The Poirier’s Mission Update 1st Quarter CY 2016

26 March 2016

Dear Friends in Christ:

For many it has been quite some time since you last heard from us so please bear with me.  As you know beginning in Sept 2012 I took over as Project Manager for Rebuild Lakeshore. My wife, Naida and I made a 3-5 year commitment as domestic missionaries to assist Lakeshore Baptist Church in rebuilding its church and community. In Aug 2015 we were able to dedicate the new church building. In mid-November we decided to put our home on the market believing we would have a minimum 6-8 months (the average time for a house to sell in Waveland) to finish up and see where God would have us go next.

Well God had other plans and our home sold in just 11 days, with a closing just before Christmas. I made one final inquiry about becoming the full time Chaplain at the local county jail (a position I had been filing as a volunteer for 2 years) but did not see this as a viable option. Enter, Pastor Thomas Winn and Grace Baptist Church, in Jackson, MS. They had been coming and volunteering in Lakeshore for many years and had asked me several times about joining them in constructing their new building when I we were finished on the Gulf coast. We made a call, visited the church again, met with the deacons, prayed a lot and as they say, the rest is history.

NHomeaida and I are now blessed to be in Jackson, MS in our new home. Well, currently only I am in Jackson, Naida is in Puerto Rico until late April. Her mother Fela, is coming to live with us, so Naida is there helping to get her things settled. Please keep Fela in your prayers, she is now undergoing dialysis 3 times a week and this whole move is going to be quite a culture change for her.

 

Immediate Needs:  If anyone is available, I need help in getting the house ready for Naida and her mom’s return, 19th of April.

650 sq. ft. of laminate to install

Structural wall to knock out

French door to add

Sheet Rock

New Toilet

Bath Fans

Electrical work (Mr. Rich and Jim L. stop laughing)

Move gas piping for fireplace

Also, if you have a team looking for a trip over April vacation or anytime this year, the church has a bunch of projects that need accomplishing. I am sure we can find accommodations for a decent size group.

SpGBC Sanctuaryeaking of Grace Baptist, this picture shows their current sanctuary.  It really is not a favorable set up for visitors and the church has outgrown the space.

 

We are just in the planning stages for the new church building but are hopeful we can break ground sometime next year.  Please let me know if you are interested.

Prayer Requests:

  • Naida’s mom Fela’s health
  • Wisdom in shepherding this new project
  • Naida’s health, her acid reflux is getting worse again
  • That Naida and I will be an asset to the church and community here
  • Perseverance in my college classes and guidance on whether to continue this major
  • Finances for the new building project
  • For the members of Grace Baptist Church, especially Pastors Thomas Winn and Tiago Oliviera
  • Pray God will send volunteer groups to support this project
  • Lastly, thank you to those who continue to support our mission work financially. We had a significant cut back in funds recently; please pray God will provide the means for us to remain in the mission field. If you wish to help out, please send your contributions to GBC 5536 Ridgewood Rd, Jackson MS 39211

In closing, I want to remind everyone that in addition to the projects here in Jackson, Lakeshore Baptist Church still has a camp to decommission and for the more adventurous there are the projects in Uganda and Columbia I wrote about last fall.

In HIS Service

Mike Poirier

We appreciate you forwarding this to any groups you think may have an interest in supporting the project(s). Also if you have a project planned now or in the future and want me to pass it on please let me know.

Disguise Part I

Disguise

1 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates),

2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono." But they intended to do me harm.3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" 4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah.' And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together." 8 Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind." 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

              - - - Nehemiah 6:1-9 (ESV) all scripture ESV unless otherwise noted

 

            We ended chapter five by focusing on the theme that in order to move forward, in order to rebuild our lives we can NEVER forget the mistakes of the past. We must look to the past in order to move ahead with our lives. We discussed the importance not getting mired or bogged in our past, as the Word of God says 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are a new creature in Christ. At the same time failing to remember our past mistakes is inviting them to reenter our lives.

 

            Remember back in Chapter four we looked at all the different type of roadblocks we might face in our rebuilding process.  One thing we did not examine is how cleverly these obstacles or enemies can conceal themselves from us.  That is what I want to concentrate on in tonight’s sermon, how the enemy disguises themselves in order to trap or snare on the rebuilding path.

 

            When I think of a disguise the first things that pop into my mind are Halloween costumes and criminals wearing a mask. But before we go any further let us look at the definition of the word:

Disguise 1v.t:

1. To conceal by an unusual habit, or mask. Men sometimes disguise themselves for the purpose of committing crimes without danger of detection. They disguise their faces in a masquerade.

2. To hide by a counterfeit appearance; to cloak by a false show, by false language, or an artificial manner; as, to disguise anger, sentiments or intentions.

3. To disfigure; to alter the form, and exhibit an unusual appearance.

They saw the faces, which too well they knew, though then disguised in death.

4. To disfigure or deform by liquor; to intoxicate.

DISGUISE, n.

1. A counterfeit habit; a dress intended to conceal the person who wears it.

By the laws of England, persons doing unlawful acts in disguise are subjected to heavy penalties, and in some cases, declared felons.

2. A false appearance; a counterfeit show; an artificial or assumed appearance in tended to deceive the beholder.

A treacherous design is often concealed under the disguise of great candor.

3. Change of manner by drink; intoxication.

 

            There are many reasons for disguise. A few that can be deemed acceptable, for protection from the elements one must disguise their appearance in the north regions and wear heavy and bulky clothing. Soldiers disguise themselves in order that the enemy will not find them out (camouflage). But for the most part the reason is for deceit and deception otherwise known as evil intent.

 

1 Samuel 28:8  To conjure up spirits after the order had been given forbidding the practice

 

1 Kings 14:2  For protection against enemies prying eyes.

 

1 Kings 22:30  For protection against enemies harm, note this does not always work as Ahab found out.

 

Job 24:13-17There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways, and do not stay in its paths. 14 The murderer rises before it is light, that he may kill the poor and needy, and in the night he is like a thief. 15 The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,  saying, ‘No eye will see me’; and he veils his face. 16 In the dark they dig through houses; by day they shut themselves up; they do not know the light. 17 For deep darkness is morning to all of them; for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness. Here we have the criminal’s the breaking and entering specialists those who do their dirty deeds at night using the darkness to hide or disguise their evil.

 

            In our text we see 1 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono." But they intended to do me harm.

           

            On the surface Come let us meet together seems innocent enough, but Nehemiah is no dummy. He has been dealing with these men for some time and understands their mindset. A mindset that is against Nehemiah and all that God would have him accomplish. That is where the." But they intended to do me harm.” comes in. They have disguised their true intentions for harm with a seemingly peaceful invitation to lunch.

           

            The New Testament is full of such stories and examples such as this warning to believers to be on our guard at all times. We need to prepare against those who disguise themselves as friends who are really foes. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. If the Lord of the earth can disguise himself as an angel of light you had better be on your guard at all times against all forms of trickery. His first objective is to get you into a stinking thinking mode. 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. From there what else can he temp you to do?

            You are so handsome or you are very attractive, or how about wow you did such a great job today at work, whatever the case we as humans like to be acknowledged and complimented for our achievements and in especially for our looks. I have yet to overhear anyone respond to someone’s nasty remark about “hey fatso” with “gee thank you very much for that compliment.” While when the following verse was written it may have applied only to women today many a man are just as vain Proverbs 31:30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  That leads me and us to  Romans 16:17-18  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.  You can rest assured that the deceiver’s underlings are a bunch of smooth trash talkers. They are everywhere filling up the TV, Radio and internet with their own form of a watered down unbiblical gospel. It sounds good but it is based on half-truths and not the whole counsel of God.

