Matt Hagee - Don't Take it for Granted
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Nehemiah 9, verse 30 and 31 is our text today. If you're there, say Amen. Let's read it together. "Yet for many years, You had patience with them and testified against them by Your spirit in Your Prophets. Yet they would not listen". Say that again. "Yet they would not listen. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in Your great mercy, You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them, for You are God, gracious and merciful". This morning, we consider this thought. Don't take it for granted. Don't take God's goodness, don't take His grace, don't take His mercy for granted because when you take God for granted, you lose what He has given you. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, today we open up Your word of truth, and we see that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. As it was in the days of Nehemiah, it is in our day. We've taken You for granted, and today, we ask that a refreshing restoration come to this nation, that it come to our lives, that it come to our homes and our businesses, that it restore Your church that on this day, we would be revived with power from the Holy Spirit. And that we would see Your hand move in this nation and the nations of the world that we might once again declare the goodness of God in the land of the living as You heal our land. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
You may be seated. Today, Nehemiah and his generation of wall builders face a challenge that you and I must face in our generation. Today, Nehemiah doesn't have a construction project in front of him. Today, the walls of Jerusalem are restored. The gates have been hung. The temple is now being used for worship. Today, what Nehemiah has to be careful about is now that things are good, he can not take God for granted. How human, how natural, then whenever our lives are in ruin, we fall on our knees and say, God, where are You? But whenever we're walking in abundance, whenever we have good times, whenever we enjoy the best of success, we suddenly think, God, I don't need You.
You see the Bible tells us very clearly that God is faithful, and what you need to know about His faithfulness is that He will perform His word whether you believe it or not. So when He says I will restore, He, in effect, holds himself accountable for your restoration. So when you call upon Him, and you say, God, restore my family. God, restore my business. God, restore my marriage. God, restore my church. God, restore my hopes, my dreams, my peace, my joy, it's not a matter of if God restores, it's a matter of when God restores. He will do it because His word promised you that He would. He will restore your business. He will restore your family. He will restore your joy. He will bring peace back into your life. He will calm your fears and fill your heart with hope. It's not a matter of if He does it. It's when He does it. And when He does it, we cannot take God for granted.
How do we remember God's goodness? When you read Nehemiah chapter 9, the entire chapter tells about when the children in Jerusalem, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they all stood together, the Nobles and the commoners, those with resources and those without, the politicians and the diplomats, the government leaders, the Levites, those who worked in the temple and the high priests. All of them were there together, and they opened up the Bible, and they began to read. And when they began reading and remembering, they started to declare the goodness of God. They remembered that it was God who chose Abram and called him Abraham and promised him lands. They remembered that it was God who made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and said that His seed would dwell in this place. They remember His faithfulness century after century after century.
And before we consider what they remember, I want to ask you this question. How did they remember? Nehemiah is removed from Abraham by generations. Nehemiah comes hundreds of years after Moses and the Red Sea and the wilderness. How is it that Nehemiah's generation is able to remember the cloud by day and the fire by night? How do they remember the manna? How do they remember Jericho? I'll tell you how. They remember those things because their fathers and their grandfathers and their great grandfathers were faithful to remind them of how good God had been in their time. And the reason I bring it up is because not only do we have a challenge in our generation not to take God's goodness for granted in our life, but we have a challenge in our generation to tell the next generation what a mighty God we serve.
We have a challenge in our generation as fathers to sit down with our children and our grandchildren and tell them this is the goodness of God in my life. This is the goodness of God over this nation. This is the goodness of God in His house. This is His faithfulness. This is His mercy. This is His blessings that He's poured out upon me Because if we don't tell them, no one else will. My love for this country didn't come from a public school education. My love for this country came from grandparents and parents who sat down and told me what a privilege and a blessing it was to be born in the United States of America. It came from listening to my grandmother would tear-filled eyes talk about the prayer meetings when she would lay on her face before God and ask for Him to protect her brothers who were overseas defending this nation.
