Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and out of an abundance of caution, The River Community has decided to fully embrace this new move of God and conduct all meetings online through Zoom, livestream and other electronic methods. We look forward to seeing you online. Please see below for meeting details!
The women’s community at The River is made up of a vibrant group of women who seek the Lord together, fellowship and do life together, and bear each other up in bad times and celebrate each other in good times. The women of The River meet in a morning study and an evening study – read on for details! Be sure to scroll all the way down for a special list of curated resources for all the women in our community!
As we all shelter safely in place, TRC is pleased to offer a virtual Tuesday Morning Ladies’ Bible Study via text directly to your cell phone.
Each week we text our ladies a link to watch a video by powerfully anointed speakers such as Priscilla Shirer and Lisa Harper along with that week’s discussion questions and scriptures. Then on Tuesday mornings from 10am to 11am we all share our answers, prayer requests and praise reports together.
To join in, simply contact The River Community Church office at 805-648-7955 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let them know you would like to be a part of the Tuesday Morning Ladies’ Bible Study and give them your name and cell phone number.
We invite you to be a part of an exciting journey into God’s Word!
The ladies meet every Tuesday night at 6pm virtually via Zoom. Please CLICK HERE to join our evening study. We would love to have you join us!
From August 25th to September 29th the Ladies’ Evening Bible Study will be in the Book of Nehemiah! This season’s leadership team has assembled a comprehensive array of resources to help you not only dive deep into an intimate relationship with the Father but also to help bring this wonderful portion of Scripture alive in your heart and spirit. For further information, please email our amazing leaders at email@example.com
Nehemiah Study Resources
Prayer of Blessing
As you begin this new season of study and growth in the Lord, Pastor Judy Morelli has sought the Lord for a prayer of blessing over the wonderful ladies who will take this road trip with them and Nehemiah into the deep, mysterious heart of God. Please come back and view this prayer as often as you’d like.
Nehemiah Road Trip Playlist
When Nehemiah was moved by the Spirit of God in his heart to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem, he couldn’t have known what awaited him – the Lord DID! The Lord prepared his heart for the journey ahead. During the Nehemiah study, the leaders have prepared a playlist to help prepare your heart for this season’s journey with the Lord.
Nehemiah Road Trip Playlist
Nehemiah Study Lesson
When we begin to study a new book of the Bible we need to understand what is happening at the time and what led to this moment …. why was Nehemiah heading to a place called Jerusalem, who were these exiles and why did they need walls?
So, let’s go back to find out what got us to the Book of Nehemiah:
To understand the importance of the broken-down walls of Jerusalem, we must know the importance of Jerusalem itself. The first mention of Jerusalem appears in Genesis 14:17-20, where we meet a man named Melchizedek, the Priest of Salem. Melchizedek was the first person in the Bible to be called a priest of God and the first person to receive tithes on behalf of God. This happened in Jerusalem. Approximately 30 years later, God tells Abraham to offer his son Isaac as an offering on Mount Moriah (see Genesis 22). Abraham’s offering foreshadowed what would one day happen on the same mountain, where God would offer up His own Son, Jesus Christ. Several hundred years after Abraham’s offering, King David conquered Jerusalem, driving out the Jebusites. Already we can see the significance of Jerusalem mounting. Jerusalem is often referred to as Zion or the City of David.
In 1 Chronicles 15:1-16 David brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord into Jerusalem. Since the ark represented the presence of God, this event marked another important milestone in Jerusalem’s history. Up to this point, the Ark had always been housed in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent that the was used during the Exodus by the Israelites because it was a temporary structure that could move as the nation of Israel moved. After bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, David has a heart to build a more permanent dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant. (See 1 Chronicles 22:6-10)
Though David’s desire pleased God, it was His will that David’s son, Solomon, be the one to build the temple. Due to Solomon’s sin and his choice to have multiple wives and worship other gods, after Solomon’s death, Israel was divided into two parts: Israel became the Northern part of the Kingdom and Judah became the Southern Kingdom-Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah. The Northern kingdom was eventually conquered due to their continued sin and worshipping of other gods, just like Solomon had done. A succession of 20 kings ruled Judah from 979-586 B.C., many of whom were evil and disobedient. In 586 B.C., the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and forever marred its history.
