Nehemiah: A Time for Restoration  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Theme: People plot many plans, but only God’s plan will prevail.



12 - Nehemiah: A Time for Restoration
A Word for 2021 & Beyond
Church on the Park | New Year’s Sunday, 3 JAN 2021
Text: “When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work” (Ne 4:15, NASB). “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Ps 33:10–11, NASB)
Theme: People plot many plans, but only God’s plan will prevail.
Intro: In Nehemiah 4:15, we see that God foils the plans of his enemies. The enemies of the Jewish people had planned to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. They plotted every type of scheme they could think up. However, God exposed these plots to his people, breaking up the enemy’s work. Through Scripture––especially Ephesians 6:10-18, the passage on God’s full armour––God exposes the enemy’s plans. Only God’s plan will prevail. As we enter 2021, know that no matter what comes our way, the Lord’s plan will prevail. Since it’s God’s plan that always prevails, let’s take care that we are in his plan. At the beginning of the year, it often concerns me that God’s people often develop their own plans. There’s a Yiddish proverb that says, “Man plans and God laughs” (Der mentsh trakht un got lakht; דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט). This proverb developed into a saying often attributed to Woody Allen: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” So should we not plan? No, that’s not the solution. Instead, we should ask: how can you plan God’s way?
His plan. His portion. His pace.

1) P - Pray (Exodus 26:30).

This may seem self-evident––even simplistic––yet it’s simple things that we usually fail to do.
Pray––but not any kind of praying. I’m talking about praying God’s way.
Prayer is a call to intimacy with God.
To follow God’s plan, you can’t be led by anything except God’s Spirit and Word.
Watch out for following:
Fortune-Telling like prophecies
We must test everything (1 Thes. 5:21-22).
Anything that takes the place of intimacy with God is an idol––it will lead you astray.
The great example for us on how to pray and discover God’s plan is found in Moses ascending God’s holy mountain (Exo. 26:30).
Exodus 26:30 NASB95
“Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown in the mountain.
Clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-6).
Remember, Jesus would often ascend a mountain to pray (Luke 6:12; Matt. 14:23; Luke 9:28).
Walking up the mountains means leaving our friends, family and the crowd behind so that we can enter into God’s presence.
This involves a death to your flesh.
We enter into God’s presence to spend time with him and learn his plan.
This doesn’t happen instantaneous; it happens over time through friendship with God.
His plan always has to do with hosting his presence.
Remember the plan God gave to Moses had to do with the tabernacle, a place where God could rest.
God’s plan revolves around him, not us. But he includes us.
Wait quietly before the Lord (Psalm 61:1-2).
Talk to God, but more importantly, let God talk to you.

2) L - Lay down your agenda for God’s agenda (Psalm 1:1).

Jesus wants to gift us the gift of the Father’s will, but we have to lay down our own will to receive it.
It’s like the illustration I showed at our Christmas Service.
The boy had to exchange his empty box for the box with the money in it.
Let go of your plan to receive God’s plan.
One of the main Hebrew words for plan is עֵצָה [ʿetsah /ay·tsaw/].
Etsah means plan, counsel, strategy, scheme, advice, direction or course of action. It’s featured in Psalm 1:1:
אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים
“Abundantly happy is the man who does not walk in the plan of the wrong people…” (Psalm 1:1, my translation).
During holiday time, people get around family and friends, and their family and friends often exert a certain pressure on you to fulfil their plans for your life.
Listen with respect, but only walk in God’s plan.
His plan––your Shepherd’s plan––is discovered by meditating on God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2).
The Hebrew word etsah is also found in Isaiah 11:2: “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel [etsah, planning, direction, strategy, counsel] and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2, NASB).
The Spirit of the Yahweh is the one who reveals God’s plan to us.
Make your life a place where the Spirit can rest.
When he rests upon you, he guides you.
The Spirit of God is like the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness.
Let the Spirit lead you rather than your desires, dreams, reasoning, emotions or feelings.
Imagine if the Israelites were led by their emotions. Well, they would have gone back to Egypt.
Exchange your Egypt for God’s Promised Land.
There’s a great cost to letting the Spirit lead you.
But know that God’s plans will always lead to restoration and unity––they will help the body of Christ rather than hurt it.
Listen to Psalm 106:13 & Psalm 106:43, both feature etsah
Psalm 106:13 NASB95
They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel,
Psalm 106:43 NASB95
Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity.
Now listen to Proverbs 8:10-14.
Proverbs 8:10–14 NASB95
“Take my instruction and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold. “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her. “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. “Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine.
This year 2021 and beyond, God wants his people to walk in his wisdom, rather than their own.

3) A - Acknowledge that your Father knows best (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Proverbs 3:5–6 NASB95
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
The Father knows the best spouse for you, the best job for you, the best church for you and the best ministry for you.
Isaiah 28:29 NASB95
This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.
Listen to the Father’s warnings in: James 4:13-17, Isaiah 30:1, Isaiah 8:10, Psalm 33:10-11.
We are in a season and time when God is frustrating (breaking up) man’s plans.
Psalm 33:10–11 NASB95
The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
This is why we need the Father’s plan because “Yahweh’s plan stands forever; the intents of his heart from generation to generation” (Ps. 33:11, my translation).
You want to be on the winning side.

4) N - Note what he says (Exodus 34:27).

Like Moses wrote down the plans of the tabernacle, note what God is saying to you.
This year, I want to encourage you like I did last year: journal, journal, journal.
Compare your notes with others and always be open to adjusting what you believe God is saying by listening to wise counsel.
Exodus 34:27 NASB95
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
Conclusion: Plan God’s way: 1) P - Pray, 2) L - Lay down your agenda for his agenda, 3) A - Acknowledge your Father knows best, 4) N - Note what he says.
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