Giving ourselves towards God’s continuous work of redemption. (Nehemiah 10)

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[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=”bordered” border_color_class=”otw-black-border” border_style=”bordered” shadow=”shadow-down-right” rounded_corners=”rounded-10″]This sermon is part of the Expository Preaching Collective on the Book of Nehemiah. Follow the link below to know more about What Expository preaching is and Why is it important to us. (Click here)[/otw_shortcode_info_box]

Our text for this morning is Nehemiah 10:1-39.

In our study on the book of Nehemiah thus far we saw how God worked in the hearts of his people as he gathered them and re-established his worship back.

The broken walls of Jerusalem is now re-built, people are safe and are now enjoying God’s goodness upon their lives. The first thing they do is go back to the Law of God, repent of their past sins and in the last sermon we saw how they re-count the blessings of God from creation onward.

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Recounting the blessings of God leads them to sincere confession of their sins and a serious commitment to the things of God. While re-counting the blessings one of the thing they understood was that it was their arrogance that kept them away from enjoying God’s favor throughout history.

The definition of ‘arrogance’ is having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. It is somewhat like the attitude our seniors in the workplace throws at us when our ideas or suggestions are better than them.

In a spiritual sense it our words, attitude and expressions that shows up when we think of ourselves more supreme or important than others, even God, when we make our needs and necessities more important than God and his kingdom.

The Israelite’s would time and again find themselves in that position. When God gave them manna from heaven they wanted the cucumber of Egypt. When God gave them prophets, they demanded for a king.

Sadly this is exactly how we respond even today. When God miraculously gives us a job we don’t deserve we grumble and demand for more salaries. When God gives a small shelter for our family out of nowhere we demand that he gives is 2 BHK flat instead.

Our arrogance shows up in many ways and if we are not careful in dealing with it we will never enjoy God’s blessing and favor.

We also heard the definitions of mercy and grace. Mercy is ‘God withholding the punishment we deserve’, Grace is ‘God giving us blessings that we don’t deserve’.

Our arrogance doesn’t always shows up when we demand more things and material blessings. Our arrogance can also show up when we refuse to accept God’s unmerited grace and mercy when our life entangled in sin.

It’s when we look at our current sinfulness and say I don’t think God can forgive me of this sin. When we refuse to go back to God in repentance and ask for forgiveness to the point where doubt our salvation.

That’s Arrogance!

When I was a teenager I was an arrogant boy, one day my father was quite upset with me for not taking my studies seriously and in anger he said I’m worthless and just want to live on his money. I was quite upset that day and later in anger I went and told my parents I don’t want their money of possessions and my Mom felt very bad when I said that.

The point for my parents rebuking or correcting me was not to say that they don’t love or that they don’t want me to inherit their wealth and blessings.

We have to remember that our Christian journey is not going to be an easy one, we will face challenges, hurdles and find ourselves in a place of discontentment and discouragement. We will even fall into sin and make mistakes that hurt God and others, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us anymore, or that he is not capable to forgive us when we go to him in humility.

Psalms 116:5 says “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion”

1 John 1-9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”

We should never let our arrogance keep us away from God’s blessings.

In chapter 9 the people of God confesses their sins and makes a commitment to follow the ordinances of God.

They make a firm covenant in writing on a sealed document.

Chapter 10 begins with the names of all the Levites, princes and priests who signs the document of the covenant beginning from Nehemiah himself.

Verse 29 says “They join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God and to observe the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes”

What they meant by that was God if we fail to observe your commands henceforth let your curse be upon us. Of course this kind of prayer or request doesn’t sound appropriate to us who are in the new covenant, but what I want you to notice is the seriousness of their commitment to God.

Later in the rest of the chapters we see how the people give themselves towards God’s continous redemptive work in their lives.

The first area of decision they make is “we will be faithful to God when it comes to our marital relationships

Verse 30 – “We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.”

The second area of decision is “we will be faithful to God when it comes to doing business

Verse 31 – “And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.”

The third area of decision they make is “we will be faithful to God when it comes to supporting God’s work

Verse 32-39

All these areas of decision were made in the Old testament context and we do have an New testament interpretation to each of them. But in today’s sermon instead of going into the detailed new testament interpretation I want to talk about the importance of giving ourselves towards God’s continuous redemptive work in our lives.

In the story of Nehemiah the people of God didn’t just repent and confess their sins at once but continued to give themselves to God work in their lives, making changes in their beliefs, lifestyle etc.

They changed their views about marriage, they changed the way they did business, they understood the importance of giving towards the Kingdom work.

