Repairing Broken Relationships

(Today’s post by Marc Cannon)

Nehemiah 3

relationship-infographic-header1As I read through this chapter I began to think about what these men were repairing; the walls of Jerusalem. In this chapter many men were working in unison for one goal…To protect the people of God from outside influences. It’s always hard for me to gain perspective on chapters like these because it’s repetitive and seemingly just meant to lay groundwork for things to come. However, almost immediately the Lord pressed something on my heart that I think we all have struggled with in the past, may be struggling with now and most certainly will in the future. What I’m talking about also leads to the common good of the Church and most importantly a healthier life and relationship with Jesus. I’m speaking of relationships.

Here we see the Jews, who have returned to Jerusalem, begin to repair an important piece to keep them safe from outside influences that could tear them apart, cause division, death, sin exploitation…You name it. This life isn’t built around material things. If they’re broken they can be rebuilt or repaired fairly easily. This life is built around relationships, of all types. When a relationship is broken it can have a lasting affect that far outreaches just saying, “I’m sorry” or just losing one person from your realm of friends. A broken relationship can sever families, stoke depression, and divide organizations (Churches included), construct grudges, breakdown businesses and turn people away from the good things in their life. I believe a broken relationship with someone can hurt as bad as death. You lose respect, trust and dare I say you stop loving the person in question.

Relationships are just that, relations. There are 2 I’s in relationships, not one. No matter what the transgression is that causes a relationship to falter there are far outreaching consequences. There is a domino effect that occurs when we create a chasm with a friend, coworker or family member. Those around us suffer as well. There is a mutual aspect of friendship and relationships that reach through those around us. It’s not just those at odds who have to deal with the hurt, anger, grudges, or un-forgiveness…It’s everyone you come in contact with daily.

Let’s face it, all of us have been through this in our lives. Most of us have relationships that have been dormant for years that still hurt us. Some have fresh wounds. If you think about it those wounds weigh us down. Maybe you need to seek forgiveness from someone or maybe you’re on the other side of the coin and forgive someone. The Word is clear about forgiveness. We are to forgive…We are to be kind and we are to be loving. When we build grudges and when we don’t forgive, it makes it hard for us to be kind or loving. So what are we supposed to do?

  1. Pray that the Lord reveals to you those you need to forgive and those you need to make amends to. It’s not always clear of whom we may have hurt in the past or likewise.
  2. Pray about being more assertive in resolving relational issues when they arise. The Lord will lead you in these situations and the outcome will far exceed those of our own doings.

Let’s face it, relationships are messy, they’re hard, they’re work and we’re not perfect. But no relationship is beyond repair. Just like the walls of Jerusalem. If we lean on God’s wisdom and His healing through humbling ourselves, relationships can be healed, your heart can be renewed and the weight of hurts can be lifted. Most importantly, always remember that Jesus forgave us and He is the ultimate model for us to follow.

Ephesians 4:32 be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you.

Building Walls and God’s Call

(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)

Nehemiah 1-2

building-a-wallAfter spending some time in the book of Ezra, we now delve into the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah has a lot of similarities with Ezra. Both books detail the same basic story regarding Israel’s return from captivity in Babylon to their homeland, Israel. The Jews returned home in three waves. The first two happened in Ezra; the last is detailed in Nehemiah. Nehemiah is the last historical narrative in the Old Testament of the history of Israel before Jesus comes. Nehemiah was a cup bearer for the Persian king Artaxerxes (Persia had taken over the Babylonian empire). He was given permission by Artaxerxes to take leave and to go restore the city of Jerusalem which had been previously destroyed. Nehemiah was in an important position in the Persian Empire. His life would have been one of success by our current measures. And yet he left it all to pursue what the Lord had put in him to do.

In Nehemiah the Jews had long been removed from Israel. In their place people from other nations had settled in (which is where a lot of the people who oppose the building in later chapters come from). When God’s people returned they found themselves suddenly in the midst of outsiders who opposed them with no separation between them. There was a sudden need for a wall to be built so that God’s people could live separate from and protected from the influences and threats of others. This is where Nehemiah comes in. God softened the heart of king Artaxerxes and allows Nehemiah to return for this purpose. His past experience as a cup bearer in the court of Artaxerxes afforded him the knowledge, skill, and power to accomplish this task.

In the church today we can see the same situation. More and more the church’s situation in the western world is one of an outsider with regards to society as a whole. There is a great need for the maintaining and (sadly) an establishment of a wall to be built. I am not saying that a wall of absolute divide should be established between the world and the church. But I am saying that there needs to be the standard of God’s purity, truth, love, Holiness, and right doctrine in the church that is set apart from the world. The church is called out of the world because it is, through Christ, brought into the Holiness of God. And the world has nothing to do with, and is not a part of this Holiness, which is why it is lost and needs Christ. It does not just simply need love; only loving people with God’s love will result in the same end result for the world that hating them will. Loving people with God’s love AND calling them to repentance from their sins into salvation is what brings people from darkness into light.

