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Sermon No: 42239-Nehemiah - Chapter 2



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SERMON TOPIC: Nehemiah - Chapter 2

Speaker: Taryn Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 5 April 2019

Topic Groups: NEHEMIAH, LEADERSHIP, BOOK STUDY

Sermon synopsis: If you were able to end world hunger, improve the economy, leave a legacy... would you? For the most part, I’m sure most people would answer ‘Yes’. How sad then that when burdened by a need, our response is no response at all.

People are often overheard saying ‘If only I had more to give’, when even with the little we are given, no attempts are made to pursue Godly purposes or address the dire need around us.
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“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion.” - Psalm 137:1

Nehemiah 2 New International Version (NIV)

2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

The Reality Of Serving God

If you were able to end world hunger, improve the economy, leave a legacy... would you? For the most part, I’m sure most people would answer ‘Yes’. How sad then that when burdened by a need, our response is no response at all.

People are often overheard saying ‘If only I had more to give’, when even with the little we are given, no attempts are made to pursue Godly purposes or address the dire need around us.

The Reality Of Serving God

Luke 16:10 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.

The truth is most of us are like this, not because we lack materially but, because of a spiritual want. Our hearts cannot ever be fully committed to the work of God because they are never too far from the trappings of the world. Even with the best intentions the reality is serving God demands unwavering faith and personal sacrifice.

Waiting On The Lord

When In Limbo

Four months have elapsed since the first chapter and Nehemiah himself had become very distressed (Nehemiah 2:3), not having any definitive solutions to the problems he was wrestling with.

As Christians, its easy to become distressed by God’s silence. Left hanging in a prayerful limbo, as it were.

Compared to others in the Bible four months was a pretty short wait. Joseph spent time as Potiphar’s slave and then two years in prison before God elevated him to second beneath Pharaoh. Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God used him to bring Israel out of Egypt. David spent his twenties running from King Saul. Point is, those whom God uses must learn to wait on Him.

Source: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-2-realities-serving-god-nehemiah-21-20">https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-2-realities-serving-god-nehemiah-21-20

Waiting On The Lord

When In Limbo

We see Nehemiah practice 3 things while waiting on the Lord:

He prayed

He planned

He developed patience

Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we find him praying no less than 11 times in 13 chapters:

Nehemiah 1:5-11

Nehemiah 2:4

Nehemiah 4:4

Nehemiah 9

Nehemiah 5:19

Nehemiah 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22, 29, 31

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Prayer

Why we pray: 1) we are instructed to

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

2) its how we communicate with God Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.“

3) to express gratitude 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Prayer

Why we pray: 4) it teaches us to trust God

Philippians 4:6–7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“

5) Because God knows best

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Prayer

Sometimes our prayers are answered with a, “not yet”. We know the outcome of Nehemiah’s story. We can simply turn a page and read the next chapter. It’s easy to negate the gravity of the situation now, but Nehemiah had to have experienced a period of uncertainty. He had no way of knowing his story’s ending but instead of taking matters into his own hands, he exercised patience, concealing his heavy burden until God opened the door.

Like Nehemiah, we don’t know our story’s ending but just because an answer does not present itself immediately doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

Romans 8:2

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Why Wait?

1) It reveals our true motives Proverbs 16: 1-3 The intentions of the heart belong to a man, but the answer of the tongue comes from the Lord. 2 All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the Lord evaluates the motives. 3 Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

2) It builds patience Psalm 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him

3) It tests our faith in God

Exodus 14:14

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

The Answer

Does it cross your mind, when praying for answers, what God’s response might be? Or are we praying in hopes that His answer will resonate with the conclusions we’ve already come to independently; without His guidance?

Nehemiah’s homeland and culture was in total ruin. The situation must have seemed utterly hopeless or the man would not have broken his heart over it. What is admirable about the prayers of Nehemiah, however, is they were uniformly God centred.

This was not a man without doubt or fear (he admits to being fearful of the King) but his unwavering faith in God’s ability AND God’s willingness to help him gave him courage to push forward.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

The Answer

So many of us are so focused on what it is we want, we’re not even listening for God’s response. What we think is silence is actually just our own stubbornness.

