Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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9. Teaming Together – Part 1

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.” 

So far in our series “Building in the Battle” we have seen the powerful building block of prayer and how prayer was a part of Nehemiah’s personal wall. We have also seen that in order to pursue God’s purposes we need to possess the right tools and pursue the right tasks. Today as we tackle chapter 3, we not only see the building begin but we also discover a very powerful building block called Teamwork. It’s here in chapter 3 that we discover a long list of names and as important as the people are, I want you to notice that the passage begins with the:

  1. PURPOSE

The passage starts with the reason for building the wall, the purpose, the goal. The work starts at the sheep gate, and if you pay attention to the passage you will notice that the work starts with worship. The priests dedicate this gate. The goal is the Glory of God. The purpose, the why we are working on the wall is the most critical point in the passage. Many of us have made our work our purpose, as a result our work is what we are worshipping. But our purpose is to worship God, work should flow out of worship and when we start with worship our work has worth. Now I want to contrast 2 building projects in the bible, this one in Nehemiah that made the goal the glory of God and one that made the purpose the promotion of self, the Tower of Babble. In Genesis 11 this is what the people said: “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous.”Who was it for, self, what was it for self-promotion. So, let me ask you what are you working on and why are you working on it? Is it for your glory or God’s? Is the Father your focal point? The people who built the tower of Babble looked up to heaven, but they didn’t look to God, their focus was on how it would make them look. Many of us are experiencing frustration and failure because we have forgotten the Father. He is not our focal point. So, let’s ask some purpose questions:

  • What is the Purpose of my preaching?

It should be the Glory of God. Yet often preachers are more concerned with and consumed by whether people liked them and how they looked than their love for God. That is why many preachers have become people pleasers instead of truth proclaimers. The pulpit is not a place to promote self, it’s a place to proclaim the Savior. When we make it about the messenger instead of the Master it impacts the message. Because the message gets filtered by my feelings instead of by the Father. What gets preached is what’s popular or politically correct instead of Christ. But preachers are not the only ones with a pulpit, God has given each of us a platform from which to preach. Athletes have an incredible platform to proclaim the Almighty that’s why I love the ministry of FCA. What’s interesting to me is that over the last few years we have seen more and more people using their platform as a professional athlete to proclaim their messages. Recently we have seen that expressed through the refusal to stand during the singing of our national anthem. Athletes like Colin Kaepernick who are using their platform to preach a message of social injustice, but we have also seen athletes like Tim Tebow who also chose to proclaim his beliefs by taking a knee. The difference wasn’t the platform it was the message they preached. You see Tim Tebow was known for taking a knee, but it was to celebration the Savior not protest social issues. It’s not that social injustice isn’t an important issue, it’s that rather than just protesting against social injustice he chose to proclaim the solution to social injustice the Savior Jesus Christ. Tim Tebow chose to use his platform to proclaim the glory of God. Many of us are preaching good messages just not God’s message. Now for those of you that have gotten all riled up over athletes that don’t stand during the national anthem let me remind you it is a free country and we have a choice. Now I chose to stand in support of this country, but can I say that I think that the real problem in this Nation is that we have made the goal the glory of America, not the glory of God. We get more riled up over people not standing up for the flag than those who standing up for the Savior. Where was the outcry when Kim Davis stood up and said because of my belief I can’t sign my name to this marriage certificate? What made this nation great wasn’t because people promoted the country but because they proclaimed Christ. Now preachers are not the only ones guilty of making the goal their glory. Many of us are more focused on how good we look rather than on God getting the glory. Most of us care more about a Facebook like than we do our love for the Father. So, let me ask you who are you promoting self or the Savior? It’s not just the message that matters but the motive, is it for your glory or God’s? What are you proclaiming from the platform that God has given you?

  • Purpose of my marriage?

Well it should be to mirroring Gods image and reflect his righteousness. There is no greater vehicle than your marriage to model the attributes of God, like His Love, forgiveness, commitment, sacrifice. That’s why God hates divorce because it reflects the devil not the deity, there is nothing about divorce that reflects the Character of Christ. Divorce doesn’t reflect commitment, love, forgiveness, sacrifice or selflessness but rather selfishness. The problem with most marriages today is that we have made the purpose our pleasure, we have made it about our happiness not His holiness. Some of you may be thinking so does God not care about my happiness does He just want me to be miserably married. No, you see Holy marriages are happy marriages. Happiness is a byproduct of holiness our problem is that we are chasing after the byproduct instead of chasing after Him. Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage many of us have settled for the small goal of me over the massive goal of the Messiah. If you want a miserable marriage make the goal happiness, but if you want a meaningful marriage make the goal Him. Today divorce is at an all-time high and many people are saying I must have married the wrong person, but what if you didn’t marry the wrong person you just have the wrong purpose?

