RESTORERS OF RUINS

[SW220] 02/12/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Restorers of Ruins”

Nehemiah’s name means, “Yahweh comforts.” Jesus Christ wants you to see that, when you are filled with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, you will have a front row seat to watch Him work through you to restore ruins!

Texts: Nehemiah excerpts

Chapter 1 specific phrases:

v. 2 — I asked them concerning the Jews . . .

Has the Lord put it on your heart to be concerned about the state of your fellow human beings? Then He is calling you. It is a call to every Christian on the planet.

What is He calling you to?

v. 3 — The report: Great distress, broken down, burned . . .

You will hear a report that your fellow human beings are in great distress. They are in ruins — their walls and gates of protection are broken down by the enemy of our souls. Why? There are so many reasons, there were so many reasons for me, but the bottom line is sin. All have sinned and have fallen short of (lack) the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But He means to restore ruins, and put His glory in them!

v. 4 & 6 — I sat down and wept and mourned, fasting and praying, day and night;

All Israel and I and my father’s house have sinned . . .

The first step for restoration of ruins is for the restorers to weep, mourn, fast and pray day and night, and to confess the sin of those who are in ruins.

Even though Nehemiah was either born in captivity in Babylon, or just a child when captured, he confessed the sin of him and his fathers, though he had not sinned as they had. But he took upon himself their suffering, and carried his burden to the Lord, in prayer.  Sound like Anyone we know? It will be the description of you, when you become a restorer of ruins.

v. 8 — Remember the word, “If you return to Me . . .”

After weeping and mourning, fasting and praying, you may humbly remind the Lord of His promise that, if even you would repent and confess the sins of those who are in ruins, they would turn and He would gather them and bring them back to Himself.

v. 11 — Grant compassion with the king . . .

We serve a compassionate Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. If you go to Him on behalf of those who are in ruins, you will experience His great compassion for them; you will be inwardly moved, as He is.

Chapter 2 specific phrases:

v. 3 — City lies desolate, consumed by fire . , ,

Report to the Lord that you see the desolation, the burned-out ruins.

v. 4 — What would you request? I prayed to the God of heaven . . .

Pray to the God of heaven. He asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do?” The man said, “Restore my sight!” And Jesus did. And He will show you favor, when you ask Him. Ask Him what?

v. 5-6 — Send me, that I may rebuild it, so it pleased the king to send me . . .

Ask Him to send you. If your cry is, “Here am I. Send me,” the Lord will do it. That cry is always the cry of those who are Spirit-filled, who readily see the ruins of other lives. They are outward-focused, compelled to bless others, to let Christ use them to restore!

v. 7-8 — Letters that they may allow me to pass through, letter to Asaph for timber for beams for gates, the wall of the city, and the house to which I will go.

Tell the Lord exactly what is needed to restore the ruins. You need help to get through Satan’s territory. You need strong foundation-building material — the very Word of God and the power of God — to rebuild gates, walls, and houses.

v. 9 — The king sent me with officers of the army and horsemen . . .

The King of kings will give you more than you ask for. He is the God of more than enough. He will send protecting angels with you, the very hosts over whom He is Lord.

v. 10 — Very displeasing to enemies . . .

Satan will be upset when he hears the news that restoration is on the way.

v. 11 — Night, told no one what my God was putting into my heart . . .

Without making it known, go about the ruins of each life, take note of the damage. Let the ruined ones speak. Be still. Let them pour out their hearts to you. God has put something in your heart, but it’s not time to tell them until you compassionately listen to them tell you about their ruins.

v. 17 — You see the bad situation . . . come, let us rebuild so we are no longer a reproach . . .

Society unfailingly disapproves of and shuns people whose lives are in ruins. But you will hear a word from the Holy Spirit, “You see the ruins. Come, let us rebuild!” And when the ruins are restored, there will be no more shunning. Instead, the world will want to know how the ruined one became restored. That’s the whole plan!

v. 18 —The hand of my God had been favorable. Let us arise and rebuild!

The hand of your God is favorable, Spirit-filled Christian. You will say, with the Holy Spirit, “Let us arise and rebuild!”

Chapter 3:

All build in unity . . .

It is not a superficial, outward unity, but an inward unity of heart that only God can work IN us (John 17:21, 26).

