Reforms that Last?

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Nehemiah

Nehemiah 10-13, “Reforms that Last?”

Have you ever wondered if you have “staying power”?  We sometimes say something has staying power if it can last throughout difficulties.  When it comes our faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps it’s natural to wonder if we have staying power.  After all, we’ve all seen people who seem to start walking with the Lord, but somewhere along the way, they fall out – they get disengaged, and we start to wonder whatever happened to their Christianity.

Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we’ve seen a lot of reforms.  The protective wall has been rebuilt – the people have rallied around the Lord – the leaders have stepped away from sin – they’ve gone back to the word of God – they confessed their sins.  As the book of Nehemiah draws to a close, an obvious concern is: will all these last?  After all, the track record of the Jews to this point hasn’t exactly been stellar…will they have any staying power?

Sadly, Nehemiah is going to learn that the answer is “no”, and he’s going to have to lead them in reforms all over again.  But before we get to that point, we 1st see the point from which they fall: a wonderful renewing of the covenant with God, committing themselves to follow after Him.

Nehemiah 10 (NKJV)

1 Now those who placed their seal on the document were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah,

  1. What was the document?  The covenant mentioned in Ch 9:38.  After the people confessed their sins, they affirmed their covenant with God, wrote it down, and sealed it with their very names.  (Not unlike the US Constitution).
  2. Vss. 2-27 list the names…

           

28 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:

  1. Who entered the covenant besides the leaders?  Everyone!  The leaders may have signed it, but everyone entered into the covenant – no one was left out.  The one qualification on entering the covenant: it only included those “who had knowledge and understanding.” They had to understand what it is they were agreeing to & doing.
  2. What did the covenant include?  Basically everything in Ch 9 – plus the oath to walk in obedience to God’s Law, with a curse upon those who disobeyed.
  3. What would it look like to observe the commandments of the Lord?  The specifics of the covenant start in vs. 30.

 

30 We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31 if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt. 32 Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

  1. 1st aspect of obedience: purity unto the Lord. (no mixed marriages…)
  2. 2nd aspect of obedience: priority given unto the Lord. (honoring the Sabbath…)
  3. 3rd aspect of obedience: provision made for worship. (attending to the needs of the temple…)
  4. 4th aspect of obedience: participation in worship.  See vs. 34 for the worship practices…

 

34 We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law. 35 And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD; 36 to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; 37 to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. 38 And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse. 39 For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

  1. Wood offerings:  Although we haven’t seen the term “wood offering” in Scripture before, the concept is there.  Lev 6:12 mentions that the fire on the altar of God was never to go out – which obviously would require a lot of wood to keep it going 24/7.  Everyone was to help keep the wood supplied, which kept the altar fire lit, which allowed worship to continue at the temple.
  2. Firstfruits: That which came 1st – be it the 1st born of animals, or the 1st produce from the harvest was given to the Lord.  God gives no less to us in the form of His first born (and only begotten) Son.
  3. Tithes: A tenth of the increase from the ongoing crops.  This helped the Levites & priests survive, considering they had not originally been given an inheritance in the land.
  4. All of this is included in worship!  Everything we bring to the Lord as a gift ought to be given in worship of Him.  These things were not brought in an attempt to somehow manipulate God, but to honor God in accordance with His word.  Whether it was the 1st (and best) of what God has blessed the people with, or an ongoing percentage of how the Lord sustained His people – it was all given in worship & honor of the Lord.

 

Nehemiah 11 (NKJV)

1 Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. 3 These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities—Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.)

  1. The rest of Ch 11 (vss 4-24) details who among the tribes of Judah & Benjamin (along with the priests & other Levites) were chosen to live in Jerusalem.  10% of the population was chosen to live in the city itself.  Vss. 25-36 briefly list some of the surrounding cities & other areas.
  2. Why spend so much time on Jerusalem?  Because it was the “holy city.”  This was the city in which God had chosen to make His name known & His temple built.  The focus of Jewish life was to be upon Jerusalem in order that their focus would ultimately be upon the Lord Himself.

 

A couple of highlights…

17 Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; ….

  1. One of the Levites.  Apparently (like Nehemiah), he was known as a man of prayer. …
  2. This is still how we ought to pray: with thanksgiving!