My love for church did not come from a Sunday school teacher or some magical curriculum. My love for church came from parents and grandparents who told me about the miracles that they saw God do, about the way that God intervened in their life, about the mountains that He moved, about the things that He had done, and how He would do the same for me. The point is fathers, the point is grandfathers, the point is grandmothers, point is mothers if we are going to see the next generation follow in the path of righteousness, we have got to tell our children where that path is. You say, oh, no, they'll figure it out. No, they won't. The Bible says a child left to himself will bring his mother shame. And we see that all over our society today. Nehemiah and his generation, they stand together, and they remember.
In verse 8, they say, You have performed Your words. Say that with me. You have performed Your words. They're saying, God, when you said it, You did it. You said You'd be a banner in battle, and You parted the Red Sea, and You threw Pharaoh and his army into the depths of it. You said You'd be a provider, and You gave us manna in the wilderness, and You brought a cloud by day, and You brought a fire by night. You said Your word would be a lamp unto our feet, and You did it. At Sinai, You gave us the commandments. Lord, we remember Your miracles. Lord, we remember the victories. Lord, we remember the water that came out of the rock. They remember all that God said to do.
Let me ask you this question. How often do you intentionally take time to count the good things that God has done in your life? The children of Israel gathered in one place, and they began to count the blessings that God had poured out. They didn't gather together so that they could complain about what they wish would happen in the world they were living in. They got together and said God has been good. God has been merciful. God has answered our prayers. God has made a way. And if you are going to enjoy the joy of your salvation, then I would encourage you to, on a regular basis, sit down and just think about God's goodness in your life. And then start to vocalize it and give Him praise for it. Say:
Father, I thank You that when I didn't deserve Your grace and Your mercy. You sent Your son, Jesus, and He died and set me free. I thank you that though my past is riddled with sin, though it was stained with scarlet, You made it white as snow. I thank You that Your mercy is renewed every morning. I thank You for every prayer You've ever let me pray and every time You've answered me. I thank You for every sickness You've ever healed. I thank You for everything You've ever provided. I thank You for Your loving kindness. And I thank You that when I was scared, You comforted me. I thank You that when I was tormented, You brought me peace. I thank You that when I cried alone, You were the friend closer than a brother, and You dried my tears. Lord, I remember Your goodness in my life, and I declare there is no God but You.
Why is Sunday such an important day? Consider the words of the Old Testament. It says remember the Sabbath. Remember. It's literally God's command. Don't you get together and complain about what you want to see God do next week. You get together and give him thanks and praise for what He's done in your life last week. Because if He did it then, He'll do it again. Remember, He is the one who woke you up. Remember, in Him, we live, and in Him, we move, and in Him, we have our being. Remember that He knows the way that you take, and He is making a path in the wilderness where there seems to be no way. Remember that it is God who sits upon the throne. He holds the mountains in a scale and the hills in a balance. Everything that is good and perfect in your life, it came from one place and one place only, and that is God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
That's why you can enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and you can come into His courts with praise because when you remember His goodness in your yesterday, you'll give Him praise today and be filled with hope for tomorrow. Child of God, This is the Lord's day. We should rejoice and be made glad in it. Not only do they remember God's goodness, but then, Nehemiah turns the conversation, and he says, in spite of what You did, nevertheless, our fathers acted proudly. They stiffened their neck. It means they became stubborn, and they refused to obey. It wasn't that they didn't know what to do. The truth is they refused to obey. Have you ever caught a child in trouble, and they pretended like they didn't know what they were supposed to be doing? Don't touch the cookies. Oh, you mean these cookies? I'm sorry.
Have you ever pretended ignorance when you knew you were guilty? Let's say it this way. How many of you have ever been pulled over for exceeding the speed limit? And when you get pulled over, you know why you got pulled over. And yet here comes the officer, and he knocks on the window. And you know why he's knocking on the window, and you know that he wants to see your driver's license and your registration. And yet, whenever you know all these things, you just play ignorant, and you go, is there a problem, officer? No, I just wanted to see if my lights worked, and apparently they do. So I'll see you later. And then, he says, do you know how fast you were going? And you know what you say? No. And he says, do you know what the speed limit is here? And you say, no. You're playing ignorant even though you simply chose not to obey. You knew you were doing 65 in a school zone, But there you are knowing you were wrong and just playing dumb.
