Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Lakeside Christian Church · Learning to Trust Again | Unbroken episode 04 Scripture Verses Nehemiah 2:17-3:32; Proverbs 21:1; Galatians 1:10 Worship Playlist Awake My Soul by HillsongEstablish the Work of Our Hands by Porter's GatePlease Speak by A New LiturgyCome Behold the Wondrous Mystery by Matt Boswell Study Questions How have you seen people come together to get through a crisis?How did Nehemiah get the people on board for this huge endeavor to build the walls (Nehemiah 2:16-17)? What are the qualities of effective leadership demonstrated by Nehemiah?What are some things you notice about the various teams in Nehemiah 3? What kept them motivated? Who wasn't on board, and why?Jesus calls us to a Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), a Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), and a Great Collaboration (John 17:17-23). How does his calling motivate you to work in the ministry at Lakeside? Big projects usually take: prayer, vision, strategy, unity and work. When have you been part of a project like this? How can our group take on a service project (keeping in mind these five elements}? Dream big...and do it! Downloads & Resources Learning to Trust Again Dr. Jon Morrissette - 9/25/2022 Proverbs 21:1 says, “When we pray, a King is like channeled water in God's hand.” Nehemiah prayed that God would give him success in the presence of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. He was expected to convey joy in the king’s presence, but he was deeply distraught about the trouble and disgrace Jerusalem was in. He was expected to cover his mouth with his hand, lest his breath offend the king. He was expected to be silent unless spoken to. He was forbidden from bringing forth any personal matters or requests. Were he to go off-script… minimally he could be thrown in a dungeon, or worse, executed. BUT the gracious hand of God was upon Nehemiah. The king compassionately inquired about Nehemiah’s sadness. He patiently listened as Nehemiah described the trouble and disgrace of God’s people in Jerusalem. He willingly released Nehemiah to rebuild the city of his fathers, the city of his God. He agreed to Nehemiah’s timeline… his requests for letters authorizing safe passage, for letters authorizing the use of timbers from the king’s forest. The king sent officers of the infantry and cavalry with him. Artaxerxes became like channeled water indeed! Whenever we endeavor to do anything significant for God, men will stand in the way. Hurdle #1 was King Artaxerxes. Hurdle #2 was “Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official.” The minute these regional governors realize someone was seeking the prosperity of the Israelites they were “greatly displeased” (Nehemiah 2:10). There will always be Sanballats’ and Tobiahs’ in every age who love darkness, and hate the light, because their deeds are evil. It’s foolish to think they will ever endorse the things of God. What’s needed now more than ever are men and women who will suffer the displeasure of men to carry out what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Hurdle #3 was even more grave—and this is perhaps the most shocking thing of all. God’s work isn’t just resisted from without, its resisted from within. Nehemiah’s greatest obstacle was the “Jews, Priests, Nobles, the Officials” (see Nehemiah 2:16). Many of these people had put their own security and affluence before the wellbeing of their very own people and nation. So long as they pleased Sanballat and Tobiah and didn’t make waves, their families would enjoy protection, affluence, and privilege. They’d made a deal with the devil—though they’d give lip service to God’s glory, their hearts were divided. There is an important lesson here. To truly please God is to suffer the displeasure of men. The Bible says men (husbands) want to please women (wives), and women want to please men. And parents want to please their children. I’ve also noticed how leaders of every stripe want to please their constituents. We’re perfectly willing to sell out the wellbeing of God’s people, even the estate of God’s Glory and Kingdom, for the pleasure of men. In Galatians 1:10 Apostle Paul says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Where are the God pleasers? What will it take for the pleasers of God in this generation to rise up? It’s very sad, but worth pointing out, that when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem he has to keep his plans secret. He sets out by night, on a single animal, to inspect the various gates and sections of the wall that had been destroyed. The Jews, Priests, Nobles, and Officials had no clue where Nehemiah was, or what he was doing. What should you do when those who should be leading the work of God stand most opposed to it? When I began serving God (decades ago), I imagined that the leaders of the church I served would be on fire for God’s Kingdom. But sadly, that is rarely the case. Those in positions of authority most often use their power to protect the status quo. You can wait on them all you want. You can hope they will dare to dream again, that their hearts will be set afire with the things of God, that they’ll begin drawing up plans, acting boldly and courageously, endeavoring to subdue to the earth, to suffer the displeasure of men. But those who created, and maintained, and have a vested interest in the status quo of trouble and disgrace—never lead the change. More often than not, it takes a catalytic leader like a Nehemiah to come and upset the apple cart! When I first started in ministry, I so badly wanted to “be led.” But it wasn’t long before God convicted me that I either needed to lead, or let things continue dying a slow death. Early on someone gave me some unconventional advice. They said, “Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” If God has authorized the mission, lead on! Nehemiah didn’t wait for permission from the Jews, Priests, Nobles and Officials. In Nehemiah 2:17-18, He says to them, “You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” I told them how the gracious hand of my God had been on me, and what the king had said to me.” I think it was Max Depree who said the first job of a leader is to “define reality.” Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade and say, “Open your eyes and look! The masses are harassed and helpless, without hope and without God. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers!” Nehemiah’s first hurdle was King Artaxerxes. His second hurdle was the evil governors Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. His third hurdle was the Jews, Priests, Nobles, and Officials. His fourth hurdle was the surviving exiles themselves. A lot of people have a fundamental misunderstanding of what true leadership is. For example, it’s assumed that great leaders are to “do the work” themselves. When I started ministry, that was my assumption as well. I quickly learned that the elders and congregation were perfectly content for me to do the work of ministry. AND, they were more than happy to hold me accountable, to insist I submit monthly reports of my activities. I lived in a fishbowl, or I mean a church parsonage, and people watched you day and night. Boy if the church lights were on, or phone, or doorbell rang, I was expected to be on call. It took years for me to realize that truly great leaders don’t just “do the work of ministry” but they “give the work of ministry” back to the people. Once when the elders were evaluating me, I asked them to also evaluate each other. Once when they asked for a report, I asked them also to report what work they’d done for the kingdom. They never asked for a report ever again! But I was serious. In Ephesians four Paul says the Church must build itself up in love, with each part doing its work! Church isn’t “me” its “we.” When Nehemiah went to the people, a beautiful thing happened. Nehemiah 2:18, “I told them how the gracious hand of my God had been on me, and what the king had said to me. They said, “Let’s start rebuilding,” and their hands were strengthened to do this good work.” There is nothing that makes the enemies of God quake more than when the people of God take up the work of God—the church building itself up in love—each person—every part—every member and leader—doing their part! And it’s such an amazing insight… that “their hands were strengthened to do work” Nehemiah 2:19-20, “When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about this, they mocked and despised us, and said, “What is this you’re doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I gave them this reply, “The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success. We, his servants, will start building, but you have no share, right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.” In Nehemiah 3, the people of God are mobilized. “Officials” represented Persian empire; “Jews” were citizens—survivors; “Nobles and Elders” headed important families; “Guild Workers” and “Merchants” specialized in gold, perfume, etc. “Scribes” experts in law, study Scriptures. “Priests” ministered in the temple. And what we see is how the work itself exposes the real character and heart of God’s people. In Nehemiah 3:1, “The high priest Eliashib and his fellow priests began rebuilding the Sheep Gate.” These priests (even the high priest) set an example, and carry stones. History tells us that the great Kings of Sumeria would carry bricks to build their temples. In stark contrast, Nehemiah 3:5 tells us how the “nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors.” They were just being lazy—they were protecting the status quo. They were looking to their own interests, not that of God or others. In all, archaeologists estimate that 1.5 to 2 miles of wall had to be rebuilt. Most sections were 250 feet long—just short of the length of a football field. The longest section was 1500 feet—five football fields! In all, Nehemiah formed 42 teams of workers. Everyone was needed, each part doing their work. The priests. The Great High Priest Himself. The Men of Jericho. The Sons of Hassenah. The Tekoites. Goldsmiths. Perfumers. The Levites. The Temple Servants. The Merchants. A District Leader—an Official rebuilt a section with the help of his daughters! Many teams consisted of family units rebuilding the section of the wall closest to their homes. Makes total sense—you’d want to make sure the wall closest to your home was done right! Not everyone did equal work—but everyone worked according to their strength and means. Some were extremely zealous. There were early adopters, the pacesetter types. There were late adopters, who joined only after they saw the early progress. What we really have in Nehemiah three is a picture of the Church. In the days of Nehemiah, the people “rebuilt” the walls with stones. Many of the stones were badly damaged by fire, and were brittle. I see in this an irresistible metaphor. That when God builds his church, he builds it on the sure foundation of his Word and Promises, and the Chief Cornerstone of the Church is the Living Word himself, Christ Jesus. And with what materials does Christ build his church? The church is built of “living stones”—people who have been damaged but who have been redeemed, and repurposed, by the Spirit of God. And who does the work of building the church? Certainly Christ’s apostles, Christ’s prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists. But most critically, the church—the living stones themselves—build one another up in love with each part doing its work! You know the mightier the church becomes; the angrier God’s enemies grow. Well, so what? In the end the enemies of God lose their confidence. Like kings, and governors, and spiritual sellouts like the nobles… they become like water channeled in God’s hand. Christ promised that his Kingdom would prevail, and the gates of hell would not stand against it. The greatest work we’re doing isn’t physical, but spiritual… building people, building disciples… will you join the work?