Gathering the Gifts

Date Preached: March 3, 2019
From the Series: Rise Up
Scripture: Nehemiah 7:5-73
Speaker: Gary Combs

Transcript

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Thanks for listening to the podcast from Gary Combs and the teaching team at Wilson Community Church in Wilson, North Carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more. And now here’s the sermon.

All right, let’s continue our study through the Book of Nehemiah. We are in Nehemiah chapter seven today. This is our eighth week in the Nehemiah series that we’ve entitled, Rise Up. We got the title, Rise Up, from Nehemiah Chapter two where Nehemiah, who had been a cupbearer to king Artexerxes of Persia asked for permission from the king to go back to Jerusalem, back to his homeland, and rebuild the broken down walls and to rebuild the burned and broken down gates. And he went to the people of Jerusalem after he received permission from the king. And he had a sense that God’s hand was upon him. And he told them of his intent to rebuild the walls . And the people said, “Let us rise up and build and they strengthened their hands for the good work.” And so we have called this series, Rise Up.

God has called us not so much to build walls but to build up people. And I think that’s what we’re discovering. As of last week, Nehemiah found out he had the same situation that he needed to rebuild the walls. But really, the bigger challenge was to rebuild a broken people because there was real brokenness in the city of Jerusalem. And so he began to focus his attention more and more. We will see this in Chapter seven on gathering the people in their gifts together, their gifts, their occupations. Their time talent and treasure they had available to them and bring them in so that the city of Jerusalem might be rebuilt.

What ways has God gifted you? Nehemiah is calling the people together. As you consider your life, how has God called you? What’s your purpose in this world? A lot of people, especially during the time I was growing up, would talk about finding their identity. I don’t know if millennials do that, but my generation was trying to find, you know, your true self. Have you found your true self? And here’s a hint for you; you’ll never find it inside of you. You’ll find your true purpose by finding it in Jesus Christ. He’s the one who knows your true name. He’s the one who knows your true identity. And He made you. He made you first of all for himself. Can you believe that?

When we were raising our children when they were young, I can still remember when we first moved to Wilson. My oldest son, Stephen, was five years old and my second son, Jonathan, was two, and my daughter, Erin, was one. We had two kids in Pampers at the same time; I remember that. That’s like half your monthly budget right there, right? And I remember all three of them in car seats in the back seat. You know, you look in the rear view mirror that’s an intimidating thing to look back and see those three sets of eyes looking back at you that you feel a sense of responsibility for. And I remember asking my wife Robin, ‘Why did we make these kids? What were we thinking?’ And we love them so much. And we’re so happy we had them. They’re married and we have grand kids today. Why’d we make them? Well, I think it was love. It was love. And I think that’s why God made you. That’s what it is; He loves you. And he has a purpose for all of us . A design for your life, you’re calling and how he has gifted you. If you don’t know that, my goodness, that ought to be the thing you seek after to find in Him.

Nehemiah is calling the people to come and bring their gifts and their occupations. They are into the city of Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Now, let me warn you about chapter seven. You know, chapter three if you were here a few weeks ago, chapter three, some commentators like J. Vernon McGee called chapter three ‘the unpronounceable chapter’ there is so many difficult names to read. If chapter three is the unpronounceable chapter than chapter seven has been called the uninviting chapter.

Here is what Dr. Williamson says in his commentary on Nehemiah. He says, ‘Chapters like this are among the most uninviting portions of the Bible to the modern reader, both because of their tedious nature and because of their overtones of racial exclusivism and pride hits.’ So here we go. It’s one of those uninviting chapters. Why? Because there’s just so many names and details and so forth. But here’s what I’ve discovered about God’s Word. It matters. There’s always something there for the person that would get alone with God and through the power of the Holy Spirit, seek out God. What do you want to say to us? There’s a reason that this chapter is in the Bible. So let’s dig in because I believe that there’s a reason for this chapter for this church. And so let’s apply today Nehemiah chapter seven. God put it Nehemiah’s heart to gather the people and their gifts together to call them to live as citizens in the city of Jerusalem.

