Monday Morning Coffee with Mark

How to Stay out of the Prodigal's Pig Pen

December 11, 2023 Mark Roberts Season 3 Episode 56
Monday Morning Coffee with Mark
How to Stay out of the Prodigal's Pig Pen
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Welcome to the Westside church’s special Monday Morning Coffee podcast with Mark Roberts. Mark is a disciple, a husband, father and grand dad, as well as a certified coffee geek, fan of CS Lewis’ writings and he loves his big red Jeep. He’s also the preacher for Westside church.

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the Westside churches special Monday Morning Coffee podcast on this podcast, our preacher Mark Roberts will help you get your week started right. With look back at yesterday's sermon so that we can think through it further and better work the applications into our daily lives . Mark will then look forward into this week's Bible reading so that we can know what to expect and watch for. And, he may have some extra bonus thoughts from time to time. So grab a cup of coffee as we start the week together on Monday Morning Coffee with Mark.

Speaker 2:

Good morning. Good morning. Welcome to the Monday Morning Coffee podcast for Monday December the 11th. I'm Mark. I'm holding a great cup of coffee and I'm really excited to be with you this morning because, because I'm home was gone all last week preaching a meeting in Saratoga, Arkansas. Love being with those brethren. That's a great church. Love being with those folks. Got to then run up to Conway, see my daughter and son-in-Law and my grandbaby, Jane . Tremendous and wonderful, but really good to be home. Really good to be home and be with you yesterday. Get a chance to preach at West Side . Talk a little bit yesterday about things that help us and we serve the Lord, particularly focusing on young people, and I want to spend a little bit of time talking to the parents of those young people as we get this podcast underway. Let's get started. Yesterday's sermon was about feeding pigs and how to stay out of the pig feeding business. If you're a young person, I want to say a word or two now, to the parents of the young people who listen so intently yesterday, I suspect most parents who are listening to this we're also listening intently because we don't want our kids to do what the prodigal did. And I hope you took the sermon yesterday as kind of a roadmap of what you need to be teaching and warning about. But I want to emphasize the idea of self-centeredness sometimes and the the prodigal is crazy self-centered, but sometimes that is a learned behavior and the one that teaches it to the child is the parent. We don't teach them to serve, we don't teach them. They're not the most significant human beings on planet earth. Instead, we act like the entire universe revolves around them. And then we are surprised when they make an A plus in selfishness because they have taken that lesson thoroughly to heart. The holidays, of course, are a time fraught with the opportunity to put kids on a giant pedestal, to go into colossal debt, to pay for more and more toys and gadgets and electronic things, to take them everywhere and to do everything because we all know Christmas is for kids and Christmas is for kids, but it's also a time for kids to learn to give of themselves and to serve and to think of others, not just self. Let's make sure those lessons are learned so that we are not giving them a headstart down the road to the pigpen and the far country. That's today's extra thought from the sermon. And now we're gonna think about someone who just served constantly open your Bible to the book of Nehemiah. It is Monday and in our reading today we turn to the book of Nehemiah. We're reading Nehemiah chapter one for Monday as we rejoin the story of the return from Babylonian captivity. What happens with the people back home in Judea? We've seen the preaching of Zechariah and Haggai and we have seen how they rebuild the temple. What happens next? What happens next is we learned that they have not rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. That's the subject of the book of Nehemiah. He's an incredible example of leadership and prayer and especially the power of leading from the front. He overcomes obstacles that everyone says you can't. He does what everyone says can never be done. And in the process he writes his name on the sacred page of history In Indelible Inc . He is one of the most remarkable leaders the people of God ever know and yet he's a thousand miles away. When we began our story in Nehemiah one , it happened in the month. Nehemiah one , one in the month of Chisolm in the 20th year I was in Insa the Citadel. This is probably the 20th year of our dexi reign . That would mean it's December of 4 45 and Nehemiah gets words that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down. It's important here to remember that Jerusalem is built on top of a series of hills, and so the walls being broken down as a devastating problem. This is not like building a wall around your house that's sitting on flat ground. It has a nice flat yard out in front of it and a flat backyard in the back. We just put some bricks up and go, no, the walls around