            Before we proceed I do not to leave anyone with the wrong impression that I believe paying someone a compliment is wrong. Acknowledging accomplishments of others especially if you are a leader is a key principle of leadership. Parents telling your children they have done well is just as important as telling them they have done wrong. Men complimenting your wife on how well she looks every once in a while should be a no brainer.

               If you thought being deceived by those disguises was bad read the book of First John. In it the Apostle John, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit warns us that as time goes on the world will turn itself over to antichrist’s (not “the antichrist of the Left Behind series” but the biblical antichrist’s) and those men and I believe a growing number of women will come from within the ranks of the church. Not some off the wall non-mainstream cult church either. We are talking bible preaching evangelical protestant and Catholic churches.    

               Look at 1 John 2:18-19 with me; 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  Do you see it in verse 19, they went out from us. There can be no doubt these were men and women who sat in the pews among us disguised as fellow believers. These will be our one time friends and maybe colleagues who will turn against the truths of the bible and start sprouting all sorts of things against (anti) Christ.

             So how do you deal with these folks? First let us look back to Nehemiah his enemies were persistent, four more times they tried to trap him into meeting them.  Then they sent a new messenger with a new message, a different form of lie intended to embarrass Nehemiah and challenge his honor.  6 In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah.' And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together."

       

           What did Nehemiah do, well he sent the last messenger’s head back in a sack cloth as a warning to knock the crap off. No didn’t read that part, Okay, maybe it was he threatens to bring the Kings troops that are under his command to bear against his enemies if they kept up this harassment. I mean after all a man has to stand his ground and can’t be pushed around or he is not a man is he? Uh, no, Nehemiah did respond that way either. The way he does things is the way we all should handle those who come at us in disguise read the next verses; 8 Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind." 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands. Nehemiah is not joking around. He calmly and politely told them they were lying and nuts. Then he did that which we all need to do more of. He prayed to God to strengthen him in these difficult times. His prayer is simple, he calls upon the All-knowing, Ever-present, All- Powerful God of the universe to back his play. Uh, yeah Sanbalatt I am ready for you now.

 

            What gives Nehemiah the ability to do this? I’d like to think he is like me and every morning as he rises as his feet hit the floor he pray Lord don’t let me do nothing stupid today. Then he puts on the whole Armor of God Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. He like we, need to, prepared by reading the word of God. If we are to do battle with the deceivers of this world and their disguises we must have our spiritual tool bad full and ready for use.

 Let’s Pray

In HIS Service

Mike

 

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                     PAST                                  FUTURE

Looking Back to Get Ahead

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

              - - - Nehemiah 5:14-19 (ESV) all scripture ESV unless otherwise noted

 

            We conclude chapter five this week by focusing on the actions of Nehemiah after he has successfully navigated the many roadblocks that had been set before him and the peoples of Jerusalem in the preceding chapter and a half. 

 

            First there is one obvious thing I would like to point out in our text before I move on to the main points for tonight. It is the uniqueness of Nehemiah being governor of Jerusalem. He is a Jew, and has been appointed so by Artaxerxes the king, a pagan king. Nehemiah has been rewarded for his honesty and his loyalty, but to whom?  But remember as we have seen time and again throughout this series he is loyal to God before all others. It is God who has rewarded him though this pagan king.  It is imperative we understand this; that God alone is in control. Why else would you bow down and worship Him?

 

            The main point I wish to emphasize tonight is the same thing Nehemiah did some 2600 years ago. That in order to move forward, in order to rebuild our lives we can NEVER forget the mistakes of the past. We must look to the past in order to move ahead with our lives.

 

            Now I know if this were a TV or radio sermon some of you would be reaching to change the channel right now, because my statement above seems to fly in the face of the modern evangelical hyped teachings of today but please bear with me. Let’s look at what God’s Word says:

 

 Isaiah 43:18-19 ““Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”

 

Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

 

            On the face of it, it would seem we should never look back “Remember not the former things”  or “forgetting what lies behind”  Or the so often miss applied Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” But is that really what God is saying? Does God really tell us not to remember our past?

 

            Again let us dig further into scripture looking at The Whole Counsel of God!

 

Turn back to Nehemiah 1:8-11 “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but 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.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

 

            We are encouraged to remember God’s promises to us, especially in times of trouble and conflict. Can you think of any other familiar passages of scripture folks go to in times of trouble? 

Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 come to mind or a favorite of mine Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

 

Nehemiah 9: 18-24 “Even when they had made for themselves a golden[c] calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. 22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.”

 

            We are to remind ourselves daily of the many blessing God has given unless we become dissatisfied with God.  Here in Nehemiah chapter 9 the story of the Exodus in all its Glory and sorrow is recounted as a reminder that God is a God of promises and one who keeps His promises.  He promised the Jewish people a promised land and even though they were rebellious and continually turned away from Him, He kept that promise. What would you have done?  We also see one of his greatest promises in the sky Genesis 9:15-16 “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

           

            How about 2 Peter 1:15-21 “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

 

            We need to be able to recall biblical truths. How else are we to share the Good News of Christ with others? This the great commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 is the duty of all believers.

 

            Are you confused yet? This is where the naysayer (fancy word for doubters) that is those who claim the bible is a lie, made up and written by men contradicts itself. They point out that in some places it says do not look back on your past and in other places it says to recall the past. So see it’s all a bunch of junk.  Well if you are one of those who mind has been blinded by the god of this world (Satan) 2 Corinthians 4:4 that would make sense. To the rest of us in our right mind we can reason this out.

 

            Let us start with a text every believer knows   2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Does this mean you will not battle with sin? Not in the least listen:

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] 19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.  That is none other than the Apostle Paul from Romans Chapter 8. Did you hear his words? Can you feel the struggle he is experiencing? This is Paul the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament, not just some average Joe.  How are you to combat dealing with sinfulness of the flesh if you cannot look to your past experiences Like Paul?

           

            Another of the Proverbs that comes to mind is Proverbs 4:25-27 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 26 Ponder[c] the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. I like this one because I am guilty of not doing this. I am speaking of eyes look directly forward I won’t embarrass everyone by asking for a show of hands but I bet I am not the only one to have walked into an unmovable object because I was not watching where I was going.  

 

            God’s admonition in this verse and other verses like it is to not forbid looking back on the past while trying to move forward.  He is saying do not dwell on the past while trying to move forward. Do not get stuck in the mud, bogged down in your past, mired in the muck of your past mistakes.  You cannot move forward if you are having your own little pity party and decide all is lost because of your past mistakes.  At the same time it would be foolish to try and move forward and not remember your past behaviors and mistakes.

 

            Let us look at our main text again.  Nehemiah is a wise governor he has learned from the past mistakes of others.  In verse 15 we read “The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.”  Note why Nehemiah did not do so, was it because he was scared of God?  No the Greek word translated fear in English means reverence. It was because of his admiration, his awe his devotion to God. In the remaining four verses of our main text we see Nehemiah again demonstrating changes to the previous administrations burdensome rule.

 

            Let us put this in perspective, many here have struggled with alcohol or drugs over the years. So you get released and the first place you find to rent is a small studio. It is a good deal, the rent is affordable and the landlord is nice and understanding about folks who have been in your shoes. He is even willing to ask around about jobs for you. Sounds like the perfect place except it is right above a bar. Now if you believe and follow the advice of those who advocate NEVER looking back on our past then living there will be no problem. However if you believe and follow the Word of God that arrangement has DANGER! ! ! written all over it. 