And Nehemiah says, our fathers, they knew Your goodness. They saw what You did. They heard Your word, and they stiffened their necks and just stubbornly refused to obey. I think in this generation it can be said of the church in America, we've done the same. We've refused to obey God's word. We've refused to humble ourselves and do what's right in the eyes of the Lord. Nehemiah says in spite of this, in spite of their stubbornness You didn't hold it against them. They built a calf, and they worshipped it, and You pardoned them. They refused to enter the land, and You still fed them. For 40 years, You kept them. They lacked nothing. Their clothes didn't wear out, and their feet didn't swell, he says in verse 21. In verse 25, he says, You gave them houses that were full of good cisterns already dug, and vineyards, and olive groves, and trees that were in abundance.
Whenever you hear pastors say, God will give you houses you didn't build, wells you didn't dig, and vineyards you didn't plant, it comes from Nehemiah 9:25 where God is giving them things that they do not deserve. And Nehemiah says, nevertheless, we were disobedient. We cast Your law behind our backs. What is he saying? He's saying, God, we knew what You wanted us to do. We knew who You called us to be. We knew what our responsibilities were. And when we considered Your goodness, we just threw it away like a piece of trash. When we thought about Your blessings in our life and how You brought us through the Red Sea, and how you gave us manna, and how there was a cloud by day and a fire by night, we still chose stubbornly to do what we wanted, the way we wanted, like we wanted because as good as You were, I guess you couldn't have been good enough. You were a good God. We just refused to obey Your word.
And we might look in hindsight at what Nehemiah did and decide that, man, that's a rebellious and stiff-necked people, but are we any different? Do we consider what God's word says? Do we remember how we as a nation got here? Do we understand the days in which we're living? Or like Paul said to Timothy, have we become lovers of ourselves rather than followers of God? When you look at this nation, how we got here, we as a people have to remember, we have to remember that, even though we're more than 240 years old, the first two centuries of this nation were built upon the foundation of the rock of God's word. It began before our independence. People in search of freedom, they came, and they knelt in the sands of Plymouth rock, and they prayed to God, and they made a covenant with God called a Mayflower Compact.
They said that they would follow His word, that they would let it be a lamp to their feet and a light unto their path. Their great grandchildren, they decided that they were going to be free from the oppression and tyranny of a government, and they built their freedom upon these things, life, why? Because John 10:10, God says, I have come that you might have life more abundantly. Liberty, why? Because the Bible says, whom the Son sets free is free indeed, and then the pursuit of happiness. Nehemiah 8:10 says, the joy of the Lord is your strength. The principles of this truth are very simple. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can only come from one source, and that source is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His son Jesus Christ.
Just like Nehemiah's generation, this nation has seen God do great things. We've seen His grace and His mercy poured out. We've experienced His loving kindness. We know what it is to be blessed, to be favored, and to be exalted among the nations. But just like Nehemiah's generation, in stubbornness and pride, we've taken God for granted. Rather than remember what a mighty God we serve, in the last 60 years, we've decided that God is too cumbersome a burden, that God is too much to handle. We don't like having him in our pledges and in our prayers. So in the name of freedom of religion, we've kicked the source of freedom out of our society. But we don't want to infringe upon what others believe. You're not infringing upon what others believe if you tell them what you believe. The reason that they consider the beliefs that Christians have as an infringement is because when Christians share their faith, things change.
One sinner tells another sinner how much they like to sin, and two sinners just encourage each other to keep sinning. But one believer in Jesus Christ tells him that old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new. Then suddenly, addiction and bondage and alcoholism and generational curses are broken, yolks are destroyed, burdens are lifted, families are healed, restoration comes, and that's something that the world, the flesh, and the devil just can't handle. In the last 60 years, we've taken God's promises, we've taken God's truth, and we've simply decided that we're going to throw it behind our backs. It began in our education system. It moved into our courthouses.
