What Do People See?

Original Date: 
Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sermon Sunday September 14, 2014 “What do people see”?

We have been in this series of “Nehemiah” and I got to tell you I have really enjoyed studying and taking a look at this small book of the Bible. I know others of you have made great comments about this series as well.
For me and maybe you as well, I just thought Nehemiah was “The Guy who Built the Wall” and that was about it. No big deal.
He does not get the cool factor of being studied in Sunday school like Noah or Moses or Paul or the Disciples. He is only Nehemiah the Cupbearer.
The Cupbearer to the King. And at the Beginning of the series we learned that his job was to taste the Kings wine to make sure it did not get poisoned. I did not think that was that big of a job when I looked at it at first glance. And especially when I was in Sunday School learning about Him I did not think that would be a fun job. We know at any moment of his life he could be taken out when someone wanted to Kill the King.
But after studying this passage this week I hope I can be like Nehemiah. Let’s see what he is up to this week. It is more than building a wall.

Nehemiah 5:1-13 (NLT)
1 About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews.
2 They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.”
3 Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.”
4 And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes.
5 We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
6 When I heard their complaints, I was very angry.
7 After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
8 At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
9 Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations?
10 I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of charging interest.
11 You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”
12 They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised.
13 I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you like this from your homes and from your property!” The whole assembly responded, “Amen,” and they praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.

Why did they listen to this guy?
Why are they willing to follow this guy?
90 years people had been refusing to “Build the Wall” Why Nehemiah

Let’s look back to his first role as the Cupbearer. Remember I did not think that was a very glamorous job. Because You might die. But let’s think about it. The King had to trust him with his life. He was like the Secret service agent that protects the President. Like Kevin Costner in the “Body Guard”.
King Artaxerxes had utmost trust in Nehemiah. But why? Nehemiah was from a foreign land. Why would the King want a Jewish Person (a foreign person from a group of people which he had captured along the way) looking out for his life?
It just does not work that way. You don’t trust your life with someone who is playing for the other team. It does not happen this way in life.
But when it is God’s vision and your willingness to follow God’s plan the impossible happens.

Nehemiah got to be the Cupbearer because of his “Integrity”. He was a trust worthy man. Who ever recommended to the King or the King himself knew this long before giving Nehemiah the position of cupbearer.
Nehemiah influenced people long before he had the position of cupbearer to the King. People in the right places saw how Nehemiah lived his life before he was given a position.

Andy Stanley uses a story of his life in his book “Visioneering” When he was 20 years old he went to work as a intern in youth ministry at his dad’s church. It was his first official ministry position. He says he did not know anything about youth ministry. He goes on to say when he was meeting with the youth pastor Sid and trying to figure out what he should do and they were having a heart to heart conversation about youth ministry. Sid said, Andy you are a leader and I need you to lead” Andy said Lead? How can I lead I do not know anything about youth ministry. Andy said, “Sid you are the youth minister.” Andy said I will never forget his response. Sid said “There is a difference between having a position and having influence. I have a position. But they will follow you because of your influence. Now I need you to use your influence and lead. Don’t be afraid. Lead.”

Our first point in our outline is this.

Influence is far more important to the success of your vision than that of the position you might hold.
Nehemiah started out on this journey with a vision, but his ability to influence others is what carried him to move others forward into acting to build this wall.
Andy Stanley goes on to say in his book. “Influence is a funny thing. It’s hard to define and it’s hard to describe. But you know when somebody has it. And you know when somebody doesn’t.”

I am sure you all know people in your life who have influenced you along the way. These are people who see the God given vision for your life. They are people who can paint a picture and encourage you to strive for your best. They can move you from point A to point B.
You did not care what title or position they held. You did not care what degree or college they went too. You did not care if they had extra letters in front of their names or behind their names.
It was just something about them that drew you close to them and wanted them to pour their life into yours.

These people in your life didn’t just talk the talk, but they walked the walk.