Jerusalem require terraces and all kinds of special engineering to build a wall around a city that's perched on top of a hill. All of that has been torn down. The walls are all down in the bottom in the valley. We know about those valleys, the Kidron Valley for example. And so Nehemiah's response to that verse four is to pray that and that alone ought to get our attention. Nehemiah's response to this is to pray and his prayer is just excellent. Long ago I read an outline of this prayer that involves praise verse five, confession, confession verses six and seven, and then claiming of the promises in verses eight to 11. That's an excellent, excellent outline of what's going on here and it is a good outline that you and I can use as well. Please notice that Nehemiah stands in continuity with and solidarity with the people I and my father's house of sin. We have acted correctly verses six and seven, and then there is the appeal to God. If we will turn back to you verse nine, that's right out of Deuteronomy 30 beginning in verse one. We know that you have the power and strong hand. Verse 10, that's Exodus language. Once again, the return from exile is portrayed as being a second exodus. Finally, Nehemiah says, I am the cup bearer to the king, and that would mean in all likelihood that he is handsome. You'll remember that Daniel was selected for being handsome. Kings in this day and age don't like homely folks standing around them. I guess Nehemiah is probably a handsome person and we have records outside of the Bible that indicate the cut bearer had many responsibilities including being the keeper of the signet ring and being in charge , being in charge of administering various kingdom affairs. So this would be someone who is well-trained in the etiquette of court. He knows how to listen and he's close to the king. If you're the king, you certainly don't want to make angry your cupbearer that can result in, yep , that can result in your cup being poisonous. So Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king. He's concerned about what's going on back home, what will happen next. Hard to stop reading in Nehemiah one today, isn't it? I'll see you tomorrow for Nehemiah chapter two. It is Tuesday and today Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem. Well he gets there in verse nine. Let's get him there first by verses one to eight where Nehemiah actually makes the mistake of being sad around the king. And of course the king notices this. It's been four months since chapter one. Please note here that Nehemiah prays and in God's time, which in this case is four months later, the king may have been somewhere else at another palace or away on business, but four months later, Nehemiah gets this great opportunity to say something and to do something about the terrible situation in Jerusalem. And it is clear that Nehemiah views prayer as his primary weapon. Nehemiah is always praying in this book, underlining your Bible where Nehemiah is praying in red and you will have a lot of red in your Bible. Just watch for how much praying Nehemiah does. That's a good emphasis for us to have in our daily Bible reading. And verse seven shows that Nehemiah is not just praying and thinking God's gonna fix everything and roll out the red carpet and it'll all just be amazing and wonderful. Maybe God will just do a miracle and up some walls. No, Nehemiah's been doing some planning. He knows what he needs and so he asked for forest, the keeper of the forest to give him timber . Verse eight, he is ready to go and Nehemiah is sent so that he can accomplish this. A Persian king would not like one of his major cities to be in disrepair. So Nehemiah arrives verse nine and sand ballot shows up right away, verse 10, and he's a problem. There's actually extra biblical records of someone named sand ballot . So this fellow's been authenticated outside of the Bible and I do like that Nehemiah tours the city at night. I think he does that because he wants to know what's going on there. He's telling nobody what God has brought him here to do. He wants to take a look for himself first. What a great leadership lesson. It's easy to charge into a situation , start telling everybody what to do, how to do, where to go. We don't ourselves yet. Know what's going on. Go and see for yourself pretty hard to identify some of these gates because so much of this city had been destroyed and of course has been rebuilt several times since Nehemiah's Day. But I love verse 17. We are in trouble. Let us build the wall that we may no longer suffer derision, identify with folks. Nehemiah has been there three days and he says, I'm part of you and we're gonna do this and we can do this because God is with us. Verse 18, they strengthen their hands for the good work. Nehemiah is always praying and he's always talking about what God has done and what God is going to do. And of course trouble shows up verses 19 and 20 have to wonder if maybe some turncoat Jews who live there in Jerusalem are ratting out the work that's going on and telling sand Ballad and Tobiah that Nehemiah has arrived and he's going to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Well, can he get it done? Let's see about that in Nehemiah