Nehemiah Bible Study

Led by Barbara Smith
Visit Barbara's Web site, Third Floor Publishing at:
http://www.chfweb.com/smith/
for more information about her upcoming book on Nehemiah:
Building With Ancient Blueprints
(or, using Nehemiah's plans in your home school!)


Any Interest in a discussion about Nehemiah?

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:18 p.m.

Building with Ancient Blueprints (or, using Nehemiah's plans in your home school!)

By Barbara Smith

"The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:3)

If you are interested in joining the discussion, I will post my thoughts in the following order, along with some questions to generate some thoughts and comfort. Questions taken from the NIV Serendipity Bible — and others I make up. May I please request that you respect the material I've written and not pass it out without permission? Thank you.

If you think this is not such a hot idea, let me know, OK?

Preface

Today, when we look at the shambles of our nation's system of public education, we know our children are as exposed to dangers as the descendants of the remnant were. Our children cannot compete in a global economy if the trends in illiteracy, apathy or violence continue to escalate. Christian parents know that secular education routinely undermines their moral teaching besides hindering their children's skills. So many things are wrong, where can we legitimately begin to rebuild the ruins of education? The temptation to panic is real when we try to restore order and purpose to learning so that our children may prosper.

Panic never achieves God's purposes. So, studying the lives of people who had good reason to panic is a logical starting point. Nehemiah had the provocation to panic, yet he persevered and got an impossible job done. He knew the ruined walls meant those in the province were in trouble and disgrace because their defense was gone. (Nehemiah 1:3) Much the same way we know something is very wrong in the public and private — and Christian — schools. The people's privations moved him to mourn and fast for some days before the God of heaven. So, too, our nation's education system must move us beyond complaining and blaming.

The Lord formed a plan in his heart to begin the restoration. (Nehemiah 1:4) He will form a plan in your heart to train up your children. Will you consider Nehemiah's journal as a blueprint for you to follow to rebuild the education ruins that threaten your children, wherever He leads you to educate your children? Home schooling is simply one tool to educate our children; how we wield this tool effects what we teach our children.

Nehemiah's very first words confessed the rightness of God and the wrongness of His people, including himself and his father's house. (1.6) His goal was to rebuild the city, his method was to begin with the walls. Your goal is to educate your children, and your method is to begin where your children are — not where your ambitions for them begin. The job of educating little children, or reeducating older children, will not occur because of your ambitions, any more than Jerusalem could be reestablished because Nehemiah longed to see it so. The job begins with confession and prayer and succeeds by God's strength and your obedient focus. Nehemiah knew much more was necessary to rebuild Jerusalem than simply rebuilding the walls. Encouraging your children to love the Lord and to love learning is much more involved than doing math and reading around the dining room table. Nehemiah practiced principles overwhelmed parents must learn to practice. He guarded his attention and focused on doing the next task at hand, instead of worrying about what he was not doing. His focus kept his workers focused, and working. He relied on the Lord, remembering that rebuilding Jerusalem was the Lord's business. Home schooling parents can rely upon the Lord, remembering that, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isa 40:11)

Schedule

Introduction: You? A Builder?
Chapter 1: You Want Me To Do What, Lord?
Chapter 2: Rebuilding the Wall, Part 1 -
Chapter 3: Rebuilding the Wall, Part 2 -
Chapter 4: About Agitators
Chapter 5: What Will You Stick To?
Chapter 6: Living with Opposition
Chapter 7: "Succeed at Home, First"
Chapter 8: The Cost of Rededicating the Wall
Chapter 9: Remembrance, Repentance, Rededication
Chapter 10: Read It Carefully Before You Sign It!
Chapter 11-12: Records And Rebukes
Chapter 13: Nehemiah Stuck to it . . .

Love in Christ, BWSmith


Introduction You? A Builder?

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:31 p.m., in response to Any Interest in a discussion about Nehemiah?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:18 p.m.

Introduction You? A Builder?

"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." (Isaiah 58:12)

Hi Ladies:

Any comments upon the following:

1. What building project at work or home clamors for your attention? What are you going to do about it?

Comments
Homeschooling leaves me with many impressions — and not all of them are pleasant. Some afternoons, as the sun set on some really sorry scenes in our home, I had the distinct impression of failure! Assignments were undone, chores were undone, and my performance had been substandard. The sun rose some mornings and I had the impression of many ruined ambitions for our children's education. The hopes and dreams to give our children an opportunity to learn at their own speed, to remove them from undesirable influences, to spend time enjoying their company lay shattered. It seemed as if for every good day there were three difficult days. I felt defenseless.

Others routinely accused my husband and me of being too protective, of trying to wall out the world and keep our children from experiencing their world. Is it wrong to try to wall out the rampant mediocrity convulsing our schools? Is it wrong to wall out the abysmal cultural norms that are plunging our nation to one of the lowest points in our history? No, of course not. What is wrong is how I sometimes chose to build. I relied on blueprints that were not always God's best for our family. I failed to estimate the cost of the building. I neglected the gates in my walls and ignored the watchmen on the walls.

What is wrong with building walls is not keeping our children safe from what threatens them — a secular humanistic society that knows not God. What is wrong is allowing our walls to fall into disrepair because we remain unchanged and inactive within the walls we build. What is wrong is refusing to equip our children to move in and out, confident of the walls' security. What is wrong is refusing to rebuild and maintain our walls, remaining vigilant and willing to work.

Surveying the walls around your homeschool, how are they, Christian? Are the walls you are building by homeschooling your children effective and enduring? Are they breaking down because of others who will not behave? Or, are your homeschooling walls in sad shape because you are weakening them from the inside out? Do you fret about motivating anyone in your family to build or rebuild the foundations?

Broken walls around your homeschool are an indictment and discouragement. Long ago broken walls around Jerusalem both indicted and discouraged the people of God. One man, however, began a rebuilding project that is still a model of motivational leadership. Though he completed his assignment more than two and a half millennium ago, Nehemiah's journal of his experiences is not out-of-date. His strategies are fresh, full of godly wisdom and common sense. Christian and secular innovators continue to cull out principles to improve leadership and management techniques in their ministries and businesses. Christian home educators may confidently depend upon Nehemiah's building plans.

This book, which continues to be a constructive teaching model for effectively training leaders, was not written by a builder. The Persians had not educated Nehemiah, a Jewish exile to rebuild walls or to serve as a royal governor; he was formerly a cupbearer to the king of Persia. Yet, he completed the reconstruction of miles of devastated ruin in fifty-two days; something that had remained undone for more than 140 years. He governed the reestablishment of the city behind those remarkable walls and orchestrated a return to right worship. God has preserved the record of how Nehemiah did what he did for you — and me, not just ministers and businessmen!

"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 ) "Dear friends, . . . I have written . . . to stimulate you to wholesome thinking." (2 Pet 3:1)

You and Nehemiah may have been about equally stunned when you realized what God wanted you to do when He called you to home education. You may wonder why God chose this as the vehicle to train your children; the enormity of your new job may bewilder you. However, as you tackle the ambitious task of establishing, or reestablishing, order in your home so education can take place, don't despair because of the magnitude of the job.

If leadership — God-ordained, focused and directed — is missing from your home education program, study this journal, and you will see the blueprint of a plan to follow when your jobs are confusing, troublesome or uncertain. Nehemiah left the comforts of the Artaxerxes' court for the desolation of Jerusalem's crumbling walls, yet he acted like a man who accepted his circumstances with the confidence. He was a man who believed he was exactly where his God intended him to be. Whatever you face to rebuild the ruined walls around your family is not more intimidating than what Nehemiah faced!

The Master's Plan . . .
Nehemiah is a model builder for homeschoolers to study for reasons that they can profitably apply to home schooling initiatives. For example, Nehemiah put God's agenda and the welfare of His people ahead of his personal gain. He never challenged The Architect. He kept at the building program although the odds were against completing the project on-schedule and within budget. Studying his journal, I espied how selfish some of my goals were, how I argued with God about His plans and how quickly I threw in the towel when "crossed."

Leaving the comfort of conventional educational choices to the frontiers of homeschooling is a bit like Nehemiah's journey. Leaving the company of familiar members of the Medo-Persian court, this man, accustomed to a prestigious position, was soon camping out with the remnant of his God's chosen people — the Israelites. Personal peace and affluence became a distant memory for Nehemiah. He saw that he must master tasks for which he was never formally trained. His personal habits and ambitions changed. He needed to talk to those who could not understand his language, to those who did not know the Law of Moses.

Like homeschooling moms who wake every morning to constant chores, lessons and the continuing companionship of their children, Nehemiah lived around the clock with formally unknown relatives. Some parents endure criticism and comments. So did Nehemiah, who lived in the shadow of mocking enemies who wanted to kill him and wreck his building plans. Many parents operate guardedly because of the political opposition to homeschooling; Nehemiah similarly walked a political tight rope, nationally and internationally. Raising the ancient walls of a conquered city; resettling David's royal city, and restoring the knowledge of God while maintaining his personal integrity, Nehemiah bequeathed a standard of excellence that points homeschooling parents to the only power by wich they can reach it.

Nehemiah accepted God's assignment to become the Repairer of Broken Walls, the Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Isaiah 58:12), perhaps wondering why God had chosen him. He was not a professional builder; you may not be a professionally trained teacher. Neither task — Nehemiah's nor yours — is beyond God's abilities. Discover how God turned a Jewish cupbearer into Royal Governor who literally rebuilt the city he later governed from the walls up. The same God means to build with you.

A Small Historical Recap — Why Were Jerusalem's Walls Down? To the ancient world, it appeared that the "whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem." (II Kings 25:10) Was this simply an account of a more powerful nation overrunning a weaker one; or, had Jerusalem weakened her walls from the inside out? Centuries before, the prophet Isaiah warned Judah that she was courting such destruction by indulging in reprehensible habits and attitudes and civil and religious practices. (Isaiah 1:4, 21-24) Jerusalem's walls could not withstand the onslaught of Babylonians, because the spiritual foundation of the city was rotten. Like those ancient walls, our spiritual walls at home are subject to rot, rendering them as powerless to protect us.

Nehemiah's "achievement" in completing the wall around Jerusalem lasted for centuries, though enemies repeatedly assaulted his work. His first efforts spurred a pagan king to underwrite his plans and galvanized fearful and discouraged workers to get busy. He stayed at a hard, dirty job and excelled despite his disparaging "neighbors." How Nehemiah rebuilt the walls is a blueprint for our individual lives and our work within the body of Christ. Fasting, prayer, and perseverance are the tools of Nehemiah's great work. How can you use them for your work?

Remember. Nehemiah's skills grew as he served God. He never mentioned any specific preparation that equipped him to become a master engineer and builder. Nevertheless, because he was submitted to God, his skills are still worthy of study. Later, the slave-turned builder became the royal governor who ruled for twelve years in a province of the Medo-Persian empire.
- Do you think God might equip you to do a mighty work in your home, if you simply say "yes" to the very next thing He asked you to do?


Thinking About Nehemiah --How Come He was in Babylon?

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:39 p.m., in response to Introduction You? A Builder?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:31 p.m.

Chapter 1, Part 1: "You Want Me to WHAT, Lord?" Coming to Grips with Our Calling

Read Nehemiah 1

Questions for Discussion:

1. Why did Nehemiah grieve about the news of Jerusalem?

Comments:

Why Was Nehemiah Still in Exile?

God ended the Babylonian exile of seventy years in 536 B.C. and sent the remnant, 29,818 people — double the number who went into exile — back to Jerusalem under the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia. They emigrated from an empire that had more than doubled during their captivity: the Persian Empire sprawled from Egypt to Afghanistan, and from the Black and Caspian Seas to the Arabian Sea. When the returned to Israel, the remnant lived in small villages and outposts away from the once proud city, rebuilding the Temple by 516 B.C., but not the walls of the city.

In 445 B.C., almost one hundred years later, David's royal city remained desolate and the once ample walls still lay broken. Workers were not the problem, but their motivation was. The Persian Empire, which conquered the Babylonian Empire, was divided into provinces called "satrapies," and ruled by officials, satraps, who lived and ruled like minor kings, relying on an elaborate internal espionage system. The Greeks called it the "eyes and ears of the king." The officials systematized the law, although few people in the Empire could read. Ezra the priest dealt with satraps, who had protested to Artaxerxes that the Jews were rebuilding the walls around their city. (Ezra 7) A few of them would welcome Nehemiah before he reached Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:9)

What Was the Danger in Demolished Walls?

Marauders from without the gates, and within the people's hearts, menaced the descendants of the remnant. (Haggai, Zechariah ) The city's ruined wall lay as an indictment of and discouragement to the people of God. Miles of rubble were a silent attestation of their ancestors' wanton rebellion that brought about God's wrath. The debris discouraged the builders, as did the ongoing intrigues by enemies who wanted Jerusalem to remain barren. Those who governed the Jews were opposed to rebuilding the wall. So, the job of rebuilding the Jerusalem's walls remained more intimidating than that of repairing the Temple, and the enemies to rebuilding the walls were as nerve-wracking as the enemies who tried to sabotage the Temple re- building.

No one emerged who had the understood the scope of the work and had the talents to undertake such an enormous project. The priest and scribe Ezra, who returned in 458 B.C., had his hands full learning and then teaching the law (Ezra 7:10), and quelling the opposition. Without a bold leader, how could the people requisition building materials and supplies without direction? Who had the skill — or the time — to organize, direct and supervise a building project? Without a competent leader, who could negotiate with the governing authorities, puppets of the Medo- Persian Empire, to begin Jerusalem's wall? Just as God prepared an unbeliever to deliver His people from Captivity, Cyrus, He was preparing a builder and a governor. Hundreds of miles away from the desolation of Jerusalem, God was preparing Nehemiah to be such a builder.

So what's this little bible history lesson got to do with homeschooling, you ask?

Educating our children is an enormous undertaking, however we chose to do it: delegating the duty or assuming it. Home schooling is a big commitment, especially if you are trying to correct gaps in education.

The Lord gave Nehemiah an opportunity to serve, an opportunity completely unrelated to his line of work and professional background. However it was an opportunity to obey — and Nehemiah was willing. Read Nehemiah, chapter 1 to meet Nehemiah who was serving as cupbearer to the king at the Persian court. He was eager to learn about the state of the Jews and Jerusalem. We see what his response when learns about their deplorable and unprotected condition. "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." (Nehemiah 1:3) His response is one of piety — fasting and praying, not by politicking.

Has the Lord shown you an opportunity to serve that took your breath away when you started to count the cost? Why me, Lord, you wonder? How can I do that, Lord, you argue?

- Does the prospect of repairing of the "ancient ruins" in your home boggle your mind?

- Do "enemies" or critics discourage you?

- Are you worried no one will help you to do what must be done?

- If you are fretting about how will you teach your children what they must know if they are to take their place in the world, REMEMBER: the Lord is preparing an answer.

If God is calling you to teach at home, or to continue teaching, study this "journal" of blueprints for leaders. See how Nehemiah got started; his start might have some applicable counterparts for you.

