Participants: Pastor John Lomacang
Series Code: TWH
Program Code: TWH000029A
00:30 Nehemiah Chapter 6:15 and 16.
00:35 "So the wall was finished
00:37 on the twenty-fifth day of Elul,
00:40 in fifty-two days.
00:43 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it,
00:46 and all the nations around us saw these things,
00:50 that they were very disheartened in their own eyes,
00:54 for they perceived that this work was done by our God."
01:01 Let's bow our heads.
01:03 Loving Father in heaven, we thank You Lord this morning
01:05 that we can turn to You,
01:09 that we can find that in our journeys of life,
01:13 that You can give us wisdom and direction from above.
01:18 Now speak to us, Lord, through Your word,
01:20 we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
01:25 You may be seated.
01:34 One of our favorite programs that we watch together,
01:37 my wife and I,
01:39 is the house channel,
01:45 homes being rebuilt,
01:48 being refurbished, being restored.
01:53 What's exciting about it is not people moving
01:56 to different countries to buy houses,
01:58 but when you walk up to a dilapidated, broken down,
02:03 seemingly uninterested property,
02:08 and in the matter of one hour, that is the edited program,
02:13 it goes from broken down to completely restored
02:18 and we look at that with an amazement.
02:23 And I thought about it this weekend.
02:25 It came to my mind, and I sat at my desk saying,
02:30 "Lord, what would You have me speak about this week?"
02:36 Well, I know that in the course of 30 years of sermons,
02:42 I decided to go through some of the old,
02:44 old 2000, 1995, 1993, 1992...
02:51 I kept going as far back as I could
02:54 with the digital sermons that I had.
02:57 I didn't go into the shed
02:59 where I have a huge box of sermons
03:00 in manila envelopes.
03:02 But I said "Lord, what would you have me
03:04 talk about this week?"
03:06 And God said,
03:09 "Go to the story of Nehemiah."
03:13 Now last Sabbath, my sermon was entitled "Fake News."
03:18 This Sabbath is entitled "Finish the Wall."
03:23 And I don't want you to think
03:24 that I'm following the Donald Trump trajectory,
03:27 not at all.
03:30 But the Lord gave me a different viewpoint
03:33 as I considered the story of Nehemiah.
03:37 And that is, I state what I'm gonna preach about,
03:39 I stated again, I preach about it,
03:41 and I stated what I spoke about.
03:43 And that is, we will never know
03:45 how amazing a craftsman God is
03:48 until we turn to Him to repair the gaps in our lives.
03:54 We'll never know how much God can do,
03:56 how much God can restore.
03:59 And Nehemiah is one of the most incredible restoration projects
04:02 in scripture which leaves us with the assurance
04:05 that God is the only master builder that we need.
04:15 Because spiritual restoration is heaven's highest priority.
04:21 Not being happy, not being wealthy,
04:24 not having great possessions, but spiritual restoration
04:29 is heaven's highest priority.
04:33 Once we understand the priority of heaven
04:36 and accept that God's highest ideal
04:38 for us is spiritual wellbeing,
04:40 we will worry less and trust God more.
04:44 Can you say amen? Amen.
04:46 Once we understand God's spiritual ideal
04:49 for every one of us,
04:52 there will be less worry and more praise,
04:55 less worry and more trust.
05:00 There's a big however.
05:01 Sometimes God puts
05:04 our spiritual vehicles in reverse,
05:09 so that when we forget our journey with Him,
05:12 He takes us back to the place
05:15 where we first met Him.
05:20 So come with me this morning on a depressing journey.
05:25 Let's go back to a fragmented place.
05:31 It is the place of long faces, sad eyes, and empty stares.
05:37 Long faces, sad eyes, and empty stares.
05:42 They are not depressed because they are sad,
05:44 but they are sad because they are depressed.
05:48 Anyway, you look at the picture.
05:51 Somehow God takes us to that broken down property
05:56 to get usto stand there and say,
05:59 "Is there any possibility of this wall being rebuilt,
06:04 this gate being restored,
06:06 this property ever restoring its value?"
06:12 It is in places like these that, sometimes,
06:14 we wonder why God would preserve
06:16 such a depressing account.
06:19 But I would suggest you this morning
06:22 that God, sometimes, takes us to the most
06:25 menial and discouraging place to remind us
06:31 that there's nothing from which God cannot restore us.
06:37 As a matter of record,
06:39 one of the most asked questions that I have ever heard is,
06:41 "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
06:44 That's the question that continues to repeat
06:46 in the minds of so many.
06:48 "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
06:49 People have said that.
06:51 "Why is it that Christians get sick
06:53 and people that don't serve God stay well?
06:55 Why is it that people that
06:57 don't trust God seem to have so much wealth
06:58 and those who trust God seem to be so poor all the time?
07:02 Why do bad things happen to good people?"
07:05 Atheists and non-Christians alike,
07:09 advance the argument
07:10 that the existence of misery is proof that,
07:13 there could be no such being called God,
07:15 because if God existed,
07:17 why would He leave His people in disrepair?
07:20 Why would God allow us to be broken down?
07:22 Why would God allow us to be without our needs
07:26 as we perceive those needs to be?
07:29 But the truth of the matter is, the existence of misery,
07:33 hear me carefully, proves that God exists.
07:38 Because misery could not be miserable unless
07:40 it is contrasted against the fullness of joy,
07:46 it could not be misery.
07:48 If misery was the proof that God does not exist,
07:51 misery could not be miserable, if that's all there is.
07:55 But there's joy, there's peace, there's deliverance,
08:00 there's happiness, there's contentment.
08:02 Somebody say amen somewhere.
08:04 God is not just a God that looks at our condition,
08:07 leaves us the way He finds us, but God sees us where we are.
08:11 And sometimes, God has to remind us of our before,
08:15 before we can really appreciate our after.
08:20 Sometimes it is only after
08:22 we have endured the imprisonment of winter
08:25 that we appreciate the freedom of summer.
08:30 It is during our worst
08:33 that we are introduced to God's best.
08:37 However, however,
08:40 we don't get to God's best until we survive our worst.
08:47 The Book of Nehemiah is a very interesting book,
08:49 it takes us to a place of dreadful circumstances.
08:53 It walks us through one chapter after another of a scenario
08:57 that seems to be without any resolution.
09:00 But in the absence of human help,
09:03 there is always the presence of divine help.
09:07 Go with me now to Nehemiah Chapter 1,
09:11 and let us walk through this broken down project
09:15 and see how God restores, rebuilds,
09:20 and refurbishes our lives.
09:23 Nehemiah Chapter 1:1 to 3.
09:26 The Bible introduces the scenario of the Jews
09:31 that survived Babylonian captivity.
09:33 They returned home only to be confronted with circumstances
09:36 that proved to be somewhat even as equally discouraging.
09:40 The Bible says, "The words of Nehemiah,
09:44 the son of Hachaliah.
09:46 It came to pass in the month of Chislev,
09:49 in the twentieth year,
09:52 as I was in Shushan the citadel,
09:55 that Hanani one of my brethren came with me from Judah,
10:00 and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped,
10:05 who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
10:11 And they said to me, The survivors who are left,"
10:16 or the remnant who are left, 'from the captivity
10:19 in the province are in great distress and reproach.
10:23 The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down,
10:28 and its gates are burned with fire."
10:32 What a depressing picture
10:33 when you think about the people of God,
10:35 just survived captivity in Babylon.
10:40 If that were not bad enough to be
10:41 under the taskmaster hands of a foreign leader,
10:44 forced to do what they chose not to do
10:47 or did not want to do.
10:49 But finally, some of them survived,
10:50 some of them returned to Jerusalem only to find out
10:54 that the wall has broken down
10:56 and the gates are burned with fire.
10:59 And I want to say this.
11:00 While Nehemiah highlights the misery of the ancient Jews,
11:04 this is also an allegory
11:07 of the challenges of the Christian journey.
11:11 At some point in our journey, each one of us
11:16 experienced walls that are broken down
11:18 and gates that are destroyed.
11:21 There are points in our journey
11:23 where our sense of security is removed.
11:25 However, we never lose
11:28 our value in the sight of God.
11:32 So here they are in a broken city.
11:34 The walls are broken down, the gates are broken down,
11:36 they had just returned from captivity,
11:37 nothing to really call their own, no financial,
11:40 no economic system, no buildings
11:43 to which they can inhabit,
11:44 no homes to which they can move into,
11:46 broken down walls, gates are in disrepair,
11:51 a sad set of circumstances.
11:53 Yet, in the midst of their brokenness,
11:56 yet in the midst of their depression,
11:59 they haven't lost sight of the fact
12:02 that in the sight of God, they are of great value.
12:07 Which I want to say clearly,
12:10 regardless of where we are in our walk as Christians,
12:14 we are still valuable in the sight of God.
12:21 And so the question would be,
12:23 "Why are they there? What do broken walls demand?"
12:26 Go to verse 4 of Nehemiah Chapter 1.
12:30 What do broken walls and burned gates demand?
12:34 And the Bible says, "So it was, when I heard these words,
12:37 that I sat down and I wept, and I mourned for many days,"
12:43 and then he did what every one of us should do.
12:47 "I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven."
12:54 Nehemiah recalls the covenant.
12:57 Nehemiah remembers that God loves His people.
13:01 And so he does what every one of us
13:03 should do at some point in our journey.
13:05 When difficulty comes,
13:06 it is important that we fast and pray.
13:09 That we do what, church?
13:11 Fast and pray.
13:12 Some people fast for 15 minutes,
13:14 that's not fasting.
13:19 As I said to someone, "Fasting means,
13:23 you willingly remove from your life something
13:26 that is of the greatest interest to you."
13:31 As I said to few young ladies that were down in Florida,
13:34 who had come to me and said, "Pastor, what can we do
13:36 to restore our relationship with Jesus?"
13:38 I said, "I tell you what,
13:40 stop listening to that kind of music
13:41 you listen to for the next week."
13:44 And they looked at me and they said, "Nah."
13:48 You see, when you cannot put it down,
13:52 when you cannot let it go,
13:56 you are a slave to it.
14:01 When it is more important than your peace
14:03 and your relationship with God, you are bound by it.
14:08 And so fasting is putting down that very thing,
14:11 as the writer of Hebrews says, "Laying aside every weight
14:14 and the sin that doth so easily beset us."
14:20 Nehemiah remembered and recalled God's covenant.
14:25 He understood the failure of his people.
14:27 But he said in verse 7.
14:29 He said in verse 7.
14:30 And by the way, before you get to the place of restoration,
14:33 you've got to admit
14:36 that you have not been right with God.
14:40 Don't come to God and say, "Lord, if we have sinned,"
14:43 it's like somebody offending you and say,
14:45 "Well, if I have offended you," that's not really an apology.
14:48 If I got you upset, if I stole your...
14:50 If, if is not the prelude to coming
14:56 to a true relationship with God.
14:58 We've got to admit that the problem is never God,
15:01 the problem is always us.
15:04 And Nehemiah lays before God and he says in verse 7.
15:08 "We have acted," how?
15:10 "Very corruptly against You,
15:15 and have not kept the commandments, the statues,
15:18 nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses."
15:24 That's often what happens when we are confronted
15:27 with the direct result of our disobedience.
15:32 When we think that we have known better,
15:34 then all of a sudden,
15:35 we are faced with the broken walls in our lives
15:37 and the damaged gates that seem to be beyond repair.
15:41 We have to come clean with God.
15:42 "Lord, we have not lived
15:44 the way You intended for us to live."
