Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for His Church. Praise Him for the privilege He has given us to be part of the Bride of Christ. Praise God for the work He has done in our lives through our being part of the Church.
Acknowledge the sin of taking the blessings of being part of Christ’s Bride too much for granted.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Nehemiah 2:6-16.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Nehemiah 2:6-10 – The Plan.
Not only was Nehemiah a man who had great faith, he was also a man of great wisdom and practicality. When the king asked him about his journey, he considered all that would be necessary to make his journey successful. He was able to tell the king how long he would need and also to ensure that he would be able to arrive safely. There could well have been difficulties passing through the various provinces on the other side of the river Euphrates, so Nehemiah asked for letters from the king that would gain his safe passage. If he was going to do a work of rebuilding, he would obviously need sufficient building materials, and so he fearlessly asked the king to provide them, and such was evidence of the hand of God upon him that the king granted all his requests. It is quite clear that Nehemiah had a plan! This is, of course, a reflection of the way in which God works; God is a planning God, Psalm 33:11. This is seen pre-eminently in the divine plan for the salvation of the elect. God made his choice of his people in eternity, planned the coming and work of Christ to the last detail, and continues to execute his plan in the salvation of sinners. The plans that we make may not always be wise or feasible, and our plans may not always come to fruition. It is also true that God does sometimes bless us, in spite of a lack of planning on our part; nevertheless God does work through planning – if not ours, then His. 'Faith is no substitute for planning. We aren't more spiritual for failing to plan and for shooting from the hip. There may be sometimes when we simply can't plan, but we should never reject planning. Proverbs 21:5.' (David Guzik).
Worrying the Enemy.
Nehemiah had spent much time in prayer and planning. He had skilfully worked out everything that needed to be done, but the crucial thing is seen in the three little words, 'so I went' (Neh. 2:9). It is possible for us to be concerned, to pray and to have a vision for what needs to be done, but stop short of actually doing what needs to be done. It is easy to talk about working for God, planning evangelistic strategies, even praying for them to be successful, but to do nothing. Although prayer and planning are absolutely vital, it is especially when we begin to do something that the enemy of souls begins to take notice. It was when Nehemiah began to take action to put his plan into operation that he began to experience opposition. 'When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.' (Neh. 2:10). Before Nehemiah appeared on the scene in Jerusalem the Temple was there and worship was taking place, but it seems that there was little to concern those who opposed the cause of God and truth. It was only when somebody arrived who was seeking the welfare of the 'sons of Israel' that the opponents began to be concerned. It is not the mere existence of the professing church of Christ that is of concern to the evil one, it is not just that believers plan to reach out into their communities with the gospel, it is not even just when believers pray – it is when vision, planning, and prayer are translated into action that the devil begins to get worried! When believers have a genuine concern for the cause of Christ, and are willing to sacrifice themselves to seek the welfare of God's church and the extension of the kingdom of Christ, they may expect that opposition will arise to seek to hinder the work.
Nehemiah 2:11-16 – Seeing What’s Wrong.
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he did not immediately call together the leaders of the people to discuss what he had come to do. His work began quietly and secretly. He did not seek to call a press conference and announce some great plan of rebuilding, and seek for funding from all and sundry; he went out at night with a few trusted men to see for himself exactly what state the walls of the city were in. As he walked around the city from west anti-clockwise, he was carefully inspecting (the word 'viewed' means "probing a wound to see the extent of the damage") everything so that he would know exactly how much work there was to be done. There was much that was good in Jerusalem, and Nehemiah could have just focused on that. The people were back in Judah and the exile was over, the temple was built, sacrifice and worship were being conducted. There was much to be thankful for in Jerusalem – but sometimes it is necessary to see what is wrong, and that is what Nehemiah did. There are, unfortunately, some within the church who only see what is wrong, but that is not the message from Nehemiah; we must, like Nehemiah, look at the broken down towers, and carefully study what is wrong – but only if we have the heart, the prayer, the vision, and the passion to be used of God to put it right. Alan Redpath put it very well when he said, "It is utter folly to refuse to believe that things are as bad as they really are. It is vital in any undertaking for God to know the worst, for whenever there is to be a wonderful movement of the Holy Spirit, it begins with someone like Nehemiah who was bold enough to look at facts, to diagnose them, and then to rise to the task".
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.
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 20 – Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
Answer – God, solely out of his love and mercy, from all eternity elected some to everlasting life, and entered into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer.
Comment – Here we see the origin and foundation of the remedy God has provided for human sin and need. God has chosen some, indeed, a great number, to be saved. He has his reasons for his choice, but these reasons are in him not in us. We are not chosen because of anything in us or because we have some claim on God. It is solely of his love and mercy, and we do not deserve, nor can we earn, his favour. God’s choice was made in his own mind before creation, and a covenant made with Christ on behalf of elect sinners. Christ undertook the part of a Redeemer, that is, he agreed to place himself in the position of those the Father had given him, and to meet their obligations. In this way he would redeem them, that is, buy them back from bondage.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for the men Christ has blessed our congregation with, that they might be wise in the decisions that they make, so that changes would worry the enemy.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC