Nehemiah 1 Heartbroken for a City

Heartbroken means that you are overcome with sorrow. As we will see in our story today Nehemiah felt something when he heard the news that the walls of Jerusalem were still destroyed.

Nehemiah’s name means The Lord comforts” which is fitting for a man who would bring comfort and security to a city that was broken down physically and spiritually.

As we go through our story today I pray that we grow to love our city as much as Nehemiah loved his, and I pray that we will be used as a church to bring comfort to our hurting city that may  not have physical damage but is spiritually broken.

Read Nehemiah 1:1-3

1)   The Heartbroken ask questions

He was living in a place called Susa which was also the city where the story of Esther took place and where Daniel had his dreams of prophecy  (Daniel 8) Many Jews were still living there because of the disobedience of the previous generation which were attacked and hauled off by the Assyrians and Babylonians. (2 Kings 17, 25 and Jeremiah 25:11)

There were several times that Jews were able to return to Jerusalem one time in Ezra 1-6 which was led by  Zerubbabel and Joshua and they  rebuilt the temple. Ezra led the second attempt and now Nehemiah will lead the third return to rebuild the wall.

According to the historical writer Josephus, Nehemiah overheard a couple of men talking in his native language while he was walking around and so he wanted to know about Jerusalem probably hoping for a good report. Unfortunately for Nehemiah he did not get back the report he wanted to hear as the men told him about the destruction of the walls and how much they were still in ruins.

Many people today do not want to really know the truth about a situation because if they really know what is going on then it may just interrupt our lives. We live in a society that believes that ignorance is bliss but the reality is what is happening around us will eventually effect us all. Christians of all people need to take a good look around and see the hurt and the destruction of peoples lives and ask God to help them to know how they can make a difference in this broken and hurting world.

In Luke 10 one of the things Jesus was addressing in the parable of the good Samaritan is how the very people that should have cared did not, while the one who should not have cared did. It was a smack in the face to the religious leaders to hear how a Samaritan, someone they despised, was actually the hero in the story. We must learn from the story of the good Samaritan that we are not just to walk down the road to our destination but we are to see if along the way God is putting people in our paths that we are to help.

God interrupted Nehemiah’s cozy life because Nehemiah asked a couple of questions about a city he did not even live in. A City which was destroyed by foreign enemies because God was judging them for sin and mainly because they would not repent.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the King which was a very trusted position and could have also made him one of the Kings advisors. Nehemiah was well taken care of and was in a position of power and a place of comfort because he was so close to the King. Nehemiah had no needs and his only concern was to protect the King from anyone who tried to poison him.  We never know how God is going to move us or change our direction in life and with one simple conversation Nehemiah’s life was turned upside down

If we are going to be heartbroken for our city we really have to start asking the questions that need to be asked so that we can know how we can bring healing through the power of Jesus Christ. Keep in mind as you ask the questions God may interrupt your cozy life to be used by Him to bring comfort and healing to others.

Read Nehemiah 1:4-11

2)   The Heartbroken Weep and Pray

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept”

“How many nights will we go to bed dry eyed while the rest of the world cries themselves to sleep?” Dr. Jay Strack

There is so much pain and destruction around us it is as if we do not feel anything anymore. You cannot turn on the news or read an article on the internet without seeing the destruction that is thrown in our face. Whether it is murder, stealing, divorce or war we are constantly hearing bad news that we no longer even pay attention to the devastation others are feeling.

Nehemiah’s weeping was not just a simple sadness but a true brokenness for the situation that others were in.  Nehemiah did not just cry, he stopped everything he was doing for days and mourned. God broke Nehemiah and gave him a heart for the people that were in a desperate situation that had no desire to change their situation.

When is the last time you cried for your City?

When is the last time you cried for our nation?

Have we become so angry and callous to the things around us that we no longer care? If we are going to be the church we need to be then we have to start by asking the right questions and  be truly broken by the situation around us. As long as we are focused on ourselves then we will not have a heart for others. Maybe as a church we need to sit down and start by weeping and praying for our nation instead of just being mad about what is going on. Maybe as a church we need to ask God to give us a love for our city like He has so we will do all we can to love those around us.

It’s easier to pray when you are heartbroken for people, but sometimes you need to pray until you become heartbroken for them.

“There is too much working before men and too little waiting before God.” Alan Redpath

A)   We pray because God is bigger than the situation we are facing

“O Lord God of Heaven” which is like “Our father who art in Heaven

Nehemiah starts prayer by praising God for who He is because He knows that no matter what challenges he may face that God is bigger than all of them.  We have to start praying for our country and our city by recognizing that God is all powerful and can change any situation.

