Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Deception of Sin

Romans 7:11  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

I could not help but think of this verse and the topic of the deception of sin this morning. As a pastor, I have the privilege of speaking and counseling with many people. My heart often breaks for those who are grieved by the choices of the family they love. Fathers and mothers praying and pleading with their children and grandchildren; kids hoping and praying that their family will stop sending them to church on the church van and actually come with them one Sunday morning; a strained relationship between spouses that weighs heavy on their heart. Unfortunately, I could go on and on. Why so much heartache? Why so much hurt and confusion? It is a simple answer, with devastating consequences – sin.

Satan has fed mankind the lie that sin is not that big of a deal, and there are no consequences to deal with. When that young lady decides to take that first drink of alcohol, she never plans on becoming a drunk who ruins her family, and even worse, takes the life of a innocent bystander because of her choice to drink and drive. That young man, when he decides for the first time to search and find pornography on the internet, never thinks that eventually his heart will grow away from his wife and kids and he seek immorality with another woman and tear his family apart and scar his children for life. Often, when faced with the temptation of sin, we do not consider the long-term consequences that it will bring. Unlike Moses, we decided to enjoy the pleasures of sin, but that pleasure is fleeting. We have been deceived, and the pain and destruction can last a lifetime.

But God has not left us without an answer.
Hebrews 12:1-2  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  (2)  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What is needed today is honesty. Honesty with ourselves – yes, we have a sin problem. No more excuses. And honesty with God – God, I am a sinner. By your Holy Spirit working through me, help me to recognize my besetting sin and lay it aside. Let’s make this our prayer today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Good Blog I wanted To Share With You Today

Here is a link to a good blog post that I wanted to share with you today about taking in account the entire Word of God, and not just a verse or two: http://tjrds.blogspot.com/2011/07/isolated-texts.html

Friday, July 15, 2011

Proper Planning – Part 2 of 2

Nehemiah 06
  Nehemiah 3
In part one, dealing with the issue of proper planning, we saw the Head of the plan. Today, we see:


As great of a leader as Nehemiah may have been, it would have been nothing if the people did not follow him and do the work. They were willing to work Wherever. Everyone who wanted to work was allowed to. While some got to stay close to home and work, others had to commute to other parts of the city for their responsibility. Everyone did not necessarily work where they were trained/experienced – 3:8-9. Here, we see a goldsmith, a pharmacist, and a politician, working side by side the walls and the gates. One of the great aspects about a church is that you get all kinds of people, from all walks of life, whose paths would for no other reason ever cross, working side by side serving the Lord.

We also notice that They were willing to work Without Complaining. Some had to work in more difficult places, and did so with out complaining. Some did more work than others, without complaining – 3:11, 19, 21, 24, 27, 30.  You notice a phrase that is repeated in these verses: another piece. These people did their responsibility – and then some. When it comes to the church, we need to understand that not everyone gives the same or does the same amount of work. But everyone does their responsibility, and those who do or give more don’t complain.
Luke 12:48 …For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required….
Instead of looking around and comparing what you are doing in the church compared to others – just do more!

Not everyone had the most desirable place to build on the wall, but they had a good attitude, a smile on their face that originated from their heart – 3:14. Here we read of someone from a royal family working in what amounts to their sewage system. Compare this to the following verse – 3:15. Wouldn’t you rather work near the fountain and not the sewer?! This just shows the heart of many who worked in that they did so without complaining, even when others had a “better” job than they did. Too many times today we get stuck with a difficult task, and instead of embracing it and tackling it we complain that we have it harder than others and that it is not fair. We need to have the attitude of 3:20. The word “earnestly” in the Hebrew means to glow, to be zealous. There are a lot of times where we may do what is right, but not earnestly with zeal. Let’s all find our place on the wall here at the church and work earnestly with a zeal and passion for the Lord.


No matter how great and important a plan may be, there will always be those who try to hinder it. Satan is in the hindering business, and he uses people as his pawns for this purpose. We notice two hindrances here from chapter three.

