Summary: There are times in our lives when things happen and we instinctively jump to blame God, either because of something He allowed or something He did... but we have to be honest about things and we must know the situation. Our sin is the cause of all our iss
Date Written: January 5, 2013
Date Preached: January 6, 2013
Where Preached: OPBC (AM)
Series Title: Building with God
Sermon Title: Know Your Situation
Sermon Text: Nehemiah 1:1-4 [ESV]
Have you ever had a project SO large that you did not know how to approach it? Have you ever had a problem so big that you did not know how you were going to get thru it?
Many of us know what that feels like… but there is a saying that helps me to keep things in a bit of a perspective when it comes to large issues and difficulties! It is the question, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ and the answer is… SAY IT WITH ME! “ONE BITE AT A TIME!”
People as a church there is a definite ELEPHANT in the room everytime we come together as a body of believers. Every Sunday morning and Wed evening that elephant is here in this room! What is that elephant? It is all those empty seats around you! That is a HUGE elephant and it is an elephant we would RATHER not see anymore!
But how do we get rid of this elepahant in the room? We attack it… we subdue it… we EAT it! But it must be done as the old saying says, “One bite at a time”, so we are not overwhelmed!
But preacher we have tried ‘everything’ and we just can’t grow… I am ready to admit this is our lot and that we are meant to stay this small! This just cannot be done… it is a job we just cannot do!
I believe this is EXACTLY what Nehemiah felt here in chapter 1 of the book of Nehemiah! Today I want us to take a look at Nehemiah and how he led the nation of Israel and how he opened their eyes to the problem… to the ‘elephant’ in the room, but also how they could begin to ‘eat that elephant’ one bite at a time and move forward as a nation!
Today we are struggling in how many come into those doors out there, and I believe we think there is something we can do… or that there is something we are NOT doing to cause us to NOT grow, especially after 7 years after the storm!
Nehemiah had an overwhelming situation come up in his life and today we are going to look at a formula that we ALL can look to… to help us begin to overcome this seemingly overwhelming situation in our church’s life… the fact that we have lost so many members and cannot seem to grow!
Let’s look at the book of Nehemiah chapter 1 this morning… we will be looking at the entire chapter today! Turn with me in your Bibles OR you can read it on the screen… this morning I will be reading from the ESV…
1The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
1. Assessing the Situation – v.1-3
When we look at this situation that was happening we need to understand a little about the history of the situation before we can truly appreciate what was going on as Nehemiah begins to write about what was happening.
This was a time of great difficulty for the nation of Israel. It had been some 1,000 years after the time of Moses and it was still some 400 years before the birth of Jesus.
At this time the nation of Israel, which had split into 2 kingdoms after King Solomon… BOTH nations had been conquered and destroyed. First to go was the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel around 720BC and then the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah around 586BC. During the fall of the Southern kingdom, Jerusalem had been completely wiped out by the Babylonians and the once-glorious temple of Solomon was destroyed.
TO add insult to injury, the Babylonians then deported almost every Jew from the city and the region - and for about 70 years, Jerusalem was a virtual ghost town! It had the potential to end up like many ancient cities completely forgotten except to history.
The Jews who were deported reluctantly began to make homes and a life for themselves in Babylon. They settled down, and many still followed the God of their Fathers, but they did it from Babylon. Many came to the decision that they had no desire to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.