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R338 To Be or Not To Be

Encouraging Word / Don Wilton
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2021 8:00 am

R338 To Be or Not To Be

Encouraging Word / Don Wilton

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May 19, 2021 8:00 am

The Daily Encouraging Word with Dr. Don Wilton

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God has an encouraging word for you and me today through the Bible-based preaching of Dr. Don Wilton and the message, To Be or Not To Be.

We're so excited to open God's Word together both in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah today as Dr. Don shares this message, To Be or Not To Be. While we're studying the Word of God, know that we're available connecting keyboard to keyboard on our website at www.tewonline.org and the phone number, 866-899-WORD. Again, the number is 866-899-9673 and the website www.tewonline.org. Both places are places you can find out about wonderful resources, including the one everyone seems to be asking about. We're still making available the new book from Dr. Wilton called Saturdays With Billy about his time with Dr. Billy Graham.

That's online at www.tewonline.org. And now, Dr. Don Wilton. To Be or Not To Be. That is our subject this morning from God's Word from the book of Nehemiah. And I want to invite you to turn in your Bibles, everyone should have a copy of God's Word in your hand.

This Word is so precious. We are a Bible believing church. We are a Bible preaching church. And we try to be a Bible practicing people.

There is no other way. And he said to me that day, he said, Reverend, many of those young people will never get out of prison. Mirror image, we saw 8, 9, 10 year olds in prison this week. Their ages went from 8 to 18 in the facilities that we were in. We saw little boys and little girls. The wardens and the officials told us that many of them would come back time without number.

They would be released. One little boy came up to me in Miami and Dade County prison. And he said to me as they all strolled in, he said to me, this is the sixth time I've been in here. And he said it with such pride and arrogance.

It was unbelievable. And I quoted him as I preached. And I looked at him when I said it and I said, you've got a choice to make. I said, if your choice is to remain here for the rest of your life, then I want you to know that we not only pray for you and feel so sad for you, but we want you to know that you don't have to be here.

The choice is yours. Nehemiah was faced with an unprecedented opportunity. Things were in bad shape. People were divided. The walls had been broken down and God basically said to his servant, Nehemiah, I want you to go to a people. And I want you to say to them, in essence, to be or not to be, that is the question.

Now, a classical secular humanist by the name of William Shakespeare coined that phrase in one of his Shakespearean tragedies. But I believe that that is the question that God asked of the people in Nehemiah's time. I want to read just two verses for you today. First of all, Nehemiah chapter nine and verse one.

Wonderfully hear the pages of God's word being turned. On the 24th day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Now, I want you to turn back to Ezra, the preceding book before Nehemiah, Ezra chapter 10 and verse 1. You see, Ezra, God's servant, played a vital role in the restoration of Jerusalem.

It wasn't just Nehemiah. There was a circle of friends that God accumulated and gathered together with the express purpose of doing what God wanted them to do. Ezra chapter 10 and verse 1. While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God.

I want to just pause there. Never let it be said that God's leaders should never throw themselves down before God's house. Never let it be said that God's leaders should not get passionate about the burden of the word of the Lord. One of the greatest tragedies we have in America today is that there are not enough clergymen. There are not enough ministers. There are not enough deacons and elders and presbyters. There are not enough lay leaders who are willing to throw themselves down before the people in anguish because of the burden that God has placed upon their hearts. God has not called us to be about the business of articulate snoring. If all you do is come to church to get stroked, then you're coming for the wrong reason. If all we do is go to church in order to get our ears tickled, we're coming for the wrong reason.

If all we do is say we claim to know God in order to have our diapers changed, we are presenting ourselves to God for the wrong reason. While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites, men, women and children gathered around him. Now listen what happened. They too wept bitterly.

May the Lord write His word upon our hearts. What was wrong? Three things were wrong.

If we've come to understand somewhat of the essence of this great saga called Nehemiah. Number one, the walls were broken down. They needed to be rebuilt. Number two, collective worship of God was in disarray. The house of God and the people of God were not doing what God had instructed them to do when they wandered through the wilderness. That is why we're going to come to understand the significance of the feast of the tabernacles and the booths that had to be built to honor and to remember. They had to reinvent and rediscover the purpose of God for their lives.

And thirdly, the people were divided. One of Satan's oldest ploys and tactics, all the way from Genesis right through the book of Revelation. If Satan is ever going to pull God's people apart, he's going to cause disunity to come into the body. If Satan is ever going to pull this nation apart, he's going to cause disunity to come upon this nation.

