THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEHEMIAH #3

A Man of Strength

INTRODUCTION

As we continue our study in Nehemiah, I want to remind you of two passages:

  1. Romans 15:4
  2. 1 Corinthians 10:11

 In our last lesson we noted that Nehemiah was successful as God’s servant because he:

  1. Had a burdened heart
  2. Had knees that will bend
  3. Had lips that will confess
  4. Had a submissive will
  5. Had feet that will go

In this lesson we will show Nehemiah’s strengthby noticing how he confronted his fear, his enemies, reproach, and opposition.This enabled him to survey the work and get the people “fired up” and ready to build the walls around Jerusalem.

DISCUSSION

NEHEMIAH CONFRONTED HIS FEAR

Nehemiah 2:2

  1. Nehemiah was afraid because he was about to make a very important request of the king – He wanted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls.
  2. Nehemiah did not let the fear he felt stop him from doing what needed to be done.

It is not always easy to do the right things, and one reason for this is fear

  1. Some are afraid of not being popular so they do things they know the Bible teaches against
  2. Many are afraid of being rejected or made fun of so they refuse to openly manifest their Christianity
  3. There are those who are afraid of losing a friendship so they do not correct a brother who is in sin
  4. The list could go on and on…

2 Timothy 1:7

  1. Fear” comes from deiliaand carries the idea of being a coward
  2. This kind of spirit is not given us of the Lord – we are not to be cowards
  3. How do we over comes this? … Note 1 John 4:18
  4. Illustration: Mother afraid of water – but will jump to save her drowning child
  5. Why? – Love. True love overpowers fear

To accomplish the work of God we must overcome fear as did Nehemiah

NEHEMIAH’S ENEMIES

As Nehemiah gets the okay from Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls – we see a destructive attitude developing in… Nehemiah 2:10

  1. Sanballat” would be the arch enemy to Nehemiah’s restoration efforts
  2. Sanballat, most likely the governor of Samaria, had a hatred for Israel and would use what he could to stop this restoration.
  3. Later (Ch. 4), Sanballat will use lies, mockery, deceit, cruelty, and even armed force to try to stop Nehemiah’s work

Today, we will also confront opposition

  1. Many will oppose walking in the “old paths” (Jer. 6:16), and push for change – the Change Agents
  2. Many are in great opposition to simply getting back to the Bible – and it alone
  3. Many bind where God has not bound

That’s why the Bible says we must fight:

  1. Jude 3
  2. 1 Timothy 6:12

Nehemiah was successful in his work for the Lord because he fought and stood for truth – as we will see as the book of Nehemiah unfolds

NEHEMIAH SURVEYS THE WORK

Nehemiah 2:11-16

  1. He appraised the damage
  2. This allowed Nehemiah to prepare a list of materials needed and workmanship needed in accomplishing this great work
  3. A wise builder plans his work– and such was the case with Nehemiah

We must be a prepared people as we do the work of the Lord and we do this through planning and looking to the future

  1. Proverbs 13:16there needs to be some planning, some knowledge in what we are doing
  2. 1 John 4:1…here we see investigation is important
  3. Luke 14:28-30…in doing the work of the Lord there must be appraisal, investigation, and planning

Nehemiah was successful in doing the work of the Lord because he planned his work

NEHEMIAH COUNTERED REPROACH

Nehemiah 2:17

  1. To be a “reproach” carries the idea of being a shame or a disgrace
  2. Nehemiah knew that as long as Jerusalem was in shambles – God’s people were a disgrace, and a shame to God
  3. Nehemiah would fight to resolve this shame by involving himself in the work of the Lord

Today we can be a reproach or a disgrace when we allow the church collectively – and we as individuals – to become broken down and “laid waste

  1. We are a disgrace when we do not live holy and godly lives before God and man
  2. The church is a disgrace when it does keep itself pure and unspotted from the world, and when it is weak in effort

Nehemiah countered this reproach by encouraging the people… Nehemiah 2:18

  1. They strengthened their hands for the good work” – that is, they embraced the good cause, took the good part, and set themselves to work heartily on the right side.
  2. This is what it will take for us today to remove reproach and shame… 1 Corinthians 15:58

