Nehemiah Got It

In the past few years, the local government has been installing round-a-bouts in our community.  People hate them.  Yes, they are more efficient, but people hate them.  Why?  Because of a place named Confusion Corner.  It's one of the worst round-a-bouts ever.

 

Engineers and government don't understand that they have no credibility when it comes to round-a-bouts.  After driving through Confusion Corner, you don't want to drive through a round-a-bout ever again.  People don't like them because on more than one occasion someone has tried to drive into them.  Round-a-bouts are stress making intersections.  People don't want stress.  People don't like round-a-bouts.  So do you create stress or not?

Nehemiah faced the fact that some of the locals were going to resist his efforts to rebuild the wall.  There was no credibility with Sanballat and Tobiah.   (Nehemiah 4: 1 - 3)

Nehemiah faces the fact that some of his own people were not going to support his efforts.  Some encouraged their friends to quit and go.  (Nehemiah 4: 10 - 12)

Nehemiah 4:14  And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

So, how do you choose?  

Choose according to values.  Nehemiah was improving the lives of all Jews by strengthening the city.  He was stopping the racism and hatred that they were currently enduring.  He was giving them a safe place to live. 

Choose according to God's will.  God wanted the walls rebuilt.  Out of everything that God could have chosen to do, this was His will. 

How do you justify making someone's life a little more stressful? 

Remind them of the vision.  For the people in Jerusalem, they understood Nehemiah when he said, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Refresh your vision and choose your battles wisely.  If lives are going to be changed by the vision God has given you, then allow His wisdom to be your guide.  Don't be afraid to cause hell some stress.  Don't be scared to stress to cause the faithless some stress.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to do the right thing at the right time for You. AMEN  

Nehemiah Today

Some might say, "Well, Pastor that was then.  What does Nehemiah have to do with me?"

One of the great strengths of Nehemiah's leadership was his ability to embrace and understand the culture.  He was a Jew working in Persian culture.  He understood how things worked.

Neh 2:5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.”

Nehemiah understood the king.  He says, "If it pleases the king,..."  Nehemiah wasn't going to rebel against his master.  He knew that the key to his future was in securing the king's permission.  

Neh 2:13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.

Nehemiah understood the first problem.  The walls are busted.  He knew that it was going to take a sizable workforce to fix this. 

Neh 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”

He understood that the neighbors were not going to be happy.  He knew that some would resist.  (Chapter 3) Yet he still embraces the God's will and goes for it.  

Wisdom is the ability to correctly apply the understanding one has.  Understanding challenges and problems goes a long way to bringing positive and powerful answers for your life and family.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, give me the wisdom to understand how things work in my life.  AMEN  



How Do You Pray?


Prayer changes lives.  Prayer is the most powerful act of faith that one can express.  Prayer works.  

I have prayed for more people than I can remember.  I have seen lives changed, drug users become model citizens, the sick healed, broken hearts mended.  I have seen the impossible.  All of it was in the name of Jesus and to the glory of God.  

So, how do you pray?  Do you pray for change?  Do you pray dangerous prayers?  Do you pray? 

I want us to look at Nehemiah's prayer.  See some of the significant things about this great leader.  

Nehemiah 1
"4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven."
Nehemiah didn't just, "feel bad" about what was happening.  It allowed it to touch him deeply and personally.  When we pray, do we pray out of a sense of desperation?  Do we pray from great passion and emotion?  Or do we avoid those emotions so we don't have to feel responsible for them?  

"5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,"
Nehemiah does not blame God for the past or current situation.  Yes, it was God that allowed the nation of Isreal to be placed in exile.  Yes, it was God who allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed.  

"6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you."
Nehemiah repents for everyone else.  The Jewish people always embraced a sense of national responsibility.  Not only was someone responsible for their sins, but they were also responsible for the overall health of the nation.  

"Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. "
Nehemiah makes things personal.  He cannot point the finger at everyone else and say it was their fault.  He takes responsibility for his family and repents for their sins.  

"8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ "
He reminds God of His promise to Israel.  If they were unfaithful, they would be scattered.  If they stayed faithful, he would bring them back.  Nehemiah is making his case.  Even though the Israelites were allowed to go back home, it was time to get serious about it.  

