In Nehemiah 5, we read about the oppression of people. God’s Word tells us it is good to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly” but do we (Micah 6:8)? Isaiah even tells us to “correct oppression” (1:17). Sadly, people are still being oppressed today.
During the time of Nehemiah, people who were redeemed were being sold back into slavery (v. 8). There was a famine in the land so they mortgaged their fields and homes to just be able to make it (v. 3-4). They even had their children forced to be slaves (v. 5).
When Nehemiah found out about the oppression, he was angry and considered the situation carefully (v. 6-7). He then rebuked the people for exacting interest on their brothers who were already struggling (v. 9). At that point, everything was restored and paid back to the people. Nehemiah reminds us to help as we are led and to not take advantage of each other. He never took the food allowance. He understood the people were already burdened (v. 18). It is God’s desire that we build each other up, rather than tear each other down. Let us do and seek justice always.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 [NASB]
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” – Isaiah 1:17 [ESV]
When we look at Nehemiah 4, we see that Nehemiah faces opposition led by Sanballat & Tobiah. We can see three things about opposition in this passage. Opposition focuses on doubts. Opposition breeds conflict. Opposition discourages progress.
Again and again the people ask “will they” (v. 2). WILL THEY restore their wall? WILL THEY offer sacrifices? WILL THEY finish in a day? CAN THEY bring the stones back to life? Then verse 8 says they “plotted together” to fight and stir up trouble. Even though they finished half of the work, the people became discouraged. In verse 10, we read that people began to complain and believed that there was too much rubble to move. They began to stall.
Whenever we are doing a “great work” for God, we will face opposition. The devil doesn’t want us to continue forward and finish the work. He doesn’t want God to get the glory. He doesn’t want us serving God. Remember that the Lord is with you (v. 14) and He will fight for you (v. 20). No opposition can stand against God.
In Nehemiah 1, we read about a report that Nehemiah receives from Jerusalem. When he hears about what is happening to God’s people and to the state of Jerusalem, he weeps. Not only does he mourn for days, but he fasts and prays continuously. He is more than a little upset. He is unsettled. He is grieved.
When I read about this grief, this mourning by Nehemiah, I cannot help but wonder if we ever grieve like that because of the spiritual state of others. Are we uncomfortable because God is not honored, when we know He alone deserves all honor, glory and praise? Is it upsetting when we see something that once glorified God, now broken and in disarray? When we see brokenness, do we seek out God to heal, restore, and redeem?
Today we are not looking to rebuild a wall. Nehemiah took care of that great work. But God has put a vision in your heart. He wants to do great things through you to glorify Him. Seek Him. Ask Him to reveal this great work. Ask Him to strengthen your feet. Ask Him to help you speak boldly. Press forward and watch Him move in mighty ways.
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:4 [NASB]
25) Don’t lie
26) Don’t act in anger – James 1:20 – Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. [NLT] Anger motivated by pride. Anger that lingers.
27) Give no opportunity to devil
28) If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. [NLT]
29) Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [MSG]
30) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. [MSG]
- Bitterness, harshness, embittered resentful spirit
- Wrath, passion, rage, bad temper
- Anger, resentment, animosity
- Quarreling, brawling, clamor, contention, shout
- Slander, evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language
- Malice, spite, ill will, evil behavior, wickedness, vicious disposition
Proverbs 29:11 – A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. [NASB]
Proverbs 29:22 – An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. [NIV]
Proverbs 30:33 – For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife. [NASB]
1 Timothy 2:8 – Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. [HCSB]
Holy Spirit – common to each believer – Spirit of God ties each of us together
Acting in a negative matter breaks the binding of the Body. It is the opposite of unity. Anger can divide a church (2 Corinthians 12:20)
Never let anything bring division to His Body. Speak life. Look out for the best interests of others…
Bible Study Questions:
Ephesians 4 focuses on the unity of the body of Christ, the Church, and living as children of Light. What are some of the items Paul tells us to refrain from to promote unity and righteous living?
Ephesians 4:27 says not to give the devil an “opportunity” or “foothold” or “place.” What does this mean? Why is this so important?
The passage says, “Be angry” but in some verses we read that a fool loses his temper, commits many sins, and stirs up conflict. Where do we draw the line? How can anger be okay?
What Fruit of the Spirt do you think is important to live out these words Paul has written in this passage? (read Galatians 5:22-26)
Why does Paul spend so much time talking about unity?
What have you seen be most divisive in the Body?
What can you do to promote unity?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:
JOY is all about JESUS and the gift of salvation He offers. Because of JESUS, we wanderers can come back home to our Heavenly Father. This relationship was always God’s plan for us. It is only possible through CHRIST JESUS. Only through faith in JESUS are we children of God. Salvation is a gift from God. JESUS, our greatest gift – this is the cause of our “Overwhelming Joy.”
