God plans (Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Corinthians 14:33) just as He tells us to plan (Proverbs 4:26, 1 Corinthians 14:40). Without planning, we will drift and waste our lives (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Let’s see how Nehemiah made God-inspired plans for a better future:
1. God put an intense desire in Nehemiah’s heart. He prayed for God’s favor and asked for success (Nehemiah 1:4, 11). If we don’t know what to do, ask God what He wants us to do (James 1:5). He will show us.
2. Prepare for an opportunity and wait for the right time. Planning is demanding (Proverbs 13:16). Nehemiah prepared for at least four months before asking the king for help (Nehemiah 2:1). Ask for help (James 4:2). Let others say no. Don't say it for them.
3. Expect and admit fear. For the first time, Nehemiah looked very sad before the king. During his time, causing the king to be upset could lead to death. Nehemiah was very afraid (Nehemiah 2:1-2). Courage is not without fear. Nehemiah admitted his fear, but he didn’t let fear stop him.
4. Make it easy for others to understand you. Nehemiah started wisely by showing his loyalty to the king and appealed to what the king could understand: respect for ancestors (Nehemiah 2:2-4).
5. Set a clear target (Nehemiah 2:5) and act prudently. If we aim at nothing, we hit nothing. Don’t worry if your goal is too high. Let God bail us out. Such goals can honor God. Then act prudently, one step at a time. Haste makes waste.
6. Set a deadline (Nehemiah 2:6). Typically, a goal without a deadline is just an empty wish.
7. Nehemiah anticipated barriers and calculated the cost accordingly (Nehemiah 2:7-8, Proverbs 27:12, Luke 14:27-28). He put together detailed protections and provisions he needed to build. Then he honestly expressed his specific wishes to the king.
8. Trust God to meet our needs, and give God the credit (Nehemiah 2:7-8). Only God could change the king’s heart (Proverbs 21:1).
God won’t do what we can do, such as planning and doing what’s under our control. And we can’t do what only God can provide.
We should strive to live according to God’s will (James 4:15). And if God doesn’t accomplish our plans (Proverbs 16:1), always trust His love and sovereignty.
Summary of a sermon by Rick Warren: