January 8, 2023
Impacting Our World Means Acknowledging the Problems Around Us
Nehemiah - “In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’” (Nehemiah 1:1-3)
If anyone ever had big problems, it was Nehemiah. Here’s some background information: In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem - he destroyed the walls and gates of the city, he obliterated the temple, and he carried most of the Jews away to Babylon. Jerusalem was left completely vulnerable to attacks from the outside. Later, the Persians overthrew the Babylonians. King Darius of Persia allowed some Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple under the leadership of Zerubabel. In 445 BC, 141 years after Jerusalem was demolished by the Babylonians, Nehemiah, a Jewish man who served King Artaxerxes of Persia, heard about the deplorable conditions of his city. To make matters worse, Artaxerxes had already decreed that any improvements to the city of Jerusalem were to cease. Even if Nehemiah was able to convince the King to reverse his decree (which Persian kings were not known to do), he would still have to get to Jerusalem, provide all of the necessary materials, convince the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem to go along with his plans, and then oversee the work. Nehemiah had big problems.
We also have big problems in our day - in our city, in our church, and in our culture. People everywhere are struggling with broken lives, broken hearts, broken homes, and broken dreams. We supposedly live in a Christian nation, but almost 200 people a day die from drug overdose. Rape is our nation’s fastest growing crime. The pornography industry is growing rapidly. Crime and murder are rampant in our nation. More than 60,000 teens have died of suicide in the past decade. More than 50% of marriages end in divorce. Children everywhere are growing up feeling unloved, uncared for, and unwanted. These are big problems.
Sometimes hearing about all of the problems around us makes us want to throw up our hands and quit. Like Nehemiah, the problems around us seem so insurmountable that we don’t know where to start. Fortunately, we can learn from his example. In Nehemiah’s own words, “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4) What did Nehemiah do when he faced these problems? He acknowledged the problems, then he mourned, prayed, and fasted over the situation. When we are faced with great problems, we should also acknowledge the problems before us, then give ourselves time to mourn, fast, and pray. It’s not just the least we can do - It’s actually the most.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Make a list of 3-5 problems in our city, church, and culture. Add those items to your prayer list, then seriously pray over each item. If you’re leading your family through this prayer and fasting emphasis, come to an agreement about which 3-5 problems in our city, church, and culture you will focus on. Then, add them to your family prayer list and pray over each item.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me to be concerned with the problems in my city, church, and culture. Help me to acknowledge what’s happening and then bring my concerns to You.In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Today is Day One of our 14 Days of Prayer and Fasting. To request a prayer partner or to download our prayer and fasting guide, see celebrationchurch.org/prayerfasting