Monday, December 20, 2010


We all hate tests and the only thing worse are finals. As the semester ends and we approach Christmas, students are glad their exams are over. When you read about Abraham’s life in the Bible, you see that his whole life led up to a huge final exam. It challenged his faith to the endth degree. It was the greatest test of all.

Many times in Abraham's life, his faith failed him. But the great thing is that although his faith failed him, God never ever failed him. Abraham loved Isaac his only child, and he was extremely proud of him, but even more important all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were centered in him. His own hope of heaven was centered in God’s promise of the Savior that was to come out of the line of Isaac. You can almost see him with worshipful eyes as he looks upon his son, thinking of the promises of God, and thinking of the miracle of God in his life. But God had to have that place. God must occupy the highest place in our hearts.

How do we give Him the highest place in our hearts? Sometimes you must let go of what you love. In Abraham’s case it was his one and only son. In Genesis 22:2 God said to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

I’m not saying that God will tell you to do what He told Abraham. The principle that applies to all of us is letting go of something we love if it keeps us from letting God have the highest place in our lives.

Things were going great for Abraham and his family, and then out of the dark of the night a voice said to him, “Take your son and give him up as a sacrifice to Me.” Abraham’s world came crashing down around him. He couldn't believe that this, his son of promise, was to be taken away from him. The turmoil in his mind and in his heart, the “spiritual wrestling” that he went through, coming to the realization that God gave this son and now God wants to take him away again. But “Why?” His heart must have broken.

At first glance it almost seems that God is mocking Abraham. If you know the story, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son and through that son a great nation would grow. And now God was going to take his son away? Why did God say it the way He did – that he was to offer his son to God as a sacrifice? Had Isaac grown too dear to Abraham’s heart? Had he begun to take God’s place in his thinking?

But Abraham’s response was immediate. He quickly arose and traveled 3 days with Isaac until they reached the place of sacrifice. I wonder what thoughts crowded his mind during that long journey. Did he doubt God’s wisdom? Surely this question must have raced through his mind: “If Isaac, who was born as the result of a miracle and is the son of promise, why is God asking me to kill him?” The patriarch, Abraham, however, did not retreat, disobey, or turn aside to avoid making this ultimate sacrifice.

Here is what God is doing in each of our lives:
God is leading each of us to the place where He asks us all to “let go” of our “Isaac”, to let go of the thing that we love and let God own it.

God wants every child of His to get to the place where everything in your life is consecrated to Him, sacrificed to Him, given to Him.

When you can learn to let go of the thing you love, the thing you're worrying about, the child that’s breaking your heart, the problems that are in your life that you're frustratingly trying solve – when you let go of them and let God “own” them, the miracle of God's grace is this: He gives you back something far greater – peace of mind, depth of relationship with Him, strength of character, a stronger faith, freedom from your fears, and confidence in knowing that God will meet all your needs.

When we take the gifts God gives us and grip them tightly to ourselves, we may find ourselves loosening our grip on God. When that happens we need to let go of the gift, let God own it, and strengthen our grip on Him, the Giver.

This Christmas as we are reminded of how the Heavenly Father offered up His only Son as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation, may we gladly release to God whatever it is that we love more than Him. May our love for the Giver overshadow our love for the gifts.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Who has not asked the question, “Why? Why me? Why my family? Why is this happening to us?” These are familiar questions. No one is immune to suffering and adversity.

Job says Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7). Some suffer for what they have done; others suffer because of what people do to them. Many suffer from circumstances which they cannot control. There can be nights of agony when God seems so unfair and it seems that there is no possible help or answer.

Temporary relief may seem adequate for the moment. But the real solution to suffering is not to isolate it in an attempt to do away with it, nor even to grit our teeth and endure it. The solution, rather, is to condition our attitudes so that we learn to triumph in and through suffering.

When the Apostle Paul sought relief from his “thorn in the flesh,” God did not take it away, but reassured him. He said in 2 Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul concurred in 2 Cor. 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Billy Graham says: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”

If you know anything about Job you know he lost everything. He lost his children, he lost his home, his business, his friends’ loyalty, his wife's confidence, and then finally he lost his health. He came to the conclusion at the end of it all that he wished that he had never been born. If anybody knew about trouble, Job knew about it. Yet he developed such a faith in his God through his trials that he could say “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” (Job 13:15). There's a turning point within the book of Job, and at the end in the last chapter it says in Job 42:10 The LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. He was blessed again, he was given health, he was given his friends back, and he was given a beautiful family and abundance of riches. And he lived another 140 years.

Handling suffering seems to be a question of attitude: “What can I learn from it? How can I use it to the advantage of God’s eternal purposes?”

Learn to look over and beyond the suffering in order to see God’s higher purposes and what He wants to teach you. Give altitude to your attitude.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Why are commitments important?

2 reasons:

1) They bring reward.
Matt. 25:23 “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

2) They prevent pain.
1 Tim. 5:12 They bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

We inflict pain on ourselves when we break our commitments.


1. Have a clean reputation.
1 Tim. 5:22 (NLT) Don't appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don't want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself.

As you grow in Christ and become more of an influence, more of a leader who leads people to Christ and to grow in Him – people “watch you.” We live transparent lives.  We are therefore responsible to them to show Christ to them, not our self-centeredness.  Where we go, what we do, what we say, what we type in emails and on FaceBook – all is connected to our reputation. And if we bear the name of Christ, as a follower of His, then we take His name, His reputation with us wherever we go and through whatever we say. Build up Christ-likeness in your life, and He will shine through more than your “self.”

2. Influence others by truth, not bias.
1 Tim. 5:21 (NLT) I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing special favor to anyone.

It’s easy to let those close to you persuade you one way or another. But if it goes against the truth of God’s Word, what are you going to do about it? Learn to lead lovingly by God’s truth.

3. Emphasize maturity before ministry.
1 Tim. 5:22 (Mes) Don't appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily.

We have a responsibility to facilitate the maturity of others before we place them in leadership. Otherwise, they become conceited and self-centered and lead others away from Christ instead of to Him.

4. Learn contentment.
1 Tim. 6:6 …godliness with contentment is great gain.

Contentment is something practiced. It is something learned. It’s a skill that pays off with great rewards, peace of mind, satisfaction, and joy.

5. Trust in God not money.
1 Tim. 6:17 (NLT) Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

Learn to enjoy trusting the Lord. Learn to enjoy what He gives you each day. Have an attitude of delight, joy, and celebration for the things and opportunities He gives you each day.

6. Invest in Heaven.
1 Tim. 6:19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Take in to account which life you’re investing in – the temporary one here on earth on the permanent one in eternity. Commit the remainder of your life to building God’s kingdom, not yours. Prepare for where you’re going to live eternally.

