Over the past several weeks I have been leading a Bible study on Nehemiah. The ladies and I have gleaned so many lessons from our time in the book of Nehemiah and so I decided to share 5 lessons from Nehemiah with you today.
The book of Nehemiah begins with him receiving the news about the state Jerusalem was in. He mourned, fasted, and then prayed to the God of Heaven. “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Chapter 1:5) This was the beginning of his adventure, from cupbearer to the king to wall builder.
Here are the five lessons I want to share with you:
Lesson #1 – Pause to Pray
Throughout the chapters, we’ve observed that Nehemiah prayed before he did anything.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)
“The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven,” (Nehemiah 2:4)
“But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Chapter 6:9)
Receiving bad news, responding to the king, dealing with opposition, Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He knew His God to be a Covenant Keeper, One who would be attentive to his prayer and who was able to grant him success with this project.
Lesson #2 – Courage
Nehemiah’s courage showed up in his prayers, his request to the King, how he dealt with the nobles and officials mistreating the Jews, and how he handles Sanballat and his posse. Nehemiah didn’t just ask the King for permission to go and rebuild the wall, he also asks for letters to ensure safe passage and timber for the building project.
“…Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” (Chapter 5:12-13)
“Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.” (Chapter 4:4)
When we know the Word of God, when we spend time reading and studying it, it builds courage in our hearts. Knowing that we have a Covenant Keeping God and embracing our identity in Him gives us courage.
“Courage is the result of embraced destiny.” Paul Cole
Lesson #3 – Don’t Get Distracted
Nehemiah had laserlike focus. He went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and all the distractions that came at him would not deter him. I love his response to Sanballat and posse in Chapter 6:3 “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”
The intimidation, insults, threats would not work so they tried to lure him out but Nehemiah was no fool. He was not about to walk into their trap.
I keep reminding myself these past days to stay on the wall, to carry on the work. I can’t become distracted and go down, or throw a brick or two!
“How do we resist distraction? Our first, most important fight is in our own hearts. We have to resolve the purpose of our lives, and discard what doesn’t fit.” Paul Cole (Bartender)
Lesson #4 – Integrity Matters
Nehemiah showed us what it looked like to lead with integrity. He didn’t just talk the talk. Nehemiah was a man who feared the Lord and chose to devote himself to the work. He didn’t use his position to lord over the people. He chose not to hide in the temple when he was told they were coming to kill him.
But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” (Chapter 6:11)
Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water. (Chap 4:23)
“But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we[b] did not acquire any land.” (Chapter 5:15-16)
Proverbs 10:9 says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely…”
Integrity means our outward life is consistent with our inner convictions. Billy Graham
Lesson #5 – Develop a Strategy
Nehemiah didn’t just go to Jerusalem with a haphazard plan. He had sought the favor of the Lord and trusted that God would give him the wisdom to develop a strategy.
Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we see him develop strategies to rebuild the wall, to deal with the opposition and their threats, to ensure the welfare of the people, etc…
Wisdom from God gives us the strategies we need to carry on the great work we have been assigned and succeed.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)
Let us embrace the lessons, let us remember to pause and pray, to be courageous, to not be distracted, to walk in integrity, and take time to ask for wisdom so we can develop winning strategies.
Which of these lessons from Nehemiah resonated with you? How can you apply the lessons found in Nehemiah to your life?