Summary: HOW AM I DOING IN FINISHING WHAT GOD SET FORTH IN MY LIFE?
New Years Resolutions… most common of which usually relate to health, eating and exercise… #1 is dieting.
- Average American gains 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas
o I’ve done my share… in fact, maybe even a little extra so one of you may get a break
- We can all appreciate fresh starts and an overall sense of freshness in our daily lives.
I believe you and I can discover that alongside the often superficial dimensions, which may be naïve and wishful thinking, there is an authentic freshness at hand in the spiritual realm.
- God is the God of time… He is the God who marks out the year… seasons… even days
- And God is ever active… so it’s never ‘just another year’… day…
- Each and every day are filled with new works of God.
o Psalm 23:6—‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.’
o Lamentations 2:22—‘Your mercies are new every morning.’
o Psalm 118:24—‘This is the Day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it.’
How easy it is to forget the significance of the present; in all our planning to lose touch with what we’re making of our lives right now. This came home to me when this past end of the year and New Year week, Leah’s step-grandmother passed away unexpectedly… her family gathered. Then I received a call… my father had a minor heart attack… my whole perspective regarding the value of what I do with my days. Along with all the fears of losing my father, it brought home the significance of my own priorities in life… It helped raise the question:
HOW AM I DOING IN FINISHING WHAT GOD SET FORTH IN MY LIFE?
New Years are one of those blessings of seasons for all of us; a particular season has seen an end and a new one begins. It’s a gracious part of the life God has given to us… an opportunity to open our eyes again…
And towards that end I believe God speaks to us about new beginnings in the life and leadership of Nehemiah.
- I’ve learned a lot from reading and reflecting on the Book of Nehemiah this past year and I believe God has a word for us about new beginnings…
Nehemiah comes on the scene around 445 B.C. The majority of the People of Israel had been exiled from Jerusalem under Assyrian rule, and the city had been destroyed. A remnant that remained had rebuilt the temple earlier but little was known of HOW TO CONTINUE… Nehemiah would bring forth that process of restoration. His name means “Comfort of Jehovah God” and his role of restoration parallels the work of the H.S. in the process of restoring our lives and building the kingdom of God…
The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:1-4)
1. A fresh start begins with a clear and moving recognition that we haven’t finished all that God set forth in our lives and ministry.
This was a state that others were used to, but for Nehemiah, there was a
- Holy Discontent that broke forth in his spirit
- Something set forth by God had been stopped… Details in Ezra 4:12-24
You can hear the deep struggle for power that surrounds this work… The people of God are a threat to the powers that be.
In the same way, our lives are a threat; the work of God which has begun in each of us is a threat and there are powers at work to see that it’s not finished, that it sits idle.
Nehemiah reveals the need for a deep recognition that we’re not done. Perhaps the enemy has stopped a work in our lives and ministry:
- Turning a disappointment into a disengagement
- Turning a problem into passivity
- Allowing our shame to condemn us and bind us rather than convict us forward in repentance.
Nehemiah reveals that breakthroughs, new beginnings, fresh starts begin with a healthy and holy discontent.
- Not the same as regret
o Regret only feeds depression; healthy and holy discontent feeds direction
o One is life reducing, the other life restoring