The Patient and Prepared Servant

The Patient and Prepared Servant

As you wait patiently, prepare for what God has in store for the next season in your life.

Well hey there everyone, my name is Trent Drye and I’m the Senior Pastor of China Grove First Baptist Church and welcome to our Sunday Morning Bible Study. I’m so grateful that you’ve decided to watch this. Whether you’re watching it on Sunday morning or later in the day or later in the week. Know that we welcome you and we’re glad that you are a part of this time together.

If you have your Bibles, let me invite you to Nehemiah, Chapter 2, Nehemiah Chapter 2 verses 1- 8.

We’re in the third week of our series Rebuild and Restore, a look at Nehemiah.  And as we keep walking through the historical book of Nehemiah, we’re seeing how God uses ordinary people like Nehemiah and like Ezra and like others to do extraordinary things.

The story started back in Nehemiah chapter one, of course, but it started as with the conversation.  Nehemiah is the Cup bearer to King Artaxerxes and one day his brother comes from Judah and this is a conversation that is gonna change Nehemiah’s life. It’s going to lead him to change course and to change direction.  You see, Nehemiah is a man who is passionate about following God.  He knows the Scriptures. He is faithful to the Lord, but he’s also a man who is passionate for God’s people. He has a passion for people.  And when he hears that the people of Judah are still in distress and after still helpless and in disgrace, he is heartbroken.  And in that moment, we see that Nehemiah’s passion for people aligns with God’s passion for people. Nehemiah’s purpose in life aligns with God’s purpose for his life. And he’s going to begin to prepare and to pray. And last week, we saw that prayer. We saw that his prayer consisted of a prayer of adoration, for he just focused his attention on God. He just praised God for who He was and for His covenants and for keeping His promises.

He then confessed his sins to God, ’cause revival cannot take place without the confession of sin. But it is God who we need to confess our sins to.  And then it was a prayer of supplication and intercession. He, he asked God, he prayed grant me success and grant me favor in the eyes of the King.

And so today we’re going to continue and pick up our story in Chapter 2 verses 1-8. And as we pick up the story, let me ask you a question. How many of you like to wait?  How many of you are really patient? Now, I know some patient people. I know there’s a lot of patient people out there, but I’m not one of ’em. I really struggle with patience.  I don’t like to wait in long lines, and in fact we were able to go to Disney on a family vacation last October, and we utilized those fast passes as much as possible.

In fact, if we didn’t have a fast pass and the line was really long it was very unlikely we’re going to get to ride that ride, ’cause I’m just not want to wait in long lines.  But there was one ride that I really wanted to experience. It was the new Star Wars ride and Galaxies Edge ’cause I’m a Star Wars fan. I love it. Even read the comic books and everything.  But I want to go ride Smuggler’s Run.  Well, we didn’t have a fast pass instead of what we decided we were going to wake up early. They had these early magic hours and so we woke up early and we were in the park by 6:00 AM and at 6:00 AM it was a 90-minute wait.  And I’m not a patient person.  So we didn’t wait.  We went and did something else, but it actually ended up really good ’cause me and my daughter got to ride Rockin’ Rollercoaster back to back to back, ’cause there was nobody in line for that. We could just walk right through and get right on and so it was a good experience. My daughter loved it and we had a a good time riding some of the other rides where they were short lines.  But I’m just not a patient person. I’m not someone who likes doing wait. Maybe you can relate to that.  Maybe you’ve had to wait on a spouse or on a family member.

Sunday mornings can be quite stressful for us because I’m usually ready before everybody and I’m ready to go and I have to wait. I’m getting better though I’m getting better at being patient. You know, I know there’s one couple who we know uh, the wife really likes, not not us, but there’s a couple of you know the wife really likes to talk and the husband demonstrates great patience because he’ll just go sit in the car put his hands on the steering wheel and he waits for as long as it takes, never says anything, he never gets impatient.  He just waits.

But you waiting and being unable to wait and having a lack of patience is certainly a reflection of our culture. We live in an instantaneous ‘we wanted our way and we want it now’ kind of culture. We have the fastest internet possible and you see it advertised over and over. You know we went from 3G to 4G. Now we have 5G for super-fast speed.  We used to get 5 megabytes. Now we can get 100 megabytes of download speed and so we just were living in this culture where waiting is just really hard. Amazon Prime get your package in two days instead of five days and that’s good ’cause I don’t like to wait. You know I order some books and I want them here quickly.

