Having read and listened to many sermons and podcasts about Nehemiah, I felt somewhat familiar with his story. That is, until I was tasked with writing something about what (in this book) speaks to me. I read it again. I prayed, read commentary, prayed some more and asked God to reveal to me what He wanted me to learn from Nehemiah. The same verse kept coming back to me. The verse was like an itch just out of my reach. I needed to stretch a little farther to scratch it.
The Book of Nehemiah opens with his brother and his friends telling him about the state of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah heard this his response is exactly what we need to do when we receive troubling news. He wept and for a period of time he mourned, fasted and prayed to God. He poured his heart out on behalf of God’s people and asked God for favor as he prepared to make a request of the king.
Please take a few minutes and read Nehemiah 1:1-11.
Before moving on, did you notice his prayer has all the right components: praise, thanksgiving, repentance, specific request, and commitment. Nehemiah’s heart was right (faith and conviction), his attitude was right (commitment and concern) and he was available to serve God (consistent and competent).
“At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.” Neh. 1:11b NRSV
What is a cupbearer? The responsibility of a cupbearer was to taste (for quality, poison or both), carry, and serve wine to his master. In Nehemiah’s case, a cupbearer for the king was not only a personal servant but also a trusted confidant and advisor. It was a position of great responsibility, power, and honor in the Persian Empire. In spite of Nehemiah’s influential position he was incredibly humble.
So what about this last line in verse 11 is making me itch? Is he saying, “I am concerned about Jerusalem.”? (At finger tips, almost got it…) “I am in a position to do something. The king trusts me.” (A little farther down…) “I am going to ask the king if I can go to Jerusalem to rebuild it.” (Almost…) But why? Because Nehemiah’s foremost desire was to serve God by helping His people. (Ahhhh, got it. Stay there.)
Okay, where am I going with all this?
As followers of Jesus, we have many opportunities to serve God, regardless of where we are in life. We may not necessarily have to leave all our other responsibilities, like Nehemiah. However, we can learn valuable lessons from studying his life. The man went from being a cupbearer for the King of Persia to being a cupbearer for the King of Kings!
Some moments I have no idea what I am doing (like right now) as a wife and mom and “wanna-be” writer. I believe 100% that there is a place for all of us in God’s work. How else would a cupbearer become governor of Judah?
Fill in the blank “at this time, I am a _____________.”
We’d love to hear from you! Reply to this post and let us know how we can pray for you at this time.
For more, you may enjoy listening to our Bible study on the book of Nehemiah. Tune in to your favorite radio station, listen to our podcast on iTunes, or listen through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio. You can also listen on our website where you will find the study guide available for download too.