Sermons

Nehemiah Week

Pastor Dave Chiolero, Pastor Ron Macciola, Pastor Don Prewitt

09-11-16

 

PASTOR DAVE CHIOLERO

The other day I was sitting on the couch with Isabella listening to an audio book with her. While listening, she showed me coloring pages from her coloring book. I was amazed at what a wonderful artist she was and I was a little taken back that I had never seen her coloring before. The book was full of colored pages, but this was the first time I had ever noticed. I felt a prompting from the Lord that said, ‘Are you paying close enough attention to your daughter?’

This got me thinking about other people God has placed in my life. An inventory of relationships started running through my mind, My other children, Kim, Men in the church, small group leaders, etc. ‘Am I paying attention to their lives?’ ‘Am I doing all that I can to be supportive and encouraging?’ These were my thoughts as I evaluated relationships in my life. I was reminded that nothing is more important than building the lives God has entrusted to me.

Question:

Who are the people God has entrusted to you? Are you aware of the things happening in their lives? Are you helping them to grow?

 

1 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

 

There’s a painting in the lobby of the wall being rebuilt and it says, “You are the missing piece God is rebuilding”

Nehemiah understood the importance of rebuilding the city of God. He would not allow himself to get distracted from that task.

Today, we have the same task of rebuilding the temple of God. It’s not a temple made by human hands, it’s people. It definitely means building your family, that’s the first priority. But it also means the body of Christ, which are the people around you. Look around you – to the left – to the right. Who are the people God has entrusted to you?

At HL, we want you to have meaningful relationships with other believers. To develop true friendships where we grow towards maturity in Christ. This is what our Connection Faire is all about. Please take time to look at the connection brochure and hang out after the service. We have free hotdogs for everyone!

Challenge:

More importantly, ask yourself…

Who are the people God has entrusted to you? Are you aware of the things happening in their lives? Are you helping them to grow?

PASTOR RON MACCIOLA

“Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand.” Nehemiah 6:5

First, there had been the personal requests. Now, here was an open letter. What did this mean? It was something like a petition. No longer was it a private letter in a personal envelope; this time the messenger came and opened it for everyone to read. Notice the intimidating, threatening remarks of this open letter:

“…It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. [Notice the intimidation.] So come now, let us counsel together.” Nehemiah 6:6-7

Allow me to elaborate on their tactics reading between the lines: “You wouldn’t come when we sent our invitation, and so we’re letting the truth be known. We plan to expose you. We want everybody to know two things. First, when you came to Jerusalem, you had an evil motive. It was not just to rebuild the wall. You came for the express purpose of collecting a group of people around you so you could lead a revolution. Furthermore, your method is evil. You want to be the king and so you’re spreading the prophets throughout the land to proclaim that Nehemiah will be the king, not Artaxerxes. So we’re going to send the word back to the king in Persia. Then you’ll come up and visit with us.”

What we’re dealing with here is rumor. One of the characteristics of a rumor is that the source is never quoted. Actually, a source is seldom known. Verse 6 states, “It is reported among the nations…” Who’s the source of this “reporting”? Verse 6 also reveals the false conclusion that Nehemiah is going to be the king, “according to these reports.”

A rumor is noted, first of all, because the source is never declared.

Second, a rumor is noted for its exaggeration and inaccuracy. A rumor spreads in an exaggerated fashion, and gullible listeners and gossips feed on that kind of garbage. They pass it from one mouth to the next ear, and by the time it comes to you, it is grossly inaccurate.

Have you ever played the party game, “Gossip?” The first guy in a long line of ten people whispers something to the gal standing next to him. She whispers something to the next one, and on and on it goes down the line. By the time it gets to person number ten, the message is garbled beyond belief. And that’s with only ten people who are trying to cooperate!

A rumor leads to personal hurt and misunderstanding. What was the result of this report concerning Nehemiah? It hurt him- in fact it was designed to hurt.

Nehemiah was impaled on the horns of a dilemma. If he refused to go to Ono, it would be tantamount to saying, “I’m afraid to let the truth be known.” But if he went to Ono, he would leave the work on the wall and would play into the hands of the enemy. He’d be in great danger. He was caught in what appeared to be an impossible situation.