A Personal Petition:

Lord, I believe I hear You calling me to teach our children at home. Help thou my unbelief.


A Cupbearer's Job Was NO Picnic!

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:47 p.m., in response to Thinking About Nehemiah --How Come He was in Babylon?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:39 p.m.

Nehemiah, Chapter 1 continued

Chapter 1, Part 2: Unrolling the Ancient Blueprints -God's Provision to Fulfill His Word

Read chapter 1 again and think about Nehemiah's prayer.

1. What do you see of God's nature through Nehemiah's prayer?
2. What does Nehemiah see in himself, the more he focuses on God?
3. What does he recall as he persists in prayer (1:8-10)
4. What then is the basis for his final appeal (1:11)
5. Hmmmmm. When news from around of exiled people, brokeness and famine hit you, do you react anything like Nehemiah?

Though born in captivity and descended from the line of Judah, he moved in the highest circles of power. He was the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, tasting the food and drink before the king ate. He wasn't hired to shortstop culinary bombs; his job was to thwart possible assassins. He was in a post where he could have easily disregarded God's call; he was very busy with very important people. While technically a slave, his position of service gave Nehemiah recurrent access to the throne and he saw intrigue and corruption as well as splendor and power. He learned how the world did business — how they built and how they tore down, and Nehemiah used his position to answer the call of God in his life.

In spite of his royal surroundings, his heart ached for news of Jerusalem. He loved God's word, and he loved God's people — and David's royal city. Who nurtured this love in him? Was it Hacaliah, his father, who took the time to teach him, and did not assume that familiarity with the Hebrew culture translated into personal knowledge of Jehovah Jirah?

In December of 446 BC, when the news of an undone assignment of great significance eventually reached the ears of this highly placed Jewish exile, Nehemiah wept.

Nehemiah accepted where God had placed him, and while he was ready to obey God's call to move on, he waited — almost four months — before he approached the king.

-Timing is everything.

Learning from Nehemiah to Refine Our Sense of When to Act

Some parents may resist home education because they fret about their own academic skills. A few parents may forego home schooling because they are convinced their jobs preclude bringing the children home.

-What could you do for God because of your position home schooling the children?

-Do you think Nehemiah's grasp of Scripture may mean a "Mama" or "Papa" Nehemiah was a conscientious teacher of God's word?

- Does that speculation encourage you to be more diligent in cultivating the Word in your children?

-Have you assumed that your education or position in the world, would limit you from serving God by home schooling your children?

-Weeping over the sad state of our "walls" is not out of place. While it is depressing to realize how much you have left undone, you must not despair!

*Consider Nehemiah's fast: "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (1:4) What can home schooling parents learn from his fast and apply to their circumstances? When you realize how bad things are around the school table, STOP! Don't keep beating the proverbial dead horse. Stop "doing" and pray before the God of heaven — who already knows what you are doing wrong, and what your children are doing.

Watch out how you fast and mourn. Nehemiah mourned and fasted for days because of the lamentable news. However, he kept at his duties, and no one guessed the problem until he chose to reveal it.

-Is that your style? Or, "If Mama ain't happy in your family, ain't nobody happy?"

-Do you think a cupbearer to a pagan king had an easier time than you do maintaining his composure, or finding the time to study and meditate upon God's word?

-Are you unable to fast from anything? TRY limiting just one thing. Whether it is the time you take to fix and eat a tasty snack, or the time you spend reading a favorite mystery, or the time spent chatting with a friend, and give that time to God. See what He will do with it for you!

**Consider Nehemiah's prayer:

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, 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. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 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.' "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 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. (1:5-11)

He did not argue, whine or avoid the issue. He recalled words of Scripture, (see Deuteronomy 30), and realized the connection to his own life. His prominence did not get in his way of obeying.

-How do you pray?

If your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, take some time and examine their content. Prayer is the central component of maintaining your composure and resolve to do what God has asked you to do.

1. Do your prayers address the character of God; do they depend upon HIS faithfulness?

2. Are your prayers patterned after God's purposes — that He keeps His covenant with you for your children?

3. Do you pray believing God is right and you are not, and that you are part of those who continually revile Him?

4. Do you pray, believing the promises of God are yes in Christ Jesus -- that He means for you to succeed in obeying Him?

5. What are you praying about? Will it bring glory to His name?

Never forget that God has placed you in the position you now occupy for reasons that may become more clear as you fast and pray and submit to His plan.

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, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear my prayer. I want to serve you by teaching the children you gave us in our home. I pray before you day and night — instead of complaining — for my husband and my children. I confess the sins we have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. We have not spent much time even bothering to learn what your righteous law requires! Make us faithful, Lord to study and apply your instruction — keep us together as a family. Don't allow our sins to scatter us — or cause you to hide your face from us. Lord, you have put us together as family and you promise to redeem us with your great strength and your mighty hand. My spouse and I are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to our prayers and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting me favor in the presence of those I serve.


Chapter 1 / Part 2

Posted by Donna C on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 5:46 p.m., in response to A Cupbearer's Job Was NO Picnic!, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:47 p.m.

1. What do you see of God's nature through Nehemiah's prayer?

God's nature is just and holy. (verse 5)

2. What does Nehemiah see in himself, the more he focuses on God?

Nehemiah sees in himself his own sinfulness.

3. What does he recall as he persists in prayer (1:8-10)

He recalls God's promises.

4. What then is the basis for his final appeal (1:11)

The basis for his final appeal is to God's nature: repentence has occured, reminding God of His promises, asking to bless his appeal to the king.

5. Hmmmmm. When news {{{from around of}}} exiled people, brokeness and famine hit you, do you react anything like Nehemiah?

I didn't understand this part {{{ }}} of the question. But too often, no, I don't grieve or repent of my part or others' part in the situation. I do remember God's promises and of His nature and rest there.

Learning from Nehemiah to Refine Our Sense of When to Act

The "biggest job" Nehemiah's father (and mother?) had was to cultivate that love for God and His people in Nehemiah. Hacaliah is only mentioned in scripture as Nehemiah's father, but for Nehemiah to be who he needd to be (and so be so noteworthy) his parents had a big job, even though that job is not spelled out in scripture. Just like you don't hear much about Billy Graham's parents (just for an example), that doesn't mean that they are inconsequential to history.

LOVED this:
"When you realize how bad things are around the school table, STOP! Don't keep beating the proverbial dead horse. Stop "doing" and pray before the God of heaven — who already knows what you are doing wrong, and what your children are doing."

And:
"However, he kept at his duties, and no one guessed the problem until he chose to reveal it.
-Is that your style? Or, "If Mama ain't happy in your family, ain't nobody happy?" "

Nope, not me; but I strive to be better with God's help.

"He did not argue, whine or avoid the issue."

I'm afraid, at least with my dh (which is probably terrible) to be a whiner, sometimes an arguer. With people outside the family, I am more of an avoider - don't-rock-the-boat-type.

And finally:
"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, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear my prayer. I want to serve you by teaching the children you gave us in our home........"

Amen and Amen!!

In Him,
Donna C


Re: Chapter 1 / Part 2

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 9:28 p.m., in response to Chapter 1 / Part 2, posted by Donna C on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 5:46 p.m.

Getting a glimpse of God's nature -- or learning to love the focus of MY prayer life: (Neh 1:5-11)

1. The God of the Universe *listens* to a cupbearer in the court of a pagan King -- God saw past the trappings of a godless culture and saw a man whose heart was ANGUISHED -- so my God knows where I am, even inside the beltway;0)
2. It is God who tends our relationship --the God who is "the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments," listens and preserves our relationship. When I wander away from Him -- He never does!
In verse 6, Nehemiah's prayer shows me what God thinks is important -- and so I pray for my generation ("which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, on behalf of America????")
God was offended by the generation with unclean lips!(Isaiah 6) and I think Nehemiah knew this -- why do I skip over ptaying before God, acknowledging my sins and the sins of my people?
In verse 7, Nehemiah reminds me God dinot forget His words to Moses -- SO why skip over the OT with a glib, "I live under grace, not law"?

Nehemiah shows me not to skip telling God that I *fear* and tremble before the God who scatters and gathers -- and that my hope is in Him who "will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell."
In verse 10 I see that God wants to hear I know what He did and is doing in my prayers to Him -- Hey -- maybe THIS little hint could put some POWER in my prayers! Face it --who likes the person who only talks about herself? Hmmmmmmmmm.
In verse 11, Nehemiah shows me I can be reverent worshipful and specific because I whisper into the ears of my Good and gracious Master who WANTS me to suceed.
Excuse typo in #5 -- I think what the Serendipity Bible wanted us to think about was HOW do we react when confronted with real-time tragedy --
You said it well--"I don't grieve or repent of my part or others' part in the situation." I have been mulling over how INSULATED I am content to live -- and am cold too often to so many cries for help, preferring to pick an choose and keep at a comfortable distance -- THIS weakens my prayer life! not to mention my usefulness ot Christ.
I want to learn DISCRETION, restraint and confidenc that comes only from drawing close to God.
Thanks for what you've said.


Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*

Posted by Kathy Ridpath (NC) on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 10:05 a.m., in response to A Cupbearer's Job Was NO Picnic!, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:47 p.m.

Hi Barbara,

I posted this last week, but the message must have gotten "lost in cyberspace" when we had server problems earlier this week. So I thought I'd post it again!

Hi Barbara,

Thank you so much for posting this study! It is wonderful and I so appreciate your effort to write it and post it here!! It has been very convicting for me already.

I could not help comparing the way Nehemiah *acted* when he heard about the condition of Jerusalem versus the way I tend to *react* when I realize a problem in our homeschool (or family).

When Nehemiah realized that something was wrong he first prayed and wept and fasted and mourned and asked forgiveness. Then he sought permission and help from those whom he was under authority of. Finally, he set his wholeheart to accomplishing and standing firm for the task the Lord set before him and equipped him for.

Now let's peak at the way Kathy usually reacts when she discovers something wrong. Hmmm... late last week, for example, it was 2pm and no homeschool work had been accomplished and the house was a mess and the clothes needed to be folded and put away and kids were sillier than silliest and I was struck with a total "out of control" feeling and "how am I ever going to get things back on track here" and *ugh* "it will take so much work and I really am tired."

I reacted by first laying into the children, sending them to the kitchen table to finish math & grammar (and "I better not hear a peep out of you either"). Then I set to getting things picked up while I huffed & whined how much work I always seemed to get stuck with (you can imagine that my voice got louder whenever I had to walk through the kitchen *grin*). When my dh got home, I told him how unhelpful the children had been and how I had to force them to do their work. Then later on that evening I sat down exhausted and drained and prayed in rather a "why does this happen, Lord?" way.

Nehemiah ... heartfelt prayer, permission/help, work/commitment

Kathy ... work/complaining, affirmation, selfish & exasperated prayer

Lesson learned! I'm looking forward to the next segment!

Love,
Kathy


Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*

Posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 11:49 a.m., in response to Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*, posted by Kathy Ridpath (NC) on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 10:05 a.m.

Dear Kathy;
I am glad you re-posted. I "enjoyed" your comments. What you have described just may have happened in more than one home -- those feelings and words have played recently at our place.
"Nehemiah ... heartfelt prayer, permission/help, work/commitment
Kathy ... work/complaining, affirmation, selfish & exasperated prayer"

Studying has convicted me that these OLD well-known stories are here for a very current reasons: "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Cor 10:11)
And I pray that if any mom is reading this is discouraged with her day -- our little words will encourage you!

Love in Christ,
BWS


Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*

Posted by Lisa C. on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 5:45 p.m., in response to Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*, posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 11:49 a.m.

Kathy and Barbara,

I am enjoying the study on Nehemiah. I too like Kathy have had my share of the trying days and I too have had to step back and adjust my attitude. I laughed when you said your voice got louder as you went through the kitchen. lol I did this just yesterday. Didn't even think about it until you mentioned it. haha. Thank you for the study, Barbara, it is just what I need at this time.

Thanks again,

Lisa C.


Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*

Posted by Kelly on Wednesday, 25 March 1998, at 7:48 a.m., in response to Re: Nehemiah vs. Kathy *grin*, posted by Kathy Ridpath (NC) on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 10:05 a.m.

Amen Kathy!
I am new to this, but I can not tell you how much this Nehemiah study has already spoken to me! And thank you Kathy for being honest and letting me know I am not the only one that gets discouraged. *smile*
And thank you Barbara for this study! What a blessing it is to me!


Chapter 2: Rebuilding the WALL, Part 1: Prevailing . . .

Posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 18 March 1998, at 9:01 p.m., in response to A Cupbearer's Job Was NO Picnic!, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:47 p.m.

Building with Ancient Blueprints (or, using Nehemiah's plans in your home school!)

"The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
(Nehemiah 1:3)

Welcome to a perspective on homeschooling based upon the book of Nehemiah. I am a homeschooling mom and have older kids and lots of walls that couldn't keep mice out.
It is my prayer these reflections will strengthen you and enable you to keep building what God has called you to build. If you are just checking this out, the introduction and information about chapter 1 is further down the post. I've never done anything quite like this — and welcome feed- back or questions--or hopefully YOUR insights!

Chapter 2: Rebuilding the WALL, Part 1: Prevailing . . .

Read Nehemiah 2 and speculate:

1. In these intervening three months, what do you think Nehemiah has been doing?

2. How do you spend your time when you wait for God's timing?

Observe how Nehemiah who wrestled with God in prayer, now prevailed with men, like Jacob, who wrestled with God and prevailed with Esau. As God's plan unfolded, Nehemiah found that his prayers were heard and answered.

I. He prevailed with the king to send him to Jerusalem with a commission to build a wall about it, and grant him what was necessary for it. (2:1-8)

II. He prevailed against the enemies that would have obstructed him in his journey and laughed him out of his undertaking. (2: 9-11)

III. He prevailed upon his own people to join with him in this good work, viewing the desolations of the walls and then gaining them to lend every one a hand towards the rebuilding of them. (2:12-18) "Thus did God own him in the work to which he called him," wrote Matthew Henry.

Do you face a more complicated building project than Nehemiah?
Again, how are you spending your time?

Comments: Prayer Preparation
After years watching powerful leaders, Nehemiah surely learned "timing" is crucial in wielding power productively. Nehemiah kept his counsel for four months, fasting, praying and planning, while doing what was expected of him. Nehemiah's recorded prayers through the book are never simply emotional outbursts. They are the means by which he renews his strength, reasons through his dilemmas, and plans and prepares to do what God has asked him to do.

Nehemiah was courteous and prepared when it was time to speak to King Artaxerxes. He prayed before he opened his mouth. Though he risked the king's wrath, Nehemiah made no apologies for his grief (2:3).

Asking only for what was necessary to accomplish the specific task the Lord had laid upon his heart, he knew the good hand of his God was on him (2:8). Generously, the king also sent officers of the army and horsemen.

Nehemiah asked for real protection, letters and soldiers, because his enemies were not imaginary; they were real men, whose names' history cites in extra-biblical sources. They consistently dogged his works. Sanballat was the Governor of Samaria; Tobiah, an Ammonite official and Spurred, the Arab, were men who would lose their livelihood and license from the exiles if someone came to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel (2:10). Their displeasure did not control Nehemiah's path.

