Be Ye Separate – Nehemiah 9:1-2

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Be Ye Separate – Nehemiah 9:1-2

Opening Video – Carter Conlon (Full Sermon)

9/11 was a horrible day in our country, and for several weeks our nation made a slight but noticeable turn back to God. Churches were packed, the fragility of life became pronounced, and people for a moment reevaluated their lives as it related to God.

Fear will do that. Foundations being shaken will do that.

That’s why I’ve found that folks are so much more open to eternal things, salvation, where we go after we die, stuff like that, when a tragedy or a death occurs in a family.

All of a sudden the urgent and busy things of life take a back seat to the truly important, the foundational, and the eternal things of life. “Why am I here and where am I headed? And how does God fit in to all of it?” It brings a soberness and clarity to what’s really important, at least for a time.

My job and privilege as your pastor is to love you and to shepherd you.

I’m to point you in the direction of refreshing green pastures. I’m to protect you from the predators who would desire to devour you.

I’m to speak the truth in love to you. I tell you not what you WANT to hear, but what you NEED to hear. I’m not here to feed your flesh, but to destroy it.

I’m not here to entertain you. Church is not a TV variety show and I’m not a contestant hoping to get a good score and your not my judge giving me points on a scale of 1-10 on how well things went in service.

I preach the Word. And may those that have spiritual ears hear. My job is to encourage you when you’re down, fan into flame the embers of godly holiness in your heart, challenge you in your areas of compromise, and get you ready for the Rapture and an eternity in Heaven, all the while inspiring you to pursue fulfilling your God-given destiny on the earth and impacting souls for His kingdom! I point you in the right direction, but only you can walk it out.

If you’re living in sin and compromise in some area of your life, my job is to call it out based on what Scripture says and trust that the Holy Spirit relentlessly makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, with a conviction leading you to repentance.

My job is to not just provide head knowledge information, but to expect a Holy Spirit transformation of everyone who comes to this church. Romans 10:14 says, “How can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

I preach the anointed, never changing, life giving Word of God. I plant and water. God brings the increase. And that increase looks like this – my expectation is that each one in this place is growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and out of that growth impacting our world for the cause of Christ.

Each one of us should be in a constant state of intentionally, aggressively, whole-heartedly separating ourselves from evil, from flesh, from wickedness, from the sins that would so easily entangle us, not looking to the left and not looking to the right, and running, running, RUNNING, to Jesus!!

That’s what our text is all about today.

Nehemiah 9:1-2, “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.”

These people had for many years allowed the culture to influence them. They became more like the culture around them rather than the culture becoming more like them.

Complacency had set in. Compromise was embraced. And lifestyles became less and less set apart. No more black and white. Gray was the color of choice. I think it’s appropriate that one of the most popular and vile X rated novels of the last couple of years, which now has been made into a raunchy movie, is entitled “50 Shades of Gray”.

That’s where we are as a culture. There’s very little absolute truth, very little black and white. It’s 50 shades of vile, raunchy, X rated gray, and the Church is not far behind, because the Church is not leading, it’s following.

Complacency has given place to compromise, and compromise has given place to ineffectiveness because absolute truth has been replaced with subjective truth and God’s Word has been allowed to gather dust as just a relic from a narrow minded, intolerant past.

In the churches attempt to remain relevant, we’ve become LESS relevant because of our embracing of the supposed new, enlightened, inclusive morality that is being heralded loud and long and crammed down our throats at every turn. We adjusted the standard of God’s Word to fit the morals of the day, making the standard the test. We’ve cut the ropes from the moorings and foundations of our faith and are aimlessly drifting whichever way the winds of moral decay may blow.

But listen to me today, Church, be separate! Run! Run, Church, away from the feel good, watered down, compromised preaching of today! Hold fast to the foundational teachings and eternal truths of God’s Word! Reattach yourself to the absolute, eternal, unchanging truth found in the Holy Bible. Don’t believe the world’s lies. Don’t be influenced by the shifting of the winds. Hold steady!

Church of Jesus Christ, stop following the world’s ways. Stop embracing the compromised culture, stop validating by your lifestyle choices that the direction the world is choosing to go is the right way.

It’s a path that is leading to destruction! So, repent, turn, and run to Jesus!

The generation who came out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage were on the very cusp of entering the Promised Land. Miracle after miracle from God Almighty had brought them to this point. Numbers 14 tells us how the land was theirs for the taking as God was going to make it happen, but out of fear and doubt they shrunk back, rebelled, and were cursed to roaming 40 years in the wilderness until that generation died away.

A trip of a few days took 40 years to complete. Why?

The people chose to believe less of God and His ability. They brought God down to their level. They didn’t account that past miracles from His hand would convey to future continued miracles. As far as they were concerned, God was done doing supernatural stuff. They chose to take matters into their own hands and run the show.

But humans driving the car that was only meant for God to drive never ends well. We drive it into the ditch. We crash. We are too proud to ask for directions and end up in the completely wrong place. And before you know it we’ve driven around in circles for the proverbial 40 years.

Imagine the conversations that took place between the generation who had come out of slavery and their children. I imagine some were bitter against God, but I would think that maybe most of them spoke into their children’s lives hope and encouragement.