 

22 Also the overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in charge of the service of the house of God. 23 For it was the king’s command concerning them that a certain portion should be for the singers, a quota day by day.

  1. As we walk through Ezra & Nehemiah, it’s interesting to note the repeated emphasis put upon the singers.  Singers had an important role to play within the temple worship, and thus they were provided for.  (They couldn’t tend to many crops in the field if they were on the temple grounds singing.)
  2. Obviously we can’t pay every worship team member to play music full-time – but there’s a principle seen here in the priority God puts upon music in worship.  Sometimes Christians treat singing as kind of an after-thought.  It’s something ok to talk through or “zone-out” during…people don’t really have to pay attention until the sermon starts.  Not true!  When we’re singing, we have the opportunity to personally go before the Lord God in praise & worship…  It’s important to Him, and it ought to be important to us.

 

Nehemiah 12 (NKJV)

1 Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: … [vss 1-21 list the names. General listing; not exhaustive.]

22 During the reign of Darius the Persian, a record was also kept of the Levites and priests who had been heads of their fathers’ houses in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua. 23 The sons of Levi, the heads of the fathers’ houses until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib, were written in the book of the chronicles.

  1. Careful records were kept.  Why?  They needed to ensure that the proper qualified people were serving as Levites & priests.  (Seen earlier in Ezra & Nehemiah…)

 

24 And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God.

  1. Method of worship traced back to David… The general theme is developing that things are being restored to the way they had been originally, prior to the captivity.

 

25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers keeping the watch at the storerooms of the gates. 26 These lived in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.

  1. Lists those who served as gatekeepers.  Gatekeepers were those who ensured that the temple grounds remained undefiled. … Also apparently had responsibilities over some of the storerooms.
  2. Every job important in the service of the Lord!

 

27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the countryside around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from the house of Gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth; for the singers had built themselves villages all around Jerusalem.

  1. The wall had been built, but the people decided to celebrate its building in order to dedicate it unto the Lord & give God thanks for His great work.

 

30 Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall. 31 So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate.

  1. 2 choirs!  (Again, with the singing….)  Nehemiah is going to describe how it all looked.

 

32 After them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, [vss. 33-36 list the leaders who participated, including the trumpeters & Ezra the scribe]

37 By the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went up the stairs of the City of David, on the stairway of the wall, beyond the house of David, as far as the Water Gate eastward. 38 The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, above the Old Gate, above the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped by the Gate of the Prison.

  1. Think of it as 2 choirs in stereo.  One group walks along the wall to the south; the other walks along the wall to the north.  The wall would have been 9 feet wide in some areas, allowing easy walking along the top.

 

40 So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the house of God, likewise I and the half of the rulers with me; [vss 41-42 list the names of the leaders & trumpeters]

43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.

  1. How joyful were they?  They had “great joy!”  So much joy that the sound carried for quite a distance away.
  2. Quite a contrast from the mourning over the foundation of the temple…(Ezra 3)
  3. Praise God passionately!

 

44 And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. 45 Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son. 46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.

  1. Even the use of the various storage rooms among the temple were set up properly & administered by people in the proper ways (with the method going all the way back to the 1st temple, by the commands of David & Solomon).  Same thing with the singers.
  2. All of this is setting up the idea that by the time Nehemiah left Jerusalem for a time that things were good.  The wall was done & dedicated.  The covenant had been made & ratified.  The temple work was organized & done according to the original specifications during the days of the 1st temple.  Everything at this point is great!  It’s not going to stay that way.  See Ch 13…

 

Nehemiah 13 (NKJV)

1 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.

  1. Ch 13 is going to detail many of the various ways that Judah departed so quickly from the covenant they had made & sealed.  But before Nehemiah gets there, he notes that the people knew that what they were doing was wrong.  The timing of these verses is a bit unsure (“on that day” = the day of the dedication?), but the idea is plain: the Scripture on this matter was absolutely clear & the people understood the teaching.
  2. The mention of the Ammonites & Moabites is especially important, considering that Tobiah (mentioned in vs. 4) was an Ammonite.  When crossing through the desert, the Hebrews were forbidden by the Lord from attacking the Ammonites (Deut 2:19) & the Edomites (Num 20) because they were related to the Israelites – yet the various peoples refused to even let the Hebrews pass through their lands.  The Moabites had gone a step further & hired a false prophet to attempt to curse Israel, yet God forced Balaam to bless Israel instead.  As a result, these groups were forbidden from entering the temple – and they were supposed to be removed from the midst of the people in general.

 

4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. 5 And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests.

  1. Remember who Tobiah was: the Ammonite official that had been opposed to Nehemiah’s work since he arrived in Jerusalem back in Ch 2.  Tobiah had openly mocked the Jews working on the wall, had plotted violence against Nehemiah, and had tried to politically muscle Nehemiah out of Jerusalem.  This was not exactly the picture of an upstanding citizen of Jerusalem.  Yet not only was a Jewish priest allied with him (in violation of the command from the Book of Moses, per vs. 1-2), the priest gave him a room in the temple in which he could live!  Instead of using the room for which it was intended (storing items used for the worship of God), it was given to a Gentile enemy of God, in order that he could set up shop in the temple itself.
  2. This is beyond compromising with the world; this is inviting it in!  Beware of profaning the things of God!

 

6 But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, 7 and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God.

  1. Nehemiah apparently had not been in Jerusalem when all of this took place (he certainly wouldn’t have allowed it).  Instead, per the promise he gave to Artaxerxes (Ch 2:6), he had returned to the service of the king of Persia.

 

8 And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9 Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

  1. Can you imagine the picture?  All of Tobiah’s belongings were thrown out on the street like the trash it was.  Nehemiah wasn’t exactly being subtle.  Once the Ammonite’s things were removed, the room was cleansed & prepared again for its intended use.  This wasn’t exactly like bleaching the room down (though perhaps a similar thought crossed his mind J), but rather a preparation for its use in worship.
  2. How do we deal with worldly influences & corruptions in our Christian walk?  The same way.  1st we remove them; 2nd we cleanse ourselves from them.

 

10 I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. 11 So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.

  1. The 1st problem with Jerusalem was the profaning of the temple with Tobiah the Ammonite.  The 2nd problem was the provision for the Levites.  Recall that the people had taken an oath in the covenant to ensure they would remember the Levites (Ch 10), but apparently they didn’t keep their oath long.

 

13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

  1. Not only did Nehemiah get the people to bring the tithe again, he set up credible accounting practices to ensure that the finances were treated faithfully.
  2. 1st of 3 similar prayers.  Afraid that all the work he’s done is going to unravel.

 

15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

  1. The 3rd problem in Jerusalem: neglect of the Sabbath day.  Again, this goes directly back to their covenant in Ch 10.

 

17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

  1. What’s the problem with profaning the Sabbath?  For the Jews, the Sabbath was one of the primary signs of their covenant with God (Exo 31:16).  The other was circumcision (circumcision was a private sign between the individual & God; the Sabbath was the public declaration).  Because Israel neglected the Sabbath principle of giving rest to the land (and thus declaring their trust upon the Lord), God allowed the nation to be taken into captivity & gave the land the Sabbath rest He had commanded (2 Chr 36:21).  Fresh back in the land of promise, the Jews were guilty of the same sin already!
  2. Knowing that we’re not under the Old Covenant, how would we violate the Sabbath principle today?  By not finding our rest in Christ.  Jesus IS our Sabbath rest!  We don’t work for our salvation, we find our salvation in the work that Jesus has already done.  It’s completed, so we rest in HIM.

 

19 So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath.

  1. Again, the not-so-subtlety of Nehemiah. He shuts the gates, forbidding the merchants to enter the city on the Sabbath day.  Even when the merchants attempt to set up shop just outside of the city, he threatens them with violence.  (“Laying on hands” is not an offer to pray for them! J)  As the governor of the city, Nehemiah had the right & responsibility to bear the sword in guarding the people.  Violence is not recommended for us today – but it goes to show the extent by which Nehemiah was willing to go to ensure the people were kept from the ungodly influence of the merchants.

 

22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

  1. The Levites should have been the ones to do what Nehemiah did – they fell down on the job!  Nehemiah commanded them to cleanse themselves & be vigilant.
  2. 2nd prayer: that God would spare him from these troubles.

 

23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.