The Israelites (the Children of God) were not listening to God, obeying His commands or following the “rules” that God had given to His people. God expected His chosen people to obey His commandments that He gave to Moses. The first one being “You shall have no other gods before me”. The Israelites had a problem with letting other things become more important to them than God. They took idols and worshipped other gods. God would send many prophets to remind them of what He expected and what would happen if they did not repent and come back to him as their only God. God always forgave them and gave them another chance.
The time came for consequence for their actions:
2 Chronicles 36: 15-23 tells us:
The Fall of Jerusalem
15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians,[a] who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.
20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.
22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
-The remnant (verse 20) were the children of Israel that God Promised in Jeremiah 25:8-14 would return to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years in captivity. In Jeremiah 33:6-9 God foretold of what would happen when the people returned and the temple was rebuilt. It says”
6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. 7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9 Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’
-King Cyrus of Persia overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C. and during his first year of ruling he told the Israelites they were free so they could return to Jerusalem, their homeland to rebuild the Temple-all who wanted to go, to fulfill the promises God gave to Jeremiah.
-In 538 B.C., Zerubbabel leaves Babylon with the first group of Israelites to go back home to Jerusalem. King Cyrus sent with them articles that King Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem from the temple.
Gold dishes: 30
Silver dishes: 1,000
Silver pans: 29
Gold bowls: 30
Matching silver bowls 410
Other articles: 1,000
The Israelites that stayed in Babylon sent articles of gold and silver, goods, livestock, valuable gifts and freewill offerings. Whatever they felt in their hearts. Some of these people were Israelites and family members who were not wanting to make the journey back to Jerusalem-due to not wanted to leave, age, etc.
Ezra chapter 2 gives a list of the captives that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Nehemiah is on this list. Verses 64-67 tells us:
“The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. That’s 58,033 bodies that had to travel.
Ezra 2:68 tells us “When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings according to their ability to the treasury, toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.”
Why were sacrifices important? Sacrifices were the system that God set up with His people to cover their sins. A blood sacrifice had to be made in order to wipe away the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the first recorded sin in Genesis chapter 3. In the Book of Exodus, God sets up the system of sacrifices. Exodus 20:24 gives the guidelines for a sacrifice and offerings to God.
Many people wonder how God is honored by an animal being killed. The key to this sacrificial system is not found in the animals, the gift of grain, oil or wine-that were used in various Old Testament sacrifices. Rather, the key concept is this: God’s holiness requires that sin must not be ignored. Someone or something must pay the price to remove the offense. The guilt resulting from the sin can then be forgiven. Sacrifices were God’s way of teaching this spiritual truth to his people.
Another important concept is that the innocent can substitute for the guilty. God allows a sin payment to be made on behalf of someone else. In the Old Testament, these payments were animal or food sacrifices. Sacrifices involved offering something of value as a token of gratitude to God.
Then they settled into their own towns.
About three months later, the priests, Zerubbabel and associates began to build an altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on, according to the Law of Moses. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with morning and evening sacrifices. After that, they continued with their regular burnt offerings and sacrifices for all the appropriated sacred feasts of the Lord.
It takes them two years to get started on the rebuilding of the Temple from the time they arrive in Jerusalem. During this time, they were waiting on the Cedar wood that was being transported in.
Ezra 3: 10-13, tells us that as the foundation was laid there were great shouts of joy and music and singing was used to praise the Lord. The older priests and family heads wailed and wept out loud. Verse 13 says, that the noise was so great that it could be heard far away.
-This group rebuilds the ruined Temple from 536-515 B.C. It took about 22 years to rebuild, partially because they got sidetracked and focused on building their own homes and worried about themselves, and forgot that God had called them to rebuild the temple. The book of Haggai is the story of how the prophet Haggai called them back to complete the work of rebuilding the temple. They also had many obstacles to overcome-God allowed them to overcome the pagan kings of the area that came against them (Ezra 1-6)
-In 458 B.C. Ezra (he was a teacher and was well versed in the Law of Moses) returns with the second group of Israelites from Babylon. It took this group four month of travel to reach Jerusalem.