 

            Oswald Chambers wrote on the matter: "A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of this own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition. Temptation yielded to... is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before." In other words, Satan isn’t no dummy he knows how and what with to temp you.  Yet here we go putting ourselves right in the midst of the very temptations that contributed to our problems. Of course we will pray beforehand Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” I am sorry but that is S.O.S. disease at its best. Asking God for favors and then doing something that thumbs your nose at the favor.

 

            In closing I want to reexamine Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Why was Jesus so adamant in this statement? It sounds like on casual reading that if anyone looks back after becoming a Christian they are doomed, not worthy of entry to heaven. We’ll again need to look at the Whole Counsel of God by backing up to the previous verses for a clue. In verses 57 -60 we have conversations between those who wish to follow Jesus and Christ who tells them the cost.  You remember elsewhere when he says it can be a heavy price, even one’s own family. Then in verse 61 we see “Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Do you see it, Jesus is not saying do not remember the past he is saying once on the chosen path do not deviate from it. There is a huge difference between those two meanings. Our Lord is telling the person, if you have truly decided to follow me, then do so, make me the priority and not those who are left behind. Nowhere does He, Jesus, say do not think of them, just do not look back and long after that life you are leaving behind. If you do you cannot stay on the path of righteousness. Using metaphors or images of the plow He easily makes His point understood by all. Put in modern terms if you have ever tried to drive a mower or tractor forward while looking backward you will understand the results are UGLY.  Unfit for any lawn or farmers field.

 

            Like Nehemiah prayed in verse 19 “Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.” We need to stand ready to call upon God to remember us as we look back to get ahead.

 

            Let’s pray, most gracious and heavenly father I ask that you continue to work in the minds and hearts of the hearers and readers of this message. That it will build them up that they may glorify you in all that they do. I pray father that if anyone knows not Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour that you would choose them now send your Holy Spirit upon them convict them of their sins, have them repent and claim the free gift of Christ. We pray this in His most Holy and precious name. Amen.

 

In HIS Service

Mike

 

 

Road Blocks   Part IV

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 Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 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.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 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.”6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 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 8 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. 9 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 nation’s our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest.11 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.” 12 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. 13 I also shook out the fold[a] 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. Nehemiah 5:1-13 ESV all scripture ESV unless otherwise noted

 

            We wrap up the section on Roadblocks, this week looking at the beginning of Chapter five and the theme here is financial burdens.  I could have easily slid this in with the last sermon on discouragement but it deserves a place of its own those who are following Nehemiah are complaining of the injustice being carried out by the rich rulers of their day a familiar theme in our time.

 

            Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the matter says “How bravely Nehemiah, as a wise and faithful governor, stood upon his guard against the attacks of enemies abroad, we read in the foregoing chapter. Here we have him no less bold and active to redress grievances at home, and, having kept them from being destroyed by their enemies, to keep them from destroying one another. Here is, I. The complaint which the poor made to him of the great hardships which the rich (of whom they were forced to borrow money) put upon them, v. 1-5)..."

 

            You too upon your release will be facing many issues with respect to financial responsibilities. Normal everyday expenses include the following:

1.      Food

2.      Shelter (Rent plus Utilities)

3.      Phone (You cannot get a job without one today)

4.      Transportation (Most employers are not going to pick you up)

5.      Tools (Depending on the job you may need tools of the trade)

6.      Alimony or Child Support

            As ex-mates you may have additional expenses that include:

1.      Restitution

2.      Court Fees

3.      Parole or Probation Fees

 

            You can choose to do what many in our country today have done taken the unbiblical Social Justice approach of blaming every one of our problems on those with wealth, trying to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor claiming it is all in the name of equality. Along with this umbilical Social Justice approach goes the equally unbiblical government sponsored social welfare system. The bible calls for families and the local church to care for widows and orphans not the government. Yet millions of “Christians” have bought into this lie.    

               

            An excellent article on the subject can be found here http://www.gotquestions.org/social-justice.html at Got Questions dot Org a portion of which I will relate:

“The problem with this doctrine is twofold: first, there is a mistaken premise in economic egalitarianism that the rich have become wealthy by exploiting the poor. Much of the socialist literature of the past 150 years promotes this premise. This may have been primarily the case back when Karl Marx first wrote his Communist Manifesto, and even today it may be the case some of the time, but certainly not all of the time. Second, socialist programs tend to create more problems than they solve; in other words, they don’t work. Welfare, which uses public tax revenue to supplement the income of the underemployed or unemployed, typically has the effect of recipients becoming dependent on the government handout rather than trying to improve their situation. Every place where socialism/communism has been tried on a national scale, it has failed to remove the class distinctions in society. Instead, all it does is replace the nobility/common man distinction with a working class/political class distinction.”

 

            The alternative if you are going to wear the Badge “Christian” is to choose to do what the bible teaches here in Nehemiah and elsewhere, the biblical approach to fiscal responsibility. Again from the same article:

“What, then, is the Christian view of social justice? The Bible teaches that God is a God of justice. In fact, “all his ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Furthermore, the Bible supports the notion of social justice in which concern and care are shown to the plight of the poor and afflicted (Deuteronomy 10:18; 24:17; 27:19). The Bible often refers to the fatherless, the widow and the sojourner – that is, people who were not able to fend for themselves or had no support system. The nation of Israel was commanded by God to care for society’s less fortunate, and their eventual failure to do so was partly the reason for their judgment and expulsion from the land.”

               

            Let us break down God’s word here in Nehemiah 5:

 

            Verse 1 & 2 “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.” Having a large family is great, but it can at times seem a blessing and at other times a curse. Trying to feed a large family on a tight budget can be tough.  But then again there are more of them to help earn a day’s wage or do chores.

 

            Verse 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.”  The lesson for all of us here is simple do not over extend our selves. If you cannot afford it do not buy it. Oh but I can get it on payments if I just fill out this form from that nice salesman. After all God is good I should have a better job soon. Sure you will, un huh.

 

            Verse 4 “We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. Listen no matter what you are still going to have to render unto Caesar (Matt 22:21) but whom do you pay first? Is it the government, your bills or God?

 

            Verse 5 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 price of repayment of their debt had gotten so high that their fellow Jews had demanded their sons and daughters be brought into servitude as payment. Servitude is a polite term for slavery. While today in America we do not have slavery or do we?  According to Federal Reserve Statistics the average American household owes $15,863.00 in credit card debt alone. Most American households are SALVES to consumer debit.

 

            The miseries of debt include

I. Mental unrest. One of the leading causes of suicide

II. Social degradation. The poor are looked down upon

III. Family ruin. Arguments, fights and divorce over money is rampant

IV. A disregard of a Divine command: “Thou shalt not steal.”

            Application--

1. Christians should set the world an example.

2. Watch the beginnings of extravagance. {Oft times take from Peter to pay Paul} Again the question of Tithing

            3. In small things as well as in greater act on Christian principle.

 

            Verse 6 & 7I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. Note what Nehemiah does, he takes counsel with whom? That is right, himself; he had to determine what was to be done, what method to be taken to correct these complaints. I know what you are thinking how come Nehemiah this great praying man (remember all the times he consulted God in the previous Chapters) of God did not immediately drop down and pray to God for guidance. Does this not somehow violate Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Or how come he did not do that modern slogan I dislike so much “Let go and Let God” I will tell you why, Nehemiah was a man called by God, appointed by God, equipped by God and therefore made capable by God.  Those who “Let God and Let God” at every instance are just lazy. There are occasions when you cannot do anything about a given situation that you must “Let go and let God”, but that is not the norm. God expects us to do our part that is why he will judge us (2 Corinthians 5:10).

