The great commission is a central part of being a Christian and being a part of the local church. Although sharing your faith may be intimidating, and you may feel as qualified as the last kid picked for the kickball team at recess, God has chosen and equipped you with truth and His Spirit.
Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1-11) was the most unlikely person to be a part of God’s plan to restore Jerusalem’s walls.
- Nehemiah was not a builder.
- He was living in Susa, isolated from his people.
- He lived in luxury and was removed from his people’s struggles.
- He is serving a gentile King who destroyed their capital city (Jerusalem).
Yet God had plans for him!
When a Jewish man named Hanani came to see Nehemiah to update him on the state of Jerusalem and the people, Nehemiah was distraught and moved to action.
But it could be viewed as a treasonous act for Nehemiah to be a part of restoring the city his boss destroyed and cost him his life.
And I wonder if Hanani or those returning to Jerusalem questioned Nehemiah’s commitment to God because he served Artaxerxes, the Babylonian King.
I knew a Christian guy back in the day who shared how some in his church thought his wife should quit her job as an executive assistant at a beer brewing company. They questioned her faith in God for working in an ungodly environment.
What if ungodly organizations are that way because godly people have abandoned them?
In John 17, Jesus prays not that God would remove His disciples from the world but to keep them from the evil one. So if you find yourself as the only Christian in your workplace, family, or neighborhood, that may be right where God wants you to be to bring hope to those without Him.
God intentionally places His followers in uncomfortable positions, even unholy environments, to be a catalyst of change. I wonder if people judged the likes of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel, and Esther for their service to gentile Kings?
My environment does not diminish my holiness. If God cannot keep us holy in an unholy environment, then what value is holiness? I’m holy because God makes me holy. I walk in holiness by obeying His commands.
My environment may make living holy more challenging, but it does not lessen my holiness. Titles and positions are talents we are responsible for stewarding before God.
- Shadrach Meshach and Abednego used their position to take a stand for God, and God showed up.
- Daniel remained faithful to God in His position, and God rescued him from the lion’s den, and Yahweh was exalted above all gods!
- Esther used her position, and God saved the Hebrews from extermination.
Just as these learned, we cannot fulfill God’s purposes for our lives or His church in our strength. That’s why they and we need to fast and pray!
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that produces supernatural results. To fast is to dedicate and consecrate yourself to God, marked by sacrifice.
As Nehemiah fasted, God opened the door for his return to Jerusalem and gave him favor with the King, who provided every resource needed to accomplish his task.
Nehemiah’s fasting removed obstacles that may have delayed God’s plans and opened doors that looked impossible.
The Bible discloses many reasons for fasting, and here are five of them.
#1 Up Against All Odds!
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced unbeatable odds. Surrounded by three armies, he is outnumbered and overmatched.
So he calls for a nationwide fast. All the people fasted, and God supernaturally delivered them from three armies who should have annihilated them.
#2 Fading Passion for God.
In 1 Samuel 6, the people strayed from God and turned to idols. An idol is anything we turn to that replaces the role of God in our life. The prophet Samuel confronts them, and the people repent.
They rededicate themselves with prayer and fasting, and God revives their first love for Him.
#3 Are You in Need of Wisdom?
In Judges 20, the Israelites are distraught and need wisdom from God. They have taken matters into their own hands and are suffering greatly. So they gathered to fast and pray, and God answered them.
#4 Overcome by Temptation.
Fasting puts a buffer between you and temptation. This was an example from Jesus’ life as He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, according to Matthew 4.
Immediately following His fast, Satan came to tempt Him. Although His physical body was weak, His spirit was supercharged as He overcame the temptations.
#5 To Do God’s Will.
Nehemiah knew that the walls of Jerusalem must be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the broken walls left the temple exposed and the city vulnerable and weak.
But the obstacles before him were significant, and he needed God’s intervention to accomplish this feat. So he fasted and prayed, and the walls were rebuilt in record time!
Jesus made a subtle but profound statement about fasting in Matthew 6:16.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Did you catch it? “And WHEN you fast,” not “IF you fast.” Fasting is to be a regular part of our spiritual discipleship.
Fasting harmonizes God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven. Fasting removes walls limiting His presence and power in our lives and churches.
Start 2023 by tearing down barriers in the spiritual realm impeding God’s promises and purposes in the natural!