Ezra led a revival of the Israelites and restored worship of the One true God to the people. (Ezra 7-10)
Ezra had a heart to reunite the people and make “one Israel” out of all the people who returned.
He was very upset that the people were intermarrying, for religious reasons. Intermarrying of cultures usually led to idolatry as pagan cultures influenced the Israelites, which is what caused all the problems to begin with that led to the captivity of Judah and Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar. There was to be NO religious compromise!
In chapter 9, Ezra led a public prayer of confession to God. Even though he himself did not commit the sins, he showed care and responsibility for his people by identifying with them.
Ezra called for repentance from the people that had intermarried and the people wanted to make a covenant with God to avoid his anger and wrath. Due to the rain in a dry climate and the treacherous conditions, it took three months to determine the guilt of the 110 people that were still in sinful relationships. They did not take the breakup of households lightly, sending away wives and children who would not convert or make it right before God. It is thought, by commentators, that these were not legitimate marriages, but that these women were willing to accept less-than legal status in these men’s homes. Although, sending these women and children away seems drastic, the people themselves chose this solution as the best option available to them. They were determined to separate themselves from their sin.
- Is there anything God has started in your life that needs to get back on track?
- Is there anything that is distracting you from following God with your whole heart?
- Like the rebuilt temple was a sign to the world of what God can do, what has God done in your life that is cause for praise?
And next week we dive into our main man, Nehemiah….
Nehemiah Chapters 1 & 2
- Nehemiah name means “The Lord Comforts”
- King Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C.) was the sitting King
- Nehemiah job was as a cupbearer. He was an officer of high rank in royal courts whose duty it was to serve food and drinks to the Kings table, he had to eat and drink the food to make sure the king didn’t get poisoned. He had to be a man who had the king’s full trust and be loyal to the king.
- Nehemiah was the last of the Old Testament historical Books written
- The Book of Nehemiah was written in the first person, so it is thought to be written by Nehemiah himself. Ezra may have also been involved
- Written approximately 445-432 B.C. (that’s at least 2465 years ago!)
And here begins our story of Nehemiah. Chapter one opens up with visitors from Jerusalem to Persia who were talking with Nehemiah and he questioned them about what was going on in Jerusalem. Nehemiah wanted to know. Kelly Minter, an author and Ladies Ministry leader said, “Sometimes I shield myself from finding out what’s really going on around me and with the people around me for fear that I will be held responsible. Because with information often comes responsibility; if we know, we may be required to do something.
Back to Nehemiah, He found out that the walls were not rebuilt yet (this is about 70 years after the Temple had been rebuilt). He knew that this meant that they had no protection from enemies and it was a disgrace. Without walls, they could not withstand attacks from their enemy’s assaults. This could lead to another destruction of the newly rebuilt temple.
When Nehemiah heard the state of Jerusalem, the holy city of his people, he was troubled and sat down and wept and for some days he mourned and fasted before the God of heaven. (1:1-4) The suffering of the Jews would have naturally been of some concern to him, but technically this was not his problem because he didn’t live there. Remember, Nehemiah was a Jew born in Persia during the exile, but he had relatives living in Jerusalem. He was currently living in the Palace of the King. This really wasn’t his problem.
What does his response tell us about his heart? Nehemiah had to have a heart that could break to restore a wall that was broken.
Over the years, many scholars have pegged Nehemiah as a phenomenally skilled leader because of what he accomplished in Jerusalem. This is true. But let me ask you a question, was Nehemiah a great leader because of his skill or because he had a God-inspired heart that couldn’t bear the thought of letting his fellow Jews suffer-a heart that had no choice but to do something.
Many naturally gifted leaders exist, but those who lead out of sheer necessity have a zeal that can’t be quenched. So often we exalt the most skilled, the strongest leaders, the deeply resourced and connected. But we can’t underestimate the power that pours froth from a broken heart. Think of what has been accomplished over the years by ordinary people simply because they were moved over the hurting, the poor, the outsider, the sick. (Mother Theresa helping the poor, Danny Thomas building St. Jude Children’s Hospitals to help families that have children fighting cancer-no one is turned away for financial burdens). Think of the world-impacting organizations that have been started by leaders with little education, mediocre communication skills or zero dollars. Sometimes the most accomplished people aren’t the ones with the most ability, but with the most breakable hearts. Most of us have hearts that break for matters personally affecting us, but how many of our hearts break over the suffering of others?
