This is the 3rd and final week of our series 'Rebuild, Restore, Revive'
God does his best work when we work together.
Cinder Block Wall
Story of getting new cinder block wall - Feeling naked without our fence for those weeks.
My wife and I live in the north valley and we have a house that we really love, it's an older house, it has character.
And we live right next to the park and every morning you can hear the sprinklers going off at the park to water the grass. Well there's this one sprinkler head that basically does nothing but shoot a firehose stream at our back fence. And you can hear it "PFT!!!" and it ends up ruining the wood. So this poor wood fence that was really old was hanging on for dear life. There were times when the wood blew and literally blew the fence over.
So we got together with our next door neighbor and we decided 'enough of this' - we're gonna replace our broken down wood fences with cinder block. Let's see the demon possessed sprinkler head get through concrete!!!
So we get all these bids and it's outrageously expensive, and we save up money and we finally go for it.
Now I wasn't really thinking through exactly how this would play out. So the construction guys arrive and the first they do is remove our old fence. I'm assuming they did this by lightly blowing on it.
So what we didn't account for is how without a fence, our yard essentially became an extension of the park. And now our grill just looks like a grill that's at the park! And when we look out of back window, we see people smooching under the trees of the park and it looked to us like strangers were making out in our backyard. And of course every time the dogs want to pee we had to put them on the leash and all that, so we just made them hold it!
And this went on for I'm thinking a month, where we generously contributed our backyard to expanding the park.
It's all good now and we love our cinder block.
Building (or rebuilding) can be a painful process.
Here's my point: Building (or rebuilding) can be a painful process.
Really inspired by the book of Nehemiah where we read about God's people coming out of Babylonian captivity, and trying to rebuild their city and rebuild their lives.
Here's the background : And don't worry, I know you're getting ready for lunch, so I'm not gonna start in Genesis or anything. I'm gonna start in Exodus. Back in Exodus, God delivers the Jews from oppression of Egypt. And God leads them to the border of the promised land, but because they doubted the goodness and power of God, instead of entering the promised land, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Eventually they make it into the promised land but because of lots of different factors including their own sin and obstinance, they never stay out of captivity for long. Fast forward 1000 years, and the jews are returning back to Jerusalem after being under Babylonian captivity.
They've suffered horribly, they've been beaten and killed and tortured. And now they're trying to rebuild a life from the rubble.
Chapter 3 - Really Cool
And we're gonna pick up in chapter 3, this is a chapter that I think is really cool, although most people literally cannot tolerate reading it. - Probably the most popular book written about Nehemiah is called 'Hand me another brick' by Chuck Swindoll, he doesn't even DO chapter 3. And I think you'll see why.
It's essentially an account of who fixes what in the city in regards to the cities wall. Which sounds pretty exciting, don't you think? Delegating tasks.
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. (Nehemiah 3:1)
The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them. (Nehemiah 3:2)
The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. (Nehemiah 3:3)
Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. (Nehemiah 3:4)
The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. (Nehemiah 3:5)
The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. (Nehemiah 3:6)
Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. (Nehemiah 3:7)
Almost certainly you haven't heard those scriptures read aloud to you before. And you might be thinking 'There's a reason for that David'.
Next to them:
Here's what's amazing: You have both men and women, clergy and non-clergy, people from different towns, different classes, you have both rulers and non-rulers, people from different occupations - Goldsmiths, merchants. So what you have is people from every part of society.
And what's the one phrase you heard me say more than any other? "Next to them" This huge diversity of God's people, all working side by side towards a common goal. This is not something the priests were able to do by themselves. This required everyone. The priests were in there, shoulder to shoulder working with everybody else.
The ministry of rebuilding had to be done by the WHOLE people of God.
This shows us two things about how God's work is done in the world, and it also shows us how the process of rebuilding happens in our lives.
All Christians are in ministry. We all have things that God has placed inside of us FOR our city and for our world. We all have unique gifts. The apostle Paul talks about this constantly. He talks about how there are no gifts that are unimportant.
If God has put you in a church, you're not there by accident. You have something to contribute. There are people that you can reach better than anyone else can.
Andrew Wommack Tattoos
I remember when I was in bible College and Andrew Wommack had everyone stand up with tattoos. Naturally I stood up and he said 'I do not like tattoos. I don't. And what's more, you men and women who are here because you believe God has called you to be ministers, do you realize that there will be people who will never listen to you simply because you have tattoos? It doesn't matter how gifted you are, how anointed you are, you could have God's perfect words for them and they won't hear it, simply because you have tattoos.' And he said "You might think, 'Well they should listen!' But who cares what they SHOULD do."
And so we're all standing there thinking 'You know these things are permanent right?'
And then he says 'But the same is true for me. I'm a simple country boy. I talk with this Texas draw and I have this big belt buckle. And there are people who will never listen to me. It doesn't matter if I have the perfect words, straight from God for them, they won't ever listen to someone like me.' And then he said 'That's why we need each other. That's why we're stronger together than we are apart.'
Think about it: If we all looked and acted the same, we'd be amazing at reaching one type of person and completely unable to reach another. But because of the diversity in the body of Christ, we can reach people of all ages, of all social classes, of all nationalities, of all languages, of all political parties.
That's why diversity in the body of Christ isn't something we tolerate, I'm something we celebrate.
And it's not just because of your 'style', it's because of your life. For many of you, you've lived through and survived what someone else is going through right now. And your story, your life can be the example that gives them the strength to keep going.