It is one of his oldest and most sacred and trusted weapons as far as Satan is concerned. And so into this picture comes God's prophet, Ezra. Turn back to Ezra chapter seven.

Let's just have a look at Ezra very quickly. Ezra chapter seven, verse six. Bible tells us something about this man. This Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel had given. The king had granted him everything he asked for the hand of the Lord. His God was upon him. Some of the Israelites, including the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem. In the fifth month, he began his journey from Babylon.

And he arrived there on the first day of the fifth month for the gracious hand of his God was upon him. Verse 10, for Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Lord of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws throughout Israel. What was this about Ezra? Three things about Ezra that make him very special when it comes to this question.

Are you going to be or are you not going to be? He said to the people of Israel, three things about him. First of all, he was a diligent student. The Bible tells us that in chapter 7 and verse 10. Paul talked about that to Timothy in 2 Timothy and chapter 2 and verse 15. He said to Timothy, be diligent, Timothy.

To present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handing accurately the word of faith. He was a diligent student, but Ezra was also a faithful practitioner. Bible tells us that his practice matched his preach.

And I'm convinced that we have come back and these young people have come back ready to put our preach into practice. He was not only a diligent student, but he was a faithful practitioner. And thirdly, he was an anointed servant because nothing that happened could have happened outside of the anointing of God.

I'll guarantee you, my friends, it had nothing to do with us. We were simply God's instruments, backed by a faithful church who prayed for us and who supported us and who gave us their blessing. I want you to know that there is not a month of Sundays that this preacher or these young people could have seen an average of 90% of those inmates come to know Jesus Christ. He could never have seen an outpouring of that magnitude under such angry, violent circumstances outside of the anointing of God upon his servants. Such was the experience of his servant Ezra. He was an anointed servant of God and he had a problem.

He had to get this message across to between 30 to 50,000 people. Go to Nehemiah chapter 7 and you can find out exactly how many people were there. Nehemiah chapter 7 and verse 66.

Listen to what the Bible says. The Bible says the whole company numbered 42,360. Beside, you need to add to this 7,337 men servants and maid servants. They also had 245 men and women in the choir. I like that, don't you?

Isn't it amazing? You know, if you really understand the rest of Nehemiah, the choir plays a very prominent role. How did he get this message across to between 30 to 50,000 people? Well, number one, he used the pulpit.

That's what he did. Look at chapter 8 in Nehemiah and verse 4. He used the pulpit.

Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. I wonder if any of you have ever wondered why this pulpit is here. I pray beloved friends that nothing ever in this beloved church would ever detract or distract from the centrality of this pulpit. And I pray my beloved friends that never would this body of people ever allow anything in this pulpit other than the unapologetic preaching and teaching of the Word of God, focusing on the cross of Christ, the death and the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid. It's biblical.

Forgive the interruption. We'll be back with the rest of today's message from Dr. Don Wilton in just a moment, but he insists I interrupt to remind you that when he says focusing on the cross of Christ is biblical, we pray that we would be providing resources not just this broadcast but beyond the broadcast that would help you focus on the cross of Christ, focus on God's encouraging word and reap the benefits of living a Christ-centered life. One of those resources is absolutely free. You can receive in a couple of different ways. You can go to our website right now at www.tewonline.org and sign up for the daily encouraging word email. It's easy to do right there on the website www.tewonline.org or if you'd rather have a physical copy.

My bride enjoys having that inside her Bible and she can open it everywhere from carpool line to early in the morning or late at night and study God's word. It's absolutely free. We send it out quarterly, but you can call for your copy at 866-899-WORD.

It's absolutely free, 866-899-9673 or you can order it physically and or electronically via email on our website www.tewonline.org. And coming up at the end of the program, I pray you'll stick around for a very special opportunity to receive a video about Ruth Bell Graham while celebrating her life and legacy. You know, so many people have been asking about and receiving and ordering the new book Dr. Wilton produced just a few weeks ago about his time with Dr. Billy Graham called Saturdays with Billy.

They're still available on our website at www.tewonline.org but look into the Ruth Bell Graham video as well. All resources to help us grow in our faith. Now back to today's great teaching with Dr. Don Wilton here on the Encouraging Word. Bible says Ezra communicated truth from the pulpit. Second, he communicated truth through small groups.

Now chapters 7 and 8 tell us about these small groups. It's a biblical principle. Why do we have Life Institute in our church?

