Nehemiah Pt 2 -The Man 

Click here to download the powerpoint presentation to accompany this session

1)  Nehemiah – the story of the man

Key information:

  • He was a cup bearer

The Cup bearer was a privileged position; ceremonial and civil servant; trusted advisor, possibly working a lot of hours. More politician than church leader or prophet

  • He was an immigrant

He hadn’t let his own situation get in the way, as this was quite a successful position. He worked in the palace and therefore probably knew luxury.

  • He had no immediate close family
  • He helped to rebuild Jerusalem
  • He was Governor of Jerusalem for a time

Dave will be expanding some of the detail of how God used Nehemiah’s position next week, but today we’re just looking at the character of the man
This list above is a description of what he did-but these details alone can’t tell us much about the character, although there are some hints

2)  My story…….so far

I am a pastoral leader, a wife and mother
I am employed in education
I am native to England, but not living where I was born
I am involved with a number of different projects; I am……………..

What would you write for yourself here?
Would other people recognise your own description of you?

Sometimes it’s not too good to spend time dwelling on who we are because we often focus on our limitations…we ‘do’ feeling guilty quite well; or we focus on what we’re not (or how far we are from what we’d like to be) rather than who we are now and celebrating the good stuff.
HOWEVER, knowing  what we’re good at, knowing our weaknesses, helps us, because it throws us back to  the Lord for his help, it shows us where more work of the Holy Spirit is needed. We can co-operate with Him and the Holy Spirit from a position of reality but remembering who loves us and how he loves us
So while we are looking at Nehemiah, take time, with the Lord to think about how we can be more
 ……Ps 86 v11

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.


3)  Key bible passage

Nehemiah 1 4-6 & 11

When I heard these things I sat down abruptly, crying and mourning for several days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Then I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, great and awesome God, who keeps his loving covenant with those who love him and obey his commandments, may your ear be attentive and your eyes be open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying to you today throughout both day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites…………….  11 Please, O Lord, listen attentively to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take pleasure in showing respect to your name. Grant your servant success today and show compassion to me in the presence of this man.”
Now I was cupbearer for the king.

Chapter 1 is our key passage today; we’re going to explore this for what it reveals about Nehemiah.
However, there are two things I want to draw your attention to, by way of an aside:

  1. Is the prayer he prays; this would be good for you to study & think about, how he moves from
Acknowledging who God is,
What he’s done and said in the past,
Through to his own sin and the sin of his people,
To his request.

There are words used here that you would have found Moses praying- sometimes we can’t always think how we might pray, but there are some fantastic prayers in God’s word that we could use.
  1. At the start of chapter 2, we see a conversation, initiated by the king who notices Nehemiah’s sad face. This is about 4 months after what we see starting in chapter 1.  What does this tell us about Nehemiah? He persevered until the moment was right.

4)  Nehemiah-the character of  the man

  • He was interested in others
a.Love your neighbour……go into all the world and make disciples; these are the message of the gospel. Reaching out to others is part of what we’re aiming to do through our community groups. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for us to be self-centred or just to look after our own self interest
  • He was a man of prayer and reflection
    1. Nehemiah spent days praying, weeping and fasting over this issue.
    2. Are we affected by anything that continually drives us to talk to God about the issue, looking for His solution? I think we’re in danger of buying into the quick fix world of our society, rather than spending time engaged in a dialogue with the Lord over an issue
    3. Jesus often went up into the hills to pray
  • He was a man of feeling and compassion
    1. What are you passionate about?
    2. What stirs your compassion-why one thing more than another…….are you doing anything about it? Those things which stir in us-we need to give ourselves to those. We do live in a global village and I’m aware there are things in the news today which 20 or 30 years ago would not have even featured. There is so much out there, we need to respond to the thing which draws on our compassion and allow this to be moulded in God’s presence
    3. Jesus wept over Jerusalem Luke 19 v 41
  • He was a man of action
    1. Chapter 2- after all the praying and reflecting, he had a plan ready. He’d spent weeks thinking and praying about what might be done, and God put an idea into Nehemiah’s heart, which was shaped till it was ready
    2. Do we take action over what moves us? To have an emotional response to something and not do anything, but to move on and have another emotional response to the next thing, means we’re indulging ourselves in feelings and experiences for their own sake?
  • He was a man of wisdom & understanding of the ways of men
    1. Chap 5 v 6, v9 there were problems over the poor amongst the Jews working at rebuilding, which Nehemiah challenged and suggested an alternative way of doing things.
    2. Chap 6- he understood the traps the opposition were setting for him and evaded them.

5)  Character-keys for development

There are no magic keys,………our character can’t be formed overnight and we can’t make ourselves something we’re not,
BUT, we can place ourselves in a good position or facing the right direction to co-operate with the work of the Holy Spirit
There are 4 things which we could give our attention to, which might help:
  1. Reflection-posh word for thinking; spending time thinking about what we’re doing, who we are, will help us to see where the gaps are-and where we need God to work!
  2. Prayer- just regular talking & listening to God. We need to spend more time talking with him
  3. Actively co-operating with, and inviting,  the work of the holy spirit
  4. Time-giving time to do the above!

6)  Legacy

What are you leaving behind you?
Who we are…..directs what we do……..what we do can influence, change, impact, develop…….
He has called every one of us to come to him……….and then to go

7)  Some Questions for you to consider

  1. What issues in your life are you passionate about?
    What might you do about these challenges?
  2. ‘Prayer is as natural for the Christian as breathing’– What action might you take this week to strengthen your prayer life?
  3. For which character traits would you like to be known?
    How are you developing these?
  4. Which aspects of Nehemiah’s character inspire you?

Sue Blake Jan 2015

Sue Blake, 18/01/2015