Nehemiah 2:1-8

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God
Praise God for the privilege of public worship on the Lord’s day. Praise God that His Word is truth and light, and that it is the only infallible rule of what we are to believe and how we are to live.
Acknowledge Sin
Think about a sin that is prevalent in your life and confess it to God.

Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Nehemiah 2:1-8.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.

Placed in Position.
In an almost 'throw-away' line at the end of the first chapter Nehemiah states 'Now I was the cupbearer to the king'. This seemingly insignificant statement has a great deal to teach, not only in the context of the story of Nehemiah but also for the life of the child of God as he lives in an increasingly godless world. Because there were constant plots against kings, the cupbearer had to be thoroughly trustworthy. Because of his reliability, he often became a confidant of the king which gave him a position of great influence. It is quite astonishing to see how God was placing his servants into positions of influence during the time of the exile: Esther, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, and now Nehemiah:
                1. God is sovereign over the affairs of men and of nations, a truth that king Nebuchadnezzar was brought to understand, Daniel 4:35.
                2. Everything that God does, he does for the good of his people, Romans. 8:28.
                3. It is possible to be faithful to the Word and will of God in even the most heathen situations and under the most extreme pressure, Daniel 1:1-9; 3:16-18.
                4. When God places his people in positions of responsibility in heathen surroundings, He expects them to honour Him, Esther 4:13-14.
                Most Christians will never be in the kind of situations in which Esther, Daniel and his friends, and Nehemiah found themselves, but every Christian lives in a hostile world, and it is important to consider why God has placed you in your particular circumstances, and how you can serve and honour Him there.
Nehemiah 2:1-4 – A Sad Heart.
We can safely assume that for four or five months the situation in Jerusalem was at the forefront of Nehemiah's thoughts and prayers. It seems clear that the burden upon his heart became more and more overwhelming as time went on, so much, so that he could no longer maintain a facade of cheerfulness as he went about his duties in the presence of the king. When the king noticed that his trusted advisor was so distressed that he was not able to hide it, he rightly diagnosed that Nehemiah's problem was not physical, but was due to sadness of heart. Nehemiah was not able to put the distressed state of the people of God out of his mind, as we do so easily when we hear of the low condition of much of the professing church of Christ. How often would our employers or friends or neighbours know by our faces how much we took to heart the decline and apostasy so evident in the church? When the king enquired the reason for his sadness, Nehemiah was quite naturally afraid, for Eastern rulers of that period had an absolute power of life and death. Nehemiah's fear however, did not prevent him from telling the king exactly what was in his heart. His reply is a model of respect and conciseness, and left the king in no doubt about the problem that was weighing so heavily upon him. The way the king responded to Nehemiah's concerns gives an indication of the regard that the king had for him. He could simply have treated the matter as something of no interest or importance, relating as it did to a foreign city and a strange religion, but instead he asks Nehemiah what it is that he wants the king to do. What a great example of the truth of the Scripture that states, 'The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes'.
Nehemiah 2:1-8 – A Quick Prayer.
It is clear from the response that Nehemiah made to the king that he had given much thought to what was needed to be done to resolve the situation in Jerusalem. As he had wept and prayed during the months since he had received the sad news, he had evidently sought wisdom from God and had employed his mind to the task. However, when the opportunity arose to tell the king what was in his mind, the very first thing that he did was to pray. This is an example of what has been called an 'arrow prayer'. There was no time for Nehemiah to go to a quiet place to seek God's face; right there in the presence of the king and queen, being in a situation of great fear, he quickly and silently asks God for wisdom and courage to present his request to the king. No amount of planning and forethought in the work of God can succeed without prayer, and Nehemiah was well aware of that. There is one other very significant and vital element in this meeting between Nehemiah and the king. When the king granted his detailed request, Nehemiah did not attribute success to the greatness of his plan or the high esteem in which the king held him, but to the fact that the hand of God was on him. It is the constant teaching of Scripture that work done for God will prosper 'not by might nor by power' but by the Spirit of God, Zechariah 4:6. Even the very best of the servants of God are completely dependent upon the 'good hand of the Lord' being upon them, 1 Corinthians. 2:34. Nehemiah here demonstrates the need for planning, prayer, and the presence and power of God in any work that is undertaken for the Lord.

Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 125. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.

Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind. 
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
James 1:2. “Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds,”

Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 19 – What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
Answer – The fall brought upon mankind loss of communion with God, and his wrath and curse, so that we are justly liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to punishment in hell for ever.
Comment – Doing wrong can break fellowship with our parents for friends, but how much more with God! This is really what death is about. Love for God has ended and we cannot stay with him any more. We don’t even want to. Physical death follows, and judgement after that.
This is taken from where you will find proof texts.

Thank God.
Thank God that, as part of the church, we can be saddened by her state, and seek the Lord’s wisdom and help to see her revived. It is a sign of blessing upon us that we have such a heart.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC