Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


Leave a comment

11. Teaming Together – Part 3

Nehemiah 3:1

“Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel.”

Last time in chapter 3 we saw how people working together can accomplish more than if just one person tried to do all the work. As you look back at chapter 3, I want you to underline in your Bible every time you see the following phrases: “next to him,” “next to them,” “after him,” and “after them.” These expressions are recorded 28 times in this chapter! The biblical principle is this: No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Look Christ didn’t save you to be a lone ranger Christian. If God’s work is going to get done, we have to cooperate with one another, not compete, compare and criticize. As a people we value our independence but often it’s at the expense of inclusion. Why is our nation in turmoil because instead of teaming together we are tearing each other apart. We focus more on our personal rights that living right. What if as a nation we would stop blaming and start building, if we would replace our bitter bricks with bricks of blessing. If we would replace the mortar of meanness with that of mercy.  How did previous generations face tough times, by teaming together, today instead of teaming together we are tearing down. But regardless of the standard that society is setting we have to come back to the bible as our basis for life. In a world where everyone is only concerned for themselves, we are called to come together and serve. It’s here in chapter 3 that we’re going to see two different kinds of work being done: rebuilding and repairing. It seems that the wall was not torn down evenly by the enemies of Jerusalem; some sections needed to be completely rebuilt, while other sections just needed to be repaired. The same is true in our lives, because sometimes there’s a part of our lives that has been damaged: A broken heart, a wounded spirit, smashed self-esteem, a destroyed dream. Sometimes the damaged area just needs to be repaired, while other times it needs to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. Either way, we have the perfect contractor, Christ who can fix the damaged areas of our lives. Its here that we see:

  1. THE PEOPLE

As we come to the people, notice the progression, the purpose the priority the people. God first, service second. We start with worship and then the work. Last time we saw a description of the work on the walls of Jerusalem, section by section, counter-clockwise around the city. Starting at the Sheep Gate and finishing at the Sheep Gate, the gate through which sheep came into the city to be sacrificed for sin. And we saw how everything should start with Jesus and end with Jesus.  Now as we come to the people teaming together, we see several powerful principles. The first thing we see is that:

  1. Pastors should set the pace – Vs 1

We see here that when it came to work on the walls the Priests didn’t sit on the sidelines. They didn’t say oh I only do religious work, no they rolled up their sleeves and went to work, setting the example. One of the problems with the church in America is that there are a lot of pastors who don’t practice what they preach. It’s what I call lazy leadership, it’s the pastor who wants the prominent position just not the work. But if anybody in the city should have been busy with the work, it was the priests, because God’s reputation was at stake. These priests were not afraid of ruining their robes and getting their hands dirty and notice who lead the way when it came to the work, the high priest. As religious leaders we have a great responsibility because we set the pace for the people. Romans 12:11 says “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” The high priest had no hesitation using his consecrated hands to swing a hammer or plaster mortar. But it’s not just about how you start the work it’s also about finishing well. Later on, in chapter 13 we will see that Eliashib the high priest did not remain true to his calling. Instead of pursuing God’s purpose he actually partnered with the enemy and created some serious problems for Nehemiah. There will be those who begin enthusiastically but end up bailing or even turn against us. What counts is completing the work, because you don’t get credit for a partial project. Men I want you to think about your marriage for a moment, what work needs to be done, are you pursuing your bride, or are you being a putz? Are you being a loving leader or a lazy leader? It’s time to stop holding the remote and start holding her hand, because sadly many men know more about sports stats than they do their spouse. What pace are you setting for your family and is your pace in step with God’s purpose?

 


