Summary: Be zealous for the glory of God. Be passionate in prayer. Be God's answer to the need of the moment.
Ever had this experience? You are excited about being a Christian and living for God, and then something happen and everything changes.
• The warm fuzzy feelings suddenly fizzle. You lost interest in anything spiritual.
That's not bad or wrong. Feelings come and go all the time.
• What's bad is when we let those “cannot be bothered” feelings stay and keep us from doing what is right.
That's called apathy, or being lukewarm. You let it stays too long, you are going to slide backward. We call it backsliding.
• In The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis, the devil was teaching his nephew Wormwood (the apprentice devil) on how to tempt people.
• And he ends, “I, the devil, will always see to it that there is a bad person. Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with the people who DO NOT CARE.”
Jesus warned us about being apathetic. That’s the charge He levelled upon the church of Ephesus in Rev 2:1-6 – they have forsaken their first love.
• This is a challenge when we live in a comfortable environment like ours. We live cluttered lives with many attractions to entice us.
• The sense of our need for God is not always there. Reading His Word daily is a challenge. To pray regularly is difficult.
The key to overcoming apathy is not by trying to crank up some good feelings about God or the church.
• The answer God gave to the church of Ephesus is this: Repent and do the things you did at first (Rev 2:5).
• You need to start doing the things you did at first. Like? Get back to (1) talking to God (praying), (2) get back to listening to what He has said (the Scriptures), (3) do something practical for God.
Nehemiah was born in an era just like us. He had not suffered wars like his forefathers. He was born in exile.
• He lived in a comfortable environment, in the palace of a Persian king.
• He was a cupbearer to the King. He tests the King’s wine at each meal. A man who stands that close to the King must most likely be educated and smart.
Despite all these privileges and comfort of the Persian Court, Nehemiah had not forgotten his identity.
• He has not forgotten God’s agenda for him and his people.
• He was concerned about God’s will. He responded to a need that God has placed before him and got himself into the history book.
• Can one man make a difference? Yes, if God is behind him.
But God always stand behind His plan and purpose. The question is, are we?
• Are we standing behind His plan? Do we really care about God’s will? Are we concerned that God’s will be done?
• My sermon title today is “Does Anybody Really Care?”
• Nehemiah cared and changed history. Let’s learn from him - Nehemiah 1:1-11.
(1) Be ZEALOUS for God’s Glory
1:4 “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
• His first reaction was a sob. He cared enough to weep, and mourn and fast... for days.
• Have you ever had such experience? You are bothered by something, so much that you couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t eat, or you just sit there and cry?
Nehemiah was concerned about the welfare of his people, no doubt about that.
• He was concerned about the state of his home city Jerusalem, we can be sure.
• But more than that, in his prayer we sense something bigger than these. It wasn’t just a social concern, it wasn’t just a physical concern; it was a spiritual concern.
• It was a prayer of contrition, a prayer of confession.
He was saddened by the shame they have brought upon the Name of God.
• He was concerned about God’s glory; he was burdened for God’s glory.
• They were supposed to be a people chosen by God, to be placed in God’s chosen land, as a testimony to the nations, that Jehovah God is one true God.
But they have failed in this miserably. The people sinned against God and turned from Him. God warned them, again and again but they ignored His warnings.
• To cut the long story short, they eventually lost their land and their people were scattered all over as captives.
• They had brought shame to God’s Name. No longer were they pointing people to God.
Nehemiah ends his prayer with this line: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.”