In Nehemiah 8:4-8, Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built especially for the occasion of preaching the long neglected Word of God. Standing around him were 13 men in support of Ezra & God’s Word. When Ezra opened the book, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Then the Levites—13 in all—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

Ezra stood upon a platform. A platform in politics consists of objectives and policies of a political party that guide its governance.

The word platform originally was used to describe the set of rules governing church doctrine.

This story in Nehemiah shows us a very important platform on which the Church must be built. Without this one quality, a church will be entirely ineffective. It’s the platform of UNITY.

This unity platform shows up in three different ways in the church, kind of like a three legged stool. All need to exist and be strong in order for the stool to be stable and effective.

The first is – Unity In Leadership

The thirteen men/leadership were all leaders in their community. They had proven themselves as dependable, wise leaders. Their physical presence as they stood beside Ezra showed everyone that they all supported him. They all had something to contribute, possibly helping him read for the 6 hours he stood on the platform to minister.

Philippians 2:1-3 says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

The second is – Unity In Worship

The congregation was all gathered as one people. They had the same heart for the Lord. They were all in one place, at the Water Gate, with the same goal of finding out what God’s Word had to say to them. And they were all in one accord, having the same worship – they all stood up, all raised their hands, all bowed down, and all said Amen & Amen, which mean “so be it”.

John 4:23-24, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

And by the way, what a sweet and refreshing time we had in God’s presence at Church. His Holy Spirit ministered to many hearts and lives as people responded to the moving of His precious Spirit.

The third is – Unity In Discipleship

The 13 Levites/Teachers had a unified Theology. They made clear the meaning of what was being read, not making up their own theology, but keeping in line with the leader. They led the people, stepping up to their anointed roles as teachers. And they worked together, no one being in competition with each other. And overarching it all was a genuine love for the people. Their careful explanation implied a loving concern, not just a teaching out of obligation.

Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

We see the three unity planks of this platform, this three legged stool, in those who were gathered in the Upper Room. The leadership was gathered in one accord. In unison the entire congregation reverently worshipped. And when the Holy Spirit fell, they began to proclaim as one voice and one Theology the Gospel and disciple new Believers into the maturity of the Faith, and the Church was birthed.

Any great move of God in Church history has had these elements. Unity in leadership, unity in worship, and unity in Theology that always resulted in discipleship of new Believers and the Church growing.

A healthy church is a unified church in its wise leadership, humble worship, and loving discipleship.

And if unity is our platform, then Jesus is our Cornerstone that holds everything in place.

So let me ask you today, what can you contribute to the unity of this church?

In leadership? In worship? In discipleship?

May God strengthen the spirit of unity at Faith and keep us unified for His glory as we enter into 2015 and contribute more fully our time, talent, and treasure for His Kingdom.

What Do You Hunger For? Nehemiah 8:1-3



WHAT DO YOU HUNGER FOR? – Nehemiah 8:1-3

We just got finished with Thanksgiving. The anticipation of the once-a-year Thanksgiving meal with all the special trimmings has come and gone. But the anticipation we had of that meal doesn’t have to stop! It doesn’t just have to be for one meal one time a year!

The people of Jerusalem were hungry, but not for physical food. They knew something was missing. The walls were rebuilt and the leaders were set in place, but yet a nagging hunger for something still remained that no government could satisfy.

We saw this past Sunday in Nehemiah 8:1-3 that the people gathered as one on the first day of the seventh month at the Water Gate and insisted Ezra, the High Priest, read to them the Word of God. They leaned in and for 6 whole hours listened attentively, eagerly, hungrily, to the words Ezra read and taught to them.

There’s 4 things we can learn from this.

One, When?

They met on the first day of the seventh month, which was the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, their New Year’s Day, a day of Thanksgiving and praise to God.

Two, Who?

They called on Pastor Ezra to teach them the Word of God they had neglected for far too long.

Three, Where?

They met at the Water Gate. Remember, water represents the washing of God’s Word, so they met in close proximity to God’s Word where they could be cleansed from the world’s filth of sin.

And Four, How?

They listened attentively, eagerly, hungrily, with anticipation of what God wanted to say to them.

Without going into a deep teaching on this, I’m going to direct you to the Podcast on our website to listen to this Sunday’s message, “What Do You Hunger For?” Just click on the link below and it’ll direct you to it.

Please take the time to listen. It’ll challenge you and strengthen you as you go though this week.

Have a blessed week in Jesus as we gear up for the celebration of His birthday in a few weeks!

They Will Return



They Will Return – Nehemiah 7:4-6

One long, prayerful, obedient act of faithfulness.