OPPOSITION TO NEHEMIAH’S WORK

Nehemiah 2:19

  1. Sanballat and his cohorts set forth opposition to Nehemiah’s work for the Lord in three ways:
    • 1) “Laughed us to scorn,” i.e. they were ridiculed
    • 2) “Despised us” – from the Hebrew word buz– expressing contempt that proceeds from pride and wickedness
    • 3) “Will ye rebel against the king?” – charged them with rebellion, they were falsely accused
  2. Today, the Lord’s work can receive opposition through the same means:
    • When we stand for truth we can be ridiculed
    • When we stand for truth we can expect to be despised by those who would rather do as they please
    • We may even be falsely accused

But Nehemiah did not allow this opposition keep him from doing the work of the Lord

Notice Nehemiah’s Response to Opposition

Nehemiah 2:20

  1. Nehemiah responds:
    • God will be with us as we do His work
    • We will not be intimidated, you can’t stop us
    • You have no business interfering with the work of God

CONCLUSION

If we would be more like Nehemiah we would be amazed at the growth of the church and our individual growth

To have the strength of Nehemiah in doing the work of the Lord we must:

  1. Overcome fear
  2. Realize we will have opposition
  3. Prepare for and plan our efforts
  4. Remove shame
  5. Overcome opposition
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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BUILDING ACCORDING TO THE CODE

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of homes in South Florida. Yet in an area where the wreckage looked like a war zone, one house remained standing, still firmly anchored to its foundation.

When a reporter asked the homeowner why his house had not been blown away, he replied, “I built this house myself. I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for 2″ x 6″ roof trusses, I used 2″ x 6″ roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane – and it did.”

Jesus talked about the importance of building our lives on a solid foundation. He said that the person who obeys His Word is like “a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Mt. 7:24). If we build according to His code of obedience, we will not be swept away when crises hit with hurricane-like force. The tempests of temptation, the storms of suffering, and the winds of false doctrine will not be able to sweep us off a solid foundation of faith and obedience. Adversity and temptations may come, yet because we have built according to the code of the unshakable Rock, Jesus Christ, we can emerge with our character strengthened.

Are you building your life according to Jesus’ code? Remember, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro. 14:12).

Think About It!

Have A Great day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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A LIGHT IN DARKNESS

God needs our light where the world is the darkest. The blacker the night – the greater there is a need for a light bulb. If the bulb does not shine, it’s not because of the darkness – darkness cannot put out light. If the darkness increases until it is black as a cave, it is still not dark enough to extinguish light. No one has yet smothered a light by increasing the darkness. Darkness gets darker because light fails.

When we fail to reflect Christ’s light, we allow darkness to win. Thus, Jesus preached, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mat. 5:14-16). Please, do not fail to let your light shine.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

There was a Christian man who knew his time was near. So he sent word to his seven children to come home so he could see them all one last time. Even though his children had all grown up and had families of there own, they all set out on the trips back home. After they had been there awhile visiting, the father called all of them into his room for he had been “bed-fast”for two weeks.

When they had all entered and formed a line around his bed so he could see all of them, he told them to all go outside and to each bring back a nice size stick apiece. Now this was a little strange but seeing the shape their father was in they went out in the yard and brought back each a big stick. After he could see all of them, he told them one by one to start breakingthem. So they started one at a time breaking the sticks and after they had done the last one he told them to go back outside and each bring back a stick again.

Now this had been very odd for his children, but they did as they where told to do because after all their father was about to be with the Lord. After they had came back in and gathered around his bed, he told them this time to pass the sticks around to one side of the bed. When they had done this he pulled out to strings of fishing line out from under his pillow and told them to tie the bundle of sticks together at each of its ends so they would stay together and not get lose. Then he told his children to now try to breakthe sticks.

One by one by one they all tried to breakthe bundle of sticks but could not do it. After the last of the seven children tried and failed he looked up at them and said, “I just want you to know that if you stick together it will be harder to breakyou.”In like manner, God’s people need to stick together for strength and encouragement – that Satan and the world not break us. 