15:46 God accepts the sincere repentance of His people.
15:49 What do you say?
15:51 But don't come to God and say, "Well, if I have,"
15:55 because the reality is, God knows our condition
15:57 even before we confess it.
16:01 But God is also a merciful God, and He says in verse 9.
16:05 "No matter where you are or what you did,"
16:08 remember this, God's reversal is always conditional.
16:13 God's reversal is always, what words that I used?
16:18 Look at verse 9.
16:21 Regardless of what they did, the Lord says,
16:22 "But if you return to Me,
16:24 and keep My commandments and do them,
16:28 though some of you were cast out
16:29 to the farthest parts of the heavens..."
16:33 Look at God's promise.
16:35 "Yet I will gather them from there,
16:38 and bring them to the place which I have chosen
16:43 as a dwelling for My name."
16:47 God said no matter what you did, if you return,
16:50 if you return...
16:51 Do you know that the entire Book of Malachi
16:53 is a book about return?
16:56 We often talk about just tithes,
16:58 "Return unto me, and I'll return unto you."
17:00 You know, bringing all the tithes.
17:02 The entire Book of Malachi... You want a powerful story?
17:05 Malachi 1, 2, 3, and 4, every chapter outlines a way
17:10 that God's people have turned away from Him.
17:14 And when God has pointed out their condition, they said,
17:16 "In what way have we denied You?
17:18 In what way have we forsaken You?
17:21 In what way have we been dishonest?
17:23 In what way have we rob thee?"
17:24 We always just talk about the rob part.
17:28 But the entire Book of Nehemiah,
17:29 the entire Book of Malachi,
17:32 is a book where God continues to point out
17:35 one after the other,
17:36 the condition of His people,
17:37 and He says to them, "Return unto me,"
17:40 and we only spend time on tithe.
17:45 You'll find out that the reason
17:47 why tithe is at the latter part of Malachi,
17:50 is because until your life,
17:53 and your relationship, and your heart,
17:57 and your walk with God is right,
17:59 you'll never see the need
18:01 to give God what rightfully belongs to Him.
18:06 So He puts money last, because the giving of tithe
18:09 and offering is evidence that you recognize
18:12 that everything already belongs to God.
18:16 But where your treasure is, there will your heart also be.
18:23 Nehemiah recognizes
18:24 that the prelude to success in anything
18:27 we do is being servants that honor God.
18:31 But I want to point something out.
18:32 When the story unfolded, you'll notice in verse 1.
18:35 The Bible says, "It came to pass in the month of Kislev."
18:39 Now the reason I bring this out is because oftentimes,
18:42 we don't really know how long a story lasts.
18:45 But this is one of the stories in the Bible
18:47 that takes us down a timeline.
18:50 It starts with the opening narrative,
18:52 "In the month of Kislev."
18:53 That's the way it's pronounced in the Hebrew, Kislev.
18:57 That is the month of November to December,
18:59 when the seasons are beginning to change,
19:01 "In the month of Kislev."
19:04 And then we go further into chapter 2,
19:08 and there's an introduction that comes to us in verse 1,
19:12 "And it came to pass in the month of the Nisan."
19:15 That is March to April.
19:18 You see the seasons are changing.
19:20 And you might even notice that in your life,
19:22 problems tend to go from one season to the other.
19:29 And as the seasons are changing,
19:31 the problem stays the same, or the problem intensify,
19:34 or the battle intensifies.
19:36 From the months of November to December,
19:37 they go through the winter months,
19:39 and they're coming to the,
19:40 to the early part of the introduction of spring,
19:43 March and April,
19:45 and God is still on the move.
19:47 I wanna say this, friends, keep this in mind.
19:49 Even though the seasons will come and go in your trials,
19:53 God always remains the same.
19:58 He doesn't go.
20:00 He's our ever present help in time of need.
20:02 The seasons are changing.
20:03 Look at chapter 2:7.
20:07 So Nehemiah, now in a new season,
20:10 still looking at the condition of his people,
20:12 makes a request to God
20:15 with deep spiritual significance.
20:17 "Furthermore I said to the king,
20:20 If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me
20:25 for the governors of the region beyond the River,
20:28 that they must permit me to pass through
20:32 till I come to Judah."
20:34 When I read that, when I rediscovered the story,
20:37 and I read that verse, I asked myself the question,
20:40 "How did I miss that verse
20:42 and what it actually meant in the past?"
20:44 You see in the past,
20:45 I simply thought it meant letters to go
20:47 from this border to that border.
20:49 In actuality, that's what it actually meant,
20:52 to go from one border to the next,
20:53 and each of the territories were controlled
20:55 by different kings and different rulers.
20:57 And so to get from one place to the next,
20:59 you had to have a letter from the prior king to say,
21:02 "Let Nehemiah pass through."
21:04 When he got through this province,
21:06 that letter was also needed
21:08 to let him pass through this and pass through that.
21:11 He needed a letter to be able to get from where he was,
21:15 all the way to Judah.
21:19 I've said this before, but it fits right here,
21:21 and it fits perfectly right here.
21:24 If we would simply read God's Word,
21:27 we will realize, we've got a,
21:29 we've got a letter that can help us pass through.
21:35 No matter what the journey is, God can take you
21:37 from one territory to the next
21:39 on the way to your final destination.
21:42 God can move all the obstacles because,
21:44 unless Nehemiah had this letter,
21:46 he would not be permitted
21:51 to pass from the inception of his journey
21:54 to the final destination of his journey,
21:56 because all the kings, and all the leaders,
21:59 and all the gatekeepers
22:03 would only recognize the authority of the King.
22:06 Let me just say this in a spiritual parallel.
22:08 "When we get a letter from the King,
22:11 there's nothing the enemy can do to prevent us
22:14 from passing through."
