“Remain at Your Post”

Date: 02-14–15

Text: — Nehemiah 6:10-13 — 10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: When faced with opposition, stand strong and stay at your post.

My Thoughts: 

Truly, there are those times we need to withdraw and regroup, but there are also those times when we stand strong and stay at our post. We do this for several reasons. Nehemiah shows us that one reason is being a strong leader, one must demonstrate integrity by remaining strong at our post. V. 11 above teaches me this: “should a man like me.” Nehemiah was a man of integrity, and as a wise and strong leader, he did what he expected those he led to do: Do not be intimidated by the enemy’s lies; stand strong at your post!

Lifestyle worshiper, right now you may be enduring lies and misinformation about you or your circumstances. You may be encountering those who are trying to intimidate you into ‘leaving your post’. Stand strong! Remain at your post. And do this not just for your own integrity’s sake, but also for the sake of those you are posted to protect! You are building walls from the debris of broken relationships. Your success may not be as evident to you as it is to others, but many are looking to you. They see your courage, your integrity, and your faithfulness. Stand strong! Remain at your post!

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  — Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV84)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. — Gal. 6:9 (NASB95)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9 (NASB95)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  be my strength as I stand against the schemes of the wicked one. You desire to rebuild! He has come to tear down. You restore. He scatters. You heal. He wounds. Blessed be Your Name for You are greater in and through me than he that is in the world. Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The First Targeted”

Date: 02-12–15

Text: — Nehemiah 4:3-6 — Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” 4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. 6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Keep the lines of communication open as we face the salvos of opposition in our daily lives.

My Thoughts: 

In any military operation, one of the first things targeted is communications. Whether it be through jamming the airwaves, shooting the RTO or bombing the HQ, the tactic is to disrupt communications so to cause confusion and isolation….

Lifestyle worshiper, has this happened to you? When was the last time you prayed to the Lord? Has this tactic been successfully used on you? I know I need to be mindful of my prayer life. When my prayer times diminish, I start to feel isolated and, frankly, confused. “What does the Lord want me to do?” Well, have I checked in with HQ to hear my orders?

Did you notice that Nehemiah kept the lines of communication open in v. 4? Yeah, his prayer is rather challenging for some of us (and perhaps we will deal with the content in later writings) but notice: He immediately goes to prayer. As a matter of fact in chapters 4 & 6, three of the four times Nehemiah prays in these chapters are recorded. He clearly did not let the tactic of disrupting communications be successful….

So if it has been a while since you’ve prayed, or if you’ve flagged a wee bit in the last few weeks, join me in keeping our lines of communication open as we face the salvos of opposition in our daily lives.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” — Matthew 26:36-41 (NIV84)
 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

— Romans 12:12 (NIV84)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.— Ephesians 6:18 (NIV84)
 

  Lord Jesus Christ,  ignite in my soul a  passion for prayer. Allow me to move toward a running dialogue with You. And in the silence, let my ears be attentive to Your still, small voice. Penetrate the noise in my life with Your Words of Peace and  Joy. Direct my steps as I face the salvos of opposition in my life.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“God’s Will & Opposition”

Date: 02-10–15

Text: — Nehemiah 4:1-3 — 1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 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?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

My Thoughts: 

Finally, we act; we step out in bold faith and confident assurance because we are so convinced the Lord wants us to do something. We move in the direction we sense He is prompting us. Suddenly, almost without warning, “Slam!” We’re hit by some resistance; some terrible opposition to our direction. Questions flood our minds as doubt floods our souls. “Did I hear the Lord right? Why all this difficulty and struggle? Why this opposition?”

Lifestyle worshiper, does this describe you? Are you one that feels that any opposition demonstrates that you are out of God’s will? Allow me to suggest to you that, in fact, opposition is almost certain to come when you are doing the will of God. As the old WWII saying goes, “You know you’re close to the target when the flack starts flying!”

I was one who would whine and complain with each wave of opposition, but I am learning that through the passage of time and the presence of struggle the character of Christ is forged in me. So as I walk in obedience to the Lord; as I fulfill the dreams and destiny that He has designed for me, I will encounter strong opposition as Nehemiah did (noted in the above passage). And, as Nehemiah did not: I will not complain or whine to the Lord. Instead, I will follow his example and pray to the Lord Almighty: “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised” (4:4).

Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.

— 2 Timothy 3:12-14 (NIV84)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

— Philippians 1:27-28 (NIV84)

Then [Paul & Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

— Acts 14:21b-22 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  forgive me for giving up when the slightest hint of opposition arises. Fuel my passion with the Power of Your Holy Spirit to overcome the opposition and persevere  in Your strength to accomplish Your bidding.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“More Gets Done”

Date: 02-08-15

Text: — Nehemiah 6:15-16 — 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 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. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: When we yield to the Lord Jesus Christ and work together in rebuilding relationships, we get to witness a miracle.

My Thoughts: 

Many of you are probably very familiar with the acronym, T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Accomplishes More. I believe this is very, very true. We see this in Nehemiah’s rebuilding the wall. But what we also see is nothing short of a miracle (see the above passage). Yes, the “M” could stand for this as well, but we do not accomplish it per se, though we are co-laborers. When we yield to the Lord Jesus Christ and work together in rebuilding relationships, we get to witness a miracle.

Lifestyle worshiper, do you believe this? Is this why you are reluctant to work with the team? You are not quite sure of the end result because you have been struggling so, so hard to repair the walls to no avail?

Good! Now you have learned that struggling in your own strength cannot do it. You must hoist your sails and catch the Wind of the Spirit. He will carry you along. He will empower you to do great things well beyond what you can think or imagine. Receive a fresh wind of hope this morning. The Lord is faithful: He will do “it”—in His time. Amen? Amen!

So, find your team. Pray for your team. And watch the Lord accomplish a miracle!

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

I will praise You with the harp for Your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to You with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.

— Psalm 77:22 (NIV84)

 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one,

— 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV84)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

— 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  forgive me for giving up hope while I have struggle to repair this relationship with _________. I ask You to infuse me with a fresh Hope and an inner strength that can only come from Your Holy Spirit.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Start with the Obvious”

Date: 02-05-15

Text: — Nehemiah 3:10 — Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Maybe it is time to address this and start with the obvious.

My Thoughts: 

As the people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day began to rebuild the wall, they did something rather obvious and simple: The started with the obvious. This “obvious” was right outside their front door (see v. 10 above). When rebuilding the wall, they all worked together doing their part, and many started in the obvious place….

Lifestyle worshipers, many want to serve the Lord in distant lands, and this is very good. We need many, many more to capture this mission. But most of us do not have this burden. And what I have noticed is we will distract ourselves with all sorts of ‘distant’ busyness, and not really repair the walls of relationships just outside our front doors. For whatever fear we distract ourselves, the irony is the rejection has already happened; the hope of ever repairing the relationship eludes us. So what do we have to lose in attempting to fix those relationships that are right outside our front door?

Yes, maybe it is time to address this and start with the obvious? What do you think? Care to share your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

— Mark 5:18-19 (NIV84)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

— Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  instill in me a courage that will overcome my fears of rebuilding the relationships that are nearest to me.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“You Have A Role”

Date: 02-04-15

Text: — 1 Corinthians 12:27 — 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Join me in eliminating the “Shout Down” method.

My Thoughts: 

Being a former loner, I understand what some are feeling. The irony was, I myself am a team player, and yet I often felt that no wanted to play with me. Many of these feelings were self imposed downers, but the truth was I was the kid that was ditched quite frequently. But I continued to play—anyway….

In truth, deep down I always believed that each of us has a role to play, especially in the Body of Christ. This is the greatest team to ever be on. The Coach doesn’t play favorites, and doesn’t pull you out after making a mistake. You can play your best, and He is pleased with it. When you do flub up, depending on the severity of the ‘foul’, He takes you aside and explains the ‘Game’ a little better. And when He ‘benches’ you, it is for a good reason. One dear mentor told me and another friend that maybe the Coach has ‘benched’ us in order to keep us fresh for the fourth quarter….

Lifestyle worshipers, when you feel like you are not part of a team or are playing in a game that requires no teammates, remember that the Body of Christ has many positions, and He definitely has one with your name on it. So: play your best! Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

— Corinthians 12:14-26 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  forgive me for feeling like I am not part of Your Team. Open my eyes to the position You have placed me in and empower me to faithful play my best!  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Catching the Wave”

Date: 01-30-15

Text: — Nehemiah 2:13-15 — 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Sometimes casting a vision is as simple as catching a wave.

My Thoughts: 

Sometimes casting a vision is as simple as catching a wave of opportunity. I’m not much of an expert on body surfing, but I have done it a few times, and even fewer successfully. What I quickly learned, however, is timing is pretty important. Timing my approach to get to the right place on the crest of the wave was the key. I’m sure the principle is the same as board surfing. Never mastered it, but I understand it.

Nehemiah caught a wave of opportunity after his inspection of the wall. Apparently, he said a lot more than he recorded here, but one thing is for certain about what he did say: He clearly identified the problem and offered a compelling solution. He shared the burden of his heart at a time when the Lord had opened the door of opportunity. He did not hesitate; he did not stutter. He ‘cast a vision’ of hope and promise—all based in a confidence that came from a life of prayer.

Lifestyle worshipers, for some of us, it is hard to know when the time is right, but I am convinced when we are in ‘constant’ prayer, an opportunity will open for us and the Lord will make a way for us to cast the vision of our burden! Being vigilant in prayer and alert to the circumstances takes a clear mind—a mind that is not worried or concerned of the ‘what ifs’, inadequacies and weaknesses of our ‘selves’, but a mind that is focused on the Holy One’s  strengths. For in our weakness His strength is made perfect and complete.

