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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 1
TOPICS: Restoration, Nehemiah, Rebuilding Our Broken Walls

You know, all the statistics say that in the average church, 80% of people just do nothing and 20% do all the work. Now, that is a sad statistic. If we are gonna change our culture for Christ, if we gonna turn the world upside down for Christ, everyone, every hand has to be working, every heart has got to be working, and that is what this series of "Rebuilding Our Broken Walls" is all about.

Have you ever been witnessed or heard of some tragic situation, it was so tragic that you literally sat and wept uncontrollably? Many of you would remember September 11. This place was packed with people who literally felt shell-shocked and tears were flowing all over the sanctuary because we felt vulnerable. We felt that our security blanket has been pulled away from us. But here's the sad part, everybody pushed the snooze button, and went back to sleep, and actually got in a worse condition than we were before then. Because that's a fact. Right now, today, we are seeing many walls that are broken, and lives that are broken, walls of homes that are broken, the walls of our culture is already broken, walls of our education system is broken.

There are so many walls that are broken in churches. Walls back in the Old Testament times were built in the cities to protect the families, to protect the children, to protect the citizens. And right now, our children are defenseless and vulnerable. I was listening to a godly mom just the other day who was telling me that her 5-year-old had a friend who can't spend the night. And she can hear the argument, 5-years-old. He was telling her son that a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman, 5-year-old. The walls are broken of our society, of our culture, our homes. Many walls are broken. There's only one who can help us rebuild those broken walls, and his name is Jesus. Look around you. Look around you. See broken lives everywhere, broken morals everywhere, fractured families everywhere.

People that we looked up to are now compromising the truth of the gospel and compromising their own convictions. And the unbelievers are walking around the walls, the broken walls, and saying, "Where's their God? Who wants that? They don't live any differently from us". The walls of morality has fallen down, and the gates of fidelity in marriage are burnt down, and the walls of sanctity of marriage is in ruins. And when walls crumble and the gates are burnt, our children become defenseless and vulnerable. And if there is a time for us to learn how to rebuild these walls before it's too late, it is now. It is now. If there is a time for us to restructure those burnt gates around our children, it is now. And if there is a person who can give us a role model, an example of how to rebuild, it is Nehemiah. And that is why I'm commencing this series of messages, "Rebuilding Our Broken Walls," from the book of Nehemiah.

Remember this, Nehemiah was a Jew. He was born and raised in Persia under the Persian emperor's rule. But when he heard about the broken walls and the burnt gates, he did something about it. I know we call him the Prophet Nehemiah, but he really is not a prophet in classical, Old Testament sense. He really, in reality, was a businessman. He was a professional. He was a man who... the most trusted man in the palace by the emperor, who at the time was the most powerful man in the world. He was totally trusted by him. He was so close to the seat of power, he could touch it, and he did. But before I tell you of how Nehemiah went about this crisis, about rebuilding the wall, there are a couple of things that I want you to know about Nehemiah the person. Because when you understand where he was and what he did, you will understand that he is probably was in a far better position than any of us in terms of worldly comfort, in terms of worldly leisure.

You see, he was geographically more than 1,000 miles away, but culturally and in every other way economically, he was 1,000,000 miles away from the trouble, for he himself was living in the lap of luxury. He has it made. He was the most important man to the emperor of Persia. But then he heard about the broken walls and the burnt gates. And he could've said, like a lot of Christian people do when they hear about what's going on in our culture, what's happening in our society, "Oh, isn't that too bad? Isn't that too bad"? And they maybe forwarded the e-mail to all of their friends, tell them how bad it is. They let them read it, hear the bad news, hoping, I guess, somebody may do something about it. "That's not really my problem. I'm so far away. Why should I get involved with a problem with those folks so far away"?

And on, and on, and on he could've gone, but he didn't, thank God. He identified with the suffering of God's people, although he has never been to Jerusalem himself. He was born and raised in exile. His zeal for the Lord and for God's people moved him to do something. Nehemiah understood the cry of Isaiah when he said, "Here I am. Send me"! Not, "Here I am. Use me in some advisory capacity," or "Here I am. Send my sister, she's more qualified". But what really wounded Nehemiah's heart, not the wall per say and not the gates per say, it's what they represented. And what these broken walls and burnt gates represented is that the name of the Lord has been disgraced, that the name of the Lord has been mocked, that the Word of God has been ridiculed and the people of God were indifferent. And so, the first thing he did, he began to weep, and fast, and pray. The sin of God's people broke his heart. The sin of the nation wounded him deeply. The condition of the vulnerability of the children being defenseless touched him greatly.

I wanna ask you a question: Have you become so indifferent to the fact that so many professing Christians are now denying the truth of the gospel? Have you become so indifferent when so many professing Christians are trivializing sins, that so many professing Christians are accepting sin as the norm, that so many professing Christians are trivializing the power of the Word of God? Are you become so indifferent that so many professing Christians are living no differently from the nonbelievers? And this tragic condition drove Nehemiah first to his knees. Look at verse 4. "When I heard these reports, I sat down and wept for days". Then he did three things. Listen carefully. He persevered in praising the name of God, he persisted in prayer and intercession, and thirdly, he prepared for God's plan for his life.

First, and the first thing he did in seeking to make the difference, before you do anything, you better learn this lesson. He began by praising the name of God. Look at verse 5. "O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands". Ha. Nehemiah stood in awe, not of the Persian emperor, but of God, the God of heaven. He stood in awe of his majesty. He came with deep reverence and respect for the God of heaven. And you know and I know that there are some people who think praise means just jumping up and down and kind of let off some hyped up emotions, but the fact that Jesus taught us to call his Father, Abba does not make us to turn him into a bellhop, waiting at our beck and call to do whatever we want.

Scripture tells us so clearly that God resists the proud, that he resists those who take him for granted and take all of his blessings for granted, but he gives grace to the humble. Nehemiah went to the presence of God as a man with a broken spirit, as a man who confessed his won sinfulness before he interceded for the sinfulness of his people, a man who gave praise and glory to God alone, a man who counted the incredible blessing of God's intervention in the past. He did not come to God questioning, "God, why did you do this to your people? You called them the apple of your eyes. How come you allowed them to get in this miserable condition"? because he knew jolly well why they got into this miserable condition, because he knew that prophet, after prophet, after prophet came and pleaded with him, "Turn, turn, turn". And then when they didn't God had enough. Sent them to exile.

The time is coming and may not be too many years from now when God says, "I've had enough. I've had enough apostasy in the church. I've had enough of those... and the pulpits are turned into stage. I've had enough of congregation become audience and spectators. I've had enough". Nehemiah praised the name of God in tough times, and praising God in tough times honors God. Lifting up the name of Jesus in puzzling times pleases the Lord. Thanking him for his salvation and for his past blessings endears us to the heart of God. Again, I'm not talking about singing. Praise is far more than that, because you can sing the words but your heart is bitter. You can swing the words and your attitude is, "God, why is this happening to me"?

And so, the first step of rebuilding the broken wall was not rushing in there, working out a plan on strategy paper and white paper, and get everybody on board, and get a vote. No, the first step of rebuilding the wall is to learn how to praise the name of God, and that's what Nehemiah did. Secondly, Nehemiah persisted in prayer. He persevered in praise. He persisted in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing". Now, this kind of prayer that Nehemiah exemplified, as we're gonna see not just today but throughout the series, it was around November/December of our calendar, and he prayed and he persisted in prayer all the way 'til around March/April of the following year. Four months of doing nothing but praying, why? Because he wanted to be sure that he's not just speaking to God, but he's hearing from God. He wanted to hear from God.

Nehemiah knew that the battle was going to be won or lost on the knees of prayer. Nehemiah knew that he had to first win the battle in his own soul, for any victory over our enemy and the enemy of our soul must be through persistence in prayer. That's the key. Even if you don't see immediate response or answer to your prayer, even if it takes long time, even if you cannot see any evidence that God even hearing you, he is hearing you. But I can tell you truthfully, it breaks my heart to see people who totally misunderstand what prayer's all about. It really breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see people who see prayer as only asking for something, and then whether they get it or they don't get it, they take off. But the truth is this.

Listen carefully. The spiritual life is a state of spiritual warfare. You signed up for it when you said yes to Jesus. The Bible tells us there is an enemy who is out to destroy us, out to discourage us, out to defeat us. The spiritual life is a continuous state of spiritual warfare. No, Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, but the skirmishes are going on. There is a relentless enemy who's constantly warring against you, and against your family, and against everything you touch, whether you know it or not. And the sooner you know this, the better off you are. So, don't get surprised. And are you ready for this? He has no cease fire. He doesn't believe in it, that miserable character.

Above all, the one thing he wants to do is he wanna cut your supply line. He really does. Any of you know anything about warfare, you know having an open supply line can determine whether you win or lose, whether you have victory or you are defeated in the battle. And that is why persistence in prayer keeps the supply line open. When the spiritual supply line is constantly open, you will have victory every time, even though you may have some setbacks. Listen, I talk to enough people to know that many of them think that God is just reluctant to answer their prayers. They really do, and they think that their persistence in prayer is to try to kind of twist God's arm to stop him from being reluctant, try to convince God why he should answer their prayer. God is not reluctant. God delights in pouring his power in us. God rejoices over us with singing. And God choose to empower us through persistence in prayer.

