Summary: Vision sermon on urgency, time is now, motivation for the common ground growth that we argued would be our goal
Text: Nehemiah 2:17-18, Title: New Riverlutions: Finding Motivation, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/16/11, AM
A. Opening illustration: Sense of Urgency video, On October 16, 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicolas Ridley were tied to the stake to be burned for their Protestant teaching and preaching and their treasonous support of a Protestant queen. Latimer turned to his fellow pastor and, as legend has it, he said, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” “The number one reason why change doesn’t happen is the lack of a sense of urgency,” –John Kotter, Leading Change.
B. Background to passage: Neh, being burdened and allowed, surveyed the walls, and rallied the troops
C. Main thought: like Neh we face a moment of decision that will determine much for NRBC
A. A Foundation of History
1. It had been about 500 years since the “golden age” of Israel. David had expanded the kingdom to it’s greatest size, now Solomon had taken the reigns, asking for wisdom, God granting wisdom, power, and riches. Peace came, the land rested from war. The temple was built in all it’s glory, so that the whole world would know how glorious the One True God was. Years of history, independence, witnessing to the miraculous work of Yahweh among them, had given them a deep seated sense of solidarity, and pride in their nation. And even though it had been 140 years since the destruction of the city, that pride was still there, and it was the reason that they would/could weep over Jerusalem.
2. Josh 1:1-9, John 14:12,
3. Illustration: 800-1000 people saved since the beginning, five buildings, 2 burned, 1 tornadoed, 2 still standing, It’s been through the flood, it’s been through the fire,
4. God had great plans for NRBC when it began in the 1870’s! Thousands through the door, 10 of thousands of gospel-laden sermons and teaching, hours of worship, fellowship, discipleship, lasting impacts in Tifton, Baxley, Alaska, WV, KY, TN, worldwide through the CP and LMCO, and in person in Peru! Can you imagine how many prayers have gone up from this place? How many times has God delivered souls and bodies and missionaries interceded for by the WMU based on those prayers! How many seeds have been sown and planted? Godly men (that occasionally disagreed) to lead, and strong women to support, have been the backbone of this congregation. Faithful pastors (at least 46 of them) and deacons have served the body of Christ here. And there will be crowns and rewards heaped upon the faithful who sat where you sit this morning for days, months, and years. Tradition is not all bad, we have tradition, we have legacy, we have a heritage not just in the Lord, but in this church!
B. An Assessment of the Present
1. Nehemiah had just come from his little survey of the city, and his burden is further increased. He had a burden, and now after seeing it, he had a huge burden. And he used this as a motivating factor as he began to rally the troops. He doesn’t spend much time on it, wallow in it, or beat people down with it. But his words are clear. He says that they are in a bad situation, distress, trouble. Then he describes it: Jerusalem is a mess (MSG trans), desolate, ruined, wasted; the gates/walls are burned down. Then he says what everyone else knows, Israel is disgraced because of the condition of their city.
2. 1 John 2:18,
3. Illustration: a Dr shares the bad news first, “Dissatisfaction with the way things are is probably the single most powerful motivator for a commitment to change.”
4. Burden’s developed by seeing clearly and experiencing. Don’t hear “gloom and doom,” nor am I pointing any fingers, but we must wake up, take the scales off, and realize what the stakes are and what the situation is…we must! Reflect with me over the last year and a half at NR: attendance is down in the worship services from the 120’s in early ’09, to about 90. Sun nights and We nights are worse. Here’s part of the reason: 7 funerals, we are losing our precious faithful; 10 falling unable to sickness, 7 that used to be regular and now aren’t, ~10 more that have left for various reasons, 4-5 more who are chronically sick. Financially we cut the budget $30K in Jan of ’10, and another $10 in Dec ’10. The reserve account has been depleted from $52K to $15K. Several ministries and committees have ceased to exist (Wed night dinners, youth, men’s, etc.) Baptisms are down, new members are down. It would be easy to be depressed. And don’t think that it is all bad, several bright spots, (elaborate). But my point is that we cannot sustain this pace.