From Pastor Johnny

Set Apart Sermon Blog Day 3

The Observation through Gifts:  Nehemiah 10:32-37

           Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God:  for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God. We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God as it is written in the Law.

           And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

            The covenant document spoke of how God’s people would give as “one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of God”. The document spoke of how God’s people would serve through “bringing wood offering into the house of God”. The covenant document spoke of the plan for giving in the “firstfruits”, “firstborn”, and “the tithes of our land.” This all reflects the generosity of God’s people.

            So much of being set apart in God’s Kingdom is the generosity offered by God’s people.  Eagerness to give to God characterizes God’s people, while the world is characterized by a desire to get for oneself.

          The idea of generosity is always part of the people who love Christ. In 2Corinthians 8:1-7 Paul relayed an example of this generosity. Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”

Set Apart Sermon Blog Day 2

The Consecration to God:  Nehemiah 10:28-29

“Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding—  these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes”

             One of the qualities for God’s people is consecration.  The word consecrate means “to be set apart” or “set apart for a particular position.” That is, we have chosen to set ourselves apart to the office of God’s servants. We are willingly setting ourselves in a place to be the called-out servants of God.

            When a young man or woman decides that he or she is ready and willing to participate in our nation’s military, he will generally go to a local recruiting office, fill out paperwork, and commit his or herself to the office of soldier.  No one forces him.  No one conscripts him in America.  Soldiers in America’s army are volunteers.  They volunteer to set themselves apart to the office of American Soldier.

            When God’s people are truly set apart, they are consecrated to say, think, and do that which is for the Kingdom of Christ. When one is consecrated to Christ, his intentions and motives are different. When one is consecrated to Christ, his response to life is different. When one is consecrated to Christ, her reactions to life’s challenges are different.

 The Separation from the World:  Nehemiah 10:30-31

We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt.

            The people of God in Jerusalem were making a stand that they only wanted to allow their children to marry or intermarry with those who were followers and worshippers of God. One’s spiritual stance was not a factor for marriage in much of the world at that time, but God’s people were unique. They were set apart in living in the world but not of it. They were separating from the tendencies of their culture.

          This quality of separation is when a man or woman sets his or herself distinctively apart from the world system.  He or she now is making it very clear that there is something different.  God has NEVER called His people to live apart from this world, but to live separate IN this world.  The idea here is that God’s people live with a different motivation and different drive for success than others. 

            World reknown advertising  executive Jerry Della Femina knows that advertising and publicity plays on the worldly drives of people.  In an interview he was once quoted as saying, 

            “Advertising deals in open sores--. Fear. Greed. Anger. Hostility. You name the dwarfs and we play on everyone. We play on all the emotions and on all the problems, from not getting ahead -- to the desire to be one of the crowd. Everyone has a button. If enough people have the same button, you have a successful ad and a successful product.”

            Christians must set apart and not have the same button as the world.

Are you driven by the fear of the culture?

Do you find yourself reacting & making life decisions by pressure from media?

Do you find yourself getting involved in dishonoring Christ because of world pressure?

            When God’s people are set apart, there is a separation from the ways, motives, and goals of the world. How about you?

Set Apart Sermon Blog Day 1

          The story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. “Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your Life?” inquired an old deacon. “Yes, sir,” she replied. “Well, are you still a sinner?” “To tell you the truth, I feel unworthy of salvation.” “Then what real change have you experienced?” “I don’t quite know how to explain it,” she said, “except I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now that I am saved I’m running from sin!” she was received into the fellowship of the church, and she proved by her consistent life that she was truly set apart.

            Within the culture of our world, there are billions of people.  Within those billions of people, there is a group called Christians.  These are people who have been born again and indwelt by God’s Spirit.  Because of the change, these people are set apart in society. God’s people should live lives that are directed by Him and set apart from the world. Consider some qualities and distinctives that set God’s people apart from other peoples in the world.

The Direction of Shepherds:  Nehemiah 9:38-10:27

9:38. “And because of all this, We make a sure covenant and write it; Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

 10:1 Now those who placed their seal on the document were:

These leaders listed in 10:1-27 are not just talking about turning from sin and walking with God, but they are putting their names to it. The document they are signing is the text from chapter 9. In fact, it is Nehemiah 9:38 that explains of the writing of the covenant and who is to sign it. That signing happens in Nehemiah 10.

          These leaders who sign the covenant document want people to know that their direction for God’s people is wherever God is. This is a fundamental component of being a shepherd of God’s people, and that is openly seeking to lead the people in the direction of God’s best. The true shepherds are seeking daily to know God’s best so that He might then lead the people in that way. This takes enormous time and effort. True shepherds, who truly lead God’s people in God’s way, work hard. Unlike the pastor who never prepared during the week, and on Sunday morning he’d sit on the platform while the church was singing the hymns desperately praying, “Lord, give your message, Lord give me your message.” One Sunday, while desperately praying for God’s message, he heard the Lord say, “Ralph, here’s my message. You’re lazy!”

        The direction of true shepherds is the direction of Christ. In John 5:19 “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’”

         John 8:28-29 explains it this way, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’”

 

Jesus has the heart of a shepherd, and true leaders in the church have the sole motive of wanting God’s best for their people. One distinctive of a set apart people is shepherds and leaders who want only to lead their people in God’s direction.

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