That’s what the Lord is looking for from us.

Nehemiah looked around at the finished work. The walls were rebuilt, the doors were set in place, and the people were assigned to protect and serve the city, but hardly a soul was living in the newly refurbished “city of salvation”, as Isaiah called it, this city of Jerusalem.

So in Nehemiah, Chapter 7, God put it in his heart to count those who had come back from exile. Over 42,000 were listed. 42,000 potential residents, yet most who had returned went back to their old, familiar ways of living.

Think about it. As the Church, we are the modern “city of salvation”, because we house the hope for mankind. Jesus is the only place of safety, strength, security, and salvation. Yet too many around us look at that hope and strength and yawn, shrug their shoulders, and go about their lives as if they were fine, all the while not realizing they are living in extreme danger and vulnerability to the attacks of the enemy of their souls.

So what are we to do? What is the one thing we need to add to our daily spiritual discipline that will help draw them back, those lost loved ones, those wayward souls, those Prodigal sons and daughters, those hardened hearts, those seemingly hopeless cases?

Read on to find the answer.

Noah was a righteous man given a very important task by God. Build an Ark. So he did. But it wasn’t a quick task. Some say it took around 100 years to complete the job. Noah exemplified for us one, long, singular act of obedience.

He was one of the folks listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. These people the Bible says, were faithful to what God had called them to do. And it says something about all of them that makes it really hard for us “modern day” Christians to embrace. Through all their hardships, sufferings, and pain, none of them, not ONE, experienced the culmination of the promise from God. They all died without seeing those things come to pass for which they had believed God.

This surely wouldn’t fly in our modern theology of cheap grace and quick fix and name it and claim it. But read Hebrews 11 and see for yourself. They believed God, but didn’t see it come to pass in their lifetime, yet one clue is given that should drive us – verse 13 says, “they only saw those things and welcomed them from a distance”.

THAT’S faith. Trusting God with the big picture. Knowing He’s working it out.

You see, we’re more concerned about the destination, while He has the journey in mind. We want the answer now, while He’s working in us patience and faith and trust.

We’re more concerned about our comfort, while He’s more concerned with our character.

We work in a lifetime. God works in eternity.

So let me ask you this, as you’ve been praying for these folks, are you getting weary, discouraged, frustrated? Does it seem like there’s no change and your prayers aren’t making a difference. Do you feel more times than not like giving up?

Let me encourage with this one thing to add to your daily life in Christ as it relates to the salvation of your sons, daughters, husband, wife, parents, co-workers, friends, whoever.

As so many modeled for us in God’s Word, do this one thing –

Walk in prayerful faithful obedience.

Let your life be one, long act of singular, prayerful, faithful obedience.

Then trust God with the rest. Be okay with the possibility that you may not see these things come to pass before you breathe your last, and place everything in the Master’s hands.

Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

That’s faith in God.

Pray, pray, and pray some more, then never, never, never give up!

Trust God that they will return!

I encourage you to take the time to listen to the entire message from this past Sunday as you click on the link below.

Be blessed and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Ten Gates, Part 2




Let’s look at the last 5 gates of the walls of Jerusalem as it relates to the gates of our own lives. Do any of these gates need to be repaired in you?

The sixth gate is The Fountain Gate.

This gate represents the refreshing and empowering of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Jesus told the woman at the well of a spring of water welling up to eternal life that comes from Him.

This wellspring is meant to not just refresh us, but to refresh others around us who desperately need it. This “river of living water flowing from within us” is the Holy Spirit. The more we give Him place in our lives the more impactful we will be to those around us.

Make sure the fountain gate of the refreshing Holy Spirit is strong in your life.

The seventh gate is The Water Gate.

Water is always a symbol of God’s Word in the Bible.

The closer in proximity to it, the greater effectiveness God’s Word has in washing us.

Ephesians 5 says Christ loves His Bride, the Church, and washes it with the water of His Word to prepare It as a radiant Bride without spot or wrinkle.

Let’s face it, our daily interaction with life, no matter what our occupation, gets us smelly, stinky, dirty, and in need of a bath. We cleanse ourselves regularly to get the smell and grime off physically. The same goes spiritually, and a daily washing in God’s Word will keep us clean and prepare us for the Day when we see Jesus face to face!

So make sure the gate of the washing of God’s Word is strong in your life.

The eighth gate is The East Gate.

The east gate faced the rising sun, which always brought with it the hope of a new day filled with God’s blessings and new beginnings.

This gate represents our Blessed Hope of Christ’s soon return.