 

            I am actually going to stop my verse by verse commentary here. In the remaining verses Nehemiah points out the error to the rich Jewish leaders according to the scriptures and they recant and make compensation for their ways. I would not expect that in today’s world my friends. Go ahead try and bring it to the attention of some worldly landlord how the place he is renting is in bad shape. If he makes any repairs he is likely to jack up the rent not make restitution for overcharging you in the first place.  

 

            What are the lessons to be learned for us today? Well first we need to be right with God if we are to expect God’s blessings upon us. That includes his financial blessings. I recently had an ex-mate contact me with the woe, woe pitiful me story line about how tough it had been lately. Then he told me how he and his girlfriend had just moved into an apartment and it had cost so must right after that work slowed way down and they laid him off. I responded so you are being obedient to God in all things and you are still having issues wow that’s tough. He remained silent of course. Living in a sinful relationship and expecting God’s blessing is a form of SOS (Suck on Stupid) disease.

 

            Even when we are obedient to God that is no guarantee things will go smoothly. Look at Job.  There was none like him in all the land and yet God let Satan put him to a test I dare say all of us would fail.

 

            That is why each morning we must arise and rejoice in the new day praising God and placing our hope: 

 

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

 

            Let’s pray, most gracious and heavenly father I ask that you continue to work in the minds and hearts of the hearers and readers of this message. That it will build them up that they may glorify you in all that they do. I pray father that if anyone knows not Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour that you would choose them now send your Holy Spirit upon them convict them of their sins, have them repent and claim the free gift of Christ. We pray this in His most Holy and precious name. Amen.

 

In HIS Service

Mike

Road Blocks  Part I

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Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.6 So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

----- Nehemiah 4:1-6 (ESV) All scripture ESV unless otherwise noted.

           

           

            When last we looked at Nehemiah in Chapter three, he and a host of volunteers were hard at work rebuilding the gates and walls of Jerusalem. We discussed how like Nehemiah, we too, if we are to be successful in rebuilding our lives, must have a team to help us.  There is a biblical mandate for us to have fellowship (communion, which is unity, close relationships, working together) with God and other likeminded believers.

            As we explore Chapter Four and Five our theme will be Roadblocks.  You can be assured that during our rebuilding process we are certain to run into many of them. We will break Chapter four into three main types of Roadblocks: verses 1-6 mockery or ridicule, verses 7-14 threats of attack and verses 15- 23 we will see them by way of by way of discouragement.

            Before we begin in earnest let me be clear ALL Christians have roadblocks, obstacles, trials call them what you may in their lives. James 1:12-13Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” Some of these Roadblocks will come from our own making and some as in our text will come from those who oppose us. It is how we react and handle these obstacles that will dictate where our futures lie.

            I wish to start tonight with the one obstacle that for many of you may be the hardest to overcome. If you have your bibles turn with me to Matthew 10:35-36For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household”.  The Reformation Study Bible comments on this, Although coming to Christ brings peace to the heart (Matt 11:29), embracing the gospel also makes life more difficult in some respects, because Jesus demands allegiance that takes priority over the natural ties of life.”

            Some of you came to the place you are at in life now with no real faith in Christ. Oh you may have gone to church on Sunday but that’s not what I am referring to. I am speaking of a true deep personal relationship with Jesus. It is a relationship that makes Him both Savior and more importantly; LORD of your life.

            When you get out the family you left behind will notice this change and for some they will not know how to handle it. A few will quietly accept it. A few may just ignore you and some will even mock you.  You must be prepared for this, you must remember that they are just as confused and living in the dark (John 3:19) as you once were. Your response must be to pray for them. Never abandon Christ for your earthly family.

            In Job we find; Job 14:1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble”. Job understood the facts. Man can and will apart from constant interaction with God get into trouble. Psalm 73:26 says: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  You too will have set backs simply because you are not perfect. It is alright to make mistakes, to fail at things. The mark of a true Christian is how we handle these roadblocks in our rebuilding process. Do you use these trials as reasons to quit and go back to drinking, drugging or other criminal activities? Or are these opportunities to call upon God; to draw closer to him in joyous fellowship. The choice is yours.

            Ok let’s look at verse 1-6 again. That lowly gofer of Satan Sandballat is at it again. You know the type, a whole lot of mouth especially if he has an audience, which it seems he may have here: 2 “And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing?” I don’t know about you but when I was in the U.S. Army I could talk all kinds of smack. I mean I had the men and the goods to back it up. This guy though does it not for any good or noble reason he does it for evil. He is trying to upset, irritate and provoke Nehemiah and his teammates.

            You know the type the guy (or gal) that knows just the right button of yours to push. The near magic words to make your blood seem to boil. So what do you so? Fly off the handle punch them in the face because the deserve it. That is one option; a wrong course of action certainly and costly too.

            Let us consider who is Sandballat and those like him mocking? Are they really mocking you? In most cases I would say probably not. Look at Isaiah 57:4 with me “Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit?”  Isaiah is describing the futility of Israel’s idolatry by asking them whom is it you think you are mocking? Later Jesus confronts the Pharisees by pointing out a similar issue in Luke 16:13-15 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

            It is not really Nehemiah that Sandballat and his clowns are making fun of it is God. It is not you; most of the people who mock you are making fun of it is our Lord and Savior. That my friend is a good thing for it means they are seeing Christ in you. If they are truly mocking you then the light of Christ is to dim in you today.

            We have Jesus as our example He was mocked, ridiculed scorned call it what you may. We as His followers should expect the same. Especially if it is being done so because of the things we are doing for Christ: Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

imageThere are many running around today claiming to be doing “things” for Christ. I would be very cautious of and weary of any person(s) or organization that does not have the full support and backing of their local church.  Just because someone uses Jesus’s name does not mean they are on Jesus’ team.

            The mocking of God’s people is nothing new. In the Old Testament God in His loving kindness sent messenger after messenger to Judah in an effort to get them to reform : 2 Chronicles 36: 15-16  The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.  Well, no to disagree with the word of God but there was a remedy of sorts if you will, it was called an invasion. God had enough and He allowed the Babylonians to invade Israel and the nation of Israel ceased to exist in approximately 582 BC. Not to regain national status until 1948 AD a period of 2530 years.

            The admonitions continued and we were left with the same warnings in the New Testament:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that yin the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, obedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires

Jude 17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

            So how do we handle these folks those who would mock, ridicule and scoff at us. We already mentioned one way was to haul off and clock them. It is ungodly solution for sure one that would prove their point and show your lack of faith in God.

            First rely on God and His word. The bible says only a fool says there is no God Ps 14:1. Those that mock believers for being believers are denying the existence of God. Do not be mad at them pray for their souls. You were once like them lost without hope.

            Next do as Nehemiah does in verses 4-6:

4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives.

5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

6 So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

What do you do in times of trouble PRAY. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us in Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I am not going to lie and tell you that is an easy task. I will tell you it is a doable task.            

