May 28, 2017

May 28, 2017

NEHEMIAH 10-11

Focus Verse: Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.
Nehemiah 10:28-31
and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually, and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God.
Nehemiah 10:35-36
Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.
Nehemiah 10:39

 

Offering God our first fruits – it’s a sermon I’m sure we’ve all heard a time or two. Now I’m not real sure how you’ve heard it preached, but I want to address something today that I’ve noticed many Christians have overlooked in regard to our first fruits, whether from a lack of teaching or simply from a failure to obey (and this convicted me this morning, so please don’t think I’m writing this from my high horse).

 

We are so quick to offer God our first fruits in everything except our morality. We have to toe this line carefully, because this could be turned to legalism very quickly if we don’t keep it gospel centered, but when is the last time you’ve thought of giving God your first fruits when it comes to how you morally live your life?

 

This goes so much further than just the “Christian list of don’ts”, we need to include the “Christian list of dos” as well. What is God telling you to do and are you doing it? Or are you even asking and listening to what God wants you to do? As we see from this example in Nehemiah, this has to be a first step.

 

In Nehemiah, before the Israelites pledge to give God the best of the best when it comes to the works of their hands, they first offer Him the best of the best when it comes to obeying His law. We need to do the same, but with a caveat: the best we have to offer God, in terms of living morally and holy lives, is walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must give complete reign to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us.

 

Someone asked me the other day if I thought that our church focused too much on the Holy Spirit. I didn’t really give an answer at the time, but as I’ve thought about that question and prayed about it through the week, I’ve come up with my answer: no. I don’t think you can give too much focus on any of the Members of the Trinity. If anything, I think the Holy Spirit can get the raw end of the deal sometimes. We refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it” many times, even though He (or She if you’re super progressive) is clearly labeled as a person in God’s Word. When is the last time you’ve told the Holy Spirit you love Him? When is the last time you’ve prayed to the Holy Spirit? I know there are some people who have theologies that would come against this, but if you believe in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I can’t imagine we can have too much of any of them.

 

Back to my point though – we need to give the Holy Spirit the first fruits of our lives. This goes well before giving Him the first fruits of what we produce. Chapter ten ends with the Israelites saying, “Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.”

 

Because of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, that house is no longer a temple in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the world. The Holy Spirit now dwells in YOU. So to not neglect the house of our God now, we need to allow the Spirit to guide us into living a life in which we walk with Him.

 

Will you join me in declaring this over your life today? Will you stand before God and say, “We will not neglect the house of our God”?

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