Summary: KINGDOM BUILDING ONLY BEGINS WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE BROKEN FOR THE KINGDOM
KINGDOM BUILDING 101: A BROKEN HEART
NEHEMIAH 1: 1 – 11
JANUARY 11, 2004
INTRODUCTION: TATER PEOPLE: Some people never seem motivated to participate, but are just content to watch while others do the work.
They are called "Spec Taters". Some people never do anything to help, but are gifted at finding fault with the way others do the work. They are called "Comment Taters". Some people are very bossy and like to tell others what to do, but don’t want to soil their own hands. They are called "Dick Taters". Some people are always looking to cause problems by asking others to agree with them. It is too hot or too cold, too sour or too sweet. They are called "Agie Taters". There are those who say they will help, but somehow just never get around to actually doing the promised help. They are called "Hezzie Taters". Some people can put up a front and pretend to be someone they are not. They are called "Emma Taters". Then there are those who love others and do what they say they will. They are always prepared to stop whatever they are doing and lend a helping hand. They bring real sunshine into the lives of others. They are called "Sweet Taters".
TRANSITION THOUGHT: How do we build the Kingdom of our God? How do we participate in seeing His Kingdom come here on earth as it is in Heaven? Do we have a responsibility to work for the Kingdom or can we just sit back and watch it happen? This is a true theological question that we will look at for the next four weeks and today we start with a biblical perspective as found in the text Tony read for us. Nehemiah will be our example of how we can begin to participate in the Kingdom. He teaches us…
THESIS SENTENCE: KINGDOM BUILDING ONLY BEGINS WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE BROKEN FOR THE KINGDOM.
I. A BROKEN HEART BEGINS WITH OPEN EYES VV. 1 -- 4
A. OPEN EYES HAVE A CONCERN FOR OTHERS
1. The book of Nehemiah opens with some brief but important information. Nehemiah is living in a fortified City and is greeted by some close associates.
2. What follows reveals the heart of Nehemiah.
3. “I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.” Was this just petty conversation? Was this just chit chat to pass the time? Or was this a legitimate concern for his people?
B. OPEN EYES HEAR AND RECEIVE THE TRUTH
1. “Then 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.”
2. Nehemiah had asked, and now he hears. This is not one of those situations in life where you ask, “How are you?” and just expect to hear fine. If it was for Nehemiah, he did not hear “FINE!”
C. OPEN EYES MOURN
1. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed…”
2. Nehemiah had a concern for others. He heard and received the truth that things are bad. And now he responds in a personal way!
3. He sat down. Have you ever had some one tell you, “You better sit down for this”? This was the case in this situation, but it happened after the fact.
4. He wept. Have you come to the place that the information before you was so disturbing you wept? Nehemiah reveals his heart to us for his people and for his nation.
5. “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed…”
6. When we mourn, we know our hearts are broken!
7. When we fast and pray, we know we have become deeply involved and concerned.
ILLUSTRATION: DEAD OR ALIVE?
When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Gaboury’s neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. Gaboury’s next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Gaboury’s lawn. Later Dugan’s son noticed Gaboury’s pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water. What no one guessed was that while they’d been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago. The respectable, external appearance of Gaboury’s house had hidden the reality of what was on the inside. Something similar can happen to people: We may appear outwardly proper while spiritually dead. All sorts of religious activity may be happening outside, while the real problem is missed: spiritual death on the inside.