TURN TO NEH 1 in your King James Bible
INTRO: My Fleeting Opportunity--Stewardship of My Time
Nehemiah and Ezra are amazing books…They are both historical and prophetic. They both have to do with regathering Israel in the promise land…after occupation and dispersal and persecution…
God moves a Gentile king to decree the Jews are to go “home” this happened in 500BC with Cyrus the Persian and again in 1917 with King George (Balfour Declaration)…after this Arab enemies show up…”Palestinians” = Philistines
God has to miraculously deliver them from their enemies while they literally rebuild their destroyed nation
A. Today’s focus, “stewardship of our TIME”
i. Drawing lessons from Nehemiah
READ NEH 1:1-4 (Nehemiah hears the bad news)
Neh 2:1-5 (Nehemiah prays and asks the king)
Neh 2:6-8 Artexerxes grants the request
Neh 3: the men who decide to take their time (opportunity) to build up the city
They could have stayed where they were comfortable—could have lived for self and stayed SAFE
Neh 4:1-3 enemies & mocking
If we take our opportunity—opposition will come
Neh 6:15 The wall is built
16—enemies are cast down
These are men who took their opportunity
They looked at the time God had given them—and used it!
Their names are eternally recorded as a memorial to a group of men who “redeemed the time”
Ephesians 5:15 See therefore how ye walk carefully, not as unwise but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
A. What is stewardship?
i. Most immediately think of tithing/$$
ii. Managing something that belongs to someone else
iii. Last week: saw stewardship is
1. Accepting the truth that everything I am and have comes from God
2. Accepting my duty to manage that for God’s glory
iv. The Christian life is a stewardship
B. Stewardship is about priorities
ii. Checkbook shows our priorities
iii. BUT…Calendar also shows our priorities
i. Because we spend our time on the things we care about
One ingenious teenager who was tired of reading bedtime stories to his little sister decided to record several of her favorite stories on tape. He told her, “Now you can hear your stories anytime you want. Isn’t that great?” She looked at the machine for a moment and then replied, “No. It hasn’t got a lap.”—if he was smart he realized that he was wisely spending his time re-reading the same stories
ii. Our calendars reveal our priorities because time is so VALUABLE
How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade.
What is the value of ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely.
How much do we value ONE WEEK? For the sailors trapped in a submarine on the ocean floor it was the difference between life and death.
How much do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who missed a connecting flight home because the first flight was delayed by an hour.
What is the value of HALF AN HOUR? Ask the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer who missed the wedding because one of them thought the wedding was at 4:30, rather than 4 pm?
How much do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who had a heart attack in a restaurant with a paramedic sitting at the next table.
How much do we value ONE SECOND? Ask an Olympic swimmer, who just missed qualifying by 3 one-thousandths of a second!
iii. Time is valuable—and an opportunity
Ill. All of us will one day have a dash representing our life—what will your dash mean?
iv. Don’t wait until its too late:
A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.” The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”
iv. Tragically, some wait until it’s too late
v. Some miss their opportunity
1. Look at those around you…
2. They didn’t set out to end up..alone, poor, bitter, sad, deflated
3. How? They missed their opportunity
When Leonardo DaVinci was painting his Master Piece, the Last Supper, he selected as the person to sit for the character of Christ a young man, Pietri Bandinelli, who was connected with the Milan Cathedral as chorister. Years passed before the great picture was completed, and when one character only—that of Judas Iscariot—was wanting, the great painter noticed a man in the streets of Rome whom he selected as his model. With shoulders far bent toward the ground, having an expression of cold, hardened, evil, saturnine, the man seemed to afford the opportunities of a model terribly true to the artist’s conception of Judas. When in the studio, the profligate began to look around, as if recalling incidents of years gone by. Finally, he turned and with a look half-sad, yet one which told how hard it was to realize the change which had taken place, he said, “Maestro, I was in this studio twenty-five years ago. I, then, sat for Christ.
vi. Three ways to have your dash mean something
1. Walk With God
We naturally spend time with people we love…
A. Abide in His word
i. CBC 2011 Theme, “holding forth the word of life!”
1. This book is what this church is about
ii. It is precious
1 Samuel 3:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
We don’t need to go to the local seer for God’s word
iii. It is powerful
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
1. Builds faith
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
2. Defeating sin
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid…
But distractions and entertainments abound and take us away from God’s word…
The A.C. Nielson Co., which measures television audiences and their behavior, revealed that in the average American home the television set is on six hours and fourteen minutes per day. This is 2 hours more per day than the daily average in the 1960’s which is approximately the same point in time that the Standard Achievement Test scores began to decline. This time frame is significant because the first generation to cut its teeth on TV began taking SATs in the early 1960’s. Media and Methods reported that while the TV is on in the American home approximately 2,100 hours per year, the average American spends only five hours per year reading books.—Source Unknown
B. Abide in Prayer
Read Neh 4:9
i. Seek God’s direction
1. Nehemiah got the opportunity because he abode in prayer
Nehemiah prayer—he was a man of prayer
Not a time to say, “Lord, remember me?”