Monday, November 29, 2010


In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he addressed a problem they were having at their church. The problem had to do with “commitment.” There was a need for the people to understand the significance of commitment. Commitment to provide for their families was essential. Apparently some were neglecting their families to pursue their own interests at the expense of their families.

Their church had a list of “older widows” who formed a “ministry team.” They had to meet some “qualifications, some commitments” to be on the list. They had to make a commitment to the cause of the team, to their ministry. They were to keep their pledge.

“Younger widows” were not put on the list because they may desert. They may still have children in the home or want to marry again. In either case, Paul says to refuse to sign them up. They most likely had other pressing issues in their lives as well. And there was nothing necessarily wrong with those issues that would prevent them from being totally committed to the team. If you sign them up, you set them up for possible “judgment” from the Lord if they don’t keep their commitment to the responsibilities and guidelines of the group. Paul put it this way in 1 Tim. 5:12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

This concern for commitment is almost “foreign” to our society’s way of thinking today. A sense of commitment is not a part of the mindset today. People place little significance on contracts anymore. Many people today think its okay to break contracts, whether it’s their lease, or job related, or a marriage, or any kind of partnership.

But according to verse 12, a “broken contract” brings problems. Apparently God views contracts as something of great value. This doesn’t diminish the fact that He forgives and is merciful to us and He heals us, but it’s also true that when we break contracts and commitments, we will have more problems to deal with.

Take King David for example, a man after God’s own heart, and yet he sinned. After his repentance and renewal of faith in the Lord, he walked with the Lord again. However God said that the sword would never leave his house from then on. He would have trouble in his home. We are forgiven of our sins, but many times we must deal with the consequences after that.

Commitment is colossal with God.

It holds great and lasting significance with Him. And He wants us to see it the way He does. Why? – Because it is beneficial to us, and it prevents pain, that we otherwise inflict on ourselves when we break our commitments. The truth is when we make a commitment or pledge, God expects us to keep it. When we don’t, He doesn’t flame us on the spot. He instead, disciplines us as disobedient children. That’s His form of “judgment” on His children. It’s just plain wise to make commitments and to keep them.


1. Know yourself.
What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Your personality? What do you know that can trip you up? What do you know that can prevent you from being tripped up? What are your spiritual gifts? What is your gift mix?

Rom. 12:3-6 (NCV) You must decide what you really are by the amount of faith God has given you. Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses. In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us.

2. Know your purpose.
Eph. 2:10 (NLT) For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Learn God’s purpose for your life. Listen for His calling. Take the “game plan” He has for you and run with it. That’s the real reason you were created, and that’s where you’ll find fulfillment. If you don’t know your purpose in life, you’ll struggle with commitments. If you don’t have direction for your life, you will struggle with commitments. Or you think you’re going in the direction that’s meant for you, but it isn’t, because it’s not God’s direction for you, and so you’re always second guessing yourself.

3. Visualize what God can do through your life.
Eph. 3:20 (NCV) With God's power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.

All things are possible with God. God designed you for a commitment to His plans for you. God has shaped you for a purpose; with all your background, your past, your experiences, your strengths and weaknesses.

Therefore serve the Lord. Excel in enjoying life with Christ. Follow through with your commitments in the here and now, and you’ll experience an even fuller life in Heaven.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Everyone has some influence. You have people around you, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your ministry team. And you are influencing them in some way.

I’ve just experienced another milestone in life with the birth of our first grandchild this past Saturday. I’ve officially become a granddad to a beautiful little granddaughter. As I held her thoughts crossed my mind of what her life will be like. What will be her personality? What joys will she experience in life? What sorrows will she go through? When will she accept Christ into her life? What events will impact her life? Her life will be full.

The issue that comes to my mind is the opportunity to influence her, to help her navigate through all that her life will bring. Granted, her parents will be the most influential in her life. But I also realize that we grandparents will have an influence too.

None of us go through life without creating some kind of influence. In every relationship you are an influence. The big question is “What kind of influence are we?” What direction are we leading people? Where are you taking others? Where is your influence steering people?

Since God’s purpose for each of us is to make more devoted followers of Christ and to facilitate their maturity so that they become more and more like Christ, and consequently experience a fulfilling life, we must take into account our influence and let God shape it to be useful in His hands.

God lists some qualities in His Word in 1 Timothy chapters 3 and 4 that we can aspire to in order to be a good influence.

The list includes:

• Good reputation.
• Honorable marriage.
• Self-controlled.
• Respectable.
• Live wisely.
• Friendly.
• Able to teach God’s truths.
• Not controlled by substance abuse.
• Not quarrelsome.
• Gentle.
• Promotes peace, not opposition.
• The love of money doesn’t rule your life.
• Manages your family well.
• Growing as a follower of Christ.
• Faithful to point out God’s truth to others.
• Take an objective look at yourself to see what others see.

We’ve got to think about how we are perceived by others. That will then lead us to not do anything that would keep others from coming to Christ or growing in Him, but do those things that would encourage them to follow Christ. The Bible says in 2 Cor. 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

We can take our cue from what Paul tells Timothy:
1 Tim. 4:7 (NLT) Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness.
1 Tim. 4:15 (Mes) Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes!

We can develop an influence that is good and right in the eyes of the Lord that will be good and right in the eyes of others. Or to put it another way – Do what’s right in your own life and you’ll rightly influence others.

Monday, November 8, 2010


There is war that has been going on before any other war ever began, and it continues today. It’s a war that “propels” all other wars. It’s the “catalyst” for all wars. It’s the war “in the spiritual arena”. And it’s the source of all war and conflict.


1 Tim. 1:18 (Amp) This charge and admonition I commit in trust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with prophetic intimations which I formerly received concerning you, so that inspired and aided by them you may wage the good warfare,

Paul reminded Timothy that he had been entrusted with a calling from God. This God-given purpose had been committed Timothy. And in waging war on the spiritual battlefield, Timothy could get inspiration and strength from his life purpose from God.

You have a calling from God. He has called you to a specific purpose in life. He has a mission for you. He has equipped with spiritual and natural gifts. He uses your past, your experiences, and your hurts to shape you for the purpose He created you for.

When you’re confident of God’s purpose for you, you become more confident in your spiritual battles.

1 Tim. 1:18 … fight the good fight,

The “good fight” is the spiritual fight. It’s the spiritual war. It is the “right” fight. When we find ourselves in conflict, we must remind ourselves that there is a spiritual battle going on too.

You must also engage the spiritual enemy on the spiritual battlefield.

1 Tim. 1:19 holding on to faith … Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

In Ephesians Paul talks about taking up the “shield of faith.” Faith is taking steps to do what you believe God has “called” you to do. Faith is acting in “advance” of feeling like it. Faith is “obedience” to what God says to do in His Word. Faith is choosing to believe that what God promises will happen as we are obedient. It’s the “premise” before the “promise.” We do our part, and then God will do His.

