The Passionate Servant

The Passionate Servant

Nehemiah 1:1-4

It starts by letting your passion align with God’s passion so that your purpose will align with God’s purpose.

Hey there everyone my name is Trent Drye and I’m the new Senior Pastor at China Grove First Baptist Church and we’re so excited that you’ve joined us for this time of worship and Bible study online today. Let me just say how excited and grateful I and my family am to be a part of this family.  And we’re looking forward to impacting our communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe in my heart, and I know the search committee and everyone watching and attending our services. We believe that God has joined us together to do something incredible in his name and for His Glory and so just know that we’re praying for you each and every day. We look forward to getting to know you and just building this relationship an expanding God’s territory together.

And the way we’re going to do that is by following the words of Jesus. In fact, it’s the last words that Jesus shared to His disciples before ascending to the Father.  You know last words are lasting and in Matthew 28:18, Jesus shares this Commission and gives this Commission to His disciples.

Matthew 28:18 and “Jesus came and said to them all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the Age.”

In this passage, we find who we are as Christ followers and what we are supposed to be doing.  You see all of us who have made that decision to follow Jesus or His disciples and we are called to make disciples. So as a church family, we’re going to be disciples who make disciples, and I want us to memorize this Great Commission and just let it be ingrained into who we are as a congregation.  You see, it’s something that I’m passionate about spreading the Gospel and discipling others, and encouraging and equipping others to follow Jesus is something I’m passionate about.  It’s something that drives me to do ministry to see lost people saved because it all brings glory to God.  And so together we’re going to do that because it’s something we’re going to be passionate about.

You see, all of us have a passion.  We all have things that drive us that we get excited about and I want you to think of something that really excites you. I know when baseball season started and I shared some of this during my trial sermon. I was excited because sports were back on television.

As we have been looking at houses and trying to find a place to live and to be a part of this community, the first thing I look for is the cable access. Does it have a place for a television so I can watch football and basketball and baseball? Because I’m passionate about sports and maybe even I learn I learn something about hockey, ’cause I know there’s some hockey fans in our congregation, but it excites me. In fact, I’m so excited about football.

I’m so passionate about football that when I was a teenager.  I would wake up at 4:00 AM in high school, a high school student wake up at 4:00 AM, so I could eat breakfast and go to a 6:00 AM workout, work my tail off for two hours.  Uh, then at 3:00 in the heat of the day, I would go for a one-mile run.  Then I would go back and work out again at 6:00.  My friends would sleep till 1, 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  They thought I was crazy.

So I wasn’t crazy. I was passionate ’cause I had a passion for it. I cared about it. As a football coach. I would spend hours watching film. In fact, back last fall I coached middle school football. I was so passionate about winning the championship game that I would stay up to 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning studying film.

Jennifer came in one morning and she said, “What are you doing? You’re crazy.”  I looked at her said “no, I passionate, because the team that we were playing beat us 32-0 the first time.”  And I wanted to beat ’em and so I spent hours devising a blocking scheme. Now we didn’t win, but we only lost by eight points because of my passion. It gave me a purpose. You see, our passion in life gives us a purpose.

If you’re passionate about deer hunting, then your purpose is to kill that big deer that you saw on your trail camera.  You know that that one deer or that you saw that one time.  Maybe it was fuzzy, maybe it was clear, but you want to kill that one deer that Big 12 point Mack Daddy Buck.  And so what do you do?

You put corn out.  You, scout, you set your place up and then you’ll wake up before the sun comes up and you go sit in a tree in the freezing cold for hours and hours and hours.  And in my experience, more often than not all I see are about 550 squirrels eating the corn that I put out.  But I did it again the next day because I’m passionate. You see my passion gives us a purpose in life.  And today we’re gonna start a series. I series walking through the book of Nehemiah. It’s called Rebuild and Restore and what we’re going to see is how the passion of God’s servant Nehemiah leads the people to rebuild a wall and restore their faith.  Nehemiah is the main character, but God is the hero.  And we’re gonna see how God uses just an ordinary guy, just a guy like me and you, to do an extraordinary thing, all because Nehemiah had a passion to serve God.

He had a passion to love God. He had a passion to serve God, and he had a passion for the people of God. And So what we see in the opening verses is that when Nehemiah’s passion aligns with God’s passion, then Nehemiah’s purpose aligns with God’s purpose.  And for you and I here today what we’re gonna see is when our passion aligns with God’s passion then our purpose is going to align with the God’s purpose.

And as we study this book, I want you to know we’re gonna experience so many wonderful things. Real life challenges.  We’re going to see how sin is confronted. How sin can destroy? We’re going to see how to overcome obstacles and critics and distractions. We’re going to see success.  And we’re going to see failure.  But more than any of that, we’re gonna see God glorified as He makes final preparations for the coming Messiah.

You see it when you close the book on Nehemiah, historically, the next thing that happens is the birth of Jesus.  Nehemiah is the last historical book of the Old Testament, and it’s God setting things up to fulfill the promise of Jesus Christ. And so if you have your Bibles so take them and read with me. Starting in Nehemiah chapter one, verse one.

Nehemiah 1:1-4 – The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev (now that’s November or December in our time frame) in the 20th year, (that would be the 20th year of King Artaxerxes reign) as I as I was in Susa, the citadel.  it is really kind of cool. They had two capitals.  So it was the winter capital. It’s kind of like, you know, winter in DC’s pretty hard and so you would move to Hawaii in the winter time. So that’s kind of the winter capital is in Susa.  As I was in the Susa the Citadel that Hanani one, of my brothers came with certain men from Judah.  And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who has survived the exile. I’m just asking about Jerusalem.  And they said to me, the remanent there in the province, who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are destroyed by fire.

Now look at verse four ’cause you see the passion of Nehemiah. As I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for the days. And I continued fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.

Let’s pray together.  Father, as we study Your Word, may it be a light into our feet and a lamp into our path.  Father, what we know not, teach us.  What we are not, make us.  In Jesus Name, Amen. Amen

It’s a very interesting set of circumstances that Nehemiah finds himself in.  And to understand fully what is going on, you need to understand a little bit of the history of Israel.  And it’s a great history. It’s an interesting history. It’s interesting is a history of ups and downs. But about 1,000 years after God called Abraham, Israel became this really mighty nation. They asked for a king. God gave them a man named Saul.  Saul is good, but he wasn’t great he made some mistake.  So much so that God would call a man named David, the young shepherd boy who defeated Goliath.  He would become a king known as a man after God’s own heart.  The great king of his Israel but again, he wasn’t perfect, he had moral failures.  But God restored him.

Then there was Solomon David’s son.  Early on Solomon’s reign was pretty good, but then Solomon experienced compromise. He began to lead the nation of Israel down a path of idolatry and destruction of path of sin, a path of rebellion against God.  It was a path that would devastate and divide the nation. Eventually, the nation of Israel would become two nations. Israel would be in the North.  Judah would be in the South, and that’s where the city of Jerusalem is.

It wouldn’t take long for the corrupt, sinful ways of the Northern Kingdom, Israel to be conquered and destroyed.  Several hundred years later, the Babylonian Empire would go and blitzkrieg the nation of Judah, destroying the temple, destroying the walls of Jerusalem and exiling the people.  God’s people.  The great nation of Israel.  Devastated.  Heartbroken.  Divided.  Exiled.  Unable to attend their place of worship.  Unable to worship at all in many cases.  Uprooted from their families. You see the consequences of sin can be great. But the one thing that we see in throughout the pages of Scripture is God never abandoned His people. She God still had a promise for the Israelites and God still has the promise for you and I.

In Jeremiah 29:10, the prophet says this “when 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise and bring you back to this place looking.  Their exile, but God had a plan to restore them and rebuild them. God didn’t turn His back on His people.

He was already preparing to rebuild and restore.  Listen, in the garden of Eden in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God, God already had a plan and it was Jesus Christ, His Son.  Jesus wasn’t plan B.  Jesus was always plan. A to rebuild and restore God’s people.

