Summary: Nehemiah looked at the people & realized that they were spiritually dying on the vine. They were God’s people, & they weren’t acting like it. Somehow, there needed to be a revival among the people. (Powerpoints available - #322)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(This is the eighth of a Leadership series featuring Nehemiah. Some ideas & illustrations in these messages were based on or benefited greatly from, to varying extents, the book “Hand Me Another Brick” by Charles Swindoll.)
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #322.)
A few months ago the Christian world celebrated "Palm Sunday" in recognition of that day nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
It was a great day as crowds lined the road, waving palm branches, throwing flowers, even laying garments on the road as a carpet for Him, & shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) & “Blessed is the King of Israel!" (John 12:13) Some of them even wanted to take Him by force & make Him their King!
So wild & tumultuous was the welcome that the Pharisees who had been plotting against Jesus cried out, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!" (John 12:19)
But you know how quickly things changed. Within just a few days the crowds who had been shouting, "Blessed is the King!" were crying, "Crucify Him!... Crucify Him!... Let His blood be on us & on our children" (Matthew 23:22-25), & they crucified Him!
A. But up from the grave He arose! And 50 days after His resurrection there was another great day as the Church began on Pentecost. On that day Peter stood up with the rest of the apostles & preached the first gospel sermon ever preached. In it he said, "Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord & Christ" (Acts 2:36).
Acts 2:37-38 tells us that “When the people heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ’Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent & be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’"
Vs. 41 tells us, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, & about 3,000 were added to their number that day."
B. From that day the church grew by leaps & bounds, even in the face of tremendous persecutions. The Jewish Sanhedrin imprisoned Peter & John & commanded them to preach no more in the name of Jesus. But they answered, "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen & heard" (Acts 4:20).
The persecutions scattered the Christians, but the Bible says that they “preached the Word everywhere they went." (Acts 8:4) So great was the influence of this preaching that when Paul entered one city, he was greeted with this accusation, "Those who have turned the world upside down have come here also." (Acts 17:6)
Years later, when the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he wrote to the young preacher, Timothy, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season & out of season; correct, rebuke, & encourage - with great patience & careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2).
Why this great emphasis on preaching the Word? I think that Paul states it very clearly when he says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes . . ." (Romans 1:16).
God Himself said, "My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire & achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
C. It has been that way down throughout the centuries. With the fall of the Roman empire to the barbarian hordes the Dark Ages descended like a shroud over Europe. For nearly 1,000 years the preaching of God’s Word was replaced by rituals & superstition, as men went through the forms but knew almost nothing of God’s Word.
ILL. Then in the 1500’s, Martin Luther, who had been studying for the priesthood for 7 years, found an old Bible locked & chained to a pulpit in a storeroom. He broke the lock, & for the first time in his life was able to read God’s Word for himself.
It changed his life, & it changed the history of mankind. Whatever else we may know about Martin Luther, one of the greatest things he did was to make the Bible available to the common people in their own language, so that they, too, might know what God’s Word has to say to them.
ILL. Almost the same kind of thing happened in Scotland. Bloody Mary, Queen of the Scots wanted to rule England also. And she was willing to make her country pay whatever price was necessary to achieve her goal.