Back to Nehemiah. Nehemiah goes before God in prayer. He prays for God to hear his prayer, for God to remember his covenant with his people and he goes before God and repents for himself and the people of Israel! He asks for favor for the time when he is able to ask the king for help.
He goes before the king and is so consumed about the state of Jerusalem that the king notices his saddened face, this could have cost him his life because it was not allowed and he could have been put to death. The relationship between Nehemiah and the king is so personal, that just looking at Nehemiah the king knew something was wrong. But the king asks him what has him looking so sad He tells the king what is on his heart and the king asks how he can help. He prayed before he responded to the king’s question….
This was not a long pause, the king was waiting for an answer! This shows that when we are in constant communication with God and we take both the big things and the little things to Him in prayer, we can whisper a quick prayer asking for favor, peace, direction…and expect that God will hear us and He will work out what is troubling our heart.
Nehemiah spontaneously stops and prays eight times in this book:
2:4, 4:4-5, 4:9, 5:19,6:14, 13:14, 13:22 13:29.
This shows that he had already established a prayer relationship with God and knew that God would hear him and work on the situation.
What is your prayer life look like? Is your first response when you hear something that troubles you, when you face a difficult situation or need guidance? Who or what do you to turn to first? Do you cry out to God? Call a close friend? Sit and stew? Worry and fret?
Nehemiah’s knee jerk reaction was to go straight to God. He knew the Bible and he knew God. He petitioned God based on what he knew of God from the Old Testament scriptures he had heard and memorized as a boy and stories that he had been raised hearing from his ancestors. We have a much bigger Bible available to us than Nehemiah had, that we can to go to get the answers that we are seeking.
Prayer is simply talking to God. Prayer takes our eyes off of us and our problems and places our focus on God, the One person who can actually change the situation, give us peace or change us to help us navigate what we are walking through. Sometimes God steps in and performs a miracle of change in the situation. Other times he steps in and performs the miracle of changing our hearts and minds, then he walks us through the situation. This changes us, grows us and makes us more like Him, hopefully!
There is not one person I know who could not seek to develop a better, deeper, stronger prayer life. It’s not that we have failed, its that there is always another level of depth we can reach for to get closer to God.
After pausing to pray, Nehemiah asked the king to send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. There could be no permanence to the Temple without the walls. As soon as the king agreed, he asked for letters to the governors of the Trans-Euphrates to give him safe passage on his journey. A letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, to get timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and the residence that he would live in. He says that Gods’ favor was on him and the king granted all his requests. The king also sent army of officers and calvary with him-protection from the king. (2:1-9)
Keep in mind here that Esther was the queen to the previous king, Xerxes. This more than likely means that she was the step-mother to this King. She may have influenced this king and queen to show favor to the Jews. King Artaxerxes would have grown up hearing about or even witnessing the saga of the Book of Esther. The events of Esther occurred during the time span between the first return of the Jews after the seventy-year captivity in Babylon under Zerubbabel and the second return led by Ezra. He would have seen the drama of Haman trying to extinguish an entire race, the Jews and he would have seen the hand of God save His chosen people. More than likely, the king was raised knowing that these Jews in Jerusalem were a covenant people who had God’s protection on them. Whether for political reasons or heart reasons, God used the king to get the job done.
Nehemiah asked for permission to leave his job and service to the king, take a leave of absence to go lead the people. The king asked him in verse 6, “How long will this take place and when will you be back?” Both the king and Nehemiah knew t he would be returning to Persa and to his job.
So off went Nehemiah and his band of travelers, along with the army officers and calvary that the king sent as protection and to ensure safe passage.
When Sanballet, the governor of Samaria and Tobiah governor of Transjordan heard that Nehemiah and his small band of exiles had come they were not pleased that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
Nehemiah arrived quietly to Jerusalem and spent three days assessing the city. He had not told anyone what God had put on his heart to do for Jerusalem (v 11). Then by the cover of night, he started inspecting the walls and destruction of Jerusalem. He just went out on his horse the back way by himself, to see what he was up against. He didn’t want anyone to know what he was up to and didn’t want to alert his enemies to his plans.