I believe God is still doing that. He’s still gathering together his people, their gifts and the calling on their lives in order to be citizens in his kingdom. How’s He doing this? Well, the text gives three ways we can respond to this call of being citizens of God’s kingdom. So let’s look at chapter seven. Now, I’m not going to read every word because I won’t get to preach. So I’m going to highlight it. And I gave you all the chapter in your bulletin there, but I will highlight some parts and then dig in on some other parts. Okay, that’s how we’re going to do it. We will start at verse five: “5 Then my God put it into my mind to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who were the first to come back, and I found the following written in it: 6 These are the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried into exile; they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. 7 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.”

Now, I would like to highlight each group of people rather than reading every name. So the first group of people would be the lay people, The number of the men of the people of Israel. And then verses seven through to thirty-eight . he lists them. In verse thirty nine, the priests, the son of Jedediah and so forth. So thirty nine through forty two we list the priests. Verse forty-three, the Levites, the son of Yeshua. And so verse forty three through forty five, the Levites. Verse forty six, the temple servants and so forth; the temple servants from forty six to fifty six. In fifty seven, the Sons of Solomon servants; he lists them through verse fifty nine. Then he offers a summary in verse sixty. And then I’ll read the remaining for sixty. “60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392. 61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise. 66 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female. 68 Their horses were 736, their mules 245,[a] 69 their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720. 70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics[b] of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas[c] of silver.[d] 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 And what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver, and 67 priests’ garments. 73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns. And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns. This is God’s word.

Are you a praying for me right now? This is a challenging chapter. But then, as a church, we begin to dig in. We find that there are some real principles here to help us respond to God’s call to live as citizens of His kingdom.

Here’s the first principal; here is the first way. (1) Recognize that heavenly citizenship is a divine partnership. Recognize that heavenly citizenship is a divine partnership. Look at all of those names. This chapter seven of Nehemiah is actually almost identical to chapter three of Ezra. And the reason is, he started with that chapter. He went back and found that census and then added to it and updated it. So he starts with that. He starts with Ezra’s census. And so we have this list of names. Why does God care about such things? Why did it make the cut? Why did it make it in the Bible? Here’s why. I believe people matter to God. That’s why people’s names and their occupations matter to God. You matter to God. He knows your name. He knows what you do. He knows every detail of you. People matter to God.

Look at verse five that we read here in chapter seven; ‘Then my God put it into my heart.’ Verse five, ‘Then my God, put it into my heart.’ The word then is a time word that means something proceeding. That kind of got him in the frame of mind for God to put this in his heart.

If you go back and look at verse four, I think it gives you the context. We read that last week. Verse four says, ‘the city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.’ Okay, so he’s rebuilt the city. He’s rebuilt the walls and the gates and then he looks around and goes, ‘Nobody lives here.’

Why did no one live there? It wasn’t safe to live there. This is an urban renewal project. So they’ve rebuilt the safety; now they’ve got walls and gates, but there are no people. The people are all still living out of the town. Jerusalem has been a place that’s been run down and beat up. And it’s the wrong side of the tracks. No one wants to live there. It’s a dangerous place.

Now he has a new challenge. We’ve rebuilt the walls. We’ve rebuilt the gates. We’ve put some things in order. But how do we get people to come? This is not a case of ‘If you build it, they will come.’ That’s not gonna happen. He built it but they’re not coming. He has to talk to them and gather them together. So he calls for an assembly. Do you see it in verse five? He calls, he says. Then when I saw that, it was empty and I saw that rebuilding the walls wasn’t going to get it. God put it into my heart to assemble everybody together. So he feels God is stirring his heart. I’ve got to get all these people from all the town’s together and find out what I’m working with here.

So he calls for an assembly; a gathering. To do what? To enroll them; to enroll them. I need to get your names and find out what house you’re from and how many donkeys you have. Apparently they had a bunch of donkeys. Did you all see that? And so he’s counting everything, their horses and their donkeys, their silver, their gold, their clothing and what their occupations are. He’s just like taking a an enrollment, a census of what we have to work with. It makes sense, doesn’t it, like? Once we see what we have to work with, let’s see if we could get some people to move in Jerusalem and rebuild Jerusalem. Let’s build some houses and get this place vibrant again. That seems to be the implication that sets up this part of Chapter seven.

He discovers in verse four that the city is wide and large, but it’s empty. And then he feels God stirring his heart to go gather the people. I have mentioned, he started with the book of genealogy; it’s in verse five. That’s from Ezra chapter three. This was during the time when the first group of exiles came back when King Cyrus of Persia and overthrew King Nebuchadnezzar son Belshazzar, King of Babylon, overthrew the Babylonians. Soon after that , he set the captives free, the exiles. He said, there’s many of you that want to convey a home. And so this group followed a man named Zerubbabel.

If you look at verse seven, you’ll see that there’s a list of names and they start with the most prominent Zerubbabel; he was from the house of David. He’s from the royal line. If they had not been exiled, he would have been king. He comes and he comes leading the people. You see his name first among those that followed the second name, it says Joshua, which would be Yeshua in Hebrew. It’s also Joshua and other places was the high priest. So they’re coming in this order. The first person is the from the royal line. The second person is the high priest. The third person is Nehemiah, although many would say this probably isn’t the same Nehemiah , if he’s taking it from Ezra because that time period was ninety five years before Nehemiah because that group that Zerubbabel led came in 539 bc, 95 years later and 444 bc Nehemiah comes. Zerubbabel has probably passed away by then. This may be a different Nehemiah here. It may be that Nehemiah is now bringing everything up to date and he has included his own name. So we’re uncertain. I tend to lean towards the second. And so I won’t go into all the other names. Zerubbabel significantly is found. His name is found in I Chronicles. It’s found in Ezra, as I mentioned before. It’s also found in the contemporary prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. And then when you read the lineage of Jesus in Matthew, Chapter one and in Luke, Chapter three, you will see Zerubbabel’s name again as being a forebearer of Christ the Lord Jesus. And so his name is significant.

And so we also see in verse seven, Mordechai who may be the same uncle, the uncle of Esther. It’s a similar time period. And he maybe the same Mordechai; we’re uncertain. We see these names; they matter. I only tried to tell you a little bit about a couple of them. I don’t have time to tell you everything I learned this week about several of them. These names, I have trouble knowing who they are. I have trouble pronouncing their names, but God does not. He knows them, and He certainly knows how to pronounce their names. And He knows you. And He knows how your mother pronounced your name.

The reason I say that is often I’m at a local restaurant and I love international food, especially Eastern. Like Chinese, Thai, Japanese. You name it. I I don’t know. I should have been born there. I just love that kind of food and they’ll introduce themselves. You ask, what’s your name? And they’ll say something like, you know, ‘Wendy’ or something like that. You ask, “What does your mother call you?” And then they say a sentence that is, like, their first name, like a whole paragraph. And I go, “Nice to meet you, Wendy.” I don’t know how to pronounce names, but God does.

And then notice all of these occupations. In verse thirty nine, I should point out the Lay people, because verse seven says the number of the men of the people of Israel. So it’s just like no occupation mentioned. Just a whole bunch of people. And then he says, the priests and then in verse thirty nine, the Levites in forty three, the singers, ‘Hey, look at that, Stephen; the singer’s got their own paragraph.” The worship team got named, the gatekeepers and the temple servants got named. Listen, it doesn’t matter it you are a servant; that occupation is important to God. They get their own paragraph. The sons of Solomon servants. Somehow the people who used to serve in Solomon’s Palace had kept up with it. They’d kept up with the genealogies because that the centuries before and so that that was there. So you have all these occupations named.

Why is this significant? Because God partners with people; specific, individual people, and He knows how He gifted them. He knows how He shaped them. He knows how he called them. And so you might say, “Well, you work for God, but I work for BB&T.” That’s not the way you should think; here’s how you should look at it. Whatever you do, you do it for the Lord. You just happen to work at BB&T. God could call me somewhere else. And if He did, I would work for God there. Jesus Christ is my employer. And He’s yours, too, if you would only recognize it. He just happens to use whatever funnel of blessing He’s using right now to take care of you and your house.