Now, it's all throughout our culture, and it's creeping into our pulpits. The church of the living God has become silent on the topic of truth, and we're trying to become relevant on the issue of culture. You declare the truth in your generation, and your culture will become relevant. But a children and a people who forget God, the Bible says they're turned into Hell. And what you see playing out before you in the streets of this nation is being turned into hell. Why? Because we have thrown God's law behind our back. And yet, listen to our text today. Nehemiah says in verse 31, "never the less", say that with me, "never the less, in Your great mercy", in spite of all of the evil we have done, nevertheless.
Now, child of God, I don't know about you, but that word right there kind of makes me want to take a moment and praise him, because in spite of all that we have done, in spite of all of the goodness we've taken for granted, in spite of all of the sins that we have committed, in spite of the way that we have forgotten You, in spite of the lives that we have taken in abortion, in spite of the things that we have done that are godless, in spite of the lies that we have told from our government platforms, in spite of the judicial tyranny that we have allowed to exist in this nation, in spite of the complacency and the apathy in the church, in spite of the fact that we want Your blessings, but we will not obey Your word, in spite of all of those things, nevertheless in Your great mercy, You did not consume us. Until you understand that God's mercy is greater than your disobedience, you'll never appreciate what it means to see the sun rise and know that his mercies are renewed every morning. Nehemiah said, nevertheless in Your great mercy, You did not consume us nor forsake us, because You, God, are gracious and merciful.
Why is He gracious and merciful? Not because we deserve it, but because He promised it. He said, My goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life. And the thing that you need to know today is that God keeps His word. He keeps His word. The prophet, Isaiah, said that my word shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish the purpose for which I sent it. That's God's way of saying My word is always working. There's none a more true statement when it comes to the God that we serve because if He said it, it's got to come to pass. Why? Because He will not deny himself. We may forget Him, but He won't forget us. We may deny His truth, but He will fulfill His promise. Why? Because He said it. He keeps His word. He keeps His word to the faithful. He keeps His word to the obedient. He keeps His promises.
When you look in His truth, read Deuteronomy 28, verse 1. It says, if you keep these commandments and these statues and ordinances which I give you this day. And then for the next 14 verses, he says, I'll make you the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. I'll bless you in you're going in, and I'll bless you in your coming out. I'll bless you in your basket, and I'll bless you in your bowl. I'll bless you in the city. I'll bless you in the field. You'll lend to many. You'll borrow from none. You'll be exalted among the nations, and they will see your greatness because of the God that you serve. He's faithful to keep His promises. So what I'm telling you who have been obedient and faithful to the word of God today is don't lose heart, but endure as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Why? Because if your promise has not come to pass, it does not mean that your promise is not on the way.
If God said it, He will do it. If He promised to restore, He'll do it. If He promised to provide, He'll do it. If He promised no weapon formed would prosper, He'll do it. If He promised to open up the windows of Heaven and bless you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, He will do it. Why? Because there is nothing that my God cannot do. He is awesome in power. He is loving and kind. He is faithful and true. Remembering what He has done, knowing what He can do, let faith rise up in you and declare nothing is impossible. But He keeps His word. He keeps His word to the obedient. And He keeps His word to the unrighteous. Oh, how quick we are to shout about the verses that carry blessings, but what do we do with those that cause conviction and require change? What do we do when we read something that we don't like? We act like we've been caught speeding, and they go, huh? What? What do you mean?
All liars shall have their part in the lake of fire. Is that like a spiritual spa? You can't do that with God's word because even when you don't keep it, He does. He keeps it to the obedient, and He keeps it to the disobedient. Deuteronomy 28, we stop at 14 because 14 is where the blessings quit, and 15 is where the warning begins. 15, God says, if you do not keep my words, if you do not obey my statutes, if you do not follow these ordinances, he doesn't say, if you do not, all the blessings are still yours. He says, if you do not, all of these curses come upon you. And when you read those curses, it's like you're reading the headlines of the nation's newspaper. He says I'm going to give your prosperity to other people. I'm going to give your wives and children to other men. I'm going to give all that you've worked for into the hands of individuals who are going to take it from you. Why? Because my word will not return void, but it shall accomplish the purpose for which I send.
