Blessed Builders: Powerful Praise

Blessed Builders: Powerful Praise

Let’s Recap…

Nehemiah’s Problem (Nehemiah 1)
Nehemiah’s Process (Nehemiah 2-3)
Nehemiah’s Persecution (Nehemiah 4)
Nehemiah’s Predicament (Nehemiah 5-6)
Nehemiah’s Proposal (Nehemiah 7)
Nehemiah’s Praise (Nehemiah 8-9)

A People Praising God…

I. God Is Exalted Above All vs. 5-6
Nehemiah 9:5-6 ESV
“Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. 6  “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

“The clearest sensation that a human being has when he experiences the holy is an overpowering and overwhelming sense of creatureliness. That is, when we are in the presence of God, we are humbled and become most aware of ourselves as creatures. This is the opposite of Satan's original temptation, "You shall be as gods.” 
R.C. Sproul The Holiness of God

When is the last time you thought about how big God really is.  My son and I were talking the other day about how timeless God is.  God exists not just geographically and universally, meaning that he is everywhere.  God also do not exist temporally.  I mean that God is not bound by time.  He is everywhere at all times.  That means that God exists in all of His wholeness in the past, the present and the future.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that truth.  

God was so exalted in the ancient word that people were prohibited from speaking the tetragrammaton YHWH or Yahweh.  His name was so profoundly holy that it could not be uttered in everyday ordinary day.  So they came up for a host of names for God.  

El Shaddai: Lord God Almighty
El Elyon: The Most High God
Adonai: Lord Master
Jehovah Nissi: The Lord Is My Banner
Jehovah-Rash: The Lord Is My Shepherd

The list goes on and on and on.  In the ancient times, God’s name was to be revered and holy.  Now we have turned it into a curse word or trivialize it when we are excited in a text message.  

We have even invented an entire field of study dedicated to the study of God. What is theology - the study of God? Really? God is not like a rock, sitting there to be studied. But, still we try.

There is an ancient legend of Saint Augustine, who, as the tale goes, also struggled to understand the Trinity. In the midst of his reflections, he went for a walk on the beach. He saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand with a seashell and then running to the ocean, filling up the shell, and rushing back to pour the water into the hole he had made. "What are you doing, my little man?" Augustine asked.
"I'm putting the ocean in this hole," the boy replied. For Augustine it was a moment of revelation as he realized that he had been trying to do much the same - put the mystery of an infinite God into his finite mind.

Every time a culture encounters God, they try to put into words His inexpressible attributes and each time they miserably fail.  God is simply to big, to profound to be fully comprehended.  

Just read the account of Isaiah when he comes before the incomprwsenable God of the Universe in Isaiah 6.  Isaiah was a religious man.  He was familiar with Kings. Isaiah was witness to all the exploits of the good King Uzziah.  He had seen vast military armies, he had seen huge buildings and gazed upon the King’s court.

Yet nothing could prepare him from what was about to see.  He was about to see God.

Isaiah had a vision of almighty God, the God who had made the universe; the God who hung the sun, moon, and stars; the God who had built the mountains and dug out the oceans; the God of all creation. Rather than try to describe the indescribable, to explain the inexplicable, to express the inexpressible, Isaiah told himself he had better just shut his mouth. "I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips"

When is the last time you really pondered the magnificence of God and your place in the universe? When is the last time that you really praised God for just being God.  Wow, God…you are awesome!  

Psalm 113:4 NLT
For the LORD is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens.

A People Praising God…

I. God Is Exalted Above All vs. 5-6
II. God Is Examining All Hearts vs. 7-8
Nehemiah 9:7-8 ESV
7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

Friend, there is was nothing particularly special about Abram.  He was from a small town. A town named Ur.  What good could possible come from a place named Ur.  Yet, Abram was a listener.  That was one thing that made him different.  Abram was a dreamer.  Yes, Abram was just like everyone else, but he was a good listener, a dreamer, and he was obedient.  God told Him to leave his home and go to a foreign land.  Abram listened and did as he was told.  

Yet, Abram had his problems.  

Abram struggled with fear.  

Abram told lies.

Abram, for all of his belief, struggled with doubt.  

Abram had pretty significant marital problems.

Abram lived with a cantankerous woman. 

Sure, Abram is a giant in the Bible, but I imagine that Abram looked, acted, and felt like most of us. You see, if God had looked at Abram’s outside, he would not have even been a footnote in the Bible.  God looked at Abram’s heart.  He looked so deep that He saw that Abram could be Abraham, the father of a great nation and the start of a race of people that would be called God’s people.  God knew that Abraham descendants would eventually give birth to the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Himself.  

Friend, just about every character in the Bible shares a similar story.  Normal people doing extraordinary things because God looked at their hearts instead of their physical or mental gifts.  