Which brings us to our next fill in the blank.

The Credibility that you earn when you walk the walk is irreplaceable.
No amount of charisma, communication skills, riches, degrees, talents or postion can make up for a lack of Inconsistency between your walk and your talk.
For most people it takes a lifetime to build that credibility and influence on others and it can be lost in moments when the talk does not line up with the walk.
Think about your parents for Example. Does this thought of Walking the Walk and talking the talk bring up thoughts of Respect and Intergrity? Or does this bring up wounds of little respect for them.
My guess is that if you have a high respect for your parents they have had a huge influence on your life. And you find yourself highly influenced by them. And your walk through life has been deeply impacted by what they encourage or told you to do.
But if you have little respect for your parents you probably found a lot of inconsistencies in how they live by how they talk the talk and walk the walk.

This is how powerful walking the walk has on us.
Albert Schweitzer quote says “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.”

Nehemiah challenged the most powerful people in his community. Remember the Govenors before him could not get the wall built. For 90 years they did not have any walls to protect them. The people pretty much settled for walking around the rubble from the broken down walls.
Nehemiah challenged the most powerful people in the Jerusalem city. He challenged the people who had positions before he got there, He challenged people with a lot of money, he challenged basically all the nobles and official that were there before he arrived.
And when Nehemiah challenged them it says in in verse 8b. Nehemiah 5:8 (NLT)
8 bAnd they had nothing to say in their defense.
NIV says Nehemiah 5:8 (NIV)
8 bThey kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
Nehemiah had the nobles and officials all speechless.
After Nehemiah got done speaking to them, and they could find No words to say they came up with this.
Nehemiah 5:12-13 (NLT)
12 They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised.
13 I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you like this from your homes and from your property!”
I like that part. Kind of a Mr. T on the “A Team TV” show. When Mr. T says “I pity the fool”.
When that was said the confrontation was over and it says
Ending of 13The whole assembly responded, “Amen,” and they praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.

Let’s take a look in how he did this. In picking up where we left off in chapter 5 Nehemiah tells us a little about himself. A little window we can see into who Nehemiah was.
This almost seems like a footnote in backing up his challenge to the Nobles and Officials.
Nehemiah 5:14-19 (NLT)
14 For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah—from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes —neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance.
15 The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God, I did not act that way.
16 I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall.
17 I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands!
18 The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden.
19 Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.

Did you catch all of that?
In verse 15 Nehemiah says the pervious governors laid heavy burdens on the people. The demanded lots of food and silver and took advantage of the people. They used their position to try and lord it over the people.

Have you ever had a coach that did that? I used to have a coach like that. I never wanted to play for that coach. That coach it felt like he was always just screaming at me to play harder. Or have you heard your parents tell you the rules and just said because I told you so “I am your parent”. And never explained or helped you understand Why?
The position of authority is not what people want to follow.
No!! People want to be coached, and lead by people who demonstrate a heartfelt commitment to what they are doing not just to win games.
Kids want to be parented by people who believe in them and want them to become all that God wants them to be.
If there is any inclination that the motives are messed up and that this is for personal gain, the people, the kids you are trying to influence will pick up on that mighty fast and will not be influenced by you.

You see right away as we start in verse 14. Nehemiah reminds us (not bragging) about what he did more like giving facts.
Nehemiah 5:14 (NLT)
14 For the entire twelve years that I was governor…..neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance.
16 I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall.
17 I asked for nothing, even though ….HE COULD OF> Jay’s paraphrase.

No wonder the nobles and officials backed down from arguing with Nehemiah in the verses previous. No wonder they were speechless. There Walk could no way matchup with what Nehemiah was saying. The only Governor in the 90 years that could say that was Nehemiah. He had the position to do the same things the Governor’s did before him but he chose not to and this is why the wall was being built. He had walked the walk with his talk from the day he arrived in Jerusalem to rebuild. His life demonstrated and lined up with his God given vision.

