Some of the gifts from Christmas are still sitting under our tree. They are no longer enveloped by beautifully colored paper. They are not waiting for their bright ribbons and bows to be untied. And their tags have long revealed their donor’s intended recipient.
Taking a closer look at these gifts may uncover why they are still beneath our tree. One of the gifts was not requested; perhaps the recipient doesn’t understand its purpose. Another gift is very large; maybe that recipient just doesn’t know where to keep it. And a third gift has many pieces; possibly this recipient just doesn’t know how to put the pieces together to form a useful gift.
Do you ever feel like one of those gifts? Your shell is no longer colorful, you’re bigger than you used to be, and all your parts don’t seem to know how to work together? Welcome to retirement age!
Nehemiah was deeply grieved about the condition of Jerusalem, but he didn’t just brood about it! After his initial grief, he prayed, pouring his heart out to God as he looked for ways to improve the situation. Nehemiah put all his resources of knowledge, experience, and organization into determining what should be done. When bad news comes to you, first pray. Then seek ways to move beyond grief to a specific action that helps those in need. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for several days, expressing his sorrow for Israel’s sin and his desire that Jerusalem would again come alive with the worship of the one true God. Nehemiah demonstrated the elements of effective prayer: (1) praise, (2) thanksgiving, (3) repentance, (4) specific request, and (5) commitment.
Heartfelt prayers like Nehemiah’s can help clarify (1) any problem you may be facing, (2) God’s great power to help you, and (3) the job you have to do. By the end of his prayer time, Nehemiah knew what action he had to take. When God’s people pray, difficult decisions fall into proper perspective, and appropriate actions follow.
Perhaps like Nehemiah, you are greatly grieved about something. Take the time to pray about it. Thank God for all he has done and specifically ask him what action you should take!
10The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. 11O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.
Are you facing problems with which you need God’s help?
What is God doing in your life to help you with your problems?
O Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessings you have given me. Help me realize the full value of my gifts. May I use them to honor and serve you, and tell the world about your son! Amen.
This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Daily Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education, has served on a public-school board, and serves on a charter school board. She is married with three children and two grandsons.