Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Lakeside Christian Church · Facing My Dark Side—Call to Integrity | Unbroken episode 06 Scripture Verses Nehemiah 5; Acts 5; Philippians 2:1-11 Worship Playlist House of the Lord by Vertical WorshipChrist Is Risen by Matt MaherCreate in Me a Clean HeartEstablish the Work of Our Hands by Porter's Gate Study Questions Share about a great leader who has been important to you. What made them a great leader?What does it look like to have integrity? What does it mean to be a leader?What attacks did Nehemiah face? How did Nehemiah need to guard his heart in order to be a good leader?Why shouldn't we be surprised that our own hearts are incredibly vulnerable when we lead?What kind of internal opposition might a church face today? What happens to core objectives in such a case? What kind of response may be needed when a faction or leader becomes opposed?List several ways Jesus modeled excellent leadership. How could you apply these qualities to your life and/or leadership? Downloads & Resources Facing My Dark Side–Call to Integrity Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/9/2022 In last week’s episode of Nehemiah, the builders flourished. They learned how to work sword in one hand, brick in the other. They weathered the opposition from “without.” Sanballet and the Horonites. Tobiah and all the Amonites. Geshem and all the Arabs. The Ashdodites. First they’re displeased, then furious, then comes their ridicule and disdain, then they begin conspiring all of them together, spreading rumors and lies, threatening real violence and terror. But the Lord gave the builders strength. He caused them to will and act according to his good purpose. He gave them joy. As God’s people kept guard and learned to build sword in one hand and brick in the other. . . The Lord confounded the plans of the enemy, exposed their folly, fought for his people, and the wall reached ½ its height. The mounds of rubble miraculous transformed. Christ Jesus promised to build his church, and what Christ’s builds cannot fall. The gates of hades…the schemes of the Evil, shall not prevail against Christ’s Kingdom! God’s work never lacks for drama. Everything in God’s Kingdom seems set to flourish, some new thing arises. Take the book of Acts, 3000 people get baptized in one day, the Church exploding, but then the enemies of God start conspiring. They are annoyed, then furious, they use their political power to arrest the apostles, they threaten them. But when the Church prays, God shakes the place they were assembled, fills the Church with Holy Spirit presence and power, and the work continues! The apostles continue to preach with great boldness and power. Much grace was upon them all! No needy person was among them because people who owned lands and houses sold them and brought the proceeds forth to provide for the needs of the community! And right as the Church begins to flourish—boom. Satan fills Annias and his wife Sapphira’s heart with deceit, they lie to the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, the Church, and Themselves. Satan attacks the church not from outside, but from within its walls! In this week’s episode of Nehemiah, Satan savages the work of God not from without but from within. We always imagine that the reason the Church lay listless in its work is because of external forces (The big bad culture. The World. The Sanballets and Tobiahs and Geshems and enemies who circle). But the greatest hurdles by far rise up from within. The people of God themselves pose the greatest hurdle to the work of God. When Jesus prayed for the church, he certainly was aware of the real world danger they would encounter, but he was most concerned that they remain united in love. Disunity is the far greater danger. The people of God biting and devouring and consuming one another! Listen to what unfolds in Nehemiah 5:1-5. Social injustice arises—from “within” the ranks of Israel! Nehemiah 5:1-5, “There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen.2 Some were saying, “We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.” 3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.” 4 Still others were saying, “We have borrowed money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We and our children are just like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.” So ironic, the early church in Acts was hit with a famine too! Life continues happening, the world continues turning, right along God’s work. The people of God couldn’t produce enough grain to stay alive—their energies completely devoted not to farming, but building. Their money was running out. They begin forfeiting their homes, their properties, their possessions. Worse, they begin forfeiting their livelihoods—their vineyards and fields. To add insult to injury, the Chaldeans begin adding burdensome taxes on families. Parents are literally selling their children into slavery, hoping to redeem them later. If taxes weren’t enough, interest rates climbed. Certain Jews began charging usury on loans (think high interest Pay Day loans!). The Jews were preying upon one another like vultures! Levying taxes and tributes, cheating, lying, robbing each other. Total scandal! In Acts 5 the Apostle Peter boldly confronts Ananias and Sapphira about their deceitful activities. The church was flourishing because a spirit of generosity enabled the work to continue. There was great unity, resources carefully distributed to meet needs. But then selfishness threatened to destroy the fabric of the Church. Selfishness threated to destroy the building of the wall. Nehemiah, like Peter confronts the injustice head on. Nehemiah 5:6-13, “6 I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. 