Lesson 3: Practices Based Upon Nehemiah Today

Lesson 3 Study Notes

  • Hello friends, Bishop Andy St. Louis coming to you again. This is lesson three on our mini course entitled, Nehemiah the Builder. It is part of a series of lessons that I'm doing that makes up this mini-course on Nehemiah found in the pages of the Old Testament. Now, by playing my format up until this point, and those of you who have been listening to me are already familiar with it, first lesson I tell the story, second lesson I look at specific Christian doctrines and
  • 0:42

beliefs that we have adopted in part as a result of the story. Now, in this lesson I'm going to look at contemporary practices that are manifest in our lives, both individually and as a community, that we glean from the story of Nehemiah. And then in my final lesson, I'll look at what the story means in terms of our future behavior and patterns of belief that we might take hold of in the future. Listen, I'm so glad that you're here, and it is indeed my hope and belief that something said and or done over the course of these next several moments shall prove to be a tremendous blessing to you. Now, I'm moving a bit

  • 1:29

peacefully in this lesson. My first two lessons were a little lengthy, perhaps just a little bit longer than I typically would have them to be. But I do promise to be expedient and perhaps even a bit abbreviated in this lesson three and lesson four. I so appreciate the time that you have taken to listen to these lessons and be a part of this mini course, and I certainly Okay, so let's go here. Last week we focused upon five Christian doctrines based on the story of Nehemiah. We looked at items like ecclesiology and anthropology and soteriology and kingdom, and we made an explanation about those doctrines. And I invite you to go back and take another look at that material and refresh your memory.

  • 2:34

So that is what we did on last week. Now we're moving to this week. We're going to look at how the story of Nehemiah impacts us today. Last week, again, we looked at specific Christian doctrines that make up those beliefs that we have, even as New Testament Christians. And one of the points that I made last week is that even though we are a New Testament church, we look to the Old Testament to help shape and mold what we believe. And the Old Testament has an enormous impact upon our doctrines and our beliefs. So that's what we did last week.

  • 3:16

Now this week, we're gonna look at some practical gems, practical behaviors and expectations that we have of ourselves and of each other as a result of this story of Nehemiah. And so what I'm attempting to suggest to you here is that Nehemiah and the story thereof is not some

  • 3:42

narrative locked away in a room with no attachment and no relevance to where we are today. What I'm hoping to do today is to illustrate to you just how relevant and how real the story of not so much as 2,500 years ago, but right where we are today. Of course, that goes to speak to just how relevant the Bible continues to be.

  • 4:11

It is an ancient book, ancient literature, sacred in our view, but it's still relevant for how we live our lives even today. So, the first item that I want to suggest that we see in this story is social justice and advocacy. Nehemiah's example of advocating for marginalized and oppressed people.

  • 4:40

Now, let me take you back to the story, because here is the reality. Nehemiah had escaped the lot and the life of so many others who were caught up in the Babylonian captivity. I've made mention in the past of individuals like Daniel who is shipped off to Babylon and ends up in the lions den I've talked about, as Zariah, Hananiah, and Mishel, known to you as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and how they too were shipped off to Babylon. And when they refused to bow,

  • 5:19

they were placed in a fiery furnace. And of course, God came to their rescue in that situation. But Nehemiah was quite different because he never went to Babylon. He never suffered like Daniel or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

  • 5:33

Never suffered in the way that they did. He had a life of convenience and a life of comfort. When we are introduced to Nehemiah, he is already a part of the bureaucratic cabinet of the King of Persia. He is living a life of relative ease.

  • 5:53

In other words, he did not have to submit to the suffering that his fellow Jews had undergone. It would have been quite easy for him to ignore the situation and to say that it's them, this is me, I am here in Persia, they are back in Jerusalem, and the two have no relationship with each other. Ah, but such was not the case with Nehemiah.

  • 6:19

And Nehemiah becomes a chief advocate. Even though his circumstances were comfortable and convenient. He sacrificed that. He yielded that. He forfeited the life of comfort and convenience so that he could become an advocate for people who were not as well off as he was. And the lesson, the contemporary lesson that that should teach us, beloved, is the responsibility. It should illustrate the responsibility we have for social advocacy and social justice

  • 6:55

that we who have been blessed should insist on social justice for others. There is no way we can see the plight and the suffering of people around the world and ignore their situation, knowing that our fathers, our mothers, our ancestors, those who came before us were in

  • 7:19

very similar situations as those who are suffering even today around the world. If there's anything we should extract or anything that we should glean from the story of Nehemiah is not to be content or satisfied with where we are. Also, not to be selfish and only lean in the direction of our own self-interest when we

  • 7:54

see enormous amounts of suffering going on with other people. Nehemiah becomes a prototype of social justice and advocacy. I know sometimes politically, social justice and social advocacy is assigned to the left side of the political spectrum. But the reality is,

  • 8:20

all who are called by God, all who have the spirit of the Lord in their heart and in their lives should be concerned about the lot and the lives of other people. So there's no way we can ignore the suffering of others and not feel compelled to do something about it as a reflection of our spiritual relationship with God who made all of us in the first place. Now, that's one lesson, and that is social justice and advocacy. I want to move now to rebuilding brokenness, applying Nehemiah's approach to addressing societal issues and rebuilding communities.

