This Sunday we begin our third week in the Nehemiah journey! I hope you have been blessed by the daily devotionals from Chapter two written by Brandon Hanson, Jill Pouliot, Brian Budahn, Pat Hackman, J.C. Thieke, Donelle King and Ed Studniski. The weekly devotionals are handed out at worship each Sunday.
On Sunday our focus turns to Nehemiah 3 and 4. Take some to read the chapters and pray for Sonja Knutson as she leads us deeper into a portion of Chapters 3 and 4. Earlier tonight I took a few minutes to re-read Nehemiah 3 in anticipation of leading the Children’s time at 9:30 and 11:00. At first glance chapter three might seem a little monotonous and uninteresting. But upon further review it provides us with some timeless truths. Consider two truths:
TRUTH #1 – Leadership is all about encouraging and equipping people to do the work that God has for them. Nehemiah was able to mobilize and empower 44 separate groups of people for the imaginative work of rebuilding the walls and restoring the gates. There is no doubt in my mind that this occurred because he “sat down and wept and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of Heaven” (1:4) and because of his careful assessment of the need during his reconnaissance mission in the darkness of the night (2:13-16). Pray for Ryan, Sonja, Kirsten, Kaycee, Joy, Cherie and myself as we seek to encourage, equip, and empower people to do the work of the ministry! Pray that we will first turn to God and listen to his direction.
TRUTH #2 – People working together can accomplish more than if just one person tried to do all the work. As I read Nehemiah 3 I circled the following phrases: “next to him,” “next to them,” “after him,” and “after them.” These expressions are recorded 32 times in this chapter! The biblical truth is this: EVERY PERSON IS TO BE INVOLVED IN MINISTRY BECAUSE EVERY PERSON HAS A SPECIFIC CALLING. Sometimes it is hard to find what God wants you to do. Your shepherds would love to have coffee and conversation to help you discover God’s plan for you in the body of Central! Nehemiah was able to point people to the purpose of their lives. They weren’t just working on walls, they were worshipping their worthy God. The purpose of all ministry, and really of life itself is the glory of God.
There is so much more that one could say about these chapters BUT in closing I love how chapter 3 starts. It starts at the Sheep Gate. There are ten gates identified in Nehemiah 3 but we start with the Sheep Gate. It’s another way of saying PUT GOD FIRST. Close to the wall’s northeast corner, this gate provided easy access to the Temple. This gate was called the Sheep Gate because of all the sheep that entered through it to be sacrificed.
Rebooting, renewal and restoration occurs when we know the ‘lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.’ Let us not make the mistake of focusing on our work so much that we forget the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for you and me. That’s why worship must always precede work. God wants our hearts! Have you settled that question? Do you know you are loved by God? Are you in love with Jesus?
Please join me in praying for the Holy Spirit to fall amongst us on Sunday in ways that are indescribable and beyond our ability to comprehend!
I also hope that many of you will be present for the Congregational Meeting at 12:15PM in the Sanctuary as we act upon the recommendation of the Church Council to extend a call to Ryan Braley to become an Associate Pastor amongst us.