He took three days before inspecting the walls at night. He waited and listened only to God's plan for Jerusalem. He kept his own counsel while seeing for himself the breadth of his new responsibilities.

When he finally spoke to those who needed to know, he acknowledged the trouble: the city lies in ruins and the gates are burned. Nehemiah could define it clearly because he spent time defining the scope and sequence of tasks. Nehemiah told the people their path would be hard, he told them what God had done, and what the king had done, protecting them from their enemies. His faith in God's leading inspired his workers.

No sooner did the workers commit to the task, than the enemies moved in, mocking and ridiculing them. Nevertheless, Nehemiah answered his accusers boldly and publicly, confident God would give His servants success. (2:20) Can you imagine the boost this was to the people?

A cup-bearer to a pagan king kept working and learning in the midst of his circumstances. His affection and longing for Jerusalem did not obstruct how he went about his daily duties in captivity. Our daily circumstances may tax us, but God has ordained them for our benefit, not simply for us to mark time with until we get what we really want!

Therefore, pay attention to your circumstances. Are decimals and dishes looking pretty dismal? Pay attention, for it is by faithfully performing our daily duties that God is equipping us to equip our children, and others after them. Determination to complete our work decently and in good order is a powerful example for our children.

. . . Learning from a Cupbearer how to prevail in homeschooling

A. Petitioning the same God who equipped Nehemiah

-When you pray, is it to seek God's direction or His rubber stamp of approval on your good ideas?

- Have you thought what you will do if God says "yes" to your request?

-Are you looking for God's "yes" to help you overcome others' "no"?

- Why do you need what you are asking God to provide?

Because God knows what we will need before we begin our work, He provides more than what we can think of asking! Have you thought about why you lack what you say you must have to continue home schooling? If you are about the Lord's business, why would He withhold what you say you must have to homeschool?

B. Prevailing in the face of opposition

Your "enemies" are real, but their names make them sound too intangible to defeat: Sloth, selfishness, immaturity and rebellion. They consistently dog the work of even experienced homeschoolers. Crises in your homeschool can confuse you, keeping us from prayer before you open your mouth. Criticism can be disabling; resistence can ruin your resolve to pray.

-How to you prepare to raise difficult issues in your home school program?

-How do you face opposition?
Flaunting your authority does not impress children, nor, does it accomplish God's standards. Neither does retaliation prosper homeschooling plans. Fear does not establish righteous standards for our home school any more than lashing out at children who are opposing our rule.

-Are you learning to keep your own counsel, before you speak or act?

C. Communicating the plans

How we define the educational goals and objectives to our children is a critical part of getting them to put their hands to the good work. (2:18)

-How do you talk about the "breaches" in your homeschool to your children?
Discussing disappointing school work or needed attitude adjustments may be ending badly. Nehemiah talked to those in authority over him, and those under him with firmness and grace, perhaps because he stayed focused on the honor of God, rather than getting his own way. Do you also see the breaches in the "wall" (sin, worldliness, carelessness, sloppy teaching) a reproach to the name of Christ? Never underestimate the example of your faith; never loose sight of its source.

-Does your faith in Christ inspire your children to get to work?

-What are you willing to risk because you first serve God? Will you risk your children's wrath — making no apologies for your standards?

- Do you speak plainly to your "accusers" when called to do so?

-Does your reliance on God' s faithfulness and power persuade your children to pick tools for the good work?

- Are you an "encourager" to your children?
A good encourager understands the nature of the work and the worker. Have you spent enough time thinking about either one in your home?

A Private Petition:
Lord. I believe that you, the God of heaven, will give us success in our homeschooling. We are your servants and will rebuild our walls! We will not listen to those who mock or ridicule us, but will trust you for the completion of today's work. (Nehemiah 2:20)

Please do not reproduce this without permission, which I will probably freely give. I just like to know where my little labor of love is percolating. ;0)
©By Barbara Smith 1996


I'm not sure how we're to do this, but...

Posted by Donna C on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 5:24 p.m., in response to Thinking About Nehemiah --How Come He was in Babylon?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:39 p.m.

I was under the understanding that a lesson would be posted and then we'd make our comments, so here goes. If I've missed it and we're just supposed to read and not post, please, someone let me know!

Chapter 1/Part 1
1) Why did Nehemiah grieve about the news of Jerusalem?

His heart attitude -- he was attuned to God's heart. He grieved because God was grieving and agrieved. He also grieved in repentence for his people's (and his own) sins.

In Him,
Donna C


Why I think he grieved --

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 9:43 p.m., in response to I'm not sure how we're to do this, but..., posted by Donna C on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 5:24 p.m.

Hi again Donna --
I answered the prayer discussion first--sorry.
This is SPECUALTION --
Did he grieve because he stayed in Babylon and the other Jews were back home?
Did he grieve because he had been told of the city's former glory --
AND he grieved for days--FASTED and wept and mourned -- when I read these words, I see how callous my heart is -- When news of my nation's Capital reaches me HOW have I been responding --
have I taken even ONE day to fast? (Hey, could I give up LUNCH and pray for our nation?) much less grieve and weep over the moral destruction.
No, I don't want to get off on the current troubles, nor am I equating DC with Jerusalem -- BUT surely my country could use more believers whose hearts and minds would melt in prayer. One man wept and mourned and look what God enabled him to do. God make me a better citizen of the country in which you placed me!
BWS


Re: Introduction You? A Builder?

Posted by Jill Ehrlich on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 4:15 p.m., in response to Introduction You? A Builder?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 3:31 p.m.

Wow, ME a builder, what end of the hammer do I hit with ??!!

I AM a builder, I am rebuilding the self esteem that was torn down by "well meaning" Christian teachers. (tied into a chair, tape over the mouth, desk in the hallway every day so he could "concentrate".)

The educational, emotional and physical walls of my children's lives will be built on the solid rock of HIS foundation.

Now there will probably be plenty of "wet cement" to trod through but He is faithful to see us through that which he has called us to do.Thanks for your thought provoking words !!IN HIM JILL E>


Wow, ME a builder, what end of the hammer do I hit with??!!

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 4:18 p.m., in response to Re: Introduction You? A Builder?, posted by Jill Ehrlich on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 4:15 p.m.

Hi Jill;

Well, sometimes I pick up the "wrong end" -- worse I aim for the wrong nail -- wacking something that is NONE of my business. God bless you on your rebuilding project -- God forgive those who tore down as God was fixing to build. (Psalm 127) I am reminded looking at this study again of all of the "things" I let slide -- I pupose this spring to be more diligent in making our home hospitable - really cleaning instead of a lick and a promise -- really weeding, and feeeding the flower beds -- and going BACK to the basement and hauling out stuff others could use that I can't. Come to think of it, I think I'll do those dinner dishes! Bye for now -- I'm not sure how this study will work -- we just comment back and forth and then read on -- like are you ready for studying chapter one? BWS


NEHEMIAH STUDY - Chapter 3: Rebuilding the WALL, Part 2 - Who did what?

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 21 March 1998, at 11:33 a.m.

Building with Ancient Blueprints (or, using Nehemiah's plans in your home school!)

Welcome to a perspective on homeschooling based upon the book of Nehemiah. The opening thought questions are based on questions from the Serendipity Bible's study on Nehemiah. The comments and opinions that follow are mine.
I am a homeschooling mom and have older kids. Broken down walls and rebuilding walls is a theme I have enjoyed investigating and hope you will too. I pray these reflections will strengthen you and enable you to keep building what God has called you to build.

If you are just checking this out, the introduction and information about chapter 1 is further down the post. I've never done anything quite like this — and welcome feed-back or questions--or hopefully YOUR insights!

Chapter 3: Rebuilding the WALL, Part 2 - Who did what?

Read Nehemiah 3 and see that for Nehemiah, saying and doing were not two things. Because of
this, workers commenced and completed an amazing reconstruction project Chapter 3 of
Nehemiah gives an account of two things:

I. The names of the builders, which Nehemiah recorded honor them, and for the
encouragement of others to follow their example.

II. The order of the building; they took it before them, and ended where they began. They
repaired a massive structure! We read these concrete objectives and know the length and
breadth of what these workers accomplished.

1. From the sheep-gate to the fish-gate (3:1-2)

2. Then to the old-gate (3: 3-5)

3. To the valley-gate (3:6-12)

4. On to the dung-gate (3:13-14)

5. To the gate of the fountain (3:15)

6. Then to the water-gate (3: 16-26)

7. On to the horse-gate and ending at the sheep-gate again, where they began, and so they
brought their work quite round the city. (3: 27-32)

Questions to consider while you read:
1. Can you recall names of "former neighbors?" How do you pray for them? Do your children know why you still keep these former neighbors in prayer?

2. Nehemiah's name is conspicuous in it absence from the list. What do you suppose Nehemiah was doing while all these other folks were working?

3. What attitudes and actions toward Christian work did you see Nehemiah's wall-builders demonstrate. How can you teach them to your children?

4. What attitudes and actions did you see that Christian workers should avoid? How can you teach your children to overcome or avoid these attitudes?

5. Do the "nobles from Tekoa" sound familiar? From Nehemiah, what do you learn about how to deal with them?

6. What are some UNDONE projects in your home that need team work to complete?
What are some tips from the builder of the wall that have you learned? How will you apply them?

What Nehemiah and the Workers Did
The workers, led by the priests, began rebuilding the wall at the Sheep Gate. They worked
around to the middle the Refuse Gate and continued to the end of the wall in fifty-two
days! J.I. Packer, writing about the work detail in his book Passion for Faithfulness, points out
that forty-one different groups worked together. "Diversity" described the workers, "unity" was
the strength of their purpose. Nehemiah's construction crew rebuilt an enormous wall together,
despite the differences in estate, because their objective was the same.

Nehemiah motivated workmen, whose numbers included priests, officials of towns outside
Jerusalem, merchants, tradesmen, perfumers, goldsmiths and daughters of Israel, to rebuild a
wall. None were especially gifted builders, but each was hard working. No worker questioned
why he or she should build a wall around a ruined city. They understood the dimension of their
problems and they had a goal in sight which the psalmist described :"Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God forever and forever; he will be our guide even to the end."(Psalm 48:12-14)

What an old work schedule can mean to you.
According to Nehemiah's records, families can learn together, despite learning strengths or
differences if their objective is the same.

Are no two children in your family are alike? Does each child have a different
temperament, learning style, and endurance level — and none matches yours? One subject
intrigues your oldest and bores your youngest, does it? Keeping the object of their studies before
them is critical whether they are home or in a traditional school.

- What is the object of your education model? "Diversity" in your family must not divert
you from the tasks God calls you to do!

What can you learn from Nehemiah's leadership?
Never assume your children automatically understand how important their jobs of students are.

-Do you believe learning is important?
The Lord will enable you and your spouse to motivate your children to learn. Figure out ways to
impress on them the importance of their work. Explain to them your responsibility before God to
train them, even if you must delegate some aspects of their training to others.

Will all your children fall in behind your supervision and work hard? Maybe. Look again at what
Nehemiah found. Almost everybody got with the rebuilding program. They worked especially
hard because Nehemiah placed them building on the segment of the wall outside their home sites.
Matthew Henry observes, "When a general good work is to be done, one should apply himself to
the part that falls nearest to him and is within his reach. "If everyone sweeps his own door,"
Matthew Henry suggests, "the street will be clean."

-Do you routinely review what you are doing and why, so your children understand their
role in securing an education?

A word about the workers.
No one in Jerusalem, though their calling might have excused them from manual labor, avoided
the work. No one, except the nobles of Tekoa - who did not put their necks to the labor of the
Lord. Nehemiah took note: What a way to be remembered! "The next section was repaired by
the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their
supervisors." (3:5)

Do Nehemiah's problems sound familiar? Leaders must keep the work moving in spite of
resistence and Nehemiah did not take personally the failure of the nobles of Tekoa to work; he
simply noted it. One child's resistence must not close school.

-Some children and some adults will not put their shoulders to work under their

supervisors. Remind any you know who refuse to work that the Lord, who planted the

ear and formed the eye, hears and sees their resistence. It grieves Him long before it

annoys you. Our work matters to God!

A Personal Petition:
O Lord, as you make our family into workmen approved under God, make me wise builder. Show
me how to submit to you, show me what to teach and how to teach -- what to say and how to say
it. Give me insight into my children's minds and give me a heart that seeks to comfort as well as
train; to love as well as admonish. Give me courage to disciple and strength to stay at it.


Here's a list of what I hope to post . . .sorry for the confusion.

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 21 March 1998, at 9:29 p.m.

Hi Merrie:
I think today 's post was unclear--Sorry.
Chapter 3 is a continuation of REBUILDING the Wall. The discussion of who did what is based on Nehemiah 3. I apologise for the awkward construction.
On March 17, Tamara re-posted The preface (...Discussion?)

Introduction: You? A Builder?
Chapter 1, Part 1: You Want Me To Do What, Lord?

Chapter 1, Part 2: Unrolling the Ancient Blueprints
On March 18 I posted:
Chapter 2, Part 1 : Rebuilding the Wall - Prevailing
Tonite I posted:
Chapter 3, Part 2: Rebuilding the Wall - Who Did What?
To Be Posted
Chapter 4: About Agitators
To Be Posted
Chapter 5: What Will You Stick To?
To Be Posted
Chapter 6: Living with Opposition
To Be Posted
Chapter 7: "Succeed at Home, First"
To Be Posted
Chapter 8: The Cost of Rededicating the Wall
To Be Posted
Chapter 9: Remembrance, Repentance, Rededication
To Be Posted
Chapter 10: Read It Carefully Before You Sign It!
To Be Posted
Chapter 11-12: Records And Rebukes
To Be Posted
Chapter 13: Nehemiah Stuck to it . . .
CopyrightBWSmith 1997


Nehemiah, Chapter 4

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 23 March 1998, at 8:46 p.m.

Hi folks — Welcome to a discussion on the book of Nehemiah — earlier chapters are below. Jump in and see if anything is helpful. The questions and discussion are supposed to help homeschoolers — I look forward to the discussion.