22:18 'Cause God's word
22:20 allows us to pass through the journeys of our lives,
22:24 the difficulties of our lives.
22:27 And God gave Nehemiah a letter from the king.
22:32 In some sense, Nehemiah represented Jesus,
22:37 the one who's on the journey
22:38 for the restoration of his people.
22:41 And when he got that letter, none of the surrounding kings
22:45 could prevent him from his God ordained destination.
22:50 But there's something about our destination.
22:52 You see, when God's people are on the move,
22:54 when we become concerned about our condition,
22:56 when we become concerned about doing better,
23:02 when we come to grips with our condition,
23:04 our spiritual condition, and then we determine
23:06 that we're gonna, we're gonna get up
23:08 and begin a journey to get to God's ideal for us.
23:12 It is only then that Satan becomes infuriated
23:17 when he sees that the people of God
23:20 are no longer content about their condition,
23:22 they want to do something about it.
23:23 Look at verse 10 of Nehemiah Chapter 2.
23:27 Nehemiah Chapter 2.
23:31 And the Bible says,
23:32 "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah
23:35 the Ammonite official heard of it,
23:38 they were deeply," what?
23:41 "They were deeply disturbed that a man had come
23:44 to seek the well-being of the children of Israel."
23:47 That's the mission of Jesus.
23:49 He has come to seek and to save
23:50 that which was lost.
23:51 Can you say amen, somebody?
23:54 But only as you stay awake, can you get that message?
24:00 Only as you are alert.
24:02 This is less about Nehemiah, this is more about us,
24:05 that a Man had come to seek the wellbeing of His children,
24:10 the children of God.
24:13 Praise the Lord for Jesus. Come on, somebody.
24:16 He could have left this tiny little grain of sand,
24:20 He could have sort it out of existence,
24:22 and even control the minds of every un-fallen world,
24:25 they would not even remember this dot.
24:28 "But God so loved the world
24:30 that He gave His only begotten Son."
24:34 But when the devil heard that there were changes
24:36 that began to be made,
24:37 that somebody came to help the people of God
24:40 that were broken down,
24:42 you got to know that you're broken down to appreciate help.
24:46 You got to know that you need the king's letter
24:49 to appreciate what God can do in your life.
24:51 It is only at the...
24:53 It is only at the imbibing of the king's letter,
24:56 taking the letter with us.
24:58 Notice, Nehemiah didn't travel without the letter.
25:00 There are some people that travel without their Bibles.
25:04 And they think the devil is going to
25:07 remove the gate at their word.
25:08 So what happens? They try it.
25:10 They begin their journey,
25:11 and they get no farther than their words
25:13 because the devil says,
25:14 "On whose authority, are you going to pass by?"
25:16 And they say, "On my authority,"
25:18 because they don't have a letter from the king,
25:22 they ain't going to anywhere.
25:24 Let me suggest to you.
25:25 If there's ever a time that we need to be serious
25:27 with the letter of the king, it is today.
25:29 What do you say?
25:31 Get into the letter of the king.
25:32 It is only as we know what's in the king's letter.
25:35 And by the way, this king's letter
25:36 was not just to pass from one place to the next,
25:39 but this king's letter was also to grant
25:44 that Nehemiah had the right to get everything he needed
25:51 to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.
25:54 Everything he needed, finances, building materials,
26:00 whatever the tools were,
26:01 everything he needed was included in that letter.
26:04 In other words,
26:05 when he went from one hardware store to the next,
26:07 just show the letter of credit.
26:09 I wanna to tell you, God's got a great letter of credit.
26:12 Everything he needed was in that letter.
26:17 And because the enemy knew that,
26:19 they were deeply distressed that a man had come
26:21 to seek the wellbeing of the children of God.
26:26 When I think about this, I came up with some things.
26:29 I sat down last night.
26:30 You know, I like to go to bed late on Friday night,
26:33 don't worry about me.
26:34 I won't tell you what time
26:36 because you just might get tired and fall asleep.
26:39 My wife always asked me,
26:40 "What time did you come to bed?"
26:41 "Late," try not to tell her, because she scolds me.
26:45 You know, I got to bed late last night
26:47 but then I'm happy.
26:50 I mean, I'm energized, I'm not tired,
26:51 so don't think about my tiredness
26:53 but I thought about this last night,
26:55 because being aware of our circumstances is one thing.
27:00 But it's not until we realize that we need to change
27:05 that the devil begins to be bothered about it.
27:12 He gets angry when we decide
27:15 to do something about our condition.
27:21 Ellen White says, "Desire as far as it goes is good.
27:27 But if it goes no farther, it accomplishes nothing.
27:29 Many will be lost," she said,
27:32 "Many will be lost
27:34 while desiring to be Christians"
27:37 because they never do it,
27:38 it affects absolutely no change.
27:41 So you might say, "You know, I got to get my life together."
27:43 I need to do this right, I need to have Bible studies,
27:45 I need to be more active in church,
27:47 I need to be a person that shares my faith."
27:49 If that's all you got, then you have got nothing.
27:55 The devil is not concerned about those
27:57 who know they have a need of change,
27:59 but do not do anything
28:01 to decide to effect that change.
28:06 Some people are so content with the dirt in their lives,
28:09 some people are content with the dirt in their lives
28:11 because any attempt to clean it up might give them
28:13 an allergic reaction.
28:21 But I'd rather go
28:23 through the discomfort of progressive change
28:25 than to settle for the contentment
28:27 of permanent failure.
28:30 Think about that for a little bit.
28:32 It's not comfortable to try to change.
28:34 If you've ever been involved in a construction project,
28:36 you know, there's a whole lot of dirt.
28:39 Lot of dust, lot of nails,
28:40 you might hit yourself with a hammer,
28:43 you might step on something that could hurt your knees,
28:45 but you keep on going
28:47 because you know when the project is done,
28:49 you are enamored and elated at the final product.
