North Anderson family & friends,

As you know, we’ve been locked into a sermon series through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah for the past few months now. I pray that this series has been as powerful, instructive, encouraging, and compelling for you as it has for me!

The Lord has very graciously taught me so much as I have prepared, prayed over, and preached each of the sermons that have made up this series and now being towards the end of the book, I am a little sad that it’s coming to a close!

Although each and every passage that we’ve exposited has been incredibly important and “on time” for me personally (and prayerfully, you as well!), I have been itching to get to the portion of scripture that we dealt with yesterday since this series began.
As we learned from the text, the Christian life is a life of continual change! We’re being transformed, day by day, in order that we might become more and more like Jesus. The word that we use to describe this process is “sanctification”.

While the Lord certainly employs a variety of things that bring about this metamorphosis, as we saw yesterday, one of the primary ways by which we are changed is through the local church.

When we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family (the universal church). In His great kindness and wisdom, the Holy Spirit places us into a smaller expression of that family (the local church) where we receive shepherding, care, prayer, instruction, exhortation, mutual encouragement, shared responsibilities, accountability, and so much more!

As I mentioned yesterday, and I say this as sincerely as I know how, few things have aided my sanctification like the local church! Though I am yet where I want and need to be on this faith journey, I would not be where I am apart from the love, care and help that I have found among brothers and sisters in the local church. Many of you, in fact, have blessed and enriched my life and helped me grow in ways that I would not have apart from your influence. I am eternally grateful for you and pray that I might live in such a way that at least some could say the same about me!

In my estimation, there truly is nothing like the local church and I am so very thankful for the saints that make up the body of Christ at North Anderson Baptist!

In yesterday’s passage from the 10th chapter of Nehemiah, we found a people who, after being changed by the power of God's Word, recognized the importance of our corporate engagement, worship and service. In doing so, they responded to God’s Word by making a clear commitment to support the ongoing work and ministry of the church. Their declaration was an emphatic one: “We will not neglect the House of God” (Neh 10:39)!

As I have meditated upon those words over the past few weeks, the Lord has really challenged me to lean into what they mean on both a personal, and a corporate level.
Here’s what we know: The church is the Lord’s “Plan A” for fulfilling the great commission…and there is no “Plan B”.

When Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you”, He was talking to His people. He was commissioning His church.

His “Plan A” for proclaiming the Gospel to the nations is through the ministry of His Church.
His “Plan A” for the continual spiritual formation of believers is through the ministry of His Church.
His “Plan A” for baptizing those who’ve trusted Him as Savior is through the ministry of His Church.

Because this is true, it stands to reason that the commitment made by God’s people in Nehemiah 10:39 several generations ago, must remain the commitment of God’s people today: We will not neglect the House of God!”

This declaration certainly involves a commitment to faithful attendance in and service through the local church as anything less is an act of willful rebellion against the clear command of scripture: “Do not neglect gathering together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25)

Certainly, inconsistency in this simple act will hinder spiritual formation that is aided by the local church and is a detriment to the body as a whole, as we cannot effectively carry out the ministry towards “one another” that permeates the New Testament if we’re absent.
Yet, the declaration, “We will not neglect the house of God” speak to more than faithful physical attendance and engagement.

In context, the statement is made after God’s people, changed by the Word, had made a promise to support the ministry of Gods House with their resources. They had made the decision to bring their first fruits, offer their tithes, and give sacrificially.

In much the same manner, the commitment, “we will not neglect Gods House”, involved our faithful, generous, and sacrificial giving.

On that note, I challenged our congregation to really spend some time thinking and praying about what this means for us, and then responding accordingly.

How can we, in service and our giving, demonstrate a commitment to “not neglect the House of God”?

If we know that the Lord uses our giving to provide the Church with the resources needed to carry out His mission, should that not change our thought process from “how much should we give” to “how much dare I keep?”
If we know that the Lord is honored by the erasing of debt owed by the church and the removal of debt would enable the church to give more focus to local ministry endeavors, cooperative missions, and church planting, should that not compel each of us to greater sacrifice?
If we know that the Lord cares about His House and it should preach a silent sermon through an architecture, ascetic appeal, and visual appearance that points to the greatness and grandeur of the Christ in who’s name we gather, would we not channel more of the resources that He has blessed us with toward the needed updates, continual care and maintenance of His House?
If we know that our worship and our wallets are so closely connected that our Lord Jesus told us that if we want to know where are hearts really are, look for what we really treasure…should that not cause us to evaluate our priorities?
If we know that the Lord is honored and blessed by our giving and that He will supply our needs according to His riches in glory, and promises to open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon those who will walk in obedience as it relates to our obedience in giving, wouldn’t we be quick to radical generosity towards His work, understanding that He will resupply?

Saints, this generosity challenge is not an appeal born out of desperation. In fact, at the date of this Pastoral letter, we are on track to meet our budgetary needs. North Anderson is filled with generous, obedient people and that’s evidence by so many who faithfully give. I’m so grateful for that!

This letter is an appeal to our church family, a people who have tasted an seen that the Lord is good, to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider going to the next level of giving, for the glory of God and the good of His church.

I want to suggest joining me in what I call the 10:39 Challenge!

Over the next couple of weeks, each day, at 10:39am, I challenge you to pause and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal to you how He desires for you to do your part in declaring not to neglect the House of God.

For some, He may speak to you regarding stepping up your faithfulness in attendance, engagement, or service in and through North Anderson Baptist.
For others, the Lord may deal with you regarding consistency, disobedience, or distrust in your giving and call you to faithfulness in tithes and offerings.
Still others, who’ve been richly blessed by the Lord materially may hear Him whisper into your soul the words of 1st Corinthians 16:2, that you should give in proportion to how He has prospered you, helping to eliminate the debt owed by the church, thus freeing up resources expand our missional footprint at home and abroad and to provide funding to give much needed renovation and maintenance to Gods House.

What the Lord will reveal to us as you seek His counsel each day at 10:39 is not for me to say. That will be between you and Him. I simply ask you to join me in being faithful to pray, obedient in response, and trusting all along the way.

I’m eagerly anticipating what the Lord does in and through us as we determine with the people of Nehemiah’s day, that we will not neglect God’s House.

For the glory of God and the good of the church,

Pastor Kyle