Chapter 4: About Agitators

Read chapter 4 of Nehemiah and discover the opposition to such good work. See how Nehemiah kept the workers on the wall in spite of that opposition and showed himself a man of great wisdom, courage, and great piety. As enemies reproached and ridiculed the workers on the wall, see who answered their scoffs with prayers. (4:1-6) As enemies formed a bloody design against the workers, to hinder them by force of arms, see how Nehemiah responded. (4: 7-8, 10-12) To guard against this Nehemiah prayed, set guards, and encouraged them to fight to overcome the plots. So they carried on the work with all needful precautions against a surprise. (4: 16-23)

1. What obstacles to your homeschooling are threatening your program?

2. Whose opposition is most difficult to overcome? Why?

3. How do the examples of overcoming agitators encourage you?

4. What are you willing to commence now to overcome opposition to your homeschool?

5. Which gives you more difficulty: External criticism or internal fears? Why?

6. What is one area of your life where there seems to be "so much rubble"?

How Nehemiah Weathered Ridicule
Sanballat, Nehemiah's local nemesis, was greatly incensed when news of the rebuilding reached
him. He and Tobiah unleashed their ridicule on the Jews and in the presence of their associates and the army of Samaria. Bad news traveled fast and Nehemiah referred the problem to God and
kept the people working. (4:1-6)

Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod became very angry as the work progressed. Though they plotted to stir up trouble against it, Nehemiah and the laborers prayed to God "and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." (4:7-9)

How Could Nehemiah's Response Help You?
Homeschooling parents face real enemies — as real as those who menaced Nehemiah work.
These enemies threaten home education as surely as the crew who tried to intimidate the builders. Foolishness, immaturity, ignorance, rebellion, fatigue, and discouragement always lurk around the school room, troubling your instruction. Family members not sold on the benefits of home education may make constant derogatory remarks. Friends undermine our confidence by "sharing" their concerns, don't they? The Enemy comes against us and masterfully marshals the
criticisms and attacks on the very day our children resist and housekeeping falls apart. How can
you overcome these attacks?

How you respond to the "opposition" to and in your home education program is important. Criticism and ridicule need not defeat you. How did Nehemiah react? He prayed, gave it to God and posted a guard. (4:9)

Don't let your guard down! If your own doubts and fears threaten to topple your program and hand it all immediately to God Pray and seek God when success crowns your home education plans. Praise and petition God when defeat looms large. Nehemiah took action in the face of a real threat. He concentrated his efforts and directed his workers to complete what God had called them to do — reminding them for whom they were fighting!

"After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest

of the people, 'Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.'" ( Nehemiah 4:14)

Don't ignore dissension — examine the situation before you respond. Remember: We don't home school out of fear, so we don't stop the program because of fear. Remember: The real
battles we have around the home and in our education plans belong to the Lord, if He has called
us to work. However, don't wander about unprotected. (Ephesians 6)

-Pick up your "sword" and never hesitate to rely upon it when you also must be using a trowel.

-EXPECT opposition even from those closest to you. Remember your God will fight for you (4:20), and keep to the job God gave you.

Are you beginning to see how relevant repairing an ancient ruin is to your homeschooling? Study Nehemiah's worries. Do any sound familiar?

1. He began a task for which he was not specifically trained.

2. He completed a colossal time-sensitive reconstruction job in the face of mocking

enemies.

3. He had to direct diverse workers who spoke various languages and dialects not

everyone was on the same page of the building project.

4.He resisted sworn enemies who were fierce, persistent antagonists.

-How are the problems you face, worse than his?

How Did He Manage?

Study Nehemiah's response:

1. He believed God would accomplish the task through him in the midst of disasters.

2. He trusted his fortunes to God.

3 His faith in God encouraged others, whose morale was low.

-Why would Nehemiah's response be unworthy in your circumstances?

Nehemiah was an encourager - a motivator. Nehemiah did not build the wall single-handedly, nor did he try to do everyone's job, either. A godly encourager is one who knows God's word and believes it to be true.

- If we do not know God's word, how can we rely upon His principles to train our

children?

- If we do not build our home education program according to His principles, how can we

expect to stand? We WILL be blown about by every ill wind, never completing the task to

which He calls us.

Nehemiah transferred responsibility with authority, and recorded their labor in his account of the rebuilding.

- What are you trying to do single-handedly because doing it yourself is easier than

teaching your children and waiting for them to master the task?

- How are you teaching your children to assume responsibility?

A Personal Petition:
O Lord, I am willing to work from the first light of dawn until the stars come out. Shut out the
distractions. Take away the sting of thoughtless comments. Teach me your word, so I will encourage my children to apply your wisdom and strength to their education. Teach me to pray so
I might be strong and protected.

©BWSmith March 1998


Anybody in a building mode? Nehemiah #5

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 28 March 1998, at 9:04 a.m.

Chapter 5: What Will You Stick To?

Read chapter 5, and note how bravely Nehemiah continued in an expanding role. As a builder, he kept the people from being destroyed by their enemies. As governor, Nehemiah keeps them from destroying one another. His responsibilities ballooned but his courage, wisdom and grace flourished. He is bold and active to rectify grievances at home. We see the complaint which the poor made to him of the great hardships which the rich put upon them because they were forced to borrow money from them. (5:1-5) Note the constructive course which Nehemiah took both to reform the oppressors and to relieve the oppressed. (5:6-13) Finally, observe the compassion and tenderness which Nehemiah, as governor, set the people. (5: 14-19)

1. What does Nehemiah do to correct the problems?

2. What do you think his reforms cost him?

3. Describe the crises that have hindered your homeschool this past year?

4. How are your leadership responsibilities expanding?

5. What do you need to keep on?

6. What cost may reforms in your homeschool cost you?

The Enemy Within the Walls
"They" say that the real value of a postage stamp is not its design, origin or size; its value lies in
sticking to one thing until it gets done! Nehemiah, for all his gifts, excelled in tenacity. The
closer Nehemiah came to reaching his goal, the more heat he encountered according to this
chapter. No sooner did he thwart the "outsiders," then Nehemiah faced internal upsets, followed
by attempted murder his own! Did he get discouraged? Did he get even? No, and he didn't
capitulate, either.

As chapter 5 begins, the workers' complaint did not come at an opportune time. (When would have been a good time for the news of such treatment among "family"?) Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers who were sinning doubly by not meeting the needs of the body during a famine, and by extorting an exorbitant fee for money they lent to pay taxes. Some of their daughters were enslaved, but they were powerless to redeem them because their fields and vineyards belonged to others. ( 5:1-5)

Nehemiah did not need help figuring out that a wall was no protection for God's people if sin and abuse was taking place inside the walls. When he heard their outcry and these charges, he was very angry. He spoke uncompromisingly, and with passion. Like Jesus Christ meeting temptation, Nehemiah overcame by applying God's word and God's principles, and shut the mouth of his opposition.

The nobles, themselves descendants of slaves only recently freed, willfully put the rebuilding project in jeopardy through the sin of oppression and dishonest gain - seeking to profit from a famine! Matthew Henry remarked of this passage in chapter five, "Nothing exposes religion more to the reproach of its enemies than the worldliness and hardheartedness of the professors of it."

Now is the time to look away from those who are attacking your work, to examine your own conscience. Homeschooling our children has taught me what I was unwilling, or unable, to learn: I do many, many things wrong. Nehemiah's passionate words to his workers rebuke ME.
"So I continued, 'What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to
avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?'" (Neh 5:9) Don't risk being shaken out! (5:13)

Nehemiah never demanded what was his due, but willingly and gratefully accepted and gave out what God provided him. (5:14-19) The fear of God restrained Nehemiah from engaging in the greedy acquisition of what might be logically argued was his prerogative for twelve years!
Nor, did he allow his brothers to abuse their connection to him. He used his wealth to meet simple
needs — like hunger.

Nehemiah never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because he knew the demands were heavy on these people. What we expect from our children shapes what we demand. Do our demands reflect God's expectations?

What's Going on Within Your Family's Walls?

- Are you rebuilding your walls, only to confront wrestling with opposition from within

your family?

Take heart! If the Lord calls you to a task, He never abandons his servants. Resistance and back pressure may be a sign you are closer than you suspected to victory. DON'T GIVE UP!

- What intentional practices in your life today keep the "wall" from being repaired?

You are imperiling your program if willfully insist on having your own way, Beware, God just may let you have your way.

- Do you believe sin can deter the success of your home education program, as surely as the greedy men imperiled the work on the wall? Are you teaching the seriousness of sin?

Coming face to face with selfishness in your beloved children is sobering and grievous. Watching them cheat younger brother and sisters, or evade their responsibilities to younger siblings is stunning; anger is a natural parental response. Can you explain why your children are doing wrong in God's sight — not simply that they are disappointing or angering you?

-Have you ever told your child you are praying for them to overcome selfishness, as you pray for yourself to overcome greed?

Remembering that you are free from selfishness only by God's grace is a powerful check against overreacting to your children's failures.

- Is there anything in your life right now, that you do have a right to, that you could

forego? Will you do it, believing God will abundantly provide?

- How do you use your wealth what God gives you to solve genuine problems?

One judgment call that homeschooling parents frequently face is troublesome: When do we stop the work, for the day or for a while? Are the kids faking fatigue and burn-out, or are they genuinely overburdened? Parents must discern if their children's frustration and fatigue is the fruit
of foolishness or the result of hard work. Ask God to guide this decision because lightening their
load of frustration is the same mercy God extends to us.

A Personal Petition from Nehemiah's Heart:
Matthew Henry said of Nehemiah's prayer in 5:19, "If God does but think upon me for good, I
have enough." May God Himself remember you with favor for all you have done for His
children. ( 5:19)

©Barbara W. Smith 1998
If you duplicate this, would you let me know, please?


Re: Anybody in a building mode? Nehemiah #5

Posted by Lori/WA on Thursday, 2 April 1998, at 5:59 p.m., in response to Anybody in a building mode? Nehemiah #5, posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 28 March 1998, at 9:04 a.m.

Dear BWS,
I have recently been praying about heading up a homeschool support group.
The pastor's wife and I are very close and I have shared w/her verbally about the studies on Nehamiah pertaining to homeschooling and w/a couple other ladies.To say the least they are VERY excited. :)
So, I am wondering if you allow groups to study this?
Lori


Re: Anybody in a building mode? Nehemiah #5

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 3 April 1998, at 5:39 p.m., in response to Re: Anybody in a building mode? Nehemiah #5, posted by Lori/WA on Thursday, 2 April 1998, at 5:59 p.m.

Hmmmmm...
Doug and I are going to formalize this study and if you want info on how to get it, would you e-mail me?
I am glad you like it -- I hopeit spurs others on to attempt great things for the Lord!
BWS


Nehemiah #6

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 4 April 1998, at 2:24 p.m.

Chapter 6: Living with Opposition

As you read Nehemiah 6, notice that as the cries of oppressed poverty were being stilled, we
return to the building of the wall. In this chapter we find it carried on with energy and finished
with joy, "notwithstanding the restless attempts of the gates of hell to hinder it." (Matthew Henry) In chapter 4, the Jews' enemies were frustrated in their schemes to stop the rebuilding. Now we see how Nehemiah continued to check them. He was not tricked into abandoning his work. (6: 1-4) His enemies' innuendo did not hobble Nehemiah, (6: 5-9) and he refused to heed the hired phony prophets who advised him to escape into the temple for his own safety. (6: 10-14) Resisting overtures to abandon the work, intrigue and treachery, Nehemiah kept the workers at their tasks and the work was finished in a short time. (6:15-19).

1. How does Nehemiah not let the "good" get in the way of the "better"? (6:1- 4)

2. What problems could an unsealed letter have caused Nehemiah and the remnant?

Would the King of Persia been interested in the charges?

3. How does Nehemiah whether slander? (6:14)

4. How do you think a wall that laid ruined for 140 years could have been rebuilt in just

fifty-two days?

5. Do you have undone chores, uncompleted tasks or languishing responsibilities?

6. Who or what is keeping you from doing your work?

Opposition by Intrigue
Nehemiah just gets one brouhaha settled, when who should pop up? The depressing duo from
chapters 2 and 4: Sanballat and Geshem, the enemies of God who used their tongues to vilify, lie
and distort. Knowing a walled city is a fortified city, these enemies tried to trick and to terrify
Nehemiah out of his work (6:9). Later we read even the "religious" folks tried to trick him into sin
(6:10).

Still, Nehemiah kept to his job, and kept his answers simple. He knew God's words, and
applied God's principles. Committing the ominous intrigues to God, he asked God to strengthen
his hand (6:9).

Relying on God-given strength gave Nehemiah discernment, (6:10-12) and holy boldness
to pray against fear. "Fear," however, writes Matthew Henry, "is an offense to God. Be afraid of
nothing but sin."

"So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days." (6:15) Nothing
succeeds like success, and the completed construction work silenced the enemies, but did not
completely quell the intrigue. Nehemiah's enemies continued to conspire (6:17) Tobiah the
Ammonite enjoyed considerable influence because of marriage links. Unequal yokes Jewish
daughters given in marriage to Gentiles threatened Nehemiah's plans.

Looking at the Walls We Are Building . . .
Surveying the completed project with Nehemiah, are you stunned to see what was done in fifty-
two days?

- What could you do in fifty-two days if you simply begin today?

Your wall re-building may take longer than fifty-two days; mine has! However,
anticipating the comfortable words of verse 16 is our ambition; that whenever our home schooling
days end, it will be absolutely clear that "this work had been done with the help of our God."
(6:16) How will this be clear? Will your children's academic work be the measure? Will your
demeanor and their conduct be evidence that you homeschool "with the help of our God?"
Whatever the concluding evidence of God's hand in your homeschool, may it be unmistakable in
honoring Christ.

Until our walls are up, we keep our "construction tools" in working order by submitting
them to God. How we use our tongues and restrain our tempers will influence how our wall
looks.

The enemies of God used their tongues to vilify, lie and distort. The children of God
sometimes do not use their tongues wisely when pressure builds. We must guard our tongues
when we are frustrated, tired, or afraid.

Enemies may work to defeat us. Some of the ruthless opposition we encounter comes
from those closest to us.

- Remember the simple firmness of Nehemiah's answers. Don't get lured into doing wrong

to assert your rights.

If Nehemiah's response made sense, would it not make sense for you to try this approach
to overcoming opposition and finishing what the Lord has called you to do? This is a very simple
and powerful prayer we should never forget to pray before we wail, moan and capitulate to chaos:
"O God, strengthen my hands."

Nehemiah dealt with Jewish families who had given their children in marriage to pagan
neighbors who upset the peace. (6:18) Unequal yokes, that is, reliance on the world's ways,
upset many home schooling programs. Parents who decide to cling to the society's education
goals, instead of the Savior's will chafe under heavy loads with no kind Master to bear their
loads.

A Private Petition:
O Lord, I am weary and burdened. I lay down "my" yoke and willingly take Yours upon me.
Teach me, so I will find rest for my soul.

©Barbara W Smith Please let me know if you want to use it — Thanks


Anyone interested in getting back to re-BUILDING?

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 13 April 1998, at 10:59 p.m.

Chapter 7: "Succeed at Home First"

When you read Nehemiah 7, you may be tempted to skip over the names and numbers. Why does Nehemiah take such pains to itemize? He is not a bean-counter here! Good accounts matter, and by his accounting we can see that the success of one good design for God depends on
watch care, knowledge and foresight. Nehemiah, having fortified Jerusalem with gates and walls, his next responsibility is to see the city well kept, and "well peopled," Matthew Henry writes. Nehemiah here reviews the register of the children of the captivity, the families that returned at first, and records it. It is the same, in effect, with the list in Ezra 2. Note you will see what use Nehemiah made of it when he brought one of ten people on the list to live in Jerusalem. (11:1)

1. Who are the people who have contributed to your spiritual growth?

2. How are you growing up spiritually and what would you like you children to know about the lessons God is teaching you?

