Rebuilding – Consecrated and Cleansed

[SW143] 06/28/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Consecrated and Cleansed”

Always when I preach, it is as much a message to be worked in my own heart as it is one that is to be delivered to you. And that is so today!

I tell you, He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until Christ comes (Philippians 1:6)! So let the work begin, Lord, in me, in your church, in all believers!

“God’s work!” we say, as He consecrates us and we are baptized in water as a sign of it.

“God’s work!” we cry, as He cleanses our hearts and fills us with His holiness, bringing us into holy intimacy with Him!

In Nehemiah 12:27-30, the completed wall was dedicated, and the priests purified themselves.

It was God’s work.

It began with Nehemiah’s intercession, seeking the Lord’s heart and petitioning Him on behalf of His distressed people.

We have talked about the steps that follow. Now we are at the conclusion.

The dedication of the wall in today’s passage was an outward act done as a sign of an inward conviction, a recognition on Israel’s part that the wall they had worked on was God’s wall, and it was completed only by His provision.

It is like that when we are baptized under the new covenant (God’s promise fulfilled), the one Jesus instituted. We are God’s workmanship:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We could not save ourselves. He saved us and bought us with a price (1Corinthians 6:20) — the blood of His Son.

We acknowledge we are God’s, and no longer our own. He wants us to be His. He wants us to be His children. He made us for that purpose. Step into that purpose!

Just as with the dedication of the wall, baptism yields worship — gladness, thanksgiving, and songs of praise!

Then came the purification of the priests, the people, the gates and the wall  (Verse 30). It was outward, it was external — they performed a cleansing ritual established through Moses.

Under the new covenant, God Himself cleanses us inwardly, purifying our hearts so they are wholly His.

When Jesus walked the earth, He chose His disciples, setting them apart to Himself. And He does that with us today. But then He said (and still says today), “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48).

Peter repeated God’s call when he quoted Leviticus 11:44ff in 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As children of obedience, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

We are consecrated and set apart with water baptism.

But there is a greater work, one that makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, victors who are no longer slaves to sin:

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

If we do not ask for the greater work to be done, we will be as Eliashib, inviting Tobiah (the ways of the world) in, and finding that he displaces everything that feeds worship in us (see Nehemiah 13).

We will be as those who went out and married the world (13:23ff).

We will violate the Sabbath (13:15ff), Christ’s sabbatismos (Hebrews 4:9), the true Sabbath rest of God, where we rest from our own works.

We will distance ourselves from our God by continuing to willfully disobey him (Isaiah 59:2).

But if both consecration AND cleansing are done, then we will hear the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2). These are the keys to effective service.

He will continue to mold and shape us as we go, but our hearts will be ever willing and not resistant.

The church as a whole and we individually must let Him to a complete work in us, consecrating ourselves to Him 100% and asking Him to purify our hearts.

Then the rebuilding of the church (and you and me) will be complete.

Our cry must be as David’s in Psalm 51:10-13.

Then we will hear and walking the way He continues to show us (Isaiah 30:21), obedient from our hearts.

Advertisements

REBUILDING – REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION

[SW142] 06/21/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Repentance and Public Confession”

Beloved, if we speak all of God’s Word to the people, they will repent and publicly confess their sin. Then the people are ready to be dedicated and purified!

Jesus is showing me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Intercession

Chapter 2 — Christ’s provision

Chapters 2 and 3 — His Inspiration and Strength

Chapter 4 — Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 5 — Conviction of sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance/Public Confession of Sin

Chapter 12 — Consecration

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild.

Then we act upon the inspiration of God, the heart of God which we have sought and got!

But in the midst of the building, the Enemy who is Satan will mock, despise and attack us.
How do we defeat him? Spiritual warfare! But remember that we cannot blame Satan for the sin that has caused the church to become broken down.

The next element necessary to the rebuilding is discernment. We cannot fight Satan without it, and only God can give it. Mankind’s natural discernment will never work — we see its results every day in the headlines.

Now we come to the next step in rebuilding the church:

If we speak all of God’s Word to the people, they will repent and publicly confess their sin, which prepares them for dedication and purification!

It is one thing to complete the wall, but more is required to complete the process of rebuilding — the wall must be dedicated/consecrated, and purified.

And so it is with God’s people, both then and now. Our hearts must be consecrated, our hearts must be purified so they are wholly the Lord’s! And only He can do it!

