Everybody has a purpose.
But how can you seek what direction God is moving in or the signs that follow?
Together, let’s observe what Nehemiah teaches us about knowing how to listen and identify the prompting of God in our lives.
The Story of Nehemiah
Nehemiah was a man living in a foreign country, working as the king’s cupbearer. (A cupbearer is the person who drinks of the king’s cup before he does, ensuring the drink is not poisoned.)
Eventually, during his time there, Nehemiah gets word that his hometown of Jerusalem is in disarray. He learned that the walls surrounding it had been torn down, and even though the temple had been rebuilt, the people were too scared to go back as there was no protection around the city.
So Nehemiah decided to go back home and rebuild the walls. However, little did he know that this would turn out to be the assignment over his life. In fact, Nehemiah was so aligned with this calling on his life that he not only built a remarkable wall, but he finished it in fifty-two days!
Church, be prepared; anytime God is covering you in an assignment, He will empower you to go or work beyond what any human strength can accomplish or anticipate!
And Nehemiah experienced this in a great capacity.
5 Ways to Identify Your Calling
We know we have a special anointing over our lives, but how do we identify our calling?
Nehemiah gives us five things to look for when contemplating our calling.
I.God Gives You Passion (Nehemiah 1:3-4, 2:17)
Whatever God has called for you to do, you can rest assured that He will give you a passion and a burden for it.
“And they said to me, ‘The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.’ So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before God of heaven.”
Nehemiah 1:3-4, NKJV
The scriptures tell us Nehemiah sat down and wept for many days because he had a burden!
When you have the heart, spirit, and anointing of God, He will give you a burden about something outside of yourself. (A burden outside of getting a new car, buying the latest trend in clothes, or squandering away your finances.) Saints, if your commitment is only about you, you are out of touch with the power and presence of God!
But, pastor, how will I know? You will recognize whether or not you have been given a burden for something because you will feel the weight of caring about someone other than yourself.
My Call As a Pastor
I grew up in the church, and it was there that I was given my calling as a pastor. As a young boy, I remember being captivated by the preacher on Sunday morning while my friends were cracking jokes and playing around with one another. Even though my friends barely heard a word, I had the burden of taking what the pastor was saying and relaying it to my friends in a way they understood.
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”
Nehemiah 2:17, NKJV
When I was around 15 years old, I remember sharing with my pastor at the time that I was called to ministry. He looked at me and suggested, “You’re a little too young, but keep praying about it.”
So I continued praying about it, and after some time, I returned to my pastor and said, “Pastor, I am called to ministry.” He responded, “We will work something out for you to be acknowledged and licensed next year.”
Well, the burden was so significant that fifteen-year-old John Jenkins looked at him and said, “I can’t wait until next year,” and on December 23, 1973, he licensed me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (This December, I will celebrate 50 years of ministry.)
All that to say, I want to encourage you that you are never too old, young, inexperienced, or disqualified to pursue the purpose God has placed over your life. If there is a passion, seek God’s wisdom and run after it.
What burdens you, and what are you doing about it?
II.God Gives Possibilities (Nehemiah 2:1-6)
“And 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. Therefore 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, and 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?’ Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. And 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.’ Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), ‘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.”
Nehemiah 2:1-6, NKJV
If you are curious about God’s purpose for you, notice the doors of opportunity He is opening for you!
The king allowed Nehemiah to go back to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
A Warning for the Possibilities
You must be prepared so that when the opportunity comes, you will be ready to move forward.
As a pastor, I have met with many believers who shared that they felt called to enter into ministry. And my first question is always, “What doors of opportunity has God opened for you?”
Remember, if God has called you to it, He will systematically provide ways for you to move forward. If you feel called to preach but no one has asked you to preach, then Houston, we have a problem.
Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” When God puts a gift inside of you, others will see it, and God will open up opportunities for you to do it!
Where is God creating possibilities for you?
III.God Gives Provisions (Nehemiah 2:7-9)
“Furthermore, 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, and 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.’ And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.”
Nehemiah 2:7-9, NKJV
The king gave Nehemiah everything he needed for this calling: a passport, some wood, a house, security, and transportation. And like Nehemiah, for some of you, God is about to give you provisions beyond your wildest dreams!
If God has called you to it, He will provide everything you need.
IV. God Reveals the Player Haters (Nehemiah 2:10, 19)
“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”
Nehemiah 2:10, NKJV
Throughout your work, it is guaranteed that there will be people who will not like you or what you are accomplishing with God.
However, take courage because when you know that God has anointed you, it doesn’t matter what they say. Furthermore, if God is for you, who can stand against you?
Don’t let them stop you.
Don’t let them frustrate you.
Don’t let them make you quit.
The fact that you have player haters means that you’re playing the game.
“But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Gershem the Aran heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Will. You rebel against the king?”
Nehemiah 2:19, NKJV
Be aware that there will be player haters around you who suggest things that are not true. Be encouraged; this is a sign that you are headed in the right direction, and player haters just come with the territory!
People send me letters all the time. Some are from people I know, and others remain without a return address. One thing I have learned is to pay no mind to letters that have no name. I don’t even pick them up.
Stop paying attention to people who don’t dare to identify themselves over the nonsense they are speaking over your good work!
V.God Will Give You Partners (Nehemiah 2:12)
“Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.”
Nehemiah 2:12, NKJV
God will raise up people to walk with you, pray with you, and encourage you.
“So we build the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
Nehemiah 4:6, NKJV
God will also gather people who will come alongside you for the purpose God is calling you to!
For everything I have accomplished in my life, God has made it possible with others who have supported me in the journey. They not only believed in the passion but also in the God who dwells inside me.
Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to partner with you to advance your Kingdom. I pray that whatever conviction you put on someone’s heart today will be clear in what you want them to do. Please help us to listen and be obedient as we put our hands to the important work you have set us apart to do. Amen.