“There is no such thing as a great man of God, only weak, pitiful, faithless men of a great and merciful God.” 
Paul Washer

Years ago, I was a senior in college.  I couldn’t get a job to save my life. I had no degree.  No seminary.  No skills just a few internships.  I would walk in, pass my resume and that would be it.  Off to the better qualified more experienced person.  That happened dozens of times until I ran into a guy named Randy Overstreet.  Randy was the Associate Pastor at FBC Birmingham.  I went into that interview thinking that there was no way that this church would give me a chance.  I even offered to be their maintenance supervisor if that meant I could work there.  

Randy looked at my resume and said, “Well, you don’t have much experience.  You don’t have your degree yet and you haven’t even started seminary yet. Saying that, Stuart I think that you have potential.  If you will stick close to me, listen to me, follow my example, Ill hire you today to be our youth pastor. Can you do that?”.

You can imagine my response.  “YES, ABSOLUTELY!”.

I worked with Randy for 4 short years.  I went one way and he went another.  We are both still serving the Lord.  I will forever be grateful that Randy saw potential in me to do something in ministry.  I promise you this, I would not be here today if it were not for Randy seeing my heart instead of my experience.

Are we guilty of that?  Do we see people’s experience and outside instead of their heart.  Not God! God looks at the hearts and sees our potential to do wondrous things.  That is a great reason to praise him today.  

I Samuel 16:7 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

A People Praising God…

I. God Is Exalted Above All vs. 5-6
II. God Is Examining All Hearts vs. 7-8
III. God Is Emancipating Slaves vs. 9-10
Nehemiah 9: 9-10
9 “And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, 10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 

Point: What Does It Mean To Be A Slave
We have all heard about Isis.  Isis is a horrible organization of people who claim Islam as their religion.  They are mainly in Iraq but they are also in Iran and Syria.  They roll into villages and force Islam on the people and if the people to do not convert, they are beheaded or tortured.  If you are a woman and you refuse to convert to Islam, you could experience beheading, crucifixion, rape or in many cases kidnapping and being sold into slavery.  

Ladies, imagine that for just a second.  Put yourselves in those women’s shoes.  If you do not convert to Islam, you are raped and then sold into slavery.  You never will see your home, your husband or your children.  This happens every single day.  It is a horrible thing to endure.  It is horrible to even think about really.  

Yet, there is an unnamed man in Iraq (he is unnamed because if he were known, he could be killed by Isis) who at his own personal expense, purchases these women from sex slavery and delayers them back to their husbands.  

Watch this video.

Friends, this is what being set free looks like.  This man, whoever he is, is such a picture of God.  First, he finds the women, next he sacrifices for the women, then he reunites the women with their family.  It is absolutely stunning to see up close and personal.  

When the people of Israel were set free from Egypt, this is what it looked like.  They were slaves.  They were oppressed and treated horribly.  God set them free. 

There was a time when you and I were slaves as well.  Slaves to sin and death.  Jesus even tells us in John 8:34 that “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

That sin is ugly and horrible and brings along with it death.  Yet, Jesus set us free.  God made us His. He has set us free to be adopted into His family.

When you worship God, do you recognize your former way of living?  Do you remember your slavery?  Do you worship God today for setting you free and brining you into His family?

Ephesians 1:5 ESV
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

A People Praising God…

I. God Is Exalted Above All vs. 5-6
II. God Is Examining All Hearts vs. 7-8
III. God Is Emancipating Slaves vs. 9-10
IV. God Is Enduringly Patient vs. 16-17
Nehemiah 9:16-17
16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 

"Quite honestly, most people are quick to "write someone off." But our God is a God of the second chance. Learn from One who is patient with you, and you'll learn to be patient with others."
Woodrow Kroll

A "pk" (preacher's kid) told me this one:

One Sunday morning my wife was teaching her class of small girls the subject of patience.

She asked, "What is patience?"

One little girl raised her hand and said, "Patience is when you are sitting in church and the preacher is preaching. You're just sitting there and he is preaching. He keeps preaching and you keep sitting there. That's patience."

I want you to think about something.  Where is the one place you hate to go?  Think about it?

How many of you said that you hating waiting for a green light?

How many of you said that you hate waiting in airport security?

How many of you said that you hate waiting for your morning coffee?

How many of you said that you hate waiting at the doctor’s office?

The other day, I was waiting at the doctor’s office.  No one likes waiting for the doctor.  No one.  Well 15 minutes went by and I was ok.  30 minutes and a part of my soul died.  An hour went by and I went to the receptionist and asked if her if I was being filmed for some reality show about people losing their tempers.  An hour and 15 minutes went by and my cell phone died because you can only play Crossy Road so many times.  Finally, after and hour and a half I was seen.  

Friends, I have always thought I was a patient person but in that moment I discovered that I am not that patient.  

Now, think about God.  How many times did God wait for His people to keep their promises.  Over and over again they would promise they would follow them.  Over and over again they disappointed them.  Friends, we worship a patient God. A loving hopeful long suffering God.  A God who does not give up on us and forgives us over and over again.  

2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

So How Should We React?  We Should PRAISE Him!

Pray Continually
Read The Word
Acknowledge Jesus As Lord
Invest Yourself In His Church
Serve Othes and Share Faith
Encourage Others

Turn This Information Into Action!


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