Run to the Rubble (R2R) - It’s All About Community
Text – Nehemiah 4:13 - Nehemiah 6
July 3, 2016
Title – The Rubble’s Salvation – God and God’s People
Text – Nehemiah 4:13-21
Overview – Everything Nehemiah did was to allow the builders to continue the vital work of turning the rubble into God’s glory. In understanding and restoring our purpose as God’s Children and co-workers we must revisit what bringing God glory means. A combination of the original languages reveals to use that glorifying God means to magnify his weighty, honorable character. We are to reflect the majesty of God and expound upon it as we work, live, talk, and love.
In this passage, we see that means remaining focused on the work of taking the rubble given to us and purposefully working to partner with God in exalting him to everyone who can see. We can remain focused on our families and our calling because God will frustrate the plans of those who would seek to make our work tactical and not strategic. Even though we are called to make provisions to protect the work, we know it is God who will fight for us as we work for him.
This passage does carry a truth for leaders. Those who are called to follow God the most closely and communicate His will, are required to display more fully God’s character and be prepared to make the most sacrifice. The speed of the leader is truly the speed of the team. The workers should be able to see the leaders and know exactly how to act and engage. When a leader is observed, the follower should see a glimpse of God and how God is caring for the community.
Why are we here? To reveal to all who see that our God, who gives us spiritual liberty and freedom of choice, is for us and for our activity of rebuilding the rubble into a monument to His true loving character.
July 10, 2016
Title – The Dignity of Rubble– Dignity Owned is Dignity Given
Text – Nehemiah 5
Overview – In our sin and selfish nature, when any one of us gains a sense of dignity and self-worth, we tend to seek to use it to gain power. The gaining of power always results in someone else losing it. Nehemiah 5 reveals how this happens even when a whole people group has been oppressed for years, when one part of that group gained power; they tried to take it away from others. Nehemiah calls on the community to use success to bring success. Instead of some gaining even more wealth and power at the expense of those struggling, everyone should advance together.
Those of us who have experienced the healing of the Gospel and discovered our dignity in Jesus must provide that for others. As we are working to advance the glory of God and the spiritual growth of all those in our circle of influence, we are to also seek the material well-being and advancement of the whole community. We are not to seek sameness or some sense of pseudo equality, but all peoples should be advancing in wholeness at a similar pace. This requires intentionality and personal engagement. Those who have dignity must look for those who do not and intentionally serve so that the image of God can be seen in everyone.
Why are we here? To gain the dignity the image of God in us and work to insure everyone enjoys that dignity and hope.
July 17, 2016
Title – Community Realized is Community Shared
Text – Nehemiah 5
Overview – In Chapter 5, Nehemiah not only calls on the Jews to advance individual dignity, he then instructs the Jews to seek communal strength and unity.
Personal dignity can never promote individualism or isolation of a person or a group. Personal dignity must mature into shared community. People of similar background and identity seek to be together. There is no real problem with this and much comfort can be gained by homogeneity. However, when the strength gained by this unity is leverage to keep other out, this bond is then corrupt.
Nehemiah is an account of God’s people as they were defined in the Old Testament. The New Testament now defines us as “those who follow Jesus” and no longer as a people defined by color or geography. Those of us, no matter our socio-economic background, who have found belonging and care in the community of Jesus are obligated by the definition of the Gospel to intentionally gather with us all those whose lives we touch to join us. Excluding others because we fear for the health of the “church” will make her sick. We are the gathered and the gathering, those who know the joy of community and are to extend it to all.
Why are we here? To be together and invite others to join us.
July 24, 2016
Title – The Power of Rubble Restored
Text – Nehemiah 6:1-15
Overview – Life is full of bullies and they will increase the intensity of their intimidation as we near the completion of God’s calling on our lives. As they realize their impending defeat, their mode of operation will also become more subversive and cunning. We must remain focused on the task, the power of God, and the protection of community.
The bullies working against Nehemiah increased their intensity as the wall neared completion and as the Jews were more fully protected. Those coming against Nehemiah knew they couldn’t defeat him by the sword so they turned to his spirit and soul. They tempted him to stop short of completion and to settle for “good enough.” Nehemiah saw the overture for what it was: an attempt to cause the Jews to be “sort of obedient” instead of finding victory and God’s reward.
Fully restored rubble is holy and set apart and can be used by God as a model to more restoration. Often in our marriages we settle for “good enough” instead of the joy we are called to. In our church, we mistake pseudo community for real relationships. In our communities we often aspire to calm and do not pursue peace – the wholeness that comes from reassembling all the pieces of God’s creation. We are called to and empowered to lead and build up all people and things to reflect the hope and joy of the Kingdom of God.
Why are we here? In spite of the critics, to seek and enjoy holiness in all aspects of home and community.
July 31, 2016
Title – Restoration
Text – Nehemiah 6:16-7:3
Overview – When God is revealed the opposition melts. Followers of Jesus can use this in a sinful manner and become arrogant. Or, we can use this as a mighty tool to have the opposition to everyone’s well-being, be melted by the power of God.
This passage also reveals an error we too often make. As we are seeking to rebuild and to restore, we often make “deals” with those we feel can help or we need to help because we don’t fully trust God to do as he has said. When we make these deals, we bind ourselves to powers that hinder our holiness and, consequently, our complete restoration. To be completely restored is to be completely surrendered and dependent on God.
It is ironic. Complete health requires utter dependence. A sound mind and heart requires a sense of brokenness before God. A joyful life is a life that begins with rubble and rot placed at God’s feet. A life that reveals God’s love is aware of one’s propensity to hate.
To be restored is to stand in awesome of God and humbly ask him to do great things through us.
What are we here? To be restored and to restore.