Some additional thoughts from this weekend

Most people don’t  know but the amount of information that many pastors compile for one sermon is MASSIVE.  We have researched, read, prayed for weeks on end and find ourselves to edit and cut that information to around 30 minutes (in our context).  That being said I still wanted to share some thoughts that I wanted to share but were left on the editing room floor.  I hope this additional information is fruitful you as it was with me.

How do you handle a victory? We said first of all,

I. With every great work, give glory to God (Neh. 6:15-16).

With every victory we have ultimately, all the credit goes to God. It is great to pray that in our lives, we pray for a God-thing. God loves to get all the glory! Nehemiah in Neh. 6:15 does give the glory to God as a token phrase (like you hear at an award show). God had birthed a burden in his heart, broke his heart with the burden, helped him persevere as he waited for God’s timing, answered prayer with the King, encouraged him when he arrived among opposition, gave him confidence and courage to rally God’s people, encouraged him in the midst of ridicule, the halfway hurdle, gave him boldness to confront sin and helped him focus among distractions.

So it is not unusual for the soul who has been dependent on God in everything to grant Him the glory when God accomplishes a great work. The more you abide with the Lord, invite him to every aspect of your life, the more you will see His fingerprints over everything. If God does a dozen things with every good work, we may see only two things. However, the more we have been with the Lord in the small things, the more we see Him working in the bigger things. Secondly we said:

II. Guard great victories, because they can be followed by great failure (Neh. 6:17-7:3)

How do you guard your victories? We said first of all, it requires us to:

 

1. Faithfulness (Neh. 7:2)

Hanani was Nehemiah’s literal brother (Neh. 1:2). Remember him? He was the one who told Nehemiah about the problem in the first place. Hananiah was a governor “of the castle charge.” This “was a fortress in the temple area, guarding the north wall of the city, which was especially vulnerable to attack.”[3]

Nehemiah says the reasons he picked Hananiah was because he was faithful and God-fearing. Faithfulness is “doing what you said you would do.” Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., often said, “The greatest ability is dependability.”[4] Can you be depended on? Paul says, “It is required of stewards that they be trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:2). Pastor Steve Cole in Arizona provides four ways to develop faithfulness:[5]

  1. Recognize and define the responsibilities that God has given you to do. If you are a husband and/or a father, you have to provide basic needs of your family. If you are part of a church body, you are responsible to serve God in some capacity. It is hard to be faithful if you are foggy about what you should be doing.
  2. Start with and don’t neglect the small things. Pay your bills on time. Keep your appointments. Jesus said, if you are faithful in the little things, you will be entrusted with more (Luke 16:10).
  3. Keep your relational priorities straight. This means your time with Jesus, your time with family, your accountability relationships and your relationship to others in the body of Christ.
  4. Learn to use your time more effectively. This is huge. I need to write down my priorities down. Are you spending excessive amounts of time on the internet, video games and television? We all have the same number of hours entrusted with us and a good sign of faithfulness is how we use it.

2. Fear of God (Neh. 7:2)

The fear of God is the dread of displeasing Him. It is not to be afraid of God, but your desire to please Him takes precedence over everything else. We have talked about it a lot in the previous weeks, so I am not going to belabor the point. It comes out of knowledge of God. The more you know Him, the more you want to please Him. Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7). Wisdom is the ability to make the most God-honoring decision in any situation. Anyone need that? I certainly do! The way it starts is to ask God to give you such a dread in hurting Him with the choices of your life. This is the fear of God. But it is interesting that he connects faithfulness and fear of God together. I believe the more you fear God, the more faithful you will be, because you will have wisdom to make the best choices in every situation.

3. Watchfulness (Neh. 7:3)

So character is built by faithfulness, fear of God and lastly, watchfulness. Knowing these guys feared God and were faithful, they were asked assigned the job of watchfulness (and to delegate it to others). What he is saying here is that they need to be vigilant. Lazy guards are no guards at all. The Hebrew is tricky here. But I think he means to be on watch, even in the hottest part of the day, right in the afternoon, around lunch time, when we can tend to be lax, we need to be on guard. Remember some people had worked on the wall near their homes (Neh. 3:102328-30). Now Nehemiah wants them to realize that they need to protect what was accomplished.

I think the lesson here is that unless we protect what was accomplished for the Lord, the Enemy will come and take over. This is why Paul said, “After you done everything, stand” (Eph. 6:11). This is why so many schools which were once started on godly principles are now as secular as secular can be. Look at all the churches now once so solid in preaching the Gospel, now fill their pulpits with people preaching “another gospel.” Beloved, we are simply one generation away from destruction, and so need to be watchful. Living hope can easily be dead hope!

There is a fine line between watchfulness and compromise. The reason why compromise happens is because we are not watchful. It all comes down to a character issue. If Tobiah’s wife and family had been watchful in not having any relationship with Tobiah, the compromise that now resulted into the next generation, would have been avoided. Here are some things we need to guard:

  1. Our heart (Prov. 4:23) Guard carefully what you allow in your life that will ultimately impact your heart and soul. Watch out for sharing intimate moments with people who are not your spouse.
  2. False doctrine. Paul tells the church in Corinth that Satan comes like an angel of light, disguising himself as “servants of righteousness,” preaching a false gospel (2 Cor. 11:14-15). I have seen churches and people destroyed because this was not taken seriously.
  3. Our private time. Guard your times when you are alone, tired, overwhelmed or bored.
  4. Recreation and Media. Check with pluggedinonline.com or christiananswers.net before renting or watching a movie. Use an internet filter for your computers.

The point here is that we need to guard our victory times because it can be followed by great failure. But keeping our priorities straight (keep worship and the Word central), avoiding any small hints of compromise, and keep working on our character (like faithfulness, a growing fear of God and being ever so watchful) will help us. All of us know what it is to put our guards down when things are going well. Let us decide now and pray, “Lord help us protect what you have accomplished.”

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About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on October 22, 2013, in ...from Jon and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It definitely has to feel frustrating to have to leave a lot of your material in the proverbial editing room, but I’m glad you shared that. For me, the most gripping part was the idea that God’s people could struggle so hard and work so long on a project… just to see it be lost just when it could be used for the Kingdom. It breaks my heart, especially when I look around at the church now and see where it has happened.

    For what it’s worth, though, I think you did a great job on the sermon, so keep up what you’re doing, yeah? :)

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