Nehemiah was Committed to doing what was right.
Nehemiah had influence on the people he had them following him and he could have easily went down the road that many Governor’s before him did and took it all for personal gain.

This is where so many people get off course because they lose their focus on the “God vision” for their life and they start to look at the prize or the benefits they could have for personal gain.
I want you to think about that. In fact let me repeat it again.
Many people get off course because they lose their focus on the “God vision” for their life and they start to look at the prize or the benefits they could have for personal gain.
Speaking of personal. I am going to get personal with you as I share my story with you.
The Spencer fair is going on right now and many of you know that I love showing cattle with my daughters. It is a great thing that we enjoy doing together as Daddy and daughters. We have great conversations as we drive on my day off or on Weekends to go work with the cattle.
Well this past weekend we showed here at the Spencer fair. And I have to tell you that when we are just working with the cattle at the farm there is not any tension. But when you get to the fair the emotions go up, the tension rises, I start to focus on the prize and the benefits Shayler/Kamdyn would get from winning.
And let me just say good competition is not bad or unhealthy thing. But for me I can start to feel when it becomes more about the win than the vision of why I love doing this with my girls. The vision I have in raising my two daughters and the relationship we have by doing this together.
We had a pretty good cow this year. And as we were competing I saw myself thinking more about winning the trophy and not about the big picture in why I do this with my girls. There are rules in showing cattle and for some people the rules are not always followed. To be more accurate the rules are followed loosely depending how it benefits you. I see this when people compete.
But by compromising on the rules I would be going against my vision of raising daughters with integrity and moral beliefs.
It is easy to get caught up or side tracked into doing what is best for you especially when it comes to competitions.
Another story when I was at the fair that was told to me by a father, which was about His son playing football that he helped coach. They were playing against another team and the other team lied about the weight of some of the players breaking the rules. And at one point in the game when they were getting beat, he said he thought well if they can put their big players in to carry the ball why don’t we? But as we sat and talked at the fair he too said, What would I be teaching my son?”
Truett Cathy says it like this, “You have to be very careful about what you say. More importantly, you have to be very careful about what you do. You never know how or when you influence people – especially children.”
Leaders must be willing to do the right things. The Morally right things to continue to carry out their God given vision.
No short cuts, no personal gain, and no compromise.
Nehemiah could not take stuff from the people, it compromised his moral values and his beliefs in why he wanted to build the wall.

There are three things for Influencing others in the way Nehemiah influenced the people to build the wall.
The Ingredients for Influencing others are Character, Sacrifice and Time.
Our first word for influencing others is Character.
Character the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves

As Christians it is so important to have high morals and values if we are to be influencers in the world. The world around us is watching. God did not give us the platform to live a life as the world would live. He called us to live a life of moral value. So that how we live would be a demonstration to others in the way they should live..
Our Character is simply doing the Right thing, the right thing that God calls us to do not what the world says is ok.
I had a mom share a letter with me that she wrote to her son and I think it was amazing and I would like to share pieces with you.
She Writes:
“It kinda makes me sad and or puzzles me that you didn’t think there would be any questions or problems with a girl staying overnight in your dorm room with you. Either we didn’t make that clear enough as parents or maybe because we live in such a free living culture. Our culture basically says “do whatever you want, doesn’t matter how it affects anyone etc…. but appearances do matter. We know you are making great choices and that you are an adult and in charge of your life, but we also appreciate that you still allow for us to guide you and speak into your life and other adults that we value to advise you also. We are proud and impressed by the witness you left and by the lives you are leading in this tough world. You think no one is looking but they are. You two could be able to stay in the same room and everything be above board but others and some of your Christian friends struggle in this area. To put your reputation on the line like this and your reputation as a couple for this speculation is not worth the damage done to your witness. As Christians we are called to live in this world and not be of this world. If you are saying that appearances don’t matter, that no one will notice, then you are buying into the lies that Satan loves to tell us. After your faith in Christ, the only other thing that you can count on is your character.
She went on to say… This choice may seem minor today in the world that we live in but it’s the first step in damaging your character. We see in the world we live in that Pastors and other visible Christians are falling in public daily and the national news due to poor choices that lead to sin and disaster.
So why go there? I know we just had an awkward conversation last month, so I’m sure you are loving this one? But don’t you think that if more people would have these awkward conversations with their kids and people they care about then we would not have the damage we see. You are respecting and protecting your relationship and witness now and to your future relationship and marriage with whomever God blesses you with.
Dad and I feel so strongly about this, that if you truly can’t find someone for her to stay with we will pay for a hotel for her. Just let me know. We are proud of you and the way you are walking and the way you have conducted yourselves in your dating life, so we want to support you however we can.
Love you! Mom and Dad
Men and woman of character requires us to do the right thing, surrender to God’s standards, values and principles.
Nehemiah gives us his answer on why he never compromised his character at the end of verse 15 “Because I feared God, I did not act that way.”

