Choices That Determine Destiny - Lesson 10

By Dudley Chancey

Choosing When No One Else Will

Text: Nehemiah 1-2; 4; 6

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can discuss the importance of being pro-active in one's Christian life
  2. The student can state the importance of prayer-all through life

Preparation: (Some items are for extra work if time allows)

  1. Bible for every student (NIV is used for quotes and handouts in this series)
  2. Copies of student handout
  3. Bible concordances or Bible computer program
  4. Chalk or markers for board work


The story of Nehemiah encourages us in several ways. We learn that prayer is very important. We learn that you have to backup your talk with work. We learn that you can't keep a goodman down-and you can't bring him down in this story. We learn more about God's providence for his people. At every turn Nehemiah is met with adversity, and yet he presses on. We probably see one of the most focused men in the Bible in this story. Once he set his mind on the task, nothing stopped him from completing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5 minutes)

  1. Prayer time (ask for requests, ask for answered prayers)
  2. Check calendar of events coming up
  3. Connect any students visiting, to individual students and the youth group

Review from Lesson #9: (5 minutes)

  1. Go over the answers to the handouts. Take these up if you are using them for some type of reward (mission trip credit).
  2. Give a one-minute summary of David's choices in last week's lesson.

Learning Experiences: (20 minutes)

  1. Remember the two general points that provide a background for our story (see Lesson #1 for a more detailed description).
    1. First, we will be studying a method of making godly choices in our everyday living
      1. The 4 C's. Consider the choice. Compare our attitudes and actions to God. Commit to God's ways. Count on God's protections and provision.
      2. We are studying principles rather than rules.
    2. Second, we will see how much the people we hangout with influence our lives.
  2. The Bible study today comes from the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah is confronted with a situation that concerns his people. He immediately goes into action to come up with a remedy for repairing God's city. He is a man of action. He gets things done-in record time. Along the way, he makes several choices that determine the success of his mission.
    1. Choosing to care This may seem trite, but Nehemiah had it made where he was in Susa (Nehemiah 1:1)(see More Background). He had a great job, and probably lived a very good life (Nehemiah 1:11b). When he is told about the condition of the city of Jerusalem, it broke his heart. For days, he fasted, mourned, and prayed before God. He pours his heart out in prayer to God in chapter one. He made a choice that could have had bad implications for him. The King could have put him away or even killed him for his request. God intervenes-God answers his prayer-God actively works in Nehemiah's life. This was the beginning of the action that would follow.
    2. Choosing to rebuild the wall A city's walls were important for protection against outside forces. Remember Jericho? It took an act of God and faith on Joshua's part to bring those walls down-the Israelites could not penetrate them without God's help. Jerusalem needs her walls rebuilt. Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem and surveys the condition of the city (Nehemiah 2:11-15). God had warned his people many times that if they forsook him and turned to other gods, He would not be by their side. He told them that their cities and homes would become a disgrace and their enemies would be appalled at the destruction of them (Leviticus 26:32;Ezekiel 5:14). After seeing this firsthand, Nehemiah chooses to lead a construction crew to rebuild the walls and gates around Jerusalem. God uses Nehemiah's leadership skills to rebuild the walls in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). The choice to rebuild the walls under pressure from enemies and outsiders pays off. God is revered and glorified in the work of Nehemiah and the workers (Nehemiah 6:15).
    3. Choosing to trust in the power of God Chapter four of Nehemiah points out the determination of Nehemiah, but it also points out his continual dependence on God. In verse four he calls out to God. He prays to God in verse nine. In verses 14 and 20, he reminds the people of the trustworthy Lord. It is interesting to note here also, that Nehemiah and the people didn't just sit around and trust God. They worked and prepared for attacks. They were alert and ready. They had a plan.
    4. Choosing to not give in Five times, evil men (see Sanballat in More Background) tried to get Nehemiah to leave the building project and come talk with them. Five time she sent them replies saying he would not come. He knew they were plotting against him and the people. He prayed for strength to keep going. This is a great example of perseverance. It is also a great lesson in persistence on the part of the evil men-they keep coming at Nehemiah. Such is life. The battle between good and evil never ends. (See the excerpt on perseverance in More Background).Nehemiah's example is very often preached about today. His care, his prayers, his diligence, his perseverance, his commitment, his love for the city and people of God, and his faithfulness to God are extremely important as we look for role models in this day and time. He is a person that you would like to imitate and a model to put in front of young people.

Applications: (10 minutes)

The point here is that you not only want them to know about the Bible text, but you want them to take action on it. What would it take in our lives today in America to first of all see and care that the Good News needs to be spread, pray about it earnestly, trust God to make a difference, and then be available to do our part without quitting?

