Heroes Part 1: Integrity
On Sunday 28th July we started our new series 'Heroes'.
You can listen to the talk by clicking here, here and here.
Below is a summary of the talk.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking on the question who is your hero?
I found it quite difficult to think of who my hero would be. Then I thought of different people that I have known over the years who have made real and lasting impression. To me a hero is someone that I look up to. They have a quality that I admire, and I see qualities in them that I would love to have. For instance, I have a friend called Sue who is crippled with Rheumatoid arthritis. To see her you would not realize the physical pain and restrictions she lives with. She glows with the love of God. She is not bitter about her condition which she has borne for years but makes the most of her life. There are others who are encouragers or make one feel special. Maybe you have heroes that you have met in your life. Do you have a hero?
When I was asked to talk about a Biblical hero I knew straight away who that would be. It is a man called Nehemiah. You can have a potted history of his story if you click here.
Alternatively, you can read about him in the Old Testament part of the Bible. He has a whole book named after him and you can find it a little before the book of Psalms.
He was a man of integrity. A dictionary definition of integrity is “The state of being whole and undivided.” His heart, faith and his actions worked together. What you see is what you got with Nehemiah. His actions were in sync with his heart and his spirit. His heart was broken when he heard the state that the city of Jerusalem was in. This was God’s city, everyone knew that, but its walls were broken down. Gods name was therefore dishonoured. He wanted to do something about this. he was a man of faith. He was one of those who had been forced out of his country and lived in forced exile. He had no power, but his faith was strong, and he believed in God’s power. So, he prays. That prayer is answered, and he is equipped to rebuild the walls of the city. In fact, he rebuilds much more than the walls he rebuilds the people’s faith and God’s honour in the surrounding nations. His integrity restores peoples understanding of God’s integrity.
The prayer at the beginning of the book is worth looking at. You can read this by clicking here.
We can learn much from this prayer if we note where Nehemiah looks during the prayer. First, he looked up to God and reminds himself how great and powerful God is. He asks God to listen to his prayer. Next he looks inwards. He recognises the things that his nation, his family and he himself has done that has brought them to this awful situation. Then he looks back and reminds himself and God of his promises to them. Then he looks up to God again and asks him to equip him for the task ahead. It is a real prayer of faith. Despite severe opposition Nehemiah succeeds in his endeavours. He becomes a leader that people want to follow. This is the story of what integrity can achieve.
I recently heard of a man called Richard Gambol who was given a vision several years ago for a piece of architectural sculpture. It was to be a million-brick wall. A wall of answered prayer; a national landmark of hope to remind generations of God’s goodness and to preserve the Christian heritage of our nation. You can find out more by clicking here. The wall is going to be built in the shape of a Moebius strip. It is a surface with only one side. This Sunday we are going to build our own wall; a prayer wall. To remind us of Nehemiah’s wall and the wall of answered prayers.
The Moebius strip also reminds us that what is on the inside is also what is on the outside. It is undivided.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. What in the story strikes you particularly?
2. Do you have heroes that have inspired you throughout your life? If so who were they and what were the qualities that you admired so much?
3. What does the word integrity mean to you? Is it a quality that you admire?
4. Read the prayer silently to yourself then read it out loud. How does it feel to hear these words? Is it different?
5. What can we learn from this prayer? How could it help you with yours?
6. Try to rewrite the prayer to match your own situation replacing the praise, confessions and requests with your own?
7. What if anything do you need to do to become more of a person of integrity?