Stopping the Strife

Date Preached: February 17, 2019
From the Series: Rise Up
Scripture: Nehemiah 5
Speaker: Gary Combs

Summary

Nehemiah called the people to rise up and focus their money and effort on God’s mission to rebuild the wall, yet the fact that some were not sacrificing for the work caused strife among the people of God.

In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah led the people to stop the financial strife that had arisen between them against God’s mission. We can stop the internal financial strife that arises against God’s mission for His people.

Transcript

Below is an automated transcript of the message:

Thanks for listening to the podcast from Gary Combs and the preaching 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, We’re still in the book of Nehemiah; this is awesome. We’re going through the book of Nehemiah one chapter at a time, and we’re in Chapter five this morning and we’ve entitled this series Rise Up. Rise Up is, first of all, a sermon series and then secondarily, it’s a generosity initiative, making room for more people in our house, which is God’s house. But it comes from Nehemiah, Chapter two, verse eighteen, where Nehemiah went to the people of Jerusalem and said, Do you see the condition of the walls? How they’re broken down? And he tells him how the king has given him permission to rebuild, howthe Lord God’s hand is upon him and he asked the people to see this and respond to it. And the people said , Let us rise up and build so they strengthened their hands for the good work. And so that’s where we get the theme of this series, Rise Up.

God gave Nehemiah a vision to rebuild the walls and the gates that surrounded Jerusalem and the people responded. But here’s the thing. The minute you start responding to God’s vision in your life, there’s always going to be opposition. We talked about that last week. It’s not, maybe there will be, it’s there will be opposition, and often the opposition comes from outside the body of Christ or outside your family or outside your life. So it’s people that are pulling you down or challenging what you’re doing.

Sometimes, and this is kind of the hard part; it comes from inside of you, or it comes from within your family. It comes within the family of God, even, and so strife begins to build up strife, that word of of disagreement, like there’s a disagreement between you and your spouse over God’s leading in your life, or there’s a disagreement between you and your parents, or you and your children, or you and the person sitting next to you wherever you’re sitting right now or somebody across the way.

We’ve said this through the weeks, that Jesus said that the gates of Hades cannot prevail against the church. He says, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades cannot prevail against it.” But here’s what can make a difference and really slow the church down; it is not so much the outside enemy but us. We can slow ourselves down through discouragement, opposition, but also through internal strife. Often today in America, that strife comes from the way we view. Here comes that word that makes Christians in America so nervous: Money. The way we look at money, because often money has a really strong grip on our hearts.

John Piper, who talks about the way Christians should live, said, that we should live with a wartime lifestyle. Here’s what he writes. In wartime, we spend money differently. There is austerity not for its own sake, but because there are more strategic ways to spend money. No matter how grateful we are, gold will not make the world think that our God is good. It will make people think that our God is gold. So no matter how much we talk about our good God, if we’re putting our gold first, the world starts thinking Christians are just like the rest of America. We care more about our stuff, our possessions, our money than we do about people and about serving God.

Ron Blue, who writes a lot about Christian stewardship, said this, “The use of God-given resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals is the definition of Christian stewardship.” Let me just think about that with you for a second. Leave that up on the screen just for a second. What is Christian stewardship? How should Christians manage what God gives them? Ron Blue, I think, gives us a good definition to use. God-given resources are for the accomplishment of God-given goals. This has an understanding for the believer who comes and says, I identify with Jesus, who died for me, was buried and raised again. And so the person comes and they say, Yes, I confess, Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And so then, symbolically, we put them underwater so that the old life dies. The old life is gone and then risen to new life in Chris Jesus.

This is a picture of what Jesus did and as we make that commitment, here is what we’re saying, ‘Everything I am, and everything I have is now yours.’ Here’s the funny thing; it was already His. It’s just we’re finally agreeing with God. He made us. He made everything there is.

The Scripture says that the earth is His and the people thereof. It is all His. . When we give our lives back to Him, we’re agreeing with Him, and we’re saying, ‘This is my act of worship; everything I have and everything I am is Yours.’

So this process, though, really causes a lot of strife inside of us, because since we were born, we’ve been crying, ‘Me, me, me.’ No one has to teach a baby to cry to have its diaper changed or to have more milk. We’re all born with the selfishness gene. We want to put self first. A lot of times, when I’m doing marriage counseling, the first thing I notice when I’m talking to a young couple is almost all their arguments have to do with me, me, me, he, he, he, or she, she she. But it’s really me, me, me and what they’re doing is they’re pointing at the other, not living up to their expectations and not meeting their needs. I would say, nine out of ten times . selfishness is at the heart of strife in a marriage where they just can’t agree.

The husband wants a new truck or a big screen TV for his man cave, and the wife needs some new curtains and some new furniture. And and she’s got this whole list of things that matter a lot more than his toys. And probably, more often than not, she’s more practical than he is; not every time but often. Then kids enter the picture. I don’t know how that happens to you. We start having kids, then they have their needs and wants, and you start going, ‘Well, when do I get mine?’ And so we have strife in the house, and we have strife in the church because the church is just God’s people. That’s who we are; we are the family of God.

So how do you do this? How do you manage your stuff; your possessions, the three T’s, your time, talent, treasure? Because that’s all you have. We all have a certain amount of time. We all have a certain amount of gifting talents and we all have a certain amount of treasure. How do you manage it? Do you do it based on what you want? Or do you pray about it and you ask God what he wants and you put others first so that you love God and you love your neighbor as yourself? Check your heart, because this is what’s causing the trouble in Nehemiah in chapter five; strife, internal strife over their finances.

We’re going to look in book of Nehemiah, chapter five, and as we look, we’ll see that Nehemiah led the the people to stop their financial strife that had arisen between them and against God’s mission. And I believe that we can stop the internal financial strife that arises in our house against God’s mission. How can we do it? The text, I believe, gives three steps.

Let’s look at Chapter five. Let’s read God’s word and then we’ll comment on it. “ Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.” 6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13 I also shook out the fold[a] of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised. 14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration[b] forty shekels[c] of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense[d] for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.” This is God’s Word, Amen.

We are looking for three steps for stopping the internal strife that really comes against God’s mission. Here is the first step: Acknowledge our tendency for greed. Acknowledge our tendency for greed. You might be sitting there going, ‘He’s talking about somebody next to me’ and you’re thinking of that person right now, I know somebody like this.

I would suspect that we all struggle with this tendency because it’s part of the sin nature; that idea that I need more. I’m never satisfied. The more I get, the more I want. And that’s what’s going on here in verses one through five. We see the outcry. We see the problem. It’s interesting . this phrase in verse one. “Now there arose.”

We’ve got a lot of rising up in this book; lots of rising up here. A great outcry arises. And as I was looking at this book, we look and we see that it stands in contrast to some of the earlier statements. In the midst of a great work serving a great God, there was a great outcry. What’s the outcry? The rich people are stealing and robbing from the poor people, and they’re not sacrificing like the poor people. The poor people are sacrificing at a much higher level, than the rich people. That seems to be like the overall thing. There are at least four groups in versus one through five as we look at it.

First of all, let’s not forget verse one. This is something that I thought was interesting that Nehemiah includes, he says that their wives were part of the outcry. It’s like the husbands have been up there working, and their wives have been telling them, ‘You need to tell Nehemiah that people are ripping us off while we’re working on the wall. We are focused on the wall, but our kids are starving to death at home.’ The husband’s were like, ‘I don’t want to bother him; he’s really busy.’ The wives are the ones who are very practical; they are the ones who have to feed the kids probably, you know.

So they show up, and it’s just kind of a unique sentence. There arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives that you have a clue as to just how bad things had gotten. If the wives got involved, had I better do something about it? Because there’s a split forming in the people of God here.

There are at least three groups crying out against a fourth group. There are those who were many who had no land and could only eat the bread that they could earned by the sweat of their brow. That was the first group in verse two and three. There’s this group who had land, but they were in debt so bad that they really didn’t own. It was mortgaged up to its limit, so they couldn’t eat because they couldn’t borrow anymore.

There was another group in verse four that owed taxes to the king on their land. They owed back taxes and so they’re selling their kids into slavery.

