Focus: Nehemiah 9
Failure was all around them. They stood in a place of greatness, but all around them was failure and decay. The temple above them on the hill had once gleamed with gold. Now, their temple was simple and the walls made of burnt and broken stone. The glory of David and Solomon was long past. Would they ever be great again? It can feel the same way in the church today. We remember the days when it was fashionable to go to church and the Sunday school was filled with kids eager to learn. Now we step into half-filled sanctuaries, and the population of the church is graying. Times have changed, but God has not. God can lift us past our weakness.
God lifts us past our weaknesses because He is dedicated to us v. 19 The Jews were a story of disappointments and struggle. Ezra reminds the people that God did not let Israel die in the desert, and He will not let them die now. God still does not abandon his people. His people leave Him and chase after other things that they consider more important than God. They will chase after jobs, entertainment and “stuff” They will get too busy to take time for God in worship or bible study. God does not abandon His people. When times get tough enough, they will get down on their knees and look for Him again. He will help His church and its people. God is dependable even if we are not.
God is patient with us v. 30 While the people of God lived in sin, God actively waited. He sent prophets to let them know that God was ready to help if they would just call. He watched and cried as He saved them in the time of the judges and kings only to be forgotten by the next generation. God has patiently waited as Christians have become too busy to take time for their Lord. He has watched families put soccer, scouting and “quality time as a family” ahead of time with Him. God sits on the edge of His heavenly throne just watching and waiting for the church to cry in prayer and to put their trust in Him. He is ready when people realize that He is the only hope.
God keeps His promises v. 32 Why would God care so much? The simple answer is love. He has made promises to His people from the time of Adam and that gives hope. They could look back and see how God had time and time again in their history saved his people. God still cares. We look around at the sorry state of the church and feel discouraged. Instead, we should be looking at all the things that the Lord has done for his church over the years. As long as people cling to the Lord, they still have hope. God will keep His promises. We just need to put our lives in His hands and follow His path for our future.
There are two steps to a new future. The first is to admit reality in confession. v. 33 The glory that had once been Jerusalem didn’t fade because God had neglected them. They had filled His temple with idols and filled their hearts with greed and pride as they pushed God away. The church will have a new future when it stops making excuses about the culture or those people out there. It will only have new life when it admits that it has been too busy for God. Second, we need to look forward and commit to the Lord. v.38 Having confessed their sins, they made a written and binding agreement. It was a commitment to God, but it was also a commitment to their future and themselves. Without God, the future would look as bleak as the present.. It is time for Christians to make a pledge. It is time to define by God’s standard what it means to be a Christian. We need to commit ourselves to grow in our faith so that we are in the word and share salvation to the people around us.