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Nehemiah 9



Confession leads to Consecration, and ultimately to Celebration.


If you were in Jerusalem at this time in our text you would have seen some very unusual sights, and heard some very unusual sounds.  Like people in the streets crying out to God, confessing their sins with weeping, openly, publicly, without shame.  You would have seen people wearing sackcloth, a very uncomfortable burlap type material, as a symbol of their humility and repentance.  You would see them pick up dirt and literally throw it upon their own heads.  These were customs in Bible days when people get serious about getting right with God.


When we get right with God we bring the glory to God that He so richly deserves, and we will be blessed the way He wants to bless us. 


ill.--many pulpits today proclaim how God wants to bless us, but they leave out the fact that we are a limiting factor that stays His hand from being able to bless us more.  Nehemiah 9 will prove that He will bless us more when we get right with Him.  God does business with those who mean business!


Confession leads to Consecration, and ultimately to Celebration.


When we turn away from God he pours out judgment and condemnation, but when we turn to Him He pours out blessing after blessing!


The devil knows that, so he will do all he can to keep you from getting right with God.  If you're not saved, get saved, get right with God, and don't let the devil get you off track.  If you're saved but not right, get right.

John 10:10
... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

But don't expect to find the abundant life if you're not willing to get right with God!

1 Peter 1:8
... yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

But don't expect to find joy unspeakable if you're not willing to get right with God!


We cannot have a half hearted, fence riding, weak kneed, watered down, anemic approach to our Christianity and expect to find God's best for our lives!


Confession leads to Consecration, and ultimately to Celebration.


Here's the beginning of a great revival, it starts with...



vv. 5-38 is their prayer...the longest in the Bible.  In it they recount the story of their history and how God would bless them, they would forget and sin, He would judge them, and they would repent and return to more blessings.  And those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.


You should read it on your own.  It's proof positive of this verse...

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We will never get to the celebration until we start w/ the confession.  Sin will come between you and God, rob you of your joy and your song.


Here's 3 basics you'll find in their prayer of confession-Israel's God, Guilt, and Grace...

·       Israel's God.

It's a God centered prayer.  If you took all the references to God out of this prayer it would suddenly be very, very short.  Too many of our prayers today are man centered.  All about what we want and not about what God wants.


Real confession is based on the character and nature of God. 


We see in their prayer that their God is a glorious God. 

Middle of v. 5

        Everything the devil does ends in misery...everything God does ends in glory!  We are saved by grace and it ends in glory.  Jesus died on the cross, but He rose in glory.  He had a glorious birth, a virgin birth.  He had a glorious life, a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word, or deed.  He had a glorious death, a sacrificial death, for the sins of the entire world.  He had a glorious resurrection, bursting out of that tomb like a heavenly beam of light!  And make no mistake, He'll be glorious in His return to earth.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

What a glorious day that will be!


Their confession was based on the character and nature of God.  And only a glorious God can provide the kind of forgiveness that is needed by people like these in our text, and these in the pews!  It will be a glorious forgiveness, a glorious mercy, a glorious grace, and a glorious eternal love they will receive, and we can too!


We see in their prayer that their God is a powerful God. 

v. 6          This is about creation.  Throughout the Bible God reminds us of His creation.  He points us back to the first verse of the Bible and reminds us of how it all started.  And we need some reminding today! 


Our world is trying to kill God w/ a big bang but it won't work.  And the concept of billions of years is trying to erase the 6,000 year Bible history.  We're desperately looking for some connection to monkeys when we should be reconnecting w/ our Maker!  We're still searching for little green men that aren't there...but if we'd just open our eyes we could look into the face of the extra terrestrial Who created us and we could return to Him and be welcomed into His home beyond the stars!



Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place

for those who trust Him and obey.

Jesus will come again, and tho' we don't know when

the countdown's getting lower every day!


10 and 9, 8 and 7, 6 and 5 and 4 ... call upon the Savior while you may.

3 and 2, coming thru the clouds in bright array

The countdown's getting lower every day!



It's wonderful to know as we pray to our Father in Heaven that He's the same God Who created everything in the beginning.  Or else, why pray to Him?


ill.--light years.  Light is booking it at 186,000 miles every second.  That's 6 trillion miles per year.  And yet the closest star to our solar system is 4 light years away.  Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and is just one of hundreds of millions of galaxies.  Don't you know we serve a great big, powerful God!  And that same God of creation is powerfully big in grace and mercy that we need.


Middle of v. 17, "...but thou art..."

v. 31        Grace and Mercy - grace is getting something good you don't deserve.  Mercy is not getting something bad which you do deserve.

ill.--a policeman pulls you over doing 90 in a 55.  You explain how you were hungry and were heading to the drive thru.  Then you beg and plead and he agrees not to give you a ticket.  That's mercy.  But what if now he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a $20 bill and says, dinner is on me!  That's grace.  [it's also unlikely!]


As sinners we deserve hell, and don't deserve thank God for His great grace and mercy!


Their God is glorious, and powerful...

We see in their prayer that their God is a caring God. 

v. 9          God hears when we cry.  He didn't just create the universe and abandon it.  He is personally involved in the affairs of His creation.

Matthew 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

He personally conducts a funeral for each disease filled fowl who falls, how much more does He care for us!

Psalm 147:9
He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.

Psalm 147:4
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

Luke 12:7
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. [some of you make it easier] Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

He's the exact opposite of what Bette Midler said He was in her song, "From a Distance."  No, he is here, close by, and personally involved.  He knows the deepest needs of your heart and wants to help if you'll let Him.


He's a caring God.  He cares about big things and even when you've just misplaced your glasses and can't see to find where you put them [on your face!]


glorious, powerful, caring...


We see in their prayer that their God is a trustworthy God. 

v. 15        The end of the verse is all about a promise God had made to them, and He kept that promise.  Even today Jews are being kicked out of neighborhoods in Jerusalem to make way for's wrong, wrong, wrong!  That's God's people's land!  And our trustworthy God is going to end that war someday soon, and we're gonna have a front row seat!


Titus 1:2
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

What has God promised us regarding confession?

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 1:18
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

1 John 1:7
... the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.


What a mighty God we serve!

Glorious, powerful, caring, trustworthy.


He's worth confessing to.  Just come and tell Him like it is.  That's what confess means.  "To say the same thing."  Con = with and fess = to speak [fess up!]


And be specific.  Count your many them one by one.  And it will surprise you what YOU have done!


Tell the truth.  He already knows the truth, He's just waiting for you to admit it and return to Him.  You're agreeing with God instead of offering excuses, alibis...or just ignoring the situation and sweeping it under the rug.  It's facing the music!


And that confession will lead to consecration, and celebration!




Israel's God is glorious, powerful, caring, and trustworthy.


Now notice-

·       Israel's guilt.

...notice the use of the conjunctions but, yet, and nevertheless.


v. 16-but

v. 19-yet

v. 26-nevertheless

v. 28-but

v. 31-nevertheless


These conjunctions show the contrast between God's goodness and Israel's guilt.  Between God's salvation and Israel's sin.  Between God's faithfulness and Israel's failure.


"God, you've been good to us, BUT, we've spit in your face."


Let's not be too quick to judge Israel for this, because many of us treat the Lord the same way.


ill.--a little girl would hug her baby doll, and look at it as if expecting a response...again and again.  Finally she went to her mom and said, "There's something wrong with this baby doll.  I love her and love her and love her, and she never loves me back!" 

        I think God must feel the same way.


They are confessing their guilt!


·       Israel's grace.

They received grace from God when they confessed.  They deserved judgment but in mercy God forgave them.  Then He gives them blessing after blessing after blessing!


16 times in this chapter the word 'give' or 'gave' is used.  It's talking about God's grace.

v. 8          God gave them a land they did not deserve. 

v. 13        God gave them His Word and guidance.

v. 20        The Holy Spirit!  And bread and water in the wilderness to boot!  And it wasn't a reward for their was in spite of their griping!  That's grace.

v. 24        Victory over their enemies.

v. 27        Saviours = judges and leaders to help them.


None of this did they deserve.  It was all gifts of grace.


God is so good!  And His goodness is leading them to repentance.

Romans 2:4
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

In context Paul is also talking about Israel, and talking to us today.  In America we've been given the greatest land, the greatest law, and some of the greatest leaders of all of human history.  Why are we spitting in the face of the God who has given us all of this?


God's first choice is to use goodness to lead us to Him, but if we insist, He will use judgment to bring us back to Him in repentance.


If you're saved but not right w/ God--stop and think about how good God has been to you in giving you salvation.  That alone is worthy of our undivided loyalty.  But beyond that He's given us the Holy Spirit to help us thru this life.

John 16:7
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Not only has God given you salvation and His Spirit, but another gift that keeps on giving...

*Constant daily forgiveness if we confess*

Lamentations 3:23
[The Lord's mercies] are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.


Go to part 2 on Consecration & Celebration


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All Sermons and PowerPoint Slideshow Presentations ©Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries® unless otherwise credited.  These resources are yours to use freely, but only in public worship services or private study groups and devotions.  They may not be sold, republished or retransmitted in any form without written permission.