Looking at your map, you can see that he started and ended his trip at the same spot, the Valley Gate on the west side of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:13-16 tells us his travels and mentions each gate and pool that he passed. His journey went counter-clock-wise.
Verse 14 tells us that the walls were so broken down that his horse couldn’t get through and he had to probably go on foot.
Verses 17 & 18 shows us that Nehemiah had a vision and he was able to share it with enthusiasm and spark a fire in the leaders and get them on board to rebuild the wall.
The three leaders in the area Sanballot, Tobiah and Geshem mocked them and accused them of rebelling against the king (the very one that Nehemiah already had approval from). Nehemiah didn’t argue his rights or defend his actions. He told them that they had God’s blessing and that was enough. We need to remember this point, when we are following God’s direction, we do not have to defend ourselves, he will fight for us! (”Defender” by Francesca Battistelli)
Information for all study lessons are forthcoming! We look forward to seeing you all on Zoom!
Hello Bride of Christ
There I am again ( my mom and me) teamwork and giving each other a push! Who needs a push this week- you call me I will call you! Deal?
Here is your memory verse, Beloved- even if you just get a part of it to get it in your heart!
3:14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, sons, daughters, wives, and homes.”
Notice who Nehemiah stood up to Nobles and Officials.
He was a cupbearer. These Nobles and Officials were very prestigious, but he did not let that stop him.
Please, Ladies, let’s stand up when we see someone who is afraid and sad- Who do we remember? The Lord and who do we fight for? Everyone!
More than just a list
In Nehemiah 3, we see some of the evidence of the amount of planning that went into building the walls. There was a lot of planning before the walls began to be made. Possibly even where people would be working on the walls. We see all of the organization in this chapter to ensure each section of the wall and each Gate had people working on it.
1. One phrase repeated 20-25 times in this chapter is “next to him/after him.” They are working right next to each other, working with one another (Ephesians 4, Romans 12). Having someone next to you can be an encouragement for you as you work. Do not let this season go by without a partner of shoulder to shoulder – you should be able to smell what perfume the person next to you is wearing. Let’s buddy up!
2. Speaking of perfume. These builders were not “professional” builders. There were people of all occupations doing the work. These were not professional builders and carpenters. I was struck that no expert builders are listed. Instead, we see perfumers (v8), goldsmiths (v8, 31), temple servants (v26), merchants (v32), and the High Priest/priests.
None of the people were carpenters do you see that? They all had to trust God – a willing heart is all we need- to build, God will provide the rest- Don’t say no to the opportunity to build just because you are not a carpenter!
3. There were many other leaders (other than the High Priest). officials, v9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. No one is too good to get their hands dirty. They are from other cities. Distance didn’t keep them from working. An official with his daughters- v12- an official and His daughters – women were working too! Everyone’s role is important.
4. Tekoite leaders (v5)- Unfortunately, these leaders did not want to get their hands dirty. Not having someone that wants to work could be discouraging. But the common Tekoites worked despite their nobles not working.
This shows us the value of working for God in an organized way. Everyone should be given work to do, and each one should know what is expected of them.
Chapter 3 mentions at least 40 sections of the wall, but today we’ll primarily focus on the gates discussed in the first 15 verses. (Phrase found in Vv. 3,6,13-15.)
I didn’t notice the repetition of this phrase until studying Nehemiah. Once recognizing it, I had to ponder its profound significance: Little is as essential to a city as guarding where people come and go. Jerusalem’s walls meant nothing without fortified gates—every door, bolt, and bar had to be secured. This led me to think about the “gates” in my life, what I allow to enter my seeing and hearing, even what I taste and touch. The question became, “What am I allowing in and out?”
The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum, son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place.
6 The Jeshanah[b] Gate was repaired by Joiada, son of Paseah, and Meshullam, son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.
13-15The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah, son of Rekab, ruler of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and gates.
New International Version
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.
22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dark cellar
But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish, stones that are burned?” Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build if even a fox goes upon it, he will break down their stone wall.”
Like most attacks of discouragement, there is a trace of truth in the words of the enemy. As builders, the Jews were feeble. They would not complete it in a day. They didn’t have the best materials to work with. A lying, discouraging attack will often have some truth in it, but it will neglect the remarkable fact: God was with them and has promised to see them through, He will do the same for us Beloved-
Be prepared to fight the lies but not alone teamwork ,teamwork ,teamwork!