While there are occasions God forces us to wait for His reply, more often than not, He’s already given us the answer. It just isn’t what we want to hear.

... sometimes God answers with ‘no’

But if we are instructed to “ask and keep on asking” and that if we do we “will receive”. Why do so many Christians find their prayers unanswered?

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

The Answer

1) Motive

James 4:3

You ask and DO NOT receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures

2) Lifestyle

Isaiah 59:2

Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

John 9:31

"We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”

Nehemiah’s request was not self-serving it was GOD centred.

1 John 5:14

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Taking The Next Step

Nehemiah’s story would have followed a very different narrative had he not committed himself to taking the next step.

God had opened a door for him and he (prayerfully )entered in.

Don’t make the mistake of staying in limbo.

James 2: 17-19

17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Waiting On The Lord Nehemiah 2: 1-2

“I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid

WHAT CAUSED NEHEMIAH TO BE FEARFUL? {Reading from: Nehemiah’s Battle With Fear by Defrosting Windows}

Members of the King’s Court were expected to maintain a cheery disposition in the King’s presence. Anything less was not tolerated. Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, he states, “The exactions of Persian monarchs would not endure any independence of conduct in their presence. Everybody was expected to reflect the sunlight of the King’s majesty.” This was a line of conduct that you didn’t want to cross. It could have resulted in a death sentence.

Waiting On The Lord Nehemiah 2: 1-2

“I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid

WHAT CAUSED NEHEMIAH TO BE FEARFUL? The King’s motivation for asking about Nehemiah’s disposition is a matter of speculation.

It might have been genuine concern for Nehemiah (as I believe it was) or he may have been merely reminding him about the rules of conduct in the King’s presence?

Irrespective, after months of praying and now finally in a position to make a request of the King, he decides to answer honestly in response to the Kings question IN SPITE of his fear.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Nehemiah 2:4

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Nehemiah Planned

Nehemiah knew what he wanted! When asked this question he is able to respond immediately and not only give the King a definite time but lay out set requests that prove he had done some careful planning.

Prayer and planning DO NOT have to be at odds with each other. Some Christians may feel that it is unspiritual to plan, citing “Trust in the Lord”, others may rely too heavily on their own plans. Nehemiah shows us the biblical balance of waiting on God in prayer, but also thinking and planning about what he would do when God opened the door.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

John 16:33

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.“

Wise As Wipers

Nehemiah had only just taken steps forward in his plans to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and already there was opposition.

Sanballat was the governor of Samaria to the north. Tobiah, whose name is Jewish (“Yah is good”), ruled the Ammonites to the east. Geshem was the leader of the Arabs to the south. They all opposed a fortified Jerusalem because it threatened their political positions.

Chances are the world is not going to sympathize with your plight. What matters to God is not what matters to the rest of the world.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Wise As Vipers Nehemiah’s careful, secretive preparations once he got to Jerusalem show that he anticipated some resistance to his proposal.

As the leader, he needed to know exactly how bad things were so that he could develop a realistic, practical plan of action. Nehemiah didn’t gloss over the problems. He describes it to the people as “a bad situation.”

Again, we see balance here. Some leaders are so sanguine that they refuse to acknowledge how bad things are. People in the trenches feel that he’s out of touch and it undermines his leadership. Other leaders are so engulfed by the problems that they lose hope. Nehemiah realistically saw the problem and, as we will see, broke it down into manageable units in order to get the job done.

Waiting On The Lord When In Limbo

Matthew 10:16

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Nehemiah’s enemies didn’t care at all about the plight of the Jews, much less about the name of the Lord being exalted in Jerusalem.

Unbeknownst to them at the time however, Jerusalem would be rebuilt, its inhabitants restored to their former glory and Babylon, the then world power, would fall.

In the end the only opposition to be concerned with is God’s.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

For more ministry downloads by Taryn Paynter visit:

https://agfbrakpan.com/ ministry-archives.aspx?speaker=Taryn%20Paynter">https://agfbrakpan.com/ ministry-archives.aspx?speaker=Taryn%20Paynter

NOTE 1: Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of http://sweetpublishing.com/ ">http://sweetpublishing.com

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org/ ">http://www.lockman.org)




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