Chapter 4 —

v. 1 & 3 Enemy furious, very angry, mocking, casting doubt . . .

When he sees the work begin, the enemy of our souls will be furious and very angry. He will mock and cast doubt. But you will listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and continue your work. You will run from the voice of the enemy. His voice is nothing like your Good Shepherd’s voice. Spirit-filled Christian, you know Satan is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1John 4:4). Rebuke Satan, in the name of Jesus.

v. 6-8 — So we built the wall to half its height. The repair (healing) of the walls, further enemy threats . . .

You will reach the halfway point in completion of the restoration of the one who is in ruins. The report of the repair (I love that the Hebrew word means “healing”) reaches the enemy’s ears, and he threatens to attack and kill.

v. 9 & 14—  But we prayed to our God, remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight . . .

But you pray and fight! You are equipped with God’s own armor that He has tailored to fit you perfectly! You fight with the sword of Spirit which is the Word of God, and with prayer.

Chapter 6

v. 8 — The enemy spreads lies. But now, O God, strengthen my hands . . .

Satan will try to spread lies about you. But you will pray, and the Lord will strengthen you.

v. 10 — Enemy temptation to sin, I perceived God had not sent him

The enemy will tempt you to sin in order to escape enemy capture, but you will perceive that the one tempting you is really a mouthpiece for Satan (knowingly or unknowingly). So you will not sin.

v. 15 — The wall was completed in fifty-two days . . .

You, the restorer of ruins, will complete the rebuilding in a miraculously short period of time!

How wonderful! How exciting! Hear the promise from the Lord in Isaiah, for Christians who cease their inward focus and look outward, because they have asked the Lord to fill them with His Spirit and God’s actual love —

Isaiah 58:12  “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;

You will raise up the age-old foundations;

And you will be called the repairer of the breach,

The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Christian, put away your outward piety. The Lord is not impressed by it. Ask Him to clean you up on the inside, to fill you with His Spirit, and then your eyes will be opened to see the ruins around you. And you will have a front-row seat to watch Him use you to restore them!

I know about ruins, beloved. First I was in ruins from drugs, and God graciously restored me after I cried out in the middle of the night. Then, many years later, I was in ruins from MS — feet paralyzed, legs partially paralyzed, bladder paralyzing, knotted muscles no muscle relaxant could ease, severe tremors in my head, eyesight ever decreasing, and cognitive dysfunction — I could not think.

Are you in ruins? Pastor Doc was the restorer God used for my ruins. He asked about me, so the Lord gave him the report of my ruins. Then Jesus gave him a vision of me healed. Pastor Doc wept and prayed and fasted, He asked the King for all he needed to pass through enemy territory and rebuild me, and it was done in a miraculously short period of time!

Those in ruins, I have seen you. I have heard the bad report. I am always weeping, praying and fasting for you. And I will pray with you now.

π

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ASK FOR RAIN!

[SW177] 03/20/2015 message notes by
Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“Ask for Rain”
Word:  The Lord is setting the stage for revival. It’s time to pray!

Text: Zechariah 10:1ff

Spoken to: The remnant that returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Zechariah and Haggai prophesied to the rebuilders, encouraging them (Ezra 5:1, 6:4), for their natural AND spiritual restoration!

v. 1 Ask rain from the Lord at the time of the spring rain — it is spring, as of today!

— Ask rain not from man, but from the Lord! He is the only One who has what we need — His life, His heart, His love and His power in us!

— So if we ask the Lord, He will give us showers of rain

Joel 2:23 NIV    Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.

Showers of blessing (Ezekiel 34:26)!

— And we who are His people will be fruitful and have abundance once again. What abundance? The Holy Spirit. What fruit? His fruit. When His fruit is manifested, many souls will be saved.

Rain represents blessing and revival. The need to pray for it means something has been amiss between God and us. The next verse tells us what is amiss.

v.v. 2-3a False gods, false shepherds

— We have looked to dead, inanimate things that cannot answer us (Psalm 115:4-8), rather than to the living God. We have listened to ear ticklers, so we are wandering sheep without a shepherd. We have not heeded the voice of the Good Shepherd.

v. 3b But the Lord has visited his flock! He is our true Shepherd!

— Why does He use the past tense? Because in heaven, where He dwells, He sees the end, and He sees the beginning. He sits above time, so He says He has visited, even before we see that He has visited.

