Ezra and Nehemiah

October, November, December 2019

Want to learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Making Sense of History: Zerubbabel and Ezra (Jeremiah 25, Daniel 9, Ezra 4 & 7)
Imagine being a citizen of Jerusalem when Babylon captures your city and destroys the temple constructed by King David and King Solomon. Could there be anything worse? Yes, actually. What is worse is that in Jeremiah 25:11 God tells His people that the "whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the King of Babylon seventy years." Guess where you will die? In captivity in a foreign land. What lessons can we learn from this difficult time? Let's explore the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 2: Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1 & 2)
Are you facing a challenge? Is there something in your life that needs to be changed or fixed? Our study today recounts Nehemiah receiving bad news, turning to God for help, and then intelligently working with God every step of the way to fix the problem. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and learn practical lessons for every day living!

Lesson 3: God's Call (Daniel 9, Nehemiah 1, Romans 9)
Has God called you? Has He called you to a particular task? I think He has. How can we know if we are called? How can we know if we missed our call? Is there another call if we missed earlier calls? I believe that God calls each one of us to serve Him in some special way. Our study this week is about the calling of God. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 4: Facing Opposition (Ezra 4 & 5, 2 Kings 17:24, Nehemiah 4 & 6)
If you read books you know that some authors do not tell the story using one continuous time line. They like to jump around. Frankly, I prefer the simple over the complex, so I prefer one continuous time line. Our study this week covers Ezra 3-6, among other texts, but Ezra is one of those writers who prefers the complex. He does not tell his story in chronological order, but rather by topic. More confusing is that some of the events we have studied in the last few weeks are in the future of our story, and some we are studying today we have already considered. Let's see what we can learn about facing opposition without getting confused about the timing!

Lesson 5: Violating the Spirit of the Law (Nehemiah 5)
What causes poverty? In my country some say it is because the poor made bad choices. If you finish high school, get a job, and don't have children until you are married, your chances of being poor are very slim. Others say poverty is the fault of society. It comes from discrimination on the basis of race or gender. It comes from economic dislocation. World-wide, I think poverty is mainly caused by government policy. Many are poor because of the impact of war. Many are poor because the government refuses to allow economic freedom. Sometimes poverty exists because of weather problems. What does the Bible say? Our study this week deals with complaints about poverty. Let's dive into the Bible during Nehemiah's time and see what we can learn about poverty!

Lesson 6: The Reading of the Word (Nehemiah 8, Acts 8)
How do you feel when you have rented or purchased a new home and you are all moved in? Exhausted? Happy? That is the mind set for our study this week. God's people have finished building the wall and have moved into Jerusalem. They are back in their homeland and their repaired city. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out what happens next!

Lesson 7: Our Forgiving God (Nehemiah 9)
What does it mean to "repent?" What does it mean to "confess sin?" I thought I knew. But in the last few years I've begun to rethink those terms based on my study of the Bible. Let's plunge into our study of Nehemiah and see what we can learn. Perhaps you will adjust your understanding of those terms!

Lesson 8: God and the Covenant (Nehemiah 10, Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8)
One of the positive things about being an American lawyer and a student of the Bible is that many of our legal concepts reflect Biblical ideas. A covenant, which is our subject in this lesson, is like a contract. A contract is voluntary, is intended to benefit both parties, and is enforceable. Contracts are not supposed to depend on how you feel on one particular day, and should not be broken just because you no longer see the benefit. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and explore the topic of God's covenant with His people!

Lesson 9: Trials, Tribulations, and Lists (Daniel 5, Ezra 8, Nehemiah 11)
A famous preacher mentioned in a sermon that God helps him find good parking spaces. As I listened my reaction was to agree. God does small kindnesses for me. I pray for small kindnesses for others - like finding their car keys. Some strongly criticize this idea. Why would God trouble Himself with your parking spot when people are dying of cancer? There is a false assumption in this criticism. It assumes that God has limited resources and finding your keys means someone else will suffer loss. I believe in an unlimited God! Our lesson this week is about God's attention to small details. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 10: Worshiping the Lord (Nehemiah 12, 1 Chronicles 25)
Worship styles! Want to start a fight? Just take a firm position on that issue. Some churches resolve the matter by using different worship styles at different services. Have a preference? Attend the service that reflects your views. In my old church, we had different types of music on different Sabbaths. That solution made people happy some of the time. My current church began with firm beliefs specifically about the style of worship because the founders believed it was critical to reaching nonbelievers. Their views on music are my views, so it has been an easy choice for me. The real issue is not my preference or yours, but rather what does the Bible teach us about music and worship? Let's plunge into our study and learn more!

Lesson 11: Backslidden People (Nehemiah 13)
There is some bad advice that seems rampant today. If your heart tells you to do something, then you should do it. Even for those desiring to follow God, the line we should follow in life is sometimes a little hard to see. After all, Jesus told us in Mark 12:31 to love your neighbor yourself. That may seem to put love first. But true love involves obedience to God's law. Let's explore that issue as we dive into our Bible and learn more!

Lesson 12: Dealing with Bad Decisions (Ezra 9-10)
Our lesson this week is about a very specific issue - marrying those who do not share our faith. My wife told me that when she was young she prayed that God would lead her to the right man to marry. When I was dating I recall being very concerned about faith. I was not simply looking for someone who was a member of my church, I was looking for someone who shared my level of devotion. For example, for a while I was dating a friend who was active in the church program on Sabbath, and then she would spend her time after church visiting the elderly in nursing homes or something similar. That was too much for me! On the other hand, I did not want to date someone who didn't care about God's will. When I met my wife, she had the right mix of devotion and Sabbath rest. We are still married 45 years later. Let's explore what the Bible teaches us about this!

Lesson 13: Leaders in Israel (2 Kings 22-23, Nehemiah 4, Ezra 7, Judges 4)
One of the most unrecognized powers you possess is that of influence. When we think about influential leaders, some may assume that only certain powerful people have the ability to influence others. My belief is that we all exert some sort of influence over each other. Is there some practice in your life that you can trace to something that someone else said or did? It might only be that one thing, but you carry it with you. As we end our study of Ezra and Nehemiah, let's explore what the Bible has to teach us about influencing others!

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