The Nehemiah Project (Sermon Notes)
(by Pastor Jerry Ingalls)
“Care for the Hurting!”
[Healing starts in our own hearts and personal lives!]
Sunday morning teaching by Pastor Jerry Ingalls on October 16, 2016
We are the people of God and God deeply desires to manifest His glory in us and through us in covenant relationship! We are the “Living Stones,” the raw materials of what God is building in the world, and every Living Stone is critical. No one Living Stone is more important than any other and each is essential to God’s building project. Only Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, the rest of us must be grafted together; this is the work of God’s Spirit within us and through us!
Let’s look at the next section of our study in Nehemiah from Nehemiah 5:1-13 to learn the answer to today’s question, “What keeps us, the Living Stones, from being grafted together?”
1) Sin! The people were exploiting one another & the injustice was on the inside of the body; there was cancer in God’s House! And God does not coexist with sin!
Nehemiah 5:1-5 describes the injustice within God’s house, “Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, ‘With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.’ There were also those who said, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.’ And there were those who said, ‘We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.’”
The cancer of sin is not out there, it is in me and you, in us! And it must be named, confessed, and repented of. It must be surgically removed with laser precision through the atoning work of Jesus Christ!
What keeps us from being grafted together? 1. Sin; and
2) Disunity! Nehemiah was God’s tool to bring spiritual unity to God’s people.
Sin, selfish ambition, and vain conceit cause disunity within the God’s house. And disunity amongst the people was preventing them from fulfilling the IF of Nehemiah 1:9, “If you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.”
Listen to Nehemiah’s call for not only repentance of sin, but also the restitution necessary to bring about spiritual unity within the relationships of God’s people. Listen to Nehemiah 5:6-11, “I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, ‘You are exacting interest, each from his brother.’ And I held a great assembly against them and said to them, ‘We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!’ They were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, ‘The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.’”
Nehemiah lovingly confronted the people with their sin saying, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9).
We learn from Nehemiah, there are corporate consequences to personal sin! The one affects the all! Sin and disunity both prevent the grafting together of God’s people to be the place where God’s glory dwells.
Listen to Jesus’ prayer for us, His future Church, in John 17:20-26, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
What keeps us from being grafted together? 1. Sin; 2. Disunity, and
3) Pride! Pride prevents individuals from confronting the sin in their own heart and their own culpability to the sin in the people of God. Pride causes each of us to emphasize the good we have done and justify the bad we have done, participated in, or turned a blind eye to. Pride thrives in disunity because pride loves the “us vs. them” war that is fueled by Satan’s hatred for the people of God.
Nehemiah 5:12-13 shows us that the only antidote to pride is humility, “Then they said, ‘We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.’ And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, ‘So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.’ And all the assembly said ‘Amen’ and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.”
The Church is called to be a humble community of forgiveness and grace, a people sharing the good and bad together, bearing with one another, forgiving one another…
Galatians 6:1-3 guides us through the process, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
This is so attractive—His manifest glory shines through us as we do this work!
Jesus us calls us to be His distinctive people. John 13:34-35 emphasizes the call to love, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is Jesus’ command to His Church. He wants God’s manifest glory to be all over us and that requires us to be humble before God and humble in our relationships with one another. We must put love above all else. Love covers a multitude of sin and love leads us to make every effort with one another.
It’s time to open our hearts to deal with all three of these conditions that prevent the Living Stones of God’s Church from being grafted together! If The Nehemiah Project is going to be successful in and through FBC, then each of us must effectively deal with three things: 1) any and all unconfessed sin, 2) lack of spiritual unity with any other person in Jesus’ Church, and 3) the lurking issues of pride within us and between us. Are you willing to proactively deal with these things in your life and in our church?
“We have no future as Jesus’ Church if we let sin, pride, and disunity go unchecked and repented of in our midst. There may be a building here that people meet in, but it will not be His Church.” God is calling each of us to start in our own hearts, in our own families and relationships, and it starts right now, where you sit.
[We are going to respond in our worship neighborhoods this morning…the altar is right where you sit]
Are your eyes and ears open? Who is hurting in our midst? Are you? Is it someone from your family or your neighborhood? Are you willing to reach out to them…as individuals, families, as a church community? Is there someone you need to get right with, regardless of who bears the greater guilt from your point of view?
RESPONSE TIME will be the length of this song. Play the video, “No Longer Slaves,”