Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A New Adventure- Part 2

                If you have been reading my blog of late you will know that our pet care business is growing and we are starting to follow the path that God has laid before us in regards to this growth. (To read the first part of this blog, click on the link below) We have prayed about it, talked about it, and we have crossed over the start line onto the path that lies ahead. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, yesterday this statement became more real to me than it ever has before. Yesterday I learned that if we are to reach our dream, we must begin by taking one step at a time. To be successful in this endeavor we are about to travel we must be patient, we must follow in the footsteps of our God who is going before us and trust that His good favor is upon us the entire way. I can be an impatient person, and I can easily jump ahead and run ahead, but I was reminded again, that jumping and running ahead on a journey only leads to disaster and can knock me out of the race entirely.
           Nehemiah was patient in regards to his journey. We read in Chapter One how his heart broke, he saw a need and he received the confirmation to go. All this happened to Nehemiah in the month of Chislev (Nehemiah 1: 1), which would be our November or December. But in Chapter Two it is not until the month of Nisan, which would be our March or April, so it was about six months before the opportunity to do anything about this need came before him. We must be patient as we journey. Proverbs 21:5 tells us that “the plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (NKJV) If we desire to be prosperous on our journey, we must learn to be patient and wait for the Lord to take a step before we try to run ahead.
                “In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.’ Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, ‘Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my father’s graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’” Nehemiah 2:1-3 ESV
                Nehemiah goes before the king and the opportunity to discuss his desire, his dream presents itself. He did not force his way into the king’s presence, he did not make it happen.  He waited patiently for the Lord to open the door, and then he walked through it. For weeks my daughter in law and I had been trying to meet with the Small Business Association but it just never seemed to work out. Finally, yesterday, all the pieces fell into place and we were able to meet with a mentor. We did not force our way in or jump this step. We waited for the opportunity to come, and I am so blessed that we did wait. She helped us see all the areas we were right about, and all the areas we were wrong about. We took our dream to her and she listened, and she offered her help. Nehemiah did the same thing. The opportunity to discuss this need with the king presented itself and he walked through the door.
                I think it is important for us to go to someone and discuss our plans with them. If your dream is to start a ministry, then pray to the Lord to open the door of opportunity for you to speak with your pastor or leaders. If your dream is to start a business, then ask the Lord to open the door for you to speak with a small business mentor, or to show you who to go and talk to. Talk it out with them, they may be able to help you in more ways than you realize. “Then the king said to me, ‘What are you requesting?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4 ESV) Don’t try to do this on your own. God gives us people and resources to achieve the success that He has prepared for us, don’t let your pride stand in the way of asking for help. Nehemiah prayed for guidance, for those opportunities, and God answered his prayers.
                Nehemiah now lays out before the king the desire of his heart. He tells his king of the needs of his people, and how heartbroken he is for them. “And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s graves, that I may rebuild it.’” (Nehemiah 2:5 ESV) Yesterday after we had lain out our plans before the mentor she gave us the tools that we needed to help us take that next step. Lay out your foundations. Count the cost not only physically but spiritually. Talk this out with someone, your leader, your pastor, or whomever God is leading you to. Don’t try and figure this all out on your own.
                “And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), ‘How long will you be gone, and when will you return?’ So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me to the governors of the province beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I should occupy.’ And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 2:6-8 ESV
                Nehemiah knew he would need certain things from certain people because he had put all his ducks in a row before he ever mentioned it to the king. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that “without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Discuss your plans with those who can help you, with those who are in charge. We did not know there were certain things we had to do before moving any farther in our journey until we sat down and discussed them with the mentor. This person had started a business before and had experience in areas that we hadn’t even considered. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. God will lead you through prayer, and trust and patience in Him.
                Nehemiah is now granted all that he has asked for not because he had all his ducks in a row, or because he made a very convincing presentation. He was granted all that he had asked for because God’s hand was upon him. God will go before you in your endeavor. He has already taken every step you will need to take; we just have to make sure we put our feet where His feet have been.
                Nehemiah now heads out on his journey. He has made the plans, laid the foundation, has the support of the king, and has resources that he will need on the ready. He goes to Jerusalem and stays three days. “So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem.” (2:11) I found it interesting that Nehemiah did not tell anyone in Jerusalem why he was there, or why he had come all the way from the king’s palace. Then I realized we must be careful who we bring into our confidence. Not everyone will be for us; there will be those who will be against us. Look at verse 10, “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.” Let God be your guide, even in the people you choose to come along side you.
                Nehemiah now goes and surveys the land that is before him. He surveys the walls, the
gates, and every detail that is before him. (vs. 13-16) He has a plan, he has the foundational supplies that he needs, but he hadn’t actually been hands on yet. He needs to see it up close and personal. One of the things that we were encouraged to do was to go and check out similar businesses to what we desire to build. Learn from them. Learn what they did and how they did it. Do some research and learn everything we can about the pet care industry. The more information you have the more prepared you will be for whatever rubble stands in the way. Don’t just assume you know the need, but actually be hands on, get your hands dirty so to speak. Get an understanding of what you are going into, not just a bird’s eye view of it but a hold in your hands and experience it kind of understanding.
                After this Nehemiah goes and tells the people what he is there to do. “Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer derision.’ And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the word that the king had spoken to me. And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18) He now has the support that he will need to accomplish the dream and desire that God has placed on his heart, and people are willing to come alongside him. First, I think we need to see that the reason why the people were with him was because they saw that God was with him. They heard the testimony and heard his heart, and they saw the hand of God upon him in this endeavor. People are going to want to come alongside you when God is doing the work. Secondly, I think it is important for us to see that the people also came alongside him because they saw and heard his diligent plan and found it to be a good one. It was something they could get behind. I don’t know many people, or investors or volunteers that will want to come alongside someone without a plan. No one goes to war without first putting together a plan of attack.
              “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant hand Gesham the Arab heard it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’ Then I replied to them, ‘The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.’” (Nehemiah 2:19-20) Let me just say it, there will always be that one, or two, that will tell you what you are doing is crazy, it is impossible, you are hearing voices not the voice of God. Just tell them what God is doing and leave their negative comments where they belong, on the ground. Distance yourself from them, don’t let them discourage you. Trust in the plans God has given you and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If His hand is on you, you will succeed one step at a time. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Amen?

Recap of what we learned:
Be Patient. Trust in the Lord’s timing and pray for those open doors
Talk it over with someone, lay out your plans, your desires and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Get your hands dirty. Do your research. Know what you are getting into.
Leave the negative in the dirt where it belongs.
If God is with you, you will succeed -one single step at a time.