The Nehemiah Project Week 9 (Sermon Notes)

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The Nehemiah Project (Week 9)Nehemiah-16

“The Call to Commitment!” (Part 2 of 2)

Nehemiah 9 & 10

Teaching by Pastor Jerry Ingalls on November 13, 2016

We ended last week’s sermon at the end of Nehemiah 8 with the people entering into a “solemn assembly.” They had spent a whole week listening to the reading of the “Book of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:18).  Last Sunday, I encourage you to spend this week reading your Bibles and the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.

God has called us to Himself as living stones to be built up together and to build together.  We must commit our lives, personally and corporately, to a complete trust in Jesus Christ and a complete obedience to His teachings.  Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this building project; His is the only Name God will proclaim in and through us; His is the only foundation on which God’s building project will stand.  We each must embrace our place in the eternal building project as individual living stones.

*Take some time together as Worship Neighborhoods to meet the other living stones.  God is actively grafting us together; we are being built on the one foundation of Jesus Christ!

As we near the finish line of The Nehemiah Project, we must ensure our covenant is a vertical covenant with Jesus Christ and the Word of God; not a horizontal covenant with FBC and our own opinions.

Today, we are going to hold a small solemn assembly at the end of our service where you will be invited to make 3 commitments between you and God.

The first commitment is, “I will endeavor to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and love my neighbor as myself” (Deut. 6:5 & Matt 22:37-39).

Let me explain briefly.  You have to get right with God before you can get right with anyone else, and if you aren’t right with God you can’t get right with anyone else.  If there is something off between you and God it affects every other part of your life.  The perfect example of this is God’s design for Christian marriage.  It is a covenant between you and God with significant lifelong relationship implications!  The covenant forever changes who you are, how you see yourself in relation to other people, and how you will conduct yourself.

Let’s look at the climax of the story of Nehemiah found in chapters 9 & 10:

  1. Nehemiah teach us the importance of knowing & studying God’s Word. When you line your life up to the standard of God’s word you are left with a choice: to either confess your sin (where your life doesn’t match up with God’s standards) or to continue to live your life your way.

Listen to Nehemiah 9:1-3, “And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.”

 Listen to Nehemiah 9:16-17, “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.”

 Today, we are going to hold a small solemn assembly at the end of our service where you will be invited to make 3 commitments between you and God.

The second commitment of our covenant renewal is “by striving to obey His commands” (John 14:15).

 Testimony from Cindy Sheffer.

  1. Nehemiah teaches us that confession and renewal of covenant is an ongoing lifestyle; not a once and done thing. We are called to declare God’s faithfulness and claim God’s promises with full awareness of our past, present, and future unfaithfulness. We must soberly understand that the covenant is upheld not by our faithfulness, but by His faithfulness, and as such continually remind ourselves that this is God’s work in and through us; not our own.

Listen to Nehemiah 9:32-33, “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.”

 This commitment to live an ongoing lifestyle of obedience is done in a formal official way. Listen to Nehemiah 9:38, “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing…”

 Today, we are going to hold a small solemn assembly at the end of our service where you will be invited to make 3 commitments between you and God.

The third commitment is, “by promising to be a part of making disciples of all  nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything God has commanded us”
(the Great Commission in Matt 28:18-20).

 As we turn back to God in love and obedience we then walk in obedience to our calling to make disciples. Let me pose a reflection question with a short exercise for you:  Who would benefit the most from your covenant renewal?  Take a minute and write down in your sermon notes 3-5 names of the people closest to you who would most benefit from you being closer to God.  Because our covenant renewal with God today will impact everything we say and do on a daily basis!

 3. Nehemiah teaches us that covenant renewal needs to be memorialized in an experience that will serve as an anchor and reminder for the community of faith. If the people having read the Word of God, confess their sins and the sins of their father’s house, and are drawn by the Spirit of God to worship God, they now are ready to renew their covenant with God in a formal official way called a “solemn assembly.” This assembly is not just a time of general recommitment to faith and obedience, but to the specific ways they will be the community of God according to the Word of God!

 Nehemiah 10:28-29, “The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his rules and his statutes.”

 After listing specifically their individual and corporate responsibilities within this covenant renewal (Nehemiah 10:30-39), they concluded by saying in Nehemiah 10:39, “We will not neglect the house of our God.”

 Call to Covenant Renewal

Today, we are calling you to a time of “solemn assembly” that by the Holy Spirit’s leading we will have the same response to the reading of God’s Word as the people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time.

The last part of our covenant renewal service today will not be a commitment on your part, but an acknowledgment of God’s power and promise to do this in us.  We will say together, “by acknowledging that I can do all things in Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Phil 4:13 & Acts 1:8).

With this acknowledgment in mind, I want you to take a few minutes and prayerfully search your heart and seek God’s will for your life.  After 9 weeks of studying Nehemiah, our desire is that you feel invited by the Holy Spirit in this moment.  Our desire is for you to have a moment in time that you can remember (point to!), just like Nehemiah & Ezra gave their faith family, in a formal official way called a “solemn assembly.” It is an anchor for future faithfulness!

I pray that through the Holy Spirit’s power, and not your own, you would stand now in a call and response covenant renewal ceremony.

WE WILL RENEW OUR COVENANT WITH ONE VOICE:

Through faith in Jesus Christ, I will love God with all that I am and all that I have. [leader calls]

I will endeavor to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength… [the body responds]

With the Spirit’s help, I will love.

…and love my neighbor as myself…

Through God’s Word, I will learn and obey.

…by striving to obey His commands.

To the glory of God, I will answer Jesus’ call to do my part in making disciples to bless all people.

…by promising to be a part of making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything God has commanded us.  

I confess that apart from Jesus I can do nothing, but in Christ all things are possible.

…by acknowledging that I can do all things in Christ…

I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me afresh and to activate the work of God in and through me.

…and only through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus’ Name we pray.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 


To read more about the Nehemiah Project, click HERE.

On November 20th Pastor Jerry Ingalls will be preaching on Nehemiah 12:27-44 and 13 (Celebrating the New Life!)!

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