Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30. The Sacrifice of getting Serious – Part 2

Nehemiah 10:30-31

30 “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.31 “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.

Not only was there a submission to Gods Word but also:

  1. Separation from the World – Vs 30

After submitting themselves to God’s Word they make a second vow to be separate from the world by promising not to give their daughters in marriage to the nations around them or to take their daughters for their sons. Separation is simply total devotion to God, no matter what the cost. When a man and woman get married, they separate themselves from all other possible mates and give themselves completely to each other. The Israelites separated themselves from the people around them so they could be devoted to God. This was not about ethnic pride or a sense that they were superior to others, it had to do with how they worshipped God and honored Him. Wrong relationships can wipe out our witness. God has called us to be a missionary people and so it is critical that His message is not corrupted. Throughout the bible we see marriages with pagan people bringing problems and pain, in fact in Nehemiah 13:26 the question is asked, “Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? I’m convinced that the greatest effort of satanic attack today is aimed at the home. Homes divided by divorce, homes caught in the constant grip of conflict and chaos. Just like the people of Jerusalem, second on our list of priorities today, after loving God, should be to make sure that our homes are holy and that our children are being taught the truth. Separation here involves not being unequally yoked, Christians not marrying non-Christians. First let me start by saying, I know some of you are married to an unsaved spouse. I want to encourage you to be committed to Christ and to live out the teaching of His Word in 1 Peter 3:1-6: “Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.” Today I want to take some time to talk to those of you who are not married yet. Perhaps you’re dating someone who is not a believer and it seems harmless to date a non-Christian. But God cares about your spiritual life and your ability to be a clear witness to Him. On the authority of God’s Word, don’t deliberately disobey God in this area. The question is not, “Will this relationship work out?” but, “Will this relationship enjoy God’s best blessing and fulfill God’s will?” I know this is not easy for some of you to hear but if you are truly submitted to God and His Word, you will honor Him in all your relationships. If you put God first, don’t enter into a marriage relationship with someone who does not also put the Lord first. Now separation doesn’t mean isolation. If we isolate ourselves from the world, we will never be a witness and win them to Christ. But you don’t have to marry people to share the message. After pledging themselves to submit to the Word of God and to live separated from the world they commit to:

  1. Savoring the Sabbath – Vs 31

The Sabbath was a time set aside first to honor God. It was distinctive from other days and given to God so that they might offer their worship to Him without being distracted by the demands of everyday life. Secondly, it was a day of rest. Relaxation is a vital ingredient in effective living, and God provided the pattern for this by resting on the seventh day of creation. Man’s first full day of existence was Sabbath a day of worship not work. Do you remember when the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt, they worked with no breaks in their weekly schedule. Some of you are slaves to your work, but Sabbath calls us to trade our work for worship. Why do we work none stop, because we want to be productive but sometimes we need to stop and sharpen our axes. Some of us have become dull and ineffective because we are not spending time with God and allowing Him to sharpen our lives. We love to recite Psalm 23 we just don’t love to live it. It starts with these words: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul.” Success is not found in striving but in surrendering to the Shepherd. Thirdly, it was a day to help others. Israelite employees had a compulsory rest day automatically written into their employment contracts. This helped others enjoy the blessings of rest. Fourthly, the Sabbath was a day to declare truth. It was a silent witness to God’s supremacy and gave the Israelites multiple witnessing opportunities. To their unbelieving neighbors it proclaimed, in very practical terms, the truth that God comes first. The Israelites also promised to observe the “Sabbatical Year.” Every seventh year, they were to let the land lie fallow so that it might restore itself. To obey God in this way involved believing and trusting Him. Many of us are afraid to trust God and let the land lie fallow. We are more comfortable trying and trusting in our capability than trusting in Christ. Along with letting the ground lie fallow they also promised to cancel all debts. Every seven years they would live out a renewed scale of values that people matter more than money. The keeping of the Sabbath and Sabbatical Years were ways of guarding against greed and saying “no” to a life of maximum acquisition. We need Sabbath times of rest to remind us that people are more important than possessions. Why are so many people living worn out lives because we are living to work instead of letting worship fuel us for work. We are not resting and not leaning on the Lord, we are trying to cart around all the debt instead of trusting the Lord and letting go. What about you are you living for the world and work or are you relying on and resting in the Lord?