COMMENTARY ON JOHN 2

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

Verses 1-2 — So there was a wedding on the third day. That would be Tuesday on the Jewish calendar. Why would someone plan a mid-week wedding? We’re going a little deep here. What happened in Genesis 1 on the third day? In Genesis 1:10, on the third day, the Lord spoke and the land and water separated, so there was dry land and bodies of water. And He saw that it was good. And then, on that same third day, He  spoke and vegetation came, and He saw it was good. Two “He saw it was good” statements in one day! That’s a double blessing! So couples often married on Tuesdays, so their marriages would be doubly blessed.

Jesus’ mother was at the wedding, and both Jesus and His disciples were invited. Mary probably was related to the bride and groom in some way. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have done Verses 3-5. It would not have been proper for her to direct such things, unless she was a relative.

Verses 3-4 — They ran out of wine. In Jewish culture, to run out of wine at a party dishonored the family. So Mary, being a relative, said to Jesus, who was also a relative because she was His mother, “They have no wine.”

“Woman, what does that have to do with us?” Calling her “woman” is not derogatory. He is not insulting her, but He may be separating Himself from her motherhood over Him, since His ministry is about to begin.

He said His time had not yet come. What does that mean? Was He saying that it was not yet time for Him to begin doing miracles to show that He was the Son of God? It seems that way, if we go to Verse 11. But He did a miracle, as we will see in a few verses. None of what transpired here was a surprise to Him, as with Nathanael.

But we can go deeper, as usual. We will see, as we go, along that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write of the actual events, but also to hint at the deeper meaning of them.

Who was bringing the new wine of the new covenant (Matthew 9:17)? Whose blood was represented by the wine He shared with His disciples at the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28)? On the cross, He began the new covenant between God and man (John 3:16 and many other places we’ll review), when His blood was poured out onto the earth. He is the embodiment of new wine, sweet like grape juice, unfermented, and non-alcoholic, pure and clean. But it was not yet time for His crucifixion.

Verse 5 — Mary said to the servants, “Whatever He says, do it.” Great word! Whatever instruction or command Jesus Christ gives you, do it! And God will be revealed and glorified through what happens next.

Verses 6-7 — These stone waterpots contained water combined with ashes of a red heifer, used by the Jews for ritual washing and purification (see Numbers 19:2 and forward). There are a lot of hints of Christ in the ritual described there. For example, He was crucified outside the camp (Jerusalem), and His death provides us with cleansing, if we come to Him. The waterpots were large containers, 20 or 30 gallons each. Think about their size as we continue.

Jesus ordered the servants to fill them to the brim, and they did. I tell you, when He takes you — a jar of clay (2Corinthians 4:7) — and fills you to the brim with His new wine, you will be changed! Oops, I’m giving away what happens next.

Verses 8-9 — Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter. So the servants took a sample to him. The headwaiter brought the bridegroom. Why? It had become wine. When did it become wine? When Jesus said, “Draw some out now.”

The servants knew they had drawn wine from clay pots they had filled with water. And they knew when He said, draw some and give it to the headwaiter, it was wine! They knew Jesus had done a miracle. It is impossible to change water to wine. It defies all natural law.

That is how God operates. The Bridegroom (John 3:29) gave the bridegroom new wine. The Bridegroom gives the church (His bride) His new wine.

Verse 10 — The bridegroom came to the headwaiter, who said the good stuff is served first, and the lower quality stuff is served later, when everyone has drunk freely. But look! This wine is excellent! You’ve kept the good wine until now!

Jesus is the good wine. He is the best. It was time for Him to be sent by the Father. And so He tastes better than anything previously experienced (Psalms 34:8, 1Peter 2:3)!

Verses 11-12 — So this was the beginning of the signs Jesus did in Cana and Galilee. And by them, God attested that Jesus is God the Son, and glorified Him by proving that He is God the Son. And as a result, His disciples believed in Him.

Then He went to Capernaum, the city He chose for the center of His ministry (Matthew 9:1).

Verse 13 — It was the Passover, a feast established when death passed over the Jews in Egypt, just prior to their release. Every Jewish man was required to be in Jerusalem for this feast. The place was packed with people.

Verse 14-17 — Jesus cleans house in the Temple. There was business going on there. But His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7), a holy place where such things were not done.

