Nehemiah 1

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

5 Then I said: 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah is my favorite church revitalization pastor in the Bible. There are so many lessons that we learn which are vital to our ministry of restoration, renewal, revival and revitalization. Many times in our rush to explain the exciting parts of the text we overlook some subtle lessons. I have been reading this text a lot in my devotions and wanted to share a few of the observations.

Nehemiah was well connected in his relationship to people – He knew people who would share vital information. People who had a common passion Revitalization pastors who do not have connections in the community will need to develop them. Knowing the community communications networks are just as important as knowing the church communications networks. Knowing the right people in the community is important. I have the theory that when you are called or appointed to a church you are also called and appointed to the community. As a revitalization pastor this is important to keep in mind.

Nehemiah was a man who was not afraid to show his emotions – Nehemiah’s grief was expressed in weeping. The pain that he felt because of the burned walls and those who were exiled caused him to weep. He was in touch with his emotions. It is hard to achieve spiritual intimacy with God or emotional intimacy with your spouse if your emotions are locked up in a jar. I am not asking you to carry your emotions on your shoulders but to be real and honest with yourself and those around you about your emotions.

Nehemiah knew to turn to God when he was hurting – Revitalization pastors should have regular times of fasting and prayer above and beyond your expectations for your congregation. Especially in crisis. Disruption, confusion, conflict and tension are normal within the life a revitalizing church but it is also a sign that you need more time to pray. You can not have a dialogue with God and hear an answer if the conversation never begins.

Nehemiah took the initiative to pray for the answer rather than developing a solution and asking God to bless the solution – Revitalization pastors will spend many days putting out fires. Plans will not work out, funding may not be available, people may not join in sharing the ministry because it is so difficult. Pray about the situation and wait for God’s answer. The answer may not come at the speed of email but if you are long suffering patience will not be a problem.

Nehemiah’s prayer expressed the concern for the people and not about his agenda for the people – Nehemiah actually prayed with no self serving agenda. Instead of asking God to bless him with a solution Nehemiah prayed for a solution and God uniquely gifted him to be able to fulfill his destiny and purpose. The role of a revitalization pastor is to pray for the deepest needs of the people to be met, not your own. New Believer’s 101 is really a foundational message. God loves you and will take care of you. Since God is taking care of me most of my time should be praying for the needs of the people in the congregation and the community.