Some key questions we should asking ourselves at this juncture is

Q: How are we doing in the aspect of giving ourselves to God’s redemptive work ?
Q: Are we seriously making changes in our daily lifestyle as the God convicts us?

  • The way we think about relationships
  • The way we think about success
  • The way we spend our money
  • The way we bring up our children
  • The way we serve in the church
  • The way we think about music and entertainment
  • The way we approach our professional life
  • The way we approach friendship
  • The way we look at the poor and needy

Are we changing in these areas as the Gospel is impacting our lives, are we living for his glory?

Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I like the translation in New Living Translation, it says

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

We often hear Christians crib and complain about their circumstances & situation. When we sit down and talk to these very people we will realize that even after believing in the gospel, giving their lives to Christ, going to Church every Sunday their core beliefs and the way they think about life hasn’t changed.

That is why even today in India you will hear born again Christians still talking about dowry, achieving success at any cost, doing business just as the heathens do. They have not allowed the gospel to impact their lives, they have failed to give themselves towards God’s continuous redemptive work.

As it says in Romans 12:2 A true Christian will always be at rest in the good, pleasing and perfect will of God whether in lack or in abundance, in riches or in poverty, in good health and bad health, in times of joy and in times of pain.

Why? – Because they do not conform to the pattern of the world, but let God transform them into a new person by changing the way they think.

What we have received from God on the day we believed in Jesus and surrendered our lives to him is a precious gift.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

2 Cor 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!”

Eph 1:3 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

John 10:10 Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Our failure to give ourselves to God’s continuous redemptive work keeps us from enjoying all these benefits of the Gospel that came with the package.

It’s like the story of the man who was gifted a free ticket to travel in a ship, but throughout the journey he stayed inside his room and never came out to have lunch or dinner because he didn’t have money. On the last day of the journey when the captain noticed the man and asked him why he did join others for food he said he didn’t join them because he didn’t had money. The captain looks at him shockingly and tells him that the ticket that was gifted to him was inclusive of food.

When we fail to give ourselves to God work in our lives we are just like that man who never enjoyed the delicious meals that were served on the ship because he was unaware of the benefits that came with the ticket.

So, How do we give ourselves towards Gods redemptive work.

To help you remember the points I’ve put it into 3 C’s, hope that helps

  • By showing COMMITMENT.

2 Pet 1:5 says “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge”

In Acts 2:42 when the people heard the gospel and accepted the truth we immediately see them continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

We have to show commitment to God in devotion, in reading of his word, showing accountability to one another, in serving him wholeheartedly etc.

To be committed is not easy; it requires a lot of effort, lot of energy.

We will have to go against our natural tendency to sleep for longer hours, refrain ourselves from all forms of entertainment that steal our time from God. For some of you it could mean that you go to sleep early so you can wake up early and spend time in prayer and reading and meditating on scriptures.

When we are committed to God we will make every effort to get closer to him, We will sneak out time from our busy schedule during work to meditate on God’s word, read spiritual articles.

Once George Whitefield was asked by someone after his sermon “How many people do you think got saved during your sermon”, he looked backed and said we will come to know only after 5 years.

It is our commitment that will reveal our seriousness and affirms our belief in the Gospel.

  • By being COURAGEOUS.

It requires courage to do what the Word of God tells us to do. In Joshua 1:8-9 take a look at the sequence in which God instructs him. In verse 8 he says “ Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  And immediately in verse 9 he says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for theLord your God will be with you wherever you go”

When the whole world is going in one direction we have to choose the other and we need courage to do that.

I don’t think it was easy for the Israelite’s to stop giving their daughters in marriage in the men in the land or take daughters from their men. I’m sure they were been mocked and made fun of. When they stopped doing business during Sabbath I’m sure they lost businesses etc.

I remember the day I had to tell my father that I am not leaving my family behind and going to gulf to work like he did because that is not what God is asking me to do. A Christian friend of mine refuses to do business with clients who sell products that are ungodly.

We have to be courageous to follow God and his word, that shows that we are giving ourselves to Gods redemptive work in us.

  • By maintaining CONTINUITY.

This is one area where the Israelites miserably failed again and again. They failed to continue pursuing God and walking in obedience with Him even after making an oath never to sin again.

Later in Isaiah 1:10-17 God is again angry with his people.

We should never let our arrogance come in our way from going back to God no matter how many times we mess up because of our sinfulness. Never give up on pursuing God – maintain continuity and you will see how the Gospel transforms you in due course into the likeness of Christ.

Heb 12:1-3 says

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Remember Christ and his sacrifice just so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart.