Summary: This book overview sermon is part of a series that was developed to help inspire our church to keep God at the center of our church/individual lives. Nehemiah highlights prayer, scripture, leadership and community--all under the influence and power of te
OUR LIVES ARE BETTER WHEN
BUILT WITH GOD AT THE CENTER.
Bush—To the tune of 200 billion or more, and years of hard work, “New Orleans will rise again.”
Hard to imagine for those still surrounded by acrid, toxic water, surveying neighborhoods that will have to be completely bulldozed over.
Might have been a similar question on Nehemiah’s mind: will Jerusalem rise again?
History of Judah—Babylonian conquest was punishment for straying from God, losing their way
Nehemiah is highly motivated to please God, and his success in life is a direct result of him keeping God at the center of his life.
Might be a question we are asking:
“Will my marriage rise again?”
“Will the relationship with my children ever improve?”
“Will I ever be able to just have a normal life?”
“Will I ever feel like being on the same team as God?”
“Will my personal ministry ever flourish?”
“Will our church make a significant impact on the community?”
We are going to see today that Nehemiah did get an affirmative answer, yes, “Jerusalem’s Walls would be rebuilt, and the city would rise again”
KEY POINT: Nehemiah used 4 key building blocks to keep God at the center. Building with Nehemiah’s God-centered building blocks, we too are assured a better life
Are our lives better or do we just handle them better? Are we problem free? We may not have a trouble free life. We may not experience perfect scenarios in our marriages, child-rearing, ministries, or church family life.
BUT we will experience the overwhelming blessing of God’s control of our lives, compared to when we do it ourselves.
In our lives, we have to ask “is God on the throne?” Is He at the center? To be sure, God never gets off his throne. . .but we ignore his presence and place in our lives
Today we are going to get an overview of the book of Nehemiah, to see how he experienced the blessings of having God at the center—and I want to encourage us to consider what areas we may need to follow Nehemiah, and not only repent of refusing God’s leadership, but also see what blessings might come when we are truly and consistently God-centered. Then in the next coming weeks we will
go indepth to see that our lives will be better when God is at the center.
Transition: Our first building block really is needs to be the starting point for just about everyone of us:
Building Block #1
A Broken Heart—Care About What God Cares About
Broken Heart about our Sinfulness
Nehemiah understands the connection between what has happened and the sinful choices of he and the people
Notice he doesn’t just blame others—think about the blame game being played by the different levels of government concerning Katrina, and fed by the media—he accepts full responsibility
He sees the face of sin and wickedness in his life and admits it
I remember when a beloved professor in college admitted to having struggled with pornography—in the middle of his sermon. Not something many people will openly confess to.
Not even to themselves.
Many of our sins remain hidden, secret, and mightily destructive.
But as we seek with Nehemiah, he realizes that trying to save his pride will take him further down a path that he doesn’t want to go: away from God.
AND he also know that if he repents, there IS a wonderful benefit
Life Benefit: Promise of God’s Love. Built up with God’s love, kept from self destruction.
NEH vv. 5 and 9
He even prays for the people, and we see later on months, and years after this saga begins, that under the contrite, humble, and firm leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra, and at the reading of God’s Word that makes it plain, the PEOPLE follow suit:
9:2,3 (the people)
Indeed their lives ARE better because they are returning to the loving and forgiving arms of their Holy Father, rather than being in opposition to him. God cares about our pursuit of Holiness, he calls us out to be holy as He is . . .
Mini Transition: But just as we need to have a broken heart about our sinfulness, we also need to be
Broken about the World’s Need
Nehemiah is heartbroken that the once proud city is in tatters. He knows the people are unsafe, open to enemies, and still displaying a brokenness that was the result of their sin.
Likewise, if WE aren’t broken by the effects of a “fallen world”, by people who live without Jesus, if we are unfazed by the effects of abuse, if we don’t lift a finger to help children in poverty, we are showing our numbness to people that God has a softspot for: broken people, people that are under the weight of oppression, and as JAMES says,