chapter eight. Gonna jump forward a little bit here. Nehemiah eight for Wednesday. Welcome to Wednesday In one of my favorite chapters of the Bible today we read Nehemiah the eighth chapter. And if you're concerned about the jump here, we can't get it all read. So we had to make some hard choices. If you're wondering if the walls got built, just turn and read Nehemiah six in verse 15. They do build the walls and they build them in a really big hurry, 52 days and the walls are reconstructed. The purpose of all of that is to make Jerusalem secure so they can serve God. And that brings us to Nehemiah eight, where Ezra reads the law of God and there's national revival. There's a lot of discussion here about trying to mesh this with Ezra and chop up Ezra into different pieces and where Nehemiah eight would fit. I think it flows very naturally right here. They built the wall, now they can serve God. I think that's what Nehemiah always planned and they do read the law. That's probably the first five books of the Old Testament, the books of Moses or the Pentateuch. And this may actually be at the time of the new year depending on how some of these dates work out. Nehemiah 7 73 is actually part of this. When the seventh month had come, the people visual were in their towns. So that doesn't sound like the first month. But then as we move along a little further, there may be a gap there. It's hard to know exactly when this was, but we do know that the people stood about five hours verse three as they listened to the word of God and that standing signifies reverence. This is why we stand for the reading of the word of God in our Sunday assemblies. We want to reverence God's word. We want to show respect for it. And this is a very intense time. These people have strong feelings. They want to be God's people. And Nehemiah eight , eight is such a critical passage. They read from the book from the law of God clearly, and they gave the sense so that people understood the reading. It's never enough to read the Bible. We have to understand the Bible. And so there is an effort made to make sure that people are understanding the Bible. Verse 13 details, that it would take the right kind of people and the right kind of attitude, but it would also take some time to understand this. For example, Jews who spoke Aramaic would need help learning the Hebrew and being able to understand the Hebrew and what the law is requiring. And in some ways verse nine tells us that all of this, I'm just praising it left and right, had the wrong effect . People end up weeping sometimes I've preached and I wanted it to be super encouraging and people were downcast. That's usually the fault of the preacher. And I think maybe here it's not the fault of the preachers and the teachers in Nehemiah chapter eight. It's just the fault of the people being so far from God from for so long. But Nehemiah says, this is a day to rejoice. We're returning to the Lord and we're doing what's right. And they have an amazing feast of booze celebration. There's some language in verse 17 and 18 talking about, oh , just like this is just the greatest thing that's ever happened. And we've seen some of that before in two Kings 23, 2 Chronicles 30 , when various kings would restore the Passover, it doesn't mean they'd never done it before. It's just hyper hyperbolic language, super figurative language to say this was an incredible feast with a new spirit in a new kind of way. And that takes us into Nehemiah chapter nine, where there will be a time to weep. The people will confess their sins in Nehemiah nine. See you on Thursday day. It is Thursday and today we begin reading in Nehemiah the ninth chapter. I'll begin by saying Happy birthday to my mom. Mom, I'm glad you're having a birthday and I hope it's a great day for you today. Nehemiah nine is a tremendous chapter. It is a great chapter and we're gonna break it into two pieces. We'll read the first 16 verses today and then the rest of the chapter tomorrow on Friday. This comes as the people confess their sins and many efforts have been made to try to merge this with Ezra, the 10th chapter for example, but I see no reason to do so. There's no textual evidence to do so. If we had a manuscript that did that, maybe we could begin to try to weigh its value and figure some things out. But there was a feast of joy followed by a time of fasting and confessing sin. Isn't that how it often is? We rejoice in the goodness of God and that helps us see our own failings in many ways. I don't see any reason not to take the text at face value. What we get here reminds us of the Psalms like Psalm 78 and Psalm 1 0 5 and 1 0 6 Psalms of national history and talking about how good God has been. And it clearly is designed to say that the people of Nehemiah's day stand with their forefathers. They understand their responsibility as the people of God. And the contrast here is between the goodness and faithfulness of God as opposed to Israel's rebellion and sinfulness that really gets started beginning in verse six. As the prayer begins, please track verse seven. The word give it is a major theme. It's used 14 times and verse eight contains the major idea you have kept your promise for you are righteous. The