September 13, 2023
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I've never really been addicted to TV game shows. But years ago, my son got me to kind of be interested in one. It's called Jeopardy. Three contestants, given several categories ranging from U.S. presidents to cat food, and the contestant picks a dollar value question. The host gives the answer to the question in that category. Then the three contestants vie to see who can get the right question, because the right answer is the question. Understand that. Some of them do very well and they win lots of money; others just kind of fold up. I said to my son, "Look at those people! They wind up in the hole with their money! How did they get on the show?" He reminded me, "Dad, it's hard to come up with right answers when you have all that pressure on you." (OK, I stand corrected.)
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Right Answers Under Pressure."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Nehemiah 2, beginning at verse 1. Now, we all know the feeling of those Jeopardy contestants. The pressure's on, the right answer is needed. Maybe you're in a conversation with your boss, or your parents, or you're dealing with one of your children on an important key issue, or you're trying to speak to a friend about the Lord.
Well, Nehemiah knew that feeling. He is the king's cup bearer as a Jewish exile in Persia. He'd heard of the shape that his city - God's city, Jerusalem - was in, and he had a burden from the Lord to go and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. He knew he would need the king's help to do that. He knew he would need time off from his royal job. And he didn't quite know how he was going to bring all this up with the most powerful man in the world who was his boss - the King of Persia.
He says, "I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This could be nothing but sadness of heart.' I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, 'May the king live forever!" Which is a good way to start with kings. "Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruin and its gates have been destroyed by fire?' The king said to me, 'What is it you want?'" Drum roll please! Man, everything hinges on this answer. Nehemiah: "Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king."
From this point on the king becomes his ally in this great, historic cause. Now, this is a conversation you might say that changed the course of history, as the walls and the gates of Jerusalem do end up getting rebuilt. Maybe your issue isn't quite that cosmic, but you do need God's help for some important conversation.
Here is how he displays his hand in important conversations. First, there's a divine nudge. See, Nehemiah had been praying about this situation for some time. So God said, "There's a need I want to address, and I want to address it through you, Nehemiah." See, God will put this burden on your heart; this divine nudge.
Secondly, there's a natural opportunity. You'll think, "How in the world am I going to get into this conversation? How am I going to bring this up? How am I going to get started?" Listen, ask God for a natural opportunity. Nehemiah actually was asked the magic question by the king, "What is it you want?" Could you serve it up any better than that? Just ask God for an open door like that and then look for the opening when it comes.
Thirdly, there is an inspired answer. Nehemiah gave a tremendous answer to the king's question, and it launched a whole change of events. The key is what Nehemiah did. "I prayed to the God of heaven and then I answered." Talk to the God of heaven before you talk to the person on earth, before you answer that call, before you answer that email, that text, before you respond, get all prayed up. And even if you're scared like Nehemiah was, go ahead to the opportunity when God opens the door.
We're all playing Jeopardy and we're coming up with right answers under pressure. But it's because we have a direct pipeline to the One who has all the right answers. Hey, let God come up with your answer.