29:00 So Nehemiah decided to go through
29:01 the discomfort iof progressive change
29:04 than settle for the contentment of permanent failure.
29:06 Chapter 2:11 and 12.
29:08 Notice, notice what he said.
29:12 Notice what he said, but also notice
29:14 what he didn't say.
29:17 Verse 11 and 12, "So I came to Jerusalem
29:20 and was there three days.
29:22 Then I arose in the night,"
29:25 the time to get into with God at night.
29:29 "I and a few men with me," and look at this,
29:32 "I told no one what my God had put in my heart
29:37 to do at Jerusalem,
29:39 nor was there any animal with me,
29:42 except the one on which I rode."
29:45 You know, I thought about that
29:47 and I said, "Lord, what is that saying?
29:50 I told no one what God had put in my heart
29:54 to do at Jerusalem?'
29:55 And the Lord said to me,
29:57 "There are times when it is better
29:59 to keep your journey with God between you and God."
30:13 And as I look further into the commentaries
30:16 and other Bible contributors, they said,
30:18 "One of the reasons why Nehemiah did not
30:20 disclose in his heart what God had put there,
30:23 because Nehemiah did not want sympathy from anybody,
30:26 and Nehemiah didn't want support from anybody.
30:29 Nehemiah only wanted
30:30 the protecting guiding hand of God,"
30:33 because when God guarantees success,
30:37 you don't need anybody to sympathize with you.
30:40 I've seen people go through difficulty,
30:41 and what people don't know is sometimes God takes
30:44 a single individual through difficulty
30:47 to wake them up.
30:49 And we end up sympathizing with them
30:51 almost to make it appear as though God is not fair.
30:56 There are times we should not sympathize
30:58 with people that are, where God knows
31:01 He wants them to be.
31:02 Listen to this quotation
31:04 in the book "Reflecting Christ."
31:06 "Trial is a part of the education
31:08 given in the school of Christ, to purify God's children
31:11 from the dross of earthliness.
31:14 It is because, get this, it is because God is leading
31:17 His children that trying experiences come to them,
31:22 it's because He is leading.
31:24 Trials and obstacles are His chosen method of discipline
31:29 and His appointed conditions of success."
31:33 So when you see somebody being grinded by God,
31:36 get off the way, and pray for them,
31:42 because you could interrupt the very thing that will bring
31:44 that person to a place where they have
31:46 a genuine relationship with God.
31:48 Be careful, pray for them from a distance
31:51 but don't ever sympathize and say,
31:52 just like Job's friends, they got there
31:54 and they began to sympathize
31:56 with what Job was going through,
31:57 not realizing that God permitted it.
32:01 Be careful.
32:03 You better be spiritual to understand
32:04 what's going on that you begin to sympathize with people
32:07 when you don't understand what God is doing
32:08 in his or her life.
32:12 Because the very next verse tells us
32:14 the journey of the Christian.
32:16 Nehemiah 2:13, look at this.
32:21 The destiny that God chooses also includes gates
32:25 that God chooses.
32:27 Nehemiah, he said, "I went out by night
32:30 through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well
32:37 and the Refuse Gate,
32:39 and viewed the walls of Jerusalem
32:41 which were broken down
32:42 and its gates which were burned with fire."
32:45 Jerusalem means peace.
32:46 Follow me carefully.
32:48 On his way to peace, he experienced the stops
32:52 along the way that God appointed.
32:54 God chose the route that correlated best
32:58 with his destination.
32:59 So here's the point.
33:01 If we got to go through the Valley Gate,
33:02 God chose it for our learning.
33:07 It is at the Valley Gate that we experience
33:09 the security of God.
33:10 If we have to go to the Serpents Well,
33:12 God chose it for our strengthening.
33:16 It is at that the Serpents Well
33:17 that we experience the deliverance of God.
33:21 If God chooses that we must pass the Refuse Gate,
33:25 God chose the Refuse Gate for our purification.
33:29 It is at the Refuse Gate that God removes the garbage
33:32 from our lives.
33:34 You got to have a place to dump it,
33:35 the Valley Gate,
33:36 the Serpent Well, the Refuse Gate.
33:38 God chose that route for Nehemiah,
33:41 because in the journey of the Christian,
33:43 we go through the valleys of the shadow of death.
33:45 And don't understand it, that it's God's choosing,
33:47 it is through the valley of the shadows of death
33:50 that we understand that God says, "I am with you."
33:57 And when we know that God is with us,
33:58 we can say, "I fear no evil," amen, somebody?
34:02 But you got to know as a child of God,
34:04 this thing that God is unjust, and then He's just,
34:07 and God is fair, and then He's unfair,
34:08 is the rantings of a person
34:11 who does not have a connection with God.
34:15 But when you know that God is good all the time,
34:17 it's more than a cliche.
34:18 When you know that God is good all the time,
34:20 you will trust the left turns, and the right turns,
34:22 the hills, and the valleys,
34:23 the dark days, and the bright nights.
34:26 You'll trust the cold weather, and the heavy rains
34:29 and you'll even trust the flood.
34:35 If God brings the storm, you'll trust that God
34:38 brought it for a particular reason.
34:41 And I'm not saying that everything that comes our way,
34:43 there's a spiritual lesson to learn,
34:45 but I want to say this.
34:46 If God allows it, goes through it with God
34:51 rather than deny God and abandon the blessing
34:54 that is at the end of that journey.
34:58 Nehemiah had to go through these stations
34:59 to encourage somebody else.
35:01 Verse 17 and 18. Verse 17 and 18.
35:05 When he got these, he said,
35:07 "Then I said to them, You see the distress
35:09 that we are in." Notice, he identified,
35:11 we are all in the same boat together.
35:14 "How Jerusalem lies waste,
35:15 and its gates are burned with fire.
