In Romans 13, Paul said, it is high time to awake out of sleep. In other words, can't you hear the alarm clock? It's time to wake up. It's time to get out of the bed of complacency. It is time to make our lives count for God.
It's easy to become apathetic in our spiritual lives. But today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares why you must avoid becoming indifferent to God working in and through you. At the end of the program, Skip and his wife, Langley, share some resources to help you get the most out of your Bible study times. Did you know you can download and listen to over 3,500 full length sermons that unpack virtually every book, every verse in the Bible, verse by verse? So go to connectwithskip.com if you want those messages, as well as online resource store. We have audio books of our teachings that are available.
We have a YouTube channel. Be sure to stay with us after today's message to hear the full discussion. Right now, we want to tell you about a resource that will help you grow stronger in your faith. Our lives rotate around crucial moments and decisions where everything changes.
We call them pivot points. Here's Skip Heitzig. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. Do you think Peter is actually saying that there are times when God knows you need a trial? Is that what he's saying? Uh-huh.
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Please call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Thank you for partnering with us. Now we're in Nehemiah Chapter 2 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's message. It was once a professor who asked his college class, philosophy class, which do you think is a bigger problem in America right now, ignorance or apathy? And one young student said, I don't know and I don't care. So pretty much that was going on right then and there. Albert Einstein, who you all know his name, you know he was the father of modern physics. When he was alive, Europe was being ravaged by a couple of philosophical systems that was going from country to country, communism and fascism. And he saw what was going on and he made a very powerful statement. Einstein said, the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on evil and do nothing.
There comes a time when, as we've already seen in this series, it's time to speak up and to move out. Speaking of evil in Europe during Nazi Germany, a pastor by the name of Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor, saw what was going on with Adolf Hitler and he made a stand against him eventually that cost his freedom. He was put in a concentration camp himself.
Martin Niemoller said this famous little statement. First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. Did you know that as you look at the scripture through the Old and New Testament, apathy among God's people was a problem?
Here's a couple of examples. One prophet by the name of Haggai was raised up to deal with the apathetic indifferent behavior of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. They had started to rebuild the temple.
They sort of got discouraged from doing it. They eventually said it's not time to build the Lord's temple. Haggai the prophet came on the scene and said, you say it's not time to build the Lord's temple. Is it time for you to dwell in your nice homes while the work of God is undone?
Another prophet by the name of Haggai by the name of Amos confronted the people of the land who were indifferent to the enemy that was around them and he said woe to those who are at ease in Zion. In the New Testament, Jesus gave a parable. You know it as the parable of the foolish virgins or bridesmaids. They didn't tend to their lamps.
They didn't trim their wicks. They didn't care much about when the bridegroom was coming and so he spoke that parable to them. And perhaps the classic example of spiritual apathy are the religious leaders at the birth of Christ. They knew the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. In fact, when Magi came from the east following that star and they were going through Jerusalem, they said we're looking for the one who is going to be born king of the Jews.
That rattled Herod's cage. Herod went to his religious leaders and said where is the Messiah going to be born? And they immediately said in Bethlehem of Judea for it is written in the prophet and they quoted Micah chapter 5 verse 2 which predicted his birth in Bethlehem. But that's all they did. They knew what the scripture said. They could quote it verbatim but they didn't go check it out. I mean think of this. The Magi had traveled 1600 miles because somebody was born called the king of the Jews.
These religious leaders whose king it was wouldn't travel five miles to Bethlehem to verify it. That's the height of apathy. In Romans 13, Paul said it is high time to awake out of sleep.
In other words, can't you hear the alarm clock? It's time to wake up. It's time to get out of the bed of complacency. It is time to make our lives count for God because the night is coming fast. Darkness is falling fast and people are moving toward the judgment of God fast. So it's time to toss out our pillow and pick up our sword and march into battle. We need on a constant basis to deal with the tendency toward apathy.
How do we do that? Well I've had to turn to Nehemiah chapter 2 and we're going to look at several verses in chapter 2 as well as in chapter 1 and I want to give you five steps to counteract the giant of apathy. First is information. We need to know the facts.
We need to know what's happening. So let's begin with verse 1. It came to pass in the month of Nisan, that is not the automobile, that is the month, the Jewish month of Nisan which is around April. In the 20th year of the king Artaxerxes, when the wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, why is your face sad since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.
So I became dreadfully afraid and said to the king, may the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my father's tombs, lies waste and its gates are burned with fire? Now you need to know what is going on historically, very briefly. Nehemiah is in Persia. He's in Iran.
Modern-day Iran, ancient Persia. He is there because the Babylonians took the Jews captive for 70 years. But after the Babylonians, the Medo-Persian empire came and took over everything, including the captives, including the Jewish people. Nehemiah is one of those who remained in that captive situation. But about a hundred years before chapter two of Nehemiah, the Jews had gone back to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.
So they've already been there for about a century. And he finds out the condition of what's going on. Now, if you go back to chapter one in verse 11, you'll notice that Nehemiah said he was the king's cup bearer. And you need to know his occupation because it says when the king had the wine brought before him, that was his job.
Nehemiah was the cup bearer. I know that doesn't sound like a great occupation. You might think it's like a glorified busboy.
I assure you it is not. A cup bearer to a Persian king was the most trusted official, perhaps the king trusted no one more than the cup bearer next to his wife. And that's perhaps maybe even more, depending on their relationship.
Another story. So Nehemiah was like the personal secretary. He had to be conversant in political matters and affairs of state. He was the one who tasted the wine and then gave it to the king to make sure it wasn't poisoned. The king, by the way, is King Artaxerxes. King Artaxerxes, this one is Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was the stepson of somebody you are familiar with, Queen Esther. Queen Esther married Ahasuerus.
Ahasuerus had a son named Artaxerxes, and that is the king that is in question here. I just want you to get the picture that you have a Jewish man named Nehemiah occupying a very important political position in a Persian court. And I just want to take the opportunity to say we need more of that. We need people who are willing to get involved, like Nehemiah, in a variety of different structures in our country. We need Christians in palaces. We need Christians in politics. We need Christians who are active in secular affairs, in secular society.
We need Christians in courthouses and in roundhouses and in white houses. We need them everywhere, because the Bible says Jesus said you are the salt of the earth. And the purpose of salt in ancient times was to keep the meat from rotting. And I would say that we need salt more than ever before in our culture. Here we are in the salt shaker. It's a great place to be. It's where we ought to be.
But at some point you've got to turn the salt shaker over and get the salt into the culture, into the society, and let it do its job. So he was there, on site, in a government position before King Artaxerxes. Now I think it goes without saying that given a position like this of importance that Nehemiah had it made, he had a great job, he was in a luxurious environment, a comfortable lifestyle, but he was a Jew. And one day as a Jew, because he was a Jew, he hears reports about what is going on in his homeland. He had never been to his homeland. He had never been to Israel.
He'd never been to Jerusalem. But he hears a report about what's going on in Jerusalem, and it shakes him to the core. It has been said that a Jew never forgets Jerusalem. The psalmist said in Psalm 137, if I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. That's embedded into the heart of a Jewish person. So evidently, he comes before King Artaxerxes.
His face is sad. He knows that his city is still in ruins because he mentions that to the king. But let's go back, if you don't mind, to chapter one to find out where he gets the information. So turn back to Nehemiah chapter one.
It says in verse one, the words of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah, it came to pass in the month of Kislev, that's around December, in the 20th year, I was in Shushan, the citadel, he's in the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came with men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity concerning Jerusalem. It's just a conversation. Hey, what's going on in Jerusalem? I heard you were there. Well, give me the skinny, give me the lowdown.
What's going on? Maybe he expected them to say, oh, everything's great, everybody's happy. But that wasn't the report. Verse three, they said to me, the survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire. Now, Nehemiah knew the history. Nehemiah knew that the city had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He knew all that. He grew up hearing about that.
He had also known that 50,000 Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. He was aware of that. But I think he must have thought that it was successful. Things were going well there. So he says, so what's the report? They say not good.
The city's still in ruins, the gates are still burned with fire, but it's not good. But the point I want to make is that he's asking the questions to get the right information. That is always the first step in conquering the giant of apathy. Find out the situation. Find out the facts. You know, some people won't ask questions because they don't want to know the answer. Because if they get the questions they have answered and they get the information, they might have now a sense of obligation.
You've got to do something about it. So don't tell me, I don't want to know. There's an old proverb that says, he who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. So he asks the questions. He gets the information. In our day and age it's important that we get information. However, I think it's safe to say though we live in the information age, it's harder to get accurate information today more than ever before. Because you're going to get not true journalism anymore. You're going to get opinion journalism.
You're going to get spin put on it. That's why today it's so easy to curate your own news feed. You just sort of follow on Twitter those news feeds or those people that you agree with or agree with you and you just get your stream of thought that you want reinforced. And news agencies pump out according to algorithms certain information. So it's difficult to get a real accurate read on a situation.
