From Pastor Johnny

We Build Together Sermon Blog - Day 3 - Nehemiah 5:12-13

Contrition Over Offenses: Nehemiah 5:12-13 

12 )So they said, “We will restore  it,  and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.  

13) Then  I shook out  the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied. And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise. 

 When God’s people have open and honest concern about any wrongdoing or sin they have committed, then working together for God’s Kingdom is effectively done. True, born-again, Holy Spirit filled believers will have hearts quick to repent or be contrite over offenses or sins.  

This contrition is not just words of repentance but actions that reflect their repentance. True contrition over sin and true repentance over sin is reflected in actions. 

In the parable of the two sons that Jesus tells, a father tells both sons to   “Go work in the vineyard”. The first son told his father he would not, but later went into the field anyway.  The second son eagerly told his dad he would go work, but he did not go.  

Who really did the will of the Father? It would be son one. Even though his words said no, his actions said yes. Preferably, the actions and words would say yes to God, but ultimately it is the actions that reflect true contrition over sin.  

As many have said, “Well done is better than well said.” 

 CONCLUSION 

As all of God’s people build His Kingdom, we should never become a barrier for our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we clearly recognize our obstacles, have compassion for those in trouble in our church, confront the problems and obstacles with clear plans for success, and have honest contrition for our own sin, we are on our way to building together the Kingdom of God.  

  In November 1994, the Atlantic Monthly told about superstar tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti performing together in Los Angeles. A reporter tried to press the issue of competitiveness between the three men. 

   “You have to put all of your concentration into opening your heart to the music,” Domingo said. “You can’t be rivals when you’re together making music.” 

God can do mighty things through His people working together. 

We Build Together Sermon Blog Day 2 Nehemiah 5:6-10

Need 2:Compassion For Others:Nehemiah 5:6-7 

6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.  7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is  exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 

 I love the response of Nehemiah. He is furious at what is happening because he has the heart of God. He cannot tolerate those who are in a strong position taking advantage of those in a weaker position. THIS IS THE HEART OF GOD. If you have the heart of Christ, then you will have compassion for that which God has compassion. 

Jesus our Savior wept at the tomb of Lazarus, extended care for his mother while he hung on the cross, felt deep compassion and love for the rich young ruler, and was furious at the poor worshipers being swindled in the temple court, as he threw the money changers out. The deep compassion of Christ as reflected in the Gospels, when in us, will express that compassion for others in need around us.  

 Need 3:Confrontation With Objectives:Nehemiah 5:8-10  

8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have  redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing  to say. 

9 Then I said, “What you are doing  is  not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?  

10 I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this  usury!  

11 Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.” 

 Nehemiah confronts the problem, explains the offense, and provides a solution. He is not joking about the problem. In fact, his confrontation of the problem had the potential to make people mad at him, but he loved these people too much not to confront their sin. Yet, as he confronted a problem, he had a clear objective for how to solve it. 

Adolph Hitler had risen to great power in Germany and had begun the invasions of other countries in 1936 in Europe. By 1938 Nevil Chamberlin was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Chamberlin’s strategy was appeasement. He felt that, if he allowed Hitler the few lands he had already taken without resistance, then things would be OK. Chamberlin signed the Munich Agreement on September 30, 1938.  

One of the members of parliament, in disagreement with Chamberlin’s approach to dealing with Hitler, declared,  

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour.  You chose dishonour and you will have war.” 

The man who declared that was Winston Churchill. At that time, the British people vilified Churchill as a war monger and enemy of peace. And yet, it would be Churchill that they turned to when they almost lost their country to Hitler’s Germany. 

Chamberlin’s problem? He refused to honestly confront the problem with a clear objective toward a plan. 

If I confront the sin of one of the members of the body of Christ, then I understand I am taking the chance of making that person angry at me. But, by God’s grace, I should love the person enough to care more about his or her spiritual condition than whether they think I am nice or not. If I know a person is doing something that will damage his spiritual life, or family, and I do nothing about it for fear of your rejection, then I care more about acceptance than him. That is not true love. A Christian must confront problems with clear, God-led objectives. 

We Build Together Sermon Blog Nehemiah 5:1-13

          I love to throw a rock in one of those big, 4-inch-high18 inch diameter ant hills and watch those little dudes run around.  

          It is as if every single one of them knows exactly what he is supposed to do, and then the cavern I created with my rock is completely repaired by the next day. All those ants work together so well that they accomplish things far greater than their size. 

          Proverbs suggests that we learn from the ants. In Proverbs 6:6 we read,  Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise”. In Proverbs 30:25 we read, “The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer.”  

          One element of an ant’s work I am convinced can help the church of Jesus Christ is their ability to work so effectively together on a massive project. It is amazing what they accomplish by all pulling together and serving. 

          In that same way, it is amazing what God’s people accomplish by serving and building together. We accomplish the most when we build together & seek to enable rather than impede the work of each other. As all of God’s people build His Kingdom, we should never become a barrier for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Consider some needs God’s people must have to build together 

 Need 1:Clarity About Obstacles:Neh. 5:1-5 

And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.  

 Obstacle 1:God’s People were so Poor that they Could Not Buy Enough Food 

(2)For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters  are  many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.” 

 Obstacle 2:God’s People Had Property but had Mortgaged it to Buy Food and had Nowhere Else to Go for Money 

(3) There were also  some  who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.” 

 Obstacle 3:God’s People Had Land and Property that they Had Mortgaged to Pay the King’s Taxes. They Had Fallen Behind and Had Kids Endentured and Sold to Gentiles    

          (4)There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards.  

          (5)Yet now  our flesh  is  as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we  are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and  some  of our daughters have been brought into slavery.  It is  not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.” 

           Some of the inner conflicts of God’s people in Jerusalem were explained to Nehemiah. The people were desperate, and their leader would respond with effective action.  

          Where obstacles to God’s vision for us are concerned, Christians tend to err on one extreme or the other. Either we get melo-dramatic and severely overstate the obstacle so that the people become discouraged. Or, we ignore or understate an obstacle and hope that it will go away so that we do not address it. Neither of these steps is helpful, God honoring, or productive. 

          We serve an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, transcendent Savior. He is neither so weak to be overcome by an obstacle or too weak to confront and overcome an obstacle. 

          In John 14 Jesus explained to his twelve he would be leaving. The disciples panic. He then explains the upcoming challenge, the immediate future calling of them, the power of the Holy Spirit that will help them, and the future paradise that awaits them.  

          Jesus knew trouble was coming, but he did not panic because of it, or ignore the reality of addressing it.  

          If you are panicking over your obstacle, maybe it is because, for these momentsyou have forgotten – or never fully understood – the massive power of our God. 

          You are ignoring the obstacle, because in the back of your mind, you sense that it may be too big for your God to handle. You must see the greatness of Almighty God. 

          The church has both obstacles and victories ahead. By the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s confront the obstacles and celebrate the victories, but neither panic or ignore. We will confront, celebrate, and glorify God!! This is how we build together. 

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