35:17 Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem
35:19 that we may no longer be a reproach.
35:22 And I told them of the hand of my God
35:26 which had been good upon me,
35:27 and also of the king's word," God's word,
35:30 "that he had spoken to me."
35:34 You know, when you tell people good things about God,
35:36 here's what the reaction is going to be.
35:37 So they said, notice, he didn't say it, so they said.
35:41 Since the news is good about God,
35:43 since God is good to you,
35:44 since God's word is good to you,
35:46 since we can trust what God has told you,
35:48 "Let us rise up and build."
35:51 And then the Bible says, "Then they set their hands
35:54 to this good work."
35:55 It is good to work for God.
36:00 All he did was, tell them how good God is.
36:04 Oh, I wish some of us could talk about God's goodness
36:07 more than our trials.
36:10 If we can say to people how good God is,
36:14 then more of them would say,
36:16 "I'm not going to sit here and complain,
36:17 I'm going to rise up and begin to build my life."
36:23 I remember once going through a trial a couple of years,
36:25 well, actually more than...
36:29 Well, more than 11 years ago.
36:31 Its right during camp meeting,
36:33 I was standing up here in thefront.
36:35 Just a few days before camp meeting began that spring,
36:38 about 11 years ago, when I was...
36:39 The Lord allows trials for various reasons.
36:42 And I was standing here, and as I was about
36:45 to begin prayer meeting, I said to the congregation,
36:47 that was there, visitors, and friends alike,
36:49 and members alike, and I said,
36:51 "Do you ever feel like you want to...
36:53 Do you ever feel like
36:54 when you're on your way to church,
36:56 you just wanna drive by and just keep on going?
37:01 And I said to them, "That's how I feel tonight."
37:04 I'm supposed to encourage you
37:06 but I just feel like driving past this church
37:08 and keep on going.
37:13 And they gathered around me and prayed for me
37:16 and encouraged me.
37:18 And here I am 11 years later, because the word,
37:21 the hand of God was good upon me,
37:23 and the king's words were good to me.
37:25 Come on, say amen, somebody.
37:28 But once again,
37:29 whenever we begin to progress in our spiritual life,
37:32 and this is where we have to become smart.
37:34 And I want to appeal very carefully.
37:36 This is where we've got to be smart.
37:38 If you've been a Christian
37:39 longer than two years, you know that the devil
37:42 does not like anything in your life
37:44 that resembles God.
37:47 Come on let's get spiritually sensible here.
37:50 You know, when you're about to read your Bible,
37:52 what happens? The phone rings.
37:54 So don't answer it.
37:56 Who told you, you have to answer the phone?
38:00 When my wife and I enter into prayer,
38:02 the phone rings.
38:03 Just the other morning, we're praying together,
38:07 we have an answering machine.
38:09 So the answering machine comes on,
38:11 that's the longest message I've ever heard anybody leave.
38:16 It's like the devil is talking loud,
38:17 trying to block out our prayer.
38:19 And the lady is talking...
38:20 When you are done,
38:22 call this number 1900, 1800, whatever.
38:25 I mean, long...
38:26 And I'm thinking,
38:27 "Don't our message ends at 30 seconds?
38:30 It seems like she was talking for two minutes."
38:32 And it was long in the midst of our prayer.
38:35 And you know when the phone rings,
38:36 you want to get up and answer it.
38:40 I said, "Honey, no, leave it."
38:44 When you know the tactics of the enemy,
38:46 you got to be more determined to stay connected to God
38:49 than to be distracted by the moment.
38:53 Because here is what the enemy does,
38:55 he gets a coalition together.
38:57 Verse 19.
38:58 He got a coalition together, because he saw
39:01 that finally they set their hands to do a good work.
39:04 "But when Sanballat the Horonite,
39:07 Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Gesham,"
39:10 they added somebody, "the Arab heard of it,
39:12 they laughed at us and despised us, and said,
39:15 What is this thing that you are doing?
39:18 Will you rebel against the king?"
39:20 They tried to turn the Jews against the king's command.
39:25 When in fact, the king was in harmony.
39:28 They had received a letter from the king to do this,
39:31 but because the letter didn't go to them,
39:33 they thought that the Jews and the king
39:35 that sent Nehemiah were in conflict,
39:38 but that was not the case,
39:40 that was not the case, that was not the case.
39:47 Strangely enough, Bob, "How it is that people
39:50 that are often enemies of each other
39:53 become friends of each other,
39:56 when you become their common enemy?"
39:59 Look at chapter 4:1.
40:02 I don't have a lot of time left.
40:04 I'm looking at my little timer here.
40:09 They began to work with all diligence.
40:15 They began to work with all diligence.
40:17 And Nehemiah said to them, "God will prosper us."
40:21 But what happened in verse one of chapter four?
40:23 "But it so happened, when Sanballat heard
40:27 that we were rebuilding the wall,
40:31 that he was furious and very indignant,
40:35 and mocked the Jews."
40:37 They did everything they could to discourage
40:39 those whose lives were coming back together.
40:42 Let me make a very important point of application.
40:45 When God is pulling your life together,
40:47 don't be concerned about
40:49 what people are saying about you.
40:55 Because I've learned, if you listen to all
40:56 the discouraging things, you could sometimes
40:58 begin to doubt that God is even in charge.
41:03 Don't listen to words of discouragement.
41:05 When God is pulling your life back together,
41:10 the devil, all of a sudden starts
41:12 to sort through your file cabinet
41:14 and pulls out every discouraging thing
41:16 that he knows is true about you
41:18 and begins to remind you of it,
41:20 so that you can be discouraged.
41:21 He said, "They were very furious
41:23 and very indignant and they begin
41:24 to mock the Jews, mocking them."
41:28 You can't build a wall.
41:30 Look at you, you're weak,
41:32 and they began to get discouraged.
41:35 No, they didn't.
41:40 Verse 6.