Exercising faith in God protects you against doubt and discouragement.

1 Tim. 1:19 holding on to … a good conscience.

A “good conscience” is a conscience that approves of what you doing because you’re doing what is right. It’s directly connected with our behavior, our actions. A “bad conscience” weakens your resolve to be strong in the Lord. It “condemns” you. And you feel judged and condemned. Satan will play up your unconfessed sin. And you can then be easily defeated.

A good conscience protects against condemnation.

1 Tim. 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.

In the days of the early church, the Roman Empire was the government. And the Christians prayed for the Emperor and the government. Pray should come first before action. Ministry will not be productive without the ministry of prayer.

The most important ministry that I have and the most important ministry that you have is “prayer.”

Eph. 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

Every morning put on each piece of armor by thanking the Lord for what each means.

Rom. 13:14 (Amp) Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts).

The flesh wants to sin and feed the fleshly ungodly appetites. Don’t give it the chance.  Monitor what you watch, what you listen to, where you go, and who you spend time with.  Don’t do anything that would give the flesh an in.

Counter the desires of the flesh.

Phil. 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

Win the battle with God’s truth and power.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The Apostle Paul says in 1 Tim. 1:5 (NAS) The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

One of the goals in teaching and learning from God’s Word is that we mature in God’s love.

3 Essentials are Necessary to Grow in God’s Love:


“A pure heart” means a heart that is sold out to Christ. Your heart belongs to Him first and foremost. You are true to the Lord. Jesus said in Matt. 5:8 (Mes) “You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world”.

Our hearts must be right with the Lord first before we can see reality from God’s perspective. Before we can see Him at work and before we can recognize His truth and His wisdom, our hearts must be totally committed to Him, without holding anything back for ourselves. We must be faithful to Him with all our heart, not just part of it.

My son Andrew was having trouble with his car. It wouldn’t take gas from the pump, or it would only take very little and then the gas pump would shut off. When he had it repaired he learned that the problem was the “canister” that filters impurities from the gas deteriorated and came apart, and debris went into the fuel lines. The lines had to be purified and the canister replaced.

If we allow impurities to come into our hearts and remain there, God’s power will not flow through our lives. We may try to apply God’s Word to our lives, try to put it “into” our hearts and minds, but it will be a very “limited” application. Or we simply reject it. We can’t take God’s truth in, except in very small quantities over a very long time, if we have impurities floating around in our hearts.


That means a conscience without sin. It’s a clear conscience toward God and people. As you influence others and impact their lives, make the goal – love. Teach others because you love them. Influence others because you love them. Instruct others because you love them. Paul says in Rom. 12:9-10 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

A good conscience means you don’t try to hide anything from God, as if we could. You’re totally open to the Lord and you confess your sin and you let Him rule in your life. And that means that you “obey” what He says in His Word. You put what the Bible says into practice in your life.

1 Peter 3:15-16 In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

The key to having a clear conscience is to set Christ as The Ruler in your heart. Let Him be the ruler over your heart and tell your heart what to do, instead of you or the culture or your feelings or your tendencies telling your heart what to do. If we’ll let Him rule our hearts, our minds, and our will, then we will live with a good conscience.


That means your faith is real. You live by faith. It’s who you are. You’re a man or woman of faith. You’re real with God. You’re real with people. To live true to God means that we must let His motives override our motives in all we do.

Heb. 11:6 (NLT) It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

God rewards your steps of faith. But you must venture out, against your selfish will, and trust and obey the Lord. And the result is that He will deliver on His promises to you.

Monday, October 25, 2010


God wants us to be steadfast through difficulties, setbacks, and attacks from the enemy. And He will strengthen and fortify us through it all when we put first things first.

Jesus said in Matt. 6:33 “He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern”.

What is your “primary concern” in life?
We can make many things our primary concern, other than the Kingdom of God, and no matter how hard we try and work, it seems we can’t get ahead or we are not inwardly satisfied or content, and we live in a state of frustration and pessimism. Why is that? It’s because we’re not trusting God and what He said.

Isa. 26:3 says, You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you.


We can’t take from God and profit from it.

God says in Psa. 50:12 “All the world is mine and everything in it”.

If our priorities become confused and we start putting money ahead of God, then God doesn’t lose; we do. If we try to make more time for ourselves and give less to God, we will lose time. If we try to make more money for ourselves and give less to God, we will lose money. If we try to get more energy for ourselves for what we want to do and give less energy to serving God, we will lose energy. Nobody can take from God and profit from it.

Give the first of what we have to the Lord.

Prov. 3:9 Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.

Honor God and He will bless you. We are to give the first part of our income to Him, the first day of the week to Him, the first part of our day to Him. We should use the first day of the week to the glory of God. A lot of Christians have killed their joy, their witness, and their spiritual power by turning Sunday into an ordinary day and not putting Christ first in their week.

Stay faithful.

When we connect the dots from the following verses we see that we are “managers” of all that God entrusts to us.

Col. 1:16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, - everything got started in him (Christ) and finds its purpose in him.
1 Cor. 4:2 It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Rom. 14:12 Each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The place to begin is our relationship with God. We must be faithful to Him. That’s what matters. If we’re faithful to Him in our personal lives then we’ll be faithful to His church and His work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said to a new group of leaders, “I want you young men always to bear in mind that it is the nature of a fire to go out; you must keep it stirred and fed and the ashes removed.”

Faithfulness to God takes a commitment to holy living.

1 Peter 1:14-16 (NLT) Obey God because you are his children. Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God – who chose you to be his children – is holy. For he himself has said, "You must be holy because I am holy."

We may have a tendency to come to church and want to belong to and live with the family of God without trusting Him or submitting to His will and ways. We want the blessings but not the commitments or obligations. We may still feed our appetite for the things of the world. We may live according to a “secular worldview” rather than a “Christian worldview”. Without God’s strength and guidance, it doesn’t take long for us to begin to compromise and live in disobedience.


1. Take out the garbage.
 2 Tim. 2:20-21 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Whatever impurities we may have in our lives, need to be cleansed from us. Get rid of the garbage. Get rid of anything that is displeasing to the Lord and dishonors Him.

2. Choose Christianity’s worldview.
 1 John 4:5-6 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

God’s people and the people of the world can be identified by what they talk about. If a Christian talks or acts from a “non-Christian worldview”, then Christ is not ruling in their lives. They’re living in disobedience to God’s Word.

