Remember the law of entropy? Things are always breaking down. No matter what we build (or rebuild), the job of upkeep is never finished. What does Nehemiah teach us about our calling in this world and how there may just be a constantly repeating nature to everything we do as we seek to build the kingdom and the church. And what vision is there attached to that? Vision for not just continual work, but for continued growth, continued innovation...
Celebration is an important part of any process of rebuilding! And worshipping God is how we celebrate Him, His faithfulness, and it's what marks us as Christians - we don't just celebrate our own 'wins', we get to celebrate miraculous 'wins' that only happens through the power and presence of God. This sermon will remind us what Vineyard worship is, and how we can take steps toward learning again how to engage in corporate worship.
Nehemiah moves from the rebuilding of the wall to the rebuilding of God's people. We see in chapters 9 & 10 a pattern of confession, worship, recommitment and renewal of the people of God. When we commit ourselves seriously to our identity-defining relationship with God and with the church, we experience His reviving presence.
Rebuilding anything requires an honest reality-check regarding the foundation upon which we build... which is why confession is so important. Confession requires us to be intentionally aware: aware of who we are, aware of our history, and aware of who God is. A practice of confession allows us to deal with what's real in our lives personally, in our culture systemically, and to take ownership in ways that can lead toward not denial, but transformation, by God's grace. This message will explain the practice of Christian confession as not self-shaming, but self-honesty... and lay out a framework for practicing confession today.
All of the effort to rebuild was to the precursor to invite everyone (the exiles) back to Jerusalem so they could reorder their lives around God and his kingdom. The same is true for us as a church. As we rebuild we need to remember that we are rebuilding for the sake of those who have not yet come through our doors. This is why we are opening doors to Vineyard campuses all around our city.
At certain times in life you will come under attack, whether it be spiritually, physically, or relationally through accusation or slander. When you are attacked, how do you respond in a way that God would want you to respond? Nehemiah gives us several strategies for how to keep rebuilding, even when attacked.
As we rebuild our lives and our families, we have to remember to not build to benefit ourselves and our families alone. We have to build for a better world for everyone, especially the oppressed. This requires hearing the cry of the oppressed, rethinking how we live and solve problems, and living intentionally in order to be a blessing to others.
Today we'll celebrate Mother's Day by reflecting on the lesson in Nehemiah that the work of rebuilding requires diligence, and effort against outside (and sometimes internal) opposition. Families today are under tremendous pressure, parents are under-resourced and over-burdened, and kids right now have had their futures thrown upside down after 2020. We are all called to fight forward... to be strong and courageous on behalf of the future generation. In this message, we'll speak directly to moms and maternal caregivers, and aunties about the holy role of parenting, and the reassuring truth of God's protection and presence over our children.
When you begin to rebuild your life, you will face all kinds of opposition. The enemy will accuse, lie, mock and demoralize you into giving up. Nehemiah shows us how we can respond to opposition by speaking the truth, going to God in prayer, redoubling our efforts, and adjusting our strategy as needed.
As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. Nehemiah is a great picture of how the body of Christ is meant to function: each one of us using our gifts and skills to build together. Frederick Buechner once said: "the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Chapter 3 illustrates for us how each part of the community partnered with one another to rebuild the wall. We're called to partnership with Christ to heal the hungering world around us. In this message we'll call folks to the task at hand, and invite people to partner with Christ to heal the world.