"BUILDING THE FUTURE"
Studies in Nehemiah
Term 3, 1995
Passage: Nehemiah 1:1-11
*~* Introduction*: During these next two months our Sunday morning services will be focussing on the story of Nehemiah.
However we will be looking for lessons, models and applications for our own situation here as we seek to plot our course towards the 21st century.
We want to be an effective kingdom-agent in God's hands in the new centuring.
However, our thinking, planning and preparing begins now.
Whether we like it or not, agree with it or not, regret it or not the old order is passing away.
We must know what we are aiming for, what course we are following in preparing for the future God has for us.
Nehemiah's prayerfulness, his preparedness and his practical leadership all contributed to the success of his venture.
Session would like housegroups and individual persons to work through these weekly study guides, and would appreciate hearing from you about your perceptions about how we should be going about "Building the Future".
*~* Background: *The Book of Nehemiah recounts the events of what some describe as the third return of the exiles after the fall of Jerusalem [586 BCE].
Zerubbabel led the first return  and the people settled down but neglected the restoration of the temple [cf Book of Haggai] and the temple was not restored until 516.
Ezra led the second return in 458 while Nehemiah arrived on his wall-building mission in 445.
The land of Israel is still under the control of Babylon.
While life seems to be going on as normal the destroyed walls have not been repaired.
Does it not seem important?
Is it a low priority for the citizens?
The broken down walls represent physical devastation, national disarray, spiritual indifference and religious disobedience.
Jerusalem always represents more than the national capital - because of the Temple and its ceremonies it was the religious centre.
It was Zion, the city of God, the Holy One of Israel.
The walls represented power and protection, security, safety and peace.
The continuing ruin of the walls and the insecurity of the city was devastating news for Nehemiah to hear.
Notice the specific reference to the reports of the walls and gates .
Compare the idea of these walls being "salvation" and the gates "praise" - cf Isaiah 60:18.
Instead of Jerusalem being secure, it was vulnerable; instead of a place of glory and a testimony to God's praise, it was a ruin and an affront.
We see how played his part in building the future.
His Anguish of Spirit: *
Consider the picture of the devastation of the city of God - the ruined walls, the burned gates.
In what ways do you think legitimate parallels can be made with our personal spiritual lives, with our congregational life, or even with the whole Church up and down our land at present?
Is there busyness, complacency, indifference.
See how immediately and intensely his emotions were engaged.
# he mourned
# he fasted
# he prayed
All this was done in the presence of God - "before the God of heaven" .
~* DISCUSSION POINT: How important or relevant is intensity of spiritual feeling - or the lack of it - for us in our situation?
*~* 2. His Agony in Supplication:*
See how his intensity ofd feeling comes through in his prayer.
See how -
# he affirms God as the sovereign Lord and the
# he confesses the sins of the people of Israel,
their faithlessness and disobedience
# he reminds God of His word and His promises of
restoration and renewal if the people will
There is real confession of sin and true repentance.
We can almost feel Nehemiah's pain.
If spiritual walls are to be rebuilt today, we need to learn to pray like this!
We taslk of the great worldwide prayer movement.
We have heard reports of it from GCOWE in Korea earlier this year.
What signs can we see that it is touching New Zealand - or ourselves.
What lessons are there from the three weeks of praying and waiting last year?
See Nehemiah's "solidarity" with his countrymen - he speaks of "we", not "they".
There is also the further step of personalizing the responsibility for the situation occurring and being put right - "I and my father's house".
~* DISCUSSION POINT: How can we begin to feel the pain of the church's plight - and help others to feel it too?
~* 3. His Attitude to Service:
Like Nehemiah, we must remind ourselves the work and the people are God's.
God is not indifferent.
Nehemiah recognised he has a responsibility, something to do.
He commits the enterprise to God.
He does not rush ahead.
~* DISCUSSION POINT: How can we motivate our people to serve God in a time of great transition and help build the future
\\ "BUILDING THE FUTURE"
Studies in Nehemiah
Term 3, 1995
Study Passage: Nehemiah 2: 1-10
~* Introduction: The times are already changing.
The changes in society are already impacting and affecting the church.
Our desire in "Building the Future" is for Greyfriars to be as diligent and effective in mission, witness and service in the coming century as it has been in the 20th century.
Ideas, attitudes, mindsets are all changing - and we need to get ready, to retool if you prefer, to be God's kingdom-agents in a new situation.
Nehemiah was stunned, dismayed and distraught by the news he had heard.
For all his eagerness and willingness to become involved, he was a court official serving an absolute monarch.
He couldn't just apply for "leave of absence" on the appropriate form and go off to do his own thing!
He waited for his opportunity.
When it came, he grasped it.
Notice some factors surrounding the moment of opportunity.
The Persistence he displayed:*
# He had patience.
It could not have been easy, but he waited.
He did not rush ahead.
From Kislev [1:1] to Nisan [2:1] is some 3 months.
For all his sense of urgency and and agony of spirit, he bided his time.
# He prayed.
Is there a link between the "some days" [1:4] and this three month's gap? Do you think 1:5-11 is the burden of his praying over some days or over three months?
# He trusted God.
When the time came Nehemiah was honest enough to say, "I was very much afraid" [2:2].
Later he records, "Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king".
In life there can be fear - but faith should be alongside it!
See the outcome!
*~* DISCUSSION POINT: In our Building the Future at what points will FEAR come into the situation?
Is it present already?
What is it we fear?
How will FAITH help us?
Note Colossians 4:2 [Living Bible].*
The Practicalities he considered:*