From Pastor Johnny

Work That Endures Sermon Blog Day 1 Nehemiah 6:

In the 1630's John Tuttle arrived in the new world bearing a land grant from King Charles II.  He came from Bristol, England.  He began a farm in what is now Dover, New Hampshire.  That farm has continued and is now being run by the 12th generation of Tuttles. The farm is now known as Tender Crop, and has claimed to be America’s oldest family run business.

However, the Shirley Plantation, located in Charles City County, Virginia has also made that claim. According to descendants, the Shirley Plantation began in 1613.

Whether the oldest family owned business in America is Tender Crop or the Shirley Plantation, both have are works that have endured. In the Oklahoma City Journal-Record, there was an article titled “Owners Struggle with Financial and Emotional Burden of Succession.”  It discussed how often family businesses failed to go beyond the second, third...or sometimes even first generation.  Seventy-seven percent of all family businesses do not survive to the second generation. 

            Sometimes, starting a business, project or enterprise is the easy part.  Seeing that sustain long term is not always so easy.  About 70% of all new church starts do not succeed long term.  Seeing a new work or institution begin is hard enough.  Seeing that new entity sustain over a long time is an incredibly difficult challenge. 

            How about projects and plans God has for us?  As God’s plans are carried out, it is critical that God’s people plan for their continued and ongoing success.

 Ensure the Focus on God’s Glory:       6:15-16

“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.  When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”

Whatever Nehemiah and his people did, they did it in such a way that God was magnified over and above themselves.  The way they went about their business, and the way in which Nehemiah led, translated to the neighboring people that God was at work.  The scope of the project and the way that they accomplished it pointed everyone to God.

From 1685-1750 one of the greatest composers and songwriters in history graced the circles of Germany.  Johann Sebastian Bach is still being played, studied, and talked about as one of the most prolific composers of all time.  He was an amazing and talented individual.  Yet, everyone should know the purpose behind his music.

  1. S. Bach said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.”

He headed his compositions: “J. J.” “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help me.” He ended them “S. D. G.” “Soli Dei gratia” which means “To God alone the praise."  In short, Bach was convinced that the ONLY end of music was to glorify God. 

            What happens if that becomes the rule of our lives?  Whatever we approach, if we say “How can this bring glory and attention to God?”, what impact will that make in our lives and this culture?

            How would we approach our jobs differently if we were to say, “Lord, how can my work bring glory and honor to you today?”

            How would our conversation change if our motive is, “Lord, how can my conversation and talk bring attention and glory to you today?”

            How would our service in this church change if our abiding concern were “Lord, how does this outreach/teaching/service best bring glory to You?”

            How would my giving patterns change if, rather than asking “How much am I supposed to give?”, I ask, “How can my giving bring glory and honor to You Lord?”

 

Sanctified Stubbornness Sermon Blog Day3 Conclusion

Disturbing Reports:Nehemiah 6:4-9 

But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.  And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah! Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. 

Then I sent to him, saying, No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done. 

 Disturbing reports abound in the current climate of our culture. Sometimes those reports come from news media, social media, and print media. Other times these disturbing reports might come directly to us from friends, neighbors, or family. In any case, we must be prepared as God’s people – and as Nehemiah was – not to quit in the face of disturbing reports. We must prepare to be spiritual stubborn, even when things are said about us or we are wrongly blamed. 

One of the enemies Christians can often face is disturbing reports that threaten to dissuade us from pressing on. Believers need sanctified stubbornness to proceed. 

The Reverend Dr. EK Bailey planted Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, TX in 1975. Within a few years, it became one of the fastest growing churches in America. Dr. Bailey had a passion for expository preaching and did it quite well.  

In 1995 he started the EK Bailey Expository Preaching Conference that is still effectively operating today (with between 600-700 pastors attending it virtually in July 2020). This conference continues to help train pastors all over the country. In 2010 Dr. Bailey was listed as one of the twenty-five most influential preachers of the previous twenty-five years, in spite of him having already passed away. 