Solomon says it this way, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”(Eccl. 4:9-12).

There is strength in number. We as God’s people need to avail ourselves of the strength made available to us through our Christian brethren. Spend as much as you can with the brethren – you will be the better for it!

 Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEHEMIAH #2

NEHEMIAH’S SECRET OF SUCCESS

(Nehemiah 1:1-11)

INTRODUCTION

Most people whom we consider to be “successful” have had some principles by which they have governed their lives.

  1. Habits of successful people
  2. Time proven techniques

Often, when a person accomplishes something another might ask, “What is the secret to your success?”

  1. A Biblical example to knowing the secret to someone’s success is found in Ezra 7:10.
  2. You will note that Ezra prepared his heart to seek God’s Word, obeyed God’s Word, and taught God’s Word.

The Bible also gives us insights into the secret of the success of a man by the name of Nehemiah.

  1. Nehemiah was born in captivity after the fall of Jerusalem. He ended up being the king’s cupbearer, which was a very responsible position.
  2. Nehemiah ended up supervising the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Without strong walls in those days, cities were always open to possible attack.
  3. He was also instrumental in revival among the Jewish people.

Nehemiah 1 gives us some insights into the great success of Nehemiah.

DISCUSSION

NEHEMIAH HAD A HEART THAT WAS BURDENED

He Showed Concern

  1. Nehemiah 1:2… Nehemiah inquired about his brethren
    • When we have true concern about others and the church we, also, will inquire
    • How do we know what to do or what to pray for if we never ask about people
    • How concerned are we about the church? Note Paul’s concern:
      • Acts 20:31
      • 2 Corinthians 7:12
      • 2 Corinthians 11:28
  2. To be successful in the Lord’s church we must show concern

He Could be Touched

  1. Nehemiah 1:4a
    • This was not just a superficial emotional wound – because four months later Artaxerxes would be able to discern from physical appearance and disposition a distinct state of depression in Nehemiah
    • There is no shame in weeping – In fact, a real manwill weep and can be touched with heartfelt feeling
    • David did … 2 Samuel 15:30
      • Ezra 3:12-13
      • Psalm 137:1
      • John 11:35
  2. There are many things that will cause us sorrow (indifference, errors, opposition, pain, etc.), but sorrow is good because it is one of the things that motivates us to help or change things

NEHEMIAH HAD KNEES THAT WOULD BEND

  1. An Example in Prayer
    • Nehemiah prayed in times of sorrow … Nehemiah 1:4
    • Nehemiah prayed when about to do something vitally important… Nehemiah 2:1-4
    • Nehemiah was successful in accomplishing great things for the Lord because he was a man of prayer
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  2. An Example Prayer
    • Nehemiah 1:5-11
    • Earnest Entreaty
      • certain days” (v. 5)
      • day and night” (v. 6)
      • I beseech thee” (v. 8, 11)
    • Power Pleas
      • Pleaded to the name of God (v. 5)
      • Pleaded to the promises of God (vs. 8-9)
      • Pleaded to their relationship with God …. “thy servants” (v. 6) and “thy people” (v.11)
    • A Particular Request (v. 11)
      • There is a need to be specific in prayer
      • It shows thought, concern, and faith
      • We should study the various prayers of the Bible to help us in our prayer life
      • Great things are accomplished for God through great men and women of prayer.
      • Luke 18:1-8
      • John 14:13-14

NEHEMIAH HAD LIPS THAT WOULD CONFESS

  1. 1.Nehemiah 1:6-7
    • Nehemiah realized that sin was the cause of problems.
    • He confessed not only the sins of the nation, but of his family and himself.
      • Nehemiah realized … Psalm 66:18
      • Thus, we must all confess with the Psalmist… Psalm 32:5
  2. Men and women who are truly holy will be conscious of their own sins
    • We are always quick to blame others for our short comings, but should we not ask:
    • What we did to contribute to the problem
    • What we didn’t do to contribute to the problem
    • What we are doing to help the matter

NEHEMIAH HAD A WILL THAT WAS SUBMISSIVE

  1. Nehemiah 1:9
    • Nehemiah was claiming the promises of God
    • Deuteronomy 30:1-3
    • Friends, God will keep His promises
  2. Nehemiah is implying in this prayer that he is submitting his will to God’s, being obedient to God’s commandments.
    • Obedience is the only way we can be submissive unto God
    • Notice our Lord’s attitude… John 6:38
  3. God uses obedient servants
    • 1 Samuel 15:22-23
    • We must be obedient to be of valued use in the Kingdom of God – not just going through the motions
  4. It all boils down to submission

NEHEMIAH HAD FEET THAT WOULD GO

  1. 1.Nehemiah 1:10-11
    • It is obvious in verse 11 that Nehemiah was going to try to help rectify the problem in Jerusalem.
    • Nehemiah was willing to be part of the solution to the problem.
    • We must be a part of the solution
    • NOT a part of the problem
  2. When we pray about problems, we should be willing to be involved in the answer to our prayers
    • We need to be like the framer who prays at the end of a garden hoe – A farmer does not pray for a crop and expect it to come by simply sitting on the porch
    • We need to do what we can and leave the rest to God
    • Our feet must be willing to walk towards the problem and be used in the solution.

CONCLUSION

If we want to be successful for the cause Christ, we must:

  1. Have a burdened heart
  2. Have knees that will bend
  3. Have lips that will confess
  4. Have a submissive will
  5. Have feet that will go
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEHEMIAH #1

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TIMES

INTRODUCTION

A judge may sentence a man to five years in prison for a crime committed – he may give a second man committing the same crime an even stiffer sentence

  1. We can only understand the actions of the judge if we know that one man was a first-time offender, and the other a habitual criminal
  2. So it would be very difficult for us to understand the heart, actions, and reactions of Nehemiah without knowing something of the hearts of the people with whom he had to deal.

Why would Nehemiah react to violently in Chapter 13?

  1. Throwing furniture in the street…clubbed and pulled the hair out of certain ones
  2. The answer lies in the heart of Israel

DISCUSSION

A REBELLIOUS HOUSE

The historical books of the Old Testament give us a commentary of the fickle nature of Israel

  1. The prophets exposed their hearts, and laid them bare for all to see
  2. Notice how Ezekiel labeled them… Ezekiel 3:4-8

As early as 755 BC, notice how Amos saw Israel

  1. Amos 2:6-7
  2. Amos 3:10
  3. Amos 5:12
  4. Notice the moral erosion of Israel… Amos 2:7
  5. Amos 5:21-27

A short time later (750-725 BC), Hosea took up where Amos left off

  1. Hosea 6:7
  2. Hosea 4:2
  3. Hosea 7:8-9
  4. d.Hosea 11:7

Notice the scathing rebukes of Isaiah (740-700 BC)

  1. Isaiah 1:4, 6
  2. Isaiah 3:15
  3. Isaiah 10:2
  4. They mislabeled the evil as good… Isaiah 5:20-21
  5. They even attempted to gag the prophets… Isaiah 30:8-10

We could go on four hours listening to prophets’ rebuke of Israel…

  1. Plain preaching had little effect on them
  2. They were bent on doing evil
  3. As a result the went into captivity

A SHORT-LIVED REFORMATION

Seventy years in captivity caused Israel to do some soul searching

  1. Ezra 9:6-7  
  2. Daniel 9:8, 11  
  3. Psalm 137:1  
  4. Daniel 9:15-19

In 538 BC King Cyrus issued a decree of freedom, and despite dangers and hardships, Zerubbabel lead a faithful remnant back to Israel.

  1. They rebuilt the altar of burnt offering, and the foundations of the Lord’s house was laid (Ezra 3:2, 10)
  2. But almost as quickly, lethargy crept in, revealing the undergrowth of an old problem – hearts bent on backsliding
  3. Haggai addressed the problem… Haggai 1:2-6
  4. The people rallied behind Zerubbabel and the temple was completed and much of the ancient way of worship was restored (Ezra 6:14-22)

By the time Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 465 BC, he found a shocking state of affairs.

