Grace Bible Church
The Tree of Life
A Weekly Review
Week ending 121811
Christmas Giving

 

GAL 6:10, So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Every time we get the chance, we should work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the Royal family of God or the church and then reaching out to others. Not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is good for their spiritual advance.

MAT 25:40, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, {even} the least {of them,} you did it to Me.’”

EPH 2:19, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

You now share a citizenship with the saints, God’s own people, blessed and set apart for Him; and you belong to God’s own household. That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. He is using us all‑‑regardless of how we got here.

COL 1:13, For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

The Father has delivered us and drawn us to Himself, out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

3JO 1:5, Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;

When you give any service or help to other believers, especially when they are strangers to you, and extend hospitality to other Christians, you make the faith or the Christian way of life visible.

On the other hand, in JAM 2:15-16, If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

3JO 1:6, and they bear witness to your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.

They reported back to the church the message about God’s love as it was revealed through their good works or deeds.

3JO 1:7-8, For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles [in context the unbelievers]. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

Now I say all of this to reveal the importance of such passages as:

COL 3:17, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

MAT 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

ECC 9:10, Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do {it} with all your might;

The reason why I introduced this message with these verses and principles is because this is the time of the year when spiritual blood suckers come out and take advantage of the morons behind the pulpits, and the dumb sheep in the pews. We should be taking care of the members of our family, and by that I mean those who are of the household of the faith, the Royal family of God.

For He is the Last Adam, we are the new creation. He is the head, we are His body. He is the Great Shepherd and we are His sheep. He is the vine and we are the branches. He is the chief cornerstone, we are the stones of the building. He is the high priest we are the royal priesthood. He is the groom and we are His bride. He is the King and we are His royal family.

We have begun to note a man called Nehemiah, who some believe was a governor of Judah, others believe that he was priest, and some believe he was both. However, we do know for sure he was a man of compassion, character, and integrity. Nehemiah teaches us how some of the greatest demonstrations of divine good often originate from one individual.

He was like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who in HEB 11:33-39, by means of faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill‑treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,

Where a good work is there will be opposition; 2TI 3:12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Nehemiah will teach us from the natural viewpoint that in the spiritual building we must each begin with our own home and neighborhood and circle.

GAL 6:10, So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Our graciousness must begin at home first.

PSA 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved {even in his} sleep.

NEH 4:6, So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Let’s begin this morning by reading the first ten verses of the book of Nehemiah as an introduction to the book.

NEH 1:1-10, The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I [Nehemiah] was in Susa the capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity [the captivity of 586 BC] are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “I beseech Thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Thy servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against Thee and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses. Remember the word which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell. And they are Thy servants and Thy people whom Thou didst redeem by Thy great power and by Thy strong hand.’”

A little bit of information is needed to understand this man called Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a very wealthy and prosperous individual living in a place of prosperity and blessing from God. He held a very powerful and influential position. Nehemiah had the mind of Christ, just as we can have the mind of Christ. Nehemiah lived by the principle of ACT 20:35b, You must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Nehemiah lived by the principle of PSA 41:1-3, How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him, and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, Thou dost restore him to health.

PRO 19:17, He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed.

Nehemiah lived by the principle of PRO 19:17, He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed.

Nehemiah was the kind of person who cared about others. Nehemiah cared about the traditions of the past, the needs of the present and about the hopes for the future. He cared about his heritage and history, the city of Jerusalem, and the glory of God.

He revealed this caring attitude in about four different ways.

  1. He cared enough to ask what was going on in Jerusalem; (NEH 1:1-3).

Nehemiah was a cupbearer who an individual who had a position of great responsibility and privilege. At each meal, he tested the king’s wine to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. For nearly a century, the Jewish remnant had been back in their own land, and Nehemiah could have joined them; but he chose to remain in the palace. It turned out that God had a work for him to do there that he could not have accomplished anywhere else. Just like we have studied concerning Joseph in GEN 50:17-21, “Thus you shall say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong. And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.” Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

God put Nehemiah in Susa just as He had put Esther there a generation before, and just as He had put Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. When God wants to accomplish a work, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right places at the right time. God is not limited to working with believers only ‑ He can work in the life and the mind of a non‑believer, just as easily as He can work in the life of a believer. No doubt it was just another routine day when Nehemiah met his brother Hanani, who had just returned from a visit to Jerusalem, but it turned out to be a turning point in Nehemiah’s life.

The principle – Like large doors, great life-changing events can swing on very small hinges.

This why Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise the day of small things.”

It was just another normal day when Moses went out to care for his sheep, but on that day he heard the Lord’s call and became a prophet; (Exo 3). It was an ordinary day when David was called home from shepherding his flock; but on that day, he was anointed king (1Sa 16). It was an ordinary day when Peter, Andrew, James, and John were mending their nets after a night of failure; but that was the day Jesus called them to become fishers of men (Luke 5:1-11). You never know what God has in store, even in the common and inconsequential places so you need to always keep your heart open to God’s leading and guidance. The statement which is really a question that describes the character of Nehemiah is: Why would Nehemiah inquire about a struggling remnant of people who lived hundreds of miles away? After all, he was the king’s cupbearer and he was successfully secure in his own life. Certainly it wasn’t his fault that his ancestors had sinned against the Lord and brought judgment to the city of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. A century and a half before, the Prophet Jeremiah had given this word from the Lord:

JER 15:5, “Indeed, who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, Or who will mourn for you, Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Nehemiah was the man God had chosen to do those very things! Some people prefer not to know what’s going on, because information might bring a challenge or obligation. This is when we commit the sin of omission. A sin of omission is failing to do something good when you know you should. The parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible is a classic example of this (Luke 10:30-37). Both the priest and the Levite passed by the injured man without helping him, leaving him half-dead.