And so you know, we do that, and so sometimes. But for some people waiting is seen as a waste of time.  The old saying goes, why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?  But there are in in and that’s true in a lot of cases. But in some cases, waiting is not a waste of time it is an investment of time.  Because sometimes we must wait. Sometimes we have to wait for that position to open up at that job, sometimes we have to wait to hear back from our application to whether we got into that school or not?  Uh, sometimes we have to wait for this and wait for that. We don’t always have what we want instantaneously.  You see Nehemiah has a deep desire to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem to finish the work that was started 70 years ago.  But he can’t just jump right in. He’s gotta get permission from a from a king.  And to get permission from the king, he’s gotta ask the right question.  And he’s going to do it at the right time. And so he must wait.

But he doesn’t waste his time while he’s waiting, he invests it. He invest his time in preparation and in prayer. You see what Nehemiah is doing between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 is this. He is patiently prepared for God to open the right door at the right turn. He is patiently preparing for God to open the right door at the right time. That way when that door opens, he can boldly and courageously walk through that door. So this is where we pick up the story in Nehemiah Chapter 2:1-8

“In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and 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 are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid.  I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! 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?”  Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “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, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So, it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province beyond the river, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, 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.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.  Listen to those last words for the good hand of my God was upon me.”  Whew!

Let’s pray.  Father, we thank you for the Word of God.  May it help us to live the life You have called us to live.  Father, Grant us understanding this today so that we may apply this Word to our life.  We ask this in Jesus Name, amen.  Amen.

So if you remember back to chapter one, it was in the month of Kislev when Nehemiah’s brother shows up, and that’s the month of November or December. We’re now in the month of Nisan in Chapter 2, and that’s March or April. For four months, he waited for the Lord to open the right door at the right time.  So, we’re looking at a four-month timeframe where Nehemiah was serving the king.  Where he was having day in and day out with this broken heart. With this burden, he was having to go in and continuously do his job and to work, maybe even pretending nothing was wrong.

And so day in and day out he lived this life. But I imagine that every morning when he woke up, he prayed the same prayer.  Lord if today as the day opened the door and give me courage and boldness to walk through it. It wasn’t a waste of time for Nehemiah was doing something. See, he was waiting patiently and he was diligently preparing to walk through that door.  He was investing his time and things like prayer in preparation.

As we begin to see as you and I begin to see, the needs around us, and as God stirs in our hearts and opens our eyes, let’s be sure that we follow God’s timing. Yeah, let’s be sure that we don’t run ahead of what God wants us to do. It could be God said, hey, today is the day you know that lead I’ve revealed you?  Today’s the day to act.  But it could also be God says there needs to be a little bit in their prayer in a little bit more preparation.  So we have to be careful not to run ahead of God’s perfect timing. But we also have to be careful not to stay behind.  You know, we have to see the door open and we have to walk through it when it opens.

The way we see that door open is through prayer and preparation.  Listen.  Something that’s very real for you and I is you searched for 2 1/2 years for a pastor.  And you prayed and you prepared, and you sought after God, and you got ready for that door to be open. And and during that same 2 1/2 years guess what I was doing? I was praying and preparing for the right door to open at the right time. And when those doors opened for China Grove and for me, we just boldly and courageously knew that we could walk through that door because God was going to bring us together and use us to impact our communities. And so now we’re continuously praying and preparing for other doors to open that we can share the Gospel with our friends and our neighbors and our coworkers.

You know when we experience times of waiting, it can be frustrating.  And there’s some things that I hold tight to in the Word of God. Ruth 3:18 says “wait my daughter until you learn how the matter turns out.”  Sometimes we have to wait.  Or Psalms 46 “be still and know that I am God.”  Sometimes you have to be still and say you know what?  God your God I’m not.  When the time is right.  You will let me know.

Psalm 27:14 “wait for the Lord. Be strong, let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”  If you’re waiting on something today, let me just to encourage you to wait with faith.  Trusting God’s plan and God’s purpose.  As you wait patiently prepare for what God has in store for the next season in your life.

You know the last 6 months have been incredibly stressful for a lot of people. For churches, for businesses, for individuals.  And we’ve been waiting for this pandemic to end.  We’ve been waiting for life to return back to some sense of normalcy.  And as we wait, we need to prepare.  Because on the other side of this pandemic, I believe we’re going to be great opportunities to do some amazing work for the Kingdom of God.  In fact I think those opportunities are already starting to present themselves.  I believe this pandemic has taught the church many lessons.  And during a season where we weren’t as active as we would like to be, we have prayed and we have prepared for what God wants us to do on the other side of our circumstances. And as we began to get to that time, let us be ready to boldly and courageously walk through those doors.