In the early 2000’s Dr. Bailey battled cancer and finally succumbed to it in 2003. An autobiographical book titled Farther In and Deeper Down was published post-humously in. This book chronicled Pastor Bailey’s battle with cancer and gave amazing insight as to how God was growing him through the fight.  

One of the pieces of that book that stood out was Dr. Bailey’s refusal to all overly dramatic or disturbing reports to come out about his illness. He faced dark days, and he faced difficult times, but he knew that there was more at stake than just him. His family, his church, and many other followers of his had spiritual lives at stake. And, though he shared reports about his health, he would not allow them to become melodramatic or disturbing. He wanted to be an exhorter. Dr. Bailey had Holy Spirit filled, sanctified stubbornness.  

 Conclusion

Deceitful Religion: Nehemiah 6:10-14 

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.’ And I said, Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!  Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. 

‘My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.’” 

 Nehemiah was being asked to disobey and contradict God’s will, and use the Temple, to get ahead for himself. There are times where there are those who would have you compromise the very truth of God’s Word you say you believe to gain personally. To contradict God’s Word, or use God’s church for personal gain, is sin and is not fulfilling God’s plan at all. 

Years ago, in an article in Christianity Today, a story was shared, by an older black Christian businessman 1960s, of young black Christian businessman heading to an appointment for Monday. He left early Sunday morning for full day of driving.  About time for church to begin he was in a rural area and passed by a small church getting ready for worship. He turned around, pulled in, parked, then got out and went inside to worship with them before heading on to his business destination.  

He slipped into one of the back pews that had an open seat in the all-white church. As worship began, he noticed the ushers at the back talking. One slipped up to him and softly said, “Sir, the usher team sent me to suggest to you that there is a church down the road where we think you will be more…comfortable. We think it would be much better for you if you attended there.” 

This man was facing segregation and its attitudes and burned with embarrassment. He slipped out of the sanctuary, got in his car, and his eyes burned with tears of humiliation. After sitting there for some time in anger, he cried out to God, “Lord, that church does not want me there!!” After a few more moments, he cried out, “Lord, how can those people call themselves Christian and not want me there!” 

As he sat, it was as the Holy Spirit prompted him, and in a still small voice said, “My dear child, do not be discouraged. That church has not wanted me there in years.” 

Some people will use church and faith for their own personal gain. God’s people cannot allow this kind of attack from the enemy to take place. We must have Spirit-filled, sanctified stubbornness to reject this attack and press on.  

 God’s enemy will often attack and threaten God’s leaders to stop God’s work, but His people must stand stubbornly against it. Learning to walk filled with the Holy Spirit like Galatians 2:20, 5:16-25, Colossians 3, and many other New Testament passages teach, is going to enable us to stand with sanctified stubbornness.  

Sanctified Stubbornness Sermon Blog Day 2

Dangerous Relationships:6:1-3 

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.  So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 

 The perception here that Sanballat & Geshem attempt to paint is one of peace, camaraderie, and agreement. The reality is that these men wanted to do Nehemiah harm by using a mirage of unity. Unity is not always unity. When we are fulfilling what God has called us to do – Celebrating our Great God, Connecting People to God and One another, Commissioning more to serve God – there are plenty of people who might attempt unity but create damage to us or our mission. 

  • Genesis 3:1-6The serpent tempted the woman with the idea that he  was helping her. He approached her as a friend but was an enemy. It was a dangerous relationship. 
  • Matt. 4:1-11Jesus was tempted 3 times in the wilderness, and all by things that appeared helpful & good. He was tempted to make stone into bread, to jump off of the temple and have God rescue, and to be given the nations under his power. He refused them all, because the offers were coming out of a dangerous relationship.  

 The enemy may have put someone in your life who you thought was there to do you good, but instead he did you harm. It was a dangerous relationship.  In fact, that person’s influence – or lack thereof – pulled you away from God’s calling, as Sanballat tried to do to Nehemiah. It was too late before you realize that you pulled away from God, away from His church, and away from His worship, and away from his people. That pulling away may have hurt, but that is no reason to quit on God. He invites you to return today. 

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