What did you learn from last week’s sermon?
Q1: Why do Christians have an unfair advantage in the market place?
Q2: What is the risk that Christ warns us about and yet protects us from with eternal safety?
Q3: Why do we trust the Lord in victory and defeat?
Q4: What was Nehemiah distressed over?
Q5: Why was Nehemiah so respectful to the king that had laid waste to the rebuilding of Jerusalem?
Q6: Did Nehemiah’s prayer, thanking God for the king’s positive response, follow the pattern of prayer we learned last week?
Q7: Do God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility cancel each other out or co-exist in harmony?
Q8: Are we supposed to be making plans with our prayers?
Sermon Summary & Answers
Pastor Wilson starts us off this week with the knowledge that Christians have an unfair advantage in the market place because there is no ultimate risk for us (Romans 8:1, 8:37-39, Psalm 56:11) except a possible immediate physical death, but there are no real eternal risks. Luke 21:16-19 tells us that our relatives and friends might betray us, kill us, hate us, but we will not perish. Christ warns us of this and yet still sends us out into the world to boldly risk it all because we know we have the prize of eternal life in heaven with him forever. The Bible is full of such examples. American culture tells us to seek safety at any cost from fear and uncomfortable situations. We have to trust God in the victory or the defeat because it’s about the Lord doing what is good in His sight (2 Samuel 10:11-12). If we perish, we perish (Esther 4:16).
…but what about our man, Nehemiah?
Nehemiah prayed for 4 to 5 months for the physical condition of the city of Jerusalem and the Israelites’ hearts toward God. He was deeply saddened but tried his best not to let the king see it. However, the king did pick up on his sadness and asked Nehemiah about it. Usually, a change in a servant’s demeanor, especially one tasked with protecting the king’s life, meant a possible coup afoot by way of murder. Nehemiah had no such thoughts and had to act boldly and speak the truth of the matter because just brushing it off would breed immediate distrust.
Nehemiah acted quickly and told the king what was on his heart; even though, this was the king who laid waste to Jerusalem, Nehemiah still spoke to him with the respect of a leader placed on the throne by God. This demeanor demonstrates Nehemiah’s ultimate trust in God’s sovereignty, not fearing the king’s response. An If-I-perish-I-perish-attitude. Boldness!
Nehemiah knows well what we would do well to remember, God is doing this. In the midst of it all (including presidential elections)we must sincerely hope for the well-being of those leaders that He raises-up over us. Nehemiah isn’t interested in a revolt because God established King Artaxerxes. This doesn’t mean that Nehemiah likes the things the king does or doesn’t long not to be under God’s rule only. Nehemiah sees the king as an instrument in the hand of God to bring about His purposes through His chosen servant.
Surprisingly, the king responds well and says, “okay, kid, how can I help you?” Heart attack averted! This is the moment Nehemiah had been praying about for months. Now’s his chance. He quickly sends a prayer of thanksgiving to God and tells the king the plans he had been meditating over in his prayers. “If it pleases the king, if I have found favor before you, send me to rebuild the city.” Nehemiah wasn’t going to waste this opportunity to elaborate on what he would do if given a chance for success. He knows that God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility don’t cancel each other out. They co-exist in harmony. We are supposed to be making plans with our prayers. If you aren’t aiming at something, YOU WON’T HIT IT. Successful leadership demands a plan and the wisdom to articulate it, just like Nehemiah. He prayed, planned, and he waited on God to move for the good of His people. Do we trust God that much (even with our president)?
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- They know that the final risk, the ultimate risk, is gone.
- Even our relatives and friends might betray us, kill us, and hate us, but we will live forever.
- Because it’s about the Lord doing what is good in His sight.
- The physical condition of the city of Jerusalem and the Israelites’ hearts toward God.
- Nehemiah sees the king as an instrument in the hand of God to bring about His purposes through His chosen servant.
- They co-exist in harmony.