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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  [538]  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  [3].
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.
*~* 1.
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" [4].
~*  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.
*~* 1.
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:*
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