What was the business about? The pilgrims who had come for Passover needed sacrificial animals to offer in the Temple. The Jewish religious ones in the Temple, who sold the animals, cheated those who bought them. The Pilgrims were required to buy them with Temple money. So their Roman money had to be converted to Temple money. The weights and measures were rigged in favor of the Temple. So, if you gave them a dollar, they said it was worth only 50 cents in Temple money. Thus, they robbed the people. Well, that was one way they robbed them.

But they also robbed them of the experience of entering a holy, sacred place and sensing the presence of God. The Father surely was not present as they cheated His people.

Well, Jesus was not “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” as some of us have been taught. His disciples remembered later that it was written of Him in the Old Testament, “Zeal for Your house consumes Me” (Psalm 69:9). He is a righteous judge, and will someday judge the works of those who are His, and the works of those who do evil. You will see it in John 5.

He judged the robbers in this passage. Matthew 21:13 records that He called the Temple a den of robbers. Not only did they rob the people, but they used the Temple to plan their next caper.

I wonder how much robbery takes place in today’s churches, with the sale of trinkets, books, and cool coffee shops just outside their sanctuaries.

Verse 18 — The Jews wanted to know who gave Jesus the authority to cleanse the Temple. Who gave Him authority? The same One who gave Him authority to cleanse your temple (your heart) to make it a place where His Spirit dwells and has full rule and reign. You will see that in John 14. It is God who gives Jesus Christ authority. He is God’s Son.

Verse 19-21 — So, destroy My body, Jesus says, and I will rebuild it in three days. Yes, He did. He rose from the grave three days after He was crucified and placed in a tomb! But the Jews did not understand Him. They thought He meant the Temple, the building in Jerusalem. But the Apostle John makes it clear in Verse 21. He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Verse 22 — So, when Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, the disciples finally understood what He said in Verse 19. And they believed the Scripture (Hosea 6:2 and Isaiah 53:10) and the word Jesus spoke.

Verses 23-25 — So while Jesus was at the Passover, many believed in His name. They believed He was who He said He was. They believed because they saw the signs, the attesting miracles that proved that He is God the Son.

But Jesus did not entrust Himself to them (believe them), because He knew what was in all of mankind (in their hearts). (See Jeremiah 17:10.) He didn’t need anyone to explain man to Him. He Himself knew what was in man, way back from before Adam sinned, way back in beginning, before time was and before the earth was formed. He was the Lamb prepared before the world was founded (Revelation 13:8, King James Version). He knew man inside and out, because He made man. Through Him all things were created, at the command of the Father (Hebrews 1:2).

 

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GOD’S GREAT PROVISION

[SW179] 04/03/2015 message notes by
Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“God’s Great Provision”

Text: Genesis 22

A foreshadowing of God’s great, amazing provision — His one and only Son, Jesus Christ!

What better time to contemplate such a thing! It is GOOD Friday, the church’s observance of His crucifixion. Why is it GOOD? Because of what happened three days later! He rose! Hallelujah!

Exegesis of Genesis 22 —

vv. 1-2  The Lord calls Abraham responds immediately. He hears God’s voice and says, “Here I am.” So should it be for all of us!

The Lord gave the command for Abraham to do what seems out of character with God, for it was never in His mind to have children burned as a sacrificial offering to Him (Jeremiah 7:31, 32:35). Only those who worshiped other Gods did such things!

So why did He ask?

He gave this command so Abraham would act out prophecy. Hebrews 11:17-19 reveals the mind of God and of Abraham, as he offered his one and only son, the one who was to continue the promise that Abraham’s descendants would bless the earth (see v. 18). Abraham believed that, even if Isaac was sacrificed, God would raise him from the dead. The Lord’s request and Abraham’s response was a type, a symbol of something.

Go to the land of Moriah, which means, “seen of God.”

And there, offer your son, your one and only Son, whom you love1 God recognizes Isaac as the only seed of Abraham, the one through whose descendants the world will be blessed.

Where have we heard that? John 1:14! John 3:16! For God to make this extreme sacrifice, our need must be great, beloved!

Do you already see the parallel to God the Father offering God the Son — His one and only eternally existent, sinless Son?

vv. 3-4 Abraham made preparations, and began the journey to the place the Lord had shown him when the Lord spoke to him. He saw it in the distance, on the third day.

v. 5-6 Now Abraham and the lad (adolescent, teen) went to worship, leaving his two servants behind. Abraham told his servants that both of them would return. See Abraham’s confidence in God! Note: Isaac carried the wood on his back — he was not a little child, but an adolescent, old enough to carry a large load of wood.

Do you see that Jesus Christ also carried a large load of wood on His back, even His cross?

v. 7-8 “My father!” Isaac asked about the lamb for the sacrifice. There was none. What would they offer?

Abraham didn’t say, “You!” Rather, he said, “God will provide FOR HIMSELF the lamb. Provide — that is see. God will see to it! Abraham was confident of it. He believed God, he knew His faithfulness. And they walked on.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Go to Isaiah 53. God saw to it that this sinless Lamb of God bore not only a cross, but our sin, taking the punishment we deserved! And it pleased the Father to do it!

v. 9-10 Isaac willingly accepted being bound and laid on the altar. Abraham was ready to kill and offer his son. It was the same to Abraham as sacrificing himself, for Isaac was his true seed, the promised son.

The Lamb of God, the Son that the Father promised us, willingly accepted being bound, beaten and mocked, for our sake!

v. 11-12 The angel of the Lord (God’s voice) called from heaven. “Abraham, Abraham!” The obedient Abraham said, “Here I am.” Don’t do it! “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” From Me! It is the Lord who is speaking.

I know you fear God —- literally, I know you are a fearer of God, one who worships, reveres, has confidence in, trusts, and loves (see Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

v. 13-14  A ram, a grown lamb, a sacrifice provided seemingly out of the blue, seen by Abraham as he raised his eyes from the altar on which his one and only son laid. A provision by God! On the mountain of the Lord, the mountain where it shall be seen, Mount Moriah!

Do you see it? Jesus Christ, the grown Lamb of God, the one and only Son of God, offered in place of us, a wrath-bearer, taking upon Himself what we deserved!

And it took place on the mountain called Moriah. Many scholars believe Moriah,  the mountain where Isaac was bound and prepared to be offered, is the very mountain where the Lamb of God was provided by the God the Father!

Do you see Him on the mountain? YHWH yireh, the root of which is of ra’ah, which means to see! If you really see it, you will bow down and worship God the Father and God the Son right now!

v. 15-18  The Lord promises that Abraham’s confidence in Him yields great reward! He repeats His promise from Genesis 12 and 15, but adds that Abraham’s descendants will be as the sand on the seashore, and that they will possess the gates of their enemies.

Beloved, if you believe in and are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a recipient of this promise (see Romans 9:8)!

Why did the Lord promise? Because Abraham obeyed, knowing the Lord so well at this point in his life, and loving Him, that he trusted Him even with his one and only son.

Isaac is not mentioned again until Genesis 24, when Abraham’s servant is sent to bring a wife for Isaac. Well! What a picture of Christ, three days in the grave and risen, and His bride, the church, being prepared now by the Holy Spirit for Him.

So what will you do in response? While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you!
While you were yet hostile toward God, He sent His Son! (See Romans 5:8, 10). He demonstrates His own love for us by doing so.

Do you see the Descendant of Abraham, Jesus Christ, through whom the whole world is blessed, when men and women repent, confess their sins, and receive what He has done?

My brother, my sister, fellow believers, and those who are just now believing, will you respond to this grace of God, this love of God, this sacrifice of God on your behalf, this Son who bore our sins?

Confess your condition, confess your rebellion, confess your sin. He will save you who are just now believing!

And brothers and sisters in Christ, your response is Romans 12:1. Christ’s extreme sacrifice requires your extreme commitment, completely and entirely committing yourself to Him! That’s your part of the deal. Then you are able to speak Galatians 2:22 with the Apostle Paul.

Then Christ will live in you and through you, for the glory of God and the salvation of many! Hallelujah!

TRUE LOVE

[SW159] 10/31/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“True Love”

The Lord is urgently calling you to come away! Listen and learn what blocks us from coming away and the Lord’s glorious solution!

Text: Song of Solomon 2:10-13

First, a definition of AGAPE:

— God’s actual love, the same love He has for His Son

— Church so overwhelmed and filled with it in Acts 2 that they chose this unused Greek word for love, to show how different it is from human love!!!!

