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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Making a Difference

Based on Nehemiah 1:1-11
The Babylonians, had sacked the holy city, Jerusalem, and destroyed it, carrying the children of Israel into seventy years of captivity. The walls were shattered, and the gates were burned. After years and years of captivity, God, in His providence, allowed a segment, a "remnant," surviving the captivity to travel back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of God.
In our time, churches are growing older and smaller. 80-85% of churches in North America are in plateau or decline. Every year in America, three times as many churches close as open. Yet, God in His providence will allow a segment, a "remnant," to rebuild the His church.
The fact is rebuilding can be more difficult than building from the beginning. When a church is broken, it is simpler to walk away or splinter and split than to rebuild what God has already done.
The Bottom line: God wants to rebuild your church and you can make a difference!
There are three principles I will share with you regarding rebuilding the walls and making the difference.
1. Expose the Problem
Care enough to ask about the problem. We need to get out of our comfort zones and care enough to ask about the problem. In my estimation, these broken walls picture most churches in our day. Instead of moving forward, stepping out on faith, and growing—many are satisfied to maintain what they have. Most churches are on the brink of decline and we wonder if anyone truly cares?
Allow your heart to be broken. Friends, no sweeping work for God ever begins without brokenness and remorse. We must come to the point in the church where we virtually scream, "We can't go one like this anymore, we need workers, we need younger families, we need youth, and we're going to do whatever it takes to bring them in!
2. Accept Responsibility!
Accept the responsibility by caring. Identify the problem, Nehemiah sat down and wept, prayed, and fasted, but he did not criticize.
Accept the responsibility by confessing. In the church, it is time for tears, for anguish. It is time for all of us to confess our part in the problem; we also must be ready to be a part of the solution. We want to get so angry, raise our fists, and yell, "Why doesn't somebody do something, why don't the Preacher, the Elders, and the Board do something?" The real question is, "Why don't I do something?" It ought to break our hearts! Now is not the time to point fingers, but to fall on our knees in brokenness of prayer! Accept responsibility by serving.
3. Seek the God of Heaven
Believe that everything depends on God and His word! There is nothing our God cannot do—we must learn to depend on Him too!
Be a realist—not a pessimist. There still is the God factor! God who can do the impossible! Sure, we understand the severity of our problem—but with God's help, we will overcome!
Pray! We must pray, pray, and pray some more! Prayer is surrender. Prayer is adjusting our will to the will of God. Prayer we are exposes us to the presence of God, the plan of God, and the power of God!
What does it all mean?
Nehemiah gave up his comfortable bed for a sleeping bag and a task that seemed impossible. He gave up an easy, well—paying place of honor to assume a demanding task. He gave up all of his prestige for ridicule, all of his security for danger. He exposed the problem, assumed the responsibility, and sought the favor of God!
God used him in a great way to rebuild the walls and bring glory to His name. Will you let God use you to rebuild your church walls and bring glory to his name?
The difference between Nehemiah and people of today is that we are too self-sufficient and independent and that combats & nullifies our faith! Nevertheless, you can do something about that placing yourselves totally in His hand and saying, "I'm not much Lord, but if you want this church to succeed—then here I am use me!" Do that and you will make a difference!


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