41:43 And I introduce this point by saying,
41:45 "When the battle gets tough, the tough get tougher."
41:49 By the strength of God we can be tougher in Jesus.
41:51 Come on say amen somebody.
41:53 "When the battle gets tough, the tough get tougher,
41:55 in Jesus."
41:57 Be strong in the Lord.
41:58 The Bible says in verse 6.
41:59 "So we built the wall,
42:01 and the entire wall was joined together
42:03 up to half its height," and why?
42:07 Look at why.
42:08 "For the people together, had a mind to work."
42:12 My question is, what's happening in your mind?
42:16 What's happening in your mind during the week?
42:18 What is your mind bombarded by?
42:20 What is your mind distracted by?
42:22 What is your mind attracted by?
42:24 What is your mind being filled by?
42:26 What is your mind being called by?
42:27 What's happening in your mind?
42:29 The condition of the spiritual mind of the Christian
42:32 is the indicator as to whether or not
42:34 the work is going to go on in their lives
42:36 or whether or not the work is going to cease.
42:38 They had a mind to work.
42:39 They did not allow the enemy to distract them.
42:41 They did not allow all the rantings and ravings
42:44 and the mockings to make any indent in their lives.
42:46 They had a mind to work.
42:48 You cannot have a mind to work unless your mind
42:51 is daily molded by the letter of the King.
43:06 And so the enemy took it to the next level.
43:09 Let me say this.
43:11 As long as we are in this world,
43:13 we're going to have tribulation.
43:14 Do you know that to be true?
43:16 As long as we are in this Christian journey,
43:18 somewhere along the way, we're going to have our serpents
43:20 and our scorpions, our enemies, our pursuers, our naysayers,
43:24 our haters, they're all going to be there.
43:27 But what do you do
43:28 when you know the battle is intensifying?
43:29 Look at what they did in verse 17.
43:31 Look at what they did in verse 17.
43:33 Oh, they increased the intimacy
43:35 of their work with Christ.
43:37 It says, "Those who build on the wall,
43:40 and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves
43:45 so that with one hand they worked at construction,
43:49 and with the other they held a weapon."
43:52 Come on, what's the weapon? Somebody tell me.
43:54 The Word of God.
43:55 You got to work on one side
43:57 but never lose your connection with God's Word.
43:59 Can we get an amen here?
44:01 Don't stop working,
44:03 but don't stop ingesting God's Word.
44:05 They had their hands on the weapon.
44:09 Working over here, weapon over here.
44:12 Anybody that knows about effective work,
44:13 you cannot work for God and be in the battle
44:16 without the sword of the spirit,
44:18 which is the most powerful weapon
44:20 in the entire armor.
44:22 Everything else is defensive, but the Word of God
44:24 is the offensive weapon.
44:25 You can have the most beautiful uniform,
44:26 but if you have no connection with God's Word,
44:28 you have no weapon to defend yourself
44:31 against the attacks of the enemy.
44:34 But they did something else.
44:35 Look at verse 20. Look at verse 20.
44:39 When the battle intensified,
44:40 they realized they were not alone.
44:42 They said "Whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
44:43 rally to us there.
44:45 Our God will" do what?
44:48 "Our God will fight for us."
44:50 I want you to know that
44:52 the trials of life are difficult,
44:53 but the God that we serve is even more powerful
44:55 than the trials that we face.
44:58 The things that...
45:00 The things that scrape you, the things that irritate you,
45:03 the things that frustrate you,
45:07 our God is better than all of those things combined.
45:13 And so very quickly they invited
45:14 Nehemiah to the valley of, to the plain of Ono.
45:18 Let's talk Neo.
45:19 Let's go to the plain of Ono.
45:21 Nehemiah said, "Oh, no."
45:24 They invited Nehemiah to come down.
45:26 Nehemiah said, "I cannot come down."
45:32 But now let's get to the end of the sermon.
45:34 It's powerful.
45:36 I've been waiting to get there. And you know what?
45:38 I got, I got 19 minutes left.
45:44 Your watch has broken, this is correct.
45:48 Louis and I know this is correct.
45:54 They kept on working.
45:55 They kept on working
45:57 and we go back to the scripture reading.
45:59 Nehemiah 6.
46:00 So you've got to go home
46:02 and read all the other stuff for yourself.
46:04 But here's the most potent part of the story,
46:06 which after having read this for all these years,
46:09 I never saw it.
46:10 Shelley, that's what God does.
46:11 He shows you something that you never saw
46:13 and it's right there like a big bright light.
46:18 Verse 15 of Nehemiah 6.
46:19 So the wall was finished.
46:22 On the 25th day of Elul in 52 days.
46:28 "And it happened,
46:30 when all our enemies heard of it,
46:32 and all the nations around us saw these things,
46:37 that they were very disheartened" who cares?
46:41 "In their own eyes, for they perceived
46:44 that this work" say with me together,
46:47 "was done by our God."
46:52 Now I know you're focusing on the work
46:53 being done by our God,
46:55 but I'm going to take you to a singular word
46:56 that I never...
46:58 Last night my wife brought me a sandwich when I was...
47:02 I said, honey, I'm eating, I got an appetite.
47:04 I hope I'm gaining weight.
47:06 I'm trying my best.
47:08 But she brought me a wonderful sandwich,
47:11 some nice ginger, mint tea, some chips,
47:15 and it was smelling so good
47:17 and she said "Eat it while it's hot."
47:19 She put it right there by my computer.
47:23 And I said "Honey, look at that."
47:25 She said what? I said that word Elul.
47:32 The 25th day of Elul, what does Elul mean?
47:36 And I took out my Hebrew
47:38 and I began to go and I got excited
47:40 when I realized that in the 25th day of Elul
47:45 was when the work was finished.
47:47 You know, Elul in the Hebrew means,
47:49 a time of repentance.