We must always “check” our worldview. The reason is because it’s easy to begin to “absorb” the “secular worldview” and our spiritual eyes are dimmed and we distort God’s truth. We then “filter” what we read in the Bible through the grid of a secular worldview. And then we may misinterpret what the Bible says and even think the Bible can be “contradicted”.

This is why we must stay close to the Lord and keep our lives “cleansed” from all sin.  We must grow in knowing God more, which leads to trusting Him more, and therefore obeying Him more.

3. Pay attention to warnings.
Col. 1:28 (NLT) So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God's presence as a mature person in Christ.

Warnings are good. We should take to heart the warnings God gives us . Being warned is a part of what God says to us.

4. Be trustworthy with what we get from God’s Word.
Col. 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Live your life worthy of the name of Christ. Live to please Him. See to it that your life produces goodness. And grow to know God more.

Commit to these things and you will see rewarding changes in the way you live as you grow in holy living.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Nehemiah called on his people to give for the sake of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem and strengthening the city. Jerusalem would not be strong unless the people were willing to give and sacrifice.

One of the ways God calls His people today to give and sacrifice is financially.
In order to build a church building, it takes giving and sacrifice. A strong church is a sacrificial church. A strong Christian is a sacrificial Christian. Strength comes from sacrifice.

Nehemiah and the people made a covenant with God to support the temple ministry.
And they kept their promise.

What’s the application for us today as a church?

The particular tithes that were collected and stored in the temple were for the support of the “temple workers.” It was so they could continue to serve the Lord.

The result of Israel’s joyful service of dedication was a plentiful supply of produce to sustain the work of the ministry. And they gave joyfully just like it says in 2 Cor. 9:7, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The great missionary Hudson Taylor said, “When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack God’s support.”

Our financial gifts are really “spiritual gifts” to the Lord when given with the right attitude.

Notice what Paul called the financial gifts from the Philippian church in Phil. 4:18 They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

In Luke chapter 7 Jesus accepted Mary’s gift of precious ointment as an act of worship.

The Bible tells us in Heb. 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Jesus said in Luke 16:9 (Ph) “Use money, tainted as it is, to make yourselves friends, so that when it comes to an end they may welcome you into eternal habitations.”

He’s saying give your money to make friends that last forever. In other words, give your money to be used to bring people to Christ, into God’s family. And then when you get to Heaven they’ll be there too, and they will welcome you there because of what you did in your giving.

Let’s use our WIN10n2010 theme to motivate us even more to invite someone to church this Sunday. Make the sacrifice for their eternity and God’s glory.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


When Nehemiah and the people of Israel had finished building the walls around Jerusalem, they had a worship service. They gave praise to God. Nehemiah and Ezra assigned people to be “worshippers” on the walls. They worshipped with such enthusiasm that their shouts and songs were heard from very far away.

Worship is something we give to God. Praise is an offering to God. The Bible calls it a “sacrifice of praise.” Heb. 13:15 says, Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name.


Give it joyfully
Nehemiah and the people placed the emphasis on “joyful praise.” Singing is mentioned 8 times in chapter 12, Thanksgiving 6 times, Rejoicing 7 times, and Musical Instruments 3 times. The most important part of this dedication service was not the marching around the walls; it was the “joyful praise” that came from the people. They offered their praise thankfully, joyfully, and loudly. It was accompanied by various instruments. It was not a time for muted, meditative worship. It was a time for praising the Lord with great enthusiasm.

Psa. 100:1 (NAS) Shout joyfully to the LORD,
Psa. 33:1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Give it sacrificially
In their worship service Nehemiah and the people offered sacrifices to the Lord, even though their enemies were still around.

There are times in your life when you’re going through a difficult time. You’re in the middle of a family crisis or financial struggle. And yet you choose to give praise to the Lord. That’s a “sacrifice of praise” to the Lord, because you’re praising Him anyway.

Give up territorial rights
It’s not about us; it’s about God’s glory.

When the people of Israel walked around the walls they had the opportunity to see the results of their labor and to realize that the work had not been done by one person. Various people and families had labored on different parts of the wall, but no one “owned” the part he or she worked on. The wall belonged to God.

We can expect serious problems after we build a building if individuals or groups in the church start claiming “territorial rights.” Just go ahead and pass the word, no one will be able to claim their space for themselves alone. Nothing anyone does or gives earns them the right to claim and control some area of the building. It all belongs to God and must be used for His glory. It is given to Him for His use and glory. In light of His ownership we will be flexible with our space for God’s glory and everyone must be willing to give up territorial rights.

Let’s carry the truth forward into our future to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Nehemiah knew that the nation of Israel would never be strong as long as Jerusalem was weak. But Jerusalem would not be strong unless the people were willing to give and sacrifice. So he calls on the people to give and sacrifice to the Lord for the sake of their city.

God calls His people today to give and sacrifice for the sake of His church in order to build it. A strong church is a sacrificial church. By the same token a strong Christian is a sacrificial Christian. Strength comes from sacrifice.

If you want to be a strong Christian, you must be a sacrificial Christian.

The first thing you can do to become strong through sacrifice is to Give Yourself to God’s Purpose.

Nehemiah 11:1 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem,

What is it God wants us to give ourselves to?

1. Make the numbers grow.
The Israelites moved into the city in order to make the population grow. People were needed to protect the city and to cause it to flourish.

Our purpose for the church is to “make the population of the church” grow.
We’ve got to bring more people. Invite more people. Build more relationships outside of the walls of our church for the purpose of bringing them to Christ and to join God’s family.

2. Love God by loving His family.
If the people really loved God and their city, then they would want to live there.
When God’s people really love Him, they will love His family, the church.

3. Be a part of the church’s mission.
God brought these people back to the city because He had a special job for them to do. They were to build the walls and gates. And then God wanted to bless the world through them. To abandon the “restored city” was to obstruct the working out of God’s purpose through Israel.

What’s our mission? To go and make more devoted followers of Christ. All of us must be doing our part in the church’s mission.

4. Use your gifts.
It took a lot of people with their many skills to maintain the ministry in Jerusalem.

God wants to use everyone with their different gifts and skills to get His work done. The important thing is that we give ourselves to the Lord so He can use us as His tools to accomplish His work. Each person is important and each task is significant. Your spiritual gifts are significant and have a place at Clay Community. And God wants you to use those gifts for the building up of the church. Those of you who are using your gifts you’re setting the example for others. Let’s continue to sacrificially give ourselves to God’s purpose in order to experience His strengthening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The reality of your commitment to the Lord is expressed in the way you live. The challenge for each of us is to live out our commitment in real time, to make our talk our walk.

Here are three actions to take to keep your commitment real:


Our obedience ought to be a joyful response to all that He has done for us in Christ. Col. 3:1-5 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. … For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. … So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

We don’t succeed at living the Christian life because we make promises to God, but because we believe the promises of God and act on them. We love God by obeying what He says. Jesus said in John 14:21 (NIV) "Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them."


