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Nehemiah 4:14 “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses”.
God is sovereign, but man is responsible. As far as I know, no one ever accidentally ends up in heaven. There is a fight that must be fought. There was a fight that was fought to make it possible.
The people of Jerusalem had grown accustomed to the walls being torn down and lying in rubble. Decades had passed, and they had done nothing to remedy the situation. They lived in distress and reproach, but that was the new normal for them. Shame, embarrassment, stress and danger was what they settled for. They were a disheartened people.
God gave Nehemiah a burden for the people, and for the glory of the City where God dwelt. He labored in prayer, and then he labored with his hands. He inspired the people to live the way that God wanted for them. He moved them to change. They had a newfound “mind to work”.
The enemies of God and His people were quick to attack verbally, with threats and mocking. Nehemiah countered with prayer and exhortation to the people. He told them to fight and build. They wore swords as they worked. They were inspired to do something that they had neglected for decades. They were discovering who they were in God.
Dear Christian: Is there anybody you are willing to fight for? Will you fight for them in prayer and fasting? Will you deny yourself pleasure and entertainment and even rest in order to bring the truth, hope, and love of God to them? Will you visit them, wait for them, pay for them, drive them, help them, listen to them, serve them, again and again?
Will you fight for children that are going in the wrong direction? Will you fight for your marriage, and for your spouse Will you fight for your neighbors, your community, your city, your extended family?
Will you fight for people with addictions? Will you fight for those who are self destructive? Will you spend and be spent for others? (2 Corinthians 12:15)
Does the sphere of your existence start and stop at your front door, or do you have eyes and a heart beyond your own personal world? Do you simultaneously enjoy the blessings of life, but always carry a holy burden for people, or do you avoid any “heaviness” of life, and leave people to fight for themselves?
If you know Jesus today, there was probably someone that fought for you, prayed for you when you didn’t care, thought of you when you were confused and lost, and yearned for you when you were selfish and lived only for yourself. Someone prayed you into God’s kingdom, longed for you, spoke to you, waited for you. Someone gave of themselves so that you would have ears to hear the invitation of Jesus.
Dear Christian: Be a Nehemiah. Fight for the souls and well being of others, and then inspire others to fight as well.
Why is it that you think we are here?
It is interesting that on Wednesday nights, we are studying the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the man that God used to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
The people there were in distress and living in reproach. Nehemiah got news as he served the king in Babylon. He mourned, fasted, and prayed for four months, and then was granted permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. The King even helped fund the project. The walls were built in 52 days.
Nehemiah prayed, mourned, and periodically fasted for four months. Then when the opportunity came to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, the project only took 52 days.
Nehemiah prayed more than twice the amount of time that he worked. We often want to rush right in to help those who are in distress and living in reproach, but had Nehemiah done that, he would not have had time to make the detailed plans to present to the King, (who asked for detailed plans) and to gain both his permission and funding.
We do well to pray more and act less. Prayer puts us on target with our attitudes, our faith, and our plans. As Dr. Bruce Baloian (one of my mentors) once told our church: “Don’t plot, pray”.
The attached picture is of the back wall to our platform/stage area. A year ago (more or less) I suggested that we do a makeover on our sanctuary. I wanted it done right away. Our Board of Directors, in their wisdom, suggested that we plan it out. They (and our camera crew) also suggested that we consider upgrading our lighting and video system.
I was ready to do something quickly. They insisted that we plan it out. I will admit that I didn’t enjoy waiting, (to put it mildly) but the finished project is already much more than I would have imagined, and we aren’t even done yet. I was rather un-Nehemiah-ish for most of the planning process. I am still learning the need to pray more, and often, as a result, work less and get more.
Thanks to the construction workers, the painters, the Board, the camera guys, the interior designer, and others who have made this project better than what I would have made it. You all know who you are.
For all who read this: Be a Nehemiah. Help rebuild the walls of other people’s lives, but do so by praying for a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and then waiting for the open door. Don’t just rush in. Don’t plot, pray. The results are well worth it.
Our church just finished a week of prayer and fasting. The week began with a great message from my friend, Pastor Daniel Fusco, as he preached at our church, his sermon being entitled “The Ministry Of Withdrawal”. Give it a listen and prepare to be challenged.
Some people in our church put great forth great effort in fasting from food and certain beverages. Others fasted from media, i.e., T.V., Facebook, etc. What was withdrawn from was up to each person. Time was set aside to seek God. Unnecessary things were set aside in order to seek God. We met each night from Sunday-Thursday, and joined other churches via webcasts, and we prayed, worshiped, and took communion.
I was greatly blessed by withdrawing from certain things. For me, they are things not needed, and at times, are wasteful. I believe that the greatest hindrance to the American Church is what Jesus called “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches”. (Matthew 13:22) There is much unfruitfulness in the Body of Christ in America. I include myself in that statement.
This week I was blessed to taste more deeply of the Lord, and I was refreshed and reminded that He is indeed good.