  1. Ezra 9:1-3
  2. Ezra corrected the situation and made the people take an oath… Ezra 10:5
  3. But when Nehemiah assumed the governorship of the land thirteen years later – he found them backsliding again
  4. Nehemiah 13:23-25
  5. Her old patterns of disobedience were being repeated

However, let us not lose our perspective as we see the heart of Israel exposed

  1. There was always a remnant in Israel who would not bow the knee to Baal – the Elijahs, the Josiahs, the Jeremiahs, and the Nehemiahs
  2. Note Romans 11:1-5
  3. Hebrews 11:32-38
  4. Let us be careful that we not look at the Israel of old with pious hypocrisy… Romans 7:14-24

JERUSALEM DURING THE TIME OF NEHEMIAH

As we have already seen, the restoration, so often anticipated, and which set sail with such high hopes, soon floundered in lethargy and heathen abominations

  1. Even further than this, that precious remnant of the faithful was in desperate straits
  2. The Samaritans apparently had gained both a political and physical advantage over Jerusalem
  3. Evidence also indicates that they had brought to a standstill any attempts to rebuild and fortify the wall of the city

Commercialization had replaced religious dedication

  1. Nehemiah 13:15-16
  2. The holy lineage had been so polluted that it was in danger of becoming extinct…Nehemiah 13:23-24
  3. Even their own wealthy brethren oppressed the returning exiles, taking mortgages on grain needed for livelihood, and collecting such absorbent interest that the poor were having to sell their children into bondage just to survive (Neh. 5:1-5)

The situation in Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah are aptly described in…Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah could not help but weep as he was apprised of the condition of his people and Holy City.

A very important principle is seen in Nehemiah

CONCLUSION

THE RESTORATION PRINCIPLE

Restore: “To return to a former state or condition.”

  1. Our object is always to bring people back to the former condition – the perfect standard of the New Testament.
  2. Consider the following concerning restoration…

There must be a Divine Standard

  1. There was for Cain and Abel (Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17)
  2. There was for Noah (Gen. 6:22)
  3. There was the Law of Moses (Deut. 30:11-20)
  4. Now there is the Gospel of Christ (Jam. 1:25)

When the standard is departed from, God is not pleased

  1. Previously from the Law of Moses (Deut. 31:29)
  2. Today from the gospel (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-4)

God desires restoration

  1. Previously for Israel (Eze. 36:22-25; Neh. 1:8-9)
  2. Today for the church (Eph. 2:4-5, 15-16, 19-22)
  3. Today for the individual (Lk. 15:11-32; Acts 8:18-23)

The present apostasy foretold (2 The. 2:1-12)

  1. To precede the day of Christ’s return (vs. 1-3).
  2. To happen to the church (v. 4)
  3. To continue until Jesus returns (v. 8)
  4. Do not be deceived! (vs. 9-10)

Restoration is: Valid, Needed, Possible and Approved by the Lord!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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PAST LAURELS

On the television show M*A*S*H, Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III made it clear what separated him from everybody else – “I’m a Winchester,” he was heard to say more than once. For him, it was his family name that made him superior to everyone else. Other people carry other burdens. One woman received her education at Harvard and found a way to work Harvard into every conversation. Congregations fall victim to the same problem. Christians can become satisfied with their pasts to the point that they do not make the changes necessary to live in the present with the same degree of faithfulness shown in prior years. It is one thing to be proud of certain things, but it is possible to lean too heavily on a good past and live too scantily in the precious present.

Of the church in Sardis it was said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1). The church in Sardis had a “name,” i.e. they had a good reputation; they had the reputation of being a faithful and hard working congregation. But the church had now sunk into such a spiritual inactivity, possibly to the level of the world, that even though they once had a good reputation, they were now dead. This describes many churches today that have a reputation of soundness and activity, but inwardly they are decaying and dying.

Friends, we cannot live on our past laurels. Each day we must live up to the name “Christian.” Each day we must prove our faithfulness. Each day we must faithfully work for the Lord. For this reason the apostle John declared, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Rev. 3:2-3).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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