We have been walking through the book of Nehemiah and they have built the wall and now they knew there was more they needed to accomplish. God had called them to do more than to just build a wall, God had called them to become the people He was calling them to be. In Nehemiah 9:38 the people make a covenant to God in writing and Nehemiah 10:1-27 list eighty four leaders who put their official seal on the contract. The official seal on the contract would make it an official document to God. This covenant to God involved everyone although only eighty four people put their name on it. Contracts or oaths were not taken lightly and an animal would be sacrificed demonstrating what would happen to the person who broke the oath. They were committing to God to live differently than the rest of the world and they were demonstrating to God how serious they were taking this commitment.
Read Nehemiah 10:28-29
We struggle with the world we live in and the influence it can have on us and they felt the strain and pull from the world around them. They were surrounded by other religions and practices that were not pleasing to God and the temptation they faced is the same that we face today and that is to be like the rest of the world. They were committing to live by Gods word and His laws and to do so would have made their lives very different from the other nations that surrounded them. When we decide to live by Gods word it will cause us to sometimes separate our lives from them.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
In Deuteronomy 22:10 Moses forbid them putting an ox and a mule together to pull the plow because they are two different breeds, temperaments and strengths. In marriage and in business we have to be careful that being connected with a partner that forces us to do things that go against God and the direction He would have us to go.
Being separated from others may not sound like a Christian principle but we ask people to separate themselves from others all the time. We encourage people when they get married to separate from themselves from other people that will hurt the relationship between husband and wife. You would not date others after you are married and no one would get mad at you for doing so. If I love my wife I do not care if others get offended if I put her first in my life. The same holds true with my relationship with God because I cannot care if others get offended when I put Him first.
They made an oath to God and I am not encouraging us to do that because our relationship to God is like a loving Father to a Son. Our obedience to God should be a joyful response for all He has already done for us and not out of an obligatory commitment we signed as a legal contract. Our obedience to God is built on gratefulness of His grace and Mercy not out of obligation or duty to somehow gain His approval for us.
1) Live differently in our Marriages
What was happening is they were marrying people who believed in other gods and because of that then the children were not being brought up to worship the true God. There was confusion in their household because although they loved the person they were married to the problem was that they were being torn apart because they did not believe the same things and they were teaching the children to worship other gods. (I would say that this applies to dating practices as well.) This is why the Bible says to not be unequally yoked because when you are then it causes more problems in your life and it pulls you away from God.
In a world that seems to be devaluing the role of marriage we can make a difference as followers of Christ just by loving our spouses the way Christ loved us.
Ephesians 5:31-33 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The Bible says that our marriages are a reflection of Christ and the church and we can really demonstrate the love of God to others by how we treat and love our spouses. Our motivation is to love our spouse like Christ loves us and laid down His life for us. We are not motivated out of guilt or even duty but because of how much Christ has done for us. When we love our spouses more than we love ourselves and protect our marriages as being sacred to God, then the world will take notice. When our spouse is made to be a priority over our jobs, our hobbies, our sports and our social calendars then the world will take notice.When we do not bad mouth our spouse in front of our friends even though they are bad mouthing their own spouse, then the world will take notice.
How is your marriage different from the rest of the people you work with? How are you making your spouse number one over everyone but God? Number one over your television shows, Hobbies, Friends and Work?
2) Live differently in our Business practices
God had asked them to take the Sabbath and make it Holy. It was to be a time of rest and reflection on God and His goodness to them. The religious leaders of Jesus day had distorted the meaning of the Sabbath but the people of God were to rest from their labor one day a week. They were to show the rest of the world that they did not stress over their businesses like the rest of the world because God wanted the world to know that He was the true God and not all the false idols they worshiped to bring them success.
Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We are not supposed to lives our lives worrying about the “what ifs” that may come our way in our businesses. God is in control and we are to trust Him for our future.The people of God were not taking the Sabbath and that was showing the rest of the world that their faith was in themselves and not in God.
Although we may not have to keep a Sabbath day, we still need to learn to rest in Him with our business.When the economy crashes or uncertainty arises Christians should be the ones that trust in God the most and not worry about what may or may not happen.The Book of Proverbs gives us wisdom on planning and preparing but we should never be like the world where our hope is in a elected official, the economy or even job security.
Matthew 5:37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.[
Another way to live differently in your business is to say and do the right thing even if it cost you financially. There will be times when you can fudge the numbers or cheat the system but a Christ follower should live knowing that God will provide for their needs and that they do not need to cheat in order to get ahead. There will be times that you will be tempted to do things unethically in order to help the business but as Christians we should live our lives in such a way that is different than the world.
3) Live differently with our investments
The most precious things to people today are money and time because we never seem to have enough of either of those things. The world guards both of these commodities from God as if they are the ones who are in control of them. We are afraid to commit our time and money because we are concerned we will not have enough for ourselves. God does not need our time or our money but He chooses to use us to do His will in this world.
The people were neglecting the ministry of the temple it was evident to the rest of the world that the Temple was not a priority. They were either keeping or spending their money elsewhere and did not tithe or give offerings to the temple and so some of the priest had to leave to go and find work. Tithes and offerings of God’s people are used to support the worship and work commanded by God. Leviticus 6:12-13 says the fire on the altar was to be kept burning at all times. Exodus 23:19:34:26 Deut. 26:1-15 talk about bringing the first fruits which was an offering of the best of the first pick of the harvest and it was brought to the temple to honor God. The first fruit offering was an offering of remembrance to God as the one who spared the oldest male through the plaques of Egypt.
Matthew 6:19-20 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Every investment you make into the Kingdom of God will have eternal rewards. You will never regret in Heaven what you did for the Kingdom here on earth. We have to be careful that we are not just spending our money on the things of the world that will pass away one day, (Matthew 24:35) but invest in the eternal things of God. It is the ultimate investment plan that will reap rewards for all eternity.
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 Now concerning[a] the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
We will not neglect the house of our God
The House of God was used 9 times in this section and was a term for the rebuilt temple.We are now the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:17) and so now we cannot say that you have to be at a church building in order to honor God. We honor God with how we live our lives for Him. What you can neglect is worshiping with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Hebrews 10:2-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Some of the task they needed to complete was to bring wood for the altar so that it could burn continually. Some of the task we have to complete as Christians are basic in nature but they honor God. Never think setting up for a church event or helping clean up are not honoring to God. Giving of your time to the church is just as important as your money. God has gifted you uniquely in order to minister to the body of Christ but also to advance the Kingdom.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.
Every Believer has something to offer the church because that is how God designed us. If you are not using your gift for God then you are neglecting the house of God and you are neglected the people of God as well.
Matthew 6:21 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What you invest the most in is what you truly love. Money and Time should be used for the Kingdom and not just for our wants because all things done for God will have eternal rewards attached to them.
Brent Crowe said, “Serving is not a means to an end, it is an end of itself.” We serve to get nothing back but only to honor God with all that we do and say.
We need to live differently with our lives with our marriages, our businesses and how we serve and give to others. If we as Christians would honor God in all of these things the world would truly see a difference.