Summary: We see in Nehemiah, God’s call to be concerned about others, to confess our sins and and be convited to act outside our comfort zones.
Outside The Comfort Zone
Intro: Larry Walters always wanted to be a pilot but eyesight only allowed him to be a mechanic in the Air Force. After retirement, he got an idea one day. At the Army Surplus store he bought a tank of helium and forty-five weather balloons. He strapped the balloons to his lawn chair which he had staked to the ground. Larry expected to drift slowly up for a few minutes. When he cut the rope holding him to the ground his chair shot up rapidly, finally leveling off at eleven thousand feet. Eventually a Coast Guard helicopter got a line to him and towed him to the ground and safety. When asked why he did it he said, “A man can’t just sit around all his life.”
. Sometimes he has to get out of his comfort zone.
. We all live in our own comfort zone don’t we?
. I do. I love my wife being out of school for the summer. I love it when my children come home from college to visit. I love having them around.
. I can’t wait for all of them to be back doing what they usually do.
. You see I am a creature of habit and I live within my comfort zone and when they are around too much, they take me out of this routine and out of my comfort zone.
. The bible is full of people who God asked to get out of their comfort zone and do something that would honor and glorify Him.
. It has been said by someone in this church that the bible is all about change. I agree.
. We are all called to change who we are in submission to Jesus.
. When we do that, we are called to step out of our comfort zone.
. This morning we start a series in Nehemiah and we see that the first thing God had to do in order to get someone to do what He wanted them to do, He had to get them out of their comfort zone.
. He had to get Nehemiah out of his comfort zone.
. As we open Nehemiah we will see that he is in the winter palace of King Artaxerxes the King of Persia.
. Let me give you a quick history lesson on how one of the great champions of God managed to be in the home of the King of Persia.
. All the way back to Abraham. God called Abraham out and promised him that He would make a great nation of his descendents if they would follow Him. Abraham did follow God and the Hebrew nation was born.
. We know about how they became enslaved by the Egyptians and how God through Moses brought them out of Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea and how God gave them the ten commandments.
. All God ever wanted was a relationship with His chosen people.
. All we see is rebellion by the Hebrew people. There would be times when they would follow God but there were more times when they would not. This went on for generation after generation.
. Finally God had seen enough and gave them over to defeat and slavery to the Babylonian empire.
. Jerusalem fell and the people were taken into captivity.
. The Persians came along and defeated the Babylonians and then they were the new slave masters of the Hebrew people.
. God was in control though.
. Cyrus became king of Persia and he started sending many of the Jewish people back to their homeland.
. He sent almost 50,000 Jews back and they attempted to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
. They went back and for 15 years or so they struggled
. Meanwhile Cyrus died and Artaxerxes became king.
. The Temple was rebuilt and Ezra was sent to be the governor of the area.
. The temple was built but there was no safety in the town of Jerusalem. The walls and gates were in shambles.
. That brings us up to date to our scripture this morning.
Nehemiah 1:1-11; In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa.2Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
3They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”