Leave a comment

10. Teaming Together – Part 2

Nehemiah 3:1-32

“Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel. People from the town of Jericho worked next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri. The Fish Gate was built by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz repaired the next section of wall. Beside him were Meshullam son of Berekiah and grandson of Meshezabel, and then Zadok son of Baana. Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors. The Old City Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.Next to them were Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, people from Gibeon, and people from Mizpah, the headquarters of the governor of the province west of the Euphrates River. Next was Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith by trade, who also worked on the wall. Beyond him was Hananiah, a manufacturer of perfumes. They left out a section of Jerusalem as they built the Broad Wall. Rephaiah son of Hur, the leader of half the district of Jerusalem, was next to them on the wall. 10 Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired the wall across from his own house, and next to him was Hattush son of Hashabneiah. 11 Then came Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab, who repaired another section of the wall and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh and his daughters repaired the next section. He was the leader of the other half of the district of Jerusalem.13 The Valley Gate was repaired by the people from Zanoah, led by Hanun. They set up its doors and installed its bolts and bars. They also repaired the 1,500 feet of wall to the Dung Gate. 14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, the leader of the Beth-hakkerem district. He rebuilt it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. 15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum son of Col-hozeh, the leader of the Mizpah district. He rebuilt it, roofed it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Then he repaired the wall of the pool of Siloam near the king’s garden, and he rebuilt the wall as far as the stairs that descend from the City of David.16 Next to him was Nehemiah son of Azbuk, the leader of half the district of Beth-zur. He rebuilt the wall from a place across from the tombs of David’s family as far as the water reservoir and the House of the Warriors. 17 Next to him, repairs were made by a group of Levites working under the supervision of Rehum son of Bani. Then came Hashabiah, the leader of half the district of Keilah, who supervised the building of the wall on behalf of his own district. 18 Next down the line were his countrymen led by Binnui son of Henadad, the leader of the other half of the district of Keilah. 19 Next to them, Ezer son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section of wall across from the ascent to the armory near the angle in the wall.20 Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.21 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz rebuilt another section of the wall extending from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of the house. 22 The next repairs were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 After them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the section across from their house, and Azariah son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah repaired the section across from his house. 24 Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner. 25 Palal son of Uzai carried on the work from a point opposite the angle and the tower that projects up from the king’s upper house beside the court of the guard. Next to him were Pedaiah son of Parosh, 26 with the Temple servants living on the hill of Ophel, who repaired the wall as far as a point across from the Water Gate to the east and the projecting tower. 27 Then came the people of Tekoa, who repaired another section across from the great projecting tower and over to the wall of Ophel. 28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house. 29 Next Zadok son of Immer also rebuilt the wall across from his own house, and beyond him was Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the gatekeeper of the East Gate. 30 Next Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section, while Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall across from where he lived. 31 Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the wall as far as the housing for the Temple servants and merchants, across from the Inspection Gate. Then he continued as far as the upper room at the corner. 32 The other goldsmiths and merchants repaired the wall from that corner to the Sheep Gate.”

At first glance, this chapter looks a bit dry, with its long lists of names that are difficult to pronounce, and information that seems redundant. So often when we come to passages like this, we are tempted to skip them because we view the bible as boring. But the bible is filled with lessons to be learned, and powerful principles that have direct application to our lives today that we need to be put into practice. As people we like to hear our names mentioned in a positive way. And in chapter 3 we have a list of people who achieved some pretty major accomplishments. Alongside the list of winners there are some whiners mentioned who never joined the team. The bible doesn’t just give us good examples but also bad. But what’s most interesting is that the leader Nehemiah is not mentioned at all. I think he wanted to keep the attention on others. Great leaders don’t put the spotlight on self they put it on God’s servants. Lording leaders promote self, loving leaders promote those who serve. Who are you promoting? Who spends most of the time standing in the spotlight? Many men are frustrated with their families because they don’t feel like they are recognized, but a servant doesn’t focus on self-promotion they focus on sacrificial service. The second point of the passage flows out of the first. If the purpose is the glory of God, then God should be our first:

  1. PRIORITY

Whatever you make the purpose of life will become the priority of your life. What and who did the priests make the priority? Where did the work begin? The sheep gate, this was not only the gate closest to the temple but the gate through which the sheep entered the city to be sacrificed for sin. In John 5 Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. The backdrop to Bethesda is the sheep gate. Jesus the Lamb of God who came as the sacrifice to take away the sins of the world, entered the city through the Sheep Gate. Work started on the spiritual center, and because God was their priority, they put Him first. So often we fail because we forget to put the Father first, we have a priority problem. One of the lessons we learn from this passage is that the spiritual center for worship must be protected. Our time with the Father is critical. Where do you start your day is it in the word or in the world? Where do you start your week is it in worship or in the world? Going to church to worship reveals a desire to protect your spiritual center. When we go to feed our soul, then we are establishing what our spiritual priorities are. What I also want you to notice is that not only is the Sheep gate the first gate mentioned but it’s also the last. As Nehemiah takes us on a counterclockwise tour around Jerusalem, he starts with the Sheep Gate and works his way around the wall until he comes back to the sheep gate. We don’t just start our day with the Savior we also end it with him, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Unfortunately, instead of starting with the Savior many of us try to start with self only to end up with a mess. True success starts with the Savior, you see we will never team together successfully if we don’t make serving the Savior our focus and  goal. Nehemiah built his team around a central rallying point, pointing them to the purpose of the work the glory of God and making God’s praise their priority. They weren’t just working on walls, they were worshipping the one who is worthy, God. So, what is your purpose and who is your priority?