By J.D. Davis
Senior Pastor, Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, OH
Focal Passage: Nehemiah 2:1-8; 17-18
Just a few weeks ago, we wrapped up the Lottie Moon missions emphasis. Like me, you probably had updates, weeks of prayer, and times of giving as we sought to support the work being done around the globe by Southern Baptist missionaries. It is a vital work that needs our support. This week we begin a new study of the book, Nehemiah, and the focus upon the work God has for Nehemiah to do.
As you read through the lesson, you will see how God stirs Nehemiah’s heart and meets the cup bearer’s needs in various ways. However, I was struck by three verses and how they could point to the work we are called to do.
In verse 3 we read about Nehemiah’s reaction after he heard of the deplorable condition in Jerusalem. He states “Why should I not be sad … ?” When was the last time the deplorable spiritual conditions of someone’s life affected you emotionally? Sometimes we get so insulated in our church world we forget about millions of people in Tennessee who live every day in spiritual darkness. That should make us sad. But it should do more than that, it should motivate us to action.
In verse 5 Nehemiah made a simple request, “If it pleases the king … .” Nehemiah was developing a plan, or more importantly God was developing a plan in the heart and mind of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was not content to just feel sad, he was prepared to do something about it. The approval of the king was his first step into action.
Years ago I heard a preacher encourage a church to talk to God about people before talking to people about God. Prayer is a vital part of evangelism, for without the blessing of the King of kings, our work lacks His power. How much time do you spend praying for the unsaved in your neighborhood, family, at work, or at school. These are not the nameless masses in some far away country. These are your friends and family members. Your first step of action is to pray for them and ask God to begin to work in their hearts and lives.
Finally, in verse 18 Nehemiah tells the workers in Jerusalem, “how the gracious hand of my God has been on me. …” Your testimony is one of the most powerful witnessing tools you have. Your story of how “God’s gracious hand” has been upon you is personal, emotional, factual, and it pleases the King.
One of the best definitions of evangelism I know is this: “Evangelism is introducing your friends to your best friend Jesus.” Your testimony is your story of how you met Jesus and provides the base for helping others know how they can meet Him too.
Supporting Lottie Moon and other missions work is important and vital. However, you are called to be a missionary right where you are. Nehemiah never expected the task of serving God to take him from cup bearer for the Persian king to city developer for dilapidated Jerusalem, but that is what happened to him. In the end, the physical rebuilding of Jerusalem was secondary to the spiritual reconstruction of a nation who needed to draw close to God.
God wants to use you right where you are to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and you can do it. You can do it if it will stir your heart. You can do it if it will motivate you to action. You can do it if you will tell your story of how you met Jesus. You can do it.
— Davis is senior pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, Ohio.