1. Have students evaluate Nehemiah based on the following verse made popular in the 80s: Excellence can be attained if you: "Care more than others think is wise; Risk more than others think is safe; Dream more than others think is practical; and Expect more than others think is possible." Would Nehemiah get graded "excellent?" If you read Nehemiah without catching the empathy, concern, care, and feelings he has for the city, the people, and ultimately God, you miss an important part. It isn't just about rebuilding a wall. It's not the project, it's the people. The project gives the people a purpose. It points them back to God. Nehemiah is an expert at leading by example. He is an expert at getting the people to jump in with all they have and accomplish a great task. I would venture to say that the people saw and felt that Nehemiah cared about them and the Lord. When was the last time that you cared about anyone? When was the last time that you or you and your group got together and cried about all the students in your school that have no relationship with Jesus Christ? Can you imagine what would happen if one of you cared enough to lead out and start just a prayer group for your school? When people truly know that others truly care about them, they will respond.

2. Using the concordances, look up several Bible verses on some of today's discussion. For example, students could lookup the following: Sanballat, Jerusalem, Ezra, Nehemiah, Susa, exile, etc. Ask students to discuss the definitions and descriptions of these different words and names and give some of the Bible contexts in which they are used.

3. Trusting in God is something we talk about a lot. When was the last time you prayed to God, and then trusted him to answer? This would be a good place to do the ole "trust fall"(you can find different versions of this and other youth ministry sites and books). Make sure you leave time for processing so that students can express feelings and thoughts about the exercise. Tie these feelings and thoughts back into the text with Nehemiah. Make sure you point out that it wasn't a one time thing with Nehemiah. He was constantly trusting and praying to God throughout the project and then continuing to the end of the book. Trusting is not a one-time deal. You must learn to trust God every day. What are some ways that you can begin to trust God each day? Could you do this as a group? Would you allow one or both of your parents to trust God with you? Pray about it! 4. Can you remember the longest streak that you ever had in your life for holding out on something? Like maybe you still watch Power Rangers even though your friends laugh at you. Or maybe you still like Barney. Or maybe you are the only person in your group at school that is actively known as a Christian. How long can you hold out? Will you choose when no one else will? What are some of the tactics that your "friends" use on you to give up something? When it comes to your faith, have you been tested? Share that with the group. How did you do with the test? Did you give in and disown Christ? Or, did you stand up and let the light shine? How hard is it in your school to persevere as a Christian? How hard is it in your youth group to stand up and be a Christian? Tell about a time when you were or felt persecuted for your faith.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

  1. Pass out the handouts to take home. Encourage the students to fill in the answers to the questions about Nehemiah sometime during the next week and bring these back to class with them. The "fill in the blanks" section is straight out of the text for today's lesson. This assignment will give students time to "be in the Word." The following may help you next week as you go over the thought questions:
    1. What are the specific things in students lives that are dragging them down, following them around-killing them spiritually? The need to know that you don't just seek God on Sunday morning at church, but you better be seeking him on Friday night after the ball games, and Saturday night at the mall.
    2. 4C's. This is not a perfect process, but it is better than nothing, and that is what most students are using to make choices. Take advantage of this and share with students how they can walkthrough this process for every important decision in their lives.
    3. Make sure that students know that the devil is prowling around looking for them. He is looking for every opportunity to make them stumble and fall (1 Peter 5:8). Praise the students that are seeking God and doing well. You don't have to have a "crash and burn" testimony for you life to be a witness to how good God is.
  2. Read Luke 19:1-10. The story of Zacchaeus for next week.

Evaluation: (5 minutes)

  1. Ask students to explain the providence of God in Nehemiah's life.
  2. Ask students to name one principle from the lesson today.
  3. (After class) Have an intern or another adult evaluate your teaching. Occasionally, ask some students to blind review the class. Ask questions like, "What was the main goal of the class tonight?" "What really made an impression on you tonight about the lesson?"

Further Resources:

(You do not have to have these to make these lessons work)

More Background Susa — The winter capital of the ancient Persian Empire. The territory is now in the modern Iran. Cyrus made Susa a capital city along with Ecbatana and Babylon. Archaeologists have excavated Susa largely around four areas: the royal palace, the acropolis, the royal city, and an artisan tell. Sanballat — Sanballat was governor of Samaria around 407 BC. He was a practicing Jew. His daughter was married to the grandson ofJerusalem's high priest (Neh. 13:28). Nehemiah referred to Sanballatas the "Horonite. Sanballat, in league with Tobiah and Shemiah, opposed Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem. He attempted to hinder this work (Neh. 2:10, 19; Neh. 4:1-12; Neh. 6). Perseverance — maintaining Christian faith through the trying times of life (Ephes. 6:18 and Hebrews 12:1). Constant prayer is a stronghold during perseverance. Prayer plays a powerful role in the life of Nehemiah during the rebuilding campaign.

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