Lent 2024 – Four Post-Exilic People – Part 4

Selections from Nehemiah 8-13

Nehemiah: The Wall Builder (Part 2)

I. A STORY of spiritual RENEWAL. (Neh. 8-12)
A. Humbly LISTENING to the WORD of God. (Neh. 8)
C. The PROMISES of the PEOPLE. (Neh. 10)
D. RESETTLING and joyful DEDICATION of the wall. (Neh. 11-12)

Have you ever had a mountain top spiritual experience? A time when you felt God connected with you directly and your motivation to follow Jesus and be transformed surged to an all time high? And yet maybe just days later it seemed like just a distant memory. Why is it that spiritual experiences seem powerful and yet are so often short lived?

1. Kid’s Question: When have you felt like God was real to you?
2. Describe a time that you had a mountaintop spiritual experience. What was that like? How did it impact you?

II. What Nehemiah FINDS upon RETURNING. (Neh.13)
A. One DAY doesn’t transform the DAY to DAY . (13:1-5, 10-11,15-16, 23-24)
B. So Nehemiah BECOMES an ENFORCER. (13:6-13, 17-22, 25-31)
C. Notice his REPEATED prayer FOCUS. (13:14, 22, 29,31)

Nehemiah did good work. He went back to Persia excited about all that had been accomplished in the rebuilding of the way and the renewal of the Jewish people. Yet when he returned just short while later things had rapidly disintegrated to a point that was incredibly discouraging.

3. When have your expectations of what it meant to follow Jesus not lived up to what you had hoped?
4. When have your own expectations of yourself let you down? How did you respond? Did trying harder fix the problem?

III. The DIFFICULTY of true TRANSFORMATION. (Ezek. 37; Eph. 2:1-3)
A. The IMPORTANCE of TRUTH. (Neh. 8,9; Jn 17:17)
B. KNOWING God and His STORY . (Neh. 9; Jn 17:3)
C. Where we OFTEN go WRONG: (Neh. 13; Col. 2:22-23)
     1. Our ATTEMPTS to CONTROL. (Mt. 23:2-4)
     2. An MISGUIDED self FOCUS. (Lk. 18:9-14; Mt. 7:3-5)

We all want to make changes. But change is incredibly hard and tenuous work. Nehemiah gets us half way there. But without the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people, we can never get far enough and we often revert to tendencies that try to make change happen.

5. What stands out to you about Nehemiah in chapter 13? Can you relate or not?
6. When have you noticed in yourself a desire to control others spiritual lives or a constant comparison to others?

IV. The CALL to spiritual ACCOMPANIMENT. (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 3:13-14)
A. CLARITY and COURAGE around TRUTH. (Mt. 28:20; Jn 17:17; Eph. 6:19)
B. A TRUST in God to do the WORK. (Col. 2:13-14; 2 Cor. 3:18)
C. WALKING in relationships of GRACE. (Titus 2:11-13)

My hope is that at GBC we can begin to learn about spiritual accompaniment. I think it’s what Jesus meant when he talked about making disciples. It’s not just walking along with someone and agreeing with everything, but neither is it trying to manufacture change in the lives of another. It’s seeking to walk in the sweet spot between grace and truth.

7. What do you find harder: Speaking the truth boldly or offering radical grace to others? Why do you think that is?
8. Where might God be inviting you to accompany (or be accompanied by) others at your current place in life? What’s your next step in that?