It's possible, but it's I think much harder than ever. But that's the first step, information. Get the facts.
Second step, reaction. Once you hear the facts, you need to let the facts that you hear motivate you, stir you. So back in verse two, the king said to me, why is your face sad since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart. So the king notices that there is a reaction taking place in Nehemiah, that he's feeling a certain way. Now again, I want you to go back to chapter one and look at verse four. He has just had a conversation asking about Jerusalem. They tell him the gates are burned with fire, the city's in ruins. Verse four of chapter one, so it was when I heard these words that I sat down and wept.
Let's just pause there for a minute. It would be so easy for Nehemiah in hearing about a city he has never visited, he has just learned about, when he hears that Jerusalem is burned with fire, it would be so easy for him to go, oh well, that's sad, but it's lunchtime. I mean, he has a very strong reaction. The facts of the situation motivate him, move him.
He said, I sat down and I wept and mourned for many days I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I hope you're seeing that Nehemiah let the information become his motivation. He is stirred by the facts that he hears. He knows what it means.
He knows that a city that's broken down, the walls are broken down, the gates are burned with fire, is vulnerable, it is not safe, it is open to attack, the security system is not optimal. Now let's apply that. Whenever we hear a need, and there's plenty of need to hear, you know, there's always something going on that seems so desperate in our world, our reaction to that need is vital. Our reaction to the information that we hear is what should at some point stimulate us to action.
Now it doesn't always do it, but it should. So here's an easy example. Let's say you have two roommates. They're renting a house. They're very different personalities. One is sort of a Mr. Clean, fastidious freak. Everything's in order and everything must be just so. But the roommate is like a passive slob, right?
It's like, yeah, as long as I got like a floor to lie on, I'm good. Okay, so if problems come to that house, if the roof begins to leak or there's problems in that house, which one do you think will be on it first to get it remedied? Mr. Clean Freak, not slob guy. He's not going to do it. He didn't care. But the one who cares is the one who's going to do something about it. So unless you see the problem and are affected by the problem, you're not going to fix the problem.
Me and my, here's the problem. He wants something done about it. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series Hunting Giants. Now here's Skip and Lenya as they share some resources to help you get the most out of your Bible study times. God moves powerfully in us when we fill ourselves with the truths in His Word.
He can move us from indifference to an active and enduring faith in Him. Skip, can you share some resources with our listeners that will help them go deeper in Bible study and encourage them in their faith? Can I give you resources? Yeah, this is like one of my favorite days ever to talk about it, because we got you covered when it comes to resources. There's a thing called connectwithskip.com. Did you know you can download and listen to over 3,500 full length sermons that unpack virtually every book, every verse in the Bible, verse by verse? So go to connectwithskip.com if you want those messages, as well as online resource store with books that I've done, books that you have done, Lenya, as well. We have YouVersion devotionals. If you don't know what YouVersion is, that's a great Bible app. It's the number one Bible app in the world, and we have streaming devotionals. Then we have the podcast, Connect with Skip Podcast.
You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play. We have audiobooks of our teachings that are available. We have a YouTube channel.
See, it just keeps going on and on. You have all the things. We have all the things. So the YouTube channel, it's Connect with Skip Heitzig TV broadcast, and we have so many people around the world that tune into that. It's such an honor to be on that platform. Some of you who are technically challenged there, you can just sign up on email and we'll send you a devo. There you go. So if you can't find Hoopla, Hulu, Roku, or whatever these other portals are, just send an email to connectwithskip.com, and we'll send you a devo.
We'll do. We'll send you a devo. But let me just tell you, if you are not technically challenged and you're into tech stuff, if you have a phone, and I'm guessing probably every one of you that is listening to this as some kind of a device, you can get an app on your phone. It's called the Connect with Skip Heitzig app.
It's available at the App Store for Apple and on Google Play. You can take teachings with you on the go. You can read the devo mail. It's all there. So we invite you to take advantage of these resources.
Here's the best part of it. It's free. Absolutely free.
Cue the it's free. Thanks, Skip and Lenya. The best way for you to connect with God is connecting to His Word. That's why we've made these life-changing Bible teachings available around the world. And if you want to see more people come into a relationship with the living God, you can help make that possible with your generous gift today, which helps keep this broadcast going to reach people around the world with the gospel. Visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give a gift today and help connect more people to their savior. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate, or you can call 800-922-1888.
800-922-1888. Thank you. Come back tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares what God can accomplish through you when you give yourself enthusiastically to His work and purposes. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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