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.