Nehemiah 8 and 9

It was the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of Tishri, the Jewish calendar’s seventh month, which would be October in the Roman calendar. A day of ruach, a day of blowing, a day for the wind of the Spirit to blow through the people, by way of the public reading and interpretation of the Word of God by the priests and scribes!

It was the Feast of Trumpets, the first of the Ten Days of Awe (a time of reflection and repentance), leading up to the Day of Atonement (peace with God), and followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (rejoicing over God’s provision in the wilderness and now, in the harvest).

Oh, beloved! When we reflect and repent, and ask for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to cover us, we will rejoice over God’s provision that kept us in our own wilderness wanderings, and His provision in coming to tabernacle literally inside of us!

When Ezra brought the law before the people, to read and interpret it, they all were attentive. Their ears were to it, spiritually.

Their hearts were open to not only physically hear it, but heed it (James 1:22-25).
They once again revered the Word of God, after they strayed from it, sinned, were sent into exile by God, and then brought back into to the land by Him!

Ezra didn’t give a 20-minute sermon, beloved!

He read from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) from dawn until midday. His fellow priests and scribes stood with him. He was on a podium, above the people so they could see and hear. All the people stood up when he began, and did not sit down until he was done.

Then, after Ezra had read and interpreted the Word of God so the people could understand it, he blessed the Lord, the great God.

What else can we do when we read God’s Word and hear its interpretation with open hearts? We all simply bless the Lord for His greatness, His faithfulness, His love, His justness, and His righteousness!

All the people said, “Amen, Amen,” while lifting up their hands (v. 6).

And then they bowed low with their faces to the ground. Why? I believe the presence of the Lord was there, and when we sense Him, we bow in humility and submission, we bow under His great kabod, His majesty and the weightiness of His presence.

All of them wept when they heard the Word of the Lord (v. 9). They grieved, because they were convicted of how they and their fathers had grieved the Lord. What a picture of the true fear of God, true worship in Spirit and in truth!

They were convicted of their unfaithfulness, having been reminded through the Scriptures of the Lord’s great faithfulness.

But the Feast of Trumpets was not only a day to begin reflection and repentance, but a day of rejoicing and feasting because the Day of Atonement, the time of making peace with God, was coming!

So Nehemiah urged them to eat and drink and share with those who did not have anything prepared. It was a holy day, a day set apart. And beloved, Nehemiah reminded them, “The joy of the Lord is your strength!”

It is our fortress. It is not our joy, but His!

John 15:11 “ These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your  joy may be made full.
John 17:13 “But now  I come to You; and  these things I speak in the world so that they may have My  joy made full in themselves.”

It is not our strength, but His!

It is not our life, but His!

It is not our love, but His!

They rejoiced as they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, and then, in Nehemiah 9:1, on the 24th day of the month, on the appointed day,they mourned and fasted. I tell you, this is the appointed day!

They publicly separated themselves from all foreigners (so they would not worship the things that the world worships), and stood and confessed their sins publicly.

For three hours, the Torah was read, and for three hours after that, the people confessed.
Then the Levites invited them to bless their God, and began to speak of His faithfulness, of all He had given them, of how He had provided for them and made them able to go in and possess the land, fighting against their enemies as they went in.

And the Levites recited all the ways the people had rebelled after faithful Abraham, whose heart the Lord found faithful before Him (v.7). As Abraham stood before the Lord, even seeing His angel, he was found faithful, full of faith in the goodness and mercy of God!

The people’s sins were many:

Verse 16 —
They acted arrogantly,
became stubborn,
would not listen,
and refused to listen,
They forgot the deeds of the Lord,
tried to go back into slavery in Egypt,
and made a golden calf and worshiped it.

Verse 26 —
They became disobedient and rebelled against the Lord.
They cast His law behind their backs.
They killed the prophets who admonished them so they might return to Him.
They committed great blasphemies (acts of contempt) against the Lord.

The Lord let their enemies have at them, they cried out, He delivered them, they sinned again, He punished them by exiling them, He delivered them because He promised He would bring them back in 70 years from Babylon. He kept delivering all who returned to Him, for His own name’s sake and because of His great hesed, His faithfulness as a husband to His people!

The Lord delivered them from captivity in Babylon, but they were still slaves to the King of Persia, in their own land. This speaks to me of the believer who is still a slave to sin.

The solution?

The people must be consecrated (Chapter 12), and purified (Chapter 13). We still have two messages to go, before we see the whole picture the Lord showed me!

The word to today’s church, today’s Christian:

The whole Word of God must be spoken and accurately interpreted.

The people must have ears to hear it, to heed it and not just physically listen, and revere it.

When the Word of God is spoken and the people have ears to hear it, they will repent. Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says!

The church must give the people a means to repent openly, to confess their sins publicly, before the whole congregation.

Let us have Ten Days of Awe, when every believer recaptures the fear of the Lord, the awe of Him, when they once again see His faithfulness and their unfaithfulness.

Peace with God will result, through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ!

Then, the rejoicing will begin, for on the mountain of the Lord, it has been provided (Genesis 22:14, the Akedah) —

—We have Christ, who not only is the means of making peace with God and establishing a face-to-face relationship with God, but also
—We have Christ who also makes the way for our hearts to be filled with His Spirit so our hearts are consecrated (made holy) and made entirely His, no mixture of affections, so we walk in His ways and thus, in His power!

Oh, believe God and not me, a rebuilt church and revival will result!

REBUILDING THE CHURCH — DISCERNMENT

Beloved, if we ask, the Lord will give us discernment, and with that, we will be one step closer to a rebuilt church!

[SW141] 06/14/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Discernment”

Jesus is showing me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Intercession

Chapter 2 — Christ’s provision

Chapters 2 and 3 — His Inspiration and Strength

Chapter 4 — Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 5 — Conviction of sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance/Public Confession of Sin

Chapter 10 — Consecration

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild.

Then we act upon the inspiration of God, the heart of God which we have sought and got!
But in the midst of the building, the Enemy who is Satan will mock, despise and attack us.
How do we defeat him? Spiritual warfare! 

Remember that we cannot blame Satan for the sin that has caused the church to become broken down. Our own lust is at the root of all sin. Our leaders must convict us of our sin, so we will turn from it.

The next element necessary to the rebuilding is discernment.

Discernment. Daniel had it, and refused to eat the king’s unclean delicacies (Daniel 1:8). Jesus had it, and refused to listen to Satan’s entreaty to worship him. Paul and John and Peter had it, and knew how to identify false teachers and false brothers (2Timothy 6:3-5, 1John 4:1ff, 1John 1:6 and 2Peter 3:17ff, to name just a few references)! Discernment. It comes from the Lord, and not the world.

Nehemiah 6

When all of  Israel’s enemies heard that the wall had been rebuilt and no breach remained in it (though the doors had not been set in the gates), they used Satan’s favorite weapons: deception, slander and fear.
They sent a message to Nehemiah. “Come, let us take counsel together.”

“Let us take counsel together.” The Lord asks, “Who have you taken counsel with lately, beloved?”

Or do you say, like Nehemiah did, “I am doing God’s work here. Why should I stop to meet with you?” The message was sent four times, and four times, Nehemiah responded that way.

From the beginning, Nehemiah DISCERNED that his enemies could not have a part in the rebuilding (2:20). He heard of their  mocking, how they despised Israel. They had plotted to fight Israel, and the people feared, but Nehemiah heard of it and equipped the people for battle, and so their plans were frustrated, broken and annulled (4:15).

And these say, “Come let us take counsel together?” They must think Nehemiah has a very short memory! How is your memory, beloved? Do you remember what Satan has said of you? Do you remember his mocking and how he despises you? Have you heard of his plans and asked the Lord to equip you for battle by filling you with His Spirit so Satan’s plans are frustrated, broken and annulled? Why, then, would you take counsel with him now? Why does the church join hands with those who hate Christ?

Our word to Satan must be, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” per Matthew 4:10. And we must know God’s Word and thereby, God’s heart and God’s nature, in order to DISCERN Satan’s nature. And we must DISCERN that it is necessary to have Christ’s nature in us in order for Satan to have to obey when we say, “Begone!”

When you refuse Satan, he will slander you, just as Sanballat and the rest did to Nehemiah (6:6-7). “You seek power, you seek to rule, you’ve appointed your own prophets to say you should lead.” But Nehemiah said, “These accusations are from your imagination.”

Satan is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him. For him, to lie is to speak in his native tongue, it is to speak from his own nature (John 8:44).

