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Encouraging Words #3

Good Questions: These lesson Have Groups Talking!


Nehemiah 1:1 - 2:18 (1)




  1. Nehemiah is a man used greatly by God. As we read this passage, look for hints as to why he is used so greatly by God. What are some secrets to his ministry success?
  2. In order for this to make sense, we need to set the context. What has happened to Israel over the last 100 years prior to this event?
  3. Where is Nehemiah? What is Nehemiah's position?
  4. Nehemiah questioned Hanani about the Jews left behind in Jerusalem. What did he find out? Were things going well?
  5. What does it say about Nehemiah's character that he asked? Is there anything in you that just wants to burry your head in the sand and not ask?
  6. How did Nehemiah respond to the news that things were not doing well?
  7. Suppose you were writing a lesson on prayer based on the example of Nehemiah's prayer. What lessons do you see? What points would you want to make?
  8. Nehemiah begins his prayer with praise. Is this the normal pattern in scripture? (2)
  9. In verse 11 Nehemiah prays, "Give your servant success." Three questions about this. How do you think God feels about success-is he for it, or against it? How do you perceive the Church in general feels about success? What is your personal view of success?
  10. Nehemiah 2.2. Why was Nehemiah afraid?
  11. In verse 4 think king directly asks Nehemiah, "What do you want." There is a time in the life of Jesus when he asked a man, "What do you want?" (3) If God were to ask you, "What do you want?" What would you tell Him?
  12. Do you think God likes us asking Him for what we want?
  13. Do you think God ever withholds from us what he might otherwise give us just because we don't ask?
  14. Look at verse 4 and 5. How long was this prayer?
  15. Ever pray a prayer like that? What would you call a prayer like that? (4)
  16. It had been about four or five months since Nehemiah got the news about Jerusalem. We are told he was praying. Do you see any evidence in this request that he might have been doing some planning as well? (5)
  17. What place does careful planning and thinking have in serving God? Are we to pray and just follow God, or use our heads and figure things out? (6)
  18. Nehemiah 4.9 (7) contains another example of Nehemiah blending the spiritual with common sense. What two things did Nehemiah do to counter the threat his was facing in this passage?
  19. If we tend to neglect one of the other-prayer and trusting God, or, practical common sense, which do you think we more commonly neglect?
  20. Nehemiah cast a vision to the people for rebuilding a wall and the people responded positively. What goes into a great vision-casting talk?
  21. What are some examples of some great vision casting talks you have heard? (8)
  22. How could one man in one talk change the trajectory of this city? How could he talk them into doing what had been undone for 70 years and do it in one morning?
  23. What lessons do you learn about serving God successfully from this passage?
  24. How can we pray for one another this week?

  25. 1. The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:

    In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, [2] Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

    [3] They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."

    [4] When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [5] Then I said:

    "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, [6] let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. [7] We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

    [8] "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, [9] but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.'

    [10] "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. [11] O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."

    I was cupbearer to the king.

    [2:1] In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; [2] so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."

    I was very much afraid, [3] but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"

    [4] The king said to me, "What is it you want?"

    Then I prayed to the God of heaven, [5] and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it."

    [6] Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

    [7] I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? [8] And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. [9] So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

    [10] When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

    [11] I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days [12] I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

    [13] By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. [14] Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; [15] so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. [16] The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

    [17] Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." [18] I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.

    They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work. Neh. 1:1-2:18 [NIV]

    2. Yes.

    3. If you don't have any Bible software, I recommend Wordsearch. It took about 5 seconds to produce this list:

    [29] "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" Matthew 8:29 [NIV]

    [32] Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. Matthew 20:32 [NIV]

    [24] "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" Mark 1:24 [NIV]

    [7] He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" Mark 5:7 [NIV]

    [36] "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. Mark 10:36 [NIV]

    [51] "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.

    The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." Mark 10:51 [NIV]

    [34] "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" Luke 4:34 [NIV]

    [28] When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" Luke 8:28 [NIV]

    [41] "What do you want me to do for you?"

    "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Luke 18:41 [NIV]

    [38] Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

    They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" John 1:38 [NIV]

    [27] Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?" John 4:27 [NIV]

    4. Quick.

    5. He had a lot of detail in this off the cuff request. He had obviously been praying and planning.

    6. Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;

    hurry and scurry puts you further behind.

    Proverbs 21:5 [Msg]

    [3] Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. Proverbs 24:3 [Living]

    7. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Neh. 4:9

    8. Two historical talks come to mind. Kennedy's, "We will place a man on the moon" talk and Martin Luther King Jr.'s, "I have a dream" talk.