Let us pray for new ideas, let us seek new ways to reach new people.  Let us seek God’s vision in God’s direction for the future as God rebuilds and restores not just a nation, but the world.  So when the door is open, be ready to walk through it and be ready by patiently preparing and praying.

So we also see that Nehemiah boldly walked through the door when it was open.  This day was very much different than any other day of the last four months. We’re unsure exactly what made it different. Maybe it was his burden was so great that he just could not hide his sorrow anymore.  One commentator points this out. He says that Persian Kings regularly had special feasts.  At certain feasts in the year, the Persian King, which shows special generosity.  The feasts may have been related to the New Year since Nisan is the first month of the Persian calendar. Now Nehemiah would have known this so it’s quite possible this was a New Year’s celebration and that Nehemiah news that came with the extra generous and so again Nehemiah had waited on God to reveal the right time in the right way to request of the king that he go rebuild the walls.

Now this was a huge risk that he took. I mean, King Artaxerxes would have not wanted to be around any Debbie Downers. He would have been insulated from unhappy people. He would have been insulated from sick people, depressed people. These dictator type kings want to be happy all the time and the people who worked for him wanted him to be happy ’cause an unhappy King means bad things. OK, so Nehemiah was taking a huge risk by showing sadness.

So, think about this, the King also says you don’t appear to be sick.  Now what is the Cup bearer?  Nehemiah tastes the wine before handing it to the King. If Nehemiah would have been sick the King would not have wanted to drink that wine. And so the King’s very observant. He’s very on-guard. OK, you’re the cupbearer and my life is in your hands.  Why are you looking so sad?

Maybe in the King’s minds he’s thinking “are you plotting against me?”  Have you turned on me Nehemiah?  Why do you look so sad?  To see for Nehemiah, this was the door.  The door was cracked just a little bit.  And so Nehemiah’s response to this is just so fantastic. First of all, he he’s afraid. Well, that’s a natural response.  We can pray and we can prepare and we can wait. But when that door opens, it’s natural for us to experience fear.  And it’s OK for us to be fearful ’cause sometimes walking through that door means leaving our comfort zone.  Sometimes walking through that door means changing something.

That can be hard, and that can be scary. Sometimes walking through that door means we are risking persecution; we’re risking rejection remaining be risking our own life like Nehemiah was. If this goes badly, then Nehemiah could lose his life.

One thing we also know is if you read an Ezra 4, Artaxerxes is the King who ordered the construction that was taking place in Jerusalem to be stopped.  Now later on he would change his mind and the temple would be finished.  Nehemiah would have known that Artaxerxes has shown hostility to the Jewish people in the past.

So I wonder what his mood is going to be on this day. But even though he is afraid, Nehemiah faithfully and courageously and boldly, I might add, responds and walks through the door. You see, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to walk through the door even though you are afraid.

His second response is this. He affirms his allegiance to the King, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. He probably has a friendship with the King.  He and the King have worked closely together.  He says “King live forever.”  This also shows his passion for other people. He doesn’t really harm to come to the King. He doesn’t want the King to be overthrown or killed. “He says King live forever.”  This also put the King’s mind at ease ’cause I’m not trying to overthrow you, I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m just sad.  I want you to live forever. In fact, I would need you to live forever ’cause I need your help.

And so then his third response, as he gives an explanation.   He explained that his people where his father is and where his family is buried or still helpless and living in disgrace because the walls are still broken down.  He says, why should I not be sad? My cities in ruins.

And then the door that was maybe cracked is getting ready to fly wide open ’cause the King responded, “what do you want?”  What do you want?   And I love what happens after that.  Nehemiah said a quick prayer. He prayed.

You ever had those moments where you just gotta say these quick prayers. The first thing he did before he went into great detail about what I believe is a prepared response is he prayed.  He shows he is completely dependent upon God almighty to have the right words. He is completely dependent on God to move in the heart of this King to grant him permission to do what needs to be done.  He prayed.

