Good morning Hope City! I’m excited to be here with you guys this morning. I look forward to Sunday’s all week long. There is just something special about being all together. I hope you have that same feeling!
We’ve been spending some time here at Hope City talking about how we can rebuild our life, how we can repair what’s broken, and redeem what’s been left behind. Fixer Upper isn’t a series on how to rescreen your lanai, or how to flip your house. Our series fixer upper is about figuring out what you do when life needs a repair. What happens when you find yourself in a place you never thought you would be? Maybe this is something that happened to you, outside of your control, something that happened because of you. Either way, we know that there are times when life feels like a bit of a fixer upper.
One of the first times that I felt this way was in college. I was pretty sure that my life needed a fixer upper. I needed a revamp of sorts. I was in my second year of college and I had started talking to Tiffany, we were becoming friends, and I was pretty sure that I needed to take myself to the next level in order to be noticed by her and see our relationship get to the next level.
Well, let me remind you that this was about 2001, which meant that the boy bands were popular… and so was frosted hair. You know the bleach tips… Well, the guys and I decided that we would bleach our hair. But we weren’t going to just frost the tips, we were going to make sure and do the whole thing! We were taking it to the next level. We read the packaging, they recommended 15 minutes, so we decided that if 15 was good, than 30 would be GREAT! Why would we do this? It was all because we were convinced that if it was good for everyone else, it would be good for us! PEER PRESSURE at it’s finest. I looked like this:
We’ve all been there right? You may not have been as dumb as me, but we’ve bought into the hype of what is happening around us. We’ve bought things we don’t really like because of “Everyone Else”, anyone else ever have a dust buster? They were the worst! They didn’t work, but for some reason you had to have one. Or how about this one, Big Mouth Billy Bass?
We’ve eaten things because it’s the “new craze.” Everyone’s eating this… Have you tried the newest snack sensation? And then they hand you a bowl of Kale Chips! Kale chips came around because someone was like, surely there is a better way of eating this stuff, right? Brussel sprouts… they’re on the uptick right now. So long as you cover them in bacon as you cook them, I’m good. In fact, we’ve even convinced our kids Brussel sprouts are good. 😉
Or here’s a thought. How many of you have ever had a gym membership? Okay, for those of you who no longer have the gym membership, I’d be willing to bet that your first month in the gym was January. Why? Because everyone else was doing it. Everyone else was getting skinny, and making resolutions, and I better do that too, or else I’ll miss out.
We’ve all had this happen. We eat things, drink things, buy things, and do things simply because everyone else is doing them. This is what happens when social pressure is applied to your life.
The inverse can be true too. We can find ourselves not doing something we want to do because no one else is doing it. You may want to read more, and yet everyone in the office is talking about the latest Netflix show. And because you don’t want to miss out on that, you switch the book you want to read for the remote.
In order to see your life repaired or renewed, you’re going to need something essential. You don’t need the latest fad, the latest invention, or hottest overmarketed gimmick. You need something that goes far beyond a FLEETING FAD. We need to anchor ourselves in CONVICTION!
A fad is something you hold, it’s an opinion. But a conviction is something that holds you! We don’t have a lot of convictions, but the ones we do have are important to us. Convictions are the compass of life, they keep us headed in the right direction. And yet too often we find ourselves chasing a fad rather than being directed by conviction.
Nehemiah found himself in this same position. Isn’t it good to know that you aren’t alone? There are other people who are going through the very same thing as you. There have been people in the past, and there will be people in the future who are experiencing what you are feeling right now. Turn with me to Nehemiah chapter 2, starting in verse 11. That’s page 330 in the Bible’s around you.
Remember, Nehemiah was in exile, he was serving in the court of the Persian King, Artexerxes when he received the news of His homeland, and the city of God’s people, the place where the Temple was that the walls were destroyed, and that the gates were burned with fire. This grieved Nehemiah, he sat down and cried, he felt the grief, both He and Drake were all in their feelings. But then He knelt down and prayed, he gave his feelings to God. He didn’t live as slave to his feelings. He let his feelings inform his actions. He asked the King of Heaven what he was to do, long before he asked the king of Persia for anything. He Clarified His Vision. He got crystal clear on the vision, and then he devised a plan. He stepped in and figured out what was next, and what it would take. And now we find him leaving Persia headed to Jerusalem to see the city for himself, for the first time.
Look with me at Verse 11 of Nehemiah 2.
11I went to Jerusalem Nehemiah 2:11
Those 4 little words say so much! We go places all the time. We say things like, I went to Bradenton the other day to hit the Nike outlet for some back to school prices. Or, we went down to the keys to squeeze in one last summer trip with the kids before school started. That’s great. You’ve got a car. You’ve got modern transportation. Nehemiah is walking. He’s in PERSIA and he’s headed to Jerusalem, 1,000 miles away. These four little words are like starting off your story with, “So I walked to Washington D.C. the other day”. What? Now we’re all going to lean in and pay attention. Because we need to know WHY would you do such a crazy thing.