The small group of Jewish people who were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah was surrounded by idolatrous Gentiles. And they wanted the Jews to become a part of their social and religious and business society. The Law of Moses prohibited the Jews from living like the Gentiles, although the Law didn’t stop them from being good neighbors or good customers. Jesus said we’re in the world, just not of the world.

How were they to conduct their lives in this setting? They were to show the difference between what was holy and what was not, what was acceptable to God and what was not, how to tell the difference between what was godly and what was sinful. The Bible says in Ezek. 44:23 (NLT) They will teach my people the difference between what is holy and what is common…

How are we to conduct our lives in a society that is increasingly unChristlike and idolatrous? Paul tells us in Phil. 2:14-16 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. To separate ourselves from worldly ways means total devotion to God, no matter what the cost. When a man and woman get married, they separate themselves from all other potential mates and give themselves completely to each other. It’s total commitment motivated by love, and it is a balanced decision: “We separate from others to the one who is to be our life’s mate.”


G. Campbell Morgan said, “Whereas the house of God today is no longer material but spiritual, the material is still a very real symbol of the spiritual. When the church of God in any place in any locality is careless about the material place of assembly, the place of its worship and its work, it is a sign and evidence that its life is at a low ebb.”

The way we care for our building indicates what we think of our God. I appreciate so much those who have been involved in the upgrade of the appearance of our rooms. And when the time comes for us to build a building, it needs to indicate what we think of God and the purpose He has given us.

The way we give indicates what we think of God. The Bible says in Prov. 3:9 (GW) Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first and best part of all your income. We all have bills to pay. We may have a debt we’re paying down. We may have car payments, but… our tithes and offerings should come right off the top. It’s the first thing we give. That’s because we want God to bless us and our families so we can pay our bills and our debts. And He does. He says if we’ll give He’ll give even more back. And He has proven Himself over and over again to be true to His Word.

Tithing and giving beyond the tithe are God’s ways of providing resources for the church. The Bible teaches in Malachi 3:10 (NLT) “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!” You’ll find you cannot out-give God. The more you give, the more He gives to you above what you would even expect. As your love for the Lord grows, generous giving becomes normal and joyful. Jesus said, Matt. 6:21 (NIV) "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Keep your commitment real, and be true to the Lord and to yourself.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Have you ever been awakened by an unwelcomed noise and you weren’t sure what it was? Such was my experience recently while on vacation. Our room was on the fifth floor of seven. I was awakened from a dead sleep at 3:00AM by a noise that at first I thought was the alarm clock. But then I determined it was not that, but I never fully determined what it was. I thought it could be someone using their in-room Jacuzzi, and then I thought it was someone flushing the toilet, and then I thought it was just a noise the air conditioning unit makes on occasion.

But regardless of what it was, IT was not the issue. The issue was that it kept reoccurring every half hour or hour, I’m not sure as I wasn’t keeping track of it by the clock. What I am sure of is that just about the time when I would doze off to sleep the noise would suddenly wake me.

My first reaction was definitely a negative one with the question “Why?!” But then as time passed I began to think through a more positive reaction that would prevent me from getting out of bed later that morning in an ill mood. For one, this incident was something beyond my control at the moment. I call it an “uncontrollable”. And life is full of them. Some are less severe than others, but some are extremely severe, such as terminal cancer. What occurred to me gives me an analogy that I can apply to the “uncontrollables” in my life.

As I lay in bed I wondered how I could derive any comfort and peace through the uninvited interruptions to my precious sleep. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:1, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” I would have to say at that moment when I was trying to sleep only to be suddenly shaken out of it that I did not feel the least bit “encouraged or comforted or tender or compassionate.” But those are the things I want. That is what I strive for. That is what I need – in every circumstance, not just the good ones.

And so it came to me that in situations such as these there are at least five things I can do to respond in such a manner so as to find comfort and encouragement, thereby warding off anxiety and a negative mood.

The first thing I realized is that the uninvited noise would either change or end. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” It begins and it ends.

The second thing that came to mind was the principle that I reap what I sow. Galatians 6:7 says, “You will always reap what you sow.” I know I’ve annoyed many people in the past and still, I’m sure, get on somebody’s last nerve on occasion. And therefore I accept the fact that I’m doing some reaping.

The third lesson I took from this is that God is sovereign and He allowed it. He had a reason, a reason in line with His purpose for me. He knew it was going to happen even before I ever thought about going to this particular vacation place, even before I was born. The Bible tells me He has me surrounded and what comes into my life is only what He allows. Psalm 139:5 says “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.”(GNB) I am in His charge and under His everlasting care.

The fourth thing I got from this is that God will in some way use it for my good. Romans 8:28 says, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” It will benefit me. It will teach me.

The fifth thing I realized is that God will use the incident in some way to make me more like Christ. Romans 8:29 says, “For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him – and all along he knew who would – should become like his Son.”(LB) Whether the situation is large or small, major or minor – God will use it to conform me to the likeness of His Son. He promised.

If I will remember these things when the uninvited comes into my life I will deflect the anxiety and negativity that so persistently tries to control me, and I will instead reflect the joy of Christ’s presence in me.

I know I’ve shared my personal experience but I’ve done so hoping that what I’m learning may be beneficial to you as well.

Monday, July 5, 2010


God makes a promise in 2 Chron. 7:14 (NIV) “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

God tells us how to respond to His grace in Rom. 2:4 (NAS) Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

God’s grace is so amazing it should completely humble us.


Jesus said in Matt. 6:24a (Amp) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.”

If we serve God we must serve Him in every area of our lives. Serve Him in all your relationships, in the morning, throughout the day, at night, in your public life, and in your private life. We either serve God or we don’t. To serve Him is to worship Him. If I’m not serving Him in all areas of my life, then He’s not really being worshipped by me.

Whenever God wanted to encourage His people, He would direct their attention to His creation around them and remind them that He had made it all. (Isa. 40). To acknowledge the Lord God as the Creator of all things is a great source of strength and peace.

He is actively involved in His creation. He sees when a sparrow falls to the ground. Matt. 10:29 (NLT) Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. He has counted all the stars and named them. Psa. 147:4 (NLT) He counts the stars and calls them all by name. He cares for His creation and you’re at the top of His list.

Nehemiah in chapter 9 tells us how the nation responded to all that God had done for them. They refused to submit to His authority, or listen to His Word, or obey His will. The question is, “How could they turn their backs on God after all He had done for them?” The answer is, “They didn’t really love Him from their hearts.” What obedience they gave was only external; it wasn’t from the heart. In their hearts they were still living in Egypt and wanted to go back there.