Our second ingredient to influence others is to Sacrifice
Webster Dictionary says the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
Sacrifice is the clearest demonstration of your commitment to what could be.
Personal Sacrifice for the sake of the cause, your potential for influence escalates considerably.
Sacrifice will often silence your critics or those opposing you.
Back to the story of the Moms letter to the son. Did you catch that. They were willing to pay money to get a hotel room for the girlfriend to stay when she visited him at college.
why? Because they believed so much in the vision and the protection of their son’s character. They knew all what they have tried to do and work for in their sons life as they raised him and they were not willing to watch it be destroyed.
Nehemiah also knew this part of sacrifice. He did not take money for the building of the wall. In fact it says he paid for things that they needed.
Our last Ingredients in Influencing others is Time
Influencing others is not something achieved overnight. It is not something you can just make happen.
The Mom in the letter written to her son did not just wake up that morning and decide she should give her son some advice. She has spent all her life as a mom speaking into his life. This was probably not a surprise to her son at all that day he opened the email from his mom. This has been the norm all his life and that is why the son valued what was written to him.
Nehemiah also put in his time as Cupbearer and the King granted him to go and build the wall. He put in his time working alongside the people to build the wall and was their Governor for 12 years and changed the people not only with the building of the wall but also their spiritual lives as well.

So I wanted to close with this. Most of you know my love for Chick-fil-A
Monday was a kind of a sad day for me because a Nehemiah of our day went to be with God.
Truett Cathy, died at the age of 93.
Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist who taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years. As an extension of the founder's faith and the clearest example of incorporating biblical principles into the workplace, all Chick-fil-A restaurants—without exception—operate with a "Closed-on-Sunday" policy. Rare within the food service industry, this policy allows employees a day for family, worship, fellowship or rest and also underscores Cathy’s desire to put principles and people ahead of profits. Chick-fil-A will remain privately held and closed on Sundays.
Cathy was often quoted as saying: "I'd like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed. I have always encouraged my restaurant operators and team members to give back to the local community. We should be about more than just selling chicken, we should be a part of our customers' lives and the communities in which we serve."

People with Influence do not go unnoticed. Over 4,000 people went to his funeral.

Watch what his son and employees have to say about the life of Truett Cathy.

VIDEO

Truett Cathy =A man who lived out His God ordained vision for his life.
He did not compromise his standard of being open on Sundays when other food chains thought he was crazy, He did not back down from his belief on a man and woman makes a marriage, when the world tried to boycott them. He stuck to the vision and did not compromise his moral values and beliefs.

Will you stand for the Benediction!!!
Mom’s and Dad’s continue to be an Influencer for your kids, Leaders continue to care for your followers, and each one of you that has a God given vision from God live your lives that will always speak louder than any words.
What do people see in your life and what will they say when you are gone?

Amen.