Summary: After the high of Nehemiah 12, we come down to earth and reality with a crunch in ch 13. How can we avoid collapses like this and ’Sustain our Spirituality’.
Sustaining your spirituality. Nehemiah 13. WBC 20/3/5am
This is the balancing sermon to the one I preached on ch 12
if you remember:
- real mountain top experience
- marching around the walls, praising God
- huge devotion and dedication to God
o occasion for right and real outburst of praise
" not unlike today (palm Sunday)
Now- if this had been fabricated, or had been a fairy-story it would have ended there
- maybe with a ’closure’ like "and they all lived happily ever after"
But real life is not like that. Neither is the Christian life
MOUNTAIN TOP MOMENTS CANNOT BE MAINTAINED
Three things combine (conspire?) to mean that things don’t stay the same
- us. We are constantly restless (though this might manifest itself in not WANTING change). But basically our lives are fluid and we are fallen
o hence ’entropy’ happens in our lives: social and spiritual
- the devil. There is a real force arraigned against us. He hates with a passion those who love Jesus… and he hates the church (Jesus’ body)
- The Lord- who is, of course, OVER all of these things… and using them, even
o But He knows that the real fruit of discipleship is not formed or forged on the mountains
And so these three things combine to mean that our lives are really, truly, ones of occasional encouragements and seeming leaps forward AND recurring disappointments
- and we have to pay close attention… work hard… be aware and diligent… to SUSTAIN OUR SPIRITUALITY
Or we… YOU can lose it.
- wanna do that? (No?- then pay attention!)
Here- they’ve come down from the mountain top- and what a crash it has been!
- folks think the gap is about 20years (so Nehemiah’s probably an old man… and still a formidable one!!) (exact order hard to tell)
- Eliashib the High Priest (after the dedication of the temple in ch 12, and the setting apart of store rooms and salary for singers etc) has just given this store room to Tobiah
o A bloke who opposed their reforms and wall building
o An ammonite (folks who didn’t like the God of Israel)!
o Other ramifications: temple worship had gone down the plug-hole. Salaried singers had gone back to their villages
- Their special day, the Sabbath, had been desecrated… for financial gain, really. It’s from a different era, but Amos’s statement is so true (as the people are the same!):
"When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?"--
skimping the measure, boosting the price
and cheating with dishonest scales,
- And their home life has been affected: they’ve intermarried with people who would destroy their faith. After they promised they wouldn’t
o No joke! V26- even the great Solomon went off the rails because a of this!
So- all the areas of achievement on the mountaintop of Ch 12 have been eroded. And this is the valley. And it’s in here so we can learn from it
The ’crash’ after the Mountaintop is so clearly there in scripture
- 1 Cor 10:12 "So if you think you’re standing firm, be careful lest you fall"
- Moses on the mountain and the Golden Calf
- The mountaintop of transfiguration of Mt 17: huge revelation and experience… and then down the mountain to a demonised boy that the disciples can do nothing about with the affirmation:
- MT 17:17 " MT 17:17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?
- Palm Sunday, and then the crash on good Friday (for the people around Jesus)
But, you see- crashes from mountaintops cannot be avoided- but they can be managed
- and indeed they MUST: because here is where the fruit is generated… the purposes of God worked out (take Good Fri for example!)… and spirituality made sustainable
- the valley is where the fruit grows…t he soul grows… and God can be encountered
o I say CAN- as it should not be taken for granted. It depends on US. (because God will surely do His part)
So- I wanna draw out three areas from here in which we must be careful to sustain our spirituality
I told you that the temple had gone down in their priority. The HP had compromised (so this is a word and warning to us ’pros’, as well)… and everyone had gone back to a life without corporate worship as a priority
Don’t let it happen!
To sustain your spirit and spirituality- THIS needs to be of paramount importance
- I’m not meaning the ’organisation’ of church. (some feel that has to be sustained in it’s original, dying even, structure)