— Visit means He will go to see, avenge, care for, deliver to keep, and remember!

When we went astray, He left us to our own devices. But He has not forgotten us. At the appointed time, He returns to us — that’s what “remembered” means.

— He will make us like HIS majestic horse in battle.

— Horses were a superior instrument of warfare battle in those times.

— They were a symbol of swiftness, sure-footedness, power.

— No longer will we trust in men or natural horses. Instead, we will be like the Lord’s horses! Swift. sure-footed, powerful in His power! And He never loses a battle!

v. 4     His Cornerstone —  His Christ
His tent peg — His support
His bow of battle (He trains our fingers for battle, and makes us able to bend               a bow of bronze (Psalm 144:1, 18:34)
His rulers — no longer chosen by men, but by Him

v. 5     We will be as mighty warriors (2 Cor 10:5)
We will tread down the enemy (1John 4:4, James 4:7)
We will fight, for the Lord will be with us (2 Chronicles 20:15, 20)

v. 6    The Lord will strengthen us (make us firm so we prevail against the Enemy)
He will deliver us (save us out of the miry clay we’ve been in)
He will bring us back to Himself
He has racham toward us (tender mercy, like a mother toward her child)!

It will be as though He never rejected us (cast us off, moved us away from Him), though He did reject us when we followed false gods and false shepherds.

Why? Because HE is our God.

He will visited us, go to see  us, avenge us, care for us, deliver us to keep us, and remember us!

v. 9 Our exile from His presence caused us to remember Him, and now, He will remember us.

v. 10 He will bring us back from sin (Egypt).

v. 11 We will cross over and out of the sea of distress (trouble, anguish) and not drown in it.

He will strike the waves in the sea, as in the Exodus, so that even the mightiest waters dry up.

The scepter will depart Egypt — sin will no longer rule us.

Assyria’s (in this case, a typology or symbol of Satan as well as a real kingdom) pride will be cast down, it will fall down, Satan will fall down.

v. 12 Again, He says I will strengthen you in Me.

— Not in our own strength

— And He says, “They will walk in My name,” as representing Me, having My character and nature. He declares it!

We will, indeed, become partakers of the divine nature, and that will permanently repair the rift between us and our God. HALLELUJAH!

Beloved, a warning from the Lord — when He sends the rain, do not try to manage it or manipulate it. Just stand by and let Him work in hearts. Simply rejoice as you watch Him!

And remember, it will no longer be necessary to work real hard to be like Jesus — He will do the heavy lifting. All we have to do is agree with Him as we walk with Him!

Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain! He is coming to visit us once again, to free His people and bring them back to Himself!

Come back to Him even now, this very moment! Cast away your idols and false shepherds to the moles and the bats! Now is the time!

THE BIBLE IS LIKE A DIAMOND

I returned home with Jeff one night, after a Bible study at our church, back in 2002. My heart overflowed with joy because we have the privilege of peering into the Word of God, to see His loveliness and to know Him more fully. The Lord had baptized me in the Holy Spirit a couple of months prior to that night.

As I sat on the couch with a cup of cocoa, a vision came to me. It was a diamond, and a hand was turning it in a light. As it turned, the outer and inner facets sparkled — light came from each facet as it was exposed to the light. Then I saw a package, wrapped many times over. Then I saw angels in heaven unfolding God’s plan like a road map, but there was no end to the unfolding, because He is infinite and so is His plan. Immediately, this song, complete with lyrics and melody, came to me:

Your Word by Susan Wynn©2002

The facets of Your Word, Father, are lovely to behold; they beckon me to know it and the truths within You’ve told.

They draw me closer, closer still, until at last I view, a true and glorious picture of the one that I love — You.

Your Word is guiding me to You, I peer into its center; with it You draw me close to You and You now let me enter the room where all the plans are set, the room where you are seated, and I realize it’s not the view but me that’s being completed.

Your Word is like a gift to me, I endlessly can open; each layer of paper lifted shows a new and deep truth spoken.

At last I see the fullness of the plan that is unfolding; the height and depth of Your great love is what I’m now beholding.

Your Word is guiding me to You, I peer into its center; with it You draw me close to You and You now let me enter the room where all the plans are set, the room where you are seated, and I realize it’s not the view but me that’s being completed.

