The Regathering – Nehemiah 1:8-9

I. Introduction: A. When David was fleeing from Saul, he didn’t have all the spiritual helps that are available to us. 1. As Bro. Fulton has told us, he didn’t have strong Christian brethren or a church with which to fellowship. 2. And we have no way of knowing how much of God’s word he actually was able to hold in his hands. 3. The Pentateuch, the writings of Moses, were available at the time, but did he actually have a copy? 4. Did he draw strength from the Book of Judges or from Joshua? We may never know. B. And similarly, how much of the Word of God did Nehemiah have? 1. Could he read the comforting words of Isaiah for example, or the Psalms? Did he have a copy of Ezekiel 2. They had been written, and they were in existence, but were they available to him? 3. Let’s make that one of our targets as we progress thru this book; let’s look for additional Bible references. 4. Nehemiah knew probably did own a copy of the Pentateuch – he has already referred to Moses. 5. And in our text he prays about God’s promises of judgment upon Israel & her restoration when she repents. 6. As I said this morning his thoughts about this judgment could have come from Leviticus & Deuteronomy. 7. But did he also have any of the more expressive or concise eschataological scriptures? 8. Was he for example, thinking about Ezekiel 36 which was given by God about 125 years earlier. a. Ezekiel said, “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto...

Sin, the Reason for Destruction – Nehemiah 1:4-11

I. Introduction: A. I have said a couple of times in our first three messages that the theme of Nehemiah’s book is “restoration.” 1. Nehemiah said to King Artaxerxes that he was intensely sad because, “the place of my father’s sepulchres lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire.” 2. He was told by Hanani – “The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach.” 3. God lay on Nehemiah’s heart to do something about the terrible state of Jerusalem. 4. Earlier, under Zerubbabel, God’s temple had been rebuilt – but without its original glory. 5. And after 50 years it was, once again, not being given the honor it deserved. 6. Later, under Ezra the walls of the city had been rebuilt, but they had not been maintained and God’s enemies had torn them down again. 7. The people of God, the house of God, the worship and service of God needed more restoration. B. Although the names have changed, the geography is different and we have technology which was unimagined in Nehemiah’s day, the same need exists today – revival – restoration. 1. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that my last statement may be true. 2. Are there enough other similarities for us to continue this study? Do birds fly and fish swim? C. Why was Judah in the need of revival? 1. Because the nation had fallen into SPIRITUAL disrepair. 2. And what had brought about that disreputable state? Israel and Judah had sinned against God. 3. Nehemiah had expressed part of it,...

Nehemiah’s God and Ours – Nehemiah 1:1-11

Every once in a while I pick up one of the books of the 18th century preacher, George MacDonald. Some of you might know him better for his works of fantasy or his Christian fiction, many of which have been edited by Michael Philips. But MacDonald considered himself, first of all, to be a preacher – a pastor of the Church of Scotland. His theology books are really quite difficult to read, because they are as deep and thoughtful as any you will ever find. They take a long time to finish, because sentence after sentence has to be read a second and third time. But the Lord lead me back to one of his books which has been sitting in my library for nearly 30 years. So several days before I started preparing this message, the Lord started preparing me. The first paragraph of the first chapter of MacDonald’s book, “Discovering the Character of God,” I read, “What kind of God do you believe in? Everything depends on the KIND of God one believes in. This the starting point toward discovering who God truly is. How many ideas of God might there be? Everyone who believes in him must have a different idea. Some of them must be nearer right than others. Instead of automatically blaming the person who does NOT believe in a God, we should ask first, if his notion of God is a god that ought to be believed in.” Did you hear that last thought? “Instead of automatically blaming the person who does not believe in a God, we should ask first, if his...

