July 31, 2016 – manuscript

Nehemiah 3:1-2 – 1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

The spiritual leaders must create and preserve a worship environment that gives God maximum glory.

Jeremiah 31:38-40 reads, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate…it shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”  The restoration of the Sheep Gate and the Tower of Hananel represented the forgiveness of sins and a holy people dwelling with their God.

The sheep gate was next to the Pool of Bethesda.  Sheep that were necessary for various sacrifices were brought in through this gate.  The sheep were then washed in the Pool of Bethesda and brought into the temple area.  After these first repairs were made, the priests sanctified the gate and the tower.  They consecrated them.  When an object is consecrated, it means the object has been set apart and dedicated for service to the Lord with 100% loyalty.

When the people of Israel decided to engage with their plan to rebuild, the very first portion was handled by the spiritual leaders for the purpose of glorifying God at the highest level possible.  Eliashab, the high priest, reclaimed the area of worship and sacrifice that had been destroyed for years.  Jerusalem had to be rebuilt for Jesus Christ to complete his mission and for the Father to receive maximum glory.  You must engage in rebuilding God’s church for the same two reasons.

How does a church create and preserve a worship environment that gives God maximum glory?  Here are seven components that invite a tsunami of God’s presence into a worship environment.  If you have read my posts are healthy church components, this is adoration.  Prayer.  Public reading of Scripture.  Worship that grabs an individual and leads that person straight into the throne room of Jesus Christ.  Obedient giving of tithes and offerings.  Baptisms.  Communion.  Bible teaching that boldly proclaims the supernatural power of Jesus Christ.   Any object outside those seven components distract congregations from giving God maximum glory.  When this type of worship environment is preserved in a church, individuals and families are excited to come worship.  They don’t want to miss.  Contagious faith begins to grow in the congregation.  The dream number of 150 begins to become a reality.  Adults begin to intentionally pass faith to younger generations with passion instead of duty.  Parents become less likely to fill their weekend calendars when their children encounter the supernatural power of Jesus Christ on Sunday morning.

Where can I find a resource that will help create and preserve a worship environment that gives God maximum glory?  I’m glad you asked.  I want introduce you to Vertical ChurchPLAY VIDEO  I want to invite you to begin a journey over the next four months.  You can have one book for $2.  Every other Sunday afternoon, beginning on August 14, let’s have lunch and a discussion over a chapter each week.  If you choose to read and discuss this book, this church will gain a deeper understanding of your purpose and mission.  You will become hungry for a worship environment that glorifies God in high capacities.  You will see a tsunami of God’s presence.  You will discover the answers to “what are we willing to do that no other church is doing to reach the people that no other church is reaching?”  It’s completely voluntary.  You don’t have to participate.  If you’re not satisfied with your church, you should participate.  If you believe God has something deeper, you should participate.  If you want more than mediocre church, you should participate.  If you choose not to read this book, you will probably get left behind.  Nehemiah faced the same dilemma in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 3:3-5 – The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.

Those who refuse to rebuild cannot prohibit the process.

Nehemiah 3 lists 38 people who took a section of the wall to rebuild.  Many of the individuals took a section that was close to their heart.  Their job called for one of the hardest and unified efforts of their lives.  Scholars believe the wall of Jerusalem was eight feet thick.  Some worked while others protected.  Verse 5 reveals the nobles of Tekoa refused to be unified and embrace the rebuilding.  The nobles were the elected leaders.  They were the ones who financially supported the city.  They were the ones who seemed to have the loudest voices.  Tekoa was south of Jerusalem and because of the actions of the nobles, there was resentment toward the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  The Tekoites had never left Israel; they were never in bondage.  Life was pretty good for them.  Over the years, they had developed their own ways of doing life including marriage with Non-Jews, which was a violation of the law.  After time, the Tekoites decided to engage for the greater good of Israel.  In fact, Nehemiah 3 tells us they rebuilt two sections of the wall.  Not all of the Tekoites were so happy.  In regards to the nobles in verse 5, The Word Biblical Commentary writes “verse 5 is a valuable reminder that sharp differences of opinion within the wider Jewish community were never far beneath the surface.”[1]

Essentially, the nobles of Tekoa tried to use their influence to de-rail the unified efforts.  Nehemiah would have nothing to do it.  They became nothing more than a sentence in the history of Israel.  I hope, for the good of God’s church, you want to be more than a sentence in the history of First Baptist Church.

Church, as rebuilding happens, there will be people with sharp differences of opinions.  Just like the nobles, they might think their influence, financial support, elected status, or loud voices could prohibit the process of rebuilding because it doesn’t match their personal preferences.  Church, do not let those individuals prohibit the process of rebuilding God’s church.  In one concerted effort, each person must align his or her spiritual gifts with courage and bravery to give God maximum glory.

Nehemiah 3:15-16 – 15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men.

Those who rebuild are brave warriors for Jesus Christ.

Nehemiah 3:16 points to the bravery that is necessary for the rebuild.  The verse states simply “the house of the mighty men.”  Who were the mighty men?

2 Samuel 23:8-17 – These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.

13 And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15 And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord 17 and said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore, he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

These three guys followed King David into any mission, any time, any place.  The first guy faced 800 men and won each time.  The second kept fighting for his king so long that his hand was frozen to his sword.  The third guy defended his territory without any hesitation and the Lord worked a great victory.  Later, the three took on the entire army of the Philistines so their king could have a refreshing drink of water from a particular well in Bethlehem.  The three mighty men were so dedicated to the mission of their king, a lack of bravery would bring dishonor and shame to them and the mission.

There is a contrast for each of us to consider.  Verse 5 tells about the nobles that refused to engage with the mission and became nothing more than a sentence.  We don’t have any further information about them.  Verse 16 mentions the house of the mighty men and I envision a pause in the work to tell stories about the legacy left by those guys.  Remember how they did the unthinkable?  Remember how they faced the enemy alone?  Remember how they never gave up?

As you consider your section of rebuilding God’s church known as First Baptist Church, will you be remembered by a sentence or defined by a few words that could never adequately describe your legacy?

[1] Williamson, page 204.