  • Purpose of my Parenting?

Again, the goal should be the Glory of God, but many of us are making it about us as parents looking good instead of reflecting God. Our kids are messengers that we send into a time we will not see, the message we model will most likely be the message they mouth. Many of us have made the purpose of parenting more about how it reflects on us than on the Lord. We want our kids to achieve because it makes us look good instead of because they love God. I will never forget being at a parent teacher conference and being told you have good kids, and our response being that’s because my kids have God. Don’t miss the purpose of parenting, pointing your kids and the people around them to God. As parents we need to stop using Facebook as a platform for self-praise. Some of us spend more time posting on social media than actually parenting. Regardless of the platform our purpose should be the Glory of God. The priests understood that the purpose of the wall was more than just the protection of the people, it was a proclamation to the world about the power of God. So, what is your purpose, are you living for the Glory of God?

 


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8. Pursuing God’s Purposes Part 6

Nehemiah 2:11-20

11 So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. 13 After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well,[a] and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates.14 Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley[b]instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate. 16 The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. 17 But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.19 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked.20 I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

After Assess the situation Nehemiah now tackles the task of:

c. Rallying the people around God’s purpose– Vs 17-18

In verse 17 we see Nehemiah identifying with the people, “Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in.” He didn’t say the trouble you are in, but we are in. People are not going to join you if you are not passion and prepared to do your part. Leadership isn’t telling its showing. Last week I shared with you about the man who had gotten out of jail and needed help. One of the questions he asked was how big is the church, when I told him he said a church that size and the senior pastor comes, surely you could have sent someone else to take care of this. To which I responded if I don’t lead in love how can I lecture about love. Nehemiah didn’t see it as their problem but our problem. Next, Nehemiah presents them with a spiritual perspective because unlike them he saw their spiritual disgrace. They were in trouble not just because Jerusalem was in ruins. The sight of their collapsed walls for well over a century had created the impression in the pagan word that the God of Israel was weak and had abandoned his people. Nehemiah recognized that there are always spiritual issues involved. A building project is more than just brick and mortar. How we live doesn’t just reflect on us it reflects on our Redeemer. More often than not the world judges Jesus based on the faithfulness or the failures of His followers. The way that we live reflects on the one we are living for. Nehemiah didn’t just focus on the glory of God but also the greatness of God. He revealed to them what God had already done. Some of you need to be reminded of the glory and the greatness of God, of His plan and purpose for your life, because as long as you are content to live in the rubble you will never rebuild. Nehemiah rallied the people around God’s purposes and power not around politics. Today we are more riled up over politics than we are pursuing God’s purpose. Instead of getting worked up we need to get to work. As Nehemiah rallied them around God’s grace, he reminds them that they were not relying on human effort but on God’s. The people’s response was to start rebuilding. They could have responded with apathy and gone back to their rubble. They could have reminded Nehemiah that the Jews had “already tried that” before in Ezra 4 and were stopped. Isn’t it amazing that today in the church we face those same two obstacles? Either “we’re content with the way things are” or, “we tried that before and it didn’t work!” But I am thankful that I get to serve in a church that chooses to respond like the wall builders of Nehemiah’s day. So, let me ask you what are you encouraging people to pursue, is it God’s purpose? Are you going to rally around the work and the Word of God or the world? Not only did Nehemiah rally the people but he was:

d. Resolute in the face of opposition– Vs 19-20

The last task comes almost immediately after the people decide to pursue God’s purposes. Whenever we get serious about engaging in God’s work, the enemy comes to oppose. Notice the enemy’s tactics, belittle and bully. Not only do they belittle them by making fun of them, but they bully them by accused them of breaking the king’s law. Why did they bully the believers, because that weapon had worked once before in Ezra 4. It’s the reason why work on the wall had stopped. When you pursue God’s plan the world will accuse you of being a rebel. Don’t let the fear of man limit you and stop you from following the Lord.  So how did Nehemiah handle the opposition, what did he say in the face of this smear campaign? He Respond to ridicule by relying on God. He focused on the Father not on the fools. He proclaimed God’s promises publicly, reminded them that only the children of God have a claim to the inheritance of God. Are you voicing the victory or are you getting sidetracked by Satan? Remember no matter what happens the Word says that we win.