What Has God Put On Your Heart To Do?
“And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem:” (Neh. 2:12).
When I read this passage recently I asked myself, “What has God put on my heart to do?” This is a vital question because God is only going to bless the work that he has put on our hearts to do. In the life of Nehemiah we not only see how God put His plans in his heart, but how he used Nehemiah to fulfill it, namely the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem.
We also see in the life and work of Nehemiah a spiritual pattern that is consistent throughout the bible and church history that is prerequisite to a moving of God that results in spiritual renewal and restoration.
1. He burdens our hearts:
What God put in Nehemiah’s heart to do, namely the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem, started off as a burden that he could not shake.
“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days…” (Neh. 1:4).
The burden that Nehemiah had dwarfed every other care and concern in his life. In the same way, when God gets ready to do something significant in regards to restoring lives that are in spiritual ruin, he shares his burden with someone. And I don’t mean just the need, but the burden.
The amazing thing is that Nehemiah had it going on. He was a cupbearer to the king. He had it made. It could have been very easy for him to be so wrapped up in the comforts and pleasures of his life that he could have been indifferent to what was going on in Jerusalem. But Nehemiah wasn’t indifferent. He was a broken man. He was broken oven the ruin in Jerusalem and the reproach it was to God’s people.
What ought to be the burden of our hearts that dwarfs all other burdens in our lives? There is no doubt that the spiritual ruin of man, the lost-ness of man and perhaps the indifference of the church to want to be used of God to do something about it, ought to be the overwhelming burden of our lives.
Recently, I received a message from a sister that reflects a heart that is burden by the Lord, which is a prerequsite to being used by God to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. She wrote,
“Hi Pastor, Just a quick testimony from this morning. I was really convicted this morning when you mentioned how we need to seek first the Kingdom of God. I have had that verse memorized since I was a kid but I don’t think I truly understood what it meant until today. I was all prepared to come to prayer this morning asking people to pray for our finances…but then when you mentioned that verse tears started welling up in my eyes. Here I am concerned about money when I have loved ones that don’t know Jesus…where are my priorities? I immediately confessed this morning and asked God to forgive me and to break my heart for the lost. Then during my lunch period my bible reading for today led me to Luke 16 where it mentions the parable of the shrewd manager and the story of the rich man and Lazarus. That’s when the tears started…”
Once again, as God did with my sister, when God gets ready to do significant things when it comes to the spiritual ruin of our world, he shares his burden with someone who has a receptive heart. The problem sometimes is that God is sharing his heart, but our hearts are hardened by love for this world. Oh how we need to turn off those things in our lives (i.e. TV, and others forms of media) that strangle the word and burdens that God is sowing in our hearts and allow God to cultivate in us his heart for a lost and dying world.
2. When God burdens our heart we are to take that burden to the Lord in prayer:
Another important principle we see, that is prerequisite for spiritual renewal and how God goes about using someone for his purposes, is that Nehemiah took his burden to the Lord in prayer. In the same way, when God puts his burden on our hearts we are to first and foremost give it right back to Him in prayer to use us to meet the needs of others. When Nehemiah heard of the ruin in Jerusalem he wrote,
“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).
It’s been said, “asking is the rule of the kingdom.” God’s work will not get done if God’s people don’t pray. “We can do more than pray, but we can’t do more than pray until we have prayed.”
3. Take action by trusting God’s power and provision to accomplish that which he has put on your heart to do:
After Nehemiah prayed he would not only be granted permission to lead a rebuilding project by the King, but the king would also provide resources for the task. And in 52 days the walls were completed.
There are great spiritual needs in our world and if we’re not careful we can feel overwhelmed by them. But God is not expecting us to try to meet all the needs, but to be faithful to do what he puts in our hearts to do.
“Recognition of need must be followed by earnest, persistent waiting upon God until the overwhelming sense of world need becomes a specific burden in my soul for one particular piece of work which God would have me do” (Alan Redpath).
May we continue to seek God to give us a broken heart for the spiritual ruin in our world and the provision to accomplish what he puts on our hearts to do for Christ sake. Amen!