BUT, FOR MANY:

— Foxes destroy our blossoms, v. 15 (no fruit)
— distractions
— fruit of the flesh, envy, jealousy, in-fighting, hurt feelings,
power plays, sin:

Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality,  20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities,  strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not  inherit the kingdom of God.

—- Foxes separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2)

SO REPENT:

Isaiah 55:6   Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7       Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his  thoughts;
And let him  return to the LORD,
And He will have  compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will  abundantly pardon.

O, Lord! You will pardon Your people and change their hearts IF they seek (enter into relationship with) You! But it is a limited time offer — while You may be found.

The Lord speaks this through Isaiah to Israel, who are God’s people. He speaks it to you today. He says, “Come away!” I will destroy the foxes if you will agree that you have them and I will fill your heart with My love.

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love [agape] of God is shed abroad [to overflowing] in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

WHAT HE COMMANDS TODAY:

— Psalm 45:10  Forget all but Him
— Romans 5:5 Be filled with His true love, His agape, baptized in the
Holy Spirit!

OUR EXCUSE:

Galatians 5:17 For  the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

We say that our flesh will always war against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. We will always struggle. But the Apostle Paul says:

Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If something is crucified, is it still alive? No, it is dead! Hallelujah! You don’t have to carry it on your back. It’s gone, completely gone, and can no longer control you.

He says, “Let me destroy your foxes, fix your eyes on Me and Me alone, and I will fill Your heart with My love and My fruit:

Galatians 5:22 But  the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23 gentleness, self-control [really, Spirit-control]; against such things there is no law.

THE GLORIOUS RESULT:

— He makes us all glorious within (Psalm 45:13ff)!!!
— He makes us the church glorious (Ephesians 5:27)!!!!
— He makes us His beautiful ones
— He makes us able to answer His call to come away with Him!

ENLARGED!

[SW158] 10/24/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Enlarged!”

Oh, God wants to enlarge us, so our hearts are made big enough to contain Him!

Enlarged (7337) — broadened, widened, made into a wide space!

Text: Isaiah 54:1-3

The Lord spoke this to Israel, while they were in captivity, unable to bear, desolate.
And He told them to shout for joy!!! Why? Because He was going to restore them.

He said, “Enlarge!” Make room for Me! Widen your view of Me! Enlarge your understanding of what I can do in the midst of your desolation and barrenness.

His promise? Your desolation will end!

More promises:

Verse 11-12 You are now afflicted and storm-tossed, you are not comforted (returned to Me). But I will garnish you with precious jewels, as a bride is adorned for her Bridegroom!

Verse 13 You will have sons, and they will be taught by Me, and they will have great shalom, peace, wellness, health, spiritual prosperity!

Verse 14-15 I will establish you in My righteousness, and you will no longer be oppressed by fear and terror. No one will assail you — if they try, they will fall.

Verse 16 The Lord created Nebuchadnezzar as His servant to punish Israel for her waywardness. He created all human beings, and uses some for such purposes, to cause ruin that His people would cry out and return to Him.

Verse 17 But once you have returned, no weapon formed against you will prosper, and you will condemn all who accuse you! It is your heritage, your inheritance, when you become a servant of the Lord — one who obeys out of love.

This is reason to shout for joy! God says, prepare yourself, and I will enlarge your heart so I may dwell in you, just as My Son declared in John 14:23!

Enlargement! David, a man after God’s own heart, declared it:

Psalm 119:32  I shall run the way of Your commandments,
    For You will enlarge my heart.

Psalm 119:45  And I will walk at liberty (literally, in a wide space),
    For I  seek Your precepts.

Psalms 118:5    From my distress I called upon  the LORD;
     The LORD answered me and  set me in a large place.

Psalms 18:19  He brought me forth also into a  broad place;
    He rescued me, because  He delighted in me.

He delights in those whose hearts are His! He delights in those who run in the way of His commandments because He has enlarged their hearts so they can contain Him! He rescues them and sets them in broad places!

Do you see the common thread? It is a promise for those who return.

Isaiah 55:6-7

Seek (1875) — enter into relationship with — God!

It is a limited time offer — it is while He is found, while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts!

Let him turn to the Lord — He will have mercy on him, and FREELY pardon him!