Because it's biblical. Why do we have Sunday school? I hope every one of you is enrolled and engaged in Sunday school. Sunday school is a church within a church. It's the place where you develop small relationships, where you develop personal relationships, where you can be ministered. It's impossible folks for us to minister to over 5,000 members in our congregation.

It's impossible. That's why God has given small groups to God's church. It is as old as the Old Testament for us to withdraw into small groups and to be fed and to be nourished and to be uplifted. But there was a third way that he communicated the truth and that was through reading and rereading the law of God.

Look at chapter 8 and verse 18. Day after day, note the persistence. From the first day to the last, Ezra read from the book of the law of God.

Day after day. How did he communicate this? He did it by preaching in the pulpit. He did it by withdrawing into small groups.

To be or not to be. As Nehemiah and Ezra began to obey God and as God began to take root through his servants among these people, what did this do for these people? Three things that it did for these people and I want to share them with you. Number one, it helped them to understand an unbelievably deplorable situation.

That's what it did. When God's servants moved in, these people began to understand the seriousness of the situation in which they found themselves. You go back with me if you can remember that far to Nehemiah chapter 1 and verse 3. Remember what Nehemiah 1 and verse 3 told us? They said to me, those who survive the exile are back in the province and are in great trouble and in disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire. It was a deplorable situation. Beloved friends, never let it be said that in America we are not facing a deplorable situation of unbelievable proportion and we are never going to understand it until we are willing to subject ourselves to the law of God.

Until we are willing to subject ourselves to the Spirit of God. What happened here? As God's people and God's Spirit began to move in, in Jerusalem, these people increasingly began to understand the deplorable situation in which they found themselves. They no longer were prepared to be blinded by their comfort zones if they had them. They were no longer prepared to sit back in their La-Z-Boy chairs and do nothing about it. They were no longer prepared to have no interest in their neighbors' welfare. They were no longer prepared to weep and to mourn because of the circumstances of people who found themselves in bondage.

It helped them to understand a deplorable situation, but second, it caused them to be ashamed and embarrassed. Go back with me to Ezra chapter 9. Ezra chapter 9, I want you to look at that. Chapter 9 and verse 3.

Look at what happened to Ezra. Now the Hebrew word for appalled means absolutely broken-hearted to an nth degree because of the condition of the people. Then everyone began to tremble at the words of God because of the unfaithfulness of the exiles. They were appalled by this. In Ezra chapter 9, he begins to pray upon his knees. Look at verse 5.

Time without number. We were overwhelmed this week by the deplorable situation in which we find ourselves. But then finally, what did it do for them? It allowed them to experience a miracle breakthrough.

Ezra chapter 10 and verse 1, I read it at the beginning. It allowed them to experience a miracle breakthrough. To be or not to be. You see, my friends, when the power of God comes down on people and when people begin to understand their sinfulness and when they are ashamed in the presence of a holy God, they become eligible for a miracle breakthrough. God moves in. God takes control and nobody's become somebody's. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ today? Have you turned your life over to Him?

Are you eligible today for a miracle in your life? I want you to bow your heads all across this congregation. Upstairs and downstairs, every head is bowed and every eye closed.

Every head is bowed and every eye closed. I told those prisoners so many times, you don't have to pray. This is America.

You don't have to pray. This is America. But I'm going to ask you to respect those around about you. That's why two or three or four weeks ago, I asked that nobody get up and leave during invitations in this church because you need to respect other people, unless you've got a good reason to do it. The time has come in America, my friends, that we need to understand the value of every single person. We need to understand that every person is valuable and precious in God's sight.

We need to understand that we are living on the edge, that it is time to act. And there are people here today who would say, Pastor, I need this Jesus of whom you speak. I need to know him as my savior and my Lord, we want to ask you to come. In the early service, some came this morning. We want to ask you to come in this service. There are some here who would say, Pastor, God has brought me to this church and I'm coming today with my wife, my family. I'm coming as a single adult, as a college student, as a young person. I'm coming today to unite with this church. This is where God has placed me.

This is where I want to put my roots down. I want my children to be a part of something like mirror image. I want my children to be able to go to vacation Bible school and learn about the word of God. I want my children to sit and study God's word, to hear the preaching of the word of God, to listen to the singing and praise and worship.

I want that because I know that life outside of him is nothing. Would you look at me for just a moment all across the congregation? I don't know when last I've told you this, but I do love you today. We love you so much.

We thought of you so much this week, so much, and we thank God for you. But friends, it's time to act. You see, here's the question, to be or not to be.

You'd say to me today, Pastor, it's already happened. I'm divorced. I've done this.

I've done that. To be or not to be. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life. Be the one.

Are you willing to be the one? Are you willing to say Lord God from today? I'm putting Jesus Christ in his rightful place. I want to live for him. I want to strive for him. I want to be surrounded by God's people. Beloved friend, God will bless you for that.

God will bless you. You want to give your life to him? Please come today. Oh, beloved friends, there's not a born again believer here today who's not going to rejoice because today you've set the record straight and you'd say, well, Pastor, what do I need to do? You might say, I'd like to know more about the Lord Jesus. We'd love to talk with you and pray with you. You might say, I'd like to give my life to the Lord Jesus. We'd like to help you to give your life to Jesus. Right now, we can do it in this place. You say, Pastor, but I'm not a prisoner.

Yes, you are. If you don't know Jesus, you have the shackle of sin around your arms, around your body, around your heart. The Bible says that Jesus Christ will set you free. He'll take those shackles away. He'll liberate you.

Write a new song upon your heart. He'll set you free, but you've got to respond to him. We love you today. What a glorious day here on The Encouraging Word and I believe that many of you, as Dr. Don was sharing the opportunity to change our lives by saying yes to Jesus, that you have done so.

You've said yes perhaps for the first time to say Jesus is your Lord or perhaps you've rededicated your life and returned to the faith. Either way, Dr. Don has specific information. He wants to put in your hands absolutely free if you'll call and let us know about your decision. Our phone number is 866-899-WORD.

That's 866-899-9673. We'd love to not only put these free resources in your hands but to pray with you and celebrate what God is doing in this fresh new beginning of walking with Christ. Earlier today I mentioned that we have some wonderful resources including the new book from Dr. Wilton about his time with Billy Graham called Saturdays with Billy. It's on our website, TEWonline.org, but there's also another wonderful set of resources that includes a video about Ruth Bell Graham, her life and legacy.

Here's Liz with all the details. When Jesus comes, every eye will see him, even those who crucified Jesus and those who mocked the name of Jesus. Do not be shocked or surprised at what's going on in America today.

We had better wake up, America. Jesus is coming again. This month, for your gift of support of the encouraging word, you will receive Dr. Wilton's powerful and timely message, Trusting God, along with the bonus DVD movie on celebrating Ruth Bell Graham, a life marked by the faithfulness of God. Call us at 866-899-WORD to request Trusting God and the bonus DVD movie today for a gift of $20 or more. Thank you for standing with us. Again, we're excited to share with you those offers, the opportunities to connect and gain resources, but please know, more than anything else, Dr. Wilton wants you to know we're here to encourage you. We believe that's our mandate from God's encouraging word, the Bible itself, and one of those ways we do so is to pray together. Our phone number again is 866-899-WORD.

That's 866-899-9673. We're also connecting online as well at tewonline.org. Either way, we would love to pray with you and for you and allow you to know that our calling to encourage you is something we take very seriously. As a matter of fact, before we get away, closing thoughts from our pastor and chief encourager, Dr. Don Wilton. You know, before we go today, what a day of worship we've had. You know, you and I have in the middle of our hearts our beloved nation, don't we, how much I love America.

I'm so proud to be an American. You know, this broadcast is seen by so many of our armed forces across the world, and we hear from many, many of them, and we love them, we admire them, we respect them. They are our real heroes, and I want you to join with me as we are praying for them that God would protect them and their families and loved ones.

Let's do that right now, shall we, just before we go? Why don't you join with me? Lord Jesus, I'm joining with thousands of people right now and praying for our members, our brave, brave members of our community and our world who are in uniform.

Many are overseas in strange and difficult places, families left behind. Lord Jesus, bless them, keep your hand upon them in every way, in Jesus' name, amen. Our time's gone for today, but I hope you'll join us tomorrow. Dr. Wilton is taking us to 2 Chronicles 14, as well as a little bit of Nehemiah as well, talking about, Is Our Name on the Wall? It's an exciting message. I hope you'll join us at this same time tomorrow, or perhaps invite a friend, encourage someone else to our website at www.tewonline.org. Again, you'll find so many resources there, but the one we are most excited about is just the opportunity for us to pray with you and for you. We can do that keyboard to keyboard at www.tewonline.org, or don't forget the number, 866-899-9673. piano plays in bright rhythm The Encouraging Word
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