The first hindrance we notice is that Some Refused To Work – the nobles – 3:5. The church is likened to a body.
Ephesians 4:16, “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
When a certain body has a part that does not function properly, that body is considered handicapped, or disabled. The same can be said about the church today when a Christian refuses to do their part in the work of the Lord. You are here today because God has led you and your family here. If you refuse to work, you cause this body of believers to be spiritually handicapped and prevent us from reaching the goals that God has set before us.

So, while some refused to work, we notice that… Some Returned to the worldEliashib - 3:1, 20-21 ;13:4, 7-9. Here, we read about the sad case of Eliashib. It is sad because here was a man that was working on the wall, helped to repair the gates, and yet will eventually turn his back on his brethren. He was allied, or married into, the family of the enemies of Israel – Sanballat and was in alliance with Tobiah. As we will talk about this more when we get to chapter 13, this reminds us that it is not only important to start right, but to end right.
The Bible says there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents and is born-again, and I rejoice too. But the longer I pastor, the more and more I rejoice over those who remain faithful. Lets determine to not be a hindrance, but to get involved in the work, and not turn back,

By all accounts in reading this portion of Nehemiah, we can honestly say that it is not the most exciting chapter of the Bible. But when we consider all that is accomplished in this chapter, we can say that it is an unexciting chapter that leads to an exciting conclusion. That conclusion being the rebuilding of the walls and gates.

And I believe this is typical of our lives today.

For the most part, our lives are often not that “exciting.” The task of everyday living and fulfilling the plan we have in place for spiritual success can be sometimes monotonous. But it is through everyday consistency that God blesses and rewards the Christian. Have a plan – work that plan – and don’t allow yourself to be hindered from it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Proper Planning - Part 1 of 2

Nehemiah 06
As we come to chapter 3, we come to place where the “rubber meets the road.” Nehemiah developed the burden for the city; he passed that burden on to the people; now it is time to build. It has been said that the hardest part of any task is just getting started. That’s why tomorrow is the favorite day to do everything! Accomplishing anything for God, whether it is through ministry here in the church God has led you to, or in raising a godly family, is a task that requires proper planning. But many Christians never succeed in their plans because they lack the proper planning. It has been said well by others before us in relation to accomplishing any task before you, that if you fail to plan, then plan to fail. What is your plan for yours and your family’s future? We learn from this third chapter of Nehemiah two parts of a successful plan, and we also will see what can hinder that good work.
The first thing we notice is…THE HEAD OF THE PLAN
In every family, organization, job, etc., that has to be someone who is ultimately in charge to have a plan in place. This individual is the one that God has burdened his or her heart for the situation at hand. In our text, Nehemiah is that person. In many ways, what we read here is an example of the New Testament church. We are given a good blueprint for how not only our personal lives, work situation, and families should be run, but also this church.
The first thing we notice is The Responsibility of Nehemiah’s planNehemiah had a responsibility to find a place for everyone to work. If you notice, he assigned many of them to area where they lived. 3:1 – the priest by the sheep gate, which they considered to be holy ground because it was the place that the sacrificial lambs would enter in that they used for the atoning services. By the way – this would be the same reconstructed gate that Jesus, the Lamb of God, would enter the city through! Reminds us that you never know who or what your work will be used for – so do it to the best of your abilities.
Nehemiah also had the task and responsibility to motivate the people to work and fulfill their task. There were a lot of people doing jobs that they never had done before. Many kings, priests, etc who may have never picked up brick laying and carpentry tools in their life and now hammering away at the gates and slopping mortar for the walls. People, whether it is in our families or in the church, are often crippled by fear. It is the job and responsibility of the leader to motivate them to continue on. And the greatest way to motivate is by being a loving example. Think about Nehemiah – he did not scold the people for allowing the walls and gates to get into such poor condition. He wept with them, and took on the responsibility of a construction foreman, a job for which he had no known experience.
Now, we notice The Reason for Nehemiah’s plan. The main Purpose of Nehemiah’s plan was to protect the people. They needed these walls and gates to protect themselves from the enemy that surrounded them. That is the obvious reason here, but lets look at the not so obvious…What it Pictures. These gates represent different aspects of the Christian life. (From Warren Wiersbe):
  • Sheep Gate – 3:1 – reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Not only was this the first gate repaired, it is the only gate with no lock, representing that anyone can enter into the gate of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • The Fish Gate – 3:3 – reminds us of Soul Winning and how Jesus has called us to be fisher’s of men.
  • The Old Gate – 3:6 – reminds us of God’s unchanging truths, and how we are to seek the Old Paths of the Bible. While the world is always looking for something new, we look to the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • The Valley Gate – 3:13 – reminds us of the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ who left the glories of heaven to take on the form of man to be our sacrificial saviour. The valley’s of life may not be enjoyable, but God often leads us through them for our good and His glory.
  • The Dung Gate – 3:14 – Reminds us of the daily cleansing we need from sin as Christians - 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
  • The Gate of the Fountain – 3:15 - Is an illustration of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39).
  • The Water Gate – 3:26 – This speaks of the Word of God. This is also the 7th gate, and the #7 represents completion in the Bible – the perfect Word of God!
  • The Horse Gate – 3:28 – The horse represents war and warfare, which is a reminder to us that the Christian life is a battle, and we have an advisory, the devil.
  • The East Gate – 3:29 – Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. This east gate is a reminder to us the Jesus is coming soon.
  • The Miphkad Gate – 3:31 – The word Miphkad in the Hebrew means command, assignment. It reminds us that we have a command to live for the Lord and will have to give an account to Him one day.
We need to recognize what gates we have allowed to deteriorate and formulate a spiritual plan to rebuild them once again.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Nehemiah 05
Nehemiah 2:11-20 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.  (12) And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.  (13) And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.  (14) Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.  (15) Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.  (16) And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.  (17) Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.  (18) Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.  (19) But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?  (20) Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