And then there’s that final group that’s implied they were profiting off of the trouble of the rest. They were prospering off of others poverty. They were not living for the mission. They were living for themselves. They were profiting on the backs of other believers. This is true. If you were involved in leading any church in America, you would know this often repeated little fact, that twenty percent of church members and church attenders do eighty percent of the work and give eighty percent of the offerings in order to support the work . Twenty percent do eighty percent. Just go to any church in America and you can find that now. We’re thankful to the Lord that this church is healthier than that, not by much, but we’re growing. I’ve told people these Rise Up shirts are pretty cool. But what we all need, including me, is a shirt that says “Under construction.” Don’t judge me because we’re all growing. We’re all growing right. But we often allow other people to sacrifice so that we have a seat,so that we have a church to worship in. Other people are serving and taking care of the kids next door. Other people are greeting; someone will do it. I just need a place I can go, I’m so busy. When I get my life together, then I’ll serve, then I’ll give, then I’ll participate.

Friends You’re never going to get your life together because it’s always going to be… You’re going to need Jesus desperately to get your life together and part of getting your life together is making a commitment to Him to give Him all that you have and all that you are, and then let Him reorder your life. That is what’s needed.

What is greed? I looked it up in the dictionary. It says this according to Merriam Webster, a selfish and excessive desire for more of something such as money than is needed. In other words, it’s just want more than you need; that’s what it is. If you constantly want more than you need, then you’re struggling with this sin called greed. The Book of Proverbs says greed causes fighting, but trusting the Lord leads to prosperity.

That’s what’s going on in the city of Jerusalem. Here they are. They’ve been working. And now greed is about to cause the strife that stops the work. You see, money’s not the problem, Really. We say, Well, you know, doesn’t The Bible says that money is the root of all evil? Doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil? Isn’t that in the Bible? Pop the verse up because we’ve got some very advanced Christians correcting me right now; I read that verse, it doesn’t say that. You’re right; it says the love of money. Look at that; it doesn’t say money. Money is just this neutral thing. It’s a symbolic representation of goods of something that you’ve earned that you can exchange. It’s neutral. How you use it is what makes it either good or evil.

In the book of First Timothy it says, ‘but people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish, harmful desires.’ They plunged into ruin and destruction for the love of money, not money. The love of it is the root of all kinds of evil, and some people craving money have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Here’s the problem. If you love money, you love that you can depend on it rather than God . See, now I don’t have to pray. I can just take it out of my savings account. God really wants you to learn. Young believers and believers that are growing, He wants you to learn to depend on him and not on your own self effort. And not on your own self worth. He wants you to learn. Depend on Jesus.

Now, is this church a wealthy church? No. I saw the cars you were driving in the parking lot. I visit your homes. I know where you live. This has never been a wealthy church. Listen, I don’t know what it is that God’s doing here. But he gave us a building across from the hospital because we’re obviously the hospital church. People come in here who are broken, busted, addicted and in trouble; the Lord Jesus makes changes in their life and their life changes. And so we can’t sit here and go well, you’ve got that rich person that can stroke a check and fix everything . We’ve never had that. And we’re twenty seven years old.

God has always said I’m going to do miracles through the people least likely in the city of Wilson to be able to do a great thing. I’m going to do a great work in you, and I’m so happy about that. I wasn’t at first. I was like, man, this could take a long time, and it sure has. I was thirty two years old. We started this church, and now look at the old guy up here talking to you. But I wouldn’t take anything for this journey now because God is growing His people and He’s doing miracles.

Do you think beyond yourself when you think about your stuff and your money? Do you think beyond your little family when you think of your car, your house, your finances? Or do you think, how can I use this on God’s mission for God’s people as an expression of love or you constantly thinking like the last thought in your mind before you go to sleep at night or the first thought in the morning is worrying and thinking about your stuff or your money? If you’re doing that, be aware that that sounds like the love of money. If you’re giving it to God and you’re saying, ‘God, Your car just broke down, You need to get it fixed.’ It’s kind of a freeing thing.

Here’s number two. Repent of our selfish practices we covered in verses one through five. There was a great outcry. There was unequal sacrifice among God’s people. The rich people could have been sacrificing way more, but they weren’t. They were letting the poor people do all the sacrificing while they were enriching themselves. That was the habit that we see going on here. So what did Nehemiah do about this? How did he respond in verse six? It says he got very angry. He got ticked off, and I think the Lord’s really with this man because he didn’t do anything at first when he was angry. Look at verse six. ‘I was very angry when I heard their outcry.’ I was ticked. So what’s his first action in verse seven? ‘I took counsel with myself.’ That’s what I wish I would do. God bless Nehemiah. The Lord was with him. He got very angry and he took counsel with himself

Literally in the Hebrew, it means he l literally consulted with his own heart because himself in the Hebrew means heart. And so he had a heart check. It’s like he pulled away. I am ticked off and that I want to go hurt some people right now. Check my heart, okay? I need to calm down, and then he gets wisdom from the Lord. He counts to ten, right? That’s just a good little tip right there in the midst of everything that sometimes we shoot off our mouth too soon before we counsel with our own hearts.

Verse seven says after he did that he brought charges against the people that had been misusing the poor people. The first charge was you are exacting interest that was against the Torah. That was against the law.

Deuteronomy, Chapter twenty three, verse nineteen. “Do not charge your brother interest, whether all money or food or anything else…” So they were breaking God’s law by charging interest on their brothers. So he brought a charge against them that was biblical. Verse eight says, “you’re selling your brothers….” That’s what they did to us in Egypt. That’s what they did to us in Babylon. Now you’re treating us the same way they treated us. What’s wrong with you selling your brothers?

In verse nine, He makes a moral argument. “That’s not good… “ I just feel like he consulted with himself. But there’s still a little bit of steam in there because he says, “that’s not good.” Verse nine is so rich . Look at verse nine, he said. “So I said, The thing you were doing is not good.” This is not good. “Ought not you to walk in the fear of our God.” Don’t you fear God the way you’re managing your life? Aren’t you a little worried that God’s going to judge you someday based on the way you lived your life? Don’t you fear God?

There’s a three-part kind of a point that he’s making in verse nine. I almost decided to just read verse nine and preach that because there are three good points. Every preacher loves three points: (1) It’s not good (2) You should fear God. And then here’s the third one. (3) What kind of example are you giving to our enemies? They all think, well, we don’t need to oppose them at all. They don’t. They’re doing a good job of opposing each other in the way they’re mistreating each other. So that’s how Nehemiah responded. He wasn’t finished. , He says in verse eleven to return the stuff. Yeah, I want you to be sorry and repent, but here’s the best thing you could do to prove that you mean it. Give their stuff back, give the interest back, giving their land back, give their daughters and their sons back so they can do the work, you’re keeping them from doing the work. They get their wives up in here telling them to come home. Come on, people give their stuff back. And then they said they would.

And then in verse twelve, which is kind of interesting, he brought the priests in. We’re gonna have these guys sign a contract with the priests, make them swear that they’re going to give the stuff back. Nehemiah is thinking, I don’t trust these guys. And they said Amen. And they kept the promise. Here’s how the nobles responded. First of all, in verse eight, they were silent. They’d have words to say in verse twelve. They said we’ll do it , we will restore. And in verse thirteen, they said, “Amen.”

And how did the people respond in verse thirteen? They praised the Lord. See, people will praise the Lord when they see God’s people united and sacrificing together. We’re going to sacrifice together to accomplish God’s mission. I’m not going to be the one that creates strife in the church by going I will wait and see what happens and if it looks like it’s going to succeed, maybe I’ll get involved like that. No, God’s calling all of us to be united.

Don’t create strife through your lackadaisical approach to life. You see, greed is idolatry. Colossians says this, “Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity lust and evil desires.” Don’t be greedy. For a greedy person is an idolater worshipping the things of this world.

Did you know the way you handle money is in the same list of sexual immorality and stealing? Did you know it’s in the same list? It’s all sin. And here’s the problem with greed. It’s idolatry.

What’s idolatry? It’s when you put your worship and your love on something other than God. So we were all built as worshipers. From dandalions to dinosaurs we are the only people on planet Earth you know. They don’t worship, but we do. We worship something. We were wired for it. We’re either going to worship our stuff or we are going to worship the one true God. We are going to worship something.

