Griffith Baptist Church – 11/16/08
Text: Nehemiah 9:1-3
Key verse: Nehemiah 9 – All Verses
Premise: Revival comes from the heart first, so the heart needs constant vigilance to keep it close to God.
A young girl became a Christian in an exciting revival at her church and was baptized the closing Sunday morning. That afternoon she ran through the house singing and dancing. Her sour grandfather rebuked her with these words, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You just joined the church and you’re singing and dancing on the Lord’s Day!” Crushed by her grandfather’s attitude, the little girl went out to the barn, climbed up on the corral fence, and observed an old mule standing there with a sad, droopy face and bleary eyes. As she reached over and patted the mule sympathetically, she said, “Don’t cry, ole mule. I guess you’ve got the same kind of religion that Grandpa has!”
Here we have a massive revival taking place among the people of God.
o We need revival today.
o But the revival we need first in the heart of each individual.
o The heart is a delicate and vulnerable spiritual instrument
o Handled or influenced improperly, can do much damage to the Christian life
That is why we are give armor to protect it (Eph. 6)
It is what drives our emotions and motivations
It is the very thing that needs to change to trust Christ for Salvation – Romans 10:9-10 - 9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
What happened here in Nehemiah 9:1-3 needs to happen to the church today.
1. Preparation For Revival – 9:1
A. What happens prior to a revival of the heart?
B. They Fasted
i. Abstinence from food and/or drink as an element of private or public religious devotion. Here it is used in conjunction with repentance.
a. This is a sacrifice of convenience and comfort
b. Today, we may even fast something other than food
c. The whole idea is sacrificing to seek the face of God. God knows we are serious when we give up something of value in exchange for His response of blessing.
ii. We have plenty of feasting in our churches today but seldom any fasting. Most people today are not about to curb their fleshly appetites in anything in order to be able to do the work of God better. Feasting is not wrong in itself – God ordained a number of religious feasts for the Jews, but all feasting and no fasting reveals spiritual problems just as all playing (which is about all that some church camps are) and no praying and preaching says we need revival. We are so interested in feasting today that in some churches you cannot even conduct a Sunday School class without coffee and donuts. Such accompaniments to a Sunday School class will not contribute to a disciplined study of God’s Word . . . (John Butler, Nehemiah, The Wall Builder, pp. 227-228)
C. They Humbled themselves (with sackcloth’s, and earth upon them.)
i. This is what the sackcloth and ashes were for, the evidence of repentance.
ii. They had been arrogant in the past and have realized their sin against God
a. If we do not learn humility, we will learn humiliation
b. Revival cannot happen without humility
iii. Much of what goes on in today’s churches are driven by pride.
a. This is why so many get offended so easily; they serve from pride, not from a humble spirit.
b. 2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
iv. Is this why, today:
a. Altars are empty?
b. Hearts are cold to conviction?
c. Christians are harsh and uncaring toward one another?
d. So many have a “it’s my way or the highway” attitude?
e. Souls are not being saved and added to the church?
f. There is no power and passion in and for God’s work?
2. Conduct of Revival – 9:2
A. What is evidence of a heart that is experiencing revival?
B. Separation (separated themselves from all strangers)
i. They separated themselves from those that did not worship God.
ii. Ephesians 5:11 - And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
iii. The need for revival always comes when the world and the flesh get into us to much.
a. It affects our service
b. It affects our motivation
c. It affects our feelings towards others
iv. When our affections lean more toward the world instead of God, it is time for revival.
C. Confession (stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.)
i. The people felt the weight of their sin and poured their hearts out to God
ii. There is a release in the confession of sin - Prussian king Frederick the Great was once touring a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence—except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called to him, “Why are you here?”
“Armed robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply.
“And are you guilty?”
“Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment.”
Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, “Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it.” Today in the Word, December 4, 1992
iii. Principles of confession:
a. In order for confession to be right it must be sincere.
b. Confession involves repentance, or else it is just empty words
c. God is always more anxious to forgive than we are to be forgiven.
3. Result of Revival – 9:3
A. What is the product of a heart revived?
B. Reading of God’s Word (they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God)
i. Zeal – What else would account for standing for hours to hear God’s Word?
ii. The Word of God reveals sin
a. It is the mirror of our lives
b. A man was sitting at a stop light. The lady in front of him was going through papers on the seat of her car, and when the light changed to green she did not obey its command - a green light is a commandment - NOT a suggestion. When the light turned to red, and she had still not moved, He began (with his windows up) screaming and beating on his steering wheel. His expressions of distress were interrupted by a policeman, gun drawn, tapping on his window. Against his protestations of, "You can’t arrest me for hollering in my car," the officer ordered him into the back seat of his patrol car. After about two hours in a holding cell, the arresting officer advised him he was free to go. He said, "I knew you couldn’t arrest me for what I was yelling in my own car. You haven’t heard the last of this." The officer replied, "I didn’t arrest you for shouting in your car. I was directly behind you at the light. I saw you screaming and beating your steering wheel, and I said to myself, "What a jerk. But there is nothing I can do to him for throwing a fit in his own car. Then I noticed the ’Cross’ hanging from your rear view mirror, the Jesus is Coming Soon’ bumper sticker, and the Fish symbol, and I thought you must have stolen the car." (He could have used the mirror of God’s Word)
c. James 1:22-24 - 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
C. Worship (worshipped the LORD their God.)
i. A heart full of God cannot help but worship
ii. A PARAMEDIC was asked on a local Dallas TV talk-show program: “What was your most unusual and challenging 911 call?” “Recently,” paramedic began, we got a call from that big white CHURCH on 11th and Walnut. A frantic usher was very concerned that during their WORSHIP service an elderly man PASSED out in a pew and appeared to be dead. The usher could find no PULSE and there was no noticeable BREATHING.” “What was so unusual and demanding about this particular call?” the interviewer asked. “Well,” the paramedic said, “we carried out four guys before we found the one who was dead.”
iii. Worship is not deadness, it is a living and vibrant expression of our love for God and reverence for Him.
iv. Some thoughts concerning worship:
a. Do not come to church to be prepared for worship; already be prepared for worship when you come to church.
• It is not the job of church to get you motivated and excited about worshipping
• If you don’t come already prepared to worship, then you will not be moved to worship when you are here.
• Don’t confuse emotional worship with real worship
• Real worship involves two things: spirit and truth
Spirit – regenerated; spirit-filled.
Truth – based on God’s Word; honesty and sincerity (not a put-on show)
b. Worshipping God is more than an activity, it is a lifestyle
c. Worship keeps us focused on God and His will above our own.
The life of a church and individuals is in constant danger of becoming dull and unresponsive.
The problem is, with most Christians, they are so settled in their Christian life that they mistake deadness for conviction.
Is there unconfessed sin in your life?
Have you humbled yourself lately before God and asked Him to search you and try you?
Do you live and yearn for God and His Word?
Does your desire to come to church pull you to it or do you find yourself pulling away from it?
What does your worship consist of and is it real?