Nehemiah – Nehemiah 1:1

This evening we are going to start a study of the Book of Nehemiah; something I’ve never done before. I promise that we’ll not look at every verse, because there are a lot of names and places which are no longer relevant to us today. I probably won’t even read them all for you. So this shouldn’t be an extremely long study, unless the Lord leads otherwise. Speaking of “relevance,” why are we going to this book and this man, rather than Isaiah or Nahum or some New Testament book. First, because this is the man whom the Lord has laid on my heart. He was a part of a message from a few weeks ago, and I can’t get him out of my mind. Second, the theme of this book is “rebuilding” – something which many people are going to have to do over the next few months. Nehemiah is relevant in the light of the Coronavirus. Third, Nehemiah was not a preacher, priest or prophet. He was an extra-ordinary, ordinary man. Some think that he was a member of the Judean royal family, but this is only conjecture. Others say that he was a priest, but the verses they cite do not necessarily demand that idea, and he wasn’t filling any priestly role while living among the Medes and Persians. He was an ordinary “joe” – a saint of God who became burdened about the work and people of God. Nehemiah had an important job among the Persians, perhaps like you in the things of the world. But he had a more important job as a servant...

Biblical Geo-hydrology – Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:1-13

My subject, like a few others recently, could be simply called “Life,” but that is not the title I am going to use. Let’s call this message “Biblical Geohydrology.” I thought at first, I was making up a new and powerful word, but alas, someone already coined it, and it may be found in a few university prospectus packages. There are college courses on this subject – or at least on half of it. I do doubt that “BIBLICAL Geohydrology” can be found at any theological institution. “Hydrology” is the branch of science which studies water, especially in its movements upon land. I’ve added the “geo” prefix, because I want to tie it even more closely to geography. In addition to our scripture from Exodus, I’d like us to consider a similar event in Numbers 20. Let’s turn to Numbers 20 and read the first 13 verses. Both these histories involved bringing water out of a rock for thirsty people in a very dry and thirsty land. They were similar events but in very different places at least a hundred miles apart – Rephidim and Kadesh. And they took place before the eyes of two similar, but separate, generations of Hebrew people. And that is perhaps where we should begin this evening. The problems of the CHILDREN of Israel were the same as those of the PARENTS of Israel. In my study I ran across a question posed by Joseph Parker: “How far have we traveled from Rephidim?” There is no place called “Rephidim” today, but we can make a reasonable guess as to where it was. As to...

Marks of a Spiritual Christian – Ezekiel 36:24-27

If we took a survey using the question, “What is the best color to paint your car?” we’d get a lot of answers. But if we somehow were able to ask Henry Ford, he’d give us but one answer – “black!” And a century ago his answer would have been the right one – the only one. And if we took another survey asking the question, “What are the characteristics of a SPIRITUAL man?” Again, we’d likely get a variety of answers. But if we want the right answer, we would have to talk to the expert – the Holy Spirit. I’m going to try to answer that question myself, but in many ways, it will only be my opinion. Someone says, “A spiritual man is the one who talks about the holy Spirit all the time.” “No,” says another, “he’s the person who talks about the Saviour, the church, and saving grace – because the Spirit doesn’t talk about Himself.” Some else suggests – “The Spiritual man prays well – especially in public – long and a lot.” Someone says, ”The Spiritual person smiles a lot.“ Someone else says, ”No, he doesn’t smile at all; he is very, very serious.” “He quotes the Bible; he doesn’t own a TV; he makes his wife home-schools his kids.” “He doesn’t dance, he doesn’t smoke or chew, and he doesn’t date the girls that do.” Then someone else says, “Spiritual boys don’t date at all.” The truth is, we may find nearly all of these things in a truly spiritual child of God…. And then again, we might find them in...

The Challenges of Forced Non-attendance – Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

This short paragraph, written more than 2,000 years ago, is more appropriate than anything you read on the internet yesterday. Of course, we aren’t surprised, because this is the inspired Word of the eternal God. The Holy Spirit says, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.” Have you heard that the government is going to give you $1,200 and more if you are a part of a family? That may put a smile on your face, but be careful. It could be more of a disaster than a blessing. As in all “inheritances” wisdom in regard to that money will be important over the next few weeks. How will you spend that money? On necessities? Will you hold on to it for as long as you can, or will you throw it away? I understand the business of vice is prospering right now – alcohol sales are up; probably marijuana too. I saw that the sales of Corona beer has been strong and growing since the invasion of this virus. Either some lunatics think that Corona BEER is like a vaccination against the corona VIRUS. Or people just have nothing to do so they are blowing their money on drugs and alcohol. Solomon goes on, “For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” I don’t know how many times I have heard, and I have...

My Life – Philippians 1:12-24

I hope that you can see some similarities between these verses and the turmoil of life today. More importantly, I hope that you can see some parallels between Paul’s situation and attitude – and yours. Verse 12 – “I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” What has happened to America over the last two weeks has been just short of incredible. I’m not talking about the virus, because there are – and have been – other plagues in this country far worse than this – other diseases, the murder epidemic and, of course, millions of abortions. I’m referring to the government shut down of everything from sports – to business – to churches. One of the effects of this, as far as churches are concerned, is that people, sequestered in their homes, have turned to the internet for spiritual nourishment. Churches which would never have considered reaching out through the internet a month ago, are going on- line by the hundreds. And many bored and frightened shut-ins are hearing the gospel for the first time in their lives. But without a doubt unwise ethernet surfers can find every kind of religion and false faith imaginable. There is heresy and religious ungodliness behind every page of those search engines. And “some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife” – “with contention, not sincerely.” But, thankfully, others, out of love for Christ and suffering souls, preach the gospel of free grace. No doubt, some preachers and churches are using the internet to line their...

Tomorrow – Proverbs 27:1

I was reading an article in the magazine “Israel My Glory” when I was reminded of something in the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh, King of Egypt. To be more precise, the conflict was between Jehovah and the gods of Egypt. Like all human beings, but perhaps to a greater degree, Pharaoh believed himself to be one of the gods. He thought that he should be in control of tomorrow’s events. Please turn to Exodus 8:1 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. Verse 8 – “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: WHEN shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only? And he said, TO MORROW....

On the Wings of a Dove – Psalm 55:1-7

The world of popular music has changed just a bit since I was a child. I grew up with Broadway show music and big bands – that was what my parents liked. Then I began to listen to classical music – Beethoven; Tchaikovsky; Mendelson and Rimsky-Korsakov. But many people back in the 50’s, when I was a kid, listened to what is now called “Classic country.” And what might surprise the kids of today, some of the popular songs of that era were highly religious. Yesterday, Judy had on one of her TV radio stations – an “Elevator Music Station.” Lo and behold, they played an instrumental version of “Three Bells” or “Three Chapel Bells.” It reached #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country and Western” chart in about 1960. “There’s a village hidden deep in the valley; Among the pine trees half forlorn. And there on a sunny morning; Little Jimmy Brown was born (Bung, bung, bung, bung). All the chapel bells were ringing; In the little valley town. And the song that they were singing; Was for baby Jimmy Brown. Then the little congregation; Prayed for guidance from above. Lead us not into temptation; Bless this hour of meditation; Guide him with eternal love.” s I was first thinking about this message, another song came to mind. “Wings of a Dove” was a country song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958. Two years later, when it was recorded by Ferlin Husky, it became #1 on the country charts for 10 non-consecutive weeks. Then it crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at #12 – twenty years later. Do any...

Global Warming: Things to Remember – Genesis 9:8-17

The subjects of “Global Warming” and “Climate Change” are pervasive – they are everywhere. “Global warming” came up in conversation on Wednesday right here as the rain washed some snow off the church roof. It is on the news; it’s a part of the weather report; TV’s History and Animal Channels constantly talk about it. It is a seriously “hot” topic. The Bible doesn’t tell us what to believe about the subject, and that leaves the door open to diverse opinions. But like so many other subjects, the Bible does give us guidelines upon which we can base our opinions. Sadly, so much of the modern debate is done without considering the Bible and Biblical theology. This almost guarantees error – or at the very least errors in attitude affecting the quality of the debate. Even when some people are correct in their opinion, their defense or attack is often unchristian and sinful. In the light of these things, I feel led of the Lord to spend a few minutes on the subject of “Global Warming.” My research for this message started with a little booklet published by the Institute for Creation Research – the grandchild of Henry M. Morris, the author of the 1961 classic “The Genesis Flood.” This particular booklet was written by Jake Hebert – not that Jake Hiebert, but the other one. But my research didn’t stop there; I consulted several other sources – both pro and con on the subject. And although Dr. Hebert quoted the Bible a couple times, his purpose was more scientific than theological. But I want to keep my message...