In part one we covered the first quality in a good leader, they Privately Inspect the Conditions. In part two, we saw that a good leader is Personally Involved in the Conflict. Today, we will cover the final quality:


When considering critics, and the pest that they can become, member this, “There is no opportunity without critics (Davey, pg 50).” We notice in verse 19 the  Response of the Critics 2:19. Who were these critics? Sanballat was governor of Samaria. Tobiah ruled Ammon. Geshem ruled the Arab nations with his sons. So, as we see, Nehemiah and Israel were surrounded by critics. Like Elijah of old, sometimes it may seem that our enemies surround us and outnumber our friends. But remember, everything and everyone that opposes God will oppose you when you step out by faith to serve Him. “There is no opportunity from heaven without opposition from hell (Swindoll, pg 58).”

We notice that they ridiculed and mocked them. And when we get to chapter 4, we see that this is a favorite tactic of theirs. It has been said that, “Mockery and ridicule are the weapons of those who have no other.” Public ridicule is still the norm today for those who oppose God and the Bible. We see that in the Media…Hollywood…and Public Educational System. And if they can’t embarrass you, they will try to intimidate you, just as they tried to intimidate Nehemiah. But Nehemiah understood what was penned many years later in the New Testament in 1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

In verse 20 we see Nehemiah’s Response to the Critics2:20. When you face opposition, understand that opportunity is just around the corner. Nehemiah did not allow his critics to deter or stop his work for the Lord. You family, church, co-workers, etc. are depending upon your leadership – don’t give up and don’t give in! The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

I remember reading an illustration somewhere about a boy who was being bullied for his lunch money everyday of $2.50. So one day he decides to sign up for karate lessons so he could defend himself. He showed up for his first lesson and the instructor tells him it will cost in $5 a lesson. So, he decides the next day to just give his money to the bully because the fight is not worth it! Too many Christians today are willing to “pay the bully,” than to stand up and fight and build for the Lord. The work is worth it so give it your all.

So, as we close this three part blog series, how do you rate as a leader? Remember, you’re only a leader if someone is following you! Get alone with God and get a God-given burden for your family, you church and the Lord’s work. Enlist the help of those around you and motivate them to fulfill God’s purpose. And don’t let anyone deter your from fulfilling your responsibility. Let me leave you with a thought from Dr. V. Raymond Edman – It is always too soon to quit!