Emphasis: A Study of Nehemiah 1 – Vitality Begins
Day 1 Sunday – Proclomation:
Title: Vitality Begins
Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11
Thought for the Week:
Nehemiah, serving a foreign king in Babylon, receives a report concerning the post-exilic Jews back in Jerusalem. The report is not good and pictures the people of God, and His holy city, in a state of decline. Nehemiah’s response to this assessment is to spend a number of days weeping, mourning, fasting and praying. Surely this is where church vitality begins.
The portions of Nehemiah’s prayer reported to us in Scripture are most instructive. He acknowledges God as the steadfast keeper of the covenant. It’s apparent that the condition of the people, the church, is not God’s fault. Rather, he recognizes that the cause of this condition rests with the people themselves and even with Nehemiah himself. He intercedes with repentance and confession, reminding God of His promise to restore the people if they return to Him. God truly needs no such reminding, but perhaps Nehemiah reminds himself and the people in order to get his and their feet back on solid ground.
Finally, Nehemiah prays that God will grant him mercy I the eyes of the king. Why? Because Nehemiah has heard the call of God to do something about the condition of the people back in Jerusalem, and the city, himself, but he cannot begin such a campaign without the permission and blessing of the foreign king whom he serves as the valued cupbearer. Nehemiah’s prayer will be answered, Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the people of God, the remnant, will be restored.
When the leaders and congregations of our current reclining and declining churches begin to weep, mourn, fast and pray for the mercy of God, and seek God’s vision for their churches, they, like Jerusalem and its people, will be rebuilt and restored. This is the heart of church vitality.
Pray through this Thought for the Week as the Spirit leads you in your heart and in your mind. Amen.