But the walls that separate the church and the world are being very rapidly torn down, and as a result the ways of the world are infiltrating the church in the same way an army would invade and overthrow the city of Jerusalem if it lacked any walls. Many are called to be watchmen who metaphorically sit on the walls of the church and warn of impending dangers that threaten her. I think that one of the greatest dangers that the church is being invaded with is the idea of twisted love, that ultimately loving the world is what the church should strive for. If we as the church love others, and stop there and go no further; if we do not present a path of repentance from sins, then the world that we are seeking to love will in the end go to hell. I don’t know about you, but that is about the most absurdly unloving thing that we can do. So before you go on Facebook and talk about how we just need to love others, know that “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” (Proverbs 27:5). I’m not saying that we should all light torches and chase down the sinners. I am saying that we should love; the church does need more of this, but we should not stop at love; we should seek to save the lost and build up the church at the cost of their hatred of us. Because to save the world out of darkness is to see the wrath of that darkness fight against us in the process. We war against spirits, and part of that is seen in the opposition that we face currently in the form of being accused as judgmental because we assert what sin is, and the need to repent from it in order to know God. So we should not shy away from doing what we are born in Christ to do. On the flip side, just calling out sin without showing love to the world will cause problems as well. Truth and love need to together shape our lives as Christians, and also our mission as the church.

In addition to this, part of understanding that our standards are vastly different from that of the world, and understanding the need for an establishment of a wall of standards in the church arises in the form of what our purpose and calling in Christ is. We have a tendency to coincide our achievements and the measure of what we attain to in life with that of the world. This is also something that has torn down the walls of the church and has invaded it. Nehemiah was a man of tremendous prestige and success. But he left his position that afforded him these things and pursued the less glorious task of God’s calling. And through him the walls of Jerusalem were built despite opposition and the nation of Israel was allowed to be fully established as the people of God amidst pagan nations.

So for any of those who are afraid of leaving high positions, positions of power, of money, or prestige for the sake of doing what appears to be dirty work for the kingdom of God, I say that you should realize that if we seek to view what we do with our lives with an eternal focus, with a focus that we are accomplishing the task of bringing in the kingdom of God onto the earth, then you will truly see the grand high calling that God has for each and every one of us. Sometimes this may look like a lower task than what the world envisions as success. Many of us may be called to do things for God that are not glorious, or even seem to lack any sanity at all with regards to earthly wisdom (Like becoming a missionary who makes no money instead of doing something that does make money). But if we know Christ then what God has in store for our lives will many times appear to be a very foolish thing in the eyes of the world. We must (And I include myself in this) be willing to be foolish for the sake of God’s kingdom, for the sake of reaching the lost with the gospel, for the sake of building up the church into the maturity that Christ wants.

On the other side of things, this does not mean that Christians should shy away from pursuing certain positions or opportunities in life just because they don’t seem spiritual enough. In the book of Acts a man named Stephen served the church by waiting on tables and serving the widows in the church. Not a glorious job at all, but within this his passion for the Lord gave him the opportunity to be the church’s first martyr after he expressed his passion for God and the wisdom that he had to those who opposed the church.

The point is that we must follow God wherever He wants us to go. God calls people to be both businessmen and prophets. The early church of the first few centuries spread throughout the Roman world by people like businessmen and slaves, common people who traveled around as their jobs and took the gospel with them wherever they went. No matter what God calls you to do, do it with a full heart for the Lord. This is the only chance we have at this short life, and what we do in this short period will echo throughout eternity.

So what is God calling you to do? Boldly seek it.

 

Sunday Sermon // You Asked For It..Why Don’t We See Signs And Wonders Anymore In The Church?

You Asked For It // Why Don’t We See Signs And Wonders Anymore In The Church?

[Lead Pastor, Scott Moore, ECC Covington Campus]

Fast food chains are known by their signs. Marketing dollars are staggering. All so that we will KNOW the company simply by their sign.

So, what happened to the signs and miracles of Jesus. Why don’t we see all of those things today? Wouldn’t they help people recognize the church?

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭2‬:‭22-23‬ NLT)

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭2‬:‭43‬ NLT)

Now, we’re not talking about the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. Those are given and intended to build up the believers. We will focus on the signs, miracles and wonders.

Prerequisite thoughts:

  • God can do what He wants, when He wants, where He wants, and to whomever He wants.
  • God has been silent, throughout history, for long periods of time.
  • God basically used signs and wonders to confirm His message and the messenger.

And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭2‬:‭4‬ NLT)

There were three primary Biblical time periods where abundance of miracles, signs and wonders existed. This span of time was approximately 100 years of all the time recorded in Scripture.

  • Jesus said not to pursue signs and wonders, but to pursue Him.

One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (‭Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭38-40‬ NLT)

The greatest miracle ever was the resurrection of Jesus Christ proving God’s love for His children, you and me. And this miracle gave each of us the opportunity to be delivered from our sin and have eternal life. We, too, experience a resurrection from death to life. This is impossible without Christ.

 

What does the world really need to see from the church?

  • People who love God.

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭29-31‬ NLT)

The world doesn’t need to see signs and wonders as much as they need to see a group of people who sincerely LOVE God and are devoted to Him and His teachings.

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

The more we enjoy God the more it shows to others.

  • People who love people.

Jesus will know you are my disciples by THE WAY YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER. He didn’t say by miracles, signs or wonders. He said the world would know, would see, would feel God’s love THROUGH us.

Could the souls of the world be at risk if we choose not to love one another?

Does the world feel the love of God through Christians? Or do they feel condemned and judged by Believers?

  • Do you know any pimps?
  • Do you know any drug dealers?
  • Do you know any prostitutes?
  • Do you know any criminals?

And that’s part of the problem. We try to protect ourselves from these people instead of going to them. Jesus WENT to every person. And he was judged by the religious community. But he LOVED them. And he proved it.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭1-3‬ NLT)

  • Is it time for the church to repent?
  • Is it time for the church to break down the walls and GO to the lost?
  • Is it time for the church to truly love God and begin acting like it?
  • Is it time for me to repent, to GO, and to LOVE?
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