Jan 08 - Positive Change: Planning For Success

Positive Change: Planning For Success

January 8, 2017

Nehemiah 2



January 8th, 2017

Nehemiah 2


Under the Persian Kings Cyrus the Great (538 - just a year after Cyrus defeated the Babylonians (538 BC), Darius I (521 BC) and his son Artaxerxes I (457 BC).[1]


The book of Nehemiah starts nearly 12 years after the last return.  Artaxerxes was still on the throne in Susa and Nehemiah was part of the royal court.  When news reached him that Jerusalem was still without a wall and gates to protect its inhabitants, Nehemiah cried like a baby. 


He then spent some days, exactly how long we do not know, to fast and pray about the situation. 












  1. What “supplies” do I need?


Planning my schedule

Simplify my life

Schedule daily devotions for the first time


  1. How serious is it? - Self-examination & meditation


Psalm 66:18 - If I had not confe3ssed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. 



Have I been ...

... fervent in private prayer

... said a short prayer of praise or thanksgiving most hours (timer on watch)

... immediately been giving thanks after anything good

... remained cheerful despite setbacks and frustrations

... eating less (moderately)

... read my Bible for today

... confessed when I messed up


John 15:7 abiding in Jesus and having his words abide in us ... answered prayer

Jamfervent prayers are answered

2 Chro 7:14 - God hears when we seek him and turn from evil




As we look to a week of prayer and fasting (starting today until next Saturday), I realize that this will be a big surprise to many of you.  However, it


2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’

I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’

4 The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’

6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’ It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

7 I also said to him, ‘If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?’ And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

Nehemiah inspects Jerusalem’s walls

11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate towards the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on towards the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and re-entered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

17 Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’ they asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’

20 I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’



[1] Darius was not related to Cyrus.  Artaxerxes was Darius’ grandson (in between Xerxes of Esther fame).

A Week of Prayer and Fasting For Positive Change in My Life

January 8th to 14th, 2017


Fasting in itself may have some physical benefits, but when combined with prayer, it can have huge spiritual benefits.  It can lead to a renewal of the heart, an increased desire to see ourselves living out God’s will and eliminating what would oppose that.


Do: Drink lots of liquids when you are not eating.  If you have a medical condition please make sure not to go without food for an extended period of time without the approval of your physician.  If the suggested fast doesn’t work for you, try fasting in some other way instead (from caffeinated beverages, for instance).  Remember to write down any significant insight or direction you might receive during this time. 


Sunday January 8th

Fast from 3 p.m. until you go to bed

Read and meditate on Joel 2:12-17

Pray for forgiveness for any and all or your actions, words or thoughts that are wrong, sinful or that might get in the way of God working in your life this week.  Pray for the ability to change for the better and the tenacity to make it stick.  Pray for God’s will to be done in your life and in the life of others


Monday, January 9th

Fast from when you get up until after sundown

Read and meditate on Matthew 6:16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Pray for the right motivation for fasting.  Pray that God will achieve a major spiritual breakthrough in your life through this week.  Pray for God to open your spiritual eyes.  Pray for others to be guided by God in the same profound way. 


Tuesday, January 10th

Fast from when you get up until lunchtime

Read and meditate on Mark 9:14-29 (see Matthew 17:21) 

Pray for deliverance from bondage to anything consistently harmful or negative in your life, and a renewed openness to the work of the Holy Spirit in renewing your mind so that you truly think and feel differently about what has a hold on you.  Pray that others might find freedom in Christ as well.

Wednesday, January 11th

Fast the whole day, from when you get up until you go to bed. 

Read and meditate on Esther 3:12 - 4:17

Pray for courage to take the first step in dealing with a difficult challenge in your life.  You may face opposition at work, school or home.  You may face a major struggle with finances, relationships or your health ... what does God want you to do about it (it may be that he wants you to think differently about the situation if there is really nothing that you can do to make the situation better)? 


Thursday, January 12th

Fast from 3 p.m. until you go to bed

Read and meditate on Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-23

Pray for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s voice should He want to guide you to a new opportunity to serve God and/or to start a new spiritual discipline (reading a chapter/day in the Bible; setting aside 5 minutes a day for thanksgiving and praise; finding a time to simply be quiet and listen; fasting once a week; ...). 


Friday, January 11th

Fast during daylight hours (from sunrise to sunset)

Read and meditate on Daniel 10:1-3

Pray for a new vision or new insight from God for your future, and the wisdom, discernment, energy and planning to bring it about (the new you and what it takes to get there).


Saturday, January 14th

Fast from when you get up until 5 p.m.

Read and meditate on: Isaiah 58:3-7

Pray for those who go to bed hungry, who are caught in human trafficking or domestic violence or facing injustice.  Pray for Ministry of Mercy orphanages in Nigeria and clinic in the Dominican Republic.  Pray for discernment about whether or not there is something you can do personally to make someone’s life better.