A Kingdom Passion

The Story

Bathed in prayer and with the king’s permission, Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem.  A city in ruins.  After touring and inspecting the wall and all it’s gates one night, Nehemiah shared of God’s plans for the walls to be rebuilt and the city to be returned to glory.  Everyone set to work rebuilding the wall, all working together. Jerusalem’s enemies threatened and planned attacks on the city. Nehemiah responded with prayer and by appointing everyone to be armed and on guard at all times.  Through all this the entire wall was rebuilt to half it’s height with all the gates reinstalled for protection.

That is a very concise summary of Nehemiah, chapters 2-4 that we covered this week in Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break study.

Kelly Minter, Transformed Deeper

One thing I keep noticing in this study is that Nehemiah was a prayer warrior.  Prayer was his first response to everything; sharing his concerns with the king, recruiting the locals to help rebuild the wall, and dealing with accusations and threats from Jerusalem’s enemies.  I wish prayer was my first response to everything.  Do you ever have those moments when all of a sudden you hear that still small voice saying, “Why don’t you just pray about it already!”

Often times if I sense God leading me to do something, I get so excited that my mind starts racing ninety to nothing.  Then halfway through the planning process or sometimes even the action process I realize… I forgot to pray.  And not just a “God bless this idea” prayer but a “God this all yours and not about me prayer”.

Besides being an excellent prayer warrior, Nehemiah was also a wonderful leader.  But let’s not focus on that.  Instead, let’s look at how everyone worked together to rebuild the wall for good.  Everyone.  Lower class and upper class, skilled and common man, political leaders and citizens.  No one group sat out of this task.  They all united together to rebuild the wall.

We are all blessed with different skills and talents.  Each one can be used to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). How beautiful it is when we all come together corporately to work for the Lord.

I have had the opportunity to go on a couple of mission trips in the past few years.  Some of them have been medical mission trips.  While I have no medical training (besides being able to specify finishes for a hospital, surgery center or other medical facility) God was still able to use me on the trips.  I got to play with the children, give eyeglasses to people, and share the gospel after patients were attended to by the medical professionals.  Even though I lacked medical skills, I in no way felt like I was able to contribute less than others.  We were all there as a team.  And we all know the saying there is no “i” in team but there is a God!

Kelly stresses the importance of gates for the city and also for our own spiritual lives.  Now I don’t have any physical gates up in my life.  Although sometimes having one in the kitchen separating me from the chocolate wouldn’t be such a bad idea!  I do have areas of weakness that I feel I need a hedge of protection around.

For instance, I feel that I, like probably a majority of our over publicized to country struggles with materialism.  Show me some cute clothes, cool gadget, or great piece of furniture long enough and I’m going to want it.  When these desires begin to take over my thoughts they also begin to take a precedence over God… essentially becoming an idol.  Since I am aware of this weakness I try to limit what I am exposed to. I no longer roam the mall being enticed by all the window displays.  We really don’t watch a ton of T.V. so my mind isn’t bombarded with all the commercials and product placements of cool gadgets I might want.  And while I do love me some Pinterest I try not to keep a lot of decor magazines lying around.  Doing all this doesn’t mean I will never face material temptations though…. I still do.  It does cut down on the number though and helps me stay focused on God.  When I do stumble and convince myself I need.something, like Nehemiah I pray for strength and remind myself that Christ is all I need.

You may not struggle with materialism like I do.  Maybe it’s gossip, over eating, or who knows what.  It is important to recognize your weaknesses though.  That’s where Satan will choose to attack you most.  Turn to God for strength and remember you can’t resist the temptation alone but with God you can!

The more we realize that God is all we need the more our hearts will break for what breaks his.  As I was searching for what breaks my heart I wrote in big letters in my journal “Give me a Kingdom passion!”  Then I just allowed myself to write anything that came to mind with a question mark behind it.  Next, I prayed for God to continue to reveal to me ways he wants to use me.

If you are still searching for what breaks your heart you might want to give this a try too.

Memory Verse

Nehemiah 6:16 (ESV)

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Discussion Questions:

(Please don’t feel that you have to answer all of them… one would be great though.  I love to hear what is going on in your lives.)

  • Nehemiah took time to pray and plan.  Are you the type of person who likes to dive in and get going, or do you take time to ponder and pray over your ministry plans and desires?
  • What Unforgettable memories do you have of serving God with other people?
  • How has working side by side next to people of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds both challenged and built up your faith?

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9 thoughts on “A Kingdom Passion

  1. Becky Kopitzke

    I’m so glad I read this post today (hopping over from Grace at Home!) because I’m reading Nehemiah right now in my journey through the Old Testament, and your words have given me much food for thought. Especially the idea that Nehemiah stopped to pray before acting. I’m a doer – I like to check off my list, get things done, feel productive. I know this about myself – how such a strength can easily cross the line to a weakness – so I’ve established a commitment to {most days} do my Bible reading before I dive in. Before I check e-mail, empty the dishwasher, post a blog entry, whatever. I’m not legalistic about it, but I do find my day seems to settle in better when I give God my first attention. Thanks for this post!

    1. Krystle Post author

      Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you found the post encouraging. It’s hard for us doers to remember to pray first. Thankfully, God is continually molding us.

  2. susan@avintagefarmwife

    Wow. This post is really good. Unfortunately, I was never able to purchase the book. I thought I could buy it for my nook, but I couldn’t never find a source that sold it that way. The story of my life-once again procrastination keeps me from something good. GRRR.

    Your comments about materialism made me think about yesterday morning. We were visiting family and made the decision not to go to church, but to attend a flea market instead. I was so sad seeing ALL of those people -including me- wandering around looking at stuff they don’t need and won’t want an hour after they got home, instead of being in church worshipping our Lord. Shame on me.