Core Construction
After the wall had been rebuilt (7:1) and Nehemiah had set the doors in place, he appointed the
gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites. He carefully assigned men of integrity, men who
feared God more than most do, to have charge of the city. He specifically charged them: "The
gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on
duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some
at their posts and some near their own houses." (7:2-3)

In the ancient world a city's walls were critical to its defense. But"dead walls without living watchmen are but a poor defense," observes Matthew Henry, reflecting on the completion of Nehemiah's construction. "For God's worship is the defense of the place, and his ministers, when they mind their duties, are watchman on the wall . . . Those that fear God must evidence it by their being faithful to all men and universally conscientious." Therefore, the very next important task Nehemiah undertook was to set up gatekeepers and appoint singers and Levites.

In chapter 7:3, Nehemiah wisely posted some guards "each in front of their own house." Three hundred years ago Matthew Henry warned: "The public safety depends upon everyone paying particular care to guard himself and his own family against sin, which is the common enemy. Nehemiah was sensible of the truth, "unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchmen waked in vain."

A Cupbearer, A Builder and Now an Urban Planner?
"Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet
been rebuilt." (7:4) He first rebuilt the walls around a barren city; his next mission was re-
populating Jerusalem, the city now guarded by sturdy walls. Who should live where?

The Living Bible says "Any enterprise is built by wise planning and becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts" (Proverbs 24:3,4). Sounds like a plan Nehemiah may have understood. God put it in Nehemiah's heart to assemble the people for registration. Nehemiah's genealogy and Ezra's agree that there were 42,360 people. Moreover, the people knew from whence they came - where they belong. Decade upon decade in exile did not diminish their knowledge of whose they were. Through their captivity and the resettlement and the years of living apart from Jerusalem, God's people remembered. The descendants of the remnant didn't get lost - and neither will you.

Watchmen, A Census and Homeschooling Plans
Today we may have "walls" that keep us safe - mercifully free from disaster - such as health,
education, money, friendships. The "walls" of the church - doctrine, theology, liturgy practice -
also have been built to protect its inhabitants. The endurance of our safety depends upon the
watchmen who guard - who watch and pray. The best walls in the world are not a sure defense if
the "doors" are left unguarded. You may have crafted the best program ever devised but you
never guard the "doors" of your home. You will not secure the integrity of your home
education program if you do not shut the doors at inappropriate times.

Turn the TV off; look at the library books; get to know their friends. If you plan an activity for your children, be judicious. Slow down and ask if this is the best use of your child's time. Be ever so careful under whose authority you place your children examine the leader's integrity, his or her reputation. Not every soccer coach is the a godly example you want set before your child even Sunday school teachers or youth leaders are not automatically okay because they are "churched."

Max Lucado, in Applause of Heaven, says we would do well to remember: "Succeed at home, first." Don't let the guard down and allow "stuff" in that corrupts and destroys. Unless you give over the defense of your self, home and loved ones to God - on His terms - you fight a losing battle. No work established by God for His purposes is an exercise in futility, nor is our work always over because we come to the end of particular stage.

-Are you a lively watchman, or are you relying upon dead walls, albeit plastered with

Christian home schooling symbols?

-Are you teaching your children to be lively "watchmen"?

If no one got lost under Nehemiah's care, trust that not one of your children will get lost in the academic maze if you are obeying God. Therefore, even in our troubles, we can trust our
position in Christ! How can a mom and dad successfully teach their children? God will put it in
their hearts how to begin!

-Are you overwhelmed by the size of the task of taking your children perhaps through

high school? It is not a bigger job than re-locating 42,360 folks.

A Personal Petition:
As you build our family through homeschooling, as you guard our gates, build in our children a
love for your work and your will. Build loyalty in our hearts to your work, for your Glory.


Re: Anyone interested in getting back to re-BUILDING?

Posted by Barbara C. on Tuesday, 14 April 1998, at 7:18 a.m., in response to Anyone interested in getting back to re-BUILDING?, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 13 April 1998, at 10:59 p.m.

Dear Barbara,

Thanks for you faithfulness to post this Bible Study. I am really enjoying it.

Barbara C.


Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 21 April 1998, at 1:46 p.m.

Chapter 8: The Cost of Rededicating the WALL

Nehemiah was not a scholar in the law nor as dedicated scribe as Ezra. Read Nehemiah 8 to see how his zeal enabled Ezra to teach the remnant. Learning the law, the people joyfully respond and solemnly keep the feast of tabernacles according to the law.

1. How frequently does your family review the first five books of the Bible?

2. Why do you pursue studying the Law; or, why do you forego carefully studying the Law?

3. What is the link between the Exodus from Egypt and the people's return from exile?

4. When you finally understood the Law, did you weep and mourn? Did you then give to the poor or reach out to others on the margins of society?

5. How frequently do you join with the larger Body of Christ to celebrate the Lord Jesus?

The Next Phase of Reconstruction
When all the people assembled, as one man, in the square before the Water Gate, they saw the
completion of an incredible building program -- of which many of them had been a part. Those
who first heard Nehemiah's proposition, who trembled when enemies menaced, now marveled.
As one man, in the town square, they could see that God accomplished what He said He would
do. The words of the ancient weeping prophet, Jeremiah, may have been on the hearts of many.
Jeremiah had said. "The city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hannanel to the
Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb;
then it will turn to Goah. And the whole valley of dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the
fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy
to the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, overthrown anymore forever." (Jeremiah 31:38-40)

The assembly told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD
had commanded for Israel. Now the people who wanted to know more of God's Word prepared
their children those who could understand to stand quietly and listen attentively.

All the people could see Ezra as he opened the Book of Moses. The people all stood up, and then
they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. The Levites
instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book
of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand
what they were reading. They wept as they listened to the words of the Law. However,
Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is
sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." (8:8-9)

The next day heads of households gathered so that they might gain insight into the words of the
Law (8:13). What they learned was a commandment from the Lord to Moses: the Israelites were
to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. No sooner did they start to dig in God's
word, then they quickly learned that He required them to depend on Him, not on Nehemiah or
his provisions.

How better to knit people together in the Lord than to remove them from their "comfort zones"
and let them all depend upon God's provisions? From their complete obedience emerged a
celebration of great joy and the people listened, day after day, to Ezra read from the Book
of the Law of God. ( 8:14-18)

Anticipating the need to begin at once celebrating the goodness of God, Nehemiah had quietly
organized the hospitality for the worship event (8:12). Making sure 35,000 or more hungry
people and children had food was no mean feat. Realizing what Nehemiah undertook definitely
puts our daily meal preparation in perspective, doesn't it? Crabbing about all his chores is not a
tool Nehemiah used to rebuild the walls or resettle the city!

Questions about the Costs
The completed wall must have been an attention grabber. The people knew the Lord's hand was
upon them to have succeeded so well so quickly. Their success made them curious about their
God. They wanted their children to hear.

-When you see what God accomplishes in your life, do you want to read what Moses said?

- Does God' s faithfulness to you make you want to know more of His grace?

-Have you told your children why you study your Bible?

- Do you prepare your young children to understand the reading of God's word and

participate in worship?

Never neglect reading Moses to your children, so they will know the holiness of their God. Never
neglect reading the Gospels, so they will learn the mercy of their God! Hearing their history was
hard, however.

- Do you remember hearing the Law for the first time?

- Was it hard to rejoice when you finally understood the depths of your depravity? (8:9)

-Look up "depravity, "salvation," "justification," and "sanctification." Even the

dictionary can be a good starting point for studying theology with your children

-Can you explain to your children why Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites did not to mourn?

Hospitality Hints from A Builder
Nehemiah again thought ahead and made provision, this time for thousands and thousands of
people and their children. Centuries later we have many more gadgets, a fantastic selection of
food, but which of us has tried to match Nehemiah's hospitality?

Why is it so difficult for us to prepare a simple Sabbath meal, before the worship, so we might
extend and enjoy fellowship? We must pass on to our children the joy of being hospitable. Peter
says "Use hospitality one to another without grudging." (1 Peter 4:9) Who knows for whom we
will train our children to be hospitable? (Hebrews 13:2)

No money, no time, you protest? For the most part, we can scrounge a few coins for what we
desire, and we seem to find time for what we want to make time for. If you are willing to be
hospitable, God might willingly enable you to entertain even angels unawares.

Homeschoolers must come out from their comfort zones and depend upon the Lord, in spite of all
the grand educational provisions now available to us.

- Could you live for a week, trusting only the Lord? Ever tried?

-Obedience to God's commands brings great joy. Do you model this principle for your

children?

Prayer Prompts from Nehemiah
Lord, I chose to trust you instead of fretting. I don't know who our home school will work out,
but you do. You mean everything in my life for my good, and not to do me harm even if Your
discipline smarts. Therefore, I choose to rejoice that You, who have begun a good work in me
my spouse and children will see it through. My heart and flesh may fail, but You who changest
not will never fail. Your goodness and sovereignty and purposes not my worry will fuel my
day.

©Barbara W Smith 1998
Please let me know how you intend to use these notes, and please let me know if you found them helpful!


Re: Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?

Posted by Barbara C. on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:14 a.m., in response to Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 21 April 1998, at 1:46 p.m.

"Could you live for a week, trusting only the Lord? Ever tried?"

I remember, many years ago, when our family was strapped for cash. My husband had just gone to Germany (military) and my daughters and I were "on our own". I didn't have the money to purchase new school clothes that my oldest daughter needed (this was for ps). I trusted the Lord with the situation. He led me to go shopping at a local thrift store. Now, this store had never had too many clothes that I needed for this 3rd grader. BUT, this time, I was able to find almost a complete wardrobe of nice things for her. Why? Because I was depending on Him to provide.


Because I was depending on Him to provide.

Posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:41 a.m., in response to Re: Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?, posted by Barbara C. on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:14 a.m.

Dear Barbara,
How much in my daily life -- and long-term life have I MISSED because I thought it was within my ability or because I couldn't wait to have "IT"?
How many grey hairs have I added to my head -- and others' because of fretting?
How much have I missed because I put worship off?
BWS


Re: Because I was depending on Him to provide.

Posted by Trisch on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 10:18 a.m., in response to Because I was depending on Him to provide., posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:41 a.m.

This is so needful in my life right now! We have about $4,500 to pay for my recent gall bladder surgery (and a $4,500 deductible on our cost-sharing!), yesterday I was told one daughter needed a bigger cello and another needed a bigger violin (!) and our van needs some help! I just said, "Lord, You must have something really special for us!" But it's easy to think, where will it all come from? and try to "figure" it out for ourselves.

What you said about depending on the Lord in our hsing really hit home. I have been frustrated with our phonics program and trying to "get everything done", that I have lost sight of the One who is in charge! I have sensed the Lord saying, Trust Me! to teach Susannah to read (I've taught two others depending on Him!) and to truly "devote" my hs to God (that article by Kathy really convicted me). Thanks for the confirmation of what I know the Lord has been trying to tell me--I don't need a "better" program--I just need to look to Him!

On the subject of entertaining angels, I just have to add this. We had planned for an older couple to come to dinner after church. A family came to our church that morning, and you could tell they didn't have much, and they weren't your "perfect, beautiful, polished" family. But they loved the Lord, and came to our church just to be an encouragement. The Lord prompted me to invite them to dinner (they had come quite a distance), to which I replied I would like to, but I knew we didn't have enough food prepared! The Lord said, "Trust ME!" So I told dh, who said, "Do we have enough?" I relayed what the Lord told me, and he said ok!

Well, I had fixed a 4 lb. chicken and 2 dz. rolls (as well as veggies, etc.) Our then family of four plus this couple normally would have eaten most of that. The other lady (of the older couple) had "just happened" to bring another dz. rolls (!) and the pastor's wife "just happened" to have an angel food cake in her freezer! We literally saw the Lord multiply the chicken and the rolls (vs. the fish and the loaves!) because we ALL had seconds (they had 2 teen sons!) and the 14 yob had THIRDS! PRAISE THE LORD!

What a blessing we all would have missed if I had only looked at my meager hoards!

Sorry so long--I just wanted to praise God again for His miracle working power!

In Him,

Trisch


Re: Because I was depending on Him to provide.

Posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 10:36 a.m., in response to Re: Because I was depending on Him to provide., posted by Trisch on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 10:18 a.m.

Lord, I ask YOU in the Jesus' name to meet Trisch and her husband and daughters at this point of need.
Thank you she hears YOUR voice, Thank you, Trisch has seen YOUR hand -- and KNOWS that YOU are faithful.
Father, thank you that you know how and when the money, the cello and the reading skills will be provided. Please fill Trisch with YOU patience and peace -- make me to remember to pray for YOUR good and perfect will to be accomplished in her life.
Thank you for the sweetness of CHRISTIAN fellowship, for which YOU will always provide -- and adjust our appetites to delight in YOUR provision.

Please Lord Jesus keep Trisch and each of us from stumbling over disappointment and fear. Please make Trisch and each of us, women who will stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, for you alone have all glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
(See Jude 24-25 & Eph 3:20-21)


Re: Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?

Posted by Lisa C. on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:54 a.m., in response to Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 21 April 1998, at 1:46 p.m.

I think I was born a worryier, everyone in my family seems to be like this.."seemed" to be like this... We have learned to trust in the Lord over the years and now, praise God the gray hairs are only genetic, not from worrying. I know, they were all along. *g*

I have to confess that until I did the Experiencing God bible study I was not trusting God as I should. God used this study to open my eyes to his love and faithfulness to me, even when I am unfaithful. God is sooo Good!

I have begun to trust Him in the little things and the big things are not so big anymore. Situations can be big but God is BIGGER! He will provide.

I have had the privilege to witness many miracles that God has done right before my eyes. In providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless where there is no money to pay for it, and healing of the sick, where there was no hope. He is truly in control of all our situations if we will let Him control them. Give Him your troubles, He will provide.

Thanks for the wonderful study, Barbara. God is continuing to use you to teach me.

Lisa C.


The insidiousness of WORRY

Posted by BWSmith on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 9:39 a.m., in response to Re: Counting the Cost . . . any thoughts or comments?, posted by Lisa C. on Wednesday, 22 April 1998, at 7:54 a.m.

Hi Lisa --
I am in from a losing battle in the yard -- I think the weeds are SMARTER this year than last --
and thought I'd say howdy.
On a praise and worship tape (#6) by Dr. Bill Bright, the narrator said he, too, was a born worrier. Only he used to say, "I'm *concerned* --
But he didn't say it to God first.
I got to thinking how I sometimes MASK my
fretting to make indulging sound better to others who have the dubious privilege of listening to me
being *concerned.* If am sweating money, the plans of my soon-to-be 21 yos -- my daughter's heart -- my husband's health -- or the salvation of those I love who are saying NO to Christ - who do I first
tell? I am ashamed that it is not God -- until I've worn out everybody around me 8-(
See, why I write -- when I get it on paper, I realize what DUMB things I imagine, or worse DO!
Do I really believe that setting my heart on the promises of GOD, that nothing will thwart HIS plans for me -- because HIS plans are UNCHANGEABLE(Jeremiah 29:11) And HE means to do me good -- ????
That I can do all things through CHrist who stengthens me -- including YARD work -- and HE will get us the income, shepherd my children, and give me hop and a future, as well as those I *am concerned * about?
Look out dandelions -- here I come! I couldn't get the moles, but don't think I won't get you!
BWS


Three R's you may not have thought of in your homeschool. What do YOU think?

Posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 26 April 1998, at 9:56 p.m.

Chapter 9: Remembrance, Repentance, Rededication

The tenth day of the seventh month between the feast of trumpets (Neh. 8:2) and the feast of tabernacles (v. 14) was appointed to be the day of atonement. As you read Nehemiah 9, keep in
mind that here we have an account of a practice that seems foreign indeed to many of us, a fast,
a day of humiliation. It was, however, a time to weep as well as a time to laugh. Look for a few
practical tips you can apply on remembrance, repentance and rededication as you read. How did the people fast? (9:1-3) How are their prayers a pattern for your prayers? (9: 4-38)

1. What does "confession" mean to you?

2. What does the practice of separation described in this chapter mean to you?

3. How did their worship reveal what they believed about God?

4. What is the great distress from which you want God to deliver you?

The Great National Confession has Individual Implications for You and Me.
Rejoicing and studying gave way to a solemn assembly on the eighth day, and a clear recognition
of whom God is - and who we are. (9:1) Fasting, mourning, the people gathered and consciously
separated themselves from the foreigners. Now they stood in their places for six hours listening to
the Law, the people and their leaders. The word convicted them and still brought them comfort,
for this is the point of God's revelation to us.

Then, for another six, confessing and worshiping the Lord their God, they cried with a loud voice. Reading verses 5-38 of chapter 9, we see how heart-rending these corporate and private experiences must have been. The people quickly connected to their history when they heard about their heritage:

"They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among

them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to

return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow

to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they

cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up

out of Egypt,' or when they committed awful blasphemies. Because of your great

compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not

cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way

they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold

your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty

years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear

out nor did their feet become swollen." (9:17-21)

Worship, abounding and overflowing, is the response when they heard what God had done. He chose Abraham and renamed him, making a covenant to form a nation through him, and that although throughout the generations they broke the covenant, He never abandoned them. The point of God's punishment is always to turn His people to the Law and to Himself.

Now they understood, it was only God who could rescue them from their enslaved position (9:32). It was only God who could keep their hearts faithful — not the wonderful, newly rebuilt wall. Now they wanted to seal their own covenant with God, putting it in writing (9:38).

Reviewing their past, the people acknowledged: "In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong. Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them." (33-34) Their leaders, like the leaders today, though they enjoyed God's great
goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land He gave them, they did not serve Him or turn from their evil ways. (35)

Corrupt leaders brought slavery upon the people, literal and spiritual. They were unable to enjoy the fruits of what God gave their forefathers. (36)

Soberly, they acknowledged the onus of their own sins. "Because of our sins, its abundant
harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as
they please. We are in great distress." (37)

"In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it." (9:38) At the conclusion of this confession, the people signed a covenant, making an agreement in writing.

Applying a Moment in Time to You Home School.
Nehemiah records that not only did the people stand for twelve hours, they engaged their minds
and listened to the reading of the word, with their ears and hearts. TWELVE HOURS, half a day
in the word and prayer? Time is the ever diminishing factor in your life, right?

Do you think you impress God with your quiet time OR your Sunday church attendance? God gives us 168 hours a week. How we use it also exposes our inclinations to be in God's company. How much time do you give back to God, not in work, but in worship? Getting legalistic for a moment, twelve hours is not even a respectable tithe.

-Have you spent twelve hours in the study of God's word and worship, culminating in
lavish fellowship? How would your children react to such a proposal?

Now, for mothers of small children, even ten minutes might seem like the "widow's offering" — all you have. Setting time aside is not an easy choice, and it is a harder task! Consider, however, going to bed on time, so, in the morning, you can rise before the patter of little feet. One busy mom dresses herself before her feet hit the floor by quietly remaining in bed and appropriating the Ephesians 6 outfit before the battle.

Where there is a will to worship, God will show the way! Turn off the TV and turn to God. Put the novel and newspaper down and open the Bible and hymnal. If you mean business, God does too! Read Jeremiah 29:11-13 putting your name in - personalizing the experiences, the struggles, the failures - the mighty deliverance God offered you.

When you read what the people in Jerusalem heard, what is the conviction and what is your comfort? If God stood by His people for forty years in the desert, will He abandon you in only a semester? "You gave your good Spirit to instruct them." Do you believe that God gives you His Spirit so that you might your children? Therefore we can rejoice in our circumstances, even as we are warned about our wandering hearts. God will abandon those to their sinful desires who act arrogantly, but He has compassion to those who cry out to Him. (9:29-30) This warning and wonder is important; we must remember it and repeat it to our children. Telling the old, old story to your children is the foundation of education.

The best foundation always develops a few weak spots, though: have you noticed? SIN, even if not yours directly, despoils a harvest of righteousness. Use the one formidable "rebuilding" tool that served Nehemiah and those who stood for twelve hours: agree with God that you have been wrong, as has your family. Confessing that only God is right is crucial to rebuilding the walls; do it before you begin to homeschool or begin again!

A walled city was no protection if God's people were ignorant of their history and their God who preserved them. So, discipling your children must inform them of their sin nature and their God who loves them and paid the price for their rebellion.

-Do your children understand God's covenant? You must teach this before any other

subject! He will show you how.

-Is your system of child discipline to reprove your children to turn them to the Law, and

thus understanding what Jesus has accomplished for them?

-Are you willing to allow your children to experience the consequences of their rebellion

and folly, so they might learn the righteousness of God?

God's people were mortified, not proud of their ancestry. They were humbled and blessed to see God's faithfulness despite provocation. Because of this, they made an agreement with God. Why are you waiting to sign on the dotted line the covenant God is offering you?

- Are you afraid of the cost?

-What do you fear God is asking for you to give over to Him that He could not repay?

.
A Private Plea:
O God, I believe; help Thou my unbelief. Let me remember — always — your love and holiness. Forgive, Lord, my stiff-neck and cold heart are at cross-purposes to Your will. Thank you that you never abandon me to my silly passions and plans. Give me a child's faith in Your power and a child's trust in Your purposes. And grown-up strength to do Your will.

©Barbara W Smith 1998
This chapter taken from "Building with Ancient Blueprints (or, using Nehemiah's plans in your home school)" Please let me know how you intend to use these notes, and please let me know if you found them helpful.


12 hours?!!

Posted by Jan on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:46 a.m., in response to Three R's you may not have thought of in your homeschool. What do YOU think?, posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 26 April 1998, at 9:56 p.m.

BW, I did find your notes helpful. I am making one copy in order to re-read and study them futher tomorrow. (I get on-line very late in the p.m.)
I have been experiencing an urgent calling to repentance and prayer (and maybe fasting) for the future of this country and more specifically - my children. I believe judgement is VERY near!
These notes speak volumes! Exactly what I've been thinking about.
Especially the importance of passing on God's laws to my children. As hsers (always and for seven years now) I'm ashamed to admit that God has not been consistently first in our daily schooling. More likely, He is first for a few weeks then not for a few months.
Lord! Forgive me.
Thank you for sharing with us.
Jan


Re: 12 hours?!!

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 7:42 a.m., in response to 12 hours?!!, posted by Jan on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:46 a.m.

Dear Jan;
We got into so much TROUBLE in our homeschool when we let devotions slip and *dailies* take over.

Just imagine if we prayed and fasted ONE lunch a week for our nation.

I learned from BJU 4th grade AMERICAN history that
busineeses in NYC routinely closed at noon forprayer shortly before the Civil War -- the revival broke out in 1859 on both sides of that equation -- And as horrible as that war was -- God DID bring our country back together and we have not endured the ravages that many other nations have who spiraled downward into civil war -- I grieve for how we have squandered our inheritance from HIM!

If I can pass on one thing to our children it is the belief that there is a Holy God who is worthy of 12 hours of my time and more, so much more.
Like you I ask Him for forgiveness for passing up opportunity after opportunity to teach the really important lessons!
Love in Christ,
BWS


A Question

Posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 9:28 a.m., in response to Three R's you may not have thought of in your homeschool. What do YOU think?, posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 26 April 1998, at 9:56 p.m.

I have always wondered what the connection between "national sins" and "personal sins" is. Is it really important to confess our nation's sins? Why or why not?

It would seem to me that my own personal sins are what can be confessed and forgiven.

How can I confess national sins? Our nation seems to continue on in the path that it has chosen. Wouldn't confession be almost a waste of time?

I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything. I just really want to know!

In Him,
Barbara C.


Re: A Question

Posted by Kevin Megill on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 10:20 a.m., in response to A Question, posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 9:28 a.m.

Dear Barbara,

I don't know what I think of it either, but let me share this passage from Daniel (which I realize was written TO Israel) as food for thought for both of us!

(NASB)Daniel 9: 4-19

"And I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, 'Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances.

Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.

Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day-to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou has driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee.

Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.

To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.

Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.

Thus He has confirmed His words which He has spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem.

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth.

Therefore, the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

And now, O Lord our God, who hast brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and hast made a name for Thyself, as it is this day-we have sinned, we have been wicked.

O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us.

So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary.

O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion.

O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name."

I am not sure how this applies to the church today, but it sure makes you think!

In His Joy and Grace,
Kate Megill


We are called........

Posted by Donna G. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 11:32 a.m., in response to Re: A Question, posted by Kevin Megill on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 10:20 a.m.

even today to pray and intercede for our nation. To intercede for our nation means to stand in the gap and repent on behalf of our nation. The prayer of Daniel 9 very much applies to us today. As does all the OT. Ezekial 22:30 says "And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." If God could find just one to stand in the gap for their nation, oh the moves of God we would see. If each and every one of us on this board fasted and prayed one meal a month for our nation, we would see a move of God such as this world has never seen.
May God not challenge us according to our abilities, but rather strengthen us to rise to the challenges according to His.
Donna G.


Re: We are called........

Posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 11:41 a.m., in response to We are called........, posted by Donna G. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 11:32 a.m.

I guess I am still confused about WHY we are to pray for the nation. Individuals I understand, the nation, I don't (other than God tells us to). Does He have a reason behind it? Does it really make a difference if I confess the sins of our nation who does not honor and reverence God as a whole?


Re: We are called........

Posted by Kate Megill (oops, that last post wasn't Kevin but me!) on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:18 p.m., in response to Re: We are called........, posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 11:41 a.m.

Dear Barbara,

I guess for me the question is not "does it make a difference", the results of my prayers are not my responsibility, they are God's so it is up to Him to decide if they make a difference. Sometimes asking Why we are commanded to do this only gets in the way of our obedience (at least it sure has with me!). God may or may not answer it (just like with our children *grin*, they are told to first ask if it is ok to ask why...sometimes it is, sometimes we just require them to obey for their own benefit because we have said to...we know the reasons, but it isn't always necessary for them to know why!) but we need to obey even if we don't understand WHY.

Yes, I agree with Donna that we are told to pray for our nation and our people and that we need to include this as part of our daily supplications to the Lord. Yes the prayer in Daniel applies to us today (as well as all the verses shared by Donna), although since it was written TO Israel and the relationship God had with nation Israel is NOT the same relationship He has with America today, we cannot interpret it as if the promises will be fulfilled in the same way to our nation as they would have been to Israel. But the principles remain the same. They give us insight into the heart God has for us as we express our part in the sins of the nation-relating to our people who have rejected God's rule in their lives.

I was thinking of the recent posts talking about the "ministry of confessing public sin" that was discussed when I said that I wasn't sure how I think we need to work this out in our lives. Since I am not sure about the "ins and outs" of that specific thing I don't know how to evaluate what they are teaching.

In His Joy and Grace,
Kate Megill


Ezekial 22:30 is a real kicker, huh?

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 1:06 p.m., in response to We are called........, posted by Donna G. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 11:32 a.m.

"And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."

Oh God have mercy on this nation, on your church in America and ME! Forgive our maniford transgressions by thought word and deed against THY divine majesty.
Please God show yourself mighty to those in authority and those under their authority. Please make us hunger and thirst for righteousness -- Make us, a stubborn and proud people to seek your hand because of your son Jesus CHrist inwhose name I pray.


Here's an answer -- whatdya think?

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:56 p.m., in response to A Question, posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 9:28 a.m.

Hello Barbara C!
You asked some GOOD questions and I will throw out my $0.02 worth — What I tell my kids: The only dumb question is the one you DON'T ask!

1. You asked: What is the connection between "national sins" and "personal sins"?
Obviously, we aren't the ones who are making the national headlines, but in HIS wisdom, God placed you and me in a generation of people who do not know HIM. He opened our eyes and gave us HIS Spirit so that we might win souls to Jesus Christ. Maybe we aren't Debra, Martha, Mary or Phoebe or Lydia, or even another Amy Carmichael or Fanny Crosby, but we can pray:
**"Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?" ( Prov 24:11-12)

We live among people — all of whom are our brothers and sisters — for we come from one set of parents: Adam & Eve. Those who please us and those who grieve us have all been created in the image of God. God *loves* this world and gave His only begotten Son that the people HE created might come to know HIM.

Because in HIS mercy HE opened my blind eyes, I now can agree with HIM that other members of my family, whether near kin or "distant" relatives are foolish and wrong — I can grieve for what we all did (AND CONTINUE TO DO) that meant the precious Lord Jesus had to suffer so on all of our accounts.

I am a C-span junkie AND a news junkie — as if my knowledge of world events were important! — But what if no one prayed for our national and local leaders?

I once considered boycotting lots of businesses who gave a share of their profits to organizations I oppose — Then it dawned on me, I can't out police the people I do business with — I DO live in a generation who has spurned God; I am part of the problem just because of where I am in world history. I live among people who ARE going to HELL unless God directly changes their flight time and ETA!

For even my worst enemy, eternity apart from the graciousness of God is more than that with which I would curse them. Hey, if I were the only believer on the Titanic — or in the lifeboats — would I refuse to beg God for mercy — and confessing that we all were wrong to assume the boat could not sink?

In his journal, Nehemiah carefully recorded his prayer, I think, for a couple of reasons.
When Moses instructed the soon-to-be nation of Israel that they should always remember where they came from — we come out of a dead world — for a reason. That reason is to seek and serve the sick, only at the impulse of Christ's prompting -- not judge them. When we remind ourselves that but for God's grace we would be doing the same stuff, or worse, it mitigates our message and empowers our service.

Also, Nehemiah read Daniel and he surely knew Isaiah. Both of these men confessed their part in a sinful generation.
See Isaiah 6: 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
and Daniel 9 :1-14
. . . I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was {revealed as} the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, {namely,} seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek {Him by} prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances.
"Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land. "Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day-- to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee.
"Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. "To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.
"Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done {anything} like what was done to Jerusalem.
"As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. "Therefore, the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

If Daniel can pray this, can I do less?

