
Through Gideon's life, we found 8 steps. 1. God restores his title. 2. God called him. 3. God promises him. 4. God restores his worship. 5. God gives small tests. 6. God provides networks. 7. God puts him a big trial. 8. God allows him victory.
And we cannot achieve our vision by ourselves. We should be able to unite with others who are different from us, through serving them without anything in return. We can do it not by relying on ourselves but by relying on God, who is our only ultimate hope.