10 Dec 2009
I’m sure that most of you, like my family and I, our deep into the Christmas season. You probably have put the decorations up and done some, if not all of your shopping (I’m assuming!!!!) As you go through that list of gifts that you have to give, have you considered what you will give Jesus on his birthday? I don’t mean to literally buy something for Him, but what would be the perfect gift for the Savior of mankind?
No thoughts? Let me make a suggestion.
I’ve been in the book of Nehemiah the past weeks and I got my Christmas gift idea from there. You may be thinking that there really isn’t anything there that has much to do with the Christmas story of Jesus, or Christmas in general. I would agree with you, generally speaking.
Let me set the stage for you quickly in the book. Israel had been taken into captivity many years before for there unfaithfulness to God. Nehemiah, through the years, has risen to the important position of cupbearer for the pagan king, King Artaxerxes, King of Persia. This position alone shows you the kind of character Nehemiah had. The cupbearer was a person that tasted the king’s wine to make sure that it was not poisoned. Kings looked for people who were wise and discreet, and consistently honest and trustworthy. This person usually became a close adviser to the king they served.
Nehemiah is serving in Susa for King Artaxerxes when he hears some very disturbing news. Nehemiah 1:2-4 that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity. and about Jerusalem. They said to me “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
So Nehemiah learns of the condition of the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The city was still in ruins after many years. The walls were broken down and all of the wooden gates were burnt. The people there were distressed and had no way to protect themselves form attackers. Nehemiah’s response to all of this news is the key to what God does next. It says that Nehemiah sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven (vs. 4).
When was the last time you sat down and cried about something that you know displeased God? How about mourning for days for something you know breaks God’s heart? Have you prayed and fasted for days to see God move in those areas? God is so please with Nehemiah’s response. How do I know? The rest of the book shows us by what God does. A pagan king, who could have ordered Nehemiah to be killed, releases Nehemiah from his role of cupbearer to go and rebuild the walls, gives him his protection through the process of travel, and provides him with the materials needed to do the project. God touches the hearts of the Jewish people to follow this great leader to complete this project and it is completed in a record 52 days!
What started God moving? It was one heart, broken and sensitive to Him, one heart that cared more about things of God rather than them self, one heart that wanted to see God and His mighty wanders. The Bible is full of stories of men and women who had a sensitive heart to God and He moved and did amazing things through them because of it.
May I suggest that this Christmas, you give God your heart completely. Be sensitive to His leading and His Spirit. Let your heart be broken for the things that break His heart. Then, be prepared to be used in ways that you never imagined God would use you. A sensitive heart to God can literally change a country.
Have a Merry Christmas!