            Remember last week’s theme? That is correct teamwork. Who was the most important teammate we had, God of course? Not only is He numero uno, He is all powerful so let Him handle it. Why get your hands dirty? Look at what Nehemiah prayed. His prayer was not so nice goody covered in love for his enemy’s thing, nope. It was a in your face I am upset and you need to handle this God kind of prayer. He says:

·         Do not cover their guilt

·         Do not blot out their sin

·         They provoked you God

·         So turn back their taunts

·         Give them up to the land for plunder

            In closing I wish to relate one last verse this time from Colossians. Paul is closing his letter to the church at Colossi and imparts these words of wisdom: Colossians 4:5-6 (AMP) 5 Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity. 6 Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].

            If you wish to mitigate or lessen the opportunities for mockery and ridicule there is no better advice to follow than that given by Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Act appropriately in a manner at all times that brings honor and glory to God and the devil and his followers will have few occasions to establish roadblocks in your recovery.

Let’s pray.

In HIS Service

Mike

 

Never try and go it Alone

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And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. 3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. 5 And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. 6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters. 13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate. 14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king's garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of enadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress 25 and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel. 28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.

                                                                             - - - - Nehemiah 3:2-32 (ESV)

 

            Last week we looked at just the first verse of chapter three and its theme of dedicating oneself unto the Lord. This week we can cover the remaining 31 verses again in one major theme. This time the theme is the need to Never try and go it alone.  

 

            “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

― Michael Jordan

 

            While it might seem strange to start a sermon with a quote from Michael Jordon, yet for all his immense talent Mr. Jordon understood the concept that he was not a one man team. During their two 3 year championship runs the Chicago Bulls had Michael, Scotty Pippen and two sets of core individuals (teammates) in which to depend upon.  We too if we are to obtain any amount of success the rebuilding of our lives MUST have a core of individuals (teammates) we can depend upon. We canNever try and go it Alone”.

 

            The biblical importance of partnership, fellowship, unity etc. is repeated throughout the bible. I want to look at a few areas today that touch on this. First is in the design of creation, in the beginning God created a helper for Adam. Second is in the design of our own bodies many parts functioning as a whole. Next is the area of Christian fellowship. Concluding with a look at this is only possible because of God.

 

            First we it is crucial to establish were not designed to function alone. In the beginning God recognized the need for man to have help and so created a help meet (KJV) for Adam (Gen 2:18).

 

            This idea is carried throughout the Old Testament; we can see it in verses such as:

 

Proverbs 18:1 ESV Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Very few people would consider someone who keeps to themselves as selfish but God does. He says it is because they seek their own, not God’s desires. Compare this with Ps 34:5?

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

            My wife’s Harley (I’m the chaufferJ)  is around 900 lbs. Trust me at 172 soaking wet I need help getting that thing up if its ever laid down. Two is a must.

 

            Trust me I have heard it all before. Those who feel put down can come up with some very creative excuses why they can’t get help and got to do things alone.   I have no one. No one cares for me, no one will write me. I have no stamps. Not one of them is valid.

 

            Listen if we spent half as much effort on doing things to rebuild our lives in preparation for getting out as we did to get in jail all them there excuses would just disappear. Take it from me I had no Christian support on the outside. I knew I need a solid Bible church if I was going to stay out. I wrote 12 churches in the community I planned on going to 18 months before my expected release. One, just one church wrote me back. Guess where I went when I got out. Guess which church my wife and I got married in. Guess which church sent us to Mississippi as domestic missionaries. You cannot make it if you make excuses, you can make because you are not alone God is with you. There is no excuse.

 

            Okay now that I have vented let get off my soap box and continue when we look at ourselves do we think of us as individuals or as the biblical model of many parts working in unison? Look at the following verses with me:

 

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 ESV As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,

 

Ephesians 4:16 ESV From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

 

            Do you see it, God has constructed us in such a manner that each part of the body is formed of many parts all working together. The balance God put into effect is amazing On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor… Yes I know technology has made it so some parts are replaceable. But that again is God. Who do you think put the brain cells in these men and women that develop all these things? Some cosmic accidental explosion y’all cannot be that naive.

 

            Today we are taught that it’s all about self, you are beautiful just the way you are and its ok for you to be this or that no matter how you was born. Truth is what you make it because absolute truth cannot be known, and doubting is the mature approach to life. We are fed a bunch of lies when the truth is in front of us. God and God alone is the authority on man, why because He created man. And He created us to function in a manner that was dependent upon God and fellow man.

 

            Are we truly dependent upon our fellow man? I mean, why I need anyone else I am smart I can get along just fine on my own.  If you call yourself a Christian you need to rethink this attitude. Again let us turn to the word of God for some answers:

 

Proverbs 27:17 ESV Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

            Pretty hard to sharpen yourself against your fellow man LONER!

 

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV) Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

            We are commanded to join together in fellowship to worship God. Note this is not some optional club meeting. This is God commanding us to fellowship, keep reading to find out why.

 

1 Peter 4:10 ESV As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

            If you go about serving yourself, well that would just get you a trip to the checkup from the neck up doctorJ.

 

1 John 1:1-4 ESV  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

            I know I have used this before (It is a favorite) but verses 3  & 4 are crucial.  Do you know anyone who does not want JOY in their life? If you want joy you might as well want fullness of JOY right? To get it you MUST (can’t void it, work around it, shy away from it, make excuses to get out of it) have fellowship with God and other Christians

 

“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles; When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs; When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” Corrie Ten Boom

 

            Can you think of any instances of fellowship (teamwork) in the bible? How about:

Noah and his Sons, one man did not build that big ole boat

Mosses and Aaron

Naomi and Ruth

Priscilla and Aquila

Paul and Silas

            Ok who missed it? Of course, Nehemiah today’s text; we won’t read it again but the whole of Chapter three except for verse one describes groups of men (teams) working together to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

 

            In closing tonight I want to try and come full circle as it were. We as believer’s can only enjoy this fellowship with others and God because of God. Like everything else that comes our way it is not by our works but buy His grace. His word tells us:

 

1 Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

John Gill  in his commentary says: unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; to partake of his grace, and to be heirs of glory with him; to enjoy communion with him in private and public exercises of religion, which is an evidence of being in him, and of union to him; for it is not merely into the fellowship of his saints or churches, but into the fellowship of his Son they are said to be called; and such are members of Christ, of his body, of his flesh, and of his bone; and shall never be lost and perish, but shall be confirmed to the end; be preserved in him blameless, and presented to him faultless, and have everlasting life.

 

            Think on that for a moment with me, heirs of Glory with Him. When God adopts you it not like being the proverbial redheaded step child. No we are given the keys to the kingdom. Can you even imagine “enjoy communion with hit [Jesus] in private” please do not take this as being flippant but think of asking Him to sit and just talk about whatever.

 

I love John Wesley quote “I want the whole Christ for my Saviour, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.”  John Wesley was saying he was 100% all in as a Christian there was no walking the fence for him. He wanted all that it had to offer, including the fellowship of the Church.

 

            Whether it is in church, on the job, at home or in a jail cell we are not alone. God word tells us “Never try and go it Alone”.  He expects us to seek fellowship with Him and true fellow believers. This will never be truer than for those who will be rebuilding their lives after a period of incarceration or addiction recovery or restitution rehabilitation whatever the case may be.  Not only is a biblical principle it is a statistical fact that those who get out and find a solid faith based support network, a good church, and a job their recidivism (return to incarceration) rate drops dramatically.

 

            If you are do not know this fellowship with Christ and fellow believers I encourage you to admit you are a sinner, confessing your sins to Christ and accepting Him as Lord of your life.

 

In HIS Service

 

Mike

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Four out of ten “Christians” (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.  © The Barna Group, Ltd, 2009.