You may say, “Well, that is the Old Testament. It doesn’t apply to the church.” But listen to what Paul spoke to the church at Corinth, for some of them were acting wickedly and unrighteously:

2Corinthians 6:17  “ Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
    “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
    And I will welcome you.
18      “ And I will be a father to you,
    And you shall be  sons and daughters to Me,”
    Says the Lord Almighty.

It is a quote from Isaiah 52:11. The condition for the promises of God is to separate yourself from wickedness and unrighteousness, in yourself and in the world.

Turn, and all of His promises in Isaiah 54 that I have spoken of will be yours!

Do what is required by God — turn —  and the promise will be fulfilled in you, and you will be filled full of God!

ALL THINGS ARE NOW READY

[SW149] 08/09/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“All Things Are Now Ready”

Everything is ready now, even now, already! Are you?

Text:

Luke 14:16 But He said to him, “ A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’

Everything is ready now, even now!

As I listened to a message from a dear brother who came to the church I attend last Sunday, those words jumped out at me!

Everything is ready now, already!

It is a big dinner that our Lord is giving —

Isaiah 25:6 The LORD of hosts will prepare a  lavish banquet for  all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of  aged wine,  choice pieces with marrow, and  refined, aged wine.

It is His marriage supper —

Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and  give the glory to Him, for  the marriage of the Lamb has come and His   bride has made herself ready.”  8 It was given to her to clothe herself in  fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the  righteous acts of the  saints.
Revelation 19:9   Then  he  said to me, “ Write, ‘ Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he  said to me, “ These are true words of God.”

It is already ready! The Lord calls His bride to it, even now! Church, all things are now ready! Are you? Then blessed are you (Revelation 19:9)!

How do you get ready? You make yourself ready (see Rev. 19:7).

How do you make yourself ready?

Three things: Read, heed, and plead!
— Read the Word of God. You cannot know God’s will or His heart or His plans unless you do. If you continue constantly in the Word of God, you are truly disciples of Jesus Christ, and you will know the truth, and it will set you free! (John 8:31-32)
— Heed the voice of your Lord. Do not be a mere hearer, who deludes himself, but a doer, who is blessed in all he does! (James 1:21-25)
— Plead for His Holy Spirit to be given to you — He has already been poured out, at Pentecost. Ask, seek, knock, and your Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to you (Luke 11:13)!

Everything is already ready, even now! Therefore, if we profess His name, what kind of people are we required to be?

2Peter 3:11   Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  12  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which  the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the  elements will melt with intense heat! 14 Therefore,  beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be  found by Him in peace,  spotless and blameless . . .

Only if we are in a personal relationship with Him are we able to conduct ourselves in a holy, godly way, at peace with God, spotless and blameless!

Everything is already ready! It is ready to immediately happen, for He is coming quickly, in the twinkling of an eye, to scoop up His church!

He has sent out the invitations to His church. The table is set, clad in the finest linens. The candles are lit, the feast is ready, right now!

But what is this? What does the Lord show me about today’s church?

He says, “Come; for everything is ready now!”

But some beg off, shun, refuse, and avoid?

Why? They have not yet come to know Him.

Professing His name is not sufficient. Going to church is not sufficient. Singing His praise is not sufficient. Doing good deeds is not sufficient.

You must know Him, have holy intimacy with Him. It is altogether lovely to do so, even joy unspeakable and full of glory! That is good for you BUT . . .

It is FOR the glory of the Father and the Son, that the world may know that God sent Jesus Christ (John 17:21)!

Everything is ready, right now, this very moment. What will you do? He says,

Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand  at the door and  knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,  I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 ‘ He who overcomes, I will grant to him  to sit down with Me on My throne, as  I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

He is coming quickly — suddenly — to gather you to the wedding feast. Be ready!

Matthew 24:44 “For this reason  you also must be ready; for  the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Luke 12:40 “ You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not  expect.”

Be ready to enter into the feast! It is already ready!

Be among the five wise virgins:

Matthew 25:6 “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Matthew 25:10 “And while they [the five foolish virgins] were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were  ready went in with him to  the wedding feast; and  the door was shut.
Matthew 25:13 “ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

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.

REBUILDING – HIS INSPIRATION AND STRENGTH

First intercede, then seek provision, then act on the inspiration of God, the heart of God that we have sought and got!

[SW138] 04/26/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — His Inspiration and Strength”

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!
Jesus has shown 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 — Defeating the Enemy

Chapter 5 — Conviction regarding sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance

Chapter 10 — Consecration

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

Ezekiel 22:26-31 describes the spiritual condition of Israel that led to the Babylonian exile of Judah (southern Israel) about a hundred years after Samaria (northern Israel). Judah had sinned greatly against the Lord, and refused to listen to the prophets the Lord sent to them, who warned them to repent. And so God sent them into exile in Babylon for 70 years.

Nehemiah 2:11-20

Nehemiah interceded for Jerusalem after his countrymen brought him the sad news that the city was in great distress and reproach, with its wall broken down and its gates burned with fire.

He asked the Lord for favor with King Artaxerxes, and reminded the Lord of His promise to return them to Jerusalem if they returned to their God.

He found favor, indeed! The king sent Nehemiah with authority, timber, officers of the army and horsemen to rebuild Jerusalem.

Nehemiah now arrived in Jerusalem. After three days, he and a few men secretly went out under cover of night to survey the damage. He likely rode a horse.

He told no one “what my God was putting on my heart to do for Jerusalem.”

That’s the key scripture for this message. All that Nehemiah did was inspired by the Lord! All Scripture is inspired by Him (2Timothy 3:16, 2Peter 1:20-21). All men and women must be, to rebuild Jerusalem then and to rebuild the church now.

And when it is truly the Lord’s inspiration, He will give you His strength, and many will join hands with you to rebuild, just as with Nehemiah. Not all will join you. But many will.

Not all followed Jesus, and ultimately, even His closest disciples abandoned Him. He would like a pretty poor leader, by today’s standards. So would Paul, who lost his head for Jesus, and Peter, who was crucified upside down. What failures, some said. But they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, shepherding the church faithfully and teaching believers that they needed to be filled with all the fullness of Christ. That’s how to rebuild — not by might, not by power, but by the Holy Spirit!

Beloved, beware of who you follow. Many leaders are leading people through the broad gate, and many follow them down the wide path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). I say this because I love you.

Nehemiah did not look to Egypt:

Isaiah 30:1   “Woe to the  rebellious children,” declares the LORD,
    “Who  execute a plan, but not Mine,
    And   make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,
    In order to add sin to sin;
2 Who  proceed down to Egypt
    Without  consulting  Me,
     To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh
    And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3 “Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be  your shame
    And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.

I tell you, beloved, we have been looking to Egypt. We have been looking to business practices, making our pastors CEOs, and we have been trusting in Management by Objectives (MBO) — Peter Drucker has become our advisor! We consult “pop” psychology instead of our Father in heaven. How do I know this? Our great ideas are not scriptural. Therefore, the Lord has humiliated us and made us a reproach.

Nehemiah did not trust in horses and chariots:

Isaiah 31:1   Woe to those who go down to  Egypt for help
    And  rely on horses,
    And trust in chariots because they are many
    And in horsemen because they are very strong,
    But they do not  look to the  Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

Nehemiah did not seek the support or assistance of the pagan nations around him, but rather, spurned it:

Nehemiah 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite  official, and  Geshem the Arab heard it,  they mocked us and despised us and said, “What is this thing you are doing?  Are you rebelling against the king?”  20 So I answered them and said to them, “ The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build,  but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

Nehemiah did not forge ahead under his own inspiration. He interceded, got the heart of God, and God inspired him.

But if our leaders are blind to the spiritual condition of the church, they will not intercede for her. If they seek worldly ways to grow the church, they will ultimately fail:

Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are  wise in their own eyes
    And clever in their own sight!

So Nehemiah told no one what his God had put on his heart to do for Jerusalem, until he had inspected the damage. In some spots, the wall was so broken down that he could not pass through on his mount.

Then he returned and spoke to the people:

Come, let us rebuild
The hand of my God has been favorable to me
The king supports us

I tell you, beloved, they will say, “Let us arise and rebuild” and will put their hands to the work!

The Enemy will mock, despise and accuse. But like Nehemiah, who sought and got God’s heart, we will say to the Enemy:

Nehemiah 2:20 So I answered them and said to them, “ The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build,  but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”  

The sheep gate will be consecrated, and there will be no bolts or bars. Access will be free for every sheep of the Good Shepherd!

Side by side, the people will work, united in purpose.

The gates and walls will be rebuilt!