Tag Archives: keep building

Walls and Wolves

Nehemiah 3-5; with the people ready to build, not just with words but put to work the words they spoke, we find that there is a tremendous amount of damage. Every gate is identified and the people who will have the responsibility to “shoulder” the work. There is a saying – better together. We can accomplish so much more together than on our own. That statement is true regardless of the size of a church or organization. Something that must be clearly identified and communicated is the specific responsibilities of each entity involved. I have learned from my pastoral ministry years, you can’t over communicate. Invariably there will be some who have felt left out or didn’t get the message. Nehemiah brings both a renewal spirit and the necessary leadership to the project. The purpose has been established “eliminate the reproach” and it would be done through rebuilding the walls. The walls were part of Solomon’s Temple mount project then, and likewise now by the exiles.

Walls serve two purposes – one is the security of the people inside the walls; but also to keep out the unwanted whether animals or people from coming in. During this time in history and for much longer, fortresses and castles had protective walls to be able to defend the people and property from intruders. Jesus also talks about limiting “intruders” into the camp in John 10. Jesus talks about how that the sheep and shepherd have a unique relationship. No one who comes over the Wall is a friend. No one who leaves the sheep when they are in danger is a True Shepherd, but a hireling. Pastors have to protect the sheep as well as provide for the sustenance.

In ministry there will always be the critics and naysayers. We find that the inhabitants of the area at the prompting of Sanballat ridicule the work being done. Laughing and trying to demoralize the people. There are those that work, those that watch and those that ridicule the work being done. It comes with the territory – Keep building. There are three questions the critics ask – each one begins with “Can they . . . ”  Sanballat even has solicited the “money holders” on his side to bring doubt to the work. I have built buildings and have had church members ridicule the building project to the point that many wanted to quit because of the doubt cast on the project; keep building.

What does Nehemiah do? He prays to the Father in Heaven to shut the mouths of the critics and not forgive their sins. Wow, is that spiritual? God was in the work, too many times we give audience to knuckleheads – people  are people and we do not have to be compassionate to blatant sin!

The people had a “Mind to work” and so the building process continued for 52 days. The words didn’t deter the work, so then Nehemiah instituted a guard watch while building continued. Many of the critics and tactics of Satan are “mind games” used to discourage and frustrate the work of God. Dear for their lives, the people came together and defended each other, but the work continued. Brick in one hand and sword in another. The enemy is real, we must take proper precautions against the “wiles of the devil.”

Nehemiah is an encourager and a cheerleader. The pastor and people both need to be encouraged during the work. So intense was the work that the men didn’t stop to change clothes.  But each rotated from building and defending the work and each other.

In church life and revitalization work, there will be enemies against the restoration of the devastation of souls and spirit. Keep building.

While the walls were being built, there were wolves in the camp. The Jews were extracting usury from their own people. They were mortgaging their property and even selling their children into slavery so they could pay taxes inflicted on them by their own leaders. Wolves – hirelings, leaders out for the money not the ministry. Be careful while building the walls of defense that you don’t trap wolves inside!  Nehemiah addressed the injustices against the people. Nobles and affluent people did not identify with the people doing the work. Ministers must be careful not to see the congregation as the means for their own success and opulence, but brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. Nehemiah addressed the elephant in the room – then provided the example for the nobles to follow. Nehemiah dug deep into his own pocket and paid for the provisions and food needed by the workers.

Wolves abound today; they come seeking to rob, kill and destroy the church and the sheep. Nehemiah does something of leadership that many pastors and minister must do – if there is a known problem, address it, deal with it and move on. DO not let the problem ferment into a conflict and catastrophe.

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Restoring the Heart of Worship

Today we look at the restoration of the Temple from the Book of Ezra. Ezra is a scribe and priest who returned to Jerusalem after the 70 yrs. of Babylonian captivity were over. Zerubbabel had preceded him, but the reconstruction of the city and the Temple were being neglected. In Ezra we have the Holy Spirit working in the man of God. Ezra is a scholar in my opinion. He is entrenched with the Word of God. Something happened after the return of the exiles – they began writing down the oral traditions, Targums and Midrash into book form. Up till now the transferring of the Word of God was very limited. The Jews [as the are called because only Judah and Benjamin tribes are left] realized that their history and way of life had been in jeopardy. Like Paul telling young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2; pass on to faithful men that which you have heard from me. The Jews had to capture the scriptures  – 2 Peter 1:19-21; God-breathed Word, so it could be transferred from generation to generation. Ezra is the Spiritual arm of the “Dynamic Duo” of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nehemiah is the administrator, leader and will be the governor.

The first thing that had to be restored was the place of worship – The Temple. Now with the war and devastation that occurred under Babylonian assault, plus the neglect for 70 yrs.; one can only imagine what the Temple and city looked like. How do people go back? I mean with things such as tsunamis, earthquakes, bombings, hurricanes and the like that wreak havoc on lives and life; how do you approach such a scene? There were those who had seen the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple in all of its radiance, but when the saw the restored shambles of the Temple they wept.

In a revitalization scenario, the people of God have to go back to the “ruins” and sift through the ashes and the rubble. What depth must one go to find something worth salvaging? Sin does the destructive work in our lives. Many times people will not return to the point of their failure and sin departure. The deceiver and liar, Satan will guilt us and tell us there is nothing worth restoring – move on and live with your failures! Again like I said Satan is a liar. Like the Parable of the Prodigal Son – the Father is waiting for the return of His children. We all sin, we all have failed in our lives; and we all must return and repent of the sin we know that keeps us in bondage.

Ezra and the rebuilding of the Temple in Chapter 3 -5 is met with opposition. The last thing Satan wants is for the “Place of Worship” to be restored. Satan will fight against rebuilding the Temple – but for you and me the Temple is not made of brick and mortar, Our Temple – this fleshly body that inhabits the Holy Spirit of God. Yes we make a mess of our lives, but God is the Potter and we are the clay – He will break us so that He can re-mold us.

In Ezra we have specific enemies identified – the people of the Land [those who occupied Israel after captivity] discouraged the builders. It is the same today – people will discourage us from “coming home” to Jesus Christ. The wrote letters, the reproached and ridiculed the people as they tried to restore the Temple and Altar of God. People today will tell us it isn’t worth – it’s too hard; quit trying. Being restored through rebuilding, repentance and reconciliation is ALWAYS worth it! “Keep Building” and keep rummaging through the ashes and rubble – there is always enough for God to use to make a beautiful Vessel of Honor to Himself!

Daily work – the Temple and our lives will not be restored and rebuilt in one day – it’s a life time investment. Rebuilding and restoration is a Spiritual matter. I have heard so many times after a natural disaster people who lost everything say – we will rebuild and trust God for the future. If a church or person has been devastated by sin and rebellion, for that matter even neglect of the Kingdom mission, there must be a point of building again. The only other option is to stand there and weep over what use to be and say it’s over – it’s done, and live in the memory of a broken and dismantled life.

I have talked with many a person who has watched their church fall down around them. A consistent thought is we must return to what was before – I’m sorry but that is Wilderness Talk – the nation of Israel always wanted to go back in time, to what they thought were better days. No a thousand times No. Onward Christians soldiers as unto war! believers and Churches will be met with enemies and strong opposition – press on. They will lie, demoralize you and I, they will bring great reproach and ridicule – don not listen. Keep building. When the foundation had been laid, they stopped and worshipped. Temple complete? No, but the Foundation had been laid – Jesus Christ is our sure foundation – the Solid ROck of our Salvation.

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