“Don’t think like we thought and do what we did. Don’t doubt God. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Don’t be afraid. Trust Him. Believe Him for the supernatural. Believe His promises to show up and do great things in your midst. God did show up for us. I’ve told you of the wonderful miracles He performed for us. But we rebelled, took matters into our own hands, jumped in the drivers seat, and this is the result. It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for you. Look towards the future with great hope and expectation. Run back to God and never, ever run away!”

Let me ask you a question today. Looking back on the last 40 years of Church history (and let me be clear, we are all individually the Church), have we grown closer to God or further away? Have we been a greater impact on our culture or less of an impact? Are we more relevant or less relevant than 40 years ago?

The answers are obvious as we see the results of what the Church has done to take the steering wheel from God and slowly but surely impose our own will upon what should happen. This generation hasn’t seen the miracles. This generation hasn’t experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This generation has been offered far less than what God’s Kingdom is all about.

And at the same time this generation is being offered such an overwhelming variety and onslaught of distractions and entertainment choices that feed the flesh and starve the Spirit man that it has exponentially sped up the process of joining together with the world in such a way that there is very little distinction between Believers and unbelievers.

But God’s Word says, “Come out and be ye separate!” Run, Church, Run away from the sinking sand of sin and run back to the solid rock of Jesus!

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial (satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

The people in Nehemiah’s day stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They wore sackcloth and ashes and fasted. They humbled themselves before a mighty God and repented. They recommitted themselves to honor Him, serve Him, obey Him, and trust Him.

They put Him back in the drivers seat.

Isaiah 52:11, “Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the articles of the Lord’s house.”

This was a plea to God’s chosen people living in Babylon to not be part of the whoring that was taking place in that culture. “Your in it, but don’t be of it”, was the warning. Don’t wink at it. Don’t give it place. Don’t touch it!

We are in a modern day Babylonian culture of filth and decadence, of sin and perversion, of every vile evil thing imaginable.

We, too, have been called to come out from among them and be pure Believers. How? By the renewing of our minds by the washing of the Word. By inviting the Holy Spirit to take the central spot in our lives once more. By moving aside and letting God drive. By not trusting in the ways of man, but wholly leaning on Jesus.

The way we “do church” just isn’t working. The New Testament is replete with testimonies of “signs and wonders following those who believed”.

The signs and wonders attracted people who then heard the Good News, were saved, filled with the Spirit, and went out to tell others, repeating the cycle until the whole world heard of the saving, rescuing power of Jesus Christ.

God wants to do miracles. God wants to reveal Himself to this generation. God wants to pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh as it says in Joel Chapter 2.

But we’re rebellious and doubtful and in the driver’s seat. This will never cut it.

We’ve roamed around in the wilderness for a proverbial 40 years now. Our man driven ways have become the accepted norm. Our way isn’t working. But God is speaking to His Church today. Can we believe Him again for the supernatural? Can we trust Him again to move by His Spirit in our midst and not be afraid? Can we allow Him to drive this thing knowing the destination is going from glory, to glory, to glory?

He has a Promised Land for us. It’s just over the next hill. But I’m tired of just looking over at it, I want to live IN it! I’m tired of hearing stories of past generations where God showed up. I’m tired of reading stories in the Bible of how He moved back then. I want to see it and experience it in the here and now!

Listen, God is always doing a new thing. God is not a static God. He’s always on the move, doing a new thing in the lives and the midst of those who would simply believe and let Him do the driving.

Yes there are giants in the land. Giants of doubt, giants of format and tradition, giants of fear, giants of complacency, giants of fleshly desires. Yes the walls are ominous and seemingly insurmountable, but nothing that can’t be laid to dust with a march and a shout and a breaking of some pots as they did in Jericho!

Caleb and Joshua said to the fearful in Numbers 14:9, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

Do you know that there were 600,000 fighting men in the army of Israel at that time? Even a portion of that army would have been enough to destroy any foe. But they didn’t look at the size of their God, but the size of the opposition. They brought God down to their level and said He wasn’t able to come through. God help us to not do the same!

Let’s not be the doubting, rebellious generation who didn’t possess the land, but their children who shouted at the walls of Jericho and they came tumbling down!

Listen, God has a plan for His Church, and it’s not for us to walk in fear. It’s not for us to lean on our own strength and ability. It’s not for us to control. And it’s not for us to turn and run from.

God’s plan is for us to move forward as He drives, because He is with us and He intends for us to swallow up the enemy! Don’t look at the size of the enemy, look at the size of God who is on our side!

Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

We love the new things. This excites us. We’ll take the blessings all day long. But there’s a price to pay first. Isaiah 43 continues with God imploring the people to seek Him, return to Him, and pursue relationship with Him again. It requires a separation, a setting apart, a repentance, a recalibration, a renewal, a confessing of sins, a humbling of ourselves before a Holy, Mighty, loving God.

Nehemiah 9:1-2, “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.”

Be ye separate, set apart. 1 Peter 2:9 declares us to be a “Chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

The children of Israel in the days of Moses decided to do it their way, to their demise.
We’re in a generation who follows God corporately and individually on their own terms, safe, predictable, controlled.

Let’s bust out of that box! Let’s be the generation who takes the land He’s promised and trusts in Him to do the unbelievable, extraordinary, and supernatural in our midst.

To bring glory to His name and strength to His people!

Let me challenge you today to consider who’s in the driver’s seat of your life. What of the world have you embraced as acceptable practices in your life that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of?

Be separate from it. Be set apart. Run away from those things that are sinking sand & deadly, and run back to the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. Do it today.

Then watch what God will do in our midst.

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