Nehemiah continues with his story.
12I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:12
Nehemiah understands something, and that is that an opinion is easily changed, but a conviction is not easily altered. Before rebuilding the walls he needed to get out and see it firsthand. He needed to feel the rubble, smell the ash. This practice might just make all the difference. Conviction Drives Commitment. Both in you, and in others! It would have been an impossible task to get people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem if he just thought it was a good idea, or a fun pet project. NO WAY! Not gonna happen.
In week 1 I asked you what breaks your heart? What is broken down in your life that is breaking your heart. I know for some of you it is your marriage. Others of you it’s your health. While still others of you there are financial patterns that are concerning to you. It is possible for your heart to be broken over something and still do nothing about it. True life change happens when conviction gets hold of you. You can’t motivate people to do what you are not first convicted of. Conviction drives commitment.
(Image) You’ll never restore your marriage if you aren’t convicted that restoration needs to happen. It will be too hard. Too overwhelming. There are too many odds stacked against you. If you lack conviction, you won’t be able to motivate your partner to see something better than what their already is.
(Image) You won’t be able to change your family’s health if you aren’t convicted that you need to do so. Junk food is too easy and too cheap. It can easily overpower your opinion. But it doesn’t stand a chance against conviction.
(Image) You’ll need conviction to reverse negative financial patterns. It’s just too easy to talk yourself into all of the things Joanna Gaines has at Target!
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Conviction drives commitment forward. Nehemiah knew that he needed to do this under the cover of night to protect his growing conviction. Some of you today know exactly what this feels like. Week 1 you felt God breaking your heart for something in your world, and when you shared with someone else about what God revealed to you they said, don’t kid yourself. That will never happen.
Nehemiah hadn’t gone official with his plans yet. He didn’t tweet it, Facebook it, or Instagram it. He was very careful who he shared his heart with. When God gives you a vision, be selective with who you share your heart with. The right people will help you develop it; the wrong people can kill it.
Let’s walk with Nehemiah, Vs. 13 says:
By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Nehemiah 2:13
Nehemiah starts at the western side of the wall in the valley gate toward the well and the Dung Gate. Here’s a picture of the Dung Gate today. The Dung gate was where they would take out all the trash and human and animal waste. EVEN THIS WAS BURNT TO THE GROUND! I mean talk about humiliating. Even the port-a-potty is toast!
Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. Nehemiah 2: 14-15
Nehemiah said that the amount of debris actually kept him from being able to get into that area so he ended up going around and seeing what the damage was. Nehemiah, before he could share his heart with the people had to see for Himself.
Nehemiah is revealing something about his commitment. He’s showing us that Commitment takes action! Commitment is defined by your feet, not your lips. Is it really a conviction if it doesn’t require you to live according to the standards of what you’ve been convicted of?
Nehemiah gives himself three days to rest after being on the road for 1,000 miles. He arrives and gets up in the middle of the night, under the light of the moon to start inspecting the walls. He’s going to implement the plan, he’s going to draw up the marching orders, but first he needs to inspect the walls. He didn’t just pray away the problem. He got down in the mess of it all. He even got to one point where his Donkey could no longer fit. His commitment took action! Conviction drives commitment, and commitment takes action. You’re probably convicted of something.
Right now, it’s easy to be convicted about our environment. We’ve got a Red Tide that washing up over a ton of dead fish on our beaches every day. As of this week, there have been 11 dolphin that have died because of this horrible problem. Governor Rick Scott has declared this a state of emergency, and the state has allocated some funds to research and clean up. States of emergency alone don’t solve problems. We have to take action. We have to figure out a way to solve this crisis and the ways that we are contributing to it.
It’s easy to feel heartbroken over something, and feel motivated to post a few statements on your Facebook page. Maybe you’ll even sign a petition. But Commitment takes action! When God convicts you of something it can’t be helped but to then go and do something. Conviction is followed up with acts of obedience!
We can’t just say, I’m Convicted to improve my marriage and then continue to view porn, or linger in lust. We know that pornography is everywhere in our society. It is looking to find you, even if you weren’t looking. This is why our commitment to a healthy marriage requires action in this area. We safe guard our eyes, by putting filters on the phone. You talk with your spouse honestly about your struggle. You put a plan in place and find accountability. You take action.
(Image)John Hus, a early church father, and reformer, died at the stake for his belief and his defense of the word of God. It was his 42 birthday when the fire was lit under him. One of the last things that he said before he breathed his last was this, “What I taught with my lips, I seal with my blood.”
Commitment takes action. A man or woman who wants to see their world rebuilt needs to be willing to act. God can change your world, but it is rarely ever done without your obedience to act! As you start to dig through the rubble of your world, you’ll find the gaps, you’ll see the holes. Are you willing to make a change? Are you willing to take action?
Nehemiah gets back from his night op, and he returns to the people with Concrete Conviction…. He’s ready for action. Remember, he hasn’t said anything to them yet still.
17Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Nehemiah 2:17
Remember, Nehemiah is addressing the people that live there already…don’t you think they would know that? “Well, duh, Nehemiah…we’ve lived here for a while.” So we are pretty aware. But you know, what I think happened over time….
I think the people LEARNED TO LIVE WITH IT. It started out as immense trauma, then the next day it was ashes, and now…its just there. And for 140 years they just stepped over the mess, and then the next generation grew up and they didn’t even know what the gates looked like. They had never saw the wall, they just saw the mess! They got used to the broke down state!
This is the danger we can all fall into:
- We get used to having unhealthy eating habits (Dunkin Donuts’ for breakfast, Wendy’s for lunch), it’s normal right…even though we know it’s not good for us.
- We get used to careless spending and think if I move this balance to that credit card that’s normal.
- We get used to a spiritual life without a pulse and think its normal to just up to church once in a while and stop reading Scripture and prayer and we end up spiritually dead and consider it normal.
Nehemiah is trying to get the people to see this with NEW EYES. They’ve all known about the rubble and the burned down gates, now he’s trying to set a fire in their bellies that it doesn’t have to be this way! It can be different! And they can be a part of changing things for the better. So Nehemiah begins to Inspire the People.
Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Nehemiah 2:17
Now remember, Nehemiah has only been there for three days. The people don’t know who he is, and I’m sure they are a little cynical that this foreign-born Jew thinks he can rebuild the wall. Who does he think he is? We’re only a few people! How are we gonna do that? Remember: This is the Remnant (the leftover piece).
Then Nehemiah stops preaching, starts to tell them the story:
18I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. Nehemiah 2:18
So Nehemiah tells them:
- I’ve prayed and fasted for 4 months.
- Took time off from my job and travelled 1000 miles.
- I’ve got letters from the king.
- I’ve got timber from the forest.
Guys, we can’t live like this anymore! We are the people of God and we are living in squalor. We are called to be a light to all nations! This was Nehemiah’s “I have a dream speech.” Each word dripping with passion! How did the people respond?
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Nehemiah 2:18
Nehemiah inspired the people, and they got started. God’s people went from a place of DESPAIR TO REPAIR. Listen to me, Conviction drives Commitment, and when Commitment takes action, Action leads to change. If you want to see your world change, if you want to see your life be more than it is today. You may be so hurt and hopeless. You may be so tempted to throw in the towel because of those HURTS you’re feeling, the HABITS you can’t kick, and the HANG UPS that haunt you, let me tell you, you can do something about it. About all of it. It can change! Because GODLY ACTION LEADS TO LIFE CHANGE!
This is what happened with Blake Mycoskie. Have you ever heard of Black Mycoskie? I would bet you’ve heard of the movement he started. Check out this video of what happens when you allow conviction to lead you to action.
Action leads to change. Blake took action, and it led to life change. Today, Tom’s has sold 60 million shoes and given away 60 million shoes. That is incredible, because he’s inspired millions all around the world to his vision.
Imagine what could happen when your Conviction leads you to action! Here’s why this matters: because What you do today impacts the stories you tell tomorrow.
What could happen when you stop chasing fleeting fads, and the approval of others opinions. What could happen when you find Spiritual conviction from personal experience? Imagine the stories you could tell.
What’s God calling you to rebuild today? How bad is the damage? Are you willing to open up and take an honest look at your marriage, your kids, your finances or even your health?
This week I heard from a person who overcame addiction, and disrupted the cycle of dependency. They shared how God has restored their fixer upper of a life. It all started with conviction.
What could be rebuilt in your world when you are obedient to God’s conviction?
Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus endured the shame of a cross. He was beaten, spit on, mocked, and nailed to a roman execution tool. Why? Because our sin had broken our relationship with God. Our sin, the things that we do and say that break God’s original plan for our life, fractured our relationship with God. God in His great love for us, enacted a plan. He sent Jesus, His Holy, Perfect, Sinless Son, to earth. To live as we do, to walk the earth, to show us what it means to live in RELATIONSHIP with God rather than RELIGIOUS DUTY to God.
Jesus, the Son of God, willingly went to a roman cross. Jesus friend Peter wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight. He pulls out a sword and starts swinging. But because of Jesus’ conviction, and His obedience to God the Father, He told Peter to put that away. Why? For you. For Me. For every life that feels like a Fixer Upper.
Jesus death, his burial, and his resurrection provided a way for us to be forgiven. It was there on the cross that our lives were forever changed. As followers of Jesus we celebrate this at the communion table.
This morning we are going to spend some time remembering what Jesus has done for us. When Jesus was with his disciples at the last supper, he took some bread and he said this is my Body which has been broken for you. Then he took some wine and he passed it around and he said, this is my blood which has been poured out for many. Anytime that you eat and drink of this, remember me. Jesus instructed us to remember what He has done.
This morning as you come to the communion table, as you take a wafer and dip it in the grape juice, remember how much God loves you. Remember how much Jesus has forgiven you. Remember how there is no fixer upper to far gone.