Nehemiah: Rebuilding a City and a Nation
Pastor Ginger speaks on the story of a community leader who has a vision and a plan to revitalize his home city which had suffered a devastating disaster. His story couldn’t be more relevant for today as we recover from our own national disaster of COVID-19. The messages are streamed live at 10:30 Sunday mornings during worship. If you missed watching live, each message will be made available on this page, which you can watch anytime at your convenience. The manuscript is also available at the bottom. We hope you enjoy this very real and uplifting story!
Over the course of history, nations have dealt with unexpected crises—war, disease, natural disaster, economic distress or ???—just fill in the blank! Life is not that simple, but each time in order to recover well, men and women bravely stepped up. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
As we enter this period of reopening our nation, for the next eight weeks we will see what the Bible has to say about overcoming disaster. We begin a series called “Rebuilding a City: Trusting God & Each Other” using the book of Nehemiah.
READ: Ezra 1:1-7 and Esther 4:6-17
READ the MESSAGE: The Call to be Brave
Last week we began a series called Rebuilding a City and Nation. It is the study of Nehemiah, an urban planner who joined a pastor to take on the revitalization of one of the oldest known cities. Most of its residents had been exiled 70 years before. While efforts to rebuild began a dozen years before, progress had been slow and the city was still in shambles. This effort would require courage! Enter Nehemiah. He learns some devastating news. How would he respond?
This week we will see how a good leader begins. What made Nehemiah care? How did he determine the steps to take? Who would be his partner? What was he being called to do? The answers to those questions are there in this first lesson. Perhaps this will guide us at our own difficult time of rebuilding our cities and nation.
READ: Nehemiah 1:1-11 and Hebrews 11:1-2, 6
READ the MESSAGE: Be Honest & Follow the Vision
Do you ever wonder how long it takes to get an answer to your prayer? Do you have an expectation that it will be answered? Does God have a timeline? Is there an expiration date? What can we bank on? It seems answers do not always come with regular, expected guarantees! Does this make you hesitate to risk prayer?
In last week’s Scripture, Nehemiah prayed “Give me success today.” And the day passed. Then another, and another. We don’t know his thoughts about it. This week we join him 3-4 months later to see the outcome. Was his risk worth it? I don’t want to spoil the surprise!
READ: Nehemiah 2:1-8 and Hebrews 11:17-27
READ the MESSAGE: Faith without Fear Gains Reward
Do you believe that you can overcome anything? You probably give an easy ‘yes!’ But ask someone in the midst of problems and it becomes not-so-easy. Nehemiah developed some principles for overcoming which are very helpful today. One of them was “looking problems straight in the face.” We will talk about how he–and we–can do that very thing today, with our own circumstances.
READ: Nehemiah 2:9-20 and Luke 9:23-27
READ the MESSAGE: Looking Reality Straight in the Face
How attached are you to this community? Further, how aware and involved in Duncanville are its churches? Do you feel a personal sense of ownership? What about a sense of pride in your hometown? And if so, how do you engage in its economic, academic, civic, spiritual, or racial health? “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about,” says Margaret Wheatley. Nehemiah would have said the same thing.
Nehemiah knew he could not rebuild his city without all of its citizens. In fact, people came not just from the city, but also from eight surrounding townships. All of the people felt a sense of community ownership. This week we learn how this massive job of rebuilding was accomplished.
READ: Nehemiah 3 and 1 Corinthians 3:5-8
READ the Message: All Together Now
We pray for our nation at this time of deep distress and immense turmoil; I hope you are praying each day. God, through Christ, is the only one who will get us through.
Remember, “if we say, surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to our God; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to Him.” (Psalm 139:11-12) Cling to Him; He is in our midst. He will bring us through.
READ: Nehemiah 4
READ the Message: A Victory of Courage
Jesus said those words . . . no wait, he actually said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:12). That’s a lofty vision, but then it was the Lord of lords who said it. Our Lord has provided our core; our starting point; the center of God’s will for us. The question is, how do we get there?
Nehemiah, after fighting off forces who came against God’s people from the outside, now fights against forces from within which, due to the economic disaster it caused, threaten to undo the progress on the wall. What is the solution? What will he do? The lesson is so appropriate for us, so relevant at this very time in our own nation’s history it’s a must read.
READ: Nehemiah 5
READ the MESSAGE: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You
Happy Father’s Day! We celebrate all fathers on Sunday and hope that you set the good example of coming to worship as we carry on with the message of Nehemiah. He is a great man to learn from. This week, just a short time before his project is complete, that persistent opposition rears its ugly head once again. This time it is personally threatening. What will Nehemiah do? How will he come out of it victoriously? That’s our topic this week.
READ: Nehemiah 6:1-16 and Luke 4:28-30, 19:47-48; John 7:28-30, 8:58-59; 10:37-39
READ the MESSAGE: Overcoming Persistent Opposition
When you buy a home, you first want a foundation without cracks because if the foundation has problems, so does everything else! We talk to our children about the importance of building a strong educational foundation to be successful in subsequent endeavors, such as college or job. In the same way, God provides people with a solid foundation so that our cities and communities can thrive. That information is found in the Bible!
After the people completed the wall, set the gates in place, hired sentries, appointed city administrators and opened the temple for regular worship, the people ASKED that the Word of God be read to them in the public square. All the people–men, women, and children–gathered at the Water Gate for the reading. It moved them so much, they wept. Why was this so important? Watch and see.
READ: Nehemiah 8:1-12 and 2 Timothy 3:14-4:4
READ the MESSAGE: The Most Important Community Foundation
This week concludes our study on Nehemiah. We see the triumph of the people who together as one revitalized their city. They expressed their joy in a mass parade with two bands and two large choirs which marched around the wall of the city to the temple where they praised God.
These were people who had trusted God and persevered through thick and thin, and God helped them accomplish something great. But there was also a faction of people who resisted the work; who even worked against it; whose desire was to tear down, not build up. The Bible does not hide reality–every culture at one time or another has to determine who they are and what kind of people they are going to be.
READ: Nehemiah 12:27-43 and Romans 15:5-13
READ the SERMON: Victory or Judgment: It’s Your Choice!