Thursday, September 27, 2018

Planting A Vision - Doug Rehberg

On August 20, 1940 Winston Churchill was speaking to the House of Commons. Already that year he had inspired a nation with three famous speeches: The “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech of May 13th; the “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” speech of June 4th; and the “This Was Their Finest Hour” speech of June 18th. But here in this speech he uttered a line that is as famous as any Churchill ever spoke. He said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” The line stems from the ongoing efforts of the Royal Air Force crews who were, at the time, fighting the Battle of Britain, the pivotal air battle of the war. The prospect of the complete domination of British air space and the consequent land invasion by the Germans was a foregone conclusion in the minds and hearts of many. But, because of the superintended grace of God and the unbelievable heroics of the RAF pilots, the German Luftwaffe was given its first major defeat.

According to some historians, on August 16, as Churchill was making his exit from the RAF Bunker at Uxbridge, after visiting with a number of the pilots who flew in the battle, he first spoke these famous words. Immediately afterwards he turned to Major General Hastings Ismay, who he called “Pug,” and said, “Don’t say a word to me. I have never been so moved.”

But four days later as they were traveling together in a car. On the way to The House of Commons, Winston was rehearsing his speech. When he came to the part where he said, “Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few” Ismay interrupted him. “But Sir, what about Jesus and His disciples?” Immediately Churchill said, “Good old Pug. ‘Never in the field of human conflict’…”

For anyone wishing to discover the secret of Churchill’s success in rallying a flagging nation in the face of titanic odds, one only needs to examine the myriad lessons in leadership Churchill learned over his long life. Every aspect of his leadership as Prime Minister of Great Britain in World War II can be traced to his life as a student, a writer, a politician, an army officer, etc. Through a vast array of experience Churchill developed a remarkably adept style of leadership. The same can be said for Nehemiah.

Over the last 3 weeks we have been examining this fascinating story of how God uses one man to engage His broken people in a monumental task. This week we will be completing chapter 2 where, after receiving the blessing and sanction of the king, Nehemiah journeys to Jerusalem to accomplish God’s plan for His people. What we have at the end of chapter 2 is a wonderful outline of what godly, effective leadership looks like.

This week we will be highlighting 8 aspects that are integral to planting a vision. In a message entitled, “Planting a Vision,” we will be looking at each aspect quickly and precisely. In preparation for the message you may wish to consider the following:

1. How long did it take Nehemiah and his entourage to get to Jerusalem from Susa?
2. Why does he wait three days to get started? (Compare with Ezra 8:32)
3. Why does he start his examination of the city at night?
4. Who are the men that accompany him in his investigation?
5. Why the stealthiness? (verse 16)
6. Why is he riding?
7. How did Nehemiah know those mentioned in verse 16 who would be doing the work?
8. Why does he state the obvious in verse 17?
9. What is he saying to them in verse 18?
10. How does he handle opposition in verses 19 and 20?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Let's Roll" - Doug Rehberg

Over the past two Sundays we have been privileged to begin digging into one of the truly remarkable stories of Scripture – the Book of Nehemiah. It’s been great for me to listen to the podcasts from afar and hear the rich preaching of God’s servant and, our dear brother, Scott Parsons. What a gift to Hebron!

When Scott and I began first talking about doing a series on the Book of Nehemiah he got a big smile on his face and said, “I love Nehemiah. Of all the characters of Scripture I feel as though I’m closest in identifying with him. He was a man who served God with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.” If you know Scott very well you can see a lot of Nehemiah in him.

This week, in a message entitled, “Let’s Roll”, we are going to take one more look at the way Nehemiah introduces himself to us. From there we will take another glance at the prayer he prays in chapter one and then move into chapter two and see how God supernaturally answers that prayer.

I think it was the church father, Basil of Caesarea, who said, in effect, that we ought to pray in such a way that we make God ashamed if He does not answer; throwing God’s promises to Him saying, “Lord, You promised. Now fulfill Your promise. Otherwise, it’s going to look bad for You and it’s going to look bad to all those around You, because they’re going to say that this God of the Jews, the God of Jerusalem, does not keep His word.” It’s that kind of prayer we see Nehemiah praying in chapter one. And it’s that kind of prayer we see God answering in chapter two.