Tim Keller said that worship is pulling our affections off of our idols and putting them on God. So going through a series like we’re going through right now stings because we’re Americans and we are at risk of being the most idolatrous nation on planet Earth because we have the greatest temptation to want more stuff. Everything on the TV, everything on Facebook, everything on Google is all about convincing you that you need more stuff, you know it’s true.

And then then we take a mission trip. We take a group of you to Guatemala. We take a group of you to Indonesia or a group to Uganda. These are all places we’ve taken groups in the last few years. We’re going back to Uganda and Guatemala this year. You go to a place like Uganda and you find out that what we earn in one week on average is what they earn in a whole year. And you see they are way happier than we are. You wonder, ‘What’s up with that?” It’s because they’re not thinking about stuff all the time. They’re thinking about their God, and they’re thinking about each other.

Take your affections off of your stuff. Repent therefore and turned back that your sins may be blotted out. One of the best antidotes for greed is generosity; break it inside of you by being a giver. Start when you go to lunch later today by actually leaving a tip for the first time . You know, I’ve heard from waitresses before. This is a terrible accusation. They hate working on Sunday for lunch because Christians don’t tip. You’re making them work because you won’t eat at home because you’ve gotta go eat out so they can’t go to church.

I tried to invite them at the Chinese restaurant to come to church. I can’t because I got to feed the Christians lunch and then they don’t tip because they’re the tightest bunch of people. You know what? We should be known for generosity. If you don’t learn anything today, go out the door with this, ‘Pastor Gary said to start tipping big.’ When they see you come in, they will want to wait on your table. Then, everything you say, they they have a tendency to believe it because you’re living it. Quit being so tight; generosity is the antidote to greed. Are you willing to repent of selfish living and to be looking on how you can honor God with your financial practices?

Now here’s the final; here’s number three: Live a life of generosity towards God. So put away the greed, repent of the practices of greed. First of all, admit it to yourself. A lot of us have trouble with that. Having admitted it, we’re looking at these final verses fourteen through nineteen, which you’re kind of like Nehemiah, he talked about what the problem was. He talked about how he would address it, and then he talks about in fourteen to nineteen, how he was living, the model he was trying to live. It’s pretty unique, especially for this time. Verses fourteen through nineteen says that he had a different pattern of leadership than previous governors. He was a servant leader. He ceased enjoying the advantage of the food allowance that other governors had. He sees taxing the people. He could tax him, but he’d stop taxing them because they were so poor, and he brought and lived off of his own means.

He says, in verse seventeen, at my table, I fed one hundred fifty people every day at my own expense. Now listen, friends. Nehemiah is a millionaire. Money is not evil; it’s not that money itself is evil. It’s how you use it. How’s he using it at his own expense? He’s feeding one hundred fifty people. How do I know He’s a millionaire? I don’t see that in the Bible. Well, let’s look at it for a second. Can you imagine slaughtering an ox a day in one year? Three hundred sixty five? That’s a lot of steak people. He was there twelve years. He says that right here in verse. What? Verse? Fourteen? Yeah, he was there twelve years as governor. He was slaughtering an ox everyday it’s three hundred sixty five a year times twelve. I think my math is right for thousand three hundred eighty heads of oxen of cattle. He had a big ole herd or he was buying it and that’s just the ox. He fed them six sheep a day. That’s a lot of sheep. Multiply that out, OK? Had a big flock, and then some birds. I’m the kind of guy that has to kind of understand that. They were at the table; one hundred fifty men, Jews and officials besides those who came to us from the nations.

What was prepared? One ox, six sheep and birds. Now, what kind of birds? I’m thinking they’re Jewish so it’s gotta be chicken. I mean, isn’t that what the Jewish mom is known for? Chicken soup; chicken soup can heal anything. I don’t know when that started. When did we start eating chicken?

In my study group every Wednesday, we study for these sermons before we preach at both of our locations, Rocky Mount and here. We have two locations for a church. We preach the same sermon in both locations. So we’re studying, and I gotta know. Why didn’t he name the birds? We know it’s chicken, but it could’ve been pheasants. I guess it could have been quail. It could have been something else. But I’m thinking then I’ve had this question. I had to ask Google. When did we first start eating chicken? When did we domesticate the chicken? Some of the people at the table said, ‘I don’t think we’re working on the sermon anymore. We need to go eat lunch.’ I don’t know what kind of birds they were. I know he needed. He needed a herd of ox four thousand three hundred eighty oxen. He needed a flock of sheep. Twenty six thousand two hundred eighty sheep. This man’s wealthy, but what’s he doing?

