We’re going to continue this series now on Nehemiah which we’ve been listening to for the past couple of months. We’re actually going to read this morning from Nehemiah six as we get into the word of God. We’re kind of at almost the finish line here in Nehemiah six. So they’re building all the walls in Jerusalem. The people are getting their sense of again and then there’s this last little bit to go. Nehemiah gets some opposition. But it doesn’t seem like opposition at first. So Nehemiah six says,
Nehemiah 6:1-9 NKJV Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.” For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.” Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
As we see there, and we’ve kind of talked about before. A few weeks back, I preach Nehemiah four where that was kind of the first in an onslaught from Geshem and Sambalat and Tobiah. Where they started to hear of what Nehemiah was up to and they said oh no we can’t let this happen. We need to stop it. And so their initial attack was through gossip. So he brought his best men around him. And they were like oh these feeble Jews. What do they think they’re up to? They’re not going to be able to do this. Like a fox is going to land on the wall and the wall’s going to crumble. Ha ha ha.
You know and this was their big move. Their big power move okay? We see they haven’t really learnt a lot since then because here they basically said hey let’s have a summit. Let’s have a little get together. Nehemiah, come out to the plain of Ono. I feel like if you’re going to somewhere called oh no I just don’t think I’d want to go there. I feel like it’s very transparent, right?
It’s like if I said, hey, come visit me in the plain of I’m going to straight up murder you, you know? Like, you’re not going to go there, okay? Actually, Ono, even the definition of Ono, what it actually stands for is grief or gross, injustice, or wickedness. So, meet me at the place where there is grief or gross, injustice, and wickedness. This is a great place to have a little powwow about your future. So, Nehemiah can see straight through it. He’s like, you are very transparent. I don’t know what you’re doing.
Someone needed to grab Sambalat into Byron Gesham and say, guys, you’re just not good at this. This is not for you. Like, being intimidating, it’s not your wheelhouse. Maybe stick to your little area but as well, the province they were calling Nehemiah to join them was like 4-8 kilometers away from Jerusalem. So, basically, where they were drawing him to was far away from anyone who would support him anyone who would have his back and their plan was that the trip to Ono if he gets killed at Ono they can pretend that robbers killed him along the way so they wouldn’t have any like, you know, backlash from the king.
So, their whole plan was, let’s draw on to Ono, let’s kill him, and then let’s just pretend we didn’t do it. Great plan, except Nehemiah knew that that was not going to happen. And he says to them and declares it, I am doing a great work. Why should I cease the work and go down to you? Why should I cease to work and go down to you? The time for diplomacy is over. We’re on the home stretch here. I have one last thing to do and then our nation, our our community, restore our identity.
This is what we’ve been pushing forward towards. It’s just in reach. Why? Why would I go down to you? You know, I think for some of us in this room, we may be going through something where it feels like it’s just not breaking through. We’re just not advancing. It might be like, I one step forward but then it feels like I take two steps back. It feels like it’s just out of reach. And even as we were singing that song this morning in Champion where it says strongholds break. You know strongholds break.
I just felt like this word drop into my spirit that some people in this room do not know how close they are to a breakthrough. You do not realise how close you actually are. And it may have been a season months or years of just pressing on and hoping and wishing and praying. And it feels like it’s just you’re in the mud. You’re in the mud you’re sinking but actually God’s like you don’t know how close you are to breaking through. It is so close. It’s within your reach. If you stay in the great work that I’m doing. If you stay in the great work that I’m doing.
So this morning I want to talk about the ABC’s of advancing. I’m making it very simple for you to remember. Because being a person who gets up and delivers a sermon that sometimes after the service you go to people and they say oh it was a great sermon. I loved it pastor and you’re like, oh, what, what did you like? And they’re like, I can’t remember but I remember it being a great sermon. You know, you have that general feeling of, it was a good sermon but I can’t remember anything and I’ve been caught out doing that to people too.
So, I’m going to make this easy. Each point, there’s three points starts with A, B, C. So, we remember, we declare it, and we walk in it. Are you with me, church? Yes, okay. So, the first one is authority. Authority.
Now, I’m going to share with you one of my preaching moments. Speaking of preaching. Which happened to me a few years back. We had Jess and I had moved away from our hometown and 18 months later we decided we were going to go on a holiday to see everyone in our hometown and catch up with everyone and our old senior pastor came to me and said hey Sean while you’re here could we get you to preach in church? The church would really appreciate it.