Join me in catching a wave of opportunity being alert to its timing through prayer.   Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

— 1 Peter 4:7 (NIV84)

   Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

— Colossians 4:2 (NASB95)

  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

— Ephesians 6:18 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father,  keep me ever vigilant and alert to the opportunities You afford me to act on the vision You have burned in my soul.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Messages in Winter”

Date: 01-04-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:1-2 — The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Very sad (or even ‘bad’) news in your life—right now—can be but the prompting for a great work the LORD has prepared in advance for you to walk in.

My Thoughts: 

Even when things seem the darkest and the coldest we can receive messages from the LORD. The month of Kislev (v. 1) is Nov-Dec in our calendar. The citadel of Susa is the winter palace for the King. While there, Nehemiah receives very sad news: His people are in great trouble and disgrace. Now we who know the rest of the story know that this is merely the prompting from a great work the LORD has prepared in advance for Nehemiah to walk in….

And, Lifestyle worshipers, some very sad (or even ‘bad’) news in your life—right now—can be but the prompting for a great work the LORD has prepared in advance for you to walk in. So how do you receive this news?

This is the question I ask myself, too. I know we have to read ahead to see how Nehemiah receives the news, but I truly want to be like him here. Join me in seeking the LORD’s face as we look with hope to the future through this very sad news. I cannot imagine what the LORD has in store for us? Can you?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

— Matthew 6:26 (NIV84)

    For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

— Ephesians 2:10 (NIV84)

   Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

— 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father,  I wait on You to lead me into the good work You have prepared in advance for me to walk in. Lord Jesus Christ, be courage in me as I take the first steps in my winter towards it.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“When is the Right Time?”

Date: 01-03-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:1-2 — The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Something can be fixed too soon.

My Thoughts: 

I like getting things done quickly. “The sooner the better,” I often like saying. But I have learned over the years that I can try to fix something too soon, especially when it come to relationships that involve deep emotions. …

Nehemiah knew of Ezra. He knew he was rebuilding the temple. He may have even been aware that there had been a delay, and two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, were raised up by the LORD to motivate His people to finish the task. And it is interesting to note that it was a little over 10 years later that Nehemiah gets the news from his brother Hanani recorded for us in the verses above. You would think the Lord would be in a hurry to fix things, but apparently not….

As Lifestyle worshipers, are you acutely aware that fixing things too soon may spin out a new set of issues that need to be fixed? But when we wait on the Lord, His timing is perfect—with its own set of issues still needing to be fixed. The former issues are often self-inflicted; the latter are divinely appointed. Not to say that the LORD isn’t in control of the others; but it is to say it is the harder way.

So when I am tempted to fix something, I first check in with the LORD  and wait on Him for His “go” / “no go” instructions.  I find this is far better than wading through a swamp of issues I created by my impatience. Have you found this to be so, too? Let me know your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

— Luke 8:15 (ESV)

    Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

— Proverbs 25:15 (NIV)

  Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? …  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

— Isaiah 40:27, 30-31 (NIV)

Heavenly Father,  as I wait on You, I put the Lord Jesus Christ on as my Slippers of Patience, the Right Slipper of Forgiveness and the Left Slipper of Forbearance.  In His Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Not Only An Academic Pursuit”

Date: 12-21-14

Text: — Matthew 2:10-12 — 10 When [the Magi] saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: It is critical what we do with divine revelation.

My Thoughts: 

Too many make religion one of two extremes: (1) It is merely an academic pursuit. It is all about the facts and figures and logic; (2) the other is it is a totally mystical approach, with the spiritual realm disconnected from the physical realm. Truly, the Magi’s search was a Both/And search. The stars and their “message” were truly discovered through facts, figures and logic. And to some extent, the gifts they brought were of the same logic. But when all these facts and figures and logic assembled to see this child, no words could capture what they experienced except: “they bowed down and worshiped Him” (v. 11). No record of what was said was preserved. No account of their feelings or emotions was presented. Simply: “…and worshiped Him.”

Lifestyle worshiper: Have you found your pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ as one of the two extremes? Perhaps you can join me this season in a balanced, Both/And journey. We need the facts of His virgin birth, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born in Bethlehem and the like; but we also need that inexpressible experience of being in the presence of the Holy One, the Messiah.

Have you found that the former is only enhanced and magnified by the latter, and that the latter often leaves you speechless, words failing to capture the Holy moment? Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. … And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began. 

— John 17:1, 5 (NIV84)

   Therefore God exalted [Jesus] to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

— Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV84)

Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

— 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father,  forgive me for making my pursuit of Your Son merely an academic exercise. May I realize that His Life is not separate from facts and figures but enhanced and magnified by the spiritual. Lord Jesus Christ, as I draw closer to You in my pursuit, may I relish those moments where words cannot capture my adoration of You empowered by Your Holy Spirit. Glory to YHWH in the Highest! Praise Your Holy Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike