Lesson 8: Remember and Repent
In chapter 9, while they were in the middle of the teaching and dedication of the wall, the people were led through a recap of the history of Israel. It is very important to periodically stop and remember from where you came and the journey that you have made so far.
When we take the time to walk through our history it does two things for us:
1. It reminds us about how good God has been and leads us to worship Him.
2. It reminds us of the sin that we have battled and helps to expose us to our current weakness. This leads us to a time of repentance and reconciliation.
If you have not done so recently, take some time to map out your spiritual journey so far. Try to highlight the one or two significant things for each year. Make a note of how this process affected you. As you do it, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and see if He exposes things in your life that need to get shored up with God’s truth.
Lesson 9: Bring Offerings to God
Once the teaching was completed the people responded in an overwhelming rededication to the ways of God. They committed to not marrying foreign wives, to not working on the Sabbath, to bringing the firstfruits, and to tithing regularly. In this passage we can see that they realized that all of life is a part of our worship to God. Everything we have belongs to God and we are to commit it all to Him.
If our church is going to be strong and healthy then each one of us needs to come to the place where we realize that our things are not our things. Our time, our possessions, our finances, none of it belongs to us. God has given it to us and He expects that we will be using it for His glory. How is your time being used this week? How are you spending your money? Is the tithe going to God, or does He get the leftovers? Are you using your skills, gifts and abilities to bring glory to Him, or are you feeding your own ego?
Lesson 10: Support the Spiritual Leaders
Here we see that some of the people in the community had been set aside to devote their full time to the functions of the Temple; storehouse keepers, gatekeepers, singers, priests, etc. The people committed to supporting this group physically from their own resources in order to keep proper worship in the Temple functioning.
In Christian community it is appropriate to acknowledge when certain functions are necessary and, being time-consuming necessitate financial support from the community. In 1 Timothy 5:17-18 Paul says,
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
Lesson 11: Stay on Guard
When the building dedication was complete and the people had made their commitments to follow God, it was time for Nehemiah to return to Persia. 12 years later he returned to the city. What did he find? The people had begun to slack in all the areas that they had so fervently promised to uphold.
Here’s the simple lesson. The Kingdom of God does not exist in emotional experiences at campfires or altar calls. The Kingdom of God exists in the day in, day out, persistent commitment of the pilgrim who is committed to the journey.
Do you remember the very first lesson? It was to count the cost. Being a community that is walking in the Kingdom of God is a wonderful experience. It is the only place that brings meaning and peace in life. Yet, it is not easy.
If we are going to be a strong and healthy community, then we need to stay on guard for the long haul. Let’s not let circumstances get us down. When things are going great, let’s rejoice, but let’s not feed our spirits off of success. When things get rough, let’s mourn, but let’s not let our spirits be drained by failure or opposition. Let’s let our spirits be connected to God, and overflow into each other, day in and day out, so that the roots of our community will grow strong and deep and the fruitful overflow of who we are in Christ will be a light to all around us, drawing them into the Kingdom of God.