They’d really love it. You know seeing it up there again. And I’m like oh yeah that would be really cool. That would be a really great opportunity So we get to church on that morning and we shake hands with everyone. Do the whole like I haven’t seen you in a year and a half. So good to see you. And the service starts. And so it starts with praise and worship. And it was a great like praise and worship that happened. And so at the end of the praise and worship my old senior pastor kind of gets up off the back of it. And he’s like let’s sing that again. Let’s sing that again. And he does it a few times.
Now in my head and this is just letting you into what pastors sometimes think about okay. A service time. Let’s say if a service went from 9 to 11 right? There is this secret unspoken contract between you and the congregation where they expect you to finish at eleven o’clock, right? They expect that the service will go for 90 minutes and not a minute longer unless the Holy Spirit is moving. Yeah. Then they’ll let you off the hook. But if it’s in your responsibility they want you to finish on time.
I had been under so many sermons where at the end of it the pastor is like can I just have 5 minutes more? 5 minutes more? And I don’t think anyone in the congregation is going to go No. You know? I once served under a guy who he was used to preaching for an hour and a half at his previous church. So, he would go for an hour and that was him reining himself in and I was like, no, you know.
Anyway, so what happened was, he says, let’s sing that again. Let’s sing that again. Basically, it finishes in 45 minutes into the sermon of the service. So, it’s 45 minutes left and I’m thinking in my head, that’s okay. There’s enough time to preach. 45 minutes, I’m sure there’s enough time in there. Then, someone get up and does communion. So that’s another five minutes and I’m like, 40 minutes left. That’s okay. No problem. No issue whatsoever.
Turns out that Sunday is the Sunday where the pastor’s son is leaving. So, it was his last service and he was the youth pastor. So, they want to take this moment to really honour him and his wife for all they did. So, they get up and they do this whole presentation and people are crying and 10 minutes taken out of the service and now, we’re down to 30 and I’m like, that’s okay. There’s still time. And then, off happens. That’s another 5 minutes. We’re down to 25. Are you tracking with me?
And then for some reason because it’s close to Christmas they decided to do this Christmas story like a live Christmas story reading. So one of the leaders comes out the front and says we’re going to read the story of Christmas. But what I’m not going to do it we’re going to get people from the crowd to do it and they’re all going to have lines and they’re going to get dressed. So they come out and they’re getting changed on the stage and putting on their like you know robes and things like that and they got little lines on pieces of paper and I am sweating.
Because I am just thinking I’ve got a sermon that at least goes for like 30 minutes right? I’m going to have to like chop this down severely. Because time is running out. Anyway, so the senior pastor while that has happened comes over to me and sits next to me and says Sean don’t worry about the time. Just go over. Like just take all the time you need to preach. And I’m like are you sure? Like we could just finish on the Christmas story if you wanted to get up and like wrap that up. like, no, no, no, you get up there, you preach, it’s okay, you do it. And I’m like, okay.
And so there are now 10 minutes left of the 90-minute service for me to get up. So, when he announces me and I get up, I’m instantly feeling from the room that they feel a little restless because it’s been like 80 minutes of a service already. But I’m like powering through and I’m like, hey, my name’s Sean. Some of you don’t know me, you’ve moved here since, you know, we’ve left, rah, rah, rah. I’m basically introducing myself and our family as that happens, there is also another sometimes unspoken rule that happens in church which you may not realize I’m shining a light on right now is the keys player normally comes out at the end of the service.
There was a rule with the whole congregation with the senior pastors sorry where he said doesn’t matter what happens when there’s five minutes left to go of the service. Come out the front. The whole team. The whole team come out and stand on stage so we know that there’s five minutes left. So the keys player starts playing. Singers start behind me. The guitarist is loading up. Awkward situation where I am like guys, can you get off the stage and go back to your seats? And they were like, oh, oh, sorry. And I said, I’ve literally haven’t even started the first point.
I haven’t even like done the the sermon title. You’re going to have to get off the stage and so like, oh, sorry, sorry and they’re all like moseying down, feeling awkward to their seats. Meanwhile, look at the congregation and I am like, I have lost these people now. Like, it’s so, like, because I look rude to people now. I’m like, can you get off the stage, guys? You’re interrupting my sermon. You know, like, that’s what it looks like. Um and so, once I preached, it was not my best preach, okay? Like, I did the best I could and after the service was finished, I’ve reined it in and I did like, I think a 15-minute message.
That was the best I could do under the circumstances and there was one lady who at that church was so sweet and it would always come to me and say, that was an amazing sermon, Sean. Good job. That was really good and she came up to me and said that to me but on the inside, I’m like, that was not good. Thank you for that. I appreciate the encouragement but that was not good. okay? So, later on, you’re going to see the Keys player come in at the right time at King’s Church. Amen?
Yeah, but there was this moment where I was doing that and I just had to stand almost in the authority that I had of having the mic to say, I’m, I don’t want this to happen. I need to continue this way. This is what I’m doing, right? The enemy wants to come and undermine your authority. The enemy wants to come and get you to believe the lie that you have no authority. You have no ground to stand on. When you certain prayers. You don’t have the authority to pray that prayer. You can say the words but it’s just empty meaningless words that you shout out into the atmosphere. You don’t have the authority. Amen?
Who knows that? You know, in Matthew 28:18, it says,
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
I’m going to repeat that again. All authority, once more, all authority, in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore, go and disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.
So, all authority has been given to him and he says to you, therefore, go in the authority that I have. I am releasing that to you. I am resting it upon your shoulders. You can go in my authority. Therefore, go. We go in His name, not our name. You know, nothing when I pray to the power of Sean. The blood of Sean does not save anyone. Just makes people uncomfortable, right? I cannot do anything. I cannot achieve anything in the supernatural. I do it by the name of Jesus.
I stand on his authority and thankfully, all authority on heaven and earth has been given to him. So, we have access to that and can walk in that. You know, sometimes we open this altar for prayer and we encourage people to come out the front for prayer and it’s almost like we feel like we’re trespassing. You know, we get up from our seat and we awkwardly like hesitantly make our way up and we feel like we’re standing in an authority that’s not ours.
Like, oh, I don’t, oh, it doesn’t really happen for me. I don’t really get healed or I don’t really get the breakthrough that for some reason, I’m just, I don’t have that authority and you don’t have that authority but thankfully, Jesus does. Thankfully, Jesus does. The encouragement even from Jesus was for them to make disciples, to make discipiples and how do you make disciples? You put it into action. Jesus showed the disciples what to do. He walked in his authority. He healed people. He prayed. He declared some things. He walked in that authority. And that’s how you make disciples.
You don’t make disciples by pointing things out. You get them to do it. You know for us we need to walk in the authority of Jesus. That’s the first one. A. If we want to advance. If we want breakthrough it has to begin with genuinely believing. I have authority. You know we that song and you’re like, I have authority like in champion but it maybe felt like a good song lyric but not necessarily a decorative statement. It is actually a statement for our lives and once something changes within us where we go, I have authority. I have authority through him. Stuff changes in the atmosphere. Things shift but we have to have that belief that we have authority. Amen?
Second one is base. I remember when I was a teenager I had got saved when I was 13 years old and it was at a youth night where it was meant to be a bonfire night. And there wasn’t meant to be a salvation altar call but I begged the leaders for two hours straight to make me a Christian. And so they did it. They relented. Thankfully we have better youth leaders. Better quality of youth leadership don’t we Noah here right? Yes, yes thumbs up. Good. Good. Otherwise we’re having a chat.
But what happened was as I got involved in church, some of my friends got saved. Um and so I started hanging out with them and going to church with them. But there came a time where those friends peeled off. Where they decided God wasn’t for them. And I was kind of the last man standing. And I remember going up for prayer one time and someone had a prophetic word for me. Which was like I’ve been dipping my toes in the water of the river. And pulling them out. Almost like testing the temperature of the water.
And a prophetic word they said to me was God wants you to stay in the river. You just need to stay. You just need to stay in the river. And that really solidified for me that I’m not here for them. I’m here for me and this is where I’m called and this is where I’m going to stay. You know even for King’s Church there is such a rich history here at King’s Church.