I pray for myself, our church, and every Christian I know, that we would withdraw from that which us from Jesus, and which does not satisfy, but rather, leaves us thirsty. Recreation and entertainment is fine to a point, but we are over saturated with the temporal and suffer leanness in things spiritual.
As far as I can see, prayer is neglected, holiness is a concept, and Jesus is our “bro”. I want that to change in my life.
“Father, bring revival to my heart and the hearts of every Christian I know. Save us from materialism and the addiction to entertainment, and cause us to be hungry for you as never before. We do not ask you to empty us out. We ask you to help us empty ourselves out. We ask that you would break our hearts over our carnality, that we would empty ourselves out, that you may fill us”.
Prayer is soul work. For me, more-so than studying, teaching, preaching, serving, or counseling. It competes with my flesh like nothing else, and yet, when I pray, there is a special blessing that comes which is experienced in no other realm of life.
Christians need to be motivated to pray. Let me share an idea with you.
There is reward in prayer.
In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus taught about fasting and praying.
16“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
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I just returned from a 2 1/2 day preaching practicum, which, a few years ago, is not something I would have imagined attending. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The practicum was led by Art Azurdia, who is a professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. The practicum consisted of Art teaching on preaching, sermon preparation, and hermeneutics, which is the “theory and methodology of interpreting the Bible”. That was Day One.
Art spoke on sermon preparation in great depth. We studied diagramming verses, parsing verbs, looking for flow, preparing a “telos”, and much more. Art also encouraged us to see the entire Bible as the story of redemption through Jesus Christ. The differing portions of the Bible are all knit together in one great story, which is the story of God redeeming man.
In addition, Art spoke on the idea of Christocentric preaching, which means seeing the entire Bible in its relationship to the Gospel, and understanding how a passage aligns itself with the work of redemption.
Seven Calvary Chapel pastors attended the practicum, and we were each assigned a portion of the Book of Ruth to preach on (Days 2 & 3). We were then critiqued by our peers and by Art. Each guy preached for 30 minutes, and we were then critiqued for 45 minutes. It might sound scary, but it wasn’t, and I found it to be very beneficial. I look forward to implementing some of the steps to sermon preparation that Art suggested we pursue. I am sure that Cornerstone will become a mega church in a matter of months as a result of my new found skills. 🙂
On another note…I didn’t want to go. I struggled to go. I was fighting internally about going. “Why”, you ask? Glad you asked. I’ll tell you why…
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Matthew 26:26-28 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Jesus was no victim. That truth continues to impact me. As He announced His impending death, and deliberately moved towards it, I cannot imagine the enormity of emotion that He experienced.
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Jesus had left the area around the Sea of Galilee, and went into present day Lebanon. He was still seeking solitude after being told of the murder of His cousin, John The Baptist, and after much ministry to the multitudes.
As He entered the region of Tyre and Sidon, the Gospel writer Mark tells us that Jesus took refuge in a house. A Syro-Phoenician woman sought Jesus out, imploring Him to heal her daughter, who was demon possessed.
Matthew 15:21-25 21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
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Matthew 14:22, 23 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.
Jesus had had a long day. The news of the execution of His cousin John The Baptist had caused Him to want to be alone. (Matthew 14:13) The crowds sought Jesus out, and in spite of His grief, He ministered to them, healing and feeding them. (Matthew 14:14-21)
After the crowds have been served, Jesus was free to depart from there, and He sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee. It was still during daylight hours, for evening had not yet come. (Matthew 14:22-24)
The disciples struggled against a contrary wind on the lake, and were fighting against the waves. Verse 25 tells us that Jesus came to them walking on the water. The time was the fourth watch of the night, which was between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
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About 45 of us gathered last night. I don’t remember what we prayed for. It was 14 hours ago. 🙂
One of the things born out of this week of fasting and prayer is a deeper burden and conviction towards more fasting and prayer. Cornerstone will be invited by me to fast every Thursday until God directs us otherwise. Our Thursday night gatherings will include a time for prayer at the end of the service. I believe that the conviction for that came forth from being involved in it, and experiencing the work of God through it.
Another thing born from this week of prayer and fasting is a new blogsite I have created. It is, very simply, a prayer blog for Barak Hussein Obama, our new President elect.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 tells us…1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Either we believe that to be true, or we just say we believe it.
Do you desire to see us live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence?
Do you desire to do what is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior?
If yes, then pray for Obama. You can do that privately, or you may want to join others at this new blogsite.
The link is here: http://prayforobama.wordpress.com/
Blessing all, and may God continue to shed His grace upon us.
About 40 of us tonight. We prayed for youth. We prayed for ourselves and those there with us, that blessings would flow. We prayed for the border towns and cities along the U.S./Mexico border, where drug cartel activity is resulting in many murders, including 14 killings today in Tijuana. We prayed for the missionaries in these border towns: Tijuana, Rosarito, Mexicali, Tecate, Juarez, and Ensenada.
We shared in communion once again. We worshipped, and spent time with one another.
Tomorrow night (November 7), after out time of prayer we will share in a soup potluck. For some, this will be their first meals since Sunday night.
I am blessed.