Revival: Honor God as Your King

Focus: Neh. 10:27-39

The Jews knew how to honor a king. You bowed to the king because he held your life in his hands. Americans think that the President must bow to them. They elect the president and tell him what to do in polls and with protests. They slander him in newscasts and on late night talk shows. No wonder we struggle with God as our king. We want to treat him the way we do a president. We expect that our prayers will be answered in the way that we want God to work. If God doesn’t do so, God is discarded and mocked. That is dangerous. God is wiser and stronger than any Persian king that the Jews faced. Those who do not bow down to God and listen to Him do so at their own peril.

The danger of mixed marriages and families. v. 30 The Jews had intermarried with the surrounding nations. They began to worship the gods of the other nations along with the true God. Slowly, the values of Israel eroded as people ignored the laws of God and grew distant from their faith. A Christian brings blessings on a non-Christian spouse. A non-Christian spouse makes it harder for the Christian to worship or to give generously. A non-Christian makes it more difficult to raise Godly children. Families that have non-Christians in them should do all in their power to witness to the non-Christian. Their lives impact us more than we think.

The danger of no time set apart for God. v. 31 The gentiles around Jerusalem treated the Sabbath like any other day. It was a time to socialize and to do business. It was easy for the Jews to rationalize that they needed this business because they were poor. Our world sees Sunday as just another day. Children are encouraged to be at soccer games and Boy Scout campouts. Parents are taught to help at Sunday charity events instead of spending time with the Lord. This busyness keeps us from God. Satan loves to keep Christians busy with good things that keep us from better time with God. Soon we are running on empty and distant from God.

The danger of giving God second best v. 35 Malachi, a contemporary of Nehemiah, complained that the people gave blemished animals to the Lord and robbed the Lord of the full tithe. They gave God the leftovers instead of giving Him the best. No one would have dared do such a thing to a Persian King, but somehow God was not as important. Churches struggle to do the ministry and are falling into disrepair as God is not seen to be worth the bother. Malachi’s words of God getting the leftovers are still appropriate. People in Nehemiah’s day and our own expect God to give the "good life" while they allow His house and worship to fall into decay.

For the Jews, it was a time to start over. The past was forgiven but not forgotten. They had learned the lesson that life is better in God’s kingdom and they wanted to live in that kingdom and enjoy the blessings of a relationship with God. They wanted to have what their ancestors had missed. It was a time to begin under God’s grace. It is time for the church to begin to live under God’s grace. Our God is a God of second chances and new life. It is time to live as subjects of the kingdom and listen to our God and obey His will so that we might prosper.

Revival: God lifts us past our weaknesses

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.



Revival: It starts with Scripture

Focus: Nehemiah 8

 Information can change our lives. If you need to unclog a sink, you can google the question, and a host of sites on the internet will tell you how to do that safely with step by step pictures. If you want to know how to plant a tree or fix your car, that is there as well. The people of Judah had finished the wall, but they had forgotten their God. What they required was information. The people needed to know who the God who helped them rebuild their walls was. They needed how God wanted his people to live so that they could thrive and be a strong nation again. They needed a revival, and that new life would start with God’s word. 

If the Bible is going to help you, you have to read it v. 8 Having finished the wall, the leaders chose to assemble people by the water gate so that they could have the refreshment of the scriptures. This day marks a changing point in the Jewish nation. From this time on, the Jews would become the people of the book. They would read and study the Bible so that they built their lives on it.

Take time to celebrate God’s love v.9 When they heard the message, they realized all the pain that they had caused themselves by not being in the word. They felt the law and not the gospel. For this reason, Ezra told them to celebrate and not to weep. God gave his word so that we might know the depth of His love and commitment to the people of Israel.

God’s word can help you if you obey it v. 13 Reading the Bible is not enough. Ezra and the other teachers told the people to follow what they were learning. Like a map, the Bible is not very useful to you if you do not follow its directions. If you ignore it, you do not profit from its information. The wise person will hang on every word from God and make this wise advice their guide.

You want a better life, be in the word. The walls were up, and they were beautiful, but they would offer no protection if the people forgot God as their grandparents had done. If the nation was to thrive and to survive, they needed to be a people of the book who learned the Bible and taught it to their children. It needed to be the guide for the nation and the pattern for their future. Revival starts with the word of God. It brings God into your life so His power and love can help you. It is the source of His time-tested wisdom that will work in every situation.

If you want a better world, be in the word. It is hard to get a family member to go to church or know Jesus if you are not in the word. It is hard to be a person that has real character and the admiration of others without being in the word. Those who are in a deep relationship with the Lord in word and prayer are the only ones who can change the world and bring peace and harmony.

Revival: Do you really want it?

Focus Nehemiah 6:1-19

The revival of a church is not easy. That should not surprise us for some of the best things in life are not easy. You want a baby. Are you willing to put up with morning sickness, 2 AM feedings, and three-year-old temper tantrums? You want to be in business or be a lawyer or doctor. Are you ready for four to eight years of college and a large student loan? Is the dream worth it? A lot of people want a great church, but they want others to do the work. My question is how much do you want a great church? God wants it and will work miracles to have a healthy church. Nehemiah will show us how to prepare for revival with a few items from his revival boot camp.

It is about focus, not compromise v. 3 The wall is up, and all that has to be done is to get the gates in place. At this point, the enemies of Israel offer to help and want Nehemiah to stop the work and meet with them. Nehemiah sees through them. He knows they want to harm him and stop the work. Nehemiah has focus. God has called him to build the wall, and he will not let anything stop him.

You need to listen to God, not the naysayers v. 6 Slander is a favorite tactic of Satan. The enemies of the Jews slandered Nehemiah in an open letter. They accused him of building the wall for his own advancement. Nehemiah responded with the truth about his motives and with a trust in the Lord. He placed his enemies in God’s hands rather than bothering to reason with them.

You will find that faith, not fear overcomes failure v.11 One of Satan’s greatest weapons is fear. The enemies of the Jews hired a prophet to try to convince Nehemiah that his life was in danger. Nehemiah should stop the project and hide in the temple with the prophet. Nehemiah countered fear with faith and would not commit the sin of entering the Holy Place to save himself.

Never let your guard down v. 18 It is possible to fail even when you have reached your goal. The wall and gates were up, but Satan was not done. He was ready to defeat the Jews even as they were celebrating. Spies reported everything to Tobiah so that this enemy could plan his next move and intimidate Nehemiah or cause the people to stumble.

Revival is not doing right things, but being right with God v.9 It would be tempting to try and find the steps to building a church in the pages of Nehemiah. If we look for a method, we miss the point of Nehemiah’s experience. Success came from being right people not right things. Nehemiah was connected to God and knew his Bible. Nehemiah knew his God and trusted God fully to provide what he needed. If any church is going to have revival, we will need to be right people. We will need to be people of the book like we have never been before. Nehemiah succeeded because he was devoted to God, and the people saw what they were doing as important.