To get in on God’s goodness, we must love Him from our hearts. Our hearts must be His. Not just our actions, but our hearts must belong to Him. Everything in our hearts is given up for Him.

We can’t always change our consequences but we can bow to the Lord in them. We can submit to Him in the middle of it all. We must surrender ourselves to Him as our ultimate Ruler and continually seek His counsel through the consequences.

The good news is that He will guide you and give you answers even through the discipline He has placed on you. Heb 12:11 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Think about the God we serve. He is a glorious God. He is powerful. He is faithful. He is forgiving. He is loving. He is longsuffering with us. He is generous. He disciplines us if we rebel. This God that we serve certainly deserves our loving obedience.

Monday, June 28, 2010


When we drift away from loving, reading, and obeying God’s Word, we lose God’s blessing.

Psa. 1:2-3 (NIV) His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

If we want to be productive and produce the life of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit, then we must delight in God’s Word.


The Bible doesn’t automatically change someone or circumstances just because we read it or recite it. It must be “understood” before it can enter the heart and release its transforming power.

Jesus points out the significance of “understanding God’s Word” in Matthew 13 with the “parable of the soils”. We can choose to be more responsive to God’s Word. Ask yourself, “Will I be the Roadside Soil that forgets God’s Word? Or Will I be the Rocky Soil that gets emotional about God’s Word but then I lose my motivation when I don’t feel emotional about it? Or Will I be the Weedy Soil which allows the things of the world to choke out the effectiveness of God’s Word in my life? Or Will I be the Good Soil that takes God’s Word to heart and applies it to my life, and it produces great things in my life?”

When Ezra read and explained God’s Word, the people’s first response was one of “conviction and grief”. They mourned over their sins and observed “The Day of Atonement” and how God had dealt with their sins. The “Feast of Tabernacles” followed “The Day of Atonement”, giving the people an entire week of happy celebration. And so they rejoiced in God’s Law.

The secret of Christian joy is to believe what God says in His Word and act on it. Joy that’s not the result of faith in God’s Word is not joy at all; it’s only a good feeling that soon disappears. Live by obedience in God’s Word and God gives you a joy that the world can’t give. Your emotions will be trained by your obedience to His truth.

Psa. 119:162 (NLT) I rejoice in your word like one who finds a great treasure.
Psa. 112:1 (NIV) Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

When we obey what the Lord says and serve Him because we “rejoice in Him”, then our serving will be a delight to us and not a drudgery. To the believer without joy, the will of God is grueling, but to the believer who is happy in the Lord, the will of God is nourishment. John 4:34 (NIV) “My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Obey God’s Word enthusiastically.
Psa. 100:2 (GW) Serve the LORD cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song.
Rom. 12:11 (NLT) Serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Take delight in following His instructions. Enjoy God. The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to cleanse and revive the hearts of God’s people. Respond positively to God’s Word, and God will work in you and through you for His glory and your good.

Monday, June 14, 2010


No, I’m not thinking about food… well… yes I am, but that’s not what I want to talk about here. When I say “Dig In” I’m using those words in a military way – “to dig trenches in order to defend a position in battle.”

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) … after you have done everything, to stand. After Nehemiah and the people had completed rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, they had to be steadfast in consolidating and conserving what they had gained, and strengthen their community. God had great things in store for Jerusalem. One day His Son would walk the city streets, teach in the temple, and die outside the city walls. God would fulfill His purpose.

1 John 8 (NAS) Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.

To live the life the God wants us to live and to do the work He wants us to do, we must do what we can to “guard” what has been accomplished for the Lord. Dig in.


- The leader develops the leadership.
Nehemiah chose the leaders. He figured out who would be best for the tasks. Paul told Titus in Titus 1:5, 2:15 (Mes) I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done. Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. … Tell them all this. Build up their courage, and discipline them if they get out of line. You're in charge. Don't let anyone put you down.

- Help them get the job done right.
God is looking for faithful, God-honoring people who will have the courage and conviction to obey Him and serve Him, come what may.


Nehemiah wanted to populate Jerusalem with citizens who knew they were Jews and were committed to who they were. Deepen community and fellowship with those believers who are committed to following Jesus. They’re sincere. They mean business with God. They’re willing to sacrifice. Nehemiah and the people laid their lives on the line and risked everything to obey the Lord and restore the Jewish nation. Romans 12:1 (NIV) …offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.


- God works through ordinary people to get His work done.

- What’s been torn down can be rebuilt.
If you think the Enemy’s victory is final in your life, then you’ve forgotten God’s promises. There is always a new beginning for those who are willing to take the risky steps of faith and pay the price.

- God keeps accounts of His servants.
Romans 14:7, 12 (NIV) For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. When we stand before the Lord one day, we will each give an account of our lives before we can receive our rewards.

- The Lord is able to keep His work going.
The 1st group of Jewish exiles came and rebuilt the temple and restored worship in spite of difficulties and delays. 80 years later Ezra led another group who continued the building. 14 years after that, Nehemiah led another group to rebuild the walls and gates.

No matter how discouraging the circumstances may be, God is able to accomplish His plans in your life and through your life if you will trust Him and do what He says. When the circumstances are discouraging we need not be. God is at work fulfilling His purpose in your life and He will be faithful to finish it.

Monday, June 7, 2010


When you’re moving forward for the Lord, the Enemy will try to stop you. He doesn’t want to see the work of the Lord progress. Opposition from the enemy not only shows evidence that God is leading and blessing, but it is also an opportunity to grow. Satan wants to use problems as weapons to defeat and destroy what God is doing, but God uses them as tools to build us up.

One of the tactics of the enemy is to “insult” the servants of God. Goliath ridiculed David. Jesus was mocked by the soldiers during His trial. The heroes of faith had to endure mocking. Heb. 11:36 (NLT) Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons.

When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem he prayed and asked God to fight the enemy for him. He didn’t allow himself to get detoured from his work by taking time to reply to their words.

The words people say may “hurt” us, but they can never “harm” us, unless we let them get into our system and poison us. If you spend time dwelling on the Enemy’s words, you give Satan a foothold from which he can launch another attack closer to home. Anything that keeps you from doing what God wants you to do helps Satan.

The enemies of Nehemiah completely surrounded the city of Jerusalem. What do you do when your enemies intimidate you?

As believers our battle is not against people, but against Satan and his demonic forces. He uses people to oppose the Lord’s work, but the real war is spiritual. Suit up with the spiritual armor of God. Eph. 6:10-11 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. Take your thoughts captive to be obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5 (NCV) We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. If you focus only on the “visible” enemy and forget the “invisible” Enemy, you will begin trusting in your own resources and that will lead to defeat.