rest of our reading today just tracks how God has given every provision for all of life, done everything necessary for these people to do well. The Exodus, of course, is cited as the paramount example of God's love for his people. The Sabbath is cited there. Verse 14 is a special command and the main theme is God's faithfulness has been amazing. God is amazing. God has been so great, which coming through about verse 15 makes us think, well, of course God's people must have responded to such a great God in total devotion and loyalty. See you tomorrow as the prayer takes up the theme of how God's people have failed to respond to God in love and loyalty and obedience. I'll see you on Friday. It is Friday and today we complete Nehemiah the ninth chapter. Our reading begins in verse 17, Nehemiah nine 17 through 38. This part of the chapter is hard to read. It is the story of the Israelites. It is painted against the canvas of the covenant from Deuteronomy 28 through 32. Once again, that's really the, that's just the most decisive part of the Old Testament in some ways because it tracks out for us, sets out for us everything that is going to happen from then on. And this prayer of confession just talks about how God has been so good. There's still that giving. You gave your spirit verse 20, you gave them water, you gave them kingdoms. Verse 22, you multiplied your children. Verse 23 is the stars of the heavens. There's the Abrahamic promise. God is still being good, but what happened? Verse 26, we weren't good. We were not loving and loyal and kind and returning your devotion to us with devotion to you. Instead, we rebelled and killed the prophets. That's often one of the major crimes that is cited when God's people are called to conviction for their sin. When the Israelite people are reminded of their faithlessness, killing the prophets often figures in there. You might notice that all of this came out of the idea of being stiff neck . Verse 16, yesterday's reading that, does that make you think of Stephen ? Yeah, that's how Stephen winds up with the Sanhedrin Council in Acts chapter seven. And I think they would probably get that reference that he was drawing out of these ideas from the Old Testament and identifying them as being part, part of the people who killed the prophets. Verse 26. And so you warned them verse 29, but they turned a stubborn shoulder. The turn the word turned there is from the word family gave. So God gave and gave and gave some more. What did the people give God? They gave him the cold shoulder, gave him a stubborn shoulder. How about that? Yet you have been righteous. Verse 33 and all of it's come upon you. You have dealt faithfully, we have acted with for all that's come upon us. I'm sorry misread that for you have dealt faithfully and we've acted wickedly. That's the major idea. God is good. We are not. There is the taking of responsibility and then there's the idea that we are slaves. Verse 36. Maybe in some ways still thinking of a second exodus, especially as they're under the boot of Persian power. Here we would. We would like to be the people of God and we would like to be free like we were under David maybe is the idea there. And so they make a covenant verse 38 in writing. Sometimes it makes a difference to write down what you promise and the people make a firm covenant in writing and seal it and put their names on it. What a wonderful moment that is in Nehemiah chapter nine. And it makes us hopeful for what these exiles can be. We'll see that Malachi though wants to help them go even further. We'll talk about that starting next week in the book of Malachi . Thank you for listening. I get such good feedback on the podcast and I appreciate it so much. I hope that if you're enjoying the podcast, you've set it to download automatically. If you need some help with that, see me at church or send us an email. We'll see if we can get all that working for you. It ought to just appear on your device, your tablet, your laptop, your phone automatically for you. And I hope that you are subscribed or following. So it'll do that and I hope you're recommending the show to other people. We'll continue to track with daily Bible reading and I think a podcast to start the day with that helps us stay in our daily Bible reading 'cause we're able to understand daily Bible reading. Maybe this is a little Nehemiah eight eight. So until next week, may your coffee be delightful. I hope your Friday is just wonderful and I hope the Lord will be with you today all day. I'm Mark Roberts and I want to go to heaven and I want you to come to I'll see you on Monday with a cup of coffee .

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to the Westside church of Christ podcast. Monday morning coffee with mark . For more information about west side , you can connect with us through our website, just and our Facebook page. Our music is from that's upbeat with two P'S UPP , B E A T , where creators can get free music. Please share our podcast with others. And we look forward to seeing you again with a company coffee, of course, on next Monday.

Sermon Notes
Monday Nehemiah 1
Tuesday Nehemiah 2
Wednesday Nehemiah 8
Thursday Nehemiah 9:1-16
Friday Nehemiah 9:17-38