Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, July 19, 2018
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January 7, 2018 Sermon

“HOPE for the Heart!” Honest  

Nehemiah 1:1 – 4, 2:11, 12

Ted Jansen  January 7, 2018  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        As I begin this series on hope I have four goals for the next four weeks.    *I want to offer you a process for experiencing hope. *I want to tell the story of Nehemiah and how the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. *I want to give hope.  *I want to encourage you to share hope this week. 

           

2.)        HOPE.  Honest, Options, Plan, Execute.  Those words highlight the process of hope that I am going to follow.  I believe this path will offer you steps to follow. 

The first word is Honest.  This highlights the H of hope.  The first step is to be honest, and take an assessment of your life or situation.  You need to see life as it is right now. 

I brought a scale and I want to model what an honest assessment looks like.  This scale will tell me the truth about my weight.  If I don’t get on the scale I can think anything I want to about my weight.  The moment I get on I am asking the scale to be honest and assess me. (Get on.)     

            Now as I read the numbers this scale is telling me something.  I don’t really want to tell you what the numbers are.  If I tell you the numbers then you will know.

I have to be honest, that is the first step.  I need to see the numbers and I need to share them or have you come and look at them.  The number on the scale is _____.   (Speak the number to the congregation.)  I wish I could have said a lower number but that is the honest truth.  

Hope begins with being honest and understanding what the current situation is.     

 

3.)        I thought that since you know my number it might be a good thing to have each of you come up here and stand on the scale.  Then you can say your number out loud.  All of us will be honest.  That will be ok with all of you?   Is that alright?  Who will be first?  

            We are not going to do that so you don’t need to leave.  But if you really believed that all of you would have to do that, to be honest in a public setting, that might have caused anxiety and stress.  We have to be prepared to be honest with our lives, whatever we are focusing on. 

            When you really need hope in some area you have some energy to be honest.     

 

4.)        Let’s not focus on our weight but look at our emotional lives, our financial lives, our health lives, our relational lives, our vocational lives.  What area of your life do you need some hope in?  We have to begin with an honest assessment. 

Instead of weight let’s say that this scale could give us an assessment of our finances, our health, our family, our focus, our passion. 

If I honestly assess myself there are times when I get so focused on doing the next thing “for” people that I am not always present “with” people.  People might say I am not as engaged with them.  I need to realize that and slow down at times.      

            I need to be honest with myself and share who I am.  Is there an area of your life where you need to honest about?  What about your family? 

 

5.)        In the summer and fall of 2016 our church got on the scale and we were assessed.  Then we read a report and had some action plans that we were offered.  

            When we saw our numbers and heard about our current situation it was the truth that may not have wanted to see and face.   Then we were given a path to travel on and I pray that God is giving us a spirit of hope in our FCJ.  

            We also went through a process of assessment when it came to our debt and our campaign and now we have a greater sense of hope because we are seeing all of us work together. 

            This is what happened with Nehemiah and all the people gained hope as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem together.   Let me tell you that story.     

 

6.)        Nehemiah was living in a day when hope was needed, desperately.  Most of the Israelites were in exile, living far away from Jerusalem.  They were living some 900 miles away, in the city and around the area of Susa. 

In the book of Nehemiah we read that some men came to Nehemiah to tell him what the conditions of Jerusalem were like.  (Nehemiah 1:1, 2, 3). 

Nehemiah was and assistant for King Artaxerxes.  These men reported what they had seen about the Jews living in Judah and the condition of the walls in Jerusalem. 

The walls had been destroyed 140 years earlier and were in bad shape.   Several generations of Israelites had been living in Babylon and had never been to Jerusalem, they had only heard about it.   When Nehemiah heard the news he cried and prayed.  (Nehemiah 1:3) It was hard to hear of the conditions of the wall, the city and the people.  This was a situation that needed hope.    

 

7.)        For four months Nehemiah prays and holds his hurt inside while serving the King.  Then one day we read in Nehemiah 2:1 – 4 what happened next.

            “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was brought to him, I took the wine and gave it to the king.  I had had not been sad in his presence before; so that king asked me, Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill?  This can be nothing but sadness of heart.  I was very much afraid, but I said to the king.  May the king live forever!  Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and it gates have been destroyed by fire? 

            The king said to me, What is it you want?  Then I prayed to the God of heaven…”  

 

8.)        Nehemiah asks the King if he can go back and rebuild the walls.  The king grants Nehemiah the ability to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild it.  So Nehemiah prepares for what he needs for the journey and heads back. 

Nehemiah, when he finally arrives begins his honest assessment of Jerusalem.  After he is there for three days he decides to go out at night for a closer inspection of the wall.  You can read about where he went in Nehemiah 2:13 – 15.  This first step to have hope was to be honest and see the conditions of the wall and city.     

            I would think that as Nehemiah went out at night he could have lost hope.  What a huge job, what an overwhelming task.  How would this ever be done? 

           

9.)        Sometimes we lose hope in our lives.  When we take an honest assessment this might diminish our hope.   When people experience extreme times of hopelessness I believe it is because in the process of being honest and looking at the situation they forget or fail to see God, and others, who can be with them.  Nehemiah knew that God was with him.  He prayed amidst his sadness.    

 

10.)      Tenth Avenue North, a Christian band, has written a song called, “I Have This Hope.”  It affirms that no matter what we go through we have hope.  This song was written for a family member of the band who was going through cancer treatment.  Here are some of the words. 

As I walk this great unknown Questions come and questions go Was there purpose for the pain? Did I cry these tears in vain?  I don't want to live in fear I want to trust that You are near Trust Your grace can be seen In both triumph and tragedy

            I have this hope In the depth of my soul In the flood or the fire You're with me and You won't let go

            But sometimes my faith feels thin Like the night will never end Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here? 

But I have this hope In the depth of my soul In the flood or the fire You're with me and You won't let go

 

11.)      “I have this hope, in the depth of my soul, in the flood or the fire, you’re with me and you won’t let me go.”  The hope that this song affirms is the hope that God is with us and God will not let us go. 

One of the ways we can gain hope is to receive God’s grace in Communion.  The Holy Spirit will bring hope as we come to Communion.  As we come we are honest and tell God we are not worthy of His love.  We repent and desire God’s grace as we are loved, healed, forgiven.    

            Listen to this quote on hope and let it be a gift to you.  “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”  Robert H. Shuller