But Satan Hindered Us – I Thessalonians 2:13-20

As your pastor and the primary preacher/teacher here for 29 years – one of my fears is“tediousness.” For example, I often preach the gospel, but there are only so many ways in which it can be done, and I work hard not to say the same things in the same way all the time. I fear becoming “tedious.” “Tedious” is a Biblical word, but it is used only once. It came from the lips of the lawyer Tertullus as he began to accuse Paul before the Roman governor, Felix. He said, “Notwithstanding, that I be not further TEDIOUS unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a FEW words.” To be “tedious” is to be “wearisome; tiresome from continuance; a slowness in coming to a conclusion.” And for an example, Webster very appropriately says, “a minister (may be) tedious in his sermon. We say also, a discourse is tedious when it wearies by its length or dullness.” In preaching the gospel, a well-intended message may become “tedious” when it is too technical, or too long or so boring that its good intent is ruined. What has that got to do with our text? Is this message already becoming “tedious?” Hang in there for a few minutes before you make up your mind. Paul had a special affection for the brethren in Thessalonica. We don’t know the key to that affinity, but it may have been due to their instant love and service for Christ. “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of...

Expectations – Romans 8:16-23

I’d like to talk to you tonight about “Expectations.” I almost preached this message last Sunday evening, but the Lord led me instead to “Patient Urgency.” And then this week this almost devolved into merely the introduction to a different message. If I go ahead with that third message, I suppose that this will still be its introduction. I came close to preaching about “expectations” the first Sunday of the year – because I thought it would make a good subject under those circumstances. And yet….. I wonder how many people are like me? To how many people is the New Year not particularly important? To me, it’s basically only another day. Of my 70 years, I have stayed awake to welcome the new year maybe twenty times. And most of those New Years Eves were spent at church in fellowship with you – and sometimes in prayer. In the transition from one year to the next, or one decade or one century to the next, I haven’t really spent much time thinking about that coming year, decade or century. Am I unique? Is it unusual not to be thinking about all the possibilities of the upcoming year? The opportunities? I am not a worrier; that may be one reason I don’t look ahead. But perhaps I have other issues or problems that some psychiatrist would relish to study. But tonight, for some reason, the Lord has lead me toward something new – thoughts about the future. Tonight, let’s do spend some time thinking about what might be next. Let’s try to consider what might take place in the...

Patient Urgency – Acts 1:1-11

Have you ever known a married couple who were opposites or were very different from each other? She was 6’2,” and he was barely 5′ tall. He was extremely handsome while she was as plain as a wooden post. She loved her Bible, while he preferred his hand guns. Perhaps you’ve known people who had other very different personalities. He was outgoing and friendly, but she was painfully shy. Or she was an optimist, while he was a constant pessimist. Have you known couples like these who, despite the differences between them, made their marriages work well? They had learned to make their diversities complimentary not adversarial. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean; And so betwixt them both, They lick’d the platter clean.” This evening I’d like to bring together two very different words – two different approaches to life. They aren’t exactly contradictory, and what I hope to show is that we shouldn’t develop one to the neglect of the other. But usually, if we consider either one, it would not be in the light of the other. I’d like to tie together “urgency” and “patience.” Hopefully you’ll be able to think of ways they might be complimentary – supplying strength to one another. But before we get to that point, we need to consider them separately. We have started with a missions text which could be developed into a satisfactory New Year’s message. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” “But ye shall receive power, after that...

Silence in Heaven – Revelation 8:1-5

I believe in God’s sovereignty and His predestination of events – both human and divine. Amen? Do you believe that God has predestinated ALL things? Not so many “amens” for that statement? Most Christians are agreed that the Lord has predetermined the really big things. For example, Jehovah decreed and determined to create the universe. With the measurements of men, how long before creation did the Lord determine to create? The question is foolish, but the fact remains, the Lord intended to create before He actually did so. And the Lord decreed before the creation of the world that Adam would sin, and He also chose to save some of Adam’s descendants. The method of that salvation was decreed as well. The incarnation of God’s Son was not an afterthought, taken up when Israel failed to glorify the Lord. In other words, it was foreordained that Christ be crucified; His death was not a horrible mix-up of plans. Christ “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” Additionally, “he hath chosen us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” God’s foreknowledge and predestination involves your salvation if you are indeed a child of God. But are you willing to say that God’s predestination extends down to the death of a sparrow or the descent of a particular hail stone or even a snow flake? If we are willing to make that statement or even to think that thought, dare we go any farther in applying it?...