Listen to what Paul said to the Ephesians in 3:20. "Now to him who's able to do," what? "Far more abundantly than all we think, according to the power at work," where? "Within us". When the supply line is continuously and persistently open and flowing, then the moment you get into an ambush, you are not gonna be easily discouraged or defeated. Why? because the supply line is continuously coming and you immediately get reinforcement. What does that mean? When the supply line constantly open in persistent prayer, and that means you're not just asking, but listening. You see, that's what it means to have that supply line open. You're speaking and you're listening. And you see, and when you're praying by speaking and listening, you will be about his business. And when you're about God's business, you will do his will. And when you are delighted to do his will, you get abundance of blessings. And it goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Well, Nehemiah not only persevered in praise, not only he persisted in prayer, but his heart was prepared for God's plan, for God's precept. His heart was prepared for whatever God has for him. When you pray that God would give you his plan, and then he would help you obey it, he will. He will. I've seen it too many times to doubt it. Look at verse 11. "Oh Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight". Delight in what? "Delight in revering your name". He is saying, "Answer the prayer of those who delight in obeying you. Give your servants success today by granting them favor in the presence of this man". He's talking about his boss, the emperor who could've lobbed people's heads without batting an eye. He knew these are cruel and hard men, but when God takes hold of his heart, he can turn it around to do God's will. Listen, prayer sometimes can be used as an excuse for doing nothing. When you pray for God to give you his plan so that you might obey it, you must be ready. You must be ready to get off your blessed assurance and get on with it.

One of my favorite verses that always tugs on my heart is in 2 Samuel 24:24. So easy to remember, 2 Samuel 24:24. When David prayed, he said, "God forbid that I give you that which cost me nothing". Prayer is not giving God your wish list and just waiting for that to fall down from heaven. It's reporting for duty. Prayer is willingness to say, "Here I am. Send me". When Nehemiah heard about these broken walls and the burnt gates, he did not pray as a lot of people pray. Oh God, do something for these people. It was a call to action. It was stepping forward and saying to God, "God, I'm ready". I know and you know that sometimes our obedience and stepping out in faith appears to us to be risk-taking, from a human point of view. You want me to do what? You want me to spend this? You want me to give of myself? You want to give this and you want me to do that? God, but that's risk. Oh yeah. It is not risk if it is backed up with the King of the universe who owns it all.

How can it be a risk? We often pray, "Oh Lord, send laborers into the field. Send laborers into the harvest". You know what God loves to hear? God loves to hear, "Oh Lord, send me into the field. Oh Lord, send me into the harvest. Oh Lord, send me to my neighborhood. Oh Lord, send me to my workplace. Oh Lord, send me to my campus. Oh Lord, send me to my school. Oh Lord, send me wherever you wanna send me and help me to do whatever you want me to do. I want your plan, not mine". And I thought, as I conclude this message, I thought of the people who... every one of them who came to the Lord and said, "Use even me," and God used the mightily. I think of Hudson Taylor. I think of John Wesley. I am absolutely convinced as I am here today that God honors the quiet, behind-the-scenes obedience.

I am absolutely convinced that some obscure Sunday school teacher whose name most of you would say, "I've never heard of," a man whom God used mightily by his simple obedience to lead D.L. Moody to Christ. God was delighted when Edward Kimball, after a moment of hesitation, standing in front of this shoe store, that he did pick courage, and went into the shoe store, and he led that shoe salesman to Christ. And God is just as delighted in Edward Kimball obedience as with D.L. Moody's rocking two continents for Christ. It's obedience that he's looking for. Quiet obedience and behind-the-scenes obedience. And I am absolutely convinced that those behind-the-scenes, obedient servants, they are gonna be the ones who are the superstars in heaven. I'm convinced that those in the front and the big names, they're gonna be in the very back, back, back of heaven. These faithful people who persevered in praise, persisted in prayer, prepared for God's plan, and quiet obedience are the ones that are gonna hear from the lips of Jesus loud and clear, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with little. Now you're gonna be faithful on a whole lot more".

Precious Father, I thank you for the power in your Word, the power of the Holy Spirit who authored these Words. And I thank you that he, the Holy Spirit, is the one who takes these Words that he had written and put them even through this rusty pipe to bring it your people. And so, Father, I praise you, I thank you, and I pray specifically for each one who's standing up right now, Father. They heard your voice. They heard your call. Will your Holy Spirit make it very clear to them what is it that what your plan is so that they can obey it. Give them the strength to obey. Because Father, I know from my own life how reluctant I was to obey. And so, Lord, I pray powerfully, in a mighty way, that you reach down, guide them, lead them, bless them, do something new in their lives so that it is to your glory and your honor that we pray. In Jesus' name, amen.

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