Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to learn from Nehemiah how to move from the pews into ministry.
August 17, 2003
A. Today I want to remind you of the sign that I told you about last week…
[Humor: Is That a Welcome?, Citation: Gary Shank, Olathe, Kans. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader.]
Seen on a church sign:
We Care About You
Sundays 10 a.m. Only
B. Today we come to the second chapter of the book of Nehemiah and we move from compassion to synergy…
Nehemiah 1:3-4 (NIV), They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
A. Last week, we began our study of the book of Nehemiah.
1. As we look back at verses 3 & 4, we see that things were pretty bad in Jerusalem.
2. Nehemiah has a serious job in Babylon under the current king, Artaxerxes I.
3. Nehemiah’s brother, Hanani, has been back to Jerusalem and had seen the terrible condition of things back there and is giving a report of what he saw to Nehemiah in Babylon.
4. Hanani tells Nehemiah that the people living there are in great trouble and disgrace.
5. Hanani tells Nehemiah that the wall of the city is broken down and its gates had been burned with fire.
6. This news really shook Nehemiah.
7. The Scripture says that when Nehemiah heard these things he sat down and wept and mourned and fasted and prayed for many days.
8. Nehemiah was visibly moved with compassion for the people and the condition of the city.
B. Beginning with verse five and continuing to the end of chapter one, we get to ease drop on what Nehemiah was praying during these many days.
1. Nehemiah praised God for keeping His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands.
2. But then he also confessed that the people had not kept their end of the covenant with God (they had not obeyed His commands) and God had rightfully sent them into exile.
3. But then Nehemiah reminded God that if the people returned to Him, He had promised to restore them.
4. That is the just of what Nehemiah had been praying for these many days.
C. But Nehemiah wasn’t one of those kinds of believers who just prayed about bad situations.
1. Nehemiah knew the importance of praying, but that wasn’t all that Nehemiah intended to do.
2. Nehemiah wasn’t one of those kinds of believers who just TALK about how bad things are and say, “I hope things get better for you.”
3. Nehemiah wasn’t one of those kinds of believers who just SAY, “That’s awful! I’ll certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers.”
4. Nehemiah intended to DO SOMETHING about the terrible situation and he was praying to God for guidance about what the people should do and beg God for HIM to do something.
D. I talked about the NT illustration of the body and the head and the church’s corresponding relationship to Christ.
1. When our head decides it’s going to do something, the arms and hands and feet do the actual work.
2. The head doesn’t actually do the work.
3. And that’s the way the church is supposed to be.
4. The body waits to hear from the head what He wants us to do.
5. When we hear what the head wants us to do, we DO it!
6. God doesn’t intend to do everything for us.
7. God has called us to be His feet and hands.
8. Instead of just begging God to do something, we should ask God want He wants to do through us.
E. And that is exactly what Nehemiah is doing in this prayer in chapter 1.
1. Nehemiah is actually in captivity to a foreign king.
2. God’s people had been in captivity by foreign kings for over 160 years, ever since Nebuchadnezzar had besieged it in 605 BC.
3. But now the people are beginning to repent and God has put it into the kings’ hearts to allow them to return to Jerusalem.
4. Zerubbabel and Ezra have already lead some people back to Jerusalem and have done a little work.
5. But things are still VERY BAD as we see in verse three.
6. So Nehemiah, moved with compassion, is praying to God to do something, but he’s asking God what he himself can do.
7. That’s what verse 11 means…
a. When Nehemiah prays, “Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” he’s asking God what he can do.