August 28, 2016 – manuscript

spiritual food pyramid

There are rebuilding principles throughout the book of Nehemiah that not only apply to this church but apply to your individual lives.

As a result, there are three prerequisites I need to communicate to those who will lead the realization of God’s mission for this church.

A healthy spiritual person includes the right ingredients in his/her personal life.

Those who will be instrumental in realization of God’s mission will put the right ingredients in their lives and keep the wrong ingredients out.

The chart shows how many Christians operate.  A person begins attending church, he/she may start attending a Sunday School class and then that person is put to work somewhere.  It’s called the warm body syndrome that many churches have.  Many Christians never leave this bottom level of the pyramid.  It has much to do with why only 9-11% of Christians take the Bible at face value and believe it’s 100% true.

Some Christians will move into the next level in some respect, but never take their Bible or prayer time seriously.  The words of Joshua 1:8 do not become a personal value.  Joshua 1:8 reads, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”  Our failure to take this level seriously is why 65% of Christians never open their Bibles outside a worship service.  It is also why up to 80% of church attenders are not walking obedience to Jesus Christ.

Very few Christians reach the highest levels.  Financially supporting the kingdom of God is the largest form of disobedience in the life of a Christian.  Our money is a battle field that wins our heart.

Most Christians don’t share their faith.  We talk all day long about what we did last week and how busy next week is.  We brag about our kids on social media.  We talk about how overwhelmed we are with life.  We talk all day long and say nothing.  Our mouths are no different than people who don’t know Jesus.  Did you know that 95% of Christians do not believe it is their responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their circle of influence?  Did you know that 81% of adults 18-27 would listen to the message of Jesus Christ if somebody would take the time to tell them?

If you have chosen to be a Nehemiah, you need to work hard at the right ingredients going into your life and the wrong ingredients staying out of your life.  If you need guidance knowing if something is the wrong ingredient, there’s a verse for that.  It’s 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from every form of evil.”

Argue with God about whether or not it’s a wrong ingredient.

A spiritual healthy church fills positions with the right people

There are several principles that I try to live by.  Many of them have to do with spiritual, moral and ethical integrity.  All of them are good because they allow me to keep important boundaries in my life, especially since Satan loves character assassination of Christians.  The term Christian has even taken character assassination hits in the last decade.

One of my personal principles doesn’t fit in any of those three categories, but it sits toward the top of my list.  Here it is – I don’t do anything I am not good at.  Before you decide that’s an arrogant statement, let me clarify.  If I cannot do something at an “A”, “B” or “C” level, I believe I am supposed to leave it for other people.  Most of the time, even a “C” level task will fall to another person.
Here’s the reason.  If my personality, talents, skills and spiritual gifts are not able to be used at a high level, then I am stealing from another person when I force myself to do something I wasn’t designed to do.

Let’s fit this principle inside the church context for a moment.  If my best effort is a “C-” and you can do the same task at an “A”, then my struggle to complete the job steals the blessing God had for you.  When the task is finished, neither of us have experienced a blessing.

If you’re determined to be a Nehemiah, it’s important that you know how your design compliments the body of Christ.  It’s important that you know your skills, your talents and your spiritual gifts.  It’s important that you know what drives your passion.  It’s important that you know what ministry spots you should never touch.

There is one prerequisite for that knowledge.  You have to be willing to say yes to the right things and say no to the wrong things.  I know, that’s not rocket science.  But, churches do a really good job of convincing warm bodies to fill positions they should never have been considered for.  Here are two warning signs of warm body syndrome.  First, if you’re asked to fill a ministry spot and your initial response is “why are you asking me?”  Second, the requestor’s response back is “there was nobody left to ask”.  Either response or one similar should be an indicator you might be saying yes to the wrong things

Nehemiah had to make sure the right people were in the right places for the realization of God’s mission in Jerusalm.  Let’s look at Nehemiah 7.

Nehemiah 7:1-3 (HCSB)

1When the wall had been rebuilt and I had the doors installed, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2Then I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, commander of the fortress, because he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3I said to them, “Do not open the gates of Jerusalem until the sun is hot, and let the doors be shut and securely fastened while the guards are on duty. Station the citizens of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some at their homes.”

There were three appointments made in the first three verses of chapter 7.  We are not told about the process; we just know that appointments happened.  Based on verse two, we should understand that Nehemiah made careful selection as we led to restore Jerusalem and the mission of God for that city.

The first appointment – the gatekeepers, the singers and the Levites.  These appointments were representatives of the people chosen for specific duties.  The gatekeepers were a special class who guarded the temple entrance, cared for the ark, supervised the offerings, helped with purification services and guarded the storehouses.  The singers were the trained musicians who served as worship leaders in the temple.  The Levites were responsible for theological instruction and priestly duties in Jerusalem.

These groups were not decision-makers but were important if Jerusalem was to give God maximum glory.

The second appointment – Hanani and Hanaiah; the new city administrators, which included supervision of the guards.  Nehemiah used his governing authority.  Hanani was Nehemiah’s brother that gave initial reports of Jerusalem in chapter.  Some suggest that Hananiah was a military leader that moved into political administration.  His right attitude toward God was noticed and established credibility for this shift in leadership.

Nehemiah 3:9, 12 mention that Rephaiah and Shallum each ruled half the district of Jerusalem.  Apparently, these two men weren’t in the right positions, because there was a change in the leadership of Jerusalem.

The third appointment – Jerusalem still needed to be protected.  At the end of chapter six, Tobiah is still attempting to cause trouble.  Those who lived in the city wall were to be guard at certain times, while others had specific posts they were to man.  Every guard was selected by Hanani and Hananiah.

As we read through Nehemiah, we learn that every person had a job he was responsible for.  Every person had the right job.  Every person was unified to see the mission of God accomplished.  The right positions were filled by the right people.  Every person worked at an “A” and “B” level.  The blessing was spread across all the people.

1 Corinthians 12:24b-26

God has put the body together…so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.  So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Here’s the point.  When every Nehemiah says yes to the right things and no to the wrong things, the mission of God will prevail in this church.  When every Nehemiah is in the right position, the body will be effective.  When every Nehemiah is unified as functioning body parts, the community will notice.

One of the difficult action steps is found in verse two.  Two people who were not in the right positions had to be replaced.  I challenge you to pray every day that God would place the right people in the right positions in his eyes.

The most interesting verse in Nehemiah 7 comes next.  I’ve heard this verse spoken in almost every meeting in this church.

Nehemiah 7:4-5

The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.  Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it:

A spiritual healthy church finds families to fill the space

One of the major problems in Jerusalem was “the small population in the large city.”[1]

The word ‘house’ refers to a building with more than one room intended to be used by parents and children.

Nehemiah made a list of people to fill the vacant space in Jerusalem; that’s the rest of chapter 7.  In order for the realization of God’s mission in this church, each of you should have a list of people to fill the space.

If you are not targeting specific people, your mission has been accomplished.

If you are not praying for individuals to come to church with you, your prayers have been answered.

If you aren’t inviting people to come to church with you, you have received what you asked for.

Three questions for you to ponder today.  What are you doing to make sure you have a spiritual healthy condition?  Where do you find yourself on the pyramid?

What are you (as an individual or family) doing to see the realization of God’s mission in this church?

[1] Fensham, The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Page 211.