There’s been a people who’ve been a part of this church for like 40 years. You know they’ve been here through countless challenges. Countless ups and downs. different styles of pastors that have come through and taken it on board. And they somehow still stayed. You know there’s sometimes when there’s a change of leadership people go oh not for me now. I’ve I’m it’s an excuse for me to go. But there are people within our congregation who stayed through all kinds of different seasons.
The good and the bad. The great and the challenging. And they just stayed. They plunked themselves down. Honestly they deserve a hand. They’re champions. Absolute generals of the faith. and that’s what the enemy wants to do. He wants to disrupt your base. He wants to disrupt the solid foundation that you have underneath you. He wants your roots to just be very very tiny. That they don’t go deep. They don’t go deep into the ground. He wants you to be able to move at a moment’s notice.
Because that’s what’s happened to Nehemiah. They wanted him to move. Move out of the authority of his province and move somewhere where he didn’t have authority. He had enemies surrounding him who didn’t like him. On top of the people who invited him. And so they really wanted to draw him away from his authority, his base of where he was actually called to.
You know what? We need to decide where we are called and place ourselves there. But also we need to be strategic about our breakthrough and advancing. Because where should you be if you want to advance? Where should you be if you want to see breakthrough in God? Strategic sounds like such a cold analytical world. Word. But it’s not. When you’re in a war for victory breakthrough matters from a strategic location. Any war was fought where sat around the table and said, where are we going to put our men so we succeed? Where are we going to put our men?
So, there’s like a way through where we can pierce the enemy’s line and get through. They all do it. They all do it and we as Christians need to think that way too. That actually God places you in certain places for you to succeed and thrive and sometimes we need to hold and stand our ground where we are called. You know, if you are going through a hard and difficult season where something blindsided you. Sometimes our response is to run away. It’s to draw back from people.
The countless amount of people that I’ve spoken to over the years where something goes wrong and they pull back. Actually when things are hard and difficult and you’re believing for a breakthrough in those circumstances it’s the time to lean in. You know, this church here is a community full of faith and encouragement who will lift your hands with you, you know, and keep you going and steady. They’ll be here for you. It’s not the time to draw back from them because you know what? They may not be in a breakthrough moment where they need breakthrough but they can believe that your breakthrough.
That’s why we all need to be here. In season and out of season. Where when the valleys or the mountaintops so we stay in the house of God. We stay in prayer. We stay in the word of God. Because you know what? I may not need it right now. But you may need my faith. So I’ve come to this house on the off chance that one of you might need my encouragement. You might need my prayers and my all these kind of things. You need me to be here for you as well as you. reverse. Are you with me?
So, where are we based? Where do our roots go down? Because where you are based can determine the victory, can determine the victory. You know, John Six says,
John 6:66-69 NKJV From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
That was not an easy choice. Those guys would have mingled with other disciples and other people who they were good. They were solid. Maybe there were some cooks in there who cooked really well for everyone. Maybe there was someone who was super encouraging that you loved being around and all of those people disappeared because it was hard. But they said no. We feel that you had the words of life. So we’re going to stay strong to you. And I don’t know what the stories are in this place. But I feel like people in this place. I just felt like it was a word from God as I was preparing this sermon this week.
That some people in here, you’re based here, but your base isn’t really here. Your roots aren’t going down deep. It’s like you turn up and for all intents and purposes. You’re here but you’re not really here. And God’s challenging you and drawing you to actually allow your roots to go deeper. He’s like, you’re going to find your victory as you surround yourself with community, as you surround yourself with the word of God, as you surround yourself with good things of God. That’s where you’re going to find the victory.
You know, even in Matthew seven, we hear the story of the man who built his house on the rock versus the sand.
Matthew 7: 21-27 NKJV “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Some of us don’t realize it but we’re on sandy ground right now and we need the rock. We need to stand strong. You with me? So, stand your ground. Stand strong on the base that you’ve chosen and go forward. So, the first one is authority. The second one is base and the last one is confession.
Confession. And we get this from Revelations twelve verse eleven. It says they triumphed over him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.
Revelation 12:11 NKJV And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
I was watching a YouTube video this week which is always a great place to start, right? Who goes down the rabbit hole of YouTube where you watch one video and then you see a little thumbnail there and you click that and you watch that too.
But somehow I came across this video of this Christian school in America. Where it was a high school and they had high school students in this class. And they were in this gymnasium. And in a Christian apologetics class. Who loves apologetics? Yes. These teenagers have been studying apologetics to be able to voice the things of God to people who don’t believe. What the teacher did which was very interesting was he invited a professor of philosophy from UCLA who is an atheist.
And he said I’m actually going to hand the mic over to this guy and he’s going to get to talk to you about why he’s an atheist for 15 minutes. And then he’s going to open it up for and we’re going to do a Q&A and you get to ask him whatever question you want. And so in those 15 minutes that he shared a very concise and precise kind of testimony of why he ended up with the decision he was at. And then they opened the floor to the teenagers for Q&A. and they asked some really cracker of a questions.
They got onto like multiverse theory and all these really random things. Anyway it got to a point where he would systematically almost shut down in a very kind way. Any questions they had. So any questions they had that prodded a little bit at like why you believe what you believe. He answered them in such a way that they didn’t have a great response back. And as it kept going on you can sense the mood of all the teenagers in the room are starting to get a bit unsettled. And it got to a point where their questions got really direct with him. Very direct with him.
It’s almost like they were bristling against him being in the room and defending atheism. They didn’t have like a great answer to respond back to him. So over course of the hour, this goes on. It gets to the last 15 minutes of the session and he lets the cat out of the bag that actually he is not a professor of philosophy at UCLA. He is a Christian. He believes in God and he does this to high schools all around the nation where he goes in and tests them and prods them.
And he said, the interesting thing that arises from the experience is that the young people in the room quite often and get really defensive. Get really defensive. And he said it comes from a place of not knowing why you believe what you believe. And so when he asked some really significant questions for them they’d almost get defensive in their backup because they didn’t know how to answer it well. They didn’t know their confession. You with me? It’s good right?
You know for Nehemiah he proclaims one interesting thing when he’s responding to Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. He says it’s a great work that we’re doing. Now he could be talking the enormity of the task obviously but he’s also declaring it’s a great work even though the Gates haven’t been properly hung yet even though the material is subpar even though the work is amateurs it is a great work that is going on here why would I leave it why would I leave it it’s almost like he’s confessing something over it you know His back wasn’t up.
He’s so confident in such a way that when they come back to him four times saying hey come on come on Nehemiah. Come on the plane sounds pretty good. He repeated in the same manner the exact same answer. The exact same answer. I love that. When repeated in the same manner is really difficult to do because I’m a dad of like three kids and they nag me like something you know.
They’ll ask me questions but they’ll ask it repeatedly. So they might ask oh what are we doing today? And I’m like oh we’re going to the beach and two minutes later they’re like what are we doing today? We’re going to the beach. What are we doing? We’re going to the beach. What are we doing? told you, we’re going to the beach. How do you not remember this, you know? I sometimes don’t repeat in the same manner of coolness as Nehemiah. There are any parents that can relate to that in here, right?
Right. But if you have confidence in your convictions of who you are and what you believe, you would repeat in the same manner. You know, there are two things that come with confession. One is consistency and the other is conviction. We need to have a conviction in our heart that what we confess when we speak Jesus over our circumstances. He is right in the midst of it. You know, and we also have to have the consistency that even if I have been waiting a month, a year, a day, a week, whatever it is, I’m repeating in the same manner, my belief, and my trust in him.
We need to speak some things in our world. We need to confess in order to break through. It’s not enough that we keep it within ourselves but we need to speak some things and proclaim some things, declare some things in the atmosphere to see breakthrough. For some of us in this room, we’ve had our mouth shut for too long. It’s time to confess some things in our world. You with me?
You know, even we read the story in Mark ten verse forty-six of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus.
Mark 10:46-52 NKJV Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Who when Jesus walked past, he says to him, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me and then, Jesus keeps walking but then he repeats it and cries out all the more. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me and the first time he shouted out was just a regular shout but the second time he shouted out, actually, when you look into the context that he was actually giving like a guttural sound, an animalistic cry. He was that desperate for Jesus that he knew my healing if I could just catch his attention. He let it out. He didn’t keep it in.
He let out the experience of being a blind man for years. He let that out in that moment. That’s what he did. Our confession is so important. And so we sang that song I Speak Jesus. I speak Jesus over my family, over my over all fear and anxiety, over every addiction, every stronghold. I speak the name of Jesus. Let’s not forget to speak. Let’s not forget to speak and declare some things.