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The Favour Of God (Vol 02) - Nehemiah

Sunday English Service - 27 MAY 18


Let's go to the Word of God. We started a series, new series last week, titled the favor of God. Last week we saw how this force, I like to call it a force because it is a force. What is the force? The favor of God is a powerful force. That force, we saw how it worked in the life of Ruth last week. It did amazing things for her just in one day changed her whole destiny literally brought her to the right place at the right time, brought her that special recognition, special treatment and all kinds of advantages. That's what favor can do, God's favor can do. It can overcome any obstacle in your life. And this week, I want to take you to the story of Nehemiah. In the Old Testament yet another story. These are true stories by the way. The word story itself in this world has a negative. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time... No, no. These are true stories, the names and places are all there and they've been recorded in the Bible for a reason. So that we may learn them and know them and tell them to our kids surely, but not only that, so that we may learn from them. Not only learn them but learn from them so that we may learn lessons of life from them. You look at how people who’ve failed you can learn from them, you look at the people who’ve succeeded you can learn from them and these are success stories. Ruth was a success story, Nehemiah is yet another success story. So I encourage you to approach it in that way. That it's not a story about someone who lived a long time ago somewhere having nothing to do with your life today. No. Why am I talking about someone who lived long time ago somewhere? Because the One who did great things for that someone is our God.

Nehemiah is dead and gone, he is alive in heaven but he is no more on this earth. But the One who caused Nehemiah and caused him to succeed is our God. And He's the same yesterday, today and forever. If He did it for Ruth yesterday He will do it for you today and He will do it for somebody else tomorrow. We can keep preaching Nehemiah and Ruth on and on. That's the power of the Bible. These are not just old stories. These are stories that will come alive in your life today because the God behind all this is living and powerful and He still does the same kind of things. And so I say this because you will see that God does amazing things to Nehemiah, for Nehemiah and let us be encouraged that it is the same God who will do for us also in the same way. So let's go to the book of Nehemiah. The amazing things that I was talking about happens in chapter 2 verse 1 to 8. That's when Nehemiah goes to the king, you may be familiar with the story. I mean basically he goes and asks the king things that you will never ask and you can certainly never usually get. Things like that you won't even have the boldness to ask in the first place. I'll show you how much boldness Nehemiah has. And he goes and asks some outrageous things and he gets all of it in chapter 2. I could have started there, but then you would miss out on a lot of important stuff happening in chapter 1. Behind every success story, there is a background. There is a context, there are things happening, there is a process, right? We like the success but sometimes we fail to look at the process. So I don't want to make that mistake and that's why I want to start with chapter 1 even though it may start off less interesting and more serious. So forgive me.

This is the order of the Bible chapter one and then chapter two. Okay. So that's the order I'm going to follow. Nehemiah chapter 1, let me begin like this. What was Nehemiah’s problem? What was Nehemiah’s problem? Everybody's got a problem. We're saying that God's favor can bring the answer to your problem. What was Nehemiah’s problem? Well, personally Nehemiah did not have any problem. No problem. Personally, he is doing great. He is actually doing very well. He had a very good job, a very good status and position in that day and age. He was cupbearer to the king. We read in Nehemiah chapter 1, the last sentence of that chapter in the 11th verse, the end of that verse it says, Now I was cupbearer to the king. Cupbearer. Now that may sound very ordinary to us today but cupbearer is an important job because... It sounds like he's just serving the wine and the food or whatever. Yes, he supervised the serving of wine and food and everything to the king. He supervised all of it. That was the chief cupbearer’s, it was part of his job. For everything from where the grapes were taken to how the wine was made,  he will supervise the entire thing because a lot of people in those days were trying to poison the king. These constant attempts were happening, assassination attempts. So they'll try to poison the king by putting poison in the wine or in his food. So they had one guy and they called him the chief cupbearer, that's Nehemiah, and he was the kind of guy who’d supervise the entire food production. When it came to the king's food and the king’s wine he will supervise it all from start to finish and whatever he says the king will eat and drink. If he says this is okay the king will drink it, he will eat it.

But that was not the cupbearer’s only job. The title cupbearer was not very reflective of all the... it's like I think maybe they started out only supervising the food but then they started doing other things also. It's like have you seen people who work as a driver or something for some big shot? They'll be with them constantly, they'll just be driving. They’ll start out like that but then they start to do other things. Go there, do this, whatever. Soon enough the driver becomes like a PA. You know what I mean? That's I think what happened to the cupbearer’s position because it is very convenient he was with the king, he was serving the wine and the food. If the king wants to get something then he'll tell the cupbearer and it'll go through the cupbearer. If somebody wants to come see the king they will come through the cupbearer. It became convenient for the cupbearer to function like a personal assistant, like a PA, like a secretary type of thing. So basically the position of cupbearer in those days, we're talking about 2500 years back, in those days became like the PA position. Nehemiah was PA to the most powerful man in the world that day. The Persian kingdom was the kingdom that ruled the known world at the time and the king was Nehemiah’s boss. He was cupbearer to him. That's the kind of life Nehemiah was living. He was living the high life. He was quite high in society there. His situation was not like Ruth. He didn't have any personal problems, not like Ruth. Ruth didn't know where her next meal would come from. For Nehemiah he had the best food and best wine at his disposal. Whatever the king ate he also ate.

Then what was Nehemiah’s problem? His problem was not his problem. It was really his people's problem. His people had a problem. The Jews. Nehemiah was a Jew and his people, the Jews were in deep trouble. There was no problem where Nehemiah was living. Nehemiah was not living in Jerusalem. He was living very far away from Jerusalem in the Persian capital. In the opening chapter we find them in the winter resort of the king, which is Susa is the place. He was there in Susa there was no problem but in Jerusalem there was terrible problem. Nehemiah didn't have a problem. In that place there was no problem but his people, the Jews, were in deep trouble and their city, the city of Jerusalem, was in deep trouble. Let me give you some context on how Jerusalem  ended up in so much trouble. This is Jerusalem not in the glory days of David and Solomon, Jerusalem was a glorious city at that time. Those days are far over. By this time, by the time Nehemiah comes around, something terrible has happened to Jerusalem. The Babylonians invaded them. It’s a very important year in history 586 BC. 586 years before Christ the Babylonians came and invaded the city of Jerusalem and  they destroyed the city wall, they ransacked the temple. They took out the gold and silver from the temple. They destroyed the entire city of Jerusalem. Literally, they set it on fire. They killed a lot of people and many of the survivors were taken away from Jerusalem as slaves, as captives to the Babylonian nation. That's how Daniel and his other people went there. Nehemiah comes after that.