I pray you become so hungry and thirsty that you pick up the Word of God and begin to lift its layers of paper so you may see the gift of God that it reveals. I pray you ask the Holy Spirit’s hand to turn it in the light of Jesus Christ, so glimpses of the knowledge of God appear as lights flashing from it. I pray His lights illuminate you and convict you of sin. I pray they bring you to repentance, and then draw you so close to God that you ask to be filled with the Spirit and God’s actual love, holiness, and power. Then you will be able to enter the very throne room of God,* to see His endlessly unfolding plan and to participate in His work, in Jesus’ name

*Psalm 24:3  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy  place?
4  He who has  clean hands and a  pure heart . . .

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 – 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!

CONVICTION OF SIN

[SW140] 05/17/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church —  Conviction of Sin”

Beloved, unless we publicly convict church members regarding their sin, we will not have victory against Satan, and the Lord will not rebuild us!

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 — Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 5 — Conviction of sin

Chapter 6 — Discernment

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repentance

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! But we cannot blame Satan for all that has caused the church to become broken down. Lust is at the root of all sin (see James 1:14-15).

What sent Judah into exile? The same thing that sent Samaria into exile — sin.

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.

Didn’t their leaders warn them about sin, and remind them of the commandments of the Lord? They did not, but were more interested in gaining the praise of the world and the people than in gaining the praise of their God:

Lamentations 2:14 Your  prophets have seen for you
    False and foolish visions;
    And they have not  exposed your iniquity
    So as to restore you from captivity,
    But they have  seen for you false and misleading oracles.

Review of Nehemiah 1-4

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 arrived in Jerusalem, with something God was putting on his heart to do for Jerusalem. After surveying the destruction, he spoke to the people:

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

The Enemy insulted, threatened and mocked the Jews, because he heard they were rebuilding and repairing (the original Hebrew word means “healing”). He tried to plant doubt and fear in the hearts of the rebuilders. But Nehemiah and others prayed, the people were armed for defense and watchmen were appointed, and the Enemy’s plans were foiled. Praise God!

Nehemiah 5

Enemy attacks aren’t the only threat to rebuilding, though. Sin is also a threat, just as it was for Judah when God sent them into captivity.  God will not fight for us if we stubbornly rebel against Him. Sin separates us from God:

Isaiah 59:1   Behold,  the LORD’S hand is not so short
    That it cannot save;
     Nor is His ear so dull
    That it cannot hear.
2 But your  iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
    And your sins have hidden His  face from you so that He does not hear.

He will not hear the prayers of sinners, even those who are His own people:

John 9:30 The man [born blind and healed by Christ] answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes.  31 “We know that  God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”

Nehemiah knew very well that sin among the people was the cause of their exile, and that God kept the Israelites from having victory at Ai until the sinner had been convicted and the sin cleansed from the camp. When Joshua fell on his face after Israel’s defeats, hear the word of the Lord to him —

Joshua 7:10   So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?  11 “Israel has sinned, and  they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.  12 “Therefore the  sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their  backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.

What was the sin for which Nehemiah rebuked the people of God? Usury.

God commanded them not to charge interest or make a profit on their fellow Israelites — that is usury. From the New Living Translation —

Leviticus 25:35    “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you.  36 Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative.  37 Remember, do not charge interest on money you lend him or make a profit on food you sell him.  38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.”

Famine was still in the land during Nehemiah’s time. Poorer Jews could not afford grain from their richer brothers. So the richer brothers used the law of supply and demand to satisfy their greed, and the poorer ones were driven to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and houses so they may eat. Some of the poor borrowed from the rich, and were charged interest, to the point where they had to sell family members into slavery to pay their debts. Nehemiah and his house did no such thing (Verse 10), but acted in obedience to God, lending without interest. He did not place burdens on the people nor domineer them, but fed them from his own table, for he feared God (Verses 14-18).

When Nehemiah heard the outcry of the poorer Jews, he was very angry with the rich (Verse 6). He contended with them, rebuking them for their sin PUBLICLY, holding a great assembly against them (Verse 7).

For today’s church

God has not changed. There is sin in the camp of the church. We cannot forcefully stop Christians from sinning, but if we faithfully warn and exhort them to ask the Lord to crucify the sin nature they were born with, the Lord will rebuild the church, just as Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt by Nehemiah and the people of Israel who returned from captivity.

