Marriage and Family: To Fight For To Die For
Sermon Summary -  This message looks back at Nehemiah’s proclamation to the Jewish remanent who were working to repair the walls of Jerusalem. He told them they should be willing to fight for their brothers, their sons and daughters, their wives and their homes. The same should hold true for us in America. Marriage and family are worth fighting for and dying for. Our military personal put their lives on the line and some have even given their lives fighting for our freedom. However, if we win every battle fought on foreign soil and yet lose the battle for marriage and family at home, we lose. Nehemiah was broken over the condition of Jerusalem. When he heard about the terrible conditions he fell on his knees and sought Almighty God in prayer. He then went to the king to ask for support to rebuild his hometown. Nehemiah made the personal sacrifice to take leave from his job as cupbearer to the King in order to personally head up the repairs to the wall of Jerusalem. Like Nehemiah, we should be broken over the poor condition of our homeland. Like Nehemiah, we should seek the Lord in prayer. Like Nehemiah, we should be willing to ask for help. Like Nehemiah, we should be willing to make personal sacrifices in order to fight for our marriages and families.

Community Discussion Guide

1.  Do you believe the condition of marriage and family in America is as dire as Pastor Larry seemed to indicate? Why or why not!

2. How have you been personally affected by the weakened structure of marriage and family in America? Should we not become stronger in our resolve to follow God’s ways in our marriages and in our families?
Joshua 24:15 (NIV) But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

3. What are some things you can do personally to strengthen your marriage and family? If you are not married, how can you better prepare for marriage in the future or how can you be an encouragement to your friends who are married?
Col 3:12  Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Col 3:13  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Col 3:14  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Col 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

4. How could changing ones priorities from Me to We impact marriage and family in a positive way?
Phil 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Phil 2:4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Sermon Notes

Marriage and Family
To Fight For To Die For
Nehemiah 4:14

Storm victims/support/food Fire Department/LBC disaster relief. To give to the Oklahoma Disaster go to

http://www.lbc.org/DisasterRelief

This is Memorial Day weekend! I want us to take a moment to remember the brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we could have the privilege of living in this wonderful nation as a free people.
Free to worship!
Free to pursue our dreams!
Free to become the people God wants us to become!

Free to follow God's will for our lives rather than what some dictator would tell us to do.
This freedom has come at a tremendous cost and we must never, ever forget that cost! We must never take that cost for granted!

So I want us to take a moment to remember and to honor those who fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy.
Say a prayer of thanks to God for their sacrifices. Say a prayer for the families and friends who still carry the pain of the loss. Say a prayer for those who even now are in harms way, defending our freedom and fighting for our families.
Moment of Silence, then Pray!

 This morning we have two silhouettes on the platform. One is of a soldier grieving for a fallen soldier, one is of a family playing on the beach. What do these silhouettes have in common?

You have heard the saying, "He fought for God and Country!" I believe, when you get down to the heart of the matter, the majority of men and women who have fought for our country were ultimately fighting for their families. Fighting on behalf of their loved ones. Fighting for the safety and security of their parents, siblings, spouses, and children.

 They weren't just fighting to protect their property, or defend their government, but the people they loved and cared for!
This principle can be traced all the way back to the Old Testament.

 We'll discover this principle in the book of Nehemiah as we read the story of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Let me give you just a little history lesson.

The Nation of Israel, in 922 B.C. split into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Later the Northern Kingdom would be taken into exile by the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom would be taken into exile by the Babylonians.

King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city of Jerusalem around 597 B.C. and thus began the Babylonian exile. It was a devastating time for the people of Judah that would last for many years. However, in 539 B.C. Cyrus the Great led the Persian army to defeat the Babylonians and he then issued a decree that would allow the Jews to return to their homeland.

Some had prospered in their exile and chose to stay put, but some, despite the terrible conditions in Jerusalem, chose to return.
Fast forward nearly a century.
Nehemiah was a descendant of those who chose not to return to Jerusalem. He was now cupbearer to the King of Persia, Artaxerxes I.

However, Nehemiah was grieved over the condition of his homeland. After 100 years, things were still not good. Listen...  

1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,
Nehemiah 1:1 (NIV)

2Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 1:2 (NIV)

3They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. ”
Nehemiah 1:3 (NIV)

4When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 1:4 (NIV)

 Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the King of Persia. His job was to sample the king's food and wine to make sure it wasn't laced with poison! A very important position in the King's cabinet.
The King noticed that Nehemiah was sad and inquired about it. Nehemiah told him about the condition of his homeland and asked if he could go there and make things right.

 The King not only said yes but sent some of his army to insure Nehemiah's safety and gave him letters to various governors and leaders so they would give him safe passage and also supplies.
When he arrived in Jerusalem he called together a meeting of the local officials...

17Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. ”
Nehemiah 2:17 (NIV)

18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
Nehemiah 2:18 (NIV)

 Now I know you're probably wondering what in the world this has to do with Marriage and Family? Stay with me. You'll see where I'm headed in just a minute.
Here's what happened after they started the work.

 Neighboring non-Jewish authorities weren't happy to see the work begin on the city of Jerusalem. Let's read about this and it will take us to the verse which is our main text for today.
Nehemiah 4:1-14.

1When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,
Nehemiah 4:1 (NIV)

2and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble —burned as they are?”
Nehemiah 4:2 (NIV)

3Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”
Nehemiah 4:3 (NIV)

Then Nehemiah said...

4Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
Nehemiah 4:4 (NIV)

5Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
Nehemiah 4:5 (NIV)

6So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
Nehemiah 4:6 (NIV)

7But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.
Nehemiah 4:7 (NIV)

8They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
Nehemiah 4:8 (NIV)

9But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Nehemiah 4:9 (NIV)

10Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
Nehemiah 4:10 (NIV)

11Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
Nehemiah 4:11 (NIV)

12Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
Nehemiah 4:12 (NIV)

13Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.
Nehemiah 4:13 (NIV)

14After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
Nehemiah 4:14 (NIV)

That last verse should be the cry of the modern day church...

 “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

 We live in a society and a world that mocks and laughs at God's design for marriage and family. We live in a nation that is quickly abandoning the Biblical concept of marriage and family.

 It seems ironic and deeply troubling to me that we have young men and women around the world fighting for their homes and their families, but here in the homeland we've decided to give up the fight for marriage and family.

 For many, it simply seems too inconvenient, too much trouble, too difficult, and too time consuming to fight for their marriage and their family. So many just walk away instead of standing strong and fighting!

Let me share with you something that shocked me and convicted my heart.
Some of you may know I spoke at a missions conference in Florida several weeks ago. I met many missionaries from around the world. One couple had been serving in Zambia and Mozambique Africa for the last 7 years.

It was their life long dream to serve as missionaries to Africa. However, they are coming home to serve a church here in America. I asked them why they were leaving the mission field. What they told me was an eye opener for me.

They said, "As we sat in Africa hearing and reading about the demise of the family in America, we realized America was the new mission field, so God told us to come back to our homeland so we could help America get back on track."

 Folks, I believe marriage and family are worth fighting for and worth dying for!

 What's the problem? Well, there are many, but let me list a few...

 We've been taught…
 Me is more important than We!
We've been taught…
I deserve to always be happy!
We've been taught to ask the question…
What's in it for me?
We've been taught…
My personal comfort is the most important thing, after all I deserve it!

 We've been taught…
You should never give up your rights!
We've been taught…
It's always got to be fair!
We've been taught…
It's all about what you feel is right!
 

 Let me say this…
There are many circumstances in this life if you go by what you feel, as apposed to what is true, you will die.
Like flying an airplane. When you enter a cloud bank you may feel like you're going up, but you may be plummeting to the ground. If you don't look at your instruments to discover the truth, you may die and if you've got passengers, you'll take them with you.

Both Marriage and Family in America are in deep trouble and if we don't look at the instrument of God's Word to get back on course we may crash and burn. And the saddest thing is this…
We've got children on board this aircraft!!!

And yes our children are being affected by this new morality.
Just this week we've seen in the national media the story of an 18 year old girl and a 14 year old girl who were involved in a relationship. The 18 year old has been arrested for indecent behavior with a child and faces 15 years. And now there are hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions that say "Stop the hate free Kate."

Here's the deal. I don't want to see either one of these young ladies lives ruined, but do you see where this is going. If we say what they did was wrong, we are hating. How sad is it that our society is now saying anything goes and our children are buying into the lie at an alarming rate.
It's destroying their young lives.

So what are we to do?
Is there anything we can do?
It sure seems hopeless, doesn't it?

It does seem hopeless, but it's not.
Think back to Nehemiah. His homeland was destroyed. There was only a remnant left, and all the surrounding authorities were against them. The odds were incredible!  

Nehemiah took some extraordinary steps to make a difference. The steps he took are the same ones we must take if we are to fight for our marriages and families.

The battles we face here in the home land will not be won with physical force.
Let's see what Nehemiah did.

 Nehemiah Wept!

4When I heard these things, I sat down and wept...
Nehemiah 1:4a (NIV)

 If we're not heart broken to the core over the demise of marriage and family, we will certainly not be willing to pay the cost it will take to fight for them.
A broken heart motivates the person who is broken, but it also motivates God Almighty!


16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
Psalm 51:16 (NIV)

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

18In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Psalm 51:18 (NIV)

 And these words in Joel...

12“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Joel 2:12 (NIV)

13Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Joel 2:13 (NIV)

It's not that God wants us to always be sad and broken hearted, but if we aren't broken over the things that break the heart of God, we simply will never desire the things God desires.  When it comes to marriage and family, if we desire something different from God, our desires will lead us down a terrible and tragic path!

 Nehemiah Fasted and Prayed!

4When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 1:4 (NIV)

The spiritual battle for your family will be fought and won only on your knees!!
Prayer is the key!
Remember the old bumper sticker,
The family that prays together stays together!
Our nation is in desperate need of families who will fall on their knees in prayer.



Ever wonder how God responds to prayer?

14if my people, who are called by my name, will 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.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:15 (NIV)

Wanna get God's attention?

Humble yourself!
Talk to Him!
Seek His face!
Truly repent!

When it comes to marriage and family, you must ask yourself this question…
"Am I praying for God's will or mine?"

Your willingness to answer this question honestly is so important!!

Get rid of the Me and embrace the We!!

It's got to be about God first, spouse second and children third and me last.

Put God and others ahead of yourself and you will come out ahead every time!

God's way will never make sense from a human perspective, but it always works.

  "Save your life you'll lose it, lose your life you'll gain it!"

"It's more blessed to give than to receive!"

 "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

 Nehemiah asked for help!

1In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before;
Nehemiah 2:1 (NIV)

2so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid,
Nehemiah 2:2 (NIV)

3but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? ”
Nehemiah 2:3 (NIV)

4The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven,
Nehemiah 2:4 (NIV)

5and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Nehemiah 2:5 (NIV)

Here's the bottom line. If you really want to fight for your marriage and family, get rid of the pride and be willing to ask for help! Sometimes we guys can be so stubborn and think we can fix everything on our own and we don't need any help.
That attitude may destroy your marriage and your family!

There are others who have been where you are and they may have some experience and advice you could benefit from. Don't be afraid to ask for help.  

 You won't find any perfect mentors who never made mistakes, but you will find honest mentors who will share with you both their success and their mistakes so you can learn from both! We have men in our men's ministry who would be glad to share their experience with you guys and we have women in our women's ministry who would be glad share their experience with you ladies.


 Nehemiah was willing to make the sacrifices necesary to lead the rebuild!

In times of war, soldiers are asked to make sacrifices. They have to leave the comforts of home and many times leave the homeland to fight on foreign soil.

Here's my question for us today. Are we willing to do whatever it takes to fight for our family?

What if it means giving up something?
Maybe turning down a job promotion or a job transfer, if it's going to take you away from your family. Sometimes it's good for the family if you climb the ladder of success, but all too many times the family is sacrificed on the alter of success.  

There's nothing wrong with hobbies, but I know some people who put their hobby ahead of the needs of the family, and it becomes a source of contention.
They spend money they don't have and it's a problem.  

Of course, I knew one situation years ago in another state, where a lady was upset with her husbands hobby for all the wrong reasons. He liked to build little model cars and trucks. When he had a little time he would go to the basement and put a model together. She thought that was childish, to which I replied...

Wait a minute! Your husband spends his extra time, at home, in the basement building model cars, if you only knew what some women deal with you would celebrate your husbands hobby.

Here's the issue. Both men and women, fathers and mothers, need to set some priorities. God should take center stage and right beside Him should be the members of your family!
No matter what the culture of the day has to say, when it comes to marriage and family, you must make your resolve to follow the ways of God.

Joshua said it well. Listen...

14“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:14 (NIV)

15But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

In other words, are you going to go with popular culture or are you going to go with God?
When it comes to family, if you choose popular culture, family will take the back seat to your own wants and desires. Your spouse, your children, your marriage and your family will be sacrificed on an alter before the unholy trinity of me, myself and I.

Culture says it's all about me, God's Word says it's all about we.
In the battle for marriage and family we must…
 

Be sorrowful over the state of the family!
Seek God's Face on behalf of the family!
Seek advice and support from other families!
Be willing to sacrifice for the family!

 Remember this...

 Unless God has called you to be single, other than your relationship with God Almighty, there's no other thing on planet earth that can bring more joy to your life than a healthy marriage and family!
And yet, when it comes to marriage and family, it often takes a back seat to all the other things in our busy lives.  

 If we don't change this, and begin to fight for our marriages and our families, America will follow the path of all other cultures in history who have abandoned the family. Without strong marriages and families we won't survive.
The greatest threat to our national security is right here at home.

 If we win every war on foreign soil but lose the one at home, we lose in the end!
Marriage and family, a concept we should be willing
to fight for, and to die for!