Love is suffering
As soon as some of you read the title, you were like, yap.” tell me about it honey” I suffer for you every day love…just loving you and suffering …Thank God finally someone preached about it!
And if you are like me, you had that 1993 “what is love …” what is love baby don’t hurt me”
Well, that’s not the kind of love we are going to talk about today. We are talking about a love that requires sacrifice.
A love so deep that it hurts – it hurts so much for others.
It’s a love that makes you want to move to action, to reach beyond your comfort and sacrifice your energy, resources and for some people their lives.
Today we are going to learn about an ordinary man, who lived in the king’s palace, enjoying the luxuries that came with serving the king. A man who had no reason to change his surrounding yet love moved him to sacrifice or suffer.
Nehemiah chapter 1:1-4
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan[a] the citadel, 2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
We see Nehemiah, living a cool easy life compared to his people in Jerusalem. Here he has the luxury of being the wine bearer, meaning that he enjoyed the perks that came with being close to the king and assuring that his wine was perfect. But something happened, his brother returns from Judah and he asks about his people. Though he was in a good place, his heart broke for his people.
He learns that his people, the Jews who after captivity had returned to Jerusalem were living in a town that did not have security, the walls were broken, there was no gate – It had been burned down. The walls were knocked down. In other words, no walls, no wealth- thieves, poverty and all that comes with a city in ruins
Back then a city’s strength was shown by how strong and high the wall was. The gate had to be big and strong- heavily guarded. None of that remained. No army to protect the people. The city stayed exposed.
What does Nehemiah do- He doesn’t ignore it and say- I will pray for them – He weeps and mourned for many days (40 days). During this time, he fasted and prayed to God in heaven.
He chooses to leave his comfortable meals and seek God’s face for the people.
How many of us are willing to leave our comforts, our 4 walls and mourn, fast and cry to God for our people. A people that have gone astray, that were ones created by God with a plan and a purpose. Yet they lay in a world that no longer has no moral walls, no accountability to the things of God, . They have been left exposed. Just like this city, they are a target for every bad thing that passes by them.
Every day we are presented with the same choice as Nehemiah. When we look around us, places that we work, on social media, in churches, at school…
…all over- People are hurting, there is pain everywhere, yet, we who are comfortable in our faith and we have all that we need, are we willing to be moved by Love – Love to do something.
Love to effect a change? We want to send them some love, maybe a tear drop emoji on FB and couple of hearts. Are we willing to sacrifice something for them? How can we say that we love them if we are not willing to suffer like Christ suffered to RESCUE us?
Let me remind you, Jesus was in good place- The best place ever. Yet, God driven by love for us, He sacrificed His only son. Now that is a love that suffered. We are called to be Jesus hands and feet. We are called to love till it hurts and then change will occur.
We are called to love with Christ like love, a love that hates sins so much that, it causes you to fast and pray for our brothers and sisters so we can affect change in their lives. Turn them back to Christ.
Some people we can see the evident of the defeat and struggle, like the broken walls, or the burn down gate, but others, it’s not easily spotted (They may be sitting next to you)– all you could see was broken gate and walls – but what lied behind that was loose of hope…
They have been going through struggles for a long time, that it’s become normal. One commentary I read said that it was over 50yrs after they had returned to this city …and it was still in ruins-
It had become normal. Look at our society, living in sins, in defeat, in miseries, compromising God’s word. It has become normal – But today God want to raise up a number of Nehemiah’s who are willing to say – Enough is enough. God I will seek your face for my people.
A cup bearer in a faraway land. Not even working on his own knowledge. It’s one thing to have gone there and seen the place and had his heart move, but here is a guy who tastes the kings wine for a living. And he is saying- God, I stand on behalf of my people- I stand here Lord- use me, send me- Do something through me!
Don’t you ever say you cannot do anything. Talk about taking “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me literally”
Nehemiah- The bible does not tell us that he had knowledge of how to build. Ask him to pour wine for the King – What changed, his heart changed. He knew that with God he could change
And that is what Nehemiah does. He goes on the offense- Fasting and praying for God to move. Love moves him to suffering for the people of God.
How would our homes, neighborhood, our country look like, if we allowed ourselves to feel – to empathize, that instead of hoping that it will get better, that we actually step in and start somewhere- With God!
How about if we went of offensive with what we already know. We know Christ, the beginner and finisher of all things.