Pressures from the outside can create problems on the inside. If you become discouraged, you defeat yourself. Discouragement is a key weapon in Satan’s arsenal. When your commitment to anything else or anyone else is stronger than your commitment to the Lord, you will get discouraged. James 1:6-8 (NIV) He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. A double-minded person is unbelieving, not really trusting in the Lord, and consequently he will be unstable.

If you take time away from serving the Lord, doing what He’s called you to do, to listen to everybody who wants to complain and bend your ear – you will never get anything done for the Lord.

The Jews in the outlying villages kept bringing reports that the enemy was planning a surprise attack on Nehemiah and his people. How do you deal with the tactic of fear?

When a situation creates fear in your heart, remind yourself of the “greatness of God.” If we view God from the perspective of our problems, we will fail. If we view our problems from the perspective of the greatness of God, we will have confidence and succeed. 1 Cor. 15:58 (Amp) Therefore, … be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord.]

Monday, May 24, 2010


Sometimes we wonder, “Is it worth it? Is all the hassle and stress and junk you put up with and go through at work really worth it?” Even your work within the church can raise questions like that. You may wonder, “Am I really making a difference”?

There are 2 things we must do to give value to our work. We must “work with purpose” and “work with people.”


• Make it your priority to serve God.

Eph 6:7-8 (NLT) Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.
Though you may work under the supervision of others, in reality you’re working under the supervision of the Lord. When we have that mindset, then it raises the worth of our work to a high level. We’re actually serving God. And He is making preparation to pay us when we get to Heaven.

• Do your work for God’s glory.

1 Cor. 10:31-32 (NIV) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble.
The purpose of all ministries and all work is the glory of God. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. That even includes mundane household chores and repairs. I have to continually remind myself that I’m glorifying God with each task.

You’ve got to be able to get along with people and work with them in order to give value to your work and bring glory to God.

To work with people we’ve got to realize…

• God uses all kinds of people.

It may amaze you that God is able to use certain people, but He does, and we must accept that fact.

• Leaders must set the example.

Neh. 3:1 (NIV) Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.
This verse tells us that the “high priest” got involved in the work to rebuild the walls and gates around the city of Jerusalem. He set the pace. He considered the work on the wall to be a ministry to the Lord. Leaders don’t stand by and tell others what to do and how to do it; they get involved in the work. The speed of the team is the speed of the leader.

• Some people will not work.

There will be some people in the church who will just not get involved in the Lord’s work. Ultimately it’s their loss, but we must accept that as reality.

• Some people do more work than others.

When Nehemiah and the people worked on the walls around the city, some of the workers completed their assigned task and then asked for additional assignments. There are some people in the church who do more work than others. And my hat is off to them. I thank the Lord for them.

• Some people work harder than others.

A man named Baruch worked harder than others on his section of the wall.
Neh. 3:20 (NIV) Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section.
Eccl. 9:10 (NIV) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

This is our chance. Let’s work for God’s glory with all our might, with all our energy. Each of us has a place to fill, a job to do. 1 Cor. 15:58 says, Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless. (GW)
It’s time to put your foot on the “accelerator” and give it the gas. It’s time to “excel”. All the hard work you do for the Lord is all worth it, and you’ll get your reward from Him one day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Jesus said…
Mark 9:23 "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Matt. 17:20 “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

What’s the status of your faith? What evidence of faith does your life reveal? Faith is something you exercise, something you do, something you express.

Our faith is expressed when we do these 4 things:

Heb. 6:12 Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Psa. 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Real faith in the Lord brings a calmness to your heart that keeps you from rushing about and trying to do in your own strength what only God can do.

When Nehemiah approached the king of Persia to request that he go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates, he was taking a risk. He recorded in Neh. 2:4, “The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven.”

When we’re faced with a sudden decision or a question, the first thing we need to do is send a quick prayer to the Lord. Don’t answer without doing that. And back up your quick prayers with the praying you’ve already done. Then you’re already in line for the answer because you’ve spent a lot of time already praying about it. Nehemiah’s quick prayer was backed up by 4 months of fasting and praying.

Taking “faith risks” isn’t about jumping off a cliff and simply going for it; it involves planning. Not only had Nehemiah prayed for this opportunity to talk to the king; he had planned for it and had an answer ready. During his 4 months of waiting he had thought the matter through and knew exactly how he would approach the project.

Taking a risk of faith means you do your homework. Then don’t fear being obedient to the Lord.

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.

God is sovereign over the dealings of nations and people. We can ask God according to His purpose, according to His will, according to what He wants done as described for us in the Bible, and then we can trust Him that He will do it. And then we must act accordingly.

Jesus said in Matt. 10:16 (Mes) "Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”

As you commit yourself wholeheartedly to work at the task God has given you, you can expect the enemy to show up. The devil will try all kinds of things to stop you and distract you and make it easy for you to not follow through with commitment. Your faith will challenge the enemy.

Your faith will challenge others’ complacency and negativity. Some will say, “We like things the way they are. Don’t change anything.” Others will say, “We’ve already tried that and it didn’t work.” True faith will challenge complacency and negativity.

Your faith will challenge others to get on board. Nehemiah said the hand of God was upon him as the leader, and the followers began the work.

Your faith will draw ridicule from others. Just as soon as you step out in faith to do God’s work, to follow His will, the enemy will show up and try to discourage you. Everyone who has ever accomplished anything has faced ridicule. Jesus faced it. The Christians faced it in the book of Acts. Festus told Paul he was crazy (Acts 26:24).

To grow in our faith we must ask ourselves these questions:
- Am I willing to sacrifice my will to see God’s will accomplished?
- Am I patient in gathering the facts and planning my work for the Lord?
- Do I cling to the past, or do I desire to see God do something new?
- Am I cooperating in any way with the enemy and thus weakening God’s work?

Anyone can go through life as a “destroyer”; God has called His people to be “builders.”
Be a “faith builder”. Grow your faith and help others to grow in their faith.

Monday, May 10, 2010


If you’re going move forward in life after you’ve been hurt, or experienced failure, or had your heart broken, you’ve got to “care.” It’s takes an “attitude of caring”


God put Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and Esther in Persia – all according to the purpose He had for them. God always prepares His workers and puts them in the right place at the right time to accomplish a purpose He wants done.

• You are in the right place at the right time for God to work His purpose through your life.
God is using your circumstances, the good, the bad, everything to place you where you are so that you will fulfill the purpose He has for you. Look for the Holy Spirit’s direction. Keep your spiritual ears open and listening, and keep your spiritual eyes open and looking.

We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever. 2 Cor. 4:18 (NCV)

• Learn all you can about God’s purpose for you.
Ask questions. Research. Learn what your gift mix is and how God has shaped you to serve. Grasp the 5 core values of community, spiritual growth, ministry to others, bringing unchurched people to Christ, and worship. Make these values your personal values. And apply them to your purpose with your gift mix.


