Tuesday, October 24, 2006

[twbowes-devotions] Devotion: Willing to do the Big Stuff

Willing to do the Big Stuff

And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant that I now pray before You day and night for the people of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against You. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make My name dwell there.' They are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who delight to fear Your name, and give success to Your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." Now I was cupbearer to the king. -- Nehemiah 1:5-11; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

I like people who think big. Have you ever thought about the person that came up with the first plan to build a bridge across a river or a canyon? Every body, to that point, had always traveled around things, but then some person says, "I'm going OVER it!" All their friends said, "You are a nut! It's impossible!" Some way, some how, it was accomplished.

I'd have to imagine, and there is NO proof, that this person's first bridge was a log or a rock thrown across a creek. Perhaps it's the idea of I CAN DO SOMETHING that begins the thought, "If I can do that, I can do more!" I don't know, but I think about it a lot.

I'm a big idea guy. I like big ideas. I chase after them. Do you?

When I was a little baby Christian God used Nehemiah to teach me how to REALIZE big dreams. Before I just thought them. Now, I do them! Here's what I learned.

The first thing I learned was actually the last thing in the passage above; Nehemiah says, I was cupbearer to the king. What's the big deal with that? In context, Nehemiah is simply saying that he had opportunity to be in the presence of the king and may have opportunity to speak to him. It's an honest admission from Nehemiah that he is nothing particularly special, but he's around special people and he is asking God to let him tap into other people's influence. It's Nehemiah saying, "Help me have opportunity and to have the wisdom and Your favor to take advantage of those opportunities." It's as if Nehemiah was saying he couldn't do it, but if God would use him then he would be willing. So, that's the first thing I learned; God, I am willing to be used, even if I am only a country boy from Podunk, NC.

The second, and MOST important, thing I learned was that Nehemiah KNEW it all depended on God. Take a slow read back through that passage and do your best to notice how many time Nehemiah evoked God's name, His history with Israel, His power, and His plans. Nehemiah was calling, pleading, begging God to become involved again. The restoration of Jerusalem and the people would be a gargantuan task. Nehemiah KNEW he would need God. That's key to doing anything big, or anything big that is actually worthwhile. We need God to actually do it; we simply have to be willing to be used and let Him have His way.

The third thing that smacked me upside my head was the reason Nehemiah wanted to do something big; it's motive that I'm talking about. His motive was selfless. Nehemiah says, "Give me success that YOUR name may dwell in Jerusalem again" (my paraphrase of parts of verses 11 and 9). That's brave, but that's right. It's all about God. Doing IMPORTANT big stuff isn't about us. The moment it becomes about us it is immediately a failure.

The fourth, and final, thing I noticed was Nehemiah quoting of Moses' words in his prayer. In that quotation Nehemiah was recognizing that Israel had broken the charge to keep My commandments and do them. Here is a big thing to do big stuff; OBEY GOD! Know AND live His commands.

So, yes, I like big ideas. I'm after them too. I've learned a lot from Nehemiah, and today's examples are the tip of the iceberg. Recap: (1) be willing, no matter how small I am; (2) let God do it through me and trust God to do it; (3) the big thing has to be about HIS glory; (4) obey Him. That's good stuff.

For His glory. That's it.

Lord, give ME success for YOUR glory. I AM willing to tackle the big stuff. Help me depend on You. Help me be obedient. I am not afraid; You are with me. Thanks.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
Tim Bowes
Romans 12:1-2

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