ii. Seek God’s protection
1. He took advantage of the opportunity because he abode in prayer
Preacher, I am too busy to really pray…
I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first 3 hours in prayer.—Martin Luther
C. Abide in Church
Nehemiah 7:73, 8:1-8
i. Their Assembly consisted of
1. Biblical worship (7:73)
2. Biblical Preaching (8:8)
a. Take a Bible text and give the sense
b. Cause to understand
3. Biblical Instruction (8:9)
4. Biblical comfort (11-12)
ii. To get the most out of church they were
1. Attentive (8:3)
2. Responsive (8:6)
3. Active (8:13-16)
a. They lived out the messages
“If a man’s business requires so much of his time that he cannot attend the services of his church, then that man has more business than God intended him to have.”—J. C. Penney
It takes 90 gallons of water to baptize a Christian and only 9 drops of rain to keep him at home!
2. Work For God
“A fellow pulling on the oars hasn’t time to rock the boat.”—Unknown
You are building something in your life—what is it? What will it be worth 10 years after you are dead? 100 years?
A. Labor for souls
i. One of the few eternal things we can do
We’ll have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset to win them.”—Robert Moffat
B. Labor for legacy
i. Pour our lives into building other lives
Rewarding today and eternally
ii. Pour our lives into building God’s church
Research demonstrates that if lay people will make a 15 minute visit in the homes of first time visitors within 36 hours of their visit to the church, 85%of them will return the following week. If the lag time is 72 hours the return rate drops to 60%; and after one week it slips to 15%. If the pastor makes the visit instead of lay people, the percentage of return is cut in half. Herb Miller, the specialist who did this research, said, "No other single factor makes a greater difference in improving annual membership additions than an immediate visit to the homes of first-time worshipers."
3. Wait On God
A. Wait on his provision
i. Don’t quit because it looks like it’s not going well
Nehemiah had opposition to building his wall
Some miss their opportunity simple because they lack the faith to WAIT
B. Wait on His Direction
i. Like Nehemiah—do what God called you today (cup bearer)
ii. You will be where you need to be when God is ready to change your orders
C. Wait on His Return
Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
i. The Lord is coming soon
After church, where she had been taught about the rapture, a little girl was quizzing her mother. “Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?”
“Could He come today?”
“In a few minutes?”
“Mommy, would you comb my hair?”
1. What will he find you doing
2. //NOT GAME SHOW// Not what we are doing at that moment
a. Backslidden Christian passing out a tract/ reading Bible
ii. The Lord’s Return strengthens us
The great preacher F.B. Meyer once asked D.L. Moody, “What is the secret of your success?” Moody replied, “For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished.”
iii. The Lord’s Return Focuses us
On May, 19th, 1780, in Hartford, Connecticut. The sky went from blue to gray at noon. Shortly thereafter the sky was so dark that men believed the end of the universe had come and fell to their knees begging for a final blessing. The House of Representatives was meeting, and many representatives asked for the meeting to be adjourned immediately. The Speaker of the House, Colonel Davenport, rose to his feet and silenced the men with these words, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.”
iv. Will he find you serving him or pursuing the world?
A young man, who was to return home and be married, came sooner than was expected. He did not notify his bride-to-be of the exact time. He desired to please her with a surprise. He loved her devotedly and had worked hard and saved his earnings in order to purchase a home for her. It was about midnight when he arrived, but, with a happy heart, he felt he must go by her home. However, when he came near he saw the house was all lighted up. As he came nearer he heard music. Still nearer he saw dancing. Finally looking through the window he saw his bride-to-be in the embrace of another man. His heart sank within him and he went away never to return. If Jesus came today, where would He find His professed bride?
A. This is our wonderful opportunity
B. This is OUR day—seize it!
C. But the opportunity is FLEETING…
On Sunday February 18, 2001, Nascar lost one of its greatest drivers. Dale Earnhardt, also known as “The Intimidator,” was in third place on the last lap of the Daytona 500 when his car was tapped from behind and sent head-on into the wall at 180 mph. In a matter of moments it was evident something was terribly wrong. Dale Earnhardt had died in the crash. On the following Monday an autopsy report revealed he had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Some have suggested that if Earnhardt had been wearing the HANS (Head and Neck Safety Device), he would have survived the crash. Although this device was available, Earnhardt, like many other drivers that day, neglected to use it. His neglect of this safety device may have cost him his life.
God offers salvation to all, yet many neglect to take it.
i. Christians: take the opportunity
ii. Lost: God offers you the greatest opportunity
1. Forgiveness of sin…eternal peace…true purpose in this life