God is faithful to keep His word, every line and every letter, the verses you prefer, and even those that require you to change your behavior. James said it this way. To him who knows to do right and does it not, to him it is sin. How many people today simply choose to live outside of God's truth? They live outside of God's promises. They live outside of obedience to him because somehow, being irrational, they've decided, I can get away with it. God loves me so much He's not going to hold me accountable for it. Oh, His grace is sufficient for me. You've twisted His truth because the sufficiency of His grace gives you the strength to do what you don't have the power to do.
The sufficiency of His grace does not give you a blank check for bad behavior. His grace is indeed sufficient, but thou shalt not steal is still in His word. Thou shalt not lie is still His commandment. Thou shall not commit adultery is still something that He requires of those who call Him Lord. What happens when you don't obey His commandments? To the liar, He says, there's a reservation for you in a lake of fire. To the thief, He says, you're cursed with a curse. You're never going to prosper. And to the adulterer, He says, I am against you. We love the verse that says if God be for me, but in a society where adultery is rampant, think about this. God says, I am against you. You don't want to be on the list of people that God is against.
So how do you do that? Remember His word, and don't take Him for granted. His word is a two-edged sword. With one edge, it protects you from your enemies, and with the other edge, it cuts the sin out of your life. Nehemiah said, You were a good God, but we just chose to throw your law away. You blessed us, and we broke your commandments. You gave, and we hoarded. Fast forward to 2020. Like Nehemiah's predecessors, we're doing it our way. People say, oh, pastor, I don't need to go to church. I see God everywhere. You talk to these folks? They typically see Him at the lake or at the coast. They don't ever see Him in a place of service. They see Him in a penthouse overlooking the ocean. It's where they see God. Here's what Hebrews 10:25 says. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.
In the Old Testament, God said, remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy. That simply means this, your week starts here. Why? Because when you get to God's house on the first day of the week, He can pour power and blessings and things into your life that'll get you through the rest of the week. But whenever you're pretending like you can do it your way, you are disconnecting yourself from God's promises and God's blessings because He keeps His word. You don't get to have it your way. You don't get to decide. You don't get to make the rules. You were created, we are the sheep of His pastures, and it is our job to humble ourselves, to worship and bow down before the Lord our God, our maker. You cannot escape the fact He keeps His word. If you ignore it, He keeps it. If you don't believe it, He keeps it. If you break it, He keeps it. God keeps His word to a thousand generations.
In Nehemiah's day, they had a decision to make, and in our day, we have a decision to make. Here's what they said. They said, God, in spite of all of these things, in Your mercy, You did not consume us. So in the end of Nehemiah chapter 9, they say, so therefore, this day, here we, Your servants, in the land that You gave to our fathers, as it yields much increase to the Kings. Because of our sin, they have dominion over us, and they take all that is ours. And because of all of this, say that with me, and because of all of this, we make a sure covenant with You, and we write it down. Our leaders, our Levites, our priests, and we seal it.
What Nehemiah's generation was saying is in spite of all that you've given us, and in spite of all of our misdeeds and the world that we're no living in, because we don't want to come backwards, we want to go forwards. We are going to make a commitment with You today, God, and we're all going to sign it. And then we're going to seal it, which makes it official. And then we're going to live by it. And we're going to hold each other accountable to it. Nehemiah was saying to each and every individual that lived in the city, when you see a man not behaving like a man of God, you have permission because he signed it to remind him this is how you're supposed to live. We're going to do it in front of our civic leaders. We're going to do it in front of our spiritual leaders. We're going to do it in front of our political leaders. Why? Because nobody lives outside of God's law.