When Satan’s lies come at you, do you run to your Good Shepherd? Do you run from the stranger’s voice (John 10), or do you listen to him? Run from the stranger’s voice! Know and believe the Word of God (in your heart) and you will be able to DISCERN!

Nehemiah DISCERNED that his enemies were trying to use fear, which births discouragement. Then the work stops. Nehemiah DISCERNS this truth. So what does Nehemiah do? He prays, “Now, O God, strengthen my hands!” What do you do when Satan tries to make you fear? Are you discouraged? Then you have fallen for his tactics. Stand up now. Cry out to the Lord, “Strengthen my hands!”

Strengthen (2388 chazaq) to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify). O God, fasten upon my hands and seize them, making them strong so the rebuilding may be completed in YOUR strength!

Next, Nehemiah DISCERNS that one of his fellow Israelites, Shemaiah (ShemaYAH, which means “he hears from God”), is trying to bait him, to make him sin.

O beloved, beware! Even from those who call you brother, those who call themselves Christians, who say they hear from God, you may hear Satan speak tempting words.
The Enemy will say, people seek your life — run and hide in the temple! Sounds like a good idea. What better place to hide than in the Lord’s house? But if you are hiding, you do not trust God.

Nehemiah DISCERNED this, and he also knew the Word of God. He could not go into the temple and live (6:11). Beloved, he was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. It was the custom of pagan kings to castrate any men who worked closely with them, so the men would have no sexual desire toward the king’s wives and concubines. Nehemiah was an eunuch. He was emasculated (Deuteronomy 23:1), and thus barred from the temple. To go in would be a sin against God. So he refused.

[NOTE: Praise be to God, since His Son Jesus Christ came and died and rose and ascended, He has now lifted that ban (Isaiah 56:3-5). “To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial.”]

Nehemiah DISCERNED that God had not sent ShemaYAH, for he encouraged Nehemiah to sin!

O beloved, are you with people who say it’s alright to continue to sin against God once you have come to Christ? Do these say they hear from God? If you have asked the Lord for His DISCERNMENT, you will not listen to them.

Satan hires people like ShemaYAH for this reason: that you may become frightened and act accordingly so that Satan is able to say you feared and hid, so he can reproach you (6:13).

Remember Satan, O God, for what he has done. And beloved, remember that we do not war against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities:

Ephesians 6:12 For our  struggle is not against   flesh and blood, but  against the rulers, against the powers, against the  world forces of this  darkness, against the  spiritual forces of wickedness in  the heavenly places.

What is the result, when we have DISCERNMENT? The wall is finished (6:15-19) the worship begins (7:1ff), and God is glorified, for He promised and it is DONE, and has proven Himself faithful to His Word (Psalm 138:2)!

EXHORTATION TO BELIEVERS AND THE CHURCH-AT-LARGE:

Do you have discernment from God and therefore refuse Satan’s invitation to take counsel with him?

Do you have discernment from God, so you know the Good Shepherd’s voice and run from the voice of the stranger?

Do you have discernment from God, so you know Satan’s tactics?

Do you have discernment from God, so you ask Him to clothe you with His armor and fill you with His Spirit and His Word, so Satan cannot harm you?

Do you have discernment from the Lord, so you refuse to sin, even when a brother, one who calls himself a Christian, says, “But I hear from God, and He says it is alright”?

Do you have discernment so you know whether you may test the spirits of men?

1John 4:1    Beloved, do not believe every  spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because  many false prophets have gone out into the world . . . 5  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.  6  We are from God;  he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Through this message, you are convicted that you have sinned, that you have taken Satan’s bait, that some hireling has spoken and you have believed him. If you will agree with God, He will cleanse you of your sin and fill you with His Spirit so you have DISCERNMENT. And He will rebuild your wall and set its gates in place.

But there is yet more — there must be revival with public confession of sin(Nehemiah 8-9), then dedication and purification (Nehemiah 10). These must happen in you individually, and also in today’s church-at-large, so we may be rebuilt to be the church of the Book of Acts, and the world may know that the Father sent His Son:

John 17:23  ” in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected  in unity, so that the world may  know that  You sent Me, and  loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 “Father, I desire that  they also, whom You have given Me,  be with Me where I am, so that they may see My  glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before  the foundation of the world. 25   “O  righteous Father,  although  the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that  You sent Me; 26 and  I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that  the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”