Beloved, sin is the elephant in the room in the church. It’s large and it stinks, and yet we simply ignore the fact that it is there!

I know that the sin nature of many is alive and well in the church, or we would not constantly sin against the Lord, striking each other with wicked fists, satisfying our own egos at the expense of others, backbiting, evil speaking, playing power games, always seeking God’s blessing while we disobey Him, doing everything Paul describes:

1Corinthians 6:9   Or  do you not know that the unrighteous will not  inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived;  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor  effeminate, nor homosexuals,  10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will  inherit the kingdom of God.  11  Such were some of you; but you were  washed, but you were  sanctified, but you were  justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

We have been set apart (sanctified), we have been justified (forgiven of our past sins because of our faith in Christ), just as Israel was set apart and justified in the eyes of God (and will yet be, when they recognize that their Messiah has already come).

But like the Corinthians, today’s church is full of sin, and again, in some churches they welcome continuous, willful disobedience against God (see 1Corinthians 5)!

Beloved, few leaders of today’s churches preach in the Holy Spirit. If they did, they would preach about sin and its consequences, so as to bring church members to repentance. It is not just those who do not know Christ who need to repent, but also those who are Christians, as Jesus shows us in Revelation 2 and 3, and as Paul and Peter and James and the rest warn the church in their letters to the churches!

Again, when Nehemiah heard the outcry of the poorer Jews, he was very angry with the rich (Nehemiah 5:6). He contended with them, rebuking them for their sin PUBLICLY, holding a great assembly against them (Nehemiah 5:7).

God has not changed. Paul PUBLICLY exhorts the sinning Corinthian church about their sinning brother who is having sex with his father’s wife (1Corinthians 5:1-2, 5). Paul instructs Timothy to publicly exhort (1Timothy 5:20). I exhort the church of today PUBLICLY for having sex with the world!

Will we sell ourselves to the world from which we were delivered (Verses 8 and 9)? I hope to hear the silence that comes before weeping in repentance!

Some pastors will say to their congregations, “Stop sinning,” but not reveal to the poor sinning Christian the way God has provided — a new heart, purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit — because we don’t believe that God can do it!

Church that has stolen the truth from her members, give back to them the inheritance that is theirs — freedom from slavery to sin!

Nehemiah 5:13 I also shook out the  front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this  promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And  all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this  promise.

Amen! I praise the Lord, for Nehemiah (and a few in the church today) dare to exhort against sin and point to the Way to be set free — Jesus Christ:

John 8:31   So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly  disciples of Mine; 32 and  you will know the truth, and  the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, ““We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

John 8:34   Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you,  everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “ The slave does not remain in the house forever;  the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son  makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

REBUILDING – SPIRITUAL WARFARE

We must be fully submitted to God to defeat the Enemy’s attempts to keep the church of today from being healed of its brokenness!

[SW139] 05/03/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church — Spiritual Warfare”

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!

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 — Spiritual Warfare

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 4

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 arrived in Jerusalem, with something God was putting on his heart to do for Jerusalem. After surveying the destruction, he spoke to the people:

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

Enter the Enemy, in this case represented by a Horonite (that is, from Moab). Sanballat’s name means “may sin (the moon god) give him life.” He was the governor of Samaria, which used to be northern Israel before they were sent into exile because of their sin. The King of Samaria peppered the land with a mixture of followers of many gods.

When he heard of the repairs (so cool — the literal word is healing), Sanballat mocked, despised, accused. He was furious (2734 burning with anger) and very angry (3707 provoked). So he insulted them in Verse 2. I love Sanballat’s last words in that verse: Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble, even the burned stones?” Oh, yes! Our God can revive the church and make her living stones again (1Peter 2:4-10)!!!! All things are possible with God:

Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “ With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’  All things are possible to him who believes.”

Mark 10:27 Looking at them, Jesus  said, “ With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Sanballat’s cohorts are Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab. Tobiah chimes in with Sanballat. What the Jews are building will fall under the weight of a fox. Thus, the Jews who are building become demoralized.

