Today will begin a new series on the Book of Nehemiah. This will be a little different from previous devotionals in that this is more of a study. My hope is there will still be a devotional quality to this and that these questions will help you dig into the text, provide you with opportunity for reflection, as well as offer you a few "rubber hits the road" application ideas.
Don't try to tackle all these questions in one sitting. Perhaps you can use them throughout the week t...o supplement your devotional time with the Lord. Better yet, share this lesson with some friends and discuss the questions together. I have had the blessing of studying and teaching Nehemiah a number of times and it never disappoints. It has wonderful wisdom and a God-centeredness to it that will enrich your life and walk with the Lord.
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Nehemiah 1:1-11. What was the bad news Hanani and the other Jews brought back to Nehemiah (1:2-3)? What was Nehemiah’s first response to this news (v. 4)? How do you usually respond upon hearing bad news? Is it easier for you now to turn in a “Godward” direction when you hear bad news than it was five or ten years ago? What in your life has made that transition toward God during difficult circumstances more or less difficult?
2. How did Nehemiah address God as he began in prayer (1:5)? Why do you think he addressed God in such a way? How is this similar or different from the way you approach God in prayer?
3. Write an outline of Nehemiah’s prayer based on verses 6-11.
4. Who does Nehemiah pray for? Why? What, in particular, does he start off praying about? Why do think he begins in prayer the way he does? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get straight to the point of what he wants for Jerusalem?
5. What is the value of confessing your sins before God in prayer? What is the “logic” of having a time of confession at the beginning of your set-apart prayer-time with God? Do you find it easy or hard to confess your sins? What makes it hard? What makes it easy? Do you find it harder or easier to confess your sins to another person than to God? Why?
6. Nehemiah repented not only for his own sins but also for the sins of Israel. What groups do you pray for on a regular basis (family, friends, small group, church, community, nation)? What things do you bring to God on behalf of these groups? Very often we pray for the health of others, but what other things can we pray for on behalf of the people represented in these groups? How does Nehemiah’s prayer guide us here?
7. What is Nehemiah asking God to remember in 1:8-10? Why? Nehemiah would know that God is all-knowing and doesn’t need to be reminded. What’s the value in making that request to God (see Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 9:27)?
8. Nehemiah has the obedience and disobedience of Israel in mind in his prayer (1:7-9). Knowing God responds to his people by grace, what role does obedience or disobedience play in the lives of God’s people today – individually and corporately? Does the “blessings and curses” motif in the Old Testament still have a place for Christians? What Scripture can you point to in the New Testament to support your answer?
9. How had God revealed his “great power” and “strong hand” in the past to deliver his people (Deuteronomy 4:34 and Exodus 7-15)? Why is it important for Christians to remember and recount those times in which they experienced God’s “great power” and “strong hand” in their personal history, as well as biblical history?
10. Read Nehemiah 2:1-8 and then answer this question: What did Nehemiah have in mind when he asked God to give him “success” and to “grant him mercy in the sight of this man?” (We’ll look more at that conversation in the next lesson.)
Write down 3-5 “big” experiences from your life in which God showed his power and grace. Spend some time right now expressing gratitude to God for bringing these memories to mind and for what he revealed to you about himself in those experiences. What did you learn then from those experiences? Looking back at it now, what can you learn today?
Grace and Truth,