When we pray for our nation, and think about the things that break the heart of God — and allow those things to break our hearts (Graham Kendrick's idea) — The Lord listens to our prayers; why He answers when HE answers, I don't know how — But I find:
"For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. (1 Sam 12:22-23)

God told Solomon: "And if Thy people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, and they return {to Thee} and confess Thy name, and pray and make supplication before Thee in this house, then hear Thou from heaven and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them back to the land which Thou hast given to them and to their fathers. (2 Chr 6:24-25)

Are we not defeated in this nation because of the false gods all of, even Christians bow towards?
What is our hope?
"Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. "Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer {offered} in this place. " (2 Chronicles 7 )

So although I am not accused of the wrongdoing that is splashed in the press — I acknowledge the failures and shortcomings and terrible offenses of those in authority over me: "Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him." (Ps 32:6)

Even though God told Jeremiah not to pray for the nation of Israel because HIS wrath would not be deflected, HE told this prophet: 'And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.' (Jer 29:7)

2. You asked: How can I confess national sins? Our nation seems to continue on in the path
that it has chosen. Wouldn't confession be almost a waste of time?
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45)

Some one prayed for me and I came to know Christ — Who will pray for those who are adrift now and headed for destruction — that God in HIS mercy would withhold the judgment we are rightfully due, so that someone we love can come to their senses and accept Christ? What if Judgment had been executed 24 hours before you gave your heart to Jesus Christ?

3. You ask: "Is it really important to confess our nation's sins? Why or why not?"
From the mouth of our Lord — we too might fall into the traps of power that have crippled our nation's leaders! ". . . and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation." (Luke 22:46)

What if Christians had not prayed for God's mercy during the American Revolution? Even a casual reading of colonial and the Revolutionary War era reveal the character failings of our national leaders and heroes. Did the slave trade in England end because one day the Parliament woke up and said, "Enough!" What if Christians did not pray and act on slavery issues in the US, and during the Civil War, or World War I — or World War II? Is it important to pray — are willing to leave the course of history to unbelievers?

You said: "It would seem to me that my own personal sins are what can be confessed and forgiven." God does save HIS own, one by one: but God is listening to our prayers. James was writing to believers — and I don't mean we should confess to unbelievers — I am too often cold- hearted and critical about the debacle our nation, and world has marched into with abandon!
I don't want to see Christ at the judgment day and hear HIS reproof, after telling HIM I was POWERLESS to stop abortion and euthanasia and war and AIDS and child abuse and greed and graft: "You could have prayed, you could have prayed!"
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:16-20)

You don't sound arrogant — or anything, Barbara! I hope this helps.
Love in Christ — and looking forward to your comments,
BWS


Re: Here's an answer -- whatdya think?

Posted by Peggy on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 1:30 p.m., in response to Here's an answer -- whatdya think?, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:56 p.m.

I think you are amazing!! So much to think about! Thanks, again! (big smile)

You asked in another post, where I've been. In and out and around. Lots of things going on to keep my attention and focus my work!

Hope you are doing well...sure looks like you are prolific with your writing these days! Keep it up!

Love,
Peggy


Re: Here's an answer -- whatdya think?

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:24 p.m., in response to Re: Here's an answer -- whatdya think?, posted by Peggy on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 1:30 p.m.

Yeah, prolific, that's me. Good to hear from you, Peggy. But SURELY you have some wisdom to impart about praying for the nation.
These days seem overwhelming with bad news--I guess it's the instantaneousness of what we know and when we know it.
Bye
BWS


Re: Here's an answer -- whatdya think?

Posted by Peggy on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:48 p.m., in response to Re: Here's an answer -- whatdya think?, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:24 p.m.

Barbara,

You said: "But SURELY you have some wisdom to impart about praying for the nation."

Wisdom is not my forte these days! I am trying to stand silent in the presence of the Lord, seeking HIS wisdom.

At the moment I am not equipped to expound on the scriptural therefores of praying for the nation, I just do it. I figure I may as well pray for all the other nations of the world while I'm at it. (grin)

Love,
Peggy


Thank you and WOW!

Posted by Donna C - TX on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 2:00 p.m., in response to Here's an answer -- whatdya think?, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 12:56 p.m.

The Lord has blessed you so much with words, wisdom from Him, and understanding.

I had the same problem that Barbara C had -- "but I'm not commiting adultry, murder, abortion, etc. etc." - I could see confessing my own failings and sin, but for the whole nation's of which I was not commiting? I could even be grateful, "there but for the grace of God, go I," in a humble way. I guess I was separating myself tooo much - in the world, not of it - to a degree that I wasn't connecting to the "in the world" part.

Thank you for sharing what the Lord has shown you. It has helped me to get to a little deeper level. (Still baby steps, but, hey! I'm moving in the right direction!!)

In Him,
Donna C


Re: Thank you and WOW!

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:37 p.m., in response to Thank you and WOW!, posted by Donna C - TX on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 2:00 p.m.

Hi Donna --
Did you see "What About Bob?"

"I doing the work, man. I'm baby stepping, I'm baby stepping. Come on man. I need I want I need!"
Not that I have ever unloaded on my family or friends like that, you understand.

I keep thinking about the children of the people whose names are constantly splashed across the press -- I also keep thinking about the pastors of the churches where our leaders go --
They have become stupid and have not sought the LORD; (Jer 10:21) and so "My people have become lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside {on} the mountains; they have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting place. (Jer 50:6)

The praise for today is that we are Jesus' little lambs --
BWS


Re: AMEN!! And......

Posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 5:51 p.m., in response to Re: Thank you and WOW!, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:37 p.m.

thank you so much for your words of wisdom! I have printed the long response off to study and pray over.

The Lord is so good to give you these insights! I also praise Him that he has led you to share these things with us!

In Him,
Barbara C.


It's Me Again!

Posted by Barbara C. on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 7:40 p.m., in response to Re: Thank you and WOW!, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 3:37 p.m.

I have spent some time in prayer and study and this is what I came up with:

In Matthew 4:17, Jesus said, "...Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

And, in I John 1:9, John says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

I have been applying these verses to confession of our nation's sins. That doesn't seem to work because a Christian cannot confess and repent for another person (or nation). My applying these verses to our nation was causing me to doubt that it would do any good and to wonder why I should even do it!

I think what we are to do is to confess the sins of our nation (myself included), repent for myself, and pray for my nation to turn to God. As Ezekial 22:30 says, "And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and STAND IN THE GAP before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it..." That's what confessing our nation's sins is all about -- standing in the gap.

What do you think, girls?

In Him,
Barbara C.


Anchoring this discussion on praying for the nation in the Bible passage — Neh. 9:1-38

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 27 April 1998, at 9:57 p.m., in response to Three R's you may not have thought of in your homeschool. What do YOU think?, posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 26 April 1998, at 9:56 p.m.

Just a reminder:

After hearing the Law, the people repented in sackcloth and ashes, separating themselves from foreigners and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (1-2)

Worship followed confession and the Levites rehearsed the people's history that brought them to this point. (3- 16) Their ancestors' problem? (17-18) "And they refused to listen, and did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; and Thou didst not forsake them.

POINT: Rehearsing a lamentable history reminded them -- and us -- that God "didst not forsake them." (19-21) Reviewing the blessings, confessing the sins of the nation — the pagan idolatry that landed them in Babylon — was a powerful plumb line. (23-28) Confessing the sins of our generation should also be a plumb line for us to take care, lest we fall! Although they knew the law, "Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Thy commandments but sinned against Thine ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen." (29-30)

The Church is full of people who KNOW the LAW yet skirt it — I am heartily sorry when I see *others* do this: walk out of church, Bibles in plain view, but out of the heart's sight. Do I have to spell out the ease with which I can say — "OH, I live under GRACE not the Law" — and so justify my *shortcomings?*

Rehearsing my nation's "lapses" — acknowledging my part — brings me to a fresh appreciation of God's mercy and forbearance, even in discipline. (30-32) The bottom line is "Thou art just in all that has come upon us; for Thou hast dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly." (33)

It does break my heart -- when I actually take the time and consider that: " . . . our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Thy law or paid attention to Thy commandments and Thine admonitions with which Thou hast admonished them." (34)

We do bear the scars and chains of generational sin: slavery in the US has intensified racial divisions; the abandon of the ‘60's has bred the immoral excesses of today; abortion has decimated our future — we can't pay for Social Security because we have *eliminated how many millions of workers who would be paying into the system. We may enjoy provocative artistic movies, yet what has the consequence been upon the children? — Ah, what do we say, excusing our little foibles and passions . . .?

So under Nehemiah's watchful eye, the Levites rehearsed: "But they, in their own kingdom, with Thy great goodness which Thou didst give them, with the broad and rich land which Thou didst set before them, did not serve Thee or turn from their evil deeds. Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land which Thou didst give to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold, we are slaves on it. And its abundant produce is for the kings whom Thou hast set over us because of our sins; they also rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress." (35-37)

Nehemiah wanted his people to know why a written agreement was required. Their ancestors blew it, and the leaders, Levites and priests had a sorry history. Even now on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in Babylon, many remained who made compromises — they were not the generation without blemishes, although they had accomplished a mighty deed. (38)

We are not an unblemished generation, although we have taken an important stand against cultural relativism and moral decay — we are not immune from its allure.


Re: Nehemiah

Posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 24 May 1998, at 11:01 p.m., in response to Nehemiah, posted by Barbara C. on Sunday, 24 May 1998, at 8:47 p.m.

Hi
YES -- I am going to post for I think chapter 10 --do you know I have lost track over the past few weeks -- Thanks for asking
Chapter 10: Read It Carefully Before You Sign It!

In Nehemiah 10, you will read about the renewal of the covenant. Matthew Henry writes that the people immediately put "that good resolve in execution, when they were in a good frame, lest, if it should be delayed, it might be dropped." (Commentaries) Nehemiah recorded in his journal the names of those who signed and sealed it . (10: 1-27) Chapter 10 also includes a report of those who signified their consent and concurrence, plus the covenant itself, and the articles of it in general. (10:28-39)

1. What subjects are covered by the provisions of this covenant?

2. What do you think the rationale is behind the promises and Sabbath restrictions ?

3. What had neglecting the house of God taught the people in the past? (See Nehemiah 13.11; Haggai 1:4-11)

4. Is personal stewardship a reliable index of devotion to God and His work? Elaborate.

5. Have you ever covenanted to do anything for God or because of God?

6. What seems most neglected in your home, homeschool or church? In your neighborhood?

Look who signed; their names are recorded in chapter 10: their leaders (10:1), priests (10:2-13), and politicians (10:14-27) — the very classes of people who, generations ago, frequently got the Israelites into trouble. Men, women, and children, everybody separated themselves away from the peoples of the lands, to the law of God.

The people affirmed a physical wall — however miraculously established — was not enough protection from the follies that defeated their ancestors. They agreed to wall themselves off from the corruption of the world around them — and from their own sinful responses. Not only that, but they took upon themselves a curse should they fail to obey God's law!

Be certain you understand the terms to which the people pledged themselves in verses 28-39, because each term is the stone and mortar of the "walls" you are building by homeschooling your children. Everybody, from Nehemiah to the sons and daughters who had understanding, agreed to the following obligations. Studying what they are must be an integral part of Christian home schools.

1. They agreed they would not give their daughters to foreigners, nor take foreign

daughters for their sons.

2. They agreed to cease commercial activities on the Sabbath. By implication, in that

agrarian society, the people believed God would meet their needs if they rested on

one day.

3. They obligated themselves to support the Temple worship and the priests.

4. They agreed to offer the first-fruits — the first born of their sons, cattle, herds and

flocks, dough, fruits, wine, and oil plus the tithe.

5. Everybody, from Nehemiah to the sons and daughters who had understanding,

agreed they would not neglect the house of the Lord.

Initially these eleven verses sound straightforward, don't they? Upon reflection, though, we see clearly how we fail to do that which would please God.

Living Within the "Walls" in Your Home
The people who had heard the account of their history were convicted about the seriousness of
sin, for they were eating the fruit of generations of those who skirted the issue of obedience.
Therefore they called down a curse on those who would disobey.

- How seriously do you take your obedience to God's Law?

"But, we live under grace, not law," you protest? Jesus did pay for our salvation; but He paid dearly "so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."(2 Cor. 5:21) "So that" means He saved us for His own purposes. The good news is redeemed Christians can freely choose not to sin! (Proverbs 16:25) His death on the cross rescued us from sin and death, and freed us to become the righteousness of God!

-Is this the main message of your home school "walls?"

Their children's future was as crucial to them as our children's is to us. However, they did not pledge to provide their offspring an education; they pledged to get them a godly spouse. Is your child's future mate as critical a concern to you as his or her high school diploma?

-Are you praying NOW for your children's mate? What are you asking God to provide in

your children's future spouses?

-Again, do you believe God will provide? (Genesis 22:14, Philippians 4:19)

Remember as you struggle to present fractions and physics to ask God to mold your children into godly spouses. Remind them of the delightful prospect that just now, another mom and dad are praying for them, for they want their children to marry believing and committed Christians.

The people obligated themselves to support worship.

-Are you teaching your children that giving FIRST to God is a crucial first step in

avoiding the bondage of consumer debt that the church blindly pursues?

-Are you teaching your children the reverence and willingness to serve the house and

people of God by your own example?

The work of God — from preaching to praying — happens because God's people GIVE their very best!

- Do we teach our children this lesson? Or, do they see us put whatever is left in the collection plate, or in Christian service?

Take the time to discuss what giving God our best means to your family. How your family comes to understand this will be a boost to your home school and a blessing to your church. It may mean giving up soccer to participate in a church work day. It may mean wiping out toilets in your church's lavatories, or showing up on a snow day to help the deacons shovel. Not neglecting the house of God may mean you set aside some pennies to plant flowers, or hours to weed.

The content of all the academic subjects will pass away; diplomas and awards will be no more. Trophies will melt. Only what we do for Christ will last!

- How does that fit into your scope and sequence?

A Personal Prayer from Nehemiah
O Lord God, unless You give me the will and the strength, I cannot obey, neither can I teach
these children to serve you. I will wander far off the path upon which You have set me, unless
You hem me in. Unless you stop me, I will align myself with what is outside Your righteousness
and pursue selfish ambitions instead of right worship. Unless you prompt me I will not be
generous.
Thank You Lord Jesus for paying the price of the covenant by which I resolve to live as safely
as if Nehemiah's magnificent walls protected me.
Thank you Father for Your Holy Spirit through which I enjoy safe pasture, as surely as Nehemiah's strong doors gave safety to those within the walls.

©Barbara W Smith 1998
Please do not duplicate or use without permission — and I really want to know what you think about the issues!


Re: NehemiahOOPS pressed wrong button.. Read this one!!!!

Posted by Lily on Monday, 25 May 1998, at 6:09 a.m., in response to Re: Nehemiah, posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 24 May 1998, at 11:01 p.m.