"10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Something happened during Nehemiah's time of prayer and fasting.  He went from interceding for Isreal to pursuing God's will on his life to go do something about it.  He asks for God's favor with the King.  Things are about to change.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, teach me to pray like Nehemiah.  AMEN  



Who Are You Leading Today?

This month, in Sunday services, I have been speaking about the vision of a man named Nehemiah.  You could learn so much about this man, but insufficient time to do it in.

Nehemiah 1:11 Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah is one of the greatest leadership stories you will find in the Bible.  He was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, King of Persia and the most powerful man in the world.  Being a cup bearer wasn't a menial job.  It was a position of honor.  Because poison was a favored method of assassination, the cup bearer had to be a person whom the king trusted.  He would have been well paid for his loyalty.

Nehemiah learns of the condition of his homeland, and his heart is broken. (Neh 1:1-3) He has serious concerns about this, so he prays and intercedes on behalf of his countrymen and Jerusalem. Along the line though, a burden became a calling. God asks him to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

How do you go from being a cup bearer to a governor in a day?  Why would King Artaxerxes even consider something so outrageous?  Nehemiah is a perfect example of how to become a great leader.

Be a Servant Leader
Nehemiah was a servant to the King.  He understood the chain of command.  He understood the value of teamwork.  He understood that you have to give up to go up.  He understood the value of a leaders sacrifice for his people.  Nehemiah was willing to make those sacrifices.

The Company You Keep
Being in the presence of the King was the same as getting a Ph.D.  Nehemiah would have witnessed the best leadership principles and practices of that day.  If anyone could get the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt, it was him.

So, are you a servant or do you want to be served?  Great achievement demands great sacrifice.  Are you willing to do what it takes for the people who may not even appreciate what you are doing?

Who are the people who surround you?  You are what you hang around.  If you want to accomplish great things for Christ, then learn about the people who have already.  Hang around people who are doing great things for Him.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to serve others and to surround myself with people who will add value to my life and wisdom.  AMEN

10 years ago(ish)

This was the first blog I wrote in 2008.

"If 20 years ago you would have told me I would be posting my first blog. I would have thought you were speaking a foreign language. (Or at least, as a Pentecostal, I would have prayed for the interpretation) Then again if you would have said I would be the parent of a 3-year-old, pastoring in Palm City, managing the church website, driving a Korean car and loving all of it, I would have been forced to have you committed. 

40 years ago I was 3 (just like my daughter is today) and the Summer of Love was in full swing. Times were changing. Those who changed with those times did well. Those who did not adapt, well . . . So here I am, adapting. Not as easy as it looks, but it will happen. So as you read these blogs and it seems that I am trying to find my way through this, please forgive me. But keep coming back. This will get better and my prayer is, that it will bless you."

Sometimes it is good to remember your roots.

I understand Luke 9:62,  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  That's about not looking back upon your life and regretting placing your faith in Christ.

Think of it more like Deuteronomy 6:12 Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

If you are going to go forward in your life, don't forget where you came from.  You need to see your progress.

You were a sinner.  Remember that at one time in your life you were separated from God.  How was life back in those days?  Not so good huh?

You were unequipped for the task.  My daughter is now 14 and I've written around 1,700 blog posts.  Not to say that everyone was a masterpiece but I have learned a few things along the way.  As a follower of Jesus, you have learned a few things too.  Those gems of wisdom from the Holy Spirit have made a difference in your life.

You didn't know where this was going to lead you.  Life is an adventure.  Jesus will lead you to places you never knew you could go.

Where were you 10 years ago?
What have you learned in 10 years?
What has Christ done for you in the last 10 years?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, thank you for saving my life and for changing me.  AMEN

Sunday Is Here!

Hen. 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

What do you expect from church?

Matt. 9:29 “According to your faith be it done to you.”

If you go to church tomorrow and get nothing out of it, you might have missed the point. If you are depending on the music to usher you into the presence of God, you might be waiting a long time.  If you are thinking that the sermon will somehow revolutionize your life, you may get disappointed.  Dont’t get me wrong the worship, the service and their sermon are important.  But they are parts of a bigger picture.

How can you change tomorrow?

Don’t depend on men.  Depend on the Holy Spirit.
Don't come to church with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude.  Come with a “What can I give today?”
Come by faith expecting God to do something great today.
Give it your all because you will reap what you sow.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I will come to Your house today ready to meet You! Amen