    1. Krystle Post author

      Susan, It’s never too late to start the study if you want. I created a tab at the top of the blog “Transformed Deeper”. There I have all the questions and backlinks for each Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break post. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Richella @ Imparting Grace

    An excellent post! So many lessons to learn from Nehemiah. Glad you’re enjoying your summer study!

    One of the highlights of my time in Birmingham was getting to participate in a medical missions trip. You learn a lot doing that, don’t you?

  4. Mary Beth

    You have so many great points in this post! The importance of prayer, working together, battling idols in our life! I struggle with materialism too and have taken those same steps to guard myself against it!

    Thanks for linking up with WIP Wednesday!
    Mary Beth

  5. Erin

    As I dig into the Word more and more, the changes in my prayer life have been mind-blowing, not always as improvements, but as recognition of our reliance on His word and the presence of the Spirit. Sometimes I just let thoughts (sometimes worry-thoughts, or whiny-thoughts, but even good, seeking-to-please-God thoughts) swirl around in my head and then at the end trying to add on a “hey God, can you retroactively make all those crazy thoughts I just had into a prayer”.. hmmm, not very reverent. Last week, I mentioned how I have struggled and still do with what intercessory prayers really are…. how can we pray anything without ending up with “Your will be done?”… then I ended up just skipping the intercessory part in many cases because I felt so unsure of what His will would be and just asking for His will… well, that sorta felt like a cop-out.

    An example of this — for instance with our little foster man. Which situation should I pray for:
    A) that his family is reunited (well, legally that might happen, but is this the best interest, will he ever have the change to learn of His creator and redeemer, will he be kept safe, etc etc)
    B) that we get to keep him forever (note, I didn’t say ‘love him forever.. because we will do that regardless of if we keep him) — well that seems selfish, because that would simultaenously be saying that I hope his family falls apart
    C) for peace and discernment and wisdom all around and that Your will be done..

    see that, how C is ummm.. pretty much always ‘safe’.. haha.. Not saying that safe prayers are right, because it might look like a safe answer to how to pray, but it takes a lot of faith and trust to pray that.. because His will WILL end up really hard regardless (i.e. both A and B have lots of ‘hard life’ implications), but that’s okay… what else are we here for if not sacrificial love?.. and this example can pretty much spill over into any situation

    and so I was just praying on how to pray (which is a perfectly good prayer too, even Jesus said to do that), and ended up again and again and again in Colossians…. and I found a prayer that has been helpful in knowing ‘what to pray for’:

    9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks1 to the Father, who has qualified you2 to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    So i started praying this over my hubster… a true example of an intecessory prayer that lines up perfectly with God’s will.. Thanks God, for Your word…. Okay, now I’m rambling.. I’m not a very good blogger because I am sorta wordy and long-winded, but i don’t do much editing and just sorta throw all my thoughts on the board.. hmmmmm, oh well.

    Anyway, this week’s study questions:

    Nehemiah took time to pray and plan. Are you the type of person who likes to dive in and get going, or do you take time to ponder and pray over your ministry plans and desires?

    ‘Hmm.. As I mentioned, I often end up just ‘thinking’ things through and forgetting the prayer part… and/or calling up people (umm esp Keith, Dori and Heather.. and even Angel) and running things/schemes/in particular ones to try to align my life more closely to what I see biblically.. BUT boy, that’s a crazy thing to do it if isn’t just bathed in prayer… mind you, some of the schemes come up during prayer time (and one recent one has even been separately revealed to my dear Aunt during her own prayer times — God confirmation, perhaps?), But so far, prayer hasn’t been my ‘go-to’ activity. Since these questions were posted a few days ago, and focusing on Nehemiah’s journey, I’ve been asking God to make prayer my first-response.. I’ve set out time to make sure that there is quiet, uninterrupted time to listen. And also to be reminded to first go to prayer when having discussions with Keithie, particularly discussions that may tend to lead to disagreements…. I started carrying notecards of verses from Prov 31, and Titus 2, and Proverbs to remind myself when I am about to escalate, that I would prefer that my hubby not want to live on the corner of a rooftop!

    What Unforgettable memories do you have of serving God with other people?

    Ha, Umm.. can i just say the past 2 years? serving God by serving others (particularly displaced children and their families) alongside my hubby — every bit of this is unforgettable.

    How has working side by side next to people of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds both challenged and built up your faith?

    It’s a little hard to dissect out how my faith has been challenged and built by the ministry’s we try to be a part of, because there has been a lot of changes, but it’s been from many different angles I think.. The more I read the Word, the more I want to read the Word, the more compelled, closer, calm, convicted, and sometimes crazy I feel. The more I invest in other’s lives the more I want to invest. The more I learn about tragedies of this world, particularly ones where i can do something.. , then the more I want to learn and act. sometimes I feel like a ‘downer’ and/or have been told that. Just last week I was told I needed to get back in a bubble.. that my life would be a lot more peaceful and I would be happier.. Clearly, it wasn’t biblical advice, but it goes back to what Kelly Minter said in the intro. That she ‘doesn’t have a formula for how much to give to those starving compared to how much to spend on a new piece of furniture’. That totally works emotionally too. I don’t feel down because I subject myself to the truths of the horrors of this world.. I feel overwhelmed at times, but mainly I feel grateful to how God has let my life play out so far, and I feel grateful to be more or less in a position to do something about some of it. With that, I need approval from others less and less.. although honestly i think it’s a big of a mix between spiritual growth and just weariness of caring what certain people thing (ha)!, that being said, the ‘audience of One’ terminiology is a little goofy.. we also need to remember that we represent the Kingdom so we must not come off uncaring or acting out of pride rather than acting out of obedience.

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