Friday, August 17, 2012

Nehemiah 1 – An Urgency for Eternal Things

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that your week has been good, and that, like me, you are ready for the weekend and more opportunities to share your faith.  Here in Northern California the weather has been warm, and the street festival and other events that have been going on have been very busy.  Even in the evening there have been many more people out and about for music festival and bar hopping, or just to spend time with family and friends.  I pray that in your area that you are seeing the same.  If you don’t know of any good public places in your area to share your faith, I would encourage you to spend some time looking for some.  Every Christian believer, and particularly those who do public evangelism regularly, should have one or more “fishing holes,” places where people gather and where it’s easy to start up conversations, or to share the word open-air style.  Even if you have to drive for a ways, it is well worth it to find a good spot.  But there is very likely to be a place nearby with good foot traffic, or which has events which draw people in.  And wherever people gather, there is always someone who needs to hear the good news.

This week we will be focusing on the imminence of eternity, and encouraging people to think about what happens next today.  A good way to open up this kind of reading is by taking an example that those listening are likely to know about or be able to directly relate to.  Natural disasters, celebrity deaths, and the like can be great springboards, and will often help those listening connect with what you are saying.  Sadly, the example I plan to use hits very close to home.  A homeless lady, one I saw on the side of the street as I drove to and from work almost every day, was killed two days ago.  She was mentally disturbed, I’m sure, and apparently known for yelling at people, even those who tried to help her.  Then, Tuesday I believe, she yelled at a man who was also mentally disturbed, and he came back and slit her throat in broad daylight.  It was a horrible tragedy, and the community is reacting very strongly.  I had considered stopping to talk and share the gospel with her a couple times, but never did.  It’s a sobering reminder of just how true it is that none of us is promised a tomorrow.  Using these kind of examples can when preaching can be very effective.  However, we must never treat these type of events lightly, or cavalierly, if we use them as an illustration.  Your respect and compassion must be evident in your speaking, and must be real.  Not only was a real life lost, but real lives are still at stake.  Be sure to spend time in prayer preparing your heart, and making sure it is right before God, whenever you go out to share His truth.

I pray this outline is a blessing.  May God be glorified!


"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."



"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Jim Elliot

Jim Elliot, who was murdered while trying to reach one of the most remote, most violent tribes in the South America, understood what it meant to have a sense of urgency regarding eternal things.

He was willing to die for what he believed, and did.

Nehemiah, who in this chapter plead for the nation of Israel, who were in exile, also had an urgency regarding eternal things. He was willing to give up one of the most privileged positions in the kingdom for the sake of God’s people, and the city that bore God’s name.

He wept and mourned and fasted and prayed for days for his people.

Nehemiah wept for his people and his city, praying to the God who keeps covenant and steadfast love.

He had a passion for the lives of his country-men

Do you show the same passion for your own soul that he did for the lives of others?  For those you love?

What matters to you?  What do you live for?  Do you ever think about eternal things?

Do you have any idea what comes next, what will happen to you when you walk off into eternity?

I would like to encourage you, and even plead with you, to think about those things today.

Life is far shorter than you realize            

you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (James 4:14 ESV)

Every one of us will walk off into eternity one day, and face the righteous judgment of a just God

it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment  (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.  (Psalm 7:11 ESV)

When you stand before God, how will He see you?  Will He see you as good?  How do you know?

We must all see ourselves in truth before God.

Nehemiah recognized the sins of his people, which had caused God to turn His back on them.

He confessed the sins of the people, and acknowledged their wicked behavior and corruption

He acknowledged that Israel had not kept the commandments, statutes and rules of God, just as we have not.

When we chose to ignore God’s commandments, statutes and rules, the Bible calls it sin. 

God’s law is a reflection of His goodness and His perfect will and plan for us.  When we break His law we offend Him, and we hurt ourselves and others.

Have you lied, or failed to tell the truth when you should have?  God is a God of truth, and will not tolerate dishonesty.

Have you ever stolen, or coveted and desired something that belonged to someone else?  In either case, you are showing that you trust your own desires more than God’s perfect plan for your provision.

Have you looked with lust at someone not your husband or wife?  Have you followed through on those lustful thoughts?  If you have done either, you have committed adultery, and have offended God, who by His nature is faithful and true.

Have you taken the name of the God who gave you life, and used it in place of a curse word?  Have you used God’s name lightly, or disrespectfully?  Then you have committed blasphemy.

Have you hated someone, even to the point of committing murder in your heart?  God says that even anger without cause is worthy of judgment, and anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.

God tells us that He is a just judge, and as a just judge He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34)

All those who are guilty will have their sin punished perfectly.  And all of us are guilty

The just punishment of God will be carried out in a place called hell, a place of fire and darkness and pain, which will last forever.

It is a place I don’t want to go, though I deserve to, and I don’t want to see any of you go either.

And because God is a God of mercy and of steadfast love, He provided a way of escape.

He provided escape not by overlooking our sins, but by paying for them in full

He demonstrated His love on the cross

2000 years ago His own Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came to earth so that the world might be saved through Him.  (John 3:17)

And He became our high priest, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.  (Hebrews 7:23-27 ESV)

On the cross all God’s anger and hatred and wrath toward sin was poured out on Him, so it didn’t have to be poured out on us.

Then He rose on the third day as He had prophesied He would, defeating sin and death and proving who He was

Now if we will repent, or turn from our sin, and trust in Him alone, then His shed blood will be the payment for our sin and we can go free

Today you may be like those Israelites, scattered far from God because of your disobedience and unfaithfulness

But Nehemiah knew that though they were in the uttermost parts of the heavens, He would gather them back

And I pray, as Nehemiah did for His people, that God will call you back to Him

I pray that God will bring you redemption through His great power and strong hand

And that you will delight to fear His name

Please come to Christ today, in repentance and faith, so that like Israel and the city of Jerusalem, you too may be restored.

1 comment:

  1. Very thankful for this ministry. Lord help us to be faithful to the end.


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