And just like Nehemiah's generation made a decision, you and I have to make this decision. Are we going to renew our commitment with God Almighty? Are we going to stop hiding the transgressions of our yesterdays and say, God, we repent of those, and today, we move forward as a faithful and obedient people? Why? Because our God is coming back for a church without spot, that's a stain, and without a wrinkle. And if you think that He is not going to iron some things out before He gets here, you're sorely mistaken.
We have a decision to make. Are we going to be faithful to His house? Are we going to be faithful to His word? Are we going to be faithful to humble ourselves and pray? Are we going to be faithful to give in our tithe and offerings? As fathers, are we going to be faithful to fulfill the scripture that says you train up your children in the way they should go? Are we going to be faithful to give God thanks and glory or are we going to fill the air with complaint? You see, for too long, we've talked about what we want to change, but we haven't been the change that God wants us to be. We've complained about a Godless school, but we're not talking about our Godless homes. We've complained about families that are drifting from God's house, but we haven't invited those drifting families to sit with us in God's sanctuary. We've complained about one generation after another walking further and further away from God, but we haven't told them, this is the way, walk in it.
Paul said to Timothy that he should preach the word. Why? Because there would come a time when they would not endure sound doctrine. Church, we're there. We've got pastors that say they're evolving on biblical issues when the Bible says, the grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord endures forever. We've got churches that say the cross is too offensive to preach in this generation, and they're searching out what needs to be said in order to keep the people entertained. What I say is it's time to rebuild. It's time to rebuild in our homes and in our hearts. It's time to rebuild in our sanctuaries and in our pulpits. It's time to take the mighty word of God, and hold it up as a lamp of truth. It is time to unashamedly say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest hope for this nation and the nations of the world. It's time to dig down deep and reconnect with that solid Rock of Ages that was declared if the gates of Hell should stand against it, they will not prevail.
It's time to go into Heavenly places in spiritual warfare and pull down anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. It's time for believers in the word of God to stop apologizing for their faith and start living as soldiers of salt and light. It is time to declare like Joshua did, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. He stood up for God, and God honored him. God will honor us. Elijah built an altar, and God sent fire from Heaven. He'll pour out His flames upon us. His disciples were in the upper room, and when Pentecost had fully come, they were cloven tongues of fire on their head. And when they left that place, they turned the world upside down. He did it before. He'll do it again. It is time to rebuild and stand up for Jesus Christ. Give the Lord a hand clap of praise.
Would you stand to your feet? We cannot take God's goodness for granted. Right now, our nation is in upheaval, and our world is facing chaos. And I believe as faithful as God is based on what we've read in His word, He will restore. But when He restores, let's make an agreement to never come back here again, never see this kind of unrest, never see this kind of problem, never see this kind of chaos. Why? Because as good as God has been, we've taken Him for granted, and it's time that we change that.
So I want to close this service this way. Right where you are, I just want you to lift your hands and take a moment to remember God's goodness. I want you to open your mouth and tell the Lord how much you appreciate what He's done in your life, how He's blessed you, how He's provided for you, how He's spared you in His grace and His mercy, how He's opened up the windows of Heaven and poured out blessings pressed down, shaken together and running over, how when you didn't know which way you should go, His still small voice called to you and said, this is the way, walk in it. When you thought you were out of options, He made a way where there seemed to be no way. When you saw it as impossible, He moved a mountain no one could move. When you faced enemies, He went before you. And when you were worried about whether you'd win or lose, He won the battle even before you got there. Take a moment and remember:
Father, today we remember the joy of our salvation. We remember that Jesus Christ, Your son, has set us free. We remember Your goodness and Your mercy and Your grace that's beyond measure. We remember, Heavenly Father, Your forgiveness that You've poured out upon us like a refreshing rain. And Father, today, we ask in Jesus name, that You would hear our prayer, that You would forgive us of our sins as we've taken You for granted, and that You would heal our land. No politician can do it. No policy can change it. No action can resolve it. But if You would pour out Your Spirit, we would see a miracle in our time as You made us one nation under God again. We ask these things in Jesus name, and we receive them in faith believing. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.