Jesus said in Matthew that “As lightning comes from the east and is visible in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man.”

Know this – Jesus is returning for His Bride. It may not be today or it may not be tomorrow, but one thing I do know, it’s very, very soon!

The Blessed Hope of Jesus return is a tenant of our faith. A tenant is an unswerving, unchangable, foundational belief we use as an anchor for how we live our lives.

God’s Word is clear. Jesus is coming soon! The prophecies are being fulfilled daily. The signs of the times are every where. Keep the East Gate of your Blessed Hope strong and intact.

The ninth gate is The Horse Gate.

Horses are always symbols of warfare in the Bible.

In this respect, this gate represents the warfare we have with the enemy of our soul.

We are in a battle whether we realize it or not and whether we like it or not.

Us wishing it away doesn’t change the fact that satan hates your guts and has as his singular goal to destroy you.

But have no fear. Worry not! God is bigger and greater in you!

Revelation 19 describes the battle that ends all battles when Jesus gets on His white horse and, with us riding along behind, comes to defeat the enemy once and for all, setting up a kingdom that will never end wherein will dwell righteousness!

If your Battle Gate is in disrepair, if the enemy has easy and regular access to your life, if you feel like wherever you turn your walking in defeat, then set this door strongly in place and know that God fights your battles for you and you’re on the winning side!

The tenth gate is The Inspection Gate.

This is where judgement took place, where things were measured up, disputes were settled, and examinations of people’s claims took place.

This speaks to us examining our lifestyle choices.

Do your words, your thoughts, your choices, your priorities, your hobbies, your use of time, talent, and treasure, line up with what you know God’s Word says about it?

If not, be courageous enough to change. Repent. Live like Jesus did.

He’s our go-to model to compare our lives to.

This gate is the smallest of all the gates. For it’s the small gate and the narrow road leading to it, Jesus said in Matthew 7, that leads to life, and few find it.

So how are your gates? May God help you and me to get them in repair and working order, strongly installed in our lives.

The Ten Gates




Nehemiah 7:1, “Once the walls were built and I had set the doors in place…”

The walls of the city had been complete, but the doors needed to be installed. Without the doors set firmly in place the city was still vulnerable to outside attack.

Same with us.

There were 10 gates or doors around the city of Jerusalem. Each had a name. You can find these names in Chapter 3. What do these doors have to do with you and me?

I believe quite a lot. Let’s look at the first 5 gates/doors and see how they connect to the doors of our lives today.

The first gate was the Sheep Gate. This gate represents the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus, and His work for you and me on the Cross of Calvary.

It all begins at the Cross. As Believers we must remain at and cling to the foot of the Cross. It is there we learn to live a sacrificial life of service to others as Jesus did.

The second gate was the Fish Gate.

This represents our Christian witness. The fish has long been a symbol of Christianity. We’ve been called and commanded by Jesus to preach the Good News.

If we struggle to open our mouth to others about the goodness of Jesus in our lives, we might need to get the Fish Gate built back up in our lives.

The third gate is the Jeshanah Gate, which means “old”.

This gate represents Absolute Truth.

Truth is old. But just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s obsolete.

We are in an age where the old truth is being pushed aside for a new, improved truth that is subjective and relative. It justifies lifestyle and morality to fit into what this age wants to do and how they want to live.

But truth has always been truth. A million years before Creation and a million years into eternity, the Absolute Truth of God’s Word will stand.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. And God’s Word says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will remain.”

If the Truth Gate has been watered down and compromised in your life, rebuild it and make it strong again.

The fourth gate is the Dung Gate.

This represents a daily purging in our lives. Too many Christians are spiritually constipated. We’ve allowed for too long things like unforgiveness and bitterness to stay clogged up inside of us instead allowing a daily purging to keep us clean and attractive to others.

If you feel your Dung Gate is in disrepair then allow the cleansing of the Lord to make you well again.

The fifth gate is the Valley Gate.

A valley is a low place. This represents humility.

Jesus came to serve and not be served. He’s our example. May we be a humble servant reflecting Christlike humility and reject pride in pride in our lives.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

May we constantly check to make sure our Valley Gate is in good repair, because the enemy of pride is a relentless foe.

Those are the first five gates. We’ll look at the last five gates next time. But in the mean time, how are your gates doing?

Allow the Lord to help you build up and keep strong your Gates of Sacrificial Service, Christian Witness, Absolute Truth, Daily Purging, and Christlike Humility.

Those around you are in desperate need of these qualities. May we be examples of these things to those the Lord has placed in our lives.