Does Nehemiah get armed men together to physically attack the Enemy? No, he calls on God, in Verse 4-5. God, not Nehemiah, put it in Nehemiah’s heart to restore Jerusalem. Since it wasn’t Nehemiah’s idea, he was able to call on God.

So the whole wall was joined to half height, for the people had a heart to work.

What does the Enemy do when he sees us succeed in rebuilding? He forms a conspiracy to come and fight against and destroy the rebuilders. But we have One who has come to give us His life, His power, His Spirit abundantly!

Does Nehemiah get armed men together to physically attack the Enemy? No, he prays to God. He calls on God, he prays to God and sets up a guard. Prayer is the offensive weapon in spiritual warfare, and guarding is the defensive weapon:

2Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war  according to the flesh,  4 for the  weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but  divinely powerful  for the destruction of fortresses.  5 We are destroying speculations and every  lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the  obedience of Christ . . .

And from the Interlinear Greek-to-English literal translation:

Ephesians 6:10 Be made powerful in the Lord, and in the might of His strength. Put in all the armor of God, for you to be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the rulers of this world, of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenlies.”

And the last weapon spoken of in Ephesians 6?

Ephesians 6:18    With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all  perseverance and  petition for all the saints  . . .”

In Nehemiah 4:10, the people of Judah confess that they are unable to rebuild the wall in their own strength. God will do it!

The Enemy plans to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), but Christ has come that we may have His life in us, abundantly! And if we have His life in us, the Enemy has nothing on us.

The Enemy plans to attack and kill and put a stop to the rebuilding.

The Jews who lived near them heard of their plan, and told the leaders 10 times that they would come up from every direction and attack — words of fear, spoken 10 times. It is as Israel did in Numbers 13:33, coming with a bad report that they were like grasshoppers among the people of Canaan. These are words of unbelief!

Did Nehemiah form an army to physically attack the Enemy? No. He armed the people, but they were to stand:

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, take up  the full armor of God, so that you will be able to  resist in  the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  14 Stand firm therefore,  HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING  PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,  15 and having  shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;  16  in addition to all, taking up the  shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the  flaming arrows of  the evil one. 17 And take  THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the  sword of the Spirit, which is  the word of God.

Do we have no armor for our backs? Of course we do:

Isaiah 52:12 But you will not go out in haste,
    Nor will you go as fugitives;
    For the  LORD will go before you,
    And  the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

The people feared. But Nehemiah exhorted them to remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for what He has promised you (Verse 14). Because God put the rebuilding into Nehemiah’s heart and it was not a scheme Nehemiah cooked up on his own, God would fight for them!

Remember what happened to the people when they decided to enter the promised land anyway, after the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief? They were defeated. It was their idea, not God’s, to enter the land after God’s rebuke and His promise that they would wander 40 years in the desert before entering the land. There is no victory if the Lord is not in the midst, beloved!

Once the Enemy heard that their plan had been discovered and God had frustrated their plan, they could not carry it out. So the rebuilders continued their work. But not without the armor (Verses 16-17).

And a trumpeter was assigned to blow the trumpet if he saw the Enemy approaching. He would sound the trumpet and the people would assemble themselves where the trumpet had been sounded. But they would not fight — God would fight for them.

The work went on from the rising of the dawn to when the stars came out. Half of the workers held spears for defense, even carrying their weapon to the water, and never removing their clothes. They stayed in the city continually, not leaving to return home, so they could both guard and labor without ceasing.

Admonishment to today’s church:

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)! Pray for the rebuilding of the church!

Beloved, unless you are submitted to God, He will not hear your prayers, and you will not defeat the Enemy who is continually conspiring to keep the church from being rebuilt (James 4:1-7)!

Submit to God, beloved. Ask Him to change your heart, to give you a new one, a heart that is not out for its own interests, that does not demand its own rights, that does not hate, but one that completely belongs to God and is filled with His love. The Enemy cannot stand and will retreat, his attack foiled, if we are fully submitted to God, and following what He has put into our hearts, and not our own imaginings.

The Lord will be your rear guard under these circumstances only:

Isaiah 52:11    Depart, depart, go out from there,
     Touch nothing unclean;
    Go out of the midst of her,  purify yourselves,
    You who carry the vessels of the LORD.

Go out of the midst of the world, purify yourselves. Then He will go before you, and He will be your rear guard, and you will have victory over the Enemy!