I remember long ago being taught by one of my teachers how to teach… did you follow that?
They told me that a good teacher will never teach everything they know, but at most only 90% of what they have learned.
This will help you in two ways as a teacher. First, it will keep you in the safe zone, teaching from the heart of what you know and off the perimeter where you may not be the expert. Second, it keeps you from talking too much… can I get an “Amen”?
I’ve tried to adhere to this in my pastoral career, which honestly, is not that difficult since 30-40 (okay… 40-45) minutes once a week is not a lot of time to present at least a weeks worth of study.
This is even more true when we do a book study like we are walking through at CrossPoint. In our series FORTIFIED we are studying the book of Nehemiah a chapter a week. Even though we have added sermon based grow groups and daily reading plans to the series… there still is more that this incredible book can yield.
So, for the next few weeks I will be posting the Fortified Overflow here at CrossEyedLife.com and connecting you to additional resources so that the full weight of the book of Nehemiah can fall on our lives.
At the bottom of this first ‘overflow’ there will also be links to a couple of background videos that will give you a historical/cultural perspective of the life and times of this Bible story.
Many blessings and thanks for being a part of FORTIFIED.
Fortified Overflow – Week/Nehemiah 1
One verse in Nehemiah chapter one that we did not have time to fully explore is verse 5. This is the first line of Nehemiah’s prayer recorded, obviously in one of his journals.
It is important to note that this line comes directly after he receives news that Jerusalem is devastated and in serious trouble within the text, but not chronologically in the story line. Based on the Persian calendar (from Chislev in Neh 1:1 to Niassan in Neh. 2:1) that Nehemiah records there were four months between that initial meeting and when he went to speak with the king.
This simply means these words are not emotional or reactionary, but the product of months of seeking, thinking and praying.
And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” Nehemiah 1: 5
This is an amazing beginning to a prayer, especially for someone in Nehemiah’s position. We could learn something from Him. Let’s check it out phrase by phrase.
- O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God – you would think that a lifetime of slavery, exile and forced servitude might just create a little negativity in a persons heart. I mean, for most of us, if the car breaks down, the cable goes out or the air conditioner is not blowing cold we will usually shake a fist at heaven and cry, “WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME!” Nehemiah’s attitude is absolutely incredible, and one that is submissive before God despite his circumstances. Is it any wonder that God was willing to answer this request?
- God who keeps covenant and steadfast love – this one may seem a little hard to swallow. They weren’t in the promised land. They weren’t free. They weren’t on the horizon of any change. Yet, Nehemiah was referring to a Covenant that said God’s children would be blessed, numerous and live in a land of milk and honey. How can he say God is good when he was not blessed? And how can he say he was loved when it appears God is picking on him? The answer is actually pretty simple… Nehemiah knew who he was, and he knew who his people were. God had not changed, but they have acted sinfully and rebellious. Their present state was actually due to the covenant! They have broken the agreement and God had justly disciplined them, and this man knew it. He accepted it. He lived with it’s reality.
- Steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments – he begins a section in the prayer of confession setting the standard. God’s word’s, His law and statutes, are the elements of authority and the standards by which all is judged. Not how we feel, or what we think about a situation. Not the common consensus of what was popular that day. Not an excused behavior, not a rationalized thought process or a lowering of the bar to “meet us where we are.” He acknowledged that God’s commands are a source of life and the standard by which he was, and all others were, to live.
So what does this mean for you and I, how can the prayer Nehemiah help us become wall builders?
First, we need to understand that our situation does not dictate who God is. He is unchanged, immovable, the rock, the eternal. He is not the one that moved. Our difficult circumstances are usually the result of our sin in our lives, or the sin of someone else’s life that unfortunately affects ours. Other times our difficulty and trials have a potential to bring glory to God, and our perseverance through them is a gift of gratitude to the Savior.
Second, we must find a daily humility in our disobedience and God’s faithfulness. We need to quit patting ourselves on the back and take a long hard look in the mirror. God is good, we are not. He loves us and we rebel. He is faithful and we are in need. We are forgiven, we are redeemed, we are renewed… but it should evoke thankfulness, not expectation and pride.
Third, we need to return to the Word of God. Just as they tore down pagan altars in the biblical era that we’re leading the Hebrew children astray, so must we bring every thought captive to Christ. Our sources of authority that supersede scripture, our experiences that we value more than God’s law, and our pop culture philosophy that thinks itself wiser than the Creator must all be put away. We must return to God’s word, obey it, find comfort in, meditate upon it, live it.
So, there’s the overflow for week 1, Nehemiah 1… be blessed and see you this weekend for FORTIFIED 2!
Nehemiah Background Video Promo
Nehemiah Background Video Lesson
Fortified – week 1