JAM 4:17, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin”

Concerning Nehemiah, he asked about Jerusalem and the Jews living there because he had a caring heart. What did Nehemiah learn about Jerusalem and the Jews? Three words summarize the bad news: remnant, ruin, and reproach. Instead of a land inhabited by a great nation, only a remnant of people lived there; and they were in great affliction and struggling to survive. Instead of a magnificent city, Jerusalem was in shambles; and where there had once been great glory, there was now nothing but great reproach. The magnificent place where God’s glory once dwelt was is gone. The wall laid in ruins. Of course, Nehemiah had known all his life that the city of his fathers was in ruins, because the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem’s walls, gates, and temple in 586 B.C. (2KI 25:1-21).

Fifty years later, a group of 50,000 Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city. Since the Gentiles had hindered their work, however, the temple was not completed for twenty years (Ezra 1-6), and the gates and walls never were repaired. Perhaps Nehemiah had hoped that the work on the walls had begun again and that the city was now restored. Without walls and gates, the city was open to ridicule and attack;  Psa 48; 79; 84, and 87 to see how much loyal Jews loved their city.

  1. He also cared enough to be compassionate and weep. (NEH 1:4).

NEH 1:4, Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

What makes people laugh or weep is often an indication of character. People who laugh at others’ mistakes or misfortunes, or who weep over trivial personal disappointments, are lacking either in character or integrity and possibly both.

PRO 24:17-18, Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see {it} and be displeased, And He turn away His anger from him.

 

Sometimes weeping is a sign of weakness; but with Nehemiah, it was a sign of strength, as it was with Jeremiah (JER 9:1), Paul (Acts 20:19), and the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:41).

JER 9:1, Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!

ACT 20:19, Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;

LUK 19:41, And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it,

In fact, Nehemiah was like the Lord Jesus in that he willingly shared the burden that was crushing others. As PSA 69:9 and ROM 15:3 says “The reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me.”

When God puts a burden on your heart, don’t try to escape it; for if you do, you may miss the blessing He has planned for you. The Book of Nehemiah begins with “great affliction” (NEH 1:3), but before it closes, there is great joy (8:12,17).

NEH 1:3, And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”

  1. Nehemiah also cared enough to pray. (NEH 1:5-10)

The Book of Nehemiah opens and closes with prayer. It is obvious that Nehemiah was a man of faith who depended wholly on the Lord to help him accomplish the work He had called him to do.

NEH 1:3, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”

And are about to undertake a great work (4:19)

NEH 4:19, And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.

Is the God you worship big enough to handle the challenges that you face? The greater part of Nehemiah’s prayer was devoted to confession of sin (1:6-9). The God who promised blessing and chastening also promised forgiveness if His people would repent and turn back to Him (Deu 30; 1KI 8:31-53).

Note that in NEH 1:6, Nehemiah used the pronoun “we” and not “they,” identifying himself with the sins of a generation he didn’t even know.

NEH 1:6, let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Thy servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned.

It would have been easy to look back and blame his ancestors for the reproach of Jerusalem, but Nehemiah looked within and blamed himself! Nehemiah knew that he was too weak to rebuild Jerusalem, but he had faith that God would work on his behalf.

He also had confidence in God’s faithfulness, verse 10. He was sure that many other Jews were also praying and that they would rally to the cause once they heard that God was at work. Great leaders are not only believing people who obey the Lord and courageously move ahead, but they also challenge others to go with them. You can’t be a true leader unless you have followers, and Nehemiah was able to enlist others to help him do the work.

  1. He cared enough to volunteer. (NEH 1:11)

While Nehemiah was praying, his burden for Jerusalem became greater and his vision of what needed to be done became clearer.

Nehemiah planned to volunteer to go to Jerusalem to supervise the rebuilding of the walls. He didn’t pray for God to send somebody else, He simply said, “Here am I – send me!” No matter how you look at it, Nehemiah was facing a test of faith; but he knew that his God was a great God and would see him through. Nehemiah would personally pay for the upkeep of scores of people who would eat at his table. He would leave behind the ease of the palace and take up the toils of encouraging a beaten people and finishing an almost impossible task. With the help of God, he did it!

In fifty-two days, the walls were rebuilt, the gates were restored, and the people were rejoicing! And it all started with a man who cared. Abraham cared and rescued Lot from Sodom (Gen 18-19). Moses cared and delivered the Israelites from Egypt.

David cared and brought the nation and the kingdom back to the Lord. Esther cared and risked her life to save her nation from genocide. Paul cared and took the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus cared and died on the cross for a lost world.

God is still looking for people who care, people like Nehemiah, who cared enough to ask for the facts, weep over the needs, pray for God’s help, and then volunteer to get the job done.

To rescue Jerusalem, and he was willing to go.

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