There is a verse in the book of Nehemiah that I have always found a bit odd. After Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, it basically assimilated the Israelis who were in exile under the Babylonians. The Book of Nehemiah records how the Persians allowd Nehemiah — a cupbearer for the Persian king Artaxerxes I (also known as Longimanus 465-424 BC) — to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. Three days after he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to inspect the walls. Because of the various political factions in the city, he did it under the cover of darkness to hide what he was doing. Then we read this puzzling verse: “And I arose in the night, I and a few good men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting in my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal which I was riding. (Nehemiah 2:12-15) Nehemiah rode a horse, but then specifically adds he took no other animals with …
[by Dean Smith] Even though there is no Jewish Temple today, at one point there were actually two temples in operation at the same time and it caused some conflict. In the late 1800s, ancient papyri showed up in Middle East antiquity markets that intrigued archaeologists. Written in Aramaic, the Jewish documents referred to a temple, but incredibly not the temple in Jerusalem, but a second one built hundreds of miles away in Egypt. Archaeologists finally tracked it down to Elephantine Island on the Nile River. Egypt’s dry climate slows papyri deterioration and further work at the temple site uncovered dozens more papyri including divorce documents, legal documents and letters.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 5 and conclusion, Locate the North Star. [by Sandy McIntosh] Today we have ISIS, a militant group that has kidnapped and sold young women as slaves, beheaded Egyptian Christians with knives, and burned a Jordanian pilot with gasoline, in a cage. The group strives with great energy, but success eludes them. We also have Vladimir Putin in Russia who lost controlling influence over Ukraine when its corrupt government collapsed. He responded by occupying Ukrainian Crimea, resulting in the devastation of that region’s economy. Crimea was followed by the subversive invasion of eastern Ukraine. Affected areas of Ukraine are now in ruins and the population is growing desperate. Success also eludes Mr Putin, in spite of his great efforts.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 4, Analyze and Manage Risk [by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah was the great project manager of the Bible. We are told to live by faith, and that is what he did. The repair-Jerusalem project was not possible, and he was the wrong person for the job, but he did it anyway. He was highly motivated, he clearly defined the need, he measured carefully, and then he met the enemies who wanted to kill him.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 3, Measure [by Sandy McIntosh] You can do great things, and riding a donkey is an important step. Nehemiah is a famous Bible character who never led a victorious army or performed amazing miracles. He worked hard with his best skill set, and trusted God to multiply the results. We can all do that. And we should. For the things that we build we need project common sense, something Nehemiah had. The greatness of this builder really stood out on the night he rode the donkey.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: chapter 2: Define What You Do [by Sandy McIntosh] We can do great things, with the right tools. Nehemiah did impossible things that changed history, in a good way. His story shows us how to start. Nehemiah was passionate about his nation and the city of Jerusalem, where the temple of God was, but he had a few deficits. He was a slave to the king, and probably an old man. He was probably also a “saris” a eunuch with no family. On the good side the emperor trusted Nehemiah and kept him as a top government employee. There were so many reasons to stay home and send someone else.
[by Sandy McIntosh] This is the first step in “What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything.” And you can do anything; just don’t move until you are on fire. A few years ago I was called to a meeting at work where I was told that my position was terminated, and then someone from HR slid a piece of paper across the table. On the paper were the details of my termination settlement, which was very generous. I was one of many, but it felt personal. Today my life is better; I have switched from career to contract work and I do less work for more money, with more freedom. Who can argue with that?
[by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah is a leading character in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, and an important character in Jewish history. He lived long before Jesus, and his calendar did not start with a new year on January 1. It didn’t even have a January. For sure he never specifically wished anyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year at the end of December. Or did he? If we can get past the superficial materialism and drunken partying, there is wisdom from God for this time of new beginnings in December, and Nehemiah was a great teacher on that subject.
Do you know much about the prosperity gospel? Prosperity teaching doesn’t allow for risks, or threats, or setbacks, and it influences most of us. Jim and Tammy Bakker were rumored to have an air conditioned dog house when they led a Christian ministry, but later Jim wrote a book “I was Wrong.” In Edmonton Alberta a real estate speculator was active for a few years named Kevyn Frederick, or Kevyn Sheldon Frederick, or Kevin Ronald Frederick, or possibly Portia Frederick. When he moved on, he left behind a ruined condo complex in Leduc (pictured), one of Edmonton’s premium hotels in receivership, and a large church without its land or building. Mr Frederick is rumored to be living in Las Vegas, or possibly Ethiopia. So how did this disaster happen to a large prosperous church?