  • 9:15

One of the things that I so appreciate about Nehemiah is that he did not just talk the talk, but he walked the walk. When he returned to Jerusalem from Shushan and the court of Artaxerxes, it would have been easy for him to participate in the volume of criticism that so many others were leveling at the time. Nehemiah could have been satisfied by saying, oh yes, it is a shame that the walls are torn down.

  • 9:51

Oh yes, it is a shame that the gates have been consumed with fire. Oh yes, it is terrible that the Lord's house lieth in waste. No, Nehemiah returned, saw what everybody else saw. But what distinguished Nehemiah from so many others is that he refused to do nothing, but rather he insisted on doing something. He just didn't talk about what was wrong. He actually physically participated

  • 10:33

in helping to make the wrong right. And if we look at Nehemiah as a prototype, if we look at him as a model, then what it says and suggests to us, beloved, is that being a Christian means getting your hands dirty. Being a Christian doesn't mean just talking in a rhetorical fashion, but it means participating in the remedy, participating in the solution.

  • 11:04

And sometimes that will put you at odds with institutions of power. Sometimes it will cause you to lose covenant and relationship with friends and even family. But if Nehemiah means anything, it means that we have an obligation, watch this beloved, to do all that we can to rebuild the brokenness in other people's lives. Now, I know we have limited resources

  • 11:43

and we're not as well funded as some institutions, but my suggestion here, beloved, is that all of us, all of us, because we are Christians and because we follow the example of Nehemiah, we all should be involved in some aspect of trying to make life better for others. That when we see the brokenness of humanity, we cannot ignore or pretend to

  • 12:19

be an ostrich that sticks our heads in the sand, but rather that whatever we can do on whatever level we can do it, that we do that to contribute to the rebuilding of broken lives where we see them. That's a practical tool and a practical aspect that we draw from the story of Nehemiah. Then one of the final items that I want to talk to you about is faith in action. How Nehemiah's faith translated into practical action and transformative change. Again, Nehemiah was not content nor satisfied to just talk about how bad the situation was.

  • 13:18

He put his hand to the plow and he made himself available for the remedy and the solution of such a way. Here's what I don't want you to miss. I don't want you to miss that Nehemiah and his participation in the solution was fueled by his faith. That it was his covenant with God and it was his faith in God that said to him,

  • 13:48

I can do more than what I think I can do. I have possibilities and I have potential that is greater than what I can see. I could have remained in Persia. I could have sidestepped the suffering and the hardship of my fellow countrymen,

  • 14:15

but I have faith in God. And I believe that God can use me to make a difference in people's lives. And that's what I want to say to you, beloved, and that's what I hope that you will glean from this particular lesson, and that is, of your own doing, your own power, your own agency, there is only so much that you can do. But when

  • 14:41

you link and attach what you can do with what God can do, there is no secret what you and God together can do. And so faith becomes an integral part of whatever strategy and whatever solution we turn to in rebuilding broken lives and being an advocate for social justice and social change. Then finally, and I close with this, the life and the story of Nehemiah causes us to review and and revisit the area of personal responsibility.

  • 15:43

Nehemiah's sense of personal responsibility and accountability in serving his people. Now, again, nobody was holding Nehemiah's feet to the fire. Nobody forced him to return to Jerusalem. It's not like King Artaxerxes insisted or commanded that Nehemiah take leave of his position as cupbearer and return to Jerusalem and help rebuild the city. That request hadn't even come from the people who were in Jerusalem.

  • 16:27

They had not even reached out to Nehemiah. They say, Nehemiah, we need your help. No, this was a response and a responsibility that Nehemiah assumed for himself. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar were no more. The children of Israel were returning back to Jerusalem. But because of personal conviction, because of personal responsibility, because of personal accountability, watch

  • 17:05

this, beloved, Nehemiah was not ordered, he was not drafted, but he volunteered for service. I think in part, as Nehemiah reflected, get where I'm going, beloved. As Nehemiah reflected on how good God had been to him, there was no way he could remain in Persia. Now knowing the conditions in Jerusalem. He was driven by his own sense of personal responsibility and

  • 17:44

personal accountability to not just see and say nothing, but rather to see and do something. And that's where we are today. There are any number of situations that we come in contact with daily. Our response ought not be to ignore what we see. We understand, we acknowledge that we cannot be the savior of the world, nor can we save and rescue everybody. But if all of us do our little part and we pull the little parts that we have done, then our little parts will translate into a large solution. And so I'm suggesting

  • 18:45

that you do what you can, where you can, however you can. If you do what you can and I do what I can, and others do what they can, when we put it all together, we have a mighty campaign for change. Nehemiah means anything.

  • 19:06

It means that we are driven by our personal responsibility and our personal accountability. Well, friends, again, that takes up all of my time. I certainly thank you for your time. I am appreciative and grateful for the time that you have taken to listen to this third lesson in this mini course on Nehemiah the Builder. Go in peace, love, joy, and happiness.

  • 19:33
 Go in peace, love, joy, and happiness. I look forward to seeing you in the fourth and final lesson.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}