Philippians says this, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ We are called to a heavenly citizenship. And we’re also called to be gospel partners. Paul writes to the Church of Philippi, “3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

The Lord knows your name. He knows your gifting, your occupation and your calling. He calls you to Himself to partner with Him for the sake of the Gospel. You know, that’s why we have names on these long shot cards. I believe that God knows every name we wrote down and we already see fruit from them. We’ve already heard a grandmother say that her granddaughter got saved the following week after putting her card in there.

I had somebody come up to me last week; as she waited for that new person to walk on by, she leaned in and told me, “I wrote her name on the card. Three weeks later, after I put the name in there, they finally, after all this time, visited church. Boy, that’s a win, right? They finally came, right? And so we’re focused.

What matters to God? People. What should matter to us? People. Nehemiah knew he needed the walls. The walls were needed, but the focus was the people. We’re getting ready to build some new walls. There’s a financial need we have together. We have to gather the gifts to meet the financial need of walls. But walls won’t cause people to automatically be here. No, We have to focus on the people, not the walls, right?

Here’s number two: (2) Realize that heavenly citizenship depends on spiritual relationship. Realize that heavenly citizenship depends on spiritual relationship. We’re going to jump down to verses sixty one through sixty five. Believe it or not, you just now covered five through sixty because it was a big, long list of names and occupations. That’s what it was, right, and we got a principal out of it. Names matter to God. Occupations matter to God. People matter to God. The specifics matter to God. Now we’re in verse sixty one, and we’ll kind of take that paragraph sixty one through sixty five together. There’s something about a relationship that matters to God, something here in this chapter. It’s a family relationship. For us, it’s a spiritual relationship. They’re both connected to the family. However, you’ll notice there’s two groups here in sixty one through sixty five that are unable to prove their Jewish lineage. See, that’s the problem with the following were those who came up from, and it names these towns, which may mean they have not been in exile. They had been in surrounding towns, so they had Jewish parents, either mother or father, and that maybe there was some intermarriage with local populations, but they had not really been carried off the Babylon. But yet they’re coming in with the exiles and saying, ‘We want to be part of this.’ That seems to be what’s going on. Do you see this in verse sixty one? They could not prove their father’s houses, nor their dissent, whether they belong to Israel. They couldn’t prove it. They didn’t have a birth certificate, didn’t have a passport, They didn’t have a record that proved that they were Jewish. That’s the problem. And so they’re listed here who they were in versus sixty two and following; it lists them.

There’s Tobiah, by the way. That’s why he keeps showing up. Tobiah and the Ammonites. You know, he’s part of the big three back there that kept challenging Nehemiah. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab. We’ve been hearing about these three guys for weeks now, right? Well, here kind of gives you why Tobiah has some Jewishness claim; there is some Jewishness in his background that he can’t prove. Plus, he’s married into the family, into the priest family, It looks like. So we see this.

Also in this group, there were some people who claimed to be from the Levitical tribe that they claim to be priests. And so we see this in verse sixty- four, they sought their registration among those enrolled in genealogies. They wanted to be priests. And now the governor for verse sixty five, which at this time, when this was written, probably was the governor Zerubbabel, because remember, this is being copied from Ezra chapter after two. So this probably is Zerubbabel, although it could be Nehemiah. We’re uncertain. It doesn’t name it, so I don’t want to go beyond what it says.

The governor told them you can’t have the holy food until a priest arrives with the Urim and Thummim. Here’s what he’s saying. You can’t have the tithes. His The tithes are brought in from the other tribes. And then the priest and the Levites live off of it, they take care of the temple, and then they live off the tithes from the people. And so it was called holy food. It was ‘set apart’ food. So the sacrifices and the tithes and the offerings were brought to the temple to support the priests and the families of the priests who worked in the temple. But these people who are claiming the right to that. But the governor says I’m sorry; until you can prove it or until we get a high priest with the Urim and the Thummim, we will not be able to prove your lineage.

I have a study group on Wednesdays; we study together for both campuses. The same sermon is preached at the Rocky Mount campus that is preached here. But we also have people who often attend our study group, some of them young people who attend from time to time. I gave one particular young person the job of studying the Urim and the Thummim this week when we first got together. He spent the whole day basically on that one topic. So I won’t go into all that he uncovered. But I will say this to you that whenever you go back into the story of the exodus and the building of the tabernacle, God told Moses how to build the breastplate of the high priest. It was to have twelve stones in the breastplate, and each stone would be of a different type and color to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Up close to the heart, there was to be a pouch that went inside the breastplate that held two objects of which were uncertain of their type or make. They may have been stones we’re not sure; one called the Urim and the Thummim and they would use them to discern God’s will for a thing. And so you could study on that even more. I’m not going to go into all that, or else I’ll be spending the whole day describing it to you. One word in Hebrew means light; in the other perfection. Taken together, you can discover God’s perfect light is what he would have you do. Now, here’s what I would say in summary; it’s complicated Hebrew stuff, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing God wants you to know; His will. He provided to the high priest of Israel a way when the king or whoever would come to it. There’s a place where Moses comes and God told Moses to consult the room and the human in order to show the people that Joshua was your successor. You’ll see this happen from time to time that they’ll consult the high priest, which seems to be the same thing that this was a way of confirming God’s will.

Today we have Jesus; He’s our high priest. We don’t need whatever the room in the tomb or whatever they are; we have Jesus. And we have the finished word of God. Go to God’s word. You have the living word, which is Christ, and you have the written word and you go to these now. If you consider this importance of finding your name, they couldn’t find their name written down anywhere.

The governor slowed him down and said, ‘ Look, let’s go to the high priest, but we’ve got to get one first because we’ve got a lot of work today. We’ve lost a lot of what we used to have there who put them on hold. But we don’t have to be put on hold today We can know that our name is written there. There’s another place in the Scripture that speaks of a certainty of your relationship to the heavenly family. In the Book of Revelation, it’s mentioned. I could have found other places that speaks of the book of life. But this is significant place. A list of names that shows your spiritual family relationship to Jesus.

In the book of Revelation, chapter twenty verses eleven through fifteen, “11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” This is the second death, and anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Do you believe this? I do. I believe that there’s payday someday that there’s judgment someday. But I also believe that those who have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior instantly at the very moment of faith have their names written in the book of life and therefore have no fear when they face death and will not experience the second death. What is the first death? The first death is the death of this body. This body is not going to make it. I’m starting to realize that more and more every day. This body is not going to make it. I get a new body, a glorified body, because I have followed Jesus .

It says in the book of 1st John chapter three, verse two, “We know not yet what we shall be. But when we see him, we shall be like him. For we shall see him as he is.” We get a body like Jesus. He’s the firstborn from among the dead. I will not, you will not, Christ follower, experience the second death. The second death is not for us. For eternal life has been accounted for those who believe or your name is in the book of life.

When I was a child, I sang a simple song. I remember my little brother Barry, when he was two years old, he could sing every word of this song. “My name is in the book of life. Oh, bless the name of Jesus. I rise above all doubt and strife and read my title clear. I know, I know, I know, I know, I know…” See, now you know why I could sing this.

I know my name is written there not a hard course and not a hard thing to accomplish because Jesus has done all the work. He is our high priest. He is the one that determines our lineage. Are you a citizen of heaven? There’s only one way. And that’s Jesus. Are you born again? So that you are born with a new passport, a spiritual one? And so we see this as the second calling to Gods citizenship.

Here’s the third: (3) Understand that heavenly citizenship involves personal stewardship. So we talked about this partnership because people he cares about your family. What part about your family? Not so much the biological part. He cares about that; but he cares more about your heart and your spiri, each condition, because he wants you to become part of his family. He wants to adopt you into God’s family. And we talked about that. Now we’re talking about what you do with your stuf; your time, talent and treasure. Does God care about that? He cares about the people . He cares about their work. And he cares about what they do with their stuff. Believe it or not, because he has a calling on your life.

We look at verse seventy and following. I guess I should start a sixty six. But if you if you look at that last section sixty six through the end, you see the word gave four times. Four times it says the people gave; it is in verse seventy, seventy one and seventy two. It starts with the governor here. More than likely it is Nehemiah. What the governor gave. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand darics of gold, fifty bowls. And so it starts with the governor. Then it goes to the heads of the houses. Then it goes to the people.

That’s the same progression that we see in first chronicles when we saw in first chronicles chapter twenty nine. That’s how King David set apart and called the people to join him in building the temple. He went first and said, Here’s what I’m giving. He called the elders and the chief leaders and said, What would you give? And they said, Here’s what we’re giving. And then the people rejoiced. And then they joined in same progression. It must be something we should take note of. We see that the people look to their leaders to be leaders in sacrificial giving, and then they rejoice when they see it modeled, and then they follow it. And so that’s what’s going on here. We see Nehemiah and the people giving and it gets really detailed.

I assigned our study group to look up the word daric and look up the word minas. They were all working diligently trying to discover the modern day values of each. Now a daric is a Persian coin. A minas seems to be from Aramaic, but passed into Greek. I got so excited while we were studying around my table, I went to my personal office at home and brought out little baggies of money from all over the world. Here’s a shilling; look at this. Here’s a Jordanian dinar. I’ve got money from all over the world because the Lord’s blessed our church and blessed me to to be able to to go out and and be called to fulfill the great Commission and to preach the gospel to all nations. It’s a big part of our dream as a church from day one to reach our Jerusalem, our Samaria and the ends of the earth, because that’s what God called us to do.

I showed them all of this money, and they’re like,wow, wow, wow. And I said, so figure out what a daric and minas value is. It looks like, in today’s value, rather than me telling you everything we learned, it looks like Nehemiah gave about two million dollars. It looks like total all the people, when you add it all together, they gave ten million dollars in today’s coinage.

We see that they brought golden basins and silver and all kinds of things. And I started thinking about the stuff that you you’ve been writing on your cards. I’ve been hearing some crazy stuff. People having a house near the beach or something like that. Somebody wants to give us an outboard motor and like, could you sell it first on eBay or something? We don’t need that next door in this room. People are listing wonderful things, you know, gold and silver; somebody donated actual like biblical gold and silver. They brought it to us. P eople been, you know, saying, I want to give my IRA or I want to give, you know, I want to sell this or that. It looks like Bible times to me. I’ve had people this past week, you made commitments last commitment Sunday, come up to me and say, I made a commitment Sunday that scared me. And then on Monday, my water heater broke, my dishwasher broke down. God, that’s that doesn’t make me feel so faithful like I wrote that big number down. And then my my dishwasher broke down. But then they go and they find out that there’s there’s a sale plus a one hundred dollar rebate thing and and they just praise the Lord. God really helped me out here; it is so much like the book of Haggai going on right now. The book of Haggai says, “If you give to the Lord, he sews up your pockets because your pockets are leaking. Do you ever feel like your pockets are leaking?

A young woman this morning, with her eyes welling up with tears, a single mom said to me, I wrote a number that scared me last Sunday. Butby the next day and the day after, I got two checks in the mail that I didn’t expect one from school and one from of a phone company, a credit that I didn’t know I was going to get. I could just keep telling you stories. I don’t have time to do it. Here’s what’s happening in our church. The spiritual journeys happening as people are trusting God with all that they are and all that they have. They’re beginning to get miraculous God stories in their lives that they would not have experienced otherwise because they put it out for God to use. And then God gets so excited with us and says there’s my kid that trusts me with what they are, what they have. I just love them so much. I’m going to trust them now with a God story, and I see it happening in our church.

These people wrote it down. Why? Because it mattered to God. It matters to God. He cared about it. And so they wrote it down. There was a lot of people. They’re looking for sixty six, forty two thousand three hundred sixty people. They could have an instant Wilson; what’s Wilson like, fifty thousand? Wilson county is like eighty three thousand. That’s a lot of people. They’re getting like, boom, you know, if they could get him all to move in and bring their stuff. And it’s the seventh month. So they finished the wall in Elul, which is month number six in the Jewish calendar, which is the equivalent of, like September, this analysis the next month, which is Tishrei, which is the month of when you celebrate the harvest. And so it’s like November like October , November. The people are still in the towns, but not for long.

Hear this in the New Testament. You are no longer strangers and aliens. But you are fellow citizens with saints and members of the household of God. So Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus, You are citizens, you are fellow members, you’re part of the family. And you were called to bring all that you have and all that you are and be part of this new Jerusalem that he’s building. We’re called to be fellow workers first. Corinthians says we’re God’s fellow workers, listen to this. You are God’s field. God’s building. Let’s get stuff right there. We’re called to be stewards.

First Corinthians says this, “Moreover, it’s required of stewards that they be found faithful.”. What’s a steward? A steward manages something that belongs to somebody else; a manager. It’s not yours. Everything that you have God gave you. And as a steward, you manage it according to what the owner says. Not according to your desires.

Have you organized your life so that you’re a contributor to God’s work in the world? Is this something that you would describe as being true in your life? Now I want to close. Well, I’ve been called to a heavenly citizenship. That’s really a divine partnership. People matter, too. God, we’ve been called to a heavenly citizenship that’s based on a spiritual relationship. God wants you in His family. He wants your name written in the Book of life.

Then finally, we’ve been called to a heavenly citizenship that involves personal stewardship. How you manage your time, talent and treasure reflects your citizenship if you’re a citizen of God’s heaven, of His heavenly kingdom. If you’re a member of the family, your life should look like it. So I want to offer you an opportunity to make some commitments today. First I would say to you, Are you a member of God’s family? Have you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? Have you confessed your sin? That’s the first commitment . And if you’ve never done that, that’s really the only commitment I would ask of you today. But if you call this your church home and you claim Jesus as your king, I would ask you, if you didn’t do it last week, to make your commitment. There are two things in your seat as I mentioned earlier. One is a first gift envelop. Don’t use that today. Take it home; stick it on the refrigerator with a magnet or on the kitchen table or wherever you see things most often. Let it remind you that next Sunday is celebration Sunday we will announce the total of all the gifts and we will bring our first gift. So that envelope is for next Sunday. We don’t want it to sneak up on you, so we’re giving it to you early. What do we want you to do today if you’re a person who calls this your church home? Have you turned in your commitment card? If you did it last week, Good. If you haven’t done it yet , this is your chance. This is your opportunity to do it. We would ask you to put your tithes and your offerings and your prayer request in one of the buckets. But because of the significance, we want people to put the commitment cards in the baskets near the cards with people’s names on it. We’re asking you to do that.

I would remind you that we told people last week that half of what is needed has already been committed, even before last week that even four hundred ninety two thousand was committed before last week even came. And then fourteen thousand was committed from our youth group. And so we see miracles happening in our church. Don’t you want to be a part of it? I don’t want you to miss out partnering with God and so let’s take some time to pray. I

want to pray for that person that you would come to Jesus if that’s your commitment today. But I also want to pray over this time of commitment. In response, let me pray . Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you for your word that even when we hit a section that seems so difficult at first we get so much out of it when we just take the time to pray and study. We thank you for your word. And more than that, we thank you for your son. Jesus. Lord, I know there are people in the house this morning that need you. Is that you, my friend? Would you pray with me right now believing in your heart? Pray like this. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’ve fallen short of your glory. Lord, I believe you died on the cross for me and that you were raised from the dead and that you live today. Come and live in me and forgive me of my sin. Make me the person you want me to be. Adopt me into God’s family. I want to be a child of God. Lord, I want you to be my Lord and Savior. If you’re praying that prayer right now believing in your heart, then God will save you through his son, Jesus. Others are here today and you believe. But you’re holding something back. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s some decision in your life that you’re trying to do on your own. Maybe it’s about a relationship. Maybe it’s about your stuff. Maybe it’s about your fear of just letting go and trusting the Lord. Would you give it to the Lord right now? We do pray over this response time, over the commitments that are being made and over what you’re doing in our church. And more than that, what you’re doing in our city. In Jesus name, Amen.