The Gatekeeper, The Cheerleader, and The Head Coach – Nehemiah 7:1

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Nehemiah 7:1 “After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed.”

The walls of the city remind me of a football stadium, secure all around with only certain predetermined access points. Let’s imagine our lives as a football stadium – our mind, body, spirit, & emotions.

As Believers in Christ we have been reconstructed in Him. We are open for business to the crowd sure to want access to our lives, but first we must, as CEO, “hire” the right staff to manage the stadium of our lives.

Three applicants with flawless resumes and impeccable references rise to the top, and we hire them – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Now that we’ve hired the management staff, we take off our CEO cap and replace it with a helmet, because now we are going be players on the field, which is the battleground called life.

Nehemiah’s 3 appointments have parallels with football and our lives. Read on and see how.

Gatekeepers – among other things, gatekeepers in a stadium are assigned security of the entrances to the stadium. They check for weapons and diligently guard the gates to keep those who want to do harm from entering.

Nehemiah appointed gatekeepers in the same way for the city of Jerusalem.

The gatekeeper of our lives, the guard at the gate of our entry points, is Jesus Christ.

He will keep us from harm, keep us in His care, and keep us to our final destination in Heaven.

Psalm 91:1-16 speaks clearly to this when it says, “The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

We must allow Jesus to do His job and not override the authority we’ve given Him by allowing anything into the stadium of our lives that would try and corrupt our souls or defeat us.

Allow Him to possess your gates to keep you safe and secure in Him until that day.

2 Tim. 1:12 says, “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him until that Day.”

Singers- in a stadium they cheer the team to build them up against their opponents, remind them of their great ability to defeat their foe.

Nehemiah understood the importance of singers in the newly rejuvenated Jerusalem. Worship to God kept the people focused on His greatness and reminded them of their need to remain dependent on Him for their strength, protection, and blessing.

In this way, the Holy Spirit is our cheerleader. In the face of adversity, He reminds us of who we are in Christ Jesus and helps us keep our focus on the prize set before us. Regardless of the overwhelming circumstance we may be facing, His job is to encourage us.

In John 14:16-17 Jesus said He would sent us an Advocate (helper, comforter, encourager) to help us and be with us forever – the Spirit of Truth.

The word for this is “Paraclete”. So (and forgive me as I continue in this football analogy) the Holy Spirit is our “pair of cleats” that we must put on and rely upon daily to help us keep our trust in God in this world of slippery, sinking sand. He will encourage us along the way to “don’t give up, you can make it!”

Levites – at a stadium the Head coach calls the plays, manages the team, and metes out discipline. He’s the final word. He’s in control.

Nehemiah saw the need to appoint the Levites, the teachers of the Law, to remind people of God’s expectations for them. They would rehearse the Law with the people and encourage them to follow and serve God with their whole heart.

God is our Head Coach. He’s the one who calls the shots. He purposefully orders our steps, carefully manages us, and lovingly metes out discipline. He is perfectly seasoned, ultimately wise, and thoroughly experienced.

He is in control.

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in Heaven and Earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom. You are exalted as Head (Coach) over all. Wealth and honor come from You. You are the ruler of all things.”

He’s the play caller. He knows what’s He’s doing. God doesn’t need our help in calling the plays, what He needs is our obedience in carrying them out.

So, is Jesus your guard at the gate, keeping you from all harm?

Is the Holy Spirit your cheerleader, speaking to you words of encouragement to help you remain focused on your ultimate prize?

Is God your Head Coach, trusting Him explicitly to call the shots in your life, knowing He has your best interest at heart?

As Nehemiah did in Jersusalem, assign God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to guide you, watch over you, and encourage you on this football field of life.

The battle is before us and the victory is assured in Christ Jesus!

DO I HAVE INTEGRITY AND REVERENCE FOR GOD? – Nehemiah 7:2

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DO I HAVE INTEGRITY AND REVERENCE FOR GOD? – Nehemiah 7:2

Nehemiah 7:2, “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and reverenced God more than most people do.”