Here is Nehemiah’s approach
Nehemiah 1: 5-8
And I said: “I pray,LordGod of heaven, O great and awesome God,Youwho keepYourcovenant and mercy with those who love You[and observe Your[c]commandments,6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
He approaches God with praise and worship? This is the same guy “who wept, and mourned for many days” The situation does not change what he thinks of his father. God is still good even in the midst of pain and suffering. His love is constant…never changing, always loving and calling us toward him.
And then there is this- Both my father’s house and I have sinned- He includes himself in the suffering. He realizes that praying for them from a distance, will not yield the results he is praying for, but when allows himself to feel the despair and pain, they are feeling – he will cry with earnest heart. And God heard him and gave him favor. He understands that Christ love does not have boundaries. How powerful is that, that we don’t just say- I will pray for you brother- I will think about you sister- But we actually pray and fast for each other.
Let us never lose sight of how strong God’s promises are to His people. We, His people.
Nehemiah continues in Chapter 1:9
…but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’
God you have promised, that even those people that have gone astray and walked away from you, that if we intercede for them and help them turn away from their sin, you will save them and restore them.
He holds on to that promise. The promises of God. Gods grants him favor
- King sees him sad and asks him what’s up
- Nehemiah gets an ok from King and kings wife
- He gets a passport to get to the through without any interruption
- He also gets a letter for free construction materials
- He gets an army and horsemen. – Nehemiah 2:9 “…Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
You should ready the entire Nehemiah – Amazing story.
Let me remind you, this is the same dude who was a cup bearer.
All of these not possible with man. But when he partnered with God- who could stop him? I cannot tell you enough times, the importance of partnering with God in all that we do. He turns a cup bearer to a commander of an army.
This evening I want to remind you to choose God.
Luke 18:27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God”
Nehemiah heads out with God before him and when he gets to the ruined city, he rallies the elders and they began to build the wall. This is the same people that had been living in a broken city for a very long time, yet one man’s faith and love awaken hope in the people.
Whom are you going to help get up and start living a life of victory? You are Nehemiah to somebody today at home, in your neighborhood, your school, your church… here and today- Whom are you going to encourage today? How much do you love your sister or brother- are you willing to step away from your comfort and be someone Nehemiah today?
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred,[a] and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 Next to Eliashib[b] the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
His Faith carries on, the first thing that they do is build the gate- it’s a declaration that this gate will be used – I don’t know about you but, the last time I saw someone building home they didn’t start with the doors. This was a declaration that by faith, the walls would be completed hence this gate was going to be used.
We have to trust that God is in control and not step out in half faith- When we know that God is on our side, our actions need to reflect that as well.
Verse after verse they say that each person, was responsible for building part of the wall. Usually close to where they lived. And before long, the wall was coming up.
Most of the time, God is calling us to affect the area we at.
But we have excuses – But Lord the wall requires lots of work-
God says I am calling you to effect change in your immediate environment.
God is saying… I know that you are hurting for the world to change, I know that you don’t have the resources needed, But I also know that you have enough to start in your home, in your neighborhood, down the street. Are you willing to love on your immediate area- Then I will raise someone else down the street and the street over that and before you know it, the wall is completed?
Love is suffering – Today love is hurting
Love is in tears – We have become people that are saying we love, but we are actually doing love a disservice. Love is meant to be felt, it meant to be sacrificial. It’s meant to correct,
Love is not meant to celebrate evil, while we turn the other way
We who have received Christ love, we need to defend the true meaning of love. And the only way we can do that is to model it and share it boldly.
Jesus left his thrown and came down to us, to save us…He left a Kingdom and yet we are not willing to stand up for what He died for- Freedom lead by the Holy Spirit
We are so caught up with our comfort that the world around – People are hurting, they have been like this for days and months, years, but we are not ready to leave our comfort and help them.
“When you read the rest of Nehemiah” they also rescued other villages that were in close to the city- they brought them under their security. This is what we are called as a church, to repair our walls, that those who are out looking in, will want to come in and enjoy the freedom we all do. We need everyone to pick and side and start building the wall.
***The accident ****
His only chance- his life – His generation – And all the people he would have touched
I failed but – God gave me grace and I took a vow – to go anywhere He sends me
What part of the wall are you going to build, are you going to go out there and rescue the threatened and exposed?
Remember, if you want to be successful – Partner yourself with God -, don’t try to go it alone…Cry for help tonight and God is here tonight waiting for you.
Are you in a city that has walls? Do you need to want to be in a city that has walls?
Today our savior stands at the door and says is you draw near to me I will draw near to you…you need to take the first step… He is waiting with his hands wide open…