Title: SPIRITUAL RECONSTRUCTION
Text: Nehemiah 2:1-11
Have you ever worked for a boss of the Tyrannosaurus Rex species – the flesh-eating variety that love to prey on powerless subordinates? They devour the spirit right out of you, attacking with serrated teeth of sarcasm, criticism, belittling comments, shredding their victim’s self-esteem.
We are going to take a look at how Nehemiah handled one of those kinds of bosses – Artaxerxes, who just happened to be his boss.
The message of this lesson is that God touches the hearts of those who patiently wait upon Him to instill vision, hope and a plan to pull God’s people back to their purpose. Nehemiah’s people had been captives for 142 years. This group he was going to challenge had only known captivity; none of them had known freedom. There were 3 waves of release of captives from Babylon; Nehemiah led the last group. He had received word from a former group that Jerusalem was in shambles and the people were in great distress. God moved in Nehemiah’s heart to speak to King Artaxerxes about the matter. Read Text.
1. Place yourself in Nehemiah’s shoes for this story…but you are living it from the very start…you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Would your heart be as moved as was Nehemiah’s about the news of Jerusalem?
Insight: Sensitive hearts care about others. They are perceptive to the things that affect others. There’s a risk in leading with a compassionate heart…it can get wounded easily…but leadership with a cold heart doesn’t rebuild broken walls. Compassion makes for ready feet to move at the hearing of a need.
2. What would be running through your mind about the chances of the king releasing you to go home and repair the walls for defense? What was Nehemiah’s first emotion when the king asked him why his countenance had fallen? Neh. 2:2 (Very much afraid.)
3. What did Nehemiah do when the king asked what he wanted him to do? 2:4 (Prayed) Why is it a good idea to pray before answering critical questions? (Because now you have God prompting your mind with what to say…and He knows the heart of your boss…and knows what will turn their heart.) Isa. 65:24
Insight: “Why is your face sad though you are not sick?” The words pass through his heart like a chilling wind – it is a crime punishable by death to be dissatisfied with the king. Nehemiah knew he must choose his words carefully, so he consulted God.
Insight: If you honestly appraise your own condition, it won’t be very long before you realize that the solution must involve God. The impossible comes to reality when you let God direct it.
4. Taking on a boss of the Tyrannosaurus Rex variety may seem to be a death wish, but how does Prov. 21:1 inspire you? (The heart of the king, where all decisions are made, is in the hands of the Lord; He turns the heart in whatever direction He pleases.)
5. It’s obvious by the conversation that follows that the king has a deep appreciation for Nehemiah. What does this say to you about the importance of developing relationships even with the impossible boss? Col. 3:22-25
Insight: Even though his heart longs for Jerusalem, he carried out his duties in this foreign land with the same care he would have given them in his homeland.
6. “And I gave a definite time” (v.6). What does this imply that Nehemiah had been doing prior to this conversation with the king? (His well-thought-out itinerary came from planning his way through the whole project while prayerfully waiting on God to move the king.)
Insight: Stepping out in faith doesn’t mean you go out haphazardly without any plans. Lk. 14:28-30
7. God is awesome. In just the few short moments this conversation lasted, Nehemiah was transformed from cupbearer to general contractor. What do verses 7-8 reveal that he had been preparing for the task ahead? How have you seen God turn things totally around in just a few short moments?
Insight: Due to God’s intervention, the desires of the king’s heart were now flowing in the same direction as Nehemiah’s and he was pleased to provide what was needed. Who but God can accomplish that?
8. What important leadership trait is revealed at the end of verse 8? (Humility – he immediately recognized his favor with the king was directly due to the good hand of God upon him.)
9. Over the next several verses Nehemiah quickly takes us over 800 miles with stops in two areas to pick up resources…all made possible because of letters from the king and soldiers from the king’s army. How far can the arm of the Lord stretch? Ezek. 20:33-35; Isa. 59:1
10. Along the way, Nehemiah met opposition with Sanballat and Tobiah. Can we expect opposition even when we are in the center of God’s will? Has opposition while doing God’s will ever put doubts within your mind?
Insight: When facing opposition, perhaps we need to look at it as an affirmation that we are indeed in the center of God’s will, for our archenemy stops at nothing to oppose God’s work.
As God speaks to your heart about the burden He lays upon your heart, let Nehemiah’s story inspire you to press on.
Changing the heart is God’s specialty. No matter how important the person, God is the one who decides the direction a heart will bend.
Prayer and waiting go hand-in-hand. You haven’t really prayed till you’ve learned to wait, to abandon your own efforts at making it happen and wait on God’s own timing.
Having faith does not mean we have to be disorganized, nor short-circuit careful planning. God honors us as we contemplate the vision he puts in our heart.
Opposition often affirms being in the will of God. When we walk in His ways, we can expect to encounter some Horonites and Ammonites who will oppose us. This may affirm we are exactly where we need to be.
Have you prayed over the Artaxerxes (Tyrannosaurus Rex) in your life? Is there a manipulative technique (silent treatment, etc) that you need to replace with a prayer for the person?
Is there anything in your life you’ve held back from committing to God for fear of opposition? What is it that you fear the most?
Is there something that you are not willing to trust God to provide for you?