Book of Nehemiah "Placing a Priority on Prayer." with Pastor Michael Petit. Calvary Chapel Devine Weekly Devotion.
“Remember me, O my God, for good.”
This past Wednesday we finished our first Book of the Bible the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a wonderful leader. He had vision, plan of action and motivation to build the wall in Jerusalem. The key to Nehemiah’s success was his relationship the Lord. We one of the main things I learned from Nehemiah, was he was a man of prayer.
Nehemiah had real concern for the temple, walls and Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 1:2) Hanani, explained to him the condition of the walls. Nehemiah knew as a cupbearer, no walls, you have no security . (Cupbearer is like a the Chief of staff for the Whitehouse)
The city was a ghost town and thieves were constantly harassing those in the area.
Nehemiah 1:3 ESV
And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
Most people would come up with a quick strategy on how to fix the walls and get right to the work or just send money. Not Nehemiah he went to pray and fasting.
Nehemiah 1:4-7 ESV
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.  And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.
The prayer is beautiful and throughout the book, Nehemiah constantly prays. We have fourteen prayers recorded in the Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah gives adoration to the Lord in his prayer, he says “Great and awesome God”, He even says “God who keeps covenant and steadfast love.” So many people pray today and just get at it straight to their needs. Where is the Adoration? Read Revelation 4:8-10 and take a moment, just ponder it.
Revelation 4:8-10 ESV
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”  And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Let us not just rush into prayer, there is worship going on right now in heaven. Picture this as you read this “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” That is happening day and night. Now do you understand your speaking to God, and guess what God wants to hear from you. The Creator of the Universe is wanting to hear from you. God is constantly surrounded by adoration, yet we can learn from Nehemiah because he always praised God and gave adoration.
Nehemiah Prayed and fasted for four months before getting an answer on going to Jerusalem. He was patient. Do you have a daily prayer time? Do you rush through prayer quickly? Do listen during your time of prayer? Do you practice the ACTS acronym for prayer?(Adoration-Confession-Thanksgiving and Supplication) Isn’t funny supplication being last. Will you become someone like Nehemiah that puts a priority on prayer. Would you pray for four months, until God opens the door?
“Real prayer keeps your heart and your head in balance, so your burden doesn’t make you impatient to run ahead of God and ruin everything. As we pray, God tells us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it—all are important in accomplishing God’s will.” Warren Wiersbe
I do believe there are times we need to pray quickly even Nehemiah shows us that in chapter two.
Nehemiah 2:4 ESV
Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
He prayed before answering the king in just a moment. He was talking to a secular worldly king and yet he stops to pray to the one true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We can learn a lot about prayer through the Book of Nehemiah. We also see that even when Nehemiah was under attack by the enemy, he prayed.
Nehemiah 4:14 ESV
“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
Nehemiah 6:9 ESV
For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
The enemy will try to intimidate you, try to get you stop the work of Lord, but we do not quit. We go to the Lord in prayer. We pray for strength, guidance and we get back to doing the work of Lord. It is so easy to feel defeated when the enemy comes to cause problems and people just walk away, many do. We can find strength to push forward with prayer. Nehemiah prayed and went right back to the work.
Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He set out on the project; Nehemiah prayed. When he talked to the king, he prayed. When he was in trouble, he prayed. Hopefully as we closed this book out this week you will be a person of prayer as well. Place a priority on prayer and make time daily to spend with the Lord just in prayer. We need to hear from the Lord, and we need to speak to Lord daily. I hope you will commit to that this year.
This week in our scripture Jesus has to deal with false accusation from the religious leaders.
Mark 3:22 ESV
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”
They actually accuse Jesus the Messiah of being possessed by “Satan” to do the work of Satan. It made me wonder as the crowd was listening how many of them believed this misinformation from the religious leaders that Jesus was possessed by Satan?
As I studied the scripture, I realized the people being used by Satan were the prideful religious leaders. Satan has really caused major problems in our nation with misinformation, and we have seen the nation become divided because of it. Just look a simple search on our current pandemic, wearing a mask or not, vaccines or no vaccines, justice or social justice, and even defund the police or crime statistics. Regardless of what side you fall on everyone has opinion and there is so much misinformation out there it is hard to find the truth. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants will disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Satan deals in deception and misinformation. Now you see the problem, in America.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 ESV
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
It is the same religious leaders that falsely accuse Jesus in the Book of John 8:41 They said to him, "were you not born of sexual immorality". They accuse Jesus of being of an illegitimate birth, your mother was pregnant before she was married. Again, Fake news and deception, from the father of lies.