  1. 3rd problem: mixed marriages.  The people had already separated themselves from the mixed multitude once, but then invited Tobiah the Ammonite in.  Afterwards, they started taking wives of other nations & their children were losing their Jewish heritage.  Again, this was something specifically forbidden in the covenant they had sealed (10:3).
  2. The really sad thing is that the people had been down this road once already.  Under Ezra’s leadership, the people had done exactly the same thing! (Ezra 10)  Apparently they never learned their lesson the 1st time.

 

25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

  1. Nehemiah’s actions are drastic.  Cursing, hitting, pulling out their hair, etc.  Harsh?  Yes, but necessary.  Just as our kids’ punishments escalate during repeated offenses, so did the punishment escalate for the Jews upon repeated offenses of this.
    1. God loves us enough to discipline us when necessary!
  2. What’s the problem with mixed marriages between Jews & Gentiles?  Unequally yoked marriages rarely strengthen someone’s convictions regarding the Lord; they almost always water them down.  Hence Solomon’s problems.
    1. The same issue exists today with born-again believers.  Those who are Christians have no business dating people who are non-believers.  So-called “missionary dating” is a bad idea & unbiblical.  It’s one thing to come to faith when you’re already married; it’s quite another to walk into that situation willingly.  The 1st scenario is much more likely to bring your spouse to Christ; the 2nd scenario is much more likely to weaken your own faith.

 

28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

  1. Note that even the priesthood fell into the same sin.  The son of the high priest married the daughter of one of the chief enemies of Jerusalem & Nehemiah.  As a result, he was defiled & disqualified from the priesthood.
    1. Why?  Because the priesthood is a symbol of the role of Christ & the role of Christians.  Just as Jesus is perfectly pure, so are His people (through the righteousness of Christ given to us).  To willingly defile that with the sin of the world ought to be abhorrent.
  2. 3rd prayer: restore the purity of the priesthood.

 

30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, 31 and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times. Remember me, O my God, for good!

  1. Sums up the reforms: Nehemiah did whatever he could to cleanse Jerusalem of their pagan ways & tendencies & restore the people back to proper worship.

 

Conclusion:

Reforms don’t necessarily last long, do they?  No sooner had the people committed themselves to the Lord in whole-hearted worship did they start going back to the sins of the past.  They swore an oath to obey the Lord, to walk in purity, to keep God 1st, and to worship Him…yet as soon as Nehemiah left town they broke the covenant on every single point.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

That’s the way it is for us, too.  There are so many people with so many thoughts of all the good things that they could do for the Lord & they rush into it with all sorts of zeal…only to fizzle out as time goes on.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

So what do we do?  How can we have the dedication of Nehemiah that we would have a constant zeal to be vigilant about the things of the Lord?  How do we ensure that WE aren’t the ones to always fall back to the way we used to be & do the same old sins that we used to do?  Stop relying upon the strength of your flesh.  If WE think that WE are strong enough to run this race without faltering along the way, we’re fooling ourselves.  Our strength isn’t in US; it’s in CHRIST.

The key to Nehemiah’s success wasn’t in his leadership abilities (though he was a strong leader) – it wasn’t in his discipline (though he could be stern) – it wasn’t in his boldness (though there’s little doubt he was one of the boldest men in Scripture) – it wasn’t in any of the things that so many people lift up about him.  The key to Nehemiah’s success was his dependence upon the Lord in prayer.  The book of Nehemiah records no less than 12 instances of him praying or exhorting people to pray with him.  And when he wasn’t praying, he was leading the people in praising God in passionate ways.

If you want success like Nehemiah – if you want to walk in purity, in dedication to the Lord, in boldness against sin & corruption – then you’ve got to rely upon the same strength that Nehemiah did: the strength of the Lord.  Jesus makes it clear that without Him, we can do nothing – but that with God, all things are possible.  As Paul writes to the Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)  Rely upon the strength of the Lord in prayer & praise!  Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit & cast yourself upon the grace of God.  And then watch the wonderful work of God!

There may be some tonight that have struggled with certain things, dealing with them in your own strength.  Difficulties in relationships that you can’t fix…  Besetting sins you cannot overcome…  Worries you cannot ignore…  Take those things before the Lord Jesus tonight & rely upon HIS strength & HIS power.

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