Now lest you think that Basil was awfully bold in voicing such a declaration, the Book of Nehemiah is careful to show us that such boldness can only be effective if it springs from a humble heart. Nehemiah has such a heart in spades!

We will examine the man, the method, and the message of Nehemiah 1:4-2:10 on Sunday. In preparation you may wish to consider the following!
  1. Why does Nehemiah give us the month of Chislev in chapter one and Nisan in chapter two?
  2. What significant lesson are we to draw from those dates?
  3. Why does Nehemiah ask Hanani for a report on the conditions in Jerusalem?
  4. When he tells us in verse 4 that he sat down and wept and mourned for days, how long is he talking about?
  5. The prayer he cites in verses 5 to 11 follows the famous “ACTS” pattern. Can you identify each element in his prayer?
  6. Scott mentioned the significance of the line, “I was cupbearer to the king.” What else do you know about what a cupbearer is? Why does he wait 11 verses to tell us that?
  7. Why was Nehemiah fearful in verse 2?
  8. Why does the king point out his sadness and its source in verse 2?
  9. Why does Nehemiah say all he says in verse 3?
  10. What provisions does the king give to Nehemiah? Is this more than he asks for?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sorrow in Susa - Doug Rehberg

Susa was the capital city of Persia. It was 850 miles away from Jerusalem, across barren wastelands. We quickly learn that Nehemiah is not only a resident of Susa, he lives in the citadel, that is the fortified palace of the king.

When he inquires of his Jewish brother, Hanani, who has just returned from Jerusalem, about the condition in which he found Jerusalem, the report is bleak. “The remnant there… 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.”

On the face of it, it seems like a man as important as Nehemiah would have other things possessing his mind than a distant city to which he‘s never even seen. But not so! His body may be in Susa, but his heart is in Jerusalem, for he knows that place is the very dwelling place of God.

Nehemiah may very well have had Psalm 137:5-6 on his mind when he made his inquiry, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth; if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Look at the news from Hanani. Notice the words he uses to describe the people of Jerusalem and their conditions. He calls them “survivors”. Their condition is one of “trouble and shame”. The wall around Jerusalem is utterly broken down and the gates burned with fire.

In the ancient world, a city without walls was a city completely vulnerable to its enemies. It had no defenses and no protection at all. An unwalled city was always a backwater town, with nothing valuable in it. Those living in an unwalled city were in constant fear and tension. They never knew when they might be attacked and brutalized. What is more, any temple or place of worship in such a town could never be made beautiful; because anything valuable would be easily carried away.

Join us Sunday morning as Scott Parsons preaches "From Sorrow to Success".

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Rebuilding the Broken - Scott Parsons

Brokenness is a universal condition.  Everything is broken in one fashion or another.  It is a consequence of the fall.  Nations are broken. Institutions are broken. People are broken. Nothing is exempt.  It’s true that not everything is broken to the same degree, but brokenness is inescapable. 

Nehemiah is a book about brokenness.  The setting of the book is the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the subsequent deportation of the Jews from Jerusalem to Babylon.  After 70 years in exile, a group of 50,000 Israelites return to Jerusalem and find it in shambles.  The temple and city walls have been destroyed.  What is left of the city is occupied by all kinds of people who now claim it as their home.  Nothing is the same.  Their release from captivity has essentially been a transfer from one nightmare to a worse one.  Now, 93 years after their return, Nehemiah receives word that not much has changed.  The temple has been reopened under the supervision of Ezra, but not much else has changed.  The walls are still in shambles, and the Jews are in constant danger from people within and outside the city. 

When Nehemiah hears this, he weeps.  Who wouldn’t?  Things were supposed to get better, but they didn’t.  It’s how many of us feel about our own broken lives.  We keep thinking that things should get better, but often they don’t.  Sometimes we start to wonder why God doesn’t just fix things for us, or if he has abandoned us.  After all, we are supposed to be his children!  But Nehemiah is not a book of despair.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Nehemiah helps us understand that it is not God’s intent that we simply hang on in a broken world, but that we live victoriously in it.  It isn’t always easy, but Nehemiah shows us that if we are willing to be patient, pray, trust God, and devote ourselves to his calling, he will in his timing lift us up and give us a song of praise.  It is a fascinating book that is encouraging and practical.  I suggest that you read it once in its entirety before Sunday, and ask God to give you a new perspective on the brokenness in your life and in the world around you.