If we continue in Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope in the future. Then you will call on my name, come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.  Verse 14.  I will be found by you declares the Lord and will bring you back from captivity.”

And that’s exactly what God did when you open up the pages of Ezra, you see a man named the Zerubbabel and Joshua, leading the 1st wave of exiles back home.  Then, in Ezra 6, you see Ezra the priest restoring temple worship and restoring people to reading God’s Word. It’s an amazing thing as you read through Nehemiah, there’s this story in Nehemiah where they stand for hours and hours and just hear God’s Word proclaimed.  And that was the 2nd wave of people that returned.

But the work isn’t done.  In fact, it’s been when we get to Nehemiah. It’s been about 70 years since the first exiles had returned to Jerusalem.  But God was getting ready to do something amazing with the third wave of returners, and Nehemiah would lead the way.

And as we look at Nehemiah’s heart.  As we look at these versus what we see is a man who is passionate about God.  But he’s passionate about people.  He’s all about the people.  And his passion for people leads him to ask the question. He said brother, “how are the people?”

Now, if you read the whole chapter, you’ll find out that Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king.  Nehemiah is a very prominent figure. Some commentators say he’s like the Secretary of State.  I don’t know about you, but when I get around my brother, there’s a little competition.  I mean, I don’t know if you like that, but you can raise your hand if you’re sitting with your brother. You don’t have to.  But if it was me and my brother showed up, I’d said “Hey bro. I’m the cupbearer.”  And I will say this, it’s it’s a prominent position. You’ve got the ear of the king. It’s also a pretty dangerous position because you got to eat everything that the king eats. And if somebody poisoned it, Oh well.

But still, the king listens to the cupbearer.  I oftentimes tell my brother how much better at football, I am than he was.  My brother is a licensed preacher and he’s probably gonna watch this and I I like to tell him that I’m a better preacher than you.  It’s prideful I know it’s a sin.  I’ll get forgiveness.  It’s competition.  But that’s not what we see with Nehemiah.

He says, hey, how are my people?  He doesn’t focus on himself, he’s focused on others. His passion for people leaves him to ask about their condition.  Can I ask you something?  Are you asking are you seeking? Do you see the condition of people in this world?  When you turn on the news do you see the condition of people?  When you walk down the streets of China Grove or Salisbury or Kannapolis or Mooresville or Rockwell or wherever you’re at, do you see the condition of people?

Do you care enough to ask him how they’re doing?  Listen.  This world is broken.  There are people in our communities that are lost and need Jesus.  Do you care enough to see the need?  I mean, I know it’s hard. I get self-absorbed.  I get so caught up with the things that I have going on.  Sometimes I missed the need.  But we can learn something from Nehemiah that we need to ask.  How are the people?

See God is passionate about people.  God cares about people.  As followers of King Jesus, we gotta care about people.  This is illustrated in Matthew the Gospel of Matthew. I believe it’s Chapter 9.  Matthew 9:35-38. Jesus has just finished the sermon on the Mount.  He’s been going through healing people and teaching people and this is the story that happened. Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  By the way, Jesus, saw the disease and sickness.  And then He went up.  And He said, when I when the when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a Shepherd.  So He said to the disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.

And just to give you the picture of what’s going on here.   When Jesus sees the people, He is broken hearted.  Just like Nehemiah is broken hearted, he sees the condition. He sees that the walls are broken and Nehemiah weeps.  He falls down and weeps for the people.  When Jesus sees that the people are harassed and helpless, that word compassion is a very visual word. It means that he had this gut wrenching pain and he doubled over in pain that what He saw.  And when I read that with my sanctified imagination, I I see him looking at the disciples with tear filled eyes, and He says there’s not enough people. There’s not enough workers.  Pray that God would send workers ’cause the harvest is plentiful.

But here’s the thing. You know what he does after that, He sends out the disciples.  You and I can pray for workers all day long and we should and that’s important, but guess what?  We are the workers.  God has gifted us and called us to see the condition of people, to love the people, to share the Gospel with people.  To have compassion for the brokenness of people.

Listen in Nehemiah’s day, yes, those walls are physically broken.  That city is physically devastated, but those broken walls are are just a metaphor for how sin has broken the lives of the whole world.  Your sin in my sin has broken broken us.  And the only remedy is to have faith in Jesus Christ. The only remedy for our hurting and broken world is the Gospel.  That is the only solution.

But it takes a church.  It takes God-loving people who are passionate about God and passionate about people to say I see the need.  I see the hurting. I see the lostness and I’m gonna go do something about it.

Nehemiah is gonna go do something about it.  And we’re gonna see that unfold through this whole book but this is how it starts.  A passionate guy.  Who has a passion for God and a passion for people.    And when that passion aligned with God’s passion.  His purpose in life aligned with God’s purpose for his life.

Church family I want you to know this.  We need to be passionate about people.    In fact, Jesus commands us to do this.  In 1 John 4:21, And He has given this command, anyone who loves God, must also love his brother and sister.”

Do you love your brothers and sisters?  Those who look different than you.  Talk different than you.  Act different than you.  Dress different than you.  You’re called to love them.  You’re called to take the Gospel to them.  You’re called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Imagine.  Church family imagine.  What our town, what our community would look like if we took the gospel to our neighbors.  Imagine how things would be rebuilt.  Imagine how many lives would be restored.

Here’s what I want to tell you this morning.  If you’re watching, and your life is broken, and you’re wondering, well, how can my life be rebuilt and how can my life be restored?

First, I want to tell you God loves you.  God loved the Israelites. God didn’t want those walls to be broken down. He didn’t want the people to be divided.  He made a way for Restoration.

1 Timothy 2:3-6, “as this is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” God wants you to be saved.  That is His desire.  He doesn’t want to harm you.  He doesn’t want to condemn you.  He wants you to be saved.

If you continue reading 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all people.  This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

You see it has always been God’s purpose and God’s plan to restore His people.  And for you and I today restoration comes through faith alone in Christ alone.  And I would invite you today if you’ve never made that decision, to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.  You know the Bible says anyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

John 3:16 says Jesus died for the whole world, not just this group or that group, but everybody.  But you have a choice to make.  Will you follow Jesus?  Will you follow Jesus?

If you would like more help with that, reach out to us on Facebook, reach out to the church website. We have pastors and deacons who would love to disciple you and share the Gospel with you.

But Church?  How do you need to respond to this message?  Let me ask you this.  Are you praying for the people of China Grove?  Are you praying for the people of Landis and Salisbury and Kannapolis and Rockwell?  And so many in Mooresville and so many other communities in our county.  Are you praying for our state?  Are you praying for our nation?  Are you praying for our missionaries?

Let me ask you this.  Are you going?  Are you going to meet the need? Are you going to spread the Gospel?  Are you gonna be the salt in the light in a stale dark world.

If you lost your passion, if you’ve lost your desire, then you need to Recommit to God.  You need to pray that God would just burn like that fire inside of you.  And together, we’re going to serve the Lord.  And we’re going to see lives changed.

But it starts with passion.  It starts by having a passion for God’s people.  It starts by letting your passion align with God’s passion so that your purpose will align with God’s purpose.

Remember, God’s purpose is for all men to be saved so that He could be glorified.

Let’s pray,

Father, we thank you for the Word of God.  We thank you for allowing us together online. We’re grateful for the technology.  And Father, we pray that you would use this message, the message of Nehemiah to just light that fire in our life that you would motivate us to love people, to have a passion for people.  A passion so great that that’s all we think about is how we can reach more people with the Gospel.  And Father as we just continue to read and study how Nehemiah prayed for people and have Nehemiah prayed for the great task ahead and then as we see how God put him at the right place at the right time and we just be God glorified. Help us to learn and apply the truths of Scripture to our every day life.
We ask this in Jesus Name, Amen.