Summary: Teaching series through the book of Nehemiah from NewSong Church in Westford, MA. Featuring teachers: Travis Jarrett, Nelson Ruiz and Mary O'Connell
VIDEO: “BIG DREAMS”
Question: So what are your God-sized dreams right now?
:: Nehemiah – Series Outline
We’re continuing our series this week as we look at the life of a man named Nehemiah.
• His story is ultimately about restoration; God is going to use him to rebuild a city.
• But his story is also about how we respond when we are challenged to do something great for God.
• And make no mistake – God will at some point challenge you to step out and do something great for Him, for the Kingdom.
In case you missed last week, let me catch you up:
• Nehemiah is a Jew working in the Persian capital city, Susa.
• He holds a key position within the Persian kingdom, cupbearer to the king.
• He’s in Persia because the people of Israel had been in exile, having been taken into captivity when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzer II captured and destroyed Jerusalem in 597 BC.
• In 539, Babylon falls to the Persian army led by Cyrus the Great, who gives the Jewish people permission to return to their land, but most choose to stay And so Nehemiah is living life, doing his job when some of his family visit him and they begin talking about Jerusalem and the people who had returned to it.
• He is told that the walls were destroyed, the city devastated, the people lost.
[Nehemiah 1:2-4] – [s.2]
I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
This isn’t necessarily new information, but it strikes Nehemiah in a new way.
• And his heart breaks for the people of the community.
• He is burdened for those who are living outside the promise and plan of God
• He is filled with passion for restoration – of the temple, community, people
• A God-sized dream given that he is a cup-bearer, 100 miles removed.
[Nehemiah 1:11] – [s.3]
O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me.[b] Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
:: Partners in Mission
Nehemiah, once he hears the news of the city – it’s not new information, but it hits him in a new way - God gives him a heart for that city, for the people.
• So he spends three four months praying, fasting, “What do you want me to do?
• How can we make a difference?
• How can we rebuild the city and restore people back to You?”
And you need to know that one of the reasons I chose this book is that our heart is for both our city and our church, that our church would be a blessing to the city, that our church would love and serve the city, that our church would give to the city a gift. His name is Jesus. And that’s Nehemiah’s heart. It’s not just to have a church, but to have a church that blesses, loves, serves the whole city. And his heart is for both the church and the city.
[Nehemiah 2:3-4] – [s.4]
“Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”
After three to four months of praying and asking God what he should do, he gets an opportunity because he works for the king to ask the king for help.
• He asked the king to reverse 13 years of political policy,
• to allow the rebuilding of the city, the planting of a church in that city,
• to give him a promotion, to buy him a house,
• and to underwrite the whole project of the city building and the church planning
** God-sized dreams often require God-sized requests & God-given partners
[Nehemiah 2:12] – [s.5]
I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem.
• Ownership of vision
• First-hand information
• Strategic planning
• Faith does not mean we have no understanding of “reality”
• But when we see the reality and trust God anyway – our faith grows