             As the above reference shows we in America have lost our understanding of biblical truths. These truths fall under the doctrine of Sanctification, the biblical term for being set apart by God to God for the purpose of growing on Grace. This is also known as maturing in the faith.

            Today I would like to look at what someone else termed the Seven Pillars of Biblical Truth1. I came across these seven truths and their corresponding verses sometime back on the internet and copied them down as a reminder to me. Unfortunately I forgot to copy the source.

            The first is Pillar is in my opinion the most significant as it states:

[1] I copied this title for an unknown source. I found this on the web some time ago and failed to cite the source not thinking I would use it as a sermon. I have made and attempt to keep the original 7 pillars and their corresponding verses intact and easily identifiable. If anyone recognizes the text and can cite where it comes from please inform me.

 1) Our God is True

So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us - - - - Hebrews 6:18

            Our God has to be true not just some of time but all the time. This is so essential for His word also says:

Isaiah 45:6-7 That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

This denial of this basic biblical truth is a leading cause in the failing of evangelical churches in America today. Listen to what Rev. Jim Flowers is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Mobile, AL has to say about God:

God does not have a plan. I have always bristled at the phrase "God has a plan." It is often said with all good intentions to calm one's fears, but for me, it has always been unnerving, an insidious, false sense of security. The thought of God as a dogmatic** cosmic puppeteer, a God of prescriptive design, evokes serious questions as to the problem of evil and violence in the world, the disparity between wealth and power and the lack thereof, the dispossession and suffering of innocent millions. If God has a plan … it ain't working.

God doesn't have a plan. Instead, God is like a jazz musician, as it were, improvising creation into being, making it up as God goes, open to imaginative possibility, playing artfully the music of creation anew.

                        Whom do you wish to follow? A God who is in complete control? A God who numbers the very hairs on your head? Or a God who is at a loss for what is happening today in the world and can only react to the problems and do the best he can.

            Let me tell you folks the choice for me is simple I have no desire or intention of bowing down to someone who has no more power or control over things than me. Our God must be in control which means He must be True.

** Dogmatic is a term defined in secular world as bigoted, suborn, unyielding, intolerant or narrow minded. Yet I would assert the most dogmatic man to ever live was Christ Jesus

2)  Our Conversion must be True

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me      - - - John 14:6

            As I Said above very dogmatic don’t you think? No one, no way except through me?

There is an old saying up in Maine “Ya can’t get there from he-ar” Neither can all these so called modern age evangelicals with their watered down version of the Gospel.

            They are what the bible warns us against:

2 Peter 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

            Take note where the deceivers of the good news will come from. That’s right from within the church. A little knowledge in the hands of the wrong people is a dangerous thing. It will lead to a false Gospel messages being spread.

            My own conversion story covers an 18 year period. In 1980 I went forward to an alter call because a Baptist pastor told me if I came forward and said a special prayer I could avoid hell. Well hell did not sound like any place I wanted to be; so forward I went. Was I converted, saved, No! I had no sense of duty to God. No commitment to change.

That well-intentioned preacher only told part of the story. He played the get out of hell card but failed to mention the Lord of your Life clause. That came 18 years later when I had slumped to the lows of life and God in His mercy and Grace pulled me from the miry muck.

            In Tim Challises’ blog (18 Apr 2015) he quotes John MacArthur who looks at Mark 4 and says:  This is a critical lesson, by the way, to all evangelical manipulators and clever marketers who think they can make people believe. No human being no matter how persuasive, no matter how clever, makes a contribution to regeneration, conversion or justification. All we can do is give the truth. We can’t change hearts and we can’t produce life from dead people. That’s something the Lord alone does. “No man comes to me except the Father draws him.” And once He begins to draw him, then it’s the blade, then it’s the ear, then it’s the full grain. It needs to be drummed into the heads and hearts of all Christians who have been seduced by the contemporary lies, that if we just get better at marketing the gospel, we can be more convincing and we can convince people to be saved. Just tell the truth {and people will be converted}.

            The test for true conversion is simple, Conviction of Sin, if a person sins are they convicted of that sin? Or do they just ignore it and laugh it off like they always have and the rest of the world continues to do? To me that is the easiest way to tell a true conversion.

3) Our Beliefs are based on Truth

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (Jesus speaking)   - - - John 17:8 

Christ Himself testifies that Gad the Father gave Him (God the Son) {Same God Same Person ALL Part of the Trinity} the very words to speak to His followers.

The same is factual for all of scripture it is of and by God. Yes it was penned by men but under direct inspiration of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. Read with me:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Peter 1:20  Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

4)  Our Worship is based in Truth

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth -- John 4:24

Listen it may seem obvious to those with even an inkling of common sense but you just cannot get on the same level plane with God, at least physically speaking. Yet that is exactly what many have tried to do with the worshiping of graven images and beasts of burden and such.  Many forget the preceding verse John 4:23 reads:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

            The hour is now and God is looking for a few Good Folks. But just like the US Marine Corps, our God is a bit picky and is not about to take just anybody. No the bible clearly says HE is seeking those, who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

            No God calls us to worship Him in true spirit, and spiritual truth. They cannot be separated. The rich ruler in Luke 18 or Ananias, with Sapphira in Acts 5 are both certain examples of NOT following this principle.

5)  Our Walk must be in Truth

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;              - - - - PS 15:1-2

            Ok, I get it this one is a tough one because we all know we are but sinners saved by Grace. Yet even though we are destined to sin again we are not compelled to live a life of deceit. Walking blamelessly does not necessarily mean without sin. I am certain I have a few of you confused so let me try and clear things up.

            First look at 1st Peter:

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation    - - - - 1 Peter 2:12

            Now there is no way to do that apart from the power of God working in you.

2 Peter 2:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence                       

He has given you all things that pertain to Holiness, which does not mean we will always use them at the proper moment. Hopefully even after we have sinned the holiness kicks in and we repent, ask forgiveness of those we have offended, make restitution as needed, etc. None of which we would have done apart from Christ. That is what I meant by our walk may have moments of sin but still be in truth.

6)  Our Conversations must be true

            Considering the fall of mankind was predicated upon a lie Gen 3: 4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely dieI for one would think it wise for mankind to abstain from the practice. The bible clearly tells us we should always practice truthfulness in all our speech.

Proverbs 18:20-21 From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another                                                                                 - - - -Eph 4:25

1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

            During my research I came across this illustration and I could not resist using it, I hope you get it:

In the early 1900s George Riddell acquired the sensational London newspaper The News of the World. Meeting British journalist Frederick Greenwood one day, Riddell mentioned that he owned a newspaper, told Greenwood its name, and offered to send him a copy. The next time they met, Riddell asked Greenwood what he thought of The News.

"I looked at it and then I put it in the wastepaper basket," said Greenwood, "and then I thought, 'If I leave it there the cook may read it,' so I burned it." Today in the Word, November 3, 1993.

            Not only does God require of us that our tongue speak no evil but our pen must not write any either.  Ask yourself does what I am about to write Glorify God? If not, it DOES NOT belong on paper.

            But the Bible not only warns against false speaking it warns against those who would suppress truthful speech. This should be very familiar to anyone who has seen the shift in the geo social political climate in America the last 10-20 years.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness   - - - - - Romans 1:18

7)  Our Proclamations must be true

Henry Augustus Rowland, professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded, "What are your qualifications as an expert witness in this case?"

The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, "I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion." Later a friend well acquainted with Rowland's disposition expressed surprise at the professor's uncharacteristic answer. Rowland answered, "Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath." Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.