He stopped attacks on the people. Well, he stopped asking for the food allowance and out of his own pocket he was feeding a hundred fifty people a day knowing that he says he’s working on the wall. Not only that, he’s telling his servants to not buy land. These poor people, they’ll sell you everything they have. Don’t you take advantage of them. You set the example and you serve and you work and you give. And I see Nehemiah, he’s looking like Jesus to me right here. He’s not Jesus, but he’s kind of a prototype. He’s kind of a glance forward of who Jesus is going to be. He’s not Jesus. He doesn’t sacrifice his life. But he is an example of a servant leader. And I believe that he was looking for an accounting someday.

Look at verse nineteen, “Remember for my good oh, my God, all that I have done for this people. Here’s what he’s saying. I’m doing this for you. Lord, I’m doing this for that day when I see you.

The book of Psalms tells the story about a fool who built a big barn; he already had a big barn slam full. But the harvest came in so sweet that year that he told his servants to build him a bigger barn so he could save more food. So they did. And then Jesus tells the story of God saying to the man after he had laid up all this extra treasure He says, this night your soul is required of you and the things you’ve prepared whose will they be? So was the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. I want to be rich towards God. I want to be like Nehemiah who said, God, I did this for you. I was rich towards you

Are you rich towards God in the way you manage your time, your talent ,your treasure and your stuff? Are you rich towards God? In the book of Second Corinthians, Paul writes this concerning Jesus. He says, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich yet for your sakes, he became poor so that by His poverty he could make you rich.” You know that generosity of Jesus. You want to be more like Jesus. You’ve got to receive Him first. You got to say I’m broken. I’m selfish. That’s what’s wrong with our marriage. That’s what’s wrong with our parenting. That’s what’s wrong with every broken place in their lives. We need the Lord to rebuild the wall. Have you ever done that?

Lord Jesus, come into my life. I believe that you died for my sin and that you rose from the grave that you lived, come and live in me. I want to be a Christ follower and may I say to you as He comes to live in you, be ready. He’s going to make you generous. He’s going to finally pry those fingers loose so that you can live the life of the open hand, one hand open to God to receive one hand open to others to give just letting it flow to you and through you. Oh, it’s a beautiful life to be like Nehemiah. More than that, to be like Jesus and to let Him empower us to be like Him.

The book of proverbs says that some people are always greedy for more but the godly love to give. We love to give because Jesus has given us everything. Let’s stop the strife of greed and selfish living in our lives, church And let’s begin the life of extravagant generosity, living with all that we have and all that we are for Jesus. Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus, there are at least three types of people in this room. There’s one type that’s just is beginning the journey, and they’re still learning. And this generosity stuff scares them because they think it’s up to them. I pray for that person right now to recognize that everything belongs to God, it’s all a matter of trust. Just trust Him. There is the believer who’s been growing and been a Christian for a long time. Don’t get satisfied. He still wants you to grow. So, Lord, let’s pray for this mature Christian, Lord, I put everything on the table again, holding nothing back. I thought I had sacrificed it all, but it’s all a fresh coming to me. I held something back. Don’t hold anything back. And then if you’re here today and you’re that third type of person you’ve never given your life to Jesus. Oh, we’re so glad you’re here. You’re the most important person in the room. Would you confess Jesus right now. We care more about that than we do any decision you’d make today. Would you pray this prayer with me right now? Right where you are. Lord, I want to be a Christian. I want to be a child of God. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. Jesus. I believe that you were raised from the grave and that you live today. I believe that. And now I invite you to come into my life, come into my life and make me the person you want me to be. Forgive me of my sins and make me a child of God. I want you to be my Lord and Savior. If you’re praying that prayer right now believing in your heart and God will save you through his Son,Jesus. Lord, we pray for that person right now knowing that that’s happening in this room. We pray for everyone in this room now, Lord, that you would make us a people marked by extravagant generosity, so the strife and the struggle is replaced by rest and trust in You. In Christ’s name. Amen.