HOLY AUDACITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Nehemiah 2:1-8 1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid, 3and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” 4Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”
Overall Background: Nehemiah, as you remember, was not a prophet nor a priest nor a king but an ordinary man who gave up a wonderful career to go and help his people. He asked when it wasn’t his problem; he wept when it wasn’t his suffering; he fasted and prayed when it wasn’t his need. In short, Nehemiah cared when he didn’t have to.
Application: What our world/nation/community needs are more Nehemiahs – men, women, boys, and girls who will ask when they don’t have to, weep when they don’t have to, fast and pray when they don’t have to, and care when they don’t have to. In fact, we are never more like God than when we care about others when we don’t have to. Nehemiah was a type of Jesus Christ. Jesus came when He didn’t have to. He fasted and prayed when He didn’t have to. He wept when He didn’t have to. He gave His life for us when He didn’t have to. We are never more like Christ than when we care about the lost and the hurting.
But Nehemiah did not stop there. Asking, weeping, fasting, and praying are very important but they are not enough. There is also a time for bold action. Nehemiah was not content to sit back and hear about the suffering of the people in Jerusalem. He decided to do something about it. He had what I like to call a HOLY AUDACITY.
Application: This morning, God doesn’t want us to just be asking Christians or weeping Christians or fasting and praying Christians. He wants us to be Christians who have a holy audacity. He wants us to be Christians who are willing to step out of our comfort zones and trust God to do the impossible.
This morning I want us to look at the example of Nehemiah and learn how to have Holy Audacity.
I. IT TAKES TIME.
1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king.
Background: The month of Nissan is April in the Jewish calendar. If you remember, the story of Nehemiah begins with the month of Chislev, which is December. This means that about 4 months passed between the time when Nehemiah asked about the plight of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and the time he talked to the king. Four months before Nehemiah could muster the courage to do something about his burden for the Jewish people. 4 months before he could take a step of Holy Audacity.
Often I hear messages on how we need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to be careful about that. Sometime it takes time to develop the courage we need to obey God. Remember: It took Moses 40 years to have the courage to go back to Egypt and stand before Pharaoh; it took Hannah year after year waiting until she finally received a child. Jesus was 30 years old before He began His ministry.
Charles Stanley said, “Waiting is one of the more difficult things in the Christian life. However, it is never wasted time. God teaches us His path, changes our circumstances, keeps us in step with Himself, prepares us for His answers, and uses times of waiting to sift our motives and strengthen our faith.”
For e.g. Many years ago when I was wrestling with what God wanted me to do, I actually prayed to God that He would give me the right convictions and the courage to go with them. He did but it did not happen overnight. It took months and years to have the courage to stand up for the truth. God used His Word, people, and circumstances.
Application: This morning, ask God to give you this Holy Audacity. Rest in His perfect timing. He always finishes the work he starts in our life. Sometimes it is not enough to weep and pray. It is also important to wait and pray.
Holy Audacity takes time.
II. IT INVOLVES RISKS.
1And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.
Background: For four months Nehemiah had covered his emotions very well. At first, it was not a big deal but day-by-day it became worse and worse. Finally, there was that day when Nehemiah went before the king and he was no longer his old self.
Background: Persian kings were very finicky. They were not very tolerant of someone walking in their presence with a sad face. In fact, historians tell us that those who came into the king’s presence had to place their right hand over their mouth so they wouldn’t defile the king with their breath. These Persian kings did not take insults very lightly. Just a side note, crucifixion was not invented by the Romans. Persians came up with that.
What was Nehemiah’s reaction when the king asked him why he was sad? So I became dreadfully afraid,
Background: Literally it means “a terrible fear came over me.” He was gripped with sudden panic. Do you blame him?
Whenever someone steps out in Holy Audacity, there is a risk involved. Sometimes it is our very life, sometimes it is our career, sometimes it is our security.
For e.g. Moses—if you go back to Egypt, they will kill you. Paul—if you go to Jerusalem, they will kill you. Wesley—if you preach outside the parish, you will be ejected from the church. His answer – “The whole world is my parish.”
For e.g. We are building a new building when the economy is down—how can you do that? What if people don’t give? What if it doesn’t work out? I’ve heard it all. Several times in my ministry, I have woken up with a cold sweat.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Application: Do you want to have Holy Audacity? Ask God to help you take some risks.
Holy Audacity takes time; Holy Audacity involves risks.
III. IT REQUIRES FAITH IN GOD.
3and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”
Background: Nehemiah could have lied and said he was sick. He could have cracked a few jokes and amused the king. He could have panicked and ran out and gotten killed. Instead, he tells the truth. Remember, he was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Bill Bright said “The longer I fasted, the more my faith soared and the more I sensed the presence of the Lord.”
Application: Let me ask you again—are you fasting and praying? You say—“I cannot afford to fast and pray.” You cannot afford not to fast and pray.
For e.g. Last week I was talking to someone about the building project that it had been long time coming and they said—“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” So true!
If Holy Audacity was easy, everybody would be doing it.
What is the result? 4Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”
Listen to the next line: So I prayed to the God of heaven.
What do you think Nehemiah prayed at that point? This was not a long drawn out prayer. Some people try to hide behind prayer. He’s already fasted and prayed before God for many days. I can tell you what that prayer was. “Thank You Lord! God—you are indeed alive and well! God—nothing is too difficult for you!” As Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” His faith shot up to the sky!
Listen to Nehemiah’s request: 5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him) (Meaning: Nehemiah adds that detail to tell us that he was not making up this story. The Queen was there as a witness), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
The point is – Nehemiah’s Holy Audacity did not shock the king. It impressed him and the queen. He granted Nehemiah his request.
Application: What is it in your life that you feel will never happen? Are you willing to trust God with it? Have you fasted and prayed before God? Have you stepped out in Holy Audacity to see what God will do for you? Are you trying to hide behind payer? This is not just about the church building. It is also about your life, career, relationship, future, etc.
Holy Audacity takes time; it involves risks; it requires faith in God.
IV. IT BRINGS GLORY TO GOD.
7Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.”
Background: Nehemiah sees God’s hand upon him. So he asks for more. Letters for safe conduct, timber for the gates, the city walls, and his house. As our faith increases we begin to ask more and more for God’s glory. What Jerry Falwell used to call the BHAG – a “big hairy audacious goal.” He would often ask, “What would you do for God if you were sure you couldn’t fail?”
And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.
What tremendous confidence comes when we realize that God’s hand is upon us!
Application: You ask—“what can I do to have this confidence?” Should I take some special classes? Should I do extreme sports? Should I put myself in dangerous situations? All that may help but there is something else you already have that is more than just God’s hand upon you. It is the Spirit of the Lord in you.
When you start walking according the Spirit, you will be like the disciples of the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. It turned a bunch of cowering, fearful disciples into bold and fearless witnesses of the Resurrected Christ. That’s what our church, community, and nation needs—Holy Audacity.