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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THE HARRIS AND MOORE EXPEDITION THROUGH THE BIBLE

Join us tonight at 6:00 pm CST on the Harris and Moore Expedition Through the Bible as we discuss “Perpetual Backsliding” (Jeremiah 8:5-13) – www.harrisandmoore.org

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TASTE THEM AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME

There have been some pretty memorable commercial catch phrases for cereals over the years. Among them is the 1990s ad campaign for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes: “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes – Taste them again for the first time.” Its genius, really – a call to go back to relive the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction of a product which may have lost its luster in your mind, and its place in your pantry.

When it comes to your spiritual life, have you lost the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction you once found in the Savior? Has walking with Him lost its luster? Has He lost His place in your life? Friends, Jesus calls you to return to your first love–to “taste” Him again, as though for the first time. “Oh taste and see [as if for the first time!] that Jehovah is good” (Psa. 34:8). “But I have thisagainst thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:4-5).

Taste the Lord again for the first time! Place Him back in your life in the proper way.

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 TROUBLE TREE

The story is told of a carpenter who was hired by a certain gentleman to help restore an old farm house had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire had made him loose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and then his ancient pickup refused to start.

As the gentleman drove him home, the carpenter sat in stony silence. On arriving he invited the gentleman in to meet his family. As he walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. Then opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles, and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward, they walked back to the car. They passed the tree, and gentleman’s curiosity got the better of him. He asked the carpenter about what he had seen him do earlier. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” the carpenter replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure – those troubles do not belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home, then in the morning I pick them up again. Funny thing is, when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet 5:6-7). Let Jesus be your “trouble tree.”

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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OUR NEED FOR ONE ANOTHER

Very few people are expert in anything all by themselves. They need a supporting community. Do you know a good musician who was not trained, nurtured and sustained by the music community? Show me an athlete who achieves excellence all alone, apart from the athletic community. Very few wise men become so without the accumulated wisdom of the centuries as expressed in colleges and universities and libraries. Medical people are more like ensembles and symphonies than soloists. What business tycoon does it all on his own without dedicated experts in finance, engineering, personnel, and marketing? Excellence requires participation in, and support of, a community of like-minded people.

The same is true in the church. Very few achieve Christian maturity all by themselves. Seldom is the Bible studied diligently without the aid of scholars and teachers. Rarely are people led to generosity by their own impulses. Hardly is one able to lift themselves out of depression alone. Most fall short of their spiritual goals without a little help alone the way.

This is why the Bible often discusses the need for the community of faithful obedient followers of Christ to aid us in our spiritual endeavors. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?” (Eccl. 4:9-11, ESV). “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1, ESV). “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:18-25, ESV). “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25, ESV).

A failure to tap in to the help and encouragement received through faithful attendance of the worship services and Bible study is sure to aid in our failure to receive the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We need one another!

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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