What too many may seem like arrogant boasting was in fact biblical. Professor Rowland was at the time considered by most the ultimate expert in the field of physics. His answer while brash was truthful. We too must be ready at all times to give an answer in nearly the same manner.

            Let me explain. A somewhat more acceptable answer from the Professor might have been ‘I am considered by my peers and colleagues the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion’. This way the truth is presented without you sounding boastful.

            But the real message in this pillar is not to be humble. It is that all of us, each and every Born Again, Converted, Sanctified believer has a duty to share the Gospel and to do so in a truthful way.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  - - - - 2 Tim 2:15

Less you think you are exempt from this because you are not a preacher, think again. The great commission puts you in the club folks.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

            To whom was Jesus speaking? Many think to the Apostles alone, but this is incorrect. He was in fact speaking to His disciples and if you are a follower of Christ you too are a disciple and this commission is for you.

            Now the Bible is full of cautions and warnings and this is no different. For those of you would be teachers, preachers and the like listen up:

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.  - - - Romans 2:6-8

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.    - - - - Hebrews 13:17

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.    - - -  James 3:1

            It is my prayer that you will be able to use these seven pillars as a guide to help you in your Spiritual growth with Christ. The key to that growth is and always will be biblical truths.

            My closing illustration comes from Our Daily Bread:

The story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. "Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your Life?" inquired an old deacon. "Yes, sir," she replied. "Well, are you still a sinner?" "To tell you the truth, I feel I'm a greater sinner than ever." "Then what real change have you experienced?" "I don't quite know how to explain it," she said, "except I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now that I am saved. I'm a sinner running from sin!" she was received into the fellowship of the church, and she proved by her consistent life that she was truly converted.

            I would encourage you today to make that commitment to God. If the Holy Spirit has pricked your heart with the guilt of your sins, confess them now making Christ Lord of your Life.

In HIS Service

Mike

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First preached at Bayside Baptist Church, Lakeshore MS, 19 April 2015

Time to Stop Think then Do

Part II

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17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”

18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”

20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”- - - - Nehemiah 2:17-20

            As a matter of reviewing what we looked at last time, Nehemiah the main subject of the book has just arrived in Jerusalem after a long journey from the palace of the Persian King.

            Nehemiah arrives and we jokingly said pulled up his recliner and a cold one. Of course the bible just says he was there three days (v11) and really gives no clue as to his actions. We made some assumptions based upon what we learned of him in Chapter one.

            I used these assumptions to develop the Stop, Think then Do title in which we covered the first two portions last time. At that time we learned that whenever we are about to take any action; it is wise to always first Stop and assess the situation become familiar with your surroundings. This may seem silly but I left for basic and advance training in the Army returning some 6 months later I got pulled over. The officer asked the obligatory “do you know why I stopped you? I honestly replied I had no clue. He said I was going the wrong way down a one way street. I finally stooped long enough to look around and sure enough all the cars were going the wrong wayJ. I asked him when they had made this a one way he said about 4 months ago.  Things change take time to think about what you intend to do. Our Final and most important things to consider before taking action was this: If it is not illegal, immoral or unethical you are probably on the right path. I want to stress probably. Finally you need to confirm your walk with Reflection, Meditation and Reevaluation insuring it will accomplish the most important criteria of all, does it Glorify God?  You see you can do things in this world that are NOT illegal, NOT immoral and NOT unethical and DO NOT Glorify GOD. As a brother or Sister in Christ you should have no part in them.

            In our second look at Nehemiah’s initial arrival in Jerusalem we get to the doing part, the action part.  I want to look at three topics here. First is Personal Motivation, Next is Personnel Motivation and finally dangers of being lazy associated with Doing things for God.

            Look at verse 17 Nehemiah urges the men that had inspected the city with him to Do something, Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem. Doing something anything takes motivation. Just try getting your 8 year old to pick up after themselves and you’ll understand what I mean. For Nehemiah this motivation seems to come from a deep sense of anguish he felt for the suffering and despair of his fellow Jews in the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah stays the course. He remains focused on the objective that God has placed upon his heart from the beginning, Again I cannot stress enough that he has gone through the process of reevaluating the objective, being confident nothing has changed. Once assured only then does he proceed to attack the objective to use military terms.

            While that might seem sufficient, for Nehemiah the Holy Spirit saw fit to have added the following text to verse 17: that we may no longer suffer derision.” That changes the reason for the Doing not for Nehemiah but for those hearing his plea.

            Nehemiah is still on a mission from God. He will not be deterred. But the people of Jerusalem have lived in despair and in ruble for some time with seemingly no effort to overcome the situation. They needed some serious motivation if they were going to get with the program. Along comes Nehemiah with a troop from the King and all is supposed to be fix right. Not! These people needed a reason and God provided one. The ESV translates the word derision, the King James, reproach the Hebrew Transliterated Word is Cherpah meaning reproach, scorn.  God gave them a reason He said you’re being made fools of.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16-17. the rulers knew not—The following day, having assembled the elders, Nehemiah produced his commission and exhorted them to assist in the work. The sight of his credentials, and the animating strain of his address and example, so revived their drooping spirits that they resolved immediately to commence the building, which they did,…

            What is it that motivated these men so? Was it as JFB states; the King’s credentials and the animated plea of Nehemiah’s voice? In part I must agree. I can see Nehemiah giving a rousing speech along the lines of Robert Lowery’s[1]To arms! To arms! Ye soldiers song; listen to just a portion:

To arms! To arms! Ye soldiers,
The trumpet call obey!
With Jesus as our Leader,
We’re sure to win the day.

’Tis not to rest, or banquet,
Or proud parade we go;
The fight of faith is fiercer,
Than worldly warriors know
.

            No I would suggest the real reason was pride. We probably all know or have heard some version of Proverb 11:2 ESV When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Normally being prideful in the bible is not looked upon as a good thing. Yet we cannot forget Jeremiah 9:24 ESV but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”  The Apostle Paul even quotes this to the church on Corinth 1 Corinthians 1:31 ESV so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

            Have I lost you yet? Do you get where I am going with this? Who is Nehemiah’s audience? The remnant of Jews left behind in Jerusalem. The elders, the Rabbi’s the leaders of the city, God’s chosen people and He tells them you/we are being mocked, made fools of because of the way we live. Our enemies think our God is nothing, has no power, and cares nothing about us. Join with me and prove them wrong.  This is not personal pride but pride in their God in other words a righteous pride.

            One last idea I wish to make. Nowhere in the bible does it talk about using bribery as a source of motivation. Earlier I made reference to an 8 year old cleaning his room. Some teach today that you should “bribe” a child promise them a treat (like a doggy treat?) if they are obedient and clean pick up after themselves. Really y’all need to show me that one in the book. Just saying!

            The last topic I want to talk about is slothfulness or laziness. Look at verse 19 with me: 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”

            Why are these guys hootin and a hollerin at the Jews? Because they were lazy bums. They liked things the way they were and knew that any change was not going to be in their favor.

            Yet Nehemiah has an answer for them and it was not name calling back at them.  Me I might of called for a cavalry charge, I mean the King sent a mounted troop why not use them? No Nehemiah is level headed and calls upon God again: 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

            Nehemiah calls upon God and takes Sanballat, Tobiah and their cohorts to task. If you won’t get with the program, if you will not be a part of the solution you will have to part of the rewards. 