Let’s get to work; call someone this week- Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, Beloved!
Keep saying Yes to the dress!
Dear Ambassador for Christ:
Have you ever had a dream B.O.C.? (Bride of Christ) No doubt you have. I have too- Nehemiah had a dream way back in Chapter One. Nehemiah’s vision of a place where his nation is healed, the city walls are restored, and people’s hearts are restored is now being challenged, but this time from the inside.
Please read Nehemiah 5:
The city walls have been looking so much better, the city has been getting restored. It’s one of those Holy moments where the workers can look around and see what they have done and sit back and be proud. But sometimes, it’s easier to fix the structures. Nehemiah could see the brokenness of the walls. Still, he couldn’t see the internal brokenness that was happening until there was a great outcry. It’s easier to rebuild a building than it is to mend a broken heart. It’s easier to change how something looks than fix a broken system and its acts.
Given the lack of farming that has happened while the city lay broken, there is not enough grain to go around. Others said that they had already mortgaged all of their property to get grain. Others still had sold off their own children (I can’t imagine, can you?) to buy grain from the Jews who had more than enough grain to go around. The only person who is willing to speak to the problem is Nehemiah. He is angry, and he goes after the leaders of the people. He challenges their system to charge interest, and Nehemiah challenges their use of slavery.
Questions for 5
Have you ever known someone who was hungry or in a desperate situation? How did it change you? Perhaps it is you; how did it shape you?
Nehemiah got angry over the injustice- have you ever got mad over injustice if so- what was it?
I rebuked the nobles and the rulers: Nehemiah was no coward. When people were in the wrong, he confronted them. He told the truth, and from the result (Nehemiah 5:12-13), we can judge that he must have told the truth in love. Is that hard for you, B.O.C.? For me it has been-but I’m working on it!
Have you ever had a dream or a vision and seen it come to fruition? What was it? Was it met with any challenges?
Nehemiah was an Ambassador (a person who acts as a representative or helper to a particular country to help with conflict and relations). If you were to be an Ambassador, what country or place would it be for, and what would be your mission?
As you read through Nehemiah 6 this week, pay attention to how often Nehemiah interrupts his historical account with his personal prayers and mindfulness toward God. This is something Nehemiah will often do in our chapter for this lesson. The wall’s construction is approaching completion, and now more than ever, Nehemiah and the Jews are facing persecution from the surrounding nation.
Questions for Nehemiah 6
I am doing great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?
Anyone doing a work for God must contend with a hundred different noble causes, and a hundred things that might look good – and be right – but they are not what they are called to do at that time. Discernment gives us focus. How are you doing on your discernment? – In the past, how have you been taken off track- what can we do to keep our eye on the prize?
It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says: Sanballat’s slander began the way many verbal attacks do, as a report of what others have reportedly said
We may as well accept it: the devil knows our hot buttons. He knows those lies, those accusations that really get to you – and he knows how to throw them in your face. We can’t stop it, so we have to learn how to deal with it- but how do you deal with it when accusations come your way?
Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands: We must do what Nehemiah did – pray for God’s strength, His power in our lives. We cannot overcome the slander and fear of our enemies in our own strength. God’s word teaches us not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
Where do you need your hands strengthened?
So, the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days: The amount of time it took to finish the job was remarkably short. The walls were in ruins for more than 100 years, and then they were set right in only 52 days.
- Why wasn’t the job done in more than 100 years before? It wasn’t that no one saw the problem; it wasn’t that walls were not wanted. Many people saw broken walls, knew how they ruined the lives of the people of Jerusalem, but no one got past the place of just wishingthere were walls.
What is broken around you that you have the heart to see restored?
Sending love and hope of a better tomorrow!