Hananiah didn’t have as the necessary qualities stunning good looks, a charismatic personality, a clever wit, or important political connections, no, he was a man Nehemiah observed as one who had the two very important qualities of integrity and a reverence for God.

I had to ask myself as I was putting this message together, “Do I have the type of integrity and a reverence for God that would qualify me to be placed in charge of some thing like a large city?”

I looked up the word integrity. It has its root in a mathematical term from the word “integer”, which means “intact or untouched.” An integer is a whole number. So if you take that and define “integrity”, it means being whole, complete, honest, sound, dependable.

Based on that definition, do YOU have integrity? In a world filled with half baked, half truths, half way, conditional, and convenient, a person of integrity stands out as an exceptional person, because that person keeps their vows & promises, is dependable, does things with excellence, tells the truth, and can be counted on no matter what.

Oh that we would be a church filled with people like that. Jesus, the perfect example of integrity, modeled for us how to live such a life. And where we lack, Jesus makes us whole. Colossians 2:10 says we are complete in Christ. Let Him make you a person of integrity.

And as far as reverence for God, may we be careful we don’t check that off our list as “done”. Do we really reverence God? Reverence means to stand in dumbfounded awe of Him. We are struck silent in holy respect for who He is. Are you that way towards God? Or has He lost His Holy luster?

Another way to say reverence is “prize, cherish, or value” and what we prize, cherish, and value we prioritize.

Do you prioritize God by valuing Him above all things in your life? Is He #1? Do you prize Him as the precious gift and jewel that He is? Do you cherish your relationship with Him above all else?

THAT’S reverence. And I believe the church of Jesus Christ is sorely lacking in its reverence to God.

The original root of “reverence” has as part of its meaning, “to become aware of”. It’s as if every day we should become more and more awestruck at God holiness, His love, His power, His glory.

Are you becoming more and more aware of these things as it relates to your loving heavenly Father?

Oh that we would stand in an ever-growing awareness of God’s awesomeness in our lives, and as a result may we prioritize, value, cherish, and treasure Him in our lives in a deeper way every day.

It’ll change how you live your life if you do.

May we be a people of dependable excellence and prioritized cherishing of our a God for the world to see.

Please listen to Sunday’s message as you click on the link below. You’ll also find a bonus part of my message that I haven’t included in these Faith Notes as I shared with the congregation something the Holy Spirit spoke to me several months ago when He told me, “Get Ready.”

Listen to the message to hear what He’s told us what we’re to get ready for.

Be a person of integrity and reverence for God. The world around you desperately needs it.

THE 52 DAY CHALLENGE

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52daychallenge

THE 52 DAY CHALLENGE

Nehemiah 6:15-16, “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”

What could you do in 52 days?

Lose weight? Pay off a debt? Knock out all of the items on your “to-do” list?

52 days from today is December 2, 2014.

There’s much we could do in 52 days if we put our minds to it.

Nehemiah organized a group of people to rebuild a wall around a city, and in 52 days, in spite of the opposition and the size of the task, because of God’s help, he succeeded.

Aside from the personal things we could accomplish in 52 days, what are some things we could do for God’s kingdom in that many days?

Spend time in His Word? 1 chapter a day will get you through 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Titus. That’s 7 books in the Bible!

Prayer? 10 minutes of uninterrupted prayer will net you 8.6 hours over 52 days. Prayer is a crucial discipline of the faith we don’t exercise nearly enough.

Witness? Sharing Jesus with one person a day for 52 days, and them in turn sharing with their friends, and so on and so on, times 10, will result on over 52,000 people hearing about Christ in 52 days!

Beyond that, many of us have had the Lord speak to our hearts over the years to step out in faith and do that “thing”, you know what it is, for Him.

Maybe now is that time. Maybe you can make a difference in the next 52 days that people 2500 years from now will be sharing with their contemporaries.

If not now, why? If not now, when?

May it be said that satan trembled in fear and lost his self-confidence because of the work you did for God’s Kingdom over the next 52 days with God’s help!

Please click on the link below and listen to the entire message, “The 52 Day Challenge”, and then let’s pray and ask God what it is that He wants US to do for His glory and to strengthen His people.

I look forward to hearing the stories of those who accept the challenge and will step out to do something different over the next 52 days.

You are the right person in the right place and the right time to make a difference for God’s Kingdom!

THE DESPERATION OF THE ENEMY – Nehemiah 6:1-14

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THE DESPERATION OF THE ENEMY – Nehemiah 6:1-14

Satan’s time is almost up and he knows.

He’s getting desperate.

He understands the urgency of the hour and he’s pulling out all the stops as history inches closer and closer to the Rapture and Christ’s return.

We see parallels in Nehemiah 6:1-14 as Sanballat and his cronies attempt one final time to thwart Nehemiah and God’s people from completing the task.

We can pull three things from this story as it relates to the end times as satan engages his last, desperate maneuver to take as many people as he can with him, and our response to these tactics.

First, the enemy is relentless. He never gives up. If one way doesn’t work he’ll try another.
He never get tired. He also understands the urgency of the hour (probably more so than most Christians) and it motivates him to be relentless.

Our response? Rely on God’s strength to fight for us and realize God is in control!

Second, the enemy will try to intimidate us and make us afraid.
His strategy is to get in our faces and threaten in whatever means possible to weaken our resolve.

Our response? Don’t look at the size of the threat in front of you, but at the size of God inside of you!
God is bigger!

Third, the enemy will attempt to lure us away with subtle deception.
Everyone has a different weakness. Satan knows what it is and will dangle it in front of us to try and lure us away.

Our response? Run to Jesus! Pray to Him for the way of escape. He’ll provide it for you!

If you’d like to hear the full message, “The Desperation of the Enemy”, click on the link below.

Be encouraged today. God is in control! God is bigger! Run to Jesus!

He’s coming soon!!!!

ARE YOU WORN OUT? – Nehemiah 5:14

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ARE YOU WORN OUT? – Nehemiah 5:14

Do you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of, burning the candles at both ends, like there’s no end to the demands and responsibilities in your life?

Have you been treated harshly?

Nehemiah faced this as he was leading the people in rebuilding the wall. In Nehemiah Chapter 5 he recalled how the former governors had placed a heavy demand on the people by taxing them. He choose not to, even though it was in his legal right to do so.

He had as his primary concern the task and burden that God had placed on his heart to do, rebuild the wall.

I love the compassion and gentle care he had towards the people of Israel. And I love how we can apply this to ourselves today.

It seems the world is lacking gentleness these days. Instead we’re surrounded by harsh people doing harsh things.

This harshness is reflected in how we treat God’s creation. But the new paradigm I’d like to challenge you with today is:

If you deplete it, fill it back up, if you break it, fix it, if you drop it, pick it up, if you make a mess, clean it up.

Leave things BETTER than how you found them.

Don’t cause the problem, be the solution.

Don’t wear things out. Be gentle.

Because the way we approach stewarding God’s creation and our personal resources spills over into how we treat others.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”

Gentleness means considerate, kind, & tender, not severe or harsh.

That was Nehemiah’s approach to the people of Israel. He used his own resources to supply his needs. He came expecting nothing from anyone other than the help to do what God had laid on his heart. He was gentle to the people placed in his care.

You see, God hasn’t placed people in your life for you to see what you can get out of them, but for what you can deposit into them.

God’s reward is guaranteed. Hebrews 6:10, “God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”

So, if you’re exhausted and weary from the harshness of this world, and if you feel depleted because of it, come to Jesus and be refreshed and find rest.

Jesus extends this beautiful, gentle invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle (there’s that word again) and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls….”

Be still in His presence. Be at peace & let Him quiet your soul with His gentle love, and in Him find your rest.