John 8:44 ESV
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
The reason I brought up this topic is because it is not just our nation that is divided but the American Church or the body of Christ in America that has become so divided in the past few years. We are told in the scriptures there should be no division among you, yet we know it exist.
1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
I do believe some have been deceived by the “Father of Lies”. Some believe these current popular topics in the culture is more important then being united in the church. Divisions among believer’s block God’s work in their lives and in the church. Opinions in the church have become extremely vocal in this day and age of technology. Just go through Instagram or Facebook post of friends and families see how much is about current cultural topics and the fighting that is happening in the comments. Christians will push those same lies and talking points. They would rather argue with them and be right then draw people to Christ. Christians will begin to be throwing scriptures at each other, but the scripture is taken out of context. They will use the word of God out context to get there point across. We have a lot of “eisegeses” happening from politicians, celebrities, Christian musicians and even some pastors from the pulpit. What is “eisegesis” it is just a fancy word that means the mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Eisegesis is concerned only with making your point, it does not care about the context of scripture. It is misinformation that is happening online, with politicians, in the news, and even from the pulpit in America. Satan loves it, we weaponize and misinterpret the word of God to prove our point, so prideful. We have allowed our ideologies to trump our theology in Christ. We have placed an importance of our ideologies and opinions of popular topics to take priority in the church and it has caused major division.
You know the church is like an Orchestra. We have our conductor “Jesus” then we have the body of Christ. We have some in the percussion section, some in the wind section, some in the string section and so on. Now each of us are different, some violins, trumpets, cellos, and drums. Each of us probably have an idea (opinions) on playing the song a certain way. If each instrument played the music, the way they wanted and not the way the conductor wanted the sound would not be in harmony. The orchestra would be divided. An orchestra is unified (just like the body of Christ)—not because everyone performs on the same instrument—but because everyone plays in harmony the same song under the direction of one conductor. A church is to be united—not because every Christian is exactly alike—but because we all follow the same Jesus our Lord. We have forgotten that. My opinion on cultural is just not that important, and I should never use my opinions to create a divide with my brother or sister in Christ. Regardless of where they stand on the issues of today. It is not easy; I mean the problem is we have way too much information available in our hands through our devices and a lot of it is pushing agendas, propaganda and misinformation. How about turn off the news, the politicians, but also followers of Christ with platforms or even pastors that misuse the context of scripture and implant their personal opinions. Turn it all off for a bit. Remember the Devil wants to deceive the whole world, how do think he is doing? Remember you have the ultimate lie detector the “Bible”, use the word of God to filter the things of this world, God’s word will guide you, and give you discernment in making decision.
Revelation 12:9 ESV
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
We are the family of God we cannot allow the devil to divide us over the things of this culture and world. We have the power of Holy Spirit be eager to maintain the unity and the bond of peace in the church. We have God’s word. If the church becomes united again the nation will wake up and draw closer to Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Family of the Lord needs to love each other with humility, gentleness, patience and we need to be united not divided.
Do you need rest? We have covered about three chapters of the Book of Mark, and we see Jesus already takes time to spend with the Father to pray and withdraw with the disciples. How Important is rest? About 6 in 10 Christians say that it's "often" or "always" true that "the busyness of life gets in the way of developing my relationship with God." It is sad but in America the schedules for most are overwhelming and they are being stretched in every direction. When that happens something always gets lost on the radar, maybe it is our relationship with Jesus, for some their marriage, neglect time with family, or even hinder work.
Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Jesus wanted fellowship with His Father, he was shutting the distractions of the world down for a moment to spend with God. Jesus considered prayer a priority, do you? Busyness pulls us away from the things of God, like prayer, reading the bible or even church. There is an acronym for being busy it is (Being Under Satan’s Yolk). I can attest to this; I have been so busy even in ministry serving God that I became ineffective as husband and father. It also impacted my time in the word and prayer. I burned out quickly and my flesh was on full display. Now I pace myself I learned ministry is always happening just like the waves of the ocean. The Lord showed me I was not as important to the ministry as I thought. Jesus wants us to serve. We are not saved by works but by the free gift of grace. But God has prepared us for good works, that He prepared.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are His masterpiece, and He wants to mold us and shape us to be more and more like His son Jesus. I remember when I struggled with busyness in the ministry my good friend and mentor spent time with me and told me “You have allowed the ministry to become your mistress, you are being stretched so much the flesh is being exposed.” God never wants us to neglect our relationship with Him even for his church. Many Christians have allowed their busyness of life to chain them up and put them into bondage. God blessed me with a spouse and kids, I am the pastor of the home and forgot that. They needed me. They are your first ministry before the church. My brother loved me enough to bluntly tell me of my mistake. My wife had been trying for months but I just was too busy for the conversation. Just figure I am doing God’s work, what is the problem.
Mark 3:7 ESV
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea
I love this verse cause Jesus sees the need of the disciples and withdrew with them. The crowds would always be there. Our lives should be guided by the Lord as well. To many of us are just so busy we do not take time to seek God before we take another thing on. The problem is you are directing your steps, not the Holy Spirit. One thing I did I realized I was in multiple ministries in the church plus teaching. Honestly, I am not sure I was doing any of them effectively. I learned and I let some things go, guess what some of them I just jumped into headfirst. It was my will not God's. I learned I was directing my steps. You know that is what busyness will do. Pull away daily seek God through His word, pray and be guided by His every step.
Jeremiah 10:23 ESV
I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Burnout is real, so you need to slow down. Most people when they realized they are burned out, were burned out months before. Take breaks to be at the feet of Jesus. Now, I run to the sea, the coast about every four months. I spend one on one time with the wife, family, or even other friends in ministry. I slow it down and I can tell that time has been such a blessing in my life. I quiet things down, I am getting so much more in the word, prayer is sweeter and fellowship is encouraging. God comes through so clearly. I get direction, I am well rested and refreshed for ministry. But I learned to do this even without a vacation, I learned to practice it my life daily. So, who are you today Martha or Mary? When I read in the Book of Luke about Martha, and Mary I can so relate to this scripture because it is so easy to be that servant, asking how come I am doing everything, and you are just sitting there? Is that you, a prideful, fleshly servant? Maybe it is time to slow it down and withdraw with Jesus. Put the busyness away and put Christ first choose the good portion.
Luke 10:41-42 ESV
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,  but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
"Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" weekly devotional with Pastor Michael Petit
Hebrews 12:26-29 ESV
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.
If I were to ask you if your life or a life of loved one has been shaken in 2020 or 2021 for most of us the answer would be yes. I honestly think the country has been shaken or maybe still be shaken by the Lord. Do you believe the Lord will do this? Read from the Book of Haggai.
Haggai 2:6-7 ESV
For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.  And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
God will disrupt things here on earth to reveal his eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Hebrews 12;28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Why would God do this? The American Church has become extremely comfortable, entertainment focused, insulated, and divided within the body of Christ. I believe God has shaken up the earthly things. Christians have forgotten that God reigns over class, race, politics, and culture. God has shaken us through Covid, racial divide, elections, Presidents, genders, socialism, and the battles with our culture. We have received a Kingdom that cannot be shaken and yet we as followers of Christ put more focus on our opinions and beliefs, and we stop pointing people to Christ and His Kingdom. God is in control not us. I have heard more opinions on mask, vaccines, Fauci, Racism, Biden, Trump, Critical Race Theory, Border Crisis, Election Fraud, Left, Right, Police, Gender, and this is just in the church. This turns people away from the church, it does not draw people to Christ. I know it is so easy to focus on certain topics and have our opinion heard. But does this point people to Jesus and His Kingdom? Where is love, peace, and perfect harmony of the body?
Colossians 3:14-17 ESV
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What would your life look like if you just turned off the social networks, news, and the phone for a week?
We see the people in the Book of Nehemiah turn back to the Lord. They get back to worship, word, confession, and prayer. They had been shaken up, they were building the wall in one hand and have their sword ready in the other hand to stop attacks. Their lives were in danger daily the enemy wanted to stop the work of the Lord. The wall is done and the city Jerusalem is being transformed. They were obedient to God, His word and they even confess their sin and revival has come. God revived his people. Remember revival is to revive the people of God.
Nehemiah 10:28-29 ESV
“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding,  join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his rules and his statutes.
In Nehemiah 10 they were separating themselves for the work of the temple of God. They begin to remove the things of the world that would hinder them. They dedicated themselves to the Law of God. Is there something you need to separate from, maybe a sin pushing from the Lord? Allow God to shake those worldly things that hinder our relationship with Him. We need too. It is so easy to be divided today, but when the people of God cannot get along, we have a hold of some things of this earth that need to go.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
You know I have wrinkles in my life. I put it on daily like a dress shirt it looks like I slept in it, yet God is ready come steam and press out all that stuff that needs to go. The pride, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness and more. Why? God loves us, He cares about His children, He is jealous God, a consuming fire. He wants to bless us, and for us to walk in obedience with Him.
Hebrews 12:29 ESV for our God is a consuming fire.
I am going to attach a video from Dr. Tony Evans that inspired this devotional, I will tell you it is not an easy teaching to watch he touches on some sensitive topics that need to be touched on. Dr. Evans shared this teaching at the National Radio Broadcast Conference. Watch it I really hope you will.
Pastor Michael Petit