Is the God you worship big enough to handle the problems you face?

If the answer is no then you have forgotten that He is in Heaven above everything. Nehemiah was praying a prayer of praise but it was also a reminder to himself that God is above every situation and is in control of all that is going on in this world.

Nehemiah says in verse 6 that he is praying to God day and night. When you are heartbroken over something  then you will begin to make time to pray. Its amazing that we have no time to pray until the bad doctor report comes in or one of our children goes astray or the future is no longer clear because your job got terminated. We need to make prayer the beginning of all we do so that we can remember and trust the one who can move mountains if He chooses to. We need to pray because no matter how bad things look we serve a bigger God than the situation we are nation, and our city faces.

B)   We pray to confess the sins of others

“Confessing the sins of the people, we have sinned against you

Nehemiah is praying to God asking God to forgive them of their wrong. Remember, the city was destroyed because they refused to repent of their sins.

How often do you ask God to forgive the sins of others?

Do you ask God to forgive the sins of those who have hurt you?

In Luke 23:34 Jesus from the cross asked God to forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.

Our society is so full of hurt and pain that they do not realize the pain they are passing onto others. Nehemiah did not only pray for their sins but he put himself in the same category with them even though it was not his sins that caused the destruction. Nehemiah did not look down on them with judgment because he knew he was a sinner just like them. Our hearts need to be broken for people that are suffering because of their sin because we are all sinners and only by God’s grace have all of us not destroyed our lives. I think just like the religious leaders we forget how much we sin against God and only see the sin of others.

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

We need to pray like Nehemiah prayed in verse 7 that we all have acted wickedly toward God and we need to humble ourselves and allow Him to change and change our city.

C)    We pray to be changed by God

God uses people to accomplish His will but He also changes the people He uses. As Christ followers we are called to be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ and that is what God promises to do in our lives.

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Nothing changes us more than praying for others and ourselves. If we are going to be used by God He always seems to change the people He is using first. Nehemiah would wait four months to start rebuilding the wall and God used that time for Nehemiah to plan and pray. Moses waited 40 years to lead Gods people out of Egypt because God had to teach and train him to not lead the way he started off leading.  David had to serve in the field tending sheep  before he became King over God’s chosen people. Never rush the process of what God is doing in you before God works through you.

D)   Prayer expects God to do the impossible

Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

Nehemiah like Ester had to go in front of someone who could take his life and he had to trust that God would see him through the time he had to stand before the King. Not only did he worry for his life but then he asked the King to supply the materials to rebuild the wall. Only God can work in the hearts of a person to change them to show you favor over a city they have no concern for.

Ezra 6:22  And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Can you imagine God changing the hearts of many of our politicians? Nehemiah asked great things from a great God and knew that if it was His will he would accomplish it with Gods strength. We need to pray the same thing for our nation and for our leaders and know that the work God has assigned us to do can be accomplished through His divine intervention and His strength.

3)   The Heartbroken will volunteer to go

Nehemiah did not pray for God to send someone else he was asking God to give him success. Nehemiah did not pray for the situation to just get better  but stepped up to be used by God. It is easy sometimes to just pray and ask about things but God wants to use His people in the process of healing.

Nehemiah was not a wall builder by trade,  he was more of a politician than anything else, but that did not concern him because he knew God would know what to do. We like Moses like to make excuses about why God cannot use us but God is looking for people that have a heart that is committed to Him and are willing to be used by Him.

Acts 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Nehemiah’s luxury would be replaced by ruins and as we will see his prestige will be replaced by slander, ridicule and challenges. It all starts with someone who cares enough to do what God has laid on their hearts and then God will be the one to make sure the success happens.  When God puts something on your heart it is something that will have an eternal impact whether you see that impact or not.

Nehemiah knew that Israel was supposed to be a light to the rest of the world pointing away from the idols of the world and directing people to God. Jerusalem was in shambles and Nehemiah knew that it was more than just the walls that were torn down but it was allowing the rest of the world to believe that God was not the true God. The same is true for the church as we are now the light of the world but our lives and our churches are a laughing stock because of the brokenness of the people who call themselves Christians and because we have given our lives to other idols. Until we confess our own sins and the sins of Gods people then we will not be the shinning lights we need to be.

Some pray for things to be different and some pray that God uses them to make a difference. Nehemiah knew that his heartbrokenness was meant for him to not just pray but to act.

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