NOTE: I write a daily devotional and I have decided to publish on my blog a series I will be writing on the Book of Nehemiah; this is the first installment. After all, this is called “Salt and Light”.
Last night as I was reading the first chapter in the Book of Nehemiah I realized the first thing that made him unique among men. When calamitous news was brought to him, he immediately turned to God. The uniqueness of Nehemiah’s actions is that man usually turns inward or outward to anyone other than God. Not so with Nehemiah:
“…I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, ‘The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.’ So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:2b-4)
I have never sat down, wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed for my country. I pray constantly for my country, but my distress does not manifest itself in weeping, mourning, and fasting. And when I pray I do not start my prayer out:
“…please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.” (Nehemiah 1:6)
I ashamedly admit that when I have prayed for my country I have never confessed the sins of the nation, my family, and me. What this makes me realize is I do not come before God with a humble heart. I realize I am a sinner but it seems that when I pray for America, I too often pray for her rescue and not her revival. I do not confess:
“We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:7)
As Christians we lament the societal corruption sweeping across the land and too often we leave ourselves out of playing a part of the demoralization of America. If we are not being salt and light; if we are not sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we are part of the problem. When we do not witness we commit the sin of silence and when we partake in the worldliness of our society we commit the sin of concurrence.
I also realize that when I pray I do not call on God’s Word as a reminder of His covenants:
“Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9)
Finally, if I am to pray for our people I must pray asking God to be attentive to me. I can only ask this of Him knowing I have confessed and repented of my sins and sought forgiveness for my nation’s sins. Then I can boldly claim:
“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:11)
I have been approaching America’s woes in totally the wrong way. I have not sought God’s will; I came up with my 3R plan and did not even seek God’s guidance much less His blessing. I just assumed I knew better. I was wrong. I forgot Solomon’s words:
“Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established…A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:3,9)
It is time for me to turn things around in my life.
What about you?
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