When you live with the Overwhelming JOY of JESUS, this JOY will become Overflowing JOY.
Luke 2:10-11 – But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. [NIV]
What JOY isn’t:
- Positive thinking
- Happiness because things are going your way
- A glass half-full attitude
NO ONE WILL ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – John 16:22 says “So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy.” No one can rob you of your JOY because it is founded in JESUS, in your salvation.
What is JOY?
1 Peter 1:8 – “You love (Jesus) even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” [NLT]
- Glorious joy – ascribing weight by recognizing real substance/value – personally acknowledge God in His true character – JOY [POINTS TO GOD]
- Inexpressible joy – unable to fully describe, impossible to adequately convey with words, unspeakable – JOY [WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE]
Definition of JOY:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” – Kay Warren
The JOY OF JESUS
The JOY of JESUS was His absolute surrender and sacrifice of self to His Father. He had JOY in doing what His father sent Him to accomplish. Hebrews 12:2b says, “Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Why did this all happen….
- God loves you – John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” JESUS WAS BORN TO COMPLETE A MISSION – A SINLESS LIFE, A SACRIFICE, SALVATION FROM THE WAGES OF SIN.
- God is for you – Romans 8:31b “If God is for us, who can be against us;” John 3:17 “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (NLT). JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU
- God is with you – Joshua 1:9 “wherever you go;” Deuteronomy 31:6 “He will not leave you or forsake you;” Isaiah “(He) is with you;” Matthew 28:20b “I am with you always, to the end of the age;” Immanuel means “God with us” – prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, mentioned in Matthew 1:23. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS SENT TO US.
IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS AND RELATIONSHIP
What Jesus say about JOY:
- All of heaven celebrates those who repent. Luke 15:7 – Parable of Lost Sheep – “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” [JOY OVER REPENTANCE]
- Jesus celebrates faithfulness with you. Matthew 25:21 – “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” [JOY OVER FAITHFULNESS]
REPENTANCE IS THE FIRST STEP
FAITHFULNESS IS ALL OF THE STEPS AFTER
JOY is grounded upon God Himself:
- Joy is glorious gladness & deep delight in the person of Jesus
- Joy is greater and stronger than any trouble in life
- Jesus is the source of all JOY (Psalm 43:4)
- In His Presence is fullness of JOY (Psalm 16:11)
- His Word is a JOY & delight of heart (Jeremiah 15:1-6)
- Faith in Him causes us to brim with JOY (Psalm 33:20-22)
JOY is Good News – Entire Gospel is full of JOY at every turn:
- Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:10) – Good news of GREAT JOY that will be for ALL the people.
- Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:9, Luke 19:37) – Whole multitude of disciples began to PRAISE GOD.
- After the Resurrection (Matthew 28:7-8) – So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled WITH JOY, and ran to tell his disciples.
- The Promise Yet to Come (Isaiah 51:11) – Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
How does the JOY fade?
- Sin – going against God – Pastor Miles spoke the first week about Repentance
- Past – focusing on past mistakes – I spoke about the past – about how we should only look back when we are remembering what God has done.
- Fear & Doubt – not believing/trusting God, doubting God – Pastor Ryan spoke about trusting God
- Selfishness – pride tries to control rather than rest in Him. Pastor Matt spoke about our need to surrender control and admit we need Jesus.
- Lack of prayer – JOY is fruit of the believer. (Galatians 5:22). Every believer is to share in the JOY of CHRIST by walking with Him daily. Prayer & Bible reading. JESUS said in John 15 that it is MY JOY IN YOU – JESUS’ JOY in you – if you abide in HIM. You cannot produce this JOY alone. It needs to be cultivated. It’s linked to your relationship with JESUS.
Great Example of JOY in the Bible
Churches of Macedonia – 2 Corinthians 8:2 – “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”
This doesn’t make sense if you define JOY using the world’s definition. But it certainly makes sense when you have encountered JESUS and you walk with Him.
If you haven’t taken that first step to JESUS, do it now! Enter into His JOY!
If you already have taken that first step, where are you at with the steps that follow? If you are walking with JESUS, where is your joy?
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He did this so we could do life with JESUS, so that we could be in the presence of God. JOY is wrapped up in His presence.
Romans 14:17 – the Kingdom of God is RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, & JOY in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace & joy—and it’s all from the Spirit of God. No one can take the Spirit of God from you. No one can take the joy & peace & righteousness.
Psalm 16:11 – “You will show me the way of life, granting me the JOY of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.”
May this be your prayer.