Nehemiah they say was actually born to the people who went off as exiles. So they went off as exiles into Babylon and there Nehemiah was born. He was not even born in Jerusalem. In fact, he had never even seen Jerusalem. He had never been to Jerusalem. He comes a little bit after Daniel. He is almost like the next generation after all this tragic mess has happened. Then time proceeds and kings change, empires change, Babylon got defeated by the Persians. When the Persians came to power, a good kingdom, Cyrus allowed the exiles to go back to Jerusalem. He said, if you want to go back, you can go back. And so some Jews went back and they went back and found the city in utter ruins. It was basically nothing there. And they started trying to rebuild the city, they started to rebuild the temple, and somehow they succeeded and they did rebuild the temple. It never went back to its glorious days, the days of Solomon but it was completed. So they started rebuilding their homes, businesses, the temple, but one thing they could not rebuild, and that is the city wall. The city wall. Somehow, they tried for 70, 80, 90 years, perhaps. They tried to build a city wall some hindrance, some opposition. The outsiders didn't like it. They would come and mess it up and a thousand obstacles. The wall remained broken and people would now and then, they built a little bit they'll come and knock it over again.

That's the kind of situation. It was a broken wall there, now it’s a terrible situation. Those days if you have a broken city wall... These are not like our compound walls, you should not get the wrong idea. These are not like our compound walls. These are huge wall. Have you seen like these fortress walls. These are huge walls. That's the kind of wall we're talking about. When that city wall is broken, it's a very dangerous situation for that city. Enemies can walk into the city anytime and do anything they want. Here they are the people in Jerusalem trying to rebuild their homes and businesses, these enemies walk in whenever they want and stamp on them and just do whatever they can and go away. These guys were jealous of Jerusalem. They don't want Jerusalem to come up again. Very convenient for them. City wall is broken. They go in and loot the place. They destroy what is there and so on. They keep giving the people a hard time. So the people in Jerusalem were suffering because the wall was broken. They were being laughed at literally. People around Jerusalem were literally laughing at them. They were saying, “Is this a city? A city without even a wall, is it a city? You talk about your great heritage of David and Solomon look at you now.” They were making fun of them, mocking them. They were saying, “Are you a people? Do you have any self-respect? You don't even have a city wall, your city’s in utter ruins. What kind of people are you? What kind of city is this? What kind of a God do you serve? What is He doing for you?”  They started making fun of them, even making fun of their God.

This is the situation that faces Nehemiah in chapter 1 opening verses of the book, let's read verse 1 to verse 3. Nehemiah chapter 1 verse 1 to verse 3. The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened on the month of Chislev, that is November, okay? Around November, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital that Hanani one of my brothers came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. He gets some visitors from Jerusalem. One of the visitors is his own brother. They come to tell him about the state of Jerusalem. And here's where he hears the news verse 3. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble... That's what I was talking about. ...great trouble and shame. Look at those words. They are in trouble and shame. Next sentence. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, its gates are destroyed by fire.” This is the news he hears. What does he do upon hearing the news? Verse 4, verse 4. What is Nehemiah’s reaction upon hearing this news? Verse 4. As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And the next verses prayer begins, goes to the end of the chapter.

I want you to watch verse four. Sometimes when you read the Bible, you gotta stop and think, meditate. Verse four very important verse. What is Nehemiah’s reaction to the news he hears? It's a very key moment. He sat down and he wept and mourned for days. Why did he weep, sit down, weep, mourn for days? What happened? Did something happen to him? Like I said, nothing happened to him. He is doing very fine, actually. Did something happen to his family? Actually, they say his family also was doing quite well even though one of his brothers is there, in Judah and Jerusalem, he's come all the way from Jerusalem to give the news. You know  how far that is? 900 miles, three months’ journey. To make that journey you need money, you need to have a certain kind of status in that day to even make that journey. Nehemiah they say was from one of the noble families of Jerusalem. His family itself enjoyed a certain status and a position in that city and his brother must have had that kind of thing. That's how he could make that journey even. His family was actually doing well. They're not doing... they're actually doing better off than most of the people in Jerusalem. He had no problem. His family had no problem yet this man is sitting down and weeping and mourning for days.

Why did he cry? Was he the crying type? You know what I'm talking about? Like, some people have the tendency to cry quickly. They hear some bad news they’re quick criers, shall we say? Tears come very quickly, and they go away quickly also. And they go on like nothing happened. The tears come and go, just like the easy that kind of personality. He's actually very opposite kind of guy. He's a very serious guy and he's a very bold guy also. You'll see his boldness in a little bit. Throughout the book he is facing obstacles, oppositions, enemies, pushing authorities and he's very bold.  He's not of that personality. Why did he cry like this? Weep. He didn’t just cry for a little while, he sat down, wept and mourned for days. This was not some superficial sorrow. At that time he felt bad. No, no, no. It stayed with him for days and days. Why? His crying shows something, his weeping, his mourning shows something. It shows his concern and love for God's people, for God's city. Let me say that it shows his concern and love for God's people and God's city. Here's an important point, my friend. You want to learn from Nehemiah, here's something we can learn from Nehemiah. Last week we learned from Ruth. His weeping, his crying like this, his sorrow shows his concern and love for God's people and God’s city. Look at his concern, even in chapter two. When that when his brother comes from there, Nehemiah himself initiates the conversation. He enquires if you read verse two.  He asks how are people in Jerusalem doing? How is the wall doing? He initiates the conversation He enquires. He enquires and when he hears the news he just can't just walk away. He sits down and weeps. It affects him to that extent. It brings him great sorrow, deep sorrow. The only reason he wept so much and mourned for so long was he had a great deep love for God's people, for God's city.

I was amazed when I stopped here and thought about it because this guy he's 900 miles away. In that day, that was the other side of the world. He was not even living in Jerusalem. He in fact never even... He has never even seen Jerusalem. He was not born there. He did not grow up there. He was born somewhere else, grew up somewhere else and made it a success in that place. Never even seen Jerusalem and the generation before him only endured more hardship like Daniel and those guys. He came after that. And here he is far removed from all that. His family's  doing not too bad, and he still weeps and he mourns shows great concern. I was amazed because what it reveals it, it reveals the condition of his heart. It reveals the condition of Nehemiah’s heart, it reveals the condition of his spiritual life itself. His spiritual life. We have a lesson to learn here, my friends. Do you have concern for God's people, God's church, God's kingdom? Do you love God's people, God's church, God's kingdom? We're concerned about everybody and everything. But every true believer has a special concern and love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. That's the way it is. That's the way it has to be.

Every true believer has a special concern and love for other believers, my friend. Nobody can say, you might have heard this kind of talk, “I like Jesus, but these Christians, I can't stand them.” Have you heard that kind of talk? We feel bad and say, “Well, yeah, you know it’s...” But that kind of talk is nonsense. If you really like Jesus, you will like His followers, no matter how bad they are sometimes. Automatically love for Jesus will transfer over as love for His disciples, your fellow believers. That's the way it is, that’s the way the Bible teaches. you cannot like and love Jesus and not love other believers. That's an impossibility. Look at 1 John 4:20. This is one of the tests of a true Christian. We’re beginning on a serious note here. Like I said, I warned you earlier itself, but this is Nehemiah. You want to experience the level of favor Nehemiah experienced? You gotta be the kind of man he was. One of the tests of a true Christian is what John 4:20, John says, If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; and he doesn't mince words, does he? He doesn't give any room for doubt. He’s saying, “If anybody says I love God and he hates his brother,” brother means fellow believer. “I can tell you right now he's a liar.” Liar means what? He doesn't love God. Very simple. He says he loves God but he actually doesn't love God because the sure test of whether a person loves God, loves Jesus, sure test of whether a person is a believer is this, a believer will love other believers. His heart will go out to other believers. He will feel like they're part of his family. Through Jesus Christ we are related. You and I are related through Jesus, right?

So John says he's a liar. And then he says, For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this commandment from him. Whoever loves God must love his brother as well. There's no, you cannot have it any other way. You cannot just love God and not love God's people. If you love God, you will love God's people. The test of whether or not you love God is do you love God's people? Do you have concern for God's people? How much concern do you have? We all have love and concern. That's why you're here today, I think. I think you're here because you wanted to come as a family of believers as one body and worship Christ like this corporately. So I believe, all believers, every believer has some level of concern and love for other believers. They have that connection there. But the question is how much concern, how much love do we have? Do we have the kind of concern and love that Nehemiah has? Do we think about the broken walls? Nehemiah was thinking about the broken walls. My question is, are we thinking about the broken walls in other believers’ lives? Are we thinking about the broken walls, perhaps in our church in other churches? Are we thinking about other believers who are suffering? Do we have any thoughts about the believers who are persecuted? The believers who are suffering from hunger or lack of opportunities, does that affect us?

This is a time when everybody wants admission, college admission, school admission, every kind of admission. And a lot of people are suffering with that because there's so few seats so many applicants and believers also are suffering in the midst of that kind of... we know because they're coming to us saying pray. Pray that somehow God will grant us admission. This is a real need. This is a need in believers’ lives today. Do  you know about it? Are you aware of it? Are you in a position that you can do something about it? Do you love believers my friend.  Loving is doing. Let me put it like this loving is revealed by doing. The love will be shown in the action. God so loved the world that He gave. Nobody can say I love but not give anything. So the question becomes are we contributing to the lives of other believers? Are we concerned about the spiritual condition of other believers? Sometimes we look in our city, in our surrounding perhaps there are churches that  there's so much infighting going on. There's so many problems going on. Such a bad condition we talk about and say  these guys are just beating one another up, such a shame. But the question is, is it doing anything to us like it did something to Nehemiah. Does it affect you? Does it bother you when you see God's people, God's church suffer, go down. Does it make you sorrowful?

Nehemiah reminds me of Jesus. It's very difficult to find people like this. Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, He can see the city from afar. He just starts crying. Do you know about this? In Luke 19:41, Jesus is going toward Jerusalem. He can see the entire city from afar and He starts weeping it seems. Why? Nothing happened to Him. He starts weeping and He says, “Oh Jerusalem, how many times I've tried to gather you, how many times I've tried to approach you. Show you my love, but you rejected me,” and He weeps for the city of Jerusalem. The word in the Greek talks about weeping loudly. He wept loudly. That's the kind of heart Jesus had, and Nehemiah reminds me of Jesus. I am truly amazed. When I saw this and meditated on this, I couldn't help but pray, “God make me like this man. Give me heart like this man.” This sorrow is good.  As Christians we are supposed to rejoice in the Lord. That is also correct but this is also correct. This is godly sorrow. Sorrow with a purpose. Sorrow about God’s people, God's kingdom, their well-being. When you have sorrow like this, it will give you a burden. It will cause you to do something. And Nehemiah started doing something about it. He didn't just sit there and weep. He went to the next step, he started doing something about it. What do you think he did? Well, we may think, “He can go right up to the king, after all he’s in an influential position. He has direct access to the king, so he can just approach the king and say, “King,  my native place. These are my people. They are suffering, can you please help me? Do something for them, please help them.”” That would be the natural thing to do. But there's one big problem.

Nehemiah could do that, given his position and access to the king but there is one big problem. The problem is not evident in these pages but if you read the previous book, and then come to Nehemiah you will be aware of it. I'll show it to you in the book of Ezra, the previous book, just the previous book, few pages behind. In chapter 4. There is a very serious problem. Nehemiah even though he has direct access to the king can go anytime speak in one way, yes, that kind of access. Nobody has nobody else has. He can’t go and ask for this very easily because there is one big problem,  what that problem is? The person who put a stop to the rebuilding of the wall effort itself was this king only. You remember I told you, for several years they tried to build the wall. They were able to build the temple. They tried to build the wall. Several obstacles, oppositions came their way. The final obstacle was, you know what? This king. Nehemiah’s boss. A few years back only he issued an order saying, “This work should stop, you should not rebuild the wall.” I’ll give you the background for that. I'll show you the verse.  What is happening is they're rebuilding the wall. Actually, he gave them permission first. So they're rebuilding it and these guys were jealous of Jerusalem and its people they start working against them and they try some things. It doesn't work out.

So then they go to the next step and they write a letter to the Persian king. The writer, you know it's a big kingdom. Persian kingdom was a big kingdom. You have a lot of different regions. So Judah and Jerusalem is one region. The guys around them, don't like them, so they write a letter to the big king, Persian king. We're going to read a little bit of that letter. Ezra chapter 4 and verse 11. The copy of the letter we’re reading. Okay, this is a copy Ezra 4 verse 11. This is a copy of the letter that they sent. “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. Now, verse 12, be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll and the royal revenue will be impaired. Very simply, they're saying, “King if you allow them to finish the wall your revenue will go down. They are not going to pay tax. They'll become arrogant and say, “We won't pay tax. Do whatever you want to do,” because they got the city wall now to protect them.” And then watch this, continue reading. Verse 14. Now because we eat the salt of the palace... They’re saying, “King you are only supporting us. That's why we're telling you.” They're acting like they're doing a very good favor to the king. Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, verse 15, in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. He’s saying, Go and make a search in your previous archives, records. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste.

We make it known to the king that if this city is... they're saying, “Go look on the records, you'll see the city is a rebellious city. It did not cooperate with outside kings in the past, in past history. It will not cooperate with you. They constantly rebel. That's why the city was utterly destroyed. And now you are allowing it to be built up.” Verse 16. We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River. That is a huge area. They're saying, “Our king if you allow these fellows to build, finish the city wall, you will not only lose this city, Jerusalem, you will lose the entire surrounding region.” That's what they're saying. It's a very key thing for your territory, for your income, revenue for your honor. Don't allow them to finish the wall. Letter reaches the king. The king replies, verse 17. The king sent an answer, and then let's go down to verse 19. I made a decree, this is the king replying to them, okay? I made a decree, verse 19, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. He’s saying, “We went and looked in the records because you said, and you're right, at one time Jerusalem was a glorious city. Mighty kings ruled over it.” He’s talking about Solomon probably, Solomon, at his period only Jerusalem was at its peak. Solomon ruled a very big region, even outside Jerusalem. He was collecting tax outside Israel. He was collecting tax. So that is what the records reflect. The king says, “Yes, once this was glorious and this this city is known to be rebellious.” That's what the king says on the records. Therefore, verse 21. Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?” 

He’s giving the decision, he’s saying, “Yes, I agree. Stop the work and do it now. Don't be slack about it. Don't delay it, make sure no damage is cost to me.” That's what he's saying. Verse 23, the copy of the letter reaches those guys those jealous guys. Letter writing jealous guys. Do you know people like that? They receive the copy and they're very happy of course. Verse 23. When the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. They made them to stop the work by the king’s order. Verse 24. Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. House of God means temple. The work stopped, temple and wall work stopped but then temple work alone resumed but wall work never resumed. That's left out there for a reason. The city wall work never assumed and now we come few years later to Nehemiah chapter one.

Nehemiah knows this. He is in a very high post not to know the history. If he didn't know they would have briefed him on it. The king knows it. Everybody knows it. Nehemiah has a big post. He can go and ask but here's the problem. This is the king who stopped the work after receiving counsel from all his advisors. So you can't just walk up to the king and say, “Oh king, I think the decree you made is utterly wrong, change it.” No, you're questioning the king’s judgment, are you questioning the king’s wisdom? Immediately the king will just lash out in those days,  “What right do you have to question my judgment?” He will throw you in jail like the Egyptian pharaoh threw his cupbearer in jail, remember that? If you read the story there, in the days of Joseph. You remember those days of Joseph, there's a cupbearer and a baker in jail. The reason is they offended the king it seems. Simple, offended. If you offend the king, you can land up in jail. So Nehemiah can’t just walk up to the king. He may be like the PA to the king, in front of others he may be a big guy, but in front of the king, he's nothing basically. He's a slave actually, forced to do the work. He doesn't have a choice. In one shot, the king can take away his job and his life. That was the kind of situation that Nehemiah was in. Sometimes we think people in high position and post can do anything for us. We don't know the pressure they are facing. The fellows above them may be very ruthless. See, we don't know the situation, we assume things. Nehemiah was in such a conflicting situation. On the one hand he's deeply grieved by what has happened to Jerusalem. He wants to do something about it. He has the position, the status, but this huge problem is there. The king is the one who made the decree to stop it.

So what does he do? He prays. He prays. One of the most amazing things in the first chapter is the prayer. It begins in verse 5 goes up to verse 11. It takes up most of the space in chapter one. Nehemiah prays. Nehemiah believes in prayer. He didn't say, “Well, guys, I wanted to do something for you. But turns out this king only made the decree. I can't really risk this, this is too much. So let's forget about it. Try your best and go away.” No, he starts praying. He starts praying that God will do something. When you can't do something about it, God can do something about it. That is what prayer is. That is what prayer is. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Prayer is very common and all good. Sometimes people they don't appreciate the wonder of prayer. The power of prayer. I mean literally there is nothing you cannot do through praying to God. There is nothing that is unchangeable when you take it in prayer to God. Everybody may say, “This won’t workout, there's no way this can happen. Are you crazy?” Well, my friend pray about it, take it to God. Sometimes people just complain about it, they worry about it, they don’t pray about it. Paul says, “Don't be anxious about anything, anything, be not anxious about anything.” Philippians 4 verse 6, he is saying, “Don't worry about anything but in everything through prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” You want something you see no way to get it, don't worry about it. He says. Everybody say, don't worry.

Such a common trap we fall into sometimes, worry, right? It comes almost like reflex, worry. Just like that. If you're not aware, it will come and overtake you. Paul says, “Don't worry about anything.” Jesus also says, “Take no thought worrying what you will eat or drink or do this.” Don't worry, but in every situation, just pray. Everybody say just pray. Sounds very simple, but it's very powerful. It's very powerful my friend. I want to remind you today of the power of prayer because that is what Nehemiah did in chapter 1. In chapter 2 when you go and realize my goodness, how did this happen to Nehemiah? Don't forget the prayer he did in chapter one. He didn't just pray one time, he prayed continuously. Look at verse 6, he prayed day and night. Look at verse 6, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night. That means he prayed morning and evening. That tells me he had a prayer life. He didn’t just pray when he was in trouble, he had a prayer life. He prayed day and night and he prayed about this. He didn’t forget about this, this particular problem. He didn't just pray one day, he prayed, they say for three to four months at least. The reason being, when he heard the news, I told you it is the month of November, when he went and spoke to the king in chapter 2 verse 1, we are told in the month of Nisan, Nisan means March. Around March. They say minimum three, maximum four to five months was the gap between the time when he heard the news and he went to the king. What was he doing in that gap? He was praying. He was praying.

For some days he wept and he mourned and then he started to pray. He was praying, going on praying. And his prayer I want to point out four things that we can learn from his prayer. I can't go too much depth, but I'll quickly point them out. His prayer is one of the most amazing prayers in the Bible, in the Old Testament at least. You should study it more carefully but let me point out four things in his prayer that is worth learning. Number one, He prays with a sense of God's greatness. He prays with the sense that God is great and powerful. Look at verse 5. I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God... you see those words, the great and...? He doesn't pray with a sense of the problem’s greatness. Some people pray like this, “Oh Lord, this problem is so great, you know how great this problem is.” He knows. Problem may be very great but what is greater in Nehemiah’s mind is O Lord, what does he say? God of heaven, the great and awesome God. We throw that word awesome a lot, don't we? Well, that was an awesome match. Oh that was an awesome this, oh wasn't that awesome? Let me, if you want to get really technical there is only one who's truly awesome and perfectly awesome and that is our God. Awesome means awe inspiring, producing awe to that extent is only our God. The reason we sometimes don't get that awe is He seems hidden, clouds are hiding the glory. What we need to pray is, “Lord help me to see you as great an awesome.”

Nehemiah somehow has the sense of God's greatness. Here most people will only have the sense of the Persian king’s greatness. Most people only think of him as great but Nehemiah says, “No, no, no, Oh Lord God of heaven, great and awesome God.” For him who's bigger? This king or that King? He's the King of kings. And he prays with that sense of God's greatness, my friend. I don't mean to belittle anybody's problem, we have problems. Some people may be here with very severe life threatening even problems. Very terrible situation. Let me tell you, my friend, you may be in the worst kind of problem. You may say tomorrow things may go down. Well, no matter how bad your problem is, I want to tell you, our God is greater. Our God is more awesome, more awe inspiring. He is more powerful. He can do things that will completely change what you're going through. He's greater. You got to pray with that sense of God's greatness. Until you do that in one sense you have not even begun praying. You've not even... Look at the way Nehemiah, that's the way he begins the prayer. In verse 5, he begins the prayer, O Lord God of heaven the great and awesome God.

Number two. Second thing we can learn from Nehemiah’s prayer, he admits his own fault and confesses his sin. Verse 6. Let your ear be attentive, your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants. Now listen, confessing the sins of the people of Israel which we have sinned against you, even I and my father's house, I've sinned. He’s saying, “God, we are in this mess because of our own sin. God, we confess our sins before You,” he’s saying. And not only that, he says, “Even I and my father's house,” he’s saying, “I have sinned oh Lord, forgive me.” You can read the entire book. It's very difficult to find where he sinned. He's actually one of the most righteous men who lived. And here is this man before God. He is just stripping himself bare and he can see his own sin. And he says, “Lord, I have sinned and I need to change. Not just the circumstance need to change, I need to...” That's a big step my friend. Here's another thing we can learn from him. He's not just praying that the circumstance will change. I need to change. The London, the Times of London or something, I don't know exactly the title of the newspaper. Many years back, they did an interesting thing it seems. They asked the question, what's wrong with the world today? What's wrong with the world today? And they said, anybody can write to us and we will post your interesting responses in the newspaper for everybody to read. A lot of people wrote, and they started posting, GK Chesterton, the great writer, he sent a reply, response. His response was, what's wrong with the world today is the question, his response, “Dear sirs, I am. Yours sincerely.” Just two words he said. What's wrong with the world today? “I am,” he said. GK Chesterton is a great man. He's a great man, he’s a great writer. He was trying to show something. He’s saying the answer to that question has to begin with us personally.

Each person has to say, I am the problem. I need to change. I need to grow more. And so he made a statement like that. And Nehemiah, one of the most righteous people here, has no hesitation before God and he’s saying, “Lord, even I and my father's house have sinned. Forgive me.” He admits his own fault. He says, “Lord change me. I need to change. I come before you, help me. Third point, the third thing we can learn from Nehemiah is prayer. He prays God's word back to God. He prays God's word back to... Look at verse 8. He says, remember the word. What word? Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I’ll scatter you among the peoples. If you return to me, keep my commandments, do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven from there, I will gather them and bring them to the place that I've chosen to make my name dwell there.’ He says, “Remember your own word, Lord.” Very interesting way to pray. But what I want you to notice is, he’s basically quoting from Deuteronomy. He knows his Bible. Nehemiah knows his... He's reading his Bible that tells me. If his words in prayer are filled with Bible’s words that means he’s reading the Bible, he is meditating the Bible, his mind is full of the Bible. Nehemiah’s Bible was not so big, it was only the first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis to Deuteronomy. And so he knows Deuteronomy very well. He has been meditating on Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy clearly says, If you sin, things will happen. And if you come back to me, I will restore you. I’ll gather you no matter how far you have gone. So Nehemiah prays God's word back to God and says, “Remember your word, God.” Did God forget? Will God forget? No, but it's okay to pray that way.

It may not be very theologically perfect, but God heard that prayer. I think the good thing about that kind of prayer is at least we don't forget. We don't forget His word. And we are not just praying with our eyes closed praying something and all. Sometimes it's good to pray with your eyes open like this. Pray God's word back to Him. He says remember the word and he says what God told Him. Not only one time in this book, you will read seven times. I don't have the time to give you the references and show you. Seven times Nehemiah prays like this in this book. He says, “Remember the word you said Lord. Do according to your word.” Number four. The fourth thing we can learn from Nehemiah’s prayer is he petitions specifically for favor in his specific situation. Look at verse 11, verse 11, O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name. Verse 11, 1:11 and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Very specific. He's not praying saying, “Lord, if you can do something, do.” No, he’s saying, “Lord, give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” What man is he talking about? Next sentences. Now I was cupbearer to the king. He's talking about the king. Nobody will even talk about king as a man, but to Nehemiah he’s still a man. He says, “LORD, You are my king. You give me mercy in the sight of this man today. Grant me this.” Specifically he asks, boldly he asks, expectantly he asks, with faith and confidence he asks.

So I just want you to, as we close up chapter one and move to chapter two, I just want you to think for a minute about Nehemiah’s spiritual life. Here is this man having a prayer life. He's praying. He is deeply engrossed in the word. He knows what the Word says. He prays the word back to  God. And He's deeply concerned and about God's people, God's city, God's purposes, God's kingdom. This is the kind of spiritual life Nehemiah has. A very mature spiritual life. Now chapter two. To this man only chapter two happens. In chapter two he approaches the king. In the month of Nisan, verse 1, that is March, around March, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you're not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. People who served the king usually you’d say they were not sad. Even if you're sad, you had to show that you're very enthusiastic and joyful. And cupbearer especially, you are to maintain the same thing, you cannot let go, you cannot change your, you cannot look different. You cannot act different. Any difference they see in you they'll get suspicious, because you’re the cupbearer, they'll start enquiring, all kinds of things will happen. So the cupbearer had to maintain that enthusiasm and  that sense of enthusiasm and Nehemiah did except for one day, that day and the king notices that and the king says, “This is sadness of heart.”

Somehow the king knows. This is sadness of heart. At this point, the king could have conducted and entered interrogation also, but he knows. It’s sadness of heart. And he expresses his concern. Now Nehemiah has to answer. He is enquiring, “What happened Nehemiah, you're sad. Your heart is sad. What happened?” Nehemiah responds. Verse 3. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad,” We stop there. Look at the way he's talking here. Let me back up one sentence before this. Before this only, he said, I was very much afraid.  At that moment Nehemiah got afraid, right? We preach saying don't fear and that is what the Bible teaches. But sometimes in that situation, the fear comes. You know what I'm talking about. And God is gracious. He says, “Okay, it's okay.” Nehemiah got afraid. For an instant there he became very afraid. When the king enquired, “Why are you sad?” And then he gathers his composure again and look at the way he speaks. This man was very much afraid inversely, look at the way he speaks. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should not my face be sad?” Is this the way you speak to the king? Look at the language, it's very bold and yet tactfully. It begins with, let the king live forever and then it says, Why should not my face be sad, when the city the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? He brings up Jerusalem. He never mentions the name but the king knows what he's talking about. He says it’s the city of my fathers’ graves. The king will surely know where the cupbearer is from, where the cupbearer’s parents are from. He will know that the parents are from Jerusalem.  Nehemiah talks about the condition of the city, that the city’s gates have been destroyed by fire, lies in ruins. The king knows the bad condition of the city also because he's the one who after all said, “Leave it in that bad condition.”

So Nehemiah spoke a little too boldly if you ask me, even perhaps rashly before the king. He said, “Why shouldn't I be sad?” But he also balances it with some nice words. He said the city of my fathers’ graves. Only here when he's talking to the king he's talking about the fathers’ graves. Nowhere else he's talking about that. The entire book, scholars say, purposely he puts it in there just to get some sympathy from the king. This is a very wise guy speaking very tactfully. He says, “Long live the king, why should not my face be sad? It's in utter ruins, my fathers’ graves, that is.” The boldness, the wisdom, the combination, priceless. That's what the favor of God can do for you. There was a moment of silence, I think, there. Everybody would have been shocked. I don't know how many people were there near, in the court at that time. The queen was there. I don’t know who else was there. But there would have been a moment of silence, because that's not the way you speak to the king. Not only that, Nehemiah is implying one more thing. Without saying it, he is saying it. Nehemiah knows that the king knows it. Implicitly he’s saying, “Oh king because of you only my city is in ruins.” It’s implicit. It's understood. You don’t have to say it. The king knows it. Nehemiah knows it, anything can happen at this point. The king can get angry and say, “How dare you question my judgment? You don't like it you can leave. Get lost. Get out of here.” Fire him or worse, put him in prison or even worse, he could have killed him. Anything could have happened at this point but the favor of God is with this man.

And next, the king says, very short response, the king gives. “What are you requesting?” He says, “What do you want?” In other words. I think the king is thinking like this. “I know Nehemiah, I know where you're from. I know the problem with your city. What do you want?” Another critical moment. Somehow he has gotten to this point. Some people at this point, they will falter. Some people just can't answer the question, what do you want? Have you noticed that? Especially in our culture, sometimes we are a little shy. We won’t come forward and say what we want. There's no room for all that here. The king says, what do you want? You got to tell him what you want. You got to say it correctly include everything you want and at the same time not offend him. What does Nehemiah do? It's a moment of tension. It’s a tense moment. What does Nehemiah do? He prays to the God of heaven. You see that, the king says, What do you want? Nehemiah shoots an urgent prayer to heaven. One of those one line prayers.  You know what I'm talking about? Have you done those prayers. Those urgent, asap one line prayer, God help me. You react like you don't know what I'm talking about. Perhaps you only do the long prayers in chapter one but I have done many of these urgent, “Oh Lord, help me right now.”  The one line prayers work best when you're also doing the other kind of prayers. But nevertheless, the one line prayers also do work. God said, “Call unto me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you and you will glorify Me. Call unto me in the day of trouble. It's okay, just call unto me.” And Nehemiah calls unto Him.

One thing I like about him, I see that in that moment of tension he goes first to God. Where does he go? His reflex has been trained, his spiritual reflexes have been trained that he instantly goes to God. Even though he's right in front of the king. The king says, “What do you want?” In that tensed moment he quickly prays to God. He can’t say, “King hang on one minute I got to do one prayer and come.” No, there’s no time for all that. He can't even open his mouth and say, “Lord help me,” probably. In his mind itself he’s probably just saying, “Lord help me.” I think this is something we need to train our children in. When they are in trouble they need to know, go first to God. Call upon God first. Everybody say first. It should become like a spiritual reflex, you're in trouble just ask immediately and God will help you. So God helps Nehemiah. God answers that prayer instantly. Look at the way named Nehemiah speaks after that. Verse 5. I said to the king, here's the crucial moment. “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, again that graves is there, that I may rebuild it.” Very carefully worded words, just one, looks like one request.

There's a lot packed in there. Let me try to unpack it for you. What all is Nehemiah requesting.  Look at that verse again, I'll tell you. First he’s requesting implicitly that the king reverses previous decree. He’s saying, “King, send me back to my home city, native city to rebuild it.” Very carefully, purposely he left out the city wall matter. He never said city wall. He only said, help me to rebuild my city but it's understood he knows, the king knows that means really city wall. So he's saying reverse your prior decree, number one. Number two, what else is he requesting? He wants leave. Now you know what I'm talking about. He wants leave, we all want leave now and then. I want a break sometimes. And it's hard to get a break right? In our world it is hard. One day leave also they won't give sometimes. Nehemiah is asking for leave. He is saying not only do I want you to reverse your decree, I want to go and attend to this job myself. Now here is a personal loss for the king because the king has grown to like this guy. By now he really likes the guy that's why he’s saying what is your heart sad and all that. And now Nehemiah is saying I want to go now. This is not one or two days leave. Just to go to Jerusalem is three months to come back is another three months. That’s six months and then how long to build the wall. This is months of leave when he's asking. Okay. Not only that, next he is also implicitly requesting that this be considered official work. It's not really leave actually, it is official work. You may say, “Well, where is that?” Look at that verse again. He does not say, “I want you to allow me to go.” Read his words again, I ask that you send, he says, “You send me to go there and build it.” In other words, veiled way to say, “You send me on an official work of building that city. It's part of your kingdom. Do it.”

Next he is also implying paid, all the while I want to be paid. It's all there. It's all there, my friend. Leave or not really leave, official work add to all the while being paid for months and months. Thinking he could have stopped and said, “Well, do you think I can't detect your tact? Do you think I can’t see through all your smartness and cleverness? You can forget it.” He could have said that. But the favor of God is upon this man. That room was filled with the force called favor like oxygen is filling this room, the favor of God was filling the king's court I think, at that time. The next thing we read is, how was the king reacting. The king said to me and then we have a little interesting note the queen sitting beside here's a very interesting, where did that come from? Why is that, have you ever asked questions of the Bible like that? Why is that even there. He is talking about king and Nehemiah the whole while, suddenly the king said to me, and then in parenthesis, the queen is sitting right next to, I think it's there for a reason. Generally itself, perhaps women bring out the best in men. Men act their best in front of their wives, perhaps, should I put it like that, even though this man is a king in front of the queen he will show his good side more. He will think twice before being merciless before a poor guy, asking these things. I think purposely it is put there, The king is about to reply. This is the crucial moment. I mean, he can say, “Get lost. Get out of my court,” at this point. But the queen is sitting next to him.

What does the king say? How long will you be gone? It's like his hands... I don't know whether you can feel it. It's almost like his hands are tied. His queen is sitting next to him, he’s gotten himself into a bind here. How long will you be gone? When will you return? He really feels the loss of Nehemiah. He doesn't want to let Nehemiah go because he really likes him. And then Nehemiah responds and he gave him a time. We're not told how much time but it would’ve been many months. Like I told you, would have been many months and probably minimum he would have been gone for eight to nine months because he finished a wall in 52 days. Travel time is six months, finished a wall in 52 days was another miracle. The wall they could not build in 70 to 90 years he built it in 52 days. So anyway, the request is granted. It's almost like everything happens very silently. The king doesn't say request is granted. It just says it pleased the king to send me when I'd given a, okay. Everything has been okayed. Everything has been approved. What has been approved? The decree, prior decree has been reversed. The leave has been granted or rather the official work trip has been granted and he will be paid throughout. Actually the king appoints him as a governor. You read the story. I think you know the story. My father preached on it one week. The king actually appoints him as governor of the entire region of Judah and then says, “Go.” That's the appointment he gets. And if you read Nehemiah 5:14, he gets the privileges that a governor will get and he actually refuses to some of them and he says, “I don't want this.”

How did all this happen, my friend? The favor of God. Everybody say the favor of God. God's favor will give you whatever you ask. The most outrageous things you can ask also, God can give you. That is the power of His favor. Question is, how much can you ask? A lot of people would not have had the boldness and the cleverness, the wisdom to ask and the wisdom to ask in the way he asked, but my friend, all of that is the favor of God behind. Giving him the boldness, the wisdom and the tact, everything you see. God's favor will even cause decrees to be reversed and changed in your favor. Let me say that again. God's favor will cause national laws to be changed in your favor. This doesn't happen just once. You go to the story of Esther. Esther chapter 8. The king has already put the law and everything's on paper and by then Esther has already saved the Jewish people. But then the law is still there. So, Esther goes to, chapter 8, to the king and says, “Okay, you’ve saved the Jewish people from this terrible guy Haman. But now I want you to do something, change the law.” Change the... Cancel this law, put a new law, sign it and give it. The king does it for her. It didn't happen just one time, my friend. It has happened throughout history.

When the people of God have prayed and requested God for things such as these kind of great things it has happened. Even today, there are countries, there is one country in particular recently they changed their law. Before this, you could not practice your, you cannot be a Christian openly in that country. I don't want to mention the name. You could not be a Christian openly in that country. But now they've changed the law and said you can be. How did that happen? Did they just get modern all of a sudden? Secular as they say, more broad minded? No, no, no. A lot of people have been praying for that behind the scenes. People of God have been praying that you can practice openly, you can be a Christian in that country, you can preach the gospel and that prayer has been answered. The favor of God has come through in that situation changing national laws in the favor of God's people.  Have you had things like this happen to you. Decisions changed, reversed? It’s happened to me, I can't even say it. I can't really use it as an example. Things like this happen, my friend. Whatever you want, God's favor can give you. That's the force. That's the kind of power it has.

Exodus 33 verse 17, The Lord said to Moses, Exodus 33 verse 17, The Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” He says, this very thing. One translation says exactly what you have spoken I will do. God is telling Moses, “Whatever you say, I'll do.” He said… too much… “Because you have found favor in my sight.” God's favor will even get you leave, provided the leave has a purpose. Nehemiah didn't just take off on vacation for nine months and say, “God, I want the...,” No, no, no. He went to build the walls of God's city, the broken walls in God's place. He went to do something for God's kingdom. And for that, whatever need be, God will come through and grant it to him. No matter what God will move heaven and earth, change laws, turn everything upside down because this man is going to accomplish God's purpose, in God's place, for God's people. The key is the purpose must be aligned. What we want to do, what we are asking God, and God's purposes and God's plans, priorities should match up. When it matches up there is nothing that can stop you literally. There is nothing.

At this point, Nehemiah should have been very happy. The king granted him everything he wanted. He should’ve said, “Thank God, thank you king so much. Bye, bye.”  He should’ve just walked out of that court at that moment but he didn't. Do you know what he did? He's not done. Look at verse 7. He's not done. The king said, “Okay fine, go, done.” He's not done. He says I want some more king. Verse 7. I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me, to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah. He’s saying, “King I want a letter from you to guarantee safe passage all the way to Judah. 900 miles so far.” It's a passport, it's more than a passport. It's like a passport with guaranteed protection. It's like the king saying, “This is my man. I am sending him on official mission, dare not touch him.” Nobody will, they'll be scared. Otherwise any fellow can come do anything by the time he goes and reaches especially the guys who don't want the city wall to be built. They might hear the news and they might do something. So Nehemiah, thinks, he’s turned over all this prior to this itself and he's ready. He's not forgetting everything. He has the presence of mind. It's quite amazing to me and he says, “I want safe passage also.” “And I can understand that,” king says, “Okay,” but then he's not done.

He's still not done. Verse 8, he says, “I want one more letter.” What is this letter? Letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest. Why? That he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy. Now know he's gone way too far. I mean by this point if I was the king, I would’ve said, “Do you think I'm a fool? I was gracious to you. I gave you everything you asked. You're gone too far now. You've insulted my intelligence. Get out of my court.” He could have said, “I don't give you… nothing, get lost. For your arrogance, you should get...” I mean, Nehemiah’s saying, what is he asking? He's saying, “Give me,” He's saying, “Can you give me the safe passage? Give me the leave, paid leave, reverse the decree, all this and then you fund the project. You pay for the timber, for what is needed in the temple, what is needed in the city walls and, let me add just one more small thing, my house, my personal house, that's not a big deal. You give it from your own forest.” What did the king do? The last line verse 8 says, The king granted me what I asked for the good hand of my God was upon me. The Tamil says, the gracious hand of my God or the hand of favor of my God, avarudaiya dayavulla karam. God's gracious hand was upon me. It was also moving the king to shake his head, I think, and just say yes for everything. I think by this point if Nehemiah had asked for anything he would have given it. He was in that kind of  mesmerized state. Somehow he was just shaking his head, for everything he’s saying, “Okay do.” Everything, it's the favor of God. My friend that is a kind of power God's favor has, God can turn the heart of a king also in our favor.

He goes away verse 9, he doesn't just go with the letter, he goes with a cavalry. Verse 9, he came to the governors of the province Beyond the River gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. He sends him an escort, army escort, military escort to take him all the way safely. How did all this happen? Very clear. The gracious hand of God was upon Nehemiah. Before chapter two, we read, he says, God give me mercy in the sight of this man. Right at the end of verse eight we read, God's gracious hand was upon me. It's God's favor, everybody say it's God's favor. That's what happened, my friend. It happened, such amazing things happened. But don't forget it happened to the person in chapter one. The kind of person Nehemiah was we saw in chapter one. Such amazing things happened to this kind of a person. That's not an accident. That's not fluke. There is principles to be learned here. Without chapter one would chapter two have happened? It's foolish to even ask the question. It didn't happen that day. This happened only then that happened.

My friend, Nehemiah had a kind of spiritual life that is very superior, very mature. He had developed his love for God's people God's plans, God's purpose. He had a burning desire to fulfill God's purposes, build up God's kingdom. He had a prayer life. He had a life in the word that was very amazing.  He had a faith, an expectation and wisdom. His entire spiritual life was in a higher plane. I want you to see that. You cannot miss that. So perhaps today what we need is not just God's favor but also growth in our all-round spiritual life. When I see all this I can't help but say, “Lord, make me like Nehemiah. Make me like Nehemiah.” Let's all stand up. The God of Nehemiah is our God. He still alive. He's still doing the same things and sometimes the favor is waiting for us to grow up spiritually. The favor is waiting for us.

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