See you on the wall
Good Morning Bride of Christ,
How are you today? Say this out loud- The Lord loves me! He does, He loves you with an everlasting and eternal love, and right now, He is smiling on you. His thoughts of you are good, and is glad to be spending the day with you! His mercy is new every morning, take a breath, and let us start new! We are His radiant Bride – Arise and say yes to that dress
Nehemiah is all about building a wall around Jerusalem, right? No, only chapters 1-6 are about that. The people existed for the wall in those first few chapters. They gave their time, talents, and treasures to make it happen. But the remaining chapters show the wall existing for the people. It’s not about the wall, but about what goes on inside the wall. The city was in ruins. They had a wall to prevent invasion, but inside was rubble, and they were supposed to live and worship there. But they had a grand vision of what it could be once again for the glory of God.
As we read Nehemiah 7 & 8, We will see that the reason for rebuilding was to establish worship and the return of His Word.
Read Nehemiah 7 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Nehemiah+7&version=NIV<
God’s real work is not just about building up the wall; it is about changing people. Although the wall was necessary, God values people over anything His people do! We always need to remember the WHY behind what we do, don’t we? They were rebuilding a city so everyone could feel safe to worship God!
If you do nothing but read the first line and worship, that is enough!
Nehemiah 7 has lots of great things, let us focus on this one thing WORSHIP- We might miss that first line of who was one of the first people he assigned? Worshipers. Chapter 7 tells how the people got organized, housed, and fed. They all got involved in a big love offering to jump-start their new spiritual life in their new city with their new wall from the least to the greatest.
Then it was when the wall was built: Everything was in order – both practically (the wall… I hung the doors… the gatekeepers) and spiritually (the singers… the Levites); the work was completed and set right.
i. The singers and the Levites was there to lead the people in worship; the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at lovely walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before.
I can hear Nehemiah singing this Hymn, well I don’t know what His voice sounds like, but I choose this song for him – No power of hell, no scheme of man!
· What vision do you have for God- what is one step you can take?
· How can you make worship a more important part of our life?
· What does worship look like to you?
A Holy Moment
Let us take off our shoe Bride of Christ, we are about to encounter a Holy Moment- ( I am barefoot as I write this)
I imagine Israel’s people were met with many emotions as they made their way home to Jerusalem. They had returned to rebuild their city walls and the temple within those walls, but something else needed to be rebuilt: their spiritual life. For God’s people to reestablish their identity, they needed to be reminded of the truth of what made them unique among all nations. It wasn’t a temple (other countries had those). It wasn’t a powerful city (Babylon could have sufficed). It wasn’t even a strong leader. What made Israel unique among all the nations was that God had spoken directly to them and given them His Word. For too long, that Word had been neglected, but on this day, Israel reestablished among themselves the chief importance of God’s Word for all of life.
However, hearing the book of the Law read to them was not met without emotions. “For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9). But convicted as they were, that day was not one for mourning and weeping; it was a holy day to the Lord. It was a day of returning to the city, yes, but it was also a day of God’s people turning their hearts back toward Him in repentance. And so Ezra and Nehemiah instructed them: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the LORD is your strength” (v.10).
a. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law:
b. The book of Moses’s Law: This refers to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). This was Israel’s instruction manual for how to walk before God.
c. Ezra the scribe… Ezra, the priest: Ezra was responsible for having the temple rebuild and return God’s people to worship. Nehemiah, in all his work of rebuilding the walls, carried on the work Ezra had begun.
We know he was a man devoted to God Himself because he was a godly priest.
e. Then he read from it in the open square: Ezra read God’s Word from daylight to mid-day. For some six hours, he read God’s Word and the people listened.
(4-6) How God’s Word was received.
So, Ezra, the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
a. So Ezra… stood on a platform: They took the time to build a wooden platform, so God’s Word could be heard. They did practical things, so God’s Word would have the most significant effect.
There are things we can also do to help God’s Word have its way in us- when a room is comfortable, low in distractions. Our heart is focused on Him; it allows God’s Word has the most significant impact. But by far, the most excellent preparation must happen in the heart. We must come, willing to forget about ourselves and our own agenda, and submit ourselves to God’s Word.
Then all the people answered:.
· The people thanked God (by saying Amen when Ezra blessed the LORD).
· They prayed (by lifting up their hands).
· They worshiped (by bowing down before Him).
Thanksgiving, prayer, and praise evidence that the Spirit of God and Word of God are working in us!
My heart has many competing thoughts today but I am stopping to bow down to my Maker will you me?
Come Bride of Christ, come let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker