Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Just a month ago I was reading Nehemiah and wrote about his prayer. Last Wednesday night Pastor began a study of the book of Nehemiah. We went through the first chapter and I remembered about his prayer – how he spent time acknowledging that he knew who and what God was, that He was capable of not only hearing prayer but responding to it. Nehemiah confessed his shortcomings as well as that of his nation, calling upon God to adhere to His promise that those who turn back to Him will receive His attention.
God gave His promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua. It was just as true when God gave His word to Solomon:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)
Nehemiah knew this, and he called upon God to respond to this promise – but he was not called by God to return to Jerusalem, he volunteered.
That doesn’t happen often in the Bible. Usually the stories we read are of people called by God, their hesitation when they realize how ill-equipped they are to achieve His goals and how much He helped them. In Esther we read what appears to be a historical book where there is no word that means God is used, yet His people are saved from destruction.
Both Nehemiah and Esther thrived while at Shushan. Daniel did, too. During their captivity, they were elevated in the palace to places that influenced kings and nations. Yet in each of these three books, there is no indication of God’s calling them. They did respond to situations that had spiritual meaning.
For me, these responses could have inspired Paul’s:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 KJV)
Do they inspire us?
Do we hear about needs and volunteer? There’s nothing as big for us as Nehemiah’s return to rebuild the temple; Esther’s being in a position to save an entire ethnic group; Daniel’s rise to political leadership, still purposing in his heart to pray. Or, is there?
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)
We don’t know what God has in store for us. Perhaps Paul had Isaiah 64:4 in mind when he wrote the Church at Corinth. He knew for certain that it had never entered his heart, though he thought himself a spiritual Jew, that he would be called by the risen Christ to preach the gospel. Can’t say he volunteered, though. He had to meet Christ on the road and be struck blind, then healed.
Is that what it takes for us? Or can we be spiritually in tune with God’s plan through prayer and Bible reading that we can see a need and volunteer?