Stiffed-necked…that’s quite a word picture in my head! When your neck is immobilized by a cervical collar, you can’t swivel your head independently without moving your whole body also… for you lack the flexibility and capacity to turn. When we’re stiff-necked towards God, we’re unwilling to turn away from sin…refusing to listen and heed His Word.
We humans have such short memories. When life is going well…we put God in the corner – kind of like disaster insurance…there just in case we need it. And when we get ourselves in trouble, we call out to Him for help…only to quickly forget again when life quiets down. This roller coaster ride isn’t what God desires for us. He wants to be our focus in good times and bad…in happiness and sadness…in calm and chaos.
The Words of the Lord are powerful. They convict and lay bare the sin in our life and cause Godly sorrow. This Godly sorrow leads to brokenness and repentance. For every time we listen to the Word being spoken, it’s an opportunity for the Lord to change us.
The Israelites had gathered together and asked Ezra to read the Law. Many had never heard the reading of the Word, for they had been born and raised in Babylonian captivity. The Lord had been faithful in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem…He had miraculously aided them in rebuilding the crumbled walls…but now it was time to rebuild His people. The Lord is wanting to rebuild His people again…to reclaim, restore, and re-establish Believers for His glory. Now is the time for you to break off the chains of captivity and allow God to begin a new rebuilding project in you.
In only 52 days the wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt, securing it from enemy attack. Despite everything their enemies attempted to do to dissuade and intimidate them, the wall was made strong. In less than 2 months time, the people of Jerusalem had done something of super-human ability… and their enemies realized this. Nothing will ever stand in the way of God’s plan…not people…not circumstances…not anything. And this will render the enemy fearful and in awe of God’s great power.
Prayer is good…action is good, but the Lord wants us to do both together in wisdom. In Nehemiah 4: 8-9 it says, “They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to met this threat.” Prayer will give you God’s vision. It will give you courage and resolve to move out in discernment and a clearer understanding of the problem you face. Prayer is good…action is good, but they need to go hand in hand to be the most effective.
King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he wanted…but before he responded, Nehemiah prayed. It could be called an “as we go” prayer. This type of supplication doesn’t need to be long… just the length of a deep breath. It doesn’t need to be in depth…a simple “Give me wisdom, Lord!” will suffice. The Lord is with us always…His presence there in the middle of all situations…so why don’t we take a moment to seek His guidance before blurting out something we may later regret.