Nehemiah said, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Neh. 1:4

God is in the business of “rescuing” people’s souls. And He’s counting on you to be on His “rescue team.” We need to feel what God feels, see what He sees, hear what He hears. What’s on God’s mind? People, their salvation. And that’s what needs to be on our minds. Their eternities are on the line. And you and I can do something about it.

• Get on your mind what’s on God’s mind – the salvation of people.
The more you spend time with God the more you’ll think what He thinks and the more you feel what He feels.


Define God’s purpose for your life and then feel what He feels about it, praying for God’s blessing and then get to work on it.

• Get God’s purpose in your head, pray it into your heart, and make a plan to start.


Nehemiah prayed, “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” Neh. 1:11

For God’s will to be done He needs people to be available to Him. When God answers prayer He begins working in the one praying. The reality of it is that He works in us and through us to help us see our prayers answered.

Nehemiah knew he would be taking a risk to approach the king with the matter of going to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. It could mean life or death. What if the king happened to be in a bad mood? It was a test of faith for Nehemiah just to talk to the king. But He trusted in God’s greatness to get him through whatever.

God continues to look for people who care – people who care enough to ask about God’s purpose for them, who are moved by that purpose, who pray earnestly for God’s help, and then make themselves available for God to use to get the job done.

• Are you willing to say, “Here I am God – use me?”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Leaders get blamed for things they didn’t do and criticized for things they tried to do. They get misquoted and misunderstood and rarely given the opportunity to set the record straight. If they act quickly, they’re reckless. If they bide their time, they’re unconcerned or cowards.

We battle a diabolical Enemy who is a “master deceiver” and a “murderer.”
2 Cor. 11:3 (NLT) But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent.
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Satan comes as a “snake” who deceives or as a “lion” who devours. This is why we must be ever alert and spiritually equipped to oppose him. Satan wants to intimidate you and strike fear into your heart and defeat you.

Sanballat and his group focused their attacks on Nehemiah when he and the people had completed the building of the walls and the gates around Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to intimidate him, discredit him, immobilize him, and eliminate him by using 4 strategies.


Nehemiah’s enemies wanted to meet him in a village “halfway” between Jerusalem and Samaria and figure out how to “work together”. We must take care that we cooperate with the “right people” at the “right time” for the “right purpose”; otherwise we may end up cooperating with the enemy.

Nehemiah’s enemies sent him an open letter and accused him of treason. Sanballat wanted the public to know the contents of the letter because he wanted to undermine Nehemiah’s reputation and leadership. In our day, sad to say, email is used to create disagreement and division and hurt.

Nehemiah was threatened but he let it be known that he was not about to run away in the face of danger. Satan will used threats to try to trap you. Prov. 29:25 says, Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the LORD means safety. (NLT)

Hidden Schemes
Some of Nehemiah’s own workers secretly cooperated with the enemy. People sometimes get out of touch with what’s real. They lose sight of God’s big plan and the purpose He has for them and instead start believing in something else that is actually contrary to God’s purpose. And they flatter themselves with their faulty thinking.


1. Beware that the enemy wants to destroy.
Jesus said in John 10:10 (NIV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

2. Be convinced of the greatness of God’s work.
God has given us is the greatest work in the world. 1 Cor. 15:58 (NIV) Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Jesus said in Matt. 16:18 (NLT) I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

3. Keep your boundaries healthy.
With some people you love them but don’t like them. You forgive them but don’t trust them. You pray for them but don’t cooperate with them. You speak to them but keep your distance. Rom. 16:17 (Mes) says, Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. There is a time for “limited fellowship” when a person is not a “safe person.” It’s a form of church discipline.

4. Simply deny the untruth.

5. Pray for God’s strength.

6. Get back to work.
Remember your purpose. And remember the devil is trying to distract you and detour you from accomplishing the work God has for you.

7. Take care of your character and God will take care of your reputation.

8. Be courageous.

9. Test it against the Scripture.

10. Trust in God’s promise.
Phil. 1:6 (NCV) God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.

Our work is far from done. 50% of the community in which you live is unchurched. This is our opportunity, our time, our assignment – to go get them and bring them to Christ.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas and he went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. It took Thomas Edison two thousand experiments before he invented the right filament for the first light bulb. When a young reporter asked him what it felt like to fail so many times, Edison replied, “I never failed once. Inventing the light bulb just happened to be a two thousand step process.”

Job said in Job 5:7 (AMP) Man is born to trouble as the sparks and the flames fly upward. You get blindsided with a setback of some kind. You lose your job. Maybe you lose your health. One of your children gets into trouble. Maybe you feel ostracized because you take a stand for Jesus where you work or go to school. How do you keep going when you feel like giving up?

You’ve got to ask yourself 3 questions. The first question is “Why? – Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem, which had been destroyed, and gathered around him those how had already gone back and had begun settling in the broken down city with broken down walls. He led them to rebuild the walls around the city. Why? Because he understood that to be God’s purpose for His people.

Paul said in Phil 3:12 (NLT) I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. Jesus saved you for a purpose. He saved you to serve a purpose. Your job is to keep working toward fulfilling that purpose. That’s His will for you and me. So when you’re having a bad day, you’ve got to remember why you do what you do.

Then there is a second question. “How? – How am I going to do this?” You’ve got to have a plan. Not only knowing why, but having a plan builds your determination and motivation for staying steadfast.

Nehemiah said in Neh. 2:16 (NLT) The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. Nehemiah got his plans together before he began building. He did his homework.

You’ve got to narrow your purpose in life down to some specifics. What exactly does God want you to do? What about your spiritual gifts, your strengths, what you feel strongly about? Most of us can only do 2 or 3 things well. Do you know what those are for you? Have you connected your spiritual gifts to God’s calling for you?

We’ve got to plan our lives around the plan that God has for our lives. Plan each day according to the purpose God has given you.

The third question is “Who – Who will help me?” Nehemiah knew he would need help. He would need protection during the long trip back to Jerusalem. He would need building materials. He needed the king’s permission and letters to the keeper of the king’s forests to supply the timber. When he arrived he asked for the help of a few men to survey the wall. In the building of the wall, he asked everyone to help.

You cannot accomplish the task, the mission, the purpose God has called you to do on your own. You need help.

Doing what God wants you to do and serving the purpose He has for you is not always easy. Truthfully it’s mostly difficult. It’s challenging. It’s hard. And the Devil is constantly hurling his ammunition at us, and more so now than ever before. He is setting traps where we least expect them.

The Good News is that the same God who strengthened Nehemiah to finish building the walls of Jerusalem will strengthen you to finish your purpose with joy and accomplish the work He has called you to.