You know, there have been times in my life where people have asked me questions or I’ve had opportunities to share the Gospel and I’ve had to say these quick prayers and as opportunities come your way, rely on God and say a quick prayer.  Nehemiah probably, we don’t know exactly what he prayed, but it may have went something like this, “God here’s the door I’ve been waiting for. Give me the words.   Give me the passion.  And Father grant may success.  Move this King’s heart so I can accomplish what you have called me to do.”

Last week I shared with you a quote from Hudson Taylor. I’ll summarize it today, but I said that through prayer God can move men. And this week we see that truth play out. God had worked in the heart of this secular King and at the right time God’s servant makes the right request.

And we notice the fifth response is he had a prepared request. As you read all of this, you see that he had a plan already in place. He had the time frame for the project already set. He requested the appropriate resources. He asked for letters so that he could have safe passage. He asked for letters to get the timber that he needed. You see the door opened and he boldly and courageously with faith walked right through it.

When the door opens, do not be caught off guard brothers and sisters.  Be ready. Be ready.  1 Peter 3:15, “but in your Hearts Honor Christ, the Lord’s holy always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason, for the hope that is in you and do it with gentleness and respect.” Always be ready to tell people your story. Always be ready to share the Gospel.  Always be ready for those Divine appointments in your life.

2 Timothy 4:2 “preach the word. Be ready to do it whether it is convenient or inconvenient, correct comfort, and encouraged. With patience and instruction.”  Be ready to share the Gospel and preach the Word of God, even if it’s convenient or inconvenient. And you may be thinking well, I’m not a preacher.  Well, you might not be called to stand on a stage and preach to crowds of people. But everyone is commissioned to be a disciple to make disciples.   Everyone is commanded to go share and spread the Gospel.  And you may not know how to do that. I hope as we do ministry together, we’re able to equip each other and to encourage each other and to learn how to do that together.

But I can tell you an easy way is to share your story.  Be prepared to tell people how God has changed your life.  Be prepared to say you know, I was a sinner.   God saved me from my sins through faith alone by grace alone in Jesus Christ. And so we need to be prepared to tell people about the love of Christ. We have to be ready to share our stories.  So when the time is right know that God has gone before us and He is with us and He will grant us success.

You know that too. What is the last words of the Great Commission?   “Lo, I am with you always.”  We are not called to do this by ourselves.   We have a helper, the Holy Spirit, to empower us enable us to share our stories who will give us the words we need.  ‘Cause look in verse eight of Nehemiah, Chapter 2.  The gracious Hand of my God was upon me.  The gracious Hand of God was upon me.   And the King granted my request.

You see Nehemiah was prayed up, he was prepared and he was faithful and God did the work. Listen God’s got a job for all of us to do. We just need to be faithful servants.  We need to use the gifts in the talents that He has given us to faithfully and courageously and boldly walk through every door that God opens for us.

And so, as we wait for that job to open up or as we wait for that position.  As we wait for that opportunity to share the Gospel let us prepare and let us pray.    Let us wait for the right door to be open at the right time. Church of China Grove, let us pray and prepare for the day that God opens a door for us to impact our community with the Gospel.  That door may be open today. It could be open tomorrow, maybe it was open last week. We just gotta walk through it. God said, it’s time to go. Let’s go.

But if God says wait then let us pray and let us prepare.  As we come to the end of this COVID pandemic, let us prepare for this ministry to be a little different. Let us prepare for the church to be called upon to do new things, all in the Name of Jesus Christ, all with the goal of spreading with the Gospel to the nations as God rebuilds and restores a people.

So today we patiently prepare for God to open the right door at the right time. We need to be ready to act because that door could be open at any time.  Let me share with this. There may be another door opening for you today.   Today my God maybe open the door for you to come into a relationship with Him.   Today the door of Salvation maybe is open. See today. God may be saying I’m ready to change your heart.   I’m ready to have a relationship with you. I’m ready to restore you. You’ve been living life searching for answers.  You’ve been looking for a way to rebuild your life and to restore the hope. The only restoration can be found in Jesus Christ.  Today could be the day that you’re called to make Him the Lord of your life.

If you would like more information on how to have a relationship with Jesus, there will be some information at the end of this message. Please reach out to us. Visit our website.   We would love to communicate with you and disciple you and help you grow in your relationship with God.

But maybe today you feel called to walk through a door that’s been open.   Well, respond in prayer and say “God, I’m gonna walk through it. I’m gonna walk through it.”  Go walk through it.

So today, let us patiently prepare for God to open the right door at the right time and let us boldly, courageously, and with faith. Walk through the door when it is open.

God Bless.