7 After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, “Each of you is charging his countrymen interest.” So I called a large assembly against them 8 and said, “We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back.” They remained silent and could not say a word. 9 Then I said, “What you are doing isn’t right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies?” *And that is the core issue still in God’s Kingdom and Church today. Do we not walk in the Fear of God? Do we invite the reproach of God’s enemies? Or do we boldly root out the selfishness among us? Nehemiah continues. Nehemiah 5:10-11, he says, “Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let’s stop charging this interest. 11 Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and fresh oil that you have been assessing them.” I love how Nehemiah takes responsibility here. He says, “I’ve been part of the problem too!” But let’s make it right. Let’s stop charging interest. Let’s return fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses immediately. Let’s give back people’s money, grain, wine, oil, their children!!!??? Nehemiah 5:12-13, “They responded, “We will return these things and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.” So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this. 13 I also shook the folds of my robe and said, “May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn’t keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!” The whole assembly said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.” The early church was shaken when God struck Ananias and Sapphira dead. Great fear seized the whole church. For a while no one dared join them, but then the Lord increased their numbers. Multitudes of people came forth and all the people were healed. As much as we want the world to get it’s house in order—and it’s senate, and judiciary, and presidency and congress and economy (etc)… our biggest problem is we need to get our house in order first. A house divided (a Church divided) against itself will fall. Generosity, selflessness, has to permeate from within the ranks of the Church, from within leadership even! Every few months, the cultural narrative changes. About the time the Church catches up to the cultural conversations, the conversation changes! Take the word “woke” for example. About the time Christians started saying “woke”, it became unwoke to say woke, and the church became a joke. But another one of those “words” culture has been using these past few years is “privilege.” I know, I know. We cringe, it tweaks us, when we hear derogatory rants about “white privilege.” I don’t have so much a problem with people criticizing “white” privilege—I just don’t think its exclusively a “white” problem. It’s a human problem. And in Nehemiah, ethnic Jews are perfectly willing to flex their privilege and power, even exploit (even enslave) people of their own ethnicity and kind than surrender their privilege and power in service to one another. Jews. Gentiles. Men. Women. Whites. Blacks. Asians. Indians. Human cruelty adds insult to injury. What’s needed, literally in every age, among every tribe, tongue, and nation… are people who will no longer conform to the pattern of the world. The unfettered exercise of privilege, to the utter disregard (even demise) of others, is one of the oldest patterns known to man! The Church is a counter-culture community. We generously let go of our privileges, rights, entitlements, advantages, resources and assets because we trust God to do something even greater among us. The church follows the pattern of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-8, “2 If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a [slave], taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.” Jesus surrendered all the privileges of heaven. He thought it better to become a slave, to serve the slave, than make others his slave! Better to die, even on a cross, lest he invite reproach on his Father’s name. Where is the ethos of surrender within Church today? Nehemiah relinquished privilege. Nehemiah 5:14-19, “14 Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, twelve years—I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor. 15 The governors who preceded me had heavily burdened the people, taking from them food and wine as well as a pound of silver. Their subordinates also oppressed the people, but because of the fear of God, I didn’t do this. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the construction of this wall, and all my subordinates were gathered there for the work. We didn’t buy any land. 17 There were 150 Jews and officials, as well as guests from the surrounding nations at my table. 18 Each day, one ox, six choice sheep, and some fowl were prepared for me. An abundance of all kinds of wine was provided every ten days. But I didn’t demand the food allotted to the governor, because the burden on the people was so heavy. 19 Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.” Philippians 2:9-11, “For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Where is the ethos of Christ, that surrenders privilege, that gives, that sacrifices, that serves, that relinquishes rights, that lays hold of eternal favor… where is that in the Church today?