47:52 And Elul is the month that had 29 days.
47:55 When they entered the month of Elul,
47:58 they had 29 days to repent
48:01 before they got to the month of SLI-khus,
48:05 which was the month of forgiveness
48:08 and preparation and oneness with God.
48:10 So God did not deliver them
48:13 when they began to repent.
48:18 God delivered them 24 days into their repentance.
48:25 The month of Elul required that they search their hearts.
48:29 And the Hebrew says,
48:30 "As the month of Elul drew to a close,
48:34 the mood of repentance became more urgent."
48:38 In other words they saw, this month,
48:40 as they are working,
48:42 they are, daily 45 minutes a day,
48:46 they stand searching their hearts.
48:48 How much time do you spend searching your heart?
48:51 And it was the condition for the success,
48:53 had they not search their heart,
48:55 God did not finish the work because He just loved them,
49:00 He finished the work
49:01 because they worked on being right with God.
49:06 And when they got right with God,
49:07 God knew that they were serious about
49:09 the walls being repaired,
49:11 so the Lord closed up the walls and restored the gates
49:14 because they repented of the things
49:17 that they had done before and 24 days into it.
49:23 God saw their sincerity
49:26 and God said, "great."
49:30 I tell you something.
49:32 If you spend 24 days searching your heart...
49:35 If you spend 24 days saying
49:38 "Father," what is there in my life
49:41 that needs to be gone?
49:43 What is there in my attitude that needs to be different?
49:46 Not only did they search their hearts for repentance
49:52 or the repentance became
49:53 deeper and more intimate.
49:56 But it was also from the month of repentance,
49:59 the very next month was the month of forgiveness.
50:03 So when they repented, the very next month required
50:05 that they forgave one another.
50:09 The month of SLI-khus.
50:12 And what they did in the month of SLI-khus is...
50:13 This is where I want to end on the sermon.
50:15 Whoever is going to play the piano,
50:16 just come and play softly.
50:20 And I'll tell you when to start,
50:22 but just be there.
50:25 After they finished the month of repentance
50:27 and they came to the month of SLI-khus,
50:29 which was another month of 30 days.
50:35 For 45 minutes a day...
50:36 I want you to hear this.
50:38 This blew my mind last night.
50:39 For 45 minutes a day,
50:42 they read Exodus Chapter 34: 6 and 7.
50:47 We're going to end on that note.
50:49 I'll tell you when.
50:53 They read Exodus Chapter 34: 6 and 7
50:57 and they repeated it for 45 minutes a day
51:01 for the entire month.
51:06 And I couldn't understand why they would do that.
51:08 So I once again went to the Hebrew.
51:13 And in the Hebrew the word
51:15 and I'm going to repeat it now.
51:17 "And the Lord God passed before him and proclaimed."
51:22 Exodus 34:6 and 7.
51:24 "And the Lord God passed before him and proclaimed,
51:27 the Lord, the Lord God."
51:30 Now let's pause.
51:31 "The Lord, the Lord God."
51:35 See before you guys even thought about saying amen,
51:38 we said, "Amen," last night.
51:40 "The Lord, the Lord God"
51:42 and I looked up the word in Hebrew,
51:43 Hashem, Hashem, which meant the Lord,
51:49 the Lord God merciful.
51:50 In the Hebrew it meant "That God is merciful to us
51:56 before we sin, Hashem."
51:59 And God is merciful to us after we repent, Hashem."
52:04 Amen, somebody?
52:05 So when they said,
52:07 "The Lord, the Lord God, Hashem,
52:09 the Lord Hashem, merciful and gracious."
52:13 They said, "The 13 attributes of God
52:15 are found in Exodus 34:6 and 7."
52:18 The 13 attributes of God.
52:20 God is perfectly merciful.
52:22 God is perfectly gracious.
52:23 God is perfectly longsuffering
52:25 and abundant in goodness and truth.
52:26 God keeps His mercy for thousands,
52:28 forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
52:30 by no means clearing the guilty.
52:32 But God is merciful before we sin
52:34 and God is merciful after we sin.
52:39 So they didn't come to build walls,
52:40 they came to build their relationship
52:43 back with God.
52:44 It's when their relationship with God was rebuilt,
52:47 that God finished the wall.
52:52 So brothers and sisters, we want the work
52:54 to be completed and Jesus to come,
52:55 what do you say?
52:57 If we get our lives right
53:00 by searching our hearts before God,
53:02 the God who is merciful before we sin,
53:05 the God who is merciful after we sin,
53:09 the work could be finished and God will close up
53:12 the gaps in our lives,
53:14 He would rebuild our walls,
53:16 close up and restore our gates.
53:22 So come with me to a joyful journey.
53:27 Let us go back to a whole place.
53:31 It is not a place who have sad faces
53:33 but smiling faces, joyful eyes and fulfilling steers.
53:38 They are not joyful because they are at peace,
53:42 they are at peace because they are joyful.
53:47 Finish the walls of my life, Lord Jesus.
53:50 Finish the walls in my life, Lord Jesus.
53:55 Not about building walls is about finishing walls, Jim.
53:58 When we come clean with God, He steps in
54:02 and finishes the walls in our lives,
54:05 and the church said.
54:08 Anybody has any walls today, they want God to rebuild?
54:13 Got any gaps in your life that needs to be closed up?
54:17 There is the prescription right there.
54:19 When you ask God to show you what needs to be closed up
54:25 and repented up and cleaned up and made right in His presence.
54:33 He will reveal to us His mercy
54:36 and show us His grace
54:41 and in the face of the enemy
54:43 who will be completely angry and frustrated.
54:47 God will finish our work, close up our walls,
54:54 restore our gates,
54:55 and we will be in the presence of God,
54:58 a wonder and a blessing to everyone
55:03 with whom we come in contact.
55:05 Is that your desire?