            God’s word is very straight forward no nonsense about those who are lazy. Here are just a few of my favorite verses:

Proverbs 10:4 ESV A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

            And who does not riches/

Proverbs 13:4 ESV The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied

            It takes diligence, that is steady determination and hard work to obtain those riches

Proverbs 14:23 ESV In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty

            One must work for their gain. Sanballat, Tobiah and their cronies had it easy and they wanted to keep it that way. They wanted nothing to do with real work. So they mocked, and teased the Jews under Nehemiah hoping to make them feel every more inadequate than before. Nehemiah just continued to remind them v.20 “The God of heaven will make us prosper.

             What about you? Who will make you prosper in the rebuilding of your life? The Sanballat’s of this world or the God of all heaven and earth.

In HIS Service

Mike


[1] New­man Hall, in Wel­come Tid­ings, by Ro­bert Low­ry et al. (New York: Biglow & Main, 1877

    Two articles by two very accomplished writers that I think will open your eyes to some hard facts about the state of churches in America today.

When the Good News Isn't Proclaimed Evangelization on the Wane?

By: John Stonestreet| March 10, 2015 8:00 AM[1]

And

Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today

By: Thom Rainer | February 24, 2015[2]

First John StoneStreet

Here’s an uncomfortable question for all of us: When was the last time we shared the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with anyone? The last time we told someone that Jesus died so that God could forgive their sins, and that we must receive that gift in trusting faith?

According to the Barna Group, although 100 percent of “evangelicals” believe they have a personal responsibility to evangelize, a full 31 percent admit to not having done so in the past 12 months.

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, notes that his church—the Southern Baptist Convention—is reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as it did 50 years ago. Rainer calls the trend “disturbing.” And indeed it is. “By almost any metric,” he says, “the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past.”daily_commentary_03_10_15

Southern Baptists say that reported baptisms have fallen in seven of the last nine years. “I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness,” Rainer told Baptist Press. “May God renew all of us, including me, with a greater heart for the lost.”

To find out why this is happening, Rainer conducted an unscientific Twitter poll, with the question, “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?” I’ll give you the top five, and you can come to BreakPoint.org for a link to the rest. It’s painful to read. #1, “Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.” #2, “Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.” #3, “Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.” #4, “We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.” And #5, the churches too often are using ineffective evangelistic strategies. Ouch!

It’s not just Southern Baptists, of course. Barna found that the practice of evangelism is falling among self-identified “born-again” “Baby Boomers” and “Baby Busters.” However, evangelism is actually growing among a group you might not expect—“born again” Millennials. Some 65 percent of Millennials shared the Gospel in 2013, compared to 56 percent in 2010. That’s a good trend!

So what do we do? Well, Ed Stetzer of Lifeway says in Christianity Today that while the message of evangelism should never change, our methods—in response to a changing culture—must change. Stetzer points out that in past decades, radio ministries, bus ministries, and evangelistic crusades reached many—and of course still do. But one thing that’s always been constant, and is more important today than ever, is relational approaches.

As Stetzer says, “I lead a small group in my neighborhood every Sunday night . . . I might not be able to take them to a Billy Graham crusade, but I can invite them to my home because they already know me and trust me.”

Also, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reports very encouraging results using online evangelism. According to CT, “Of the 1.6 million people who told the BGEA they prayed ‘to accept Jesus Christ as [their] Savior’ in 2014, less than 15,000 did so in person, while more than 1.5 million did so with the click of a mouse.”

Of course, evangelism is not the ultimate goal—discipleship is, seeing hearts and minds changed by the increasing realization of the Lordship and sufficiency of Christ which leads to a life of obedience—that’s the summary of the Great Commission. But there’s a first step, isn’t there? So let’s all recommit ourselves to sharing the Gospel with friends and neighbors—in whatever way the Lord leads and however He has equipped us.

Further Reading and Information

When the Good News Isn’t Proclaimed: Evangelization on the Wane?

As John pointed out, our first step is sharing Christ's love and forgiveness, and encouraging others to be His followers. After all, Jesus' command to us is pretty clear, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) And Paul urged us to proclaim the good news of Christ, professing "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believe" (Romans 1:16).

Now Thom Rainer

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?” The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing.

We certainly see the pattern in the early church where “every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In too many of our churches today, the congregations are reaching no one for Christ in the course of an entire year.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

So What Is the Solution?

I received hundreds of responses to this poll. There is obviously widespread concern about the lack of evangelism in our churches and among Christians.

First, let me hear what you think of these responses. Second and more importantly, offer some solutions to the challenges. Make certain those solutions include what you can do as much as what they should do. I look forward to hearing from you.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on 24 Feb 2015 Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

  It is my hope that the readers will print this, email this share this, and forward this do whatever they can to get the word out that the state of the evangelical main stream church in America today is in decline. While praise God pockets of devoted believers proudly waive the banner of Romans 1:16. Sadly far too, too many will need to look it up.

 In HIS Service

 Mike

Hi folks,

I pray this finds everyone in good health and spirits. It has been quite a while since I have sent out a formal update so please excuse the length of this one.

First Naida and I are both healthy and doing quite well. She is still volunteering a few days a week at the Mercy House and loving it more and more. Since my youngest daughter move here last fall with three of the grandkids Naida has even been happier if that is possible. The blessings keep pouring in as my daughter recently got a very good job locally so it looks like she’s here for the long haul (hoorah)

Lakeshore Baptist Church is also doing well. We have unofficially been using the new church building since January even though it remains incomplete. PLEASE keep that a matter of prayer. We need volunteers (used to be our summer calendar was full by now this year one team) especially to help finish the outside. I still serve as project manager for that and the house on Pike Street.

We have been getting many visitors lately and are praying God will put it on their hearts to make LBC their home. I am not sure but I think our membership stands at around 50 with weekly average attendance at about 65. On Easter we had 100+. Again pray the Lord will grow His body of believers here. Bro. Don continues to preach the unfeigned Gospel and I truly believe it is that (not fancy gimmicks) that will draw men unto the Lord.

As for me, much has transpired. Last fall I thought I was in line to become a Chaplain in Training with Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. Then do to a series of circumstances that seemed to fall through. I persisted in my duties as Volunteer Chaplain (I have been for over 1 year the de-facto Chaplain) and three weeks ago received a call from the GNJ&P regional director asking if I still wished to interview for the position. God’s plans are not always on our timing hey. Needless to say I said yes and the interview was conducted two weeks ago Friday. It is a long process with no guarantee of being taken on board but with many supporters (my Pastor, the Warden, Sheriff, fellow volunteers and correctional staff) I have begun the process to fulfill the added requirements.

Today I begin online classes at Belhaven University as a Junior with the goal of BA in Biblical Studies. As some of you know I was working on my master’s thesis. It was from a non-regionally accredited college and not acceptable by GNJ&P. Going back to the classroom after all these years has me both excited and intimidated. Please keep me in prayer on this matter.

Finally I need to mention Faithful Steward Ministries. As you may realize we are no longer publishing the Apologist. This still bothers me but realistically there is just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything on my plate as it is.

I am still posting sermons (rewrites) from the jail and other items on the website www.fsmandfsmwo.org I encourage you to look at it and follow us there or on Facebook at tp://www.facebook.com/pages/Faithful-Steward-Ministries-and-FSM-Womens-Outreach/178166535561150

 The goal is to transition FSM&FSMWO to a Hancock County Jail Ministry web site and FB page and eventually put out some form of quarterly or semi-annual newsletter/publication.

            Well I have rambled on long enough. If you have any questions please email me or feel free to call or text me.

 

In HIS Service

 

Mike P.