Barbara,
I have been really blessed by this study on Nehemiah! I have learned so much and been convicted of so much.. You have truly been a vessel God has used. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I am studying Nehemiah with my kids now and coincidentally our church is studying it..I must admit I am enjoying and getting more out of the study with you!!(smile). But by doing your study and then doing a study with my kids it has brought alot more into our understanding and perspective in our lives. I dont post much, but I do want to let you know!!!! Thanks Sooooooooo Much!!
Blessings of Peace and Joy!!!!
Lily


How's Your Record-Keeping? Nehemiah 11-12

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 25 May 1998, at 8:53 p.m.

Chapter 11 - 12: The Importance of Keeping Good Records

Details mattered to Nehemiah and they matter to God. For He is not a God who is far off but close by.

Nehemiah was careful to list people, who they were, where they came from and what they did. In chapters 11 and 12 we see a careful accounting of the lists of inhabitants (11:1-26) and the villages Jews occupied. (11:25-36) Nehemiah recorded the names of the chief of the priests and the Levites that came up with Zerubbabel and the succession of the high priests (12:1-11) He listed the names of the next generation of the other chief priests in the time of Joiakim, (12: 12-21), the eminent Levites of his time (12: 22-26) And, he described the solemnity of dedicating the wall of Jerusalem. (12: 27-43) Finally, Nehemiah noted the care of the temple personnel. (12: 44-47)

1. Describe your last tour of volunteer duty, besides homeschooling?

2. Why do you think the people were reluctant to settle in Jerusalem?

3. Why did Nehemiah and the other leaders want to repopulate the city?

4. Why so few Levites?

5. Would you be to move to be of greater service to God?

David's Royal City — Centuries Later
Jerusalem may have been a great place to worship, but it was a tough place to earn a living when
most of the people lived in agrarian society outside the walls of the city. So, after hearing God's word, saying AMEN! and signing on the dotted line, only a few moved back to the city. Why were God's people reluctant to resettle in the holy city? (11:1) Matthew Henry wrote that
"those who care not for holiness shy of dwelling in the holy city." In Nehemiah 11, Jerusalem was
walled round, but it was not as yet fully inhabited, and "therefore was weak and despicable." (Matthew Henry's Commentaries)

Nehemiah's next care is to bring people into it; of that we have here an account. In his journal he records, "Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem." (11:1-2)

Reluctance to resettle Jerusalem was evidence of the sin of unbelief. They did not believe that the God who delivered their ancestors from so much would continue to guard them. The same folks who had heard the promises of God and had agreed to the principles, quickly resisted returning to the city. They rebelled. To return to Jerusalem meant leaving their accustomed "comfort zone." They may have reasoned where they were was better than where God might use
them.

Nehemiah kept meticulous records of who gave up what to serve God. (11:3-12:26) Like
His God, he noticed who did what. Matthew Henry, commenting on those men who served outside the house of God said, "Those who take care of outward concerns are as necessary as those who tend the inward concerns of the word and prayer." Many unseen hands lovingly work for your home school, providing the building materials for you. Remembering who has helped is an encouragement that will keep you going when times get grim around the home schooling table.

"When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall." Even after so great and God-empowered a building project, the priest purified the walls. Rites of purification were costly and time-consuming. ( Read about the rites in Numbers 6, 12, 14, 19; Leviticus 5, 12, and 14.)

The dedication that Nehemiah recorded is the picture of the great occupation of praising God. "On that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away." (12:43)

Powerful praise heralded overflowing generosity. "From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites." (44)

"At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits and tithes. . . . So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron." (12:45-47)

Keeping Good Records in Homeschooling
Jerusalem, newly walled, was still under the jurisdiction of the Persian Empire. Nehemiah answered to God, but he also answered to the pagan king. Fear of stirring up their enemies, fear of not being able to survive, simply fear of change may have kept inhabitants out of the city. The
source of all their fears was unbelief, a spiritual deformity accompanying original sin! Great works are unattempted because of these fears. Great rewards are forfeited because we fail to believe that " that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ
Jesus." (Phil 1: 6)

The pastor said, "God hears all our 'AMENS!' Sunday morning, and asks us 'Oh, really?' on Monday morning." Do you believe God's word Sunday, but hesitate to obey it Monday?
God's people were reluctant to repopulate the city. One fear that might have deterred their return to Jerusalem might have been living too close to the Temple, the dwelling place of God among His people.

- Do you fear drawing too close to God, preferring to leave the details of a sanctified life

to the professionals?

-Think about how you are teaching. Our students are adept at reading our fears.

-Are you afraid to move to less than ideal surroundings for His Glory? Why?

-Has God asked you to move out of your "comfort zone" to home school His children?

-Do you believe that God will help you, or is that a promise for Old Testament believers

only?

-Have you thanked God for the sacrifice other families have made so that you can home

school your children?

- Have you expressed appreciation to those who think and study and produce curriculum
guides, magazines and books to show you how to teach your children? Whom did I miss? You
mustn't miss an opportunity to bless those who labor to bless you!

You have been justified and sanctified at great cost. Dedicating your "walls" daily may cost you some time and effort. Is it worth it? Yes! After you seek the Lord and confess your sins, renew your commitment — daily. Purify your home school "walls" and the education they contain and the students you plan to protect. Reminding yourself of who and why He enabled you to build
"walls," keeps your vision and resolve pure.

-Praise that is acceptable to God comes from sacrifice. What have you given freely — or

given over — to God?

-The dedication and purification that accompanied the great sacrifices produced

generous offerings to accomplish God's work. What do you set aside for the servants of

God to continue their work?

-Are you studying "generosity" with your children and practicing in your home and

church?

A Recurring Petition:
Lord, bring to my mind the vows I have made before you. Let me fulfill Your purposes.

©Barbara W Smith
Please do not reprint without permission — and we wanna hear from you anyway!


BW- Guess who Jeff Myers centered his graduation address on.... NEHEMIAH! I think God is trying to tell me something!

Posted by Laurie Rambo on Friday, 29 May 1998, at 9:42 p.m.

He spoke about five strategies of the enemy that set you up to fail.... discredit you, decieve you
discourage you, distract you ( and I can't remember the 5th! It's late) But he related them all to Nehemiah. I was thinking of you all evening.... (in the midst of watching my 8th grader "graduate" and my "senior" daughter sing Steve Green's "Find Us Faithful" as the closing to graduation.)

Laurie


Re: BW- Guess who Jeff Myers centered his graduation address on.... NEHEMIAH! I think God is trying to tell me something!

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 30 May 1998, at 2:46 p.m., in response to BW- Guess who Jeff Myers centered his graduation address on.... NEHEMIAH! I think God is trying to tell me something!, posted by Laurie Rambo on Friday, 29 May 1998, at 9:42 p.m.

Hi Laurie,
Congratualtions to you and your daughter! What a wonderful evening it must have been.
I crack up every time I think about "Find Us Faithful" It is a beautiful piece --
Maybe the fifth "D" was "disable" -- I have felt so much pressure these past couple of days just to
give in and give up -- grumble, gouse and grinch about -- and golly this has been DISABLING to me and mine!
So if Christ were looking for me, would HE find me faithful -- or failing -- BUT by HIS grace alone, I will be on duty.
Thanks for thinking of me -- it means so much to know of my faithful friends -- I pray I am in turn to you ALL, faithful.
BWSMith


Leaving an Ancient Construction Site -- WHAT did YOU learn?

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 1 June 1998, at 7:12 a.m.

Chapter 13: Nehemiah Stuck to His Job

Read Nehemiah 13 and see that having finished the fencing and filling of the holy city, Nehemiah
returned to the Persian king his earthly master. (13:- 6). Later, Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, to rectify grievances, and purge out some corruptions which had crept in during his absence. He zealously reformed several abuses and recorded that he threw out the Moabites and Ammonites who had infiltrated Jerusalem. (13: 1-3) He kicked Tobiah out of the lodgings he had got in the court of the temple (13:4-9) and secured the livelihood of the priests and Levites more firmly than it had been. (13:10-14) He checked the desecration of the Sabbath day, and provided for the due sanctification of it (13:15-22) and Nehemiah curtailed the growing instability of marrying strange wives (13:23-31)

1. What makes "Sunday" different from other days of the week to you?

2. What were Nehemiah's reforms when he returned from Babylon? Why?

3. What made it necessary for Nehemiah to rectify the neglect of God's house?

4. How and why was Ezra's dealing with marrying foreign women different than

Nehemiah's response. (See Ezra 9)

5. Why was marrying foreign women so bad?

6. What would Nehemiah address today if he were the on your church's session or board of deacons?

7. Which of the problems Nehemiah faced are similar to ones that have contributed to today's generation of young people drifting away from God?

8. How do you want your children to remember their homeschooling experience?

The Ammonites and Moabites were among many who harassed God's people. (Deuteronomy
23:3-5) The people excluded foreigners from worship when they heard that no Ammonite nor
Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God. (13:1-2) Keeping foreigners out,
however, did not keep corruption out when one man apparently did not believe the sealed
document prohibiting intermarriages applied to him. (10:30)

The wall around Jerusalem had been dedicated - lavishly, reverently and joyfully. That ancient
wall was symbolic of God drawing out a nation to Himself, but the walls did not keep out the
heresies or apostasies. "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless
the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (Psalms 127:1)

Eliashib the priest who was among the first to start rebuilding the wall was among the first to
weaken it from within. He was allied by marriage and friendship to Tobiah, an Ammonite. He
invited him into the Temple and gave him a room to do business while Nehemiah was out of
town. (For in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon, Nehemiah had returned to
the king.) Reappearing, Nehemiah learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing
Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God.

The Governor Returns and Governs
Nehemiah remained composed in spite of being greatly displeased. He got rid of all Tobiah's
household goods and gave orders to purify the rooms. He replaced the equipment of the house
of God with the grain offerings and the incense. (13:6-10) He also learned that they had not
given the portions assigned to the Levites to them, and that all the Levites and singers responsible
for the service had gone back to their own fields.

The consequences of one man's rebellion splashed into several generations of priestly families.
One of the sons of Joiada, son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law to Sanballat the
Horonite. And Nehemiah, when he returned from Persia, drove him away and purified the room,
restoring the things of God to it. (13:28) Another priest, Joiada, was thus unable to teach his
grandson who married Sanballat's daughter. Josephus, the Jewish historian who wrote centuries later, said that this man refused to give up his foreign wife, and fled to
Mount Gerizim. There, he laid the foundations of the heresy that confused the Samaritans until
the time of Christ.

The foolishness of Eliashib in accommodating and promoting sin discouraged others who then
compounded the sin of neglect. Neglect of God's house speeded a slide into the desecration of the
Sabbath. Nehemiah recorded the continuing slide into sexual immorality (13:23) and incompetent
training of their children. (24) Jerusalem's walls could not prevent the trouble that entered
because of sin. Nor, could those beautifully restored walls keep the consequences of rebellion
from afflicting those outside the walls. Nehemiah kept to his task of rebuilding, restoring and
governing, and he left the judgment to his God.

Home school walls are not impenetrable, but you can be uncompromising.
When your walls are securely in place, when your home school programs, when your routines
are finally efficient, don't agonize if something is polluting the works. Do what Nehemiah did
get rid of it, insofar as you are able, and keep on!

In the inner throne room of your heart, or your children's hearts, check to see if someone is
bowing to something other than Jesus Christ. Even if what we bow to sounds innocuous like
knowledge, good grades, college or careers, please remember: No one can bow in two
directions simultaneously! Whatever you think about a lot and love the most is an idol. Home
schoolers cannot wall out idols, but we can cast them out as Nehemiah cast out Tobiah and his
crew.

-We should not yoke ourselves to unrighteousness, yet how often do we wink, laugh or

minimize the disreputable?

The walls did not keep willful people from desecrating the Sabbath precisely what got them
into trouble originally! (13:18) No home school walls will keep our feet from breaking the
Sabbath either. We can learn, however, from Nehemiah's vigilance. He commanded behavior to
make keeping the Sabbath simpler. Nehemiah commanded shutting the gates, warning those
merchants who tried to do business as well as the leadership to be careful with their observances.
How we observe the Sabbath persuasively teaches our children what we believe about God.

-Have you set apart a part of your day and week to worship God?
Nehemiah did not build his wall on the Sabbath, and still completed his work in record time.

-Are you busier than Nehemiah was? A woman who is too busy to pray and worship is

busier than God intends her to be.

-Have you sought God's direction on how you can help your family call the Sabbath a

delight? The memory of how God blessed his labor must have been a powerful

motivator to keeping the Sabbath, and Nehemiah would have been familiar with Isaiah's

teaching on the Sabbath in chapter 58.
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will
strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters
never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old
foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
'If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy
day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it
by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will
find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast
on the inheritance of your father Jacob.' The mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah
58:11-14 )

Physical walls are practical; spiritual walls are essential. "Separate" was God's command to
Abram, and continues right down to us. Come apart from people who have no part in God's
inheritance. We must train our children, and pray that they have pure hearts and clear consciences
whether or not our authority or another's is evident. Pagans continue to bedevil Christians,
who ignore the prohibition in God's word to be not yoked to unbelievers. The Lord Jesus' half
brother James warns believers about the risk we run mingling and accepting the intellectual
authority of the world: "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is
hostility toward God?" (James 4:4)

-Be wise when you select a curriculum. Are you equipping your children for eternity or

merely to compete on the world's terms?

One man said "Yes" when he heard the distress of God's people. His needs were satisfied in a sun-
scorched land, and God strengthened his frame. He became like a well-watered garden, like a
spring whose waters never fail. He led people to rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-
old foundations. He was called the repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

A Parent's Plea:
O Lord, with You as my guide and my satisfaction and my strength, I will be like a well-
watered garden. You will see to it that we will rebuild the ancient ruins, and we will raise up
the age-old foundations. I will be pleased to be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of
Streets with Dwellings. I will keep my feet from breaking the Sabbath and I will not go my
own way, doing whatever I please. Then, my joy will be in You and I will enjoy the feast you
have ordained for me. Amen.
©Barbara W Smith
Please do not reproduce this material without permission — or without telling me what you think about it. If God continues to enable, we will publish this Bible study — soon. AND we are collecting comments to use in our pre-publication blitz. May I be so bold as to ask for a few who have read through this to comment and would you allow Doug and me to use your names as part of the promotional material? Tamara and Donna C (who lovingly caught my silly mistakes and other poorly constructed thoughts) have sent me their "reviews.) If we could have a couple more, favorable comments — ok, ok, also negative comments so we could correct the mistakes — Doug and I would really appreciate it.


Re: Leaving an Ancient Construction Site -- WHAT did YOU learn?

Posted by Jane on Monday, 1 June 1998, at 12:27 p.m., in response to Leaving an Ancient Construction Site -- WHAT did YOU learn?, posted by BWSmith on Monday, 1 June 1998, at 7:12 a.m.

Awesome Bible Study! Meaty. It calls me to examine my own loose management of my Sabbath priorities. I am encouraged to check the family boundaries, to see what needs to be purged. I am thinking about one television program in particular. There is also the exhortation to support those in full time ministry, too. Well written and well presented. Bravo! You may use my comments any time and anywhere you need to!