I am personally convicted that the number one enemy of Christian unity is the tongue. It’s not drink, not drugs, not poor homes, not inflation, not TV, not even a bad church program- it’s the tongue.

People who spread rumors invariably display a lack of wisdom. Wisdom forces a person to ask such searching questions as, “Is it necessary to say this? Is this confidential information? Do I have any right to pass this on?” Wisdom prompts the reply, “Don’t open your mouth because God hates those who sow discord among His family.” (Of the seven things God hates, three relate to the tongue. See Proverbs 6:16-19)

Another thing lacking from the rumormonger’s act is accurate information. Anytime you want to find the truth, you have to first find the source. The proof of accuracy Is, “Is this true? Can the original source be quoted?”

Further, rumor-spreaders lose sight of the proper setting for sharing information. A person needs to ask: “Will this benefit the person who hears me?” Or better than that, “Can he do anything aobut it? Or is this just going to be another pouring of useless hearsay into someone’s ears?” When you give unverified information to people who are critical and negative, knowing they can’t do anything abut the situation anyway, that’s an unwise move. When you go to an individual who can do something about relevant information and in a spirit of love share it, that is constructive criticism.

Now, not every critic is an enemy of the faith, no is every person who criticizes of the devil. However, I’m not fully convinced that the term “critic” applies to the gossip. A person who is genuinely interested in the truth uses his tongue to secure and to maintain the truth.

What should be your response when you are confronted by a gossip? Frankly, I feel direct confrontation is the best response. The next time someone brings gossip or rumors to your ears, rebuke him. Chances are, you’ll help teach a needed lesson.

In the case of Nehemiah, nobody was around as a witness to the truth. He was simply confronted with a letter of exposé that was built on a lie. Nehemiah responded beautifully. If you ever are the target of gossip, look carefully at verse 8. Here, you can learn how to handle yourself when you’re under attack. For openers, Nehemiah calmly denied the charge:

 “…Nothing like what you are saying is happening…” (Nehemiah 6:8)

“It’s not true”, Nehemiah said. Then, he put the blame where it belonged.

“…you are just making it up in your own head.” (verse 8)

“These are the things you have come up with in your head, they are wrong,” said Nehemiah. And verse 9 tells us he took his hurt to God. Nehemiah said,

“For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

PASTOR DON PREWITT

So Pastor Dave took us through Nehemiah 6:1-4, asking the pointed question “who are the people that God has entrusted to you?” and like Nehemiah, are you willing to allow that work that God has put in front of you to trump everything else that would press for your time and effort?

Pastor Ron reminded us of the fact that if we are working for God and truly doing what God has appointed us to do, there will be those that will try to discourage us and get us off course. Then we pick up at verse 9 when Nehemiah says:

They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.”

We have a great ability in Christ to use the things that have tried to destroy us as tools in our hands to accomplish Gods work. Face it-if we are doing anything of lasting value for God there will be people who will come against us and there will be trouble…but Nehemiah goes on to say in verse 11:

“Should someone in my position run from danger?”

Nehemiah knew what God had called him to and he would not give up.

-Have you ever worked for God and no one ended up giving their lives to Christ?

-Have you ever worked for God and instead of being celebrated you were criticized or put down?

-Have you ever worked for God and no one noticed?

-Have you ever worked for God and ended up feeling discouraged and confused?

Do I have a “magic wand” way to help you not give up? No, all I have is this, the word of God. And if you feel discouraged or disgruntled or you feel like no one notices what you are contributing to the kingdom of God or if it feel like you are the only one building that wall,

Come to the best prophesy you will ever get

Come to the water that wont run dry

Come to the words of life

And hear Nehemiah say in verse 15

So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.”

Have faith today, God is on your side and just like Nehemiah, the work of God will be completed in us and through us if we continually submit our ways and our plans to Him. Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation (or trouble), but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world!”

The best tool we have is right here in our hands…the very words of Christ

God is on your side and God can accomplish what we cannot and God is not done with us yet! Now go get building!!