Now you might be thinking: "My story isn't nearly that dramatic." - It doesn't matter.
The very fact that God has placed you in a community means you have something to give. There are people you can reach that I can't reach. There's connections you have that no one else has. God has opened doors for you that he hasn't opened for anyone else.
Early church - unbelievable growth.
It's amazing when you study the early church, so this is the church of the 1st and 2nd and 3rd centuries, they experienced unbelievable growth. Arguably the greatest growth in the history of the church. - How did that happen? Some people would say "There must have been a lot of great preachers in those days! And if you were a Christian, you'd bring your non-Christian friends to hear the great preacher. And the preacher would give an altar call at the end with the keyboard playing and people would give their lives to Christ'. - Now there's no doubt that preaching was incredibly important. Especially these preachers that traveled like the apostle Paul.
But the growth of the church in those centuries was not through bringing your non-Christian friends to church to hear the awesome preacher, in fact, Christians were being persecuted at this point in history, so people didn't bring their non-Christian friends to church because if you bring the wrong non-Christian to your secret church, well then your cover was blown and you were all put to death.
So how did the message travel the world? - Primarily one-on-one. And it wasn't up to the great preacher, everyone was doing it. You didn't wait for the preacher to tell your friend about Jesus, you did it yourself.
When you become a Christian, it's Jesus and then everything else. Here's what I mean. - There's lots of things that go into a persons identity.
There's people who find a huge amount of their identity in their ethnicity. Think about the movie 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' - Remember the dad "There are 2 types of people - Greeks and everyone else who wishes they were greek."
Some people find a huge amount of their identity in their occupation. My granny and Grampy were school teachers and PROUD school teachers. They lived in a small town and everyone knew that they were TEACHERS.
And all of those are not bad. They're great.
But when you become a Christian, "Follower of Christ" becomes the deepest part of who you are.
It goes deeper than:
So now, anybody else you meet that has the same 'Follower of Christ' foundation, even though they're a different race, or ethnicity, or political affiliation, or life story. - You are more my brother or my sister - than anybody else in the world.
And now "Next to him, next to him, next to him" - We are united around a common purpose.
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, (Nehemiah 4:1)
and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” (Nehemiah 4:2)
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4:3)
… when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. (Nehemiah 4:7)
They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. (Nehemiah 4:8)
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:9)
LOVE scripture. It shows us this interaction between God's responsibility and our responsibility. They prayed and they posted a guard. Isn't that hysterical?! They prayed that God would protect them, and they also hired a guy.
Isaiah 38 King Hezekiah - Plaster In Isaiah 38 - Hezekiah the king is sick and he's about to die. He prays 'Oh Lord, save me.' - God speaks through Isaiah and says 'Ok, you're going to recover and get 15 more years to live.' And then he adds this "Make a plaster made out of figs and put it on the infection on your side.'
Isn't that interesting. He prayed to God 'Heal me' and God responds 'Ok I'll heal you. Here's the medicine.' You see throughout the bible : God at work and people at work. Both.
We have this tendency to think "If God's is at work, I don't need to be at work. And if I'm working then I really don't believe in God."
No it's both. We believe God, AND we work.
Here's what you have to understand: Prayer does not change the will of God, it fulfills it.
And listen, that's good news. You don't want your prayers changing the will of God. Why not? B/C you don't want that much power.
Tease : When - 10 years old… I like to tease people and I'll say: When you were 10 years old, you look back at your 8 years old self and think "Man, I was so stupid." And when you're 15 years old you think back to when you were 10 and you think "Man, I was so stupid." And when you're 20 years old you look back at your 15 years old self and think "Man, I was so stupid." And when you're 30 you think back to when you were 20 and think "Man, I was so stupid." And guess what? You're stupid now.
Thank God we're not the one's who decide what God wants. No, in prayer, we AGREE with him. - He doesn't agree with us, we agree with Him.
So we don't change God's will in prayer. Nor is the purpose of prayer telling God what you think he should do. No the purpose of prayer is to partner with God in what HE wants to do.
And that's done with both prayer and action.
We don't just pray and believe and then sit back. Nor do we just work work work in our own effort. It's not an either/or it's a both/and. We pray AND we work.
So what's the point of all of this:
So we're not working to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, but we are called to be builders. And that's true for the work God has called us to do collectively, but it's also true for you as an individual person.
Close w/ question: What would it look like you to offer up your time, gifts, and resources to help accomplish God's work in the world?
I know you're not some unbelievable prophet person, but what has God given you that you can use to make a difference?
Most tragic thing would be to be so unimpressed by your own giftings that you never use them.
I can Talk pretty Almost all I know how to do is talk pretty. I don't know how to fix things, build things, My practical value as a human being is very low. In the case of a Zombie Outbreak, I don't think you'd want me on your survival team. I don't know if Zombies would be willing to sit down and listen to REASON. But it's amazing how God has been able to use me. Because I'm open to it.
What would it look like for you to offer up your time, gifts, and resources to help accomplish God's work in the world?
I don't want to make this too spiritual, b/c if I do, you'll miss the point. We're talking about common things.
Are you gonna win some award for that, probably not. But it's doing God's work in the world. And that's how a city is rebuilt. That's true for Jerusalem in the day of Nehemiah and it's true for Albuquerque, NM in 2018.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1 MSG)