Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rebuilding the Walls of the Church

 My husband and I just attended some meetings where pastors and leaders from all over the Austin area had come together to seek God, be refreshed, and take the first steps in developing some strategies for reaching our city as a unified force.  It is so evident that the Holy Spirit is moving and orchestrating something so much grander than anything we might have tried to dream or imagine. 

In January as I was reading in the book of Nehemiah, I was impressed that the Lord wanted to speak to me about the Body of Christ through this story.   Nehemiah carried the burden to help rebuild the wall that surrounded Jerusalem, and Neh. 1:3 describes the wall as broken down and its gates burned with fire.  I saw that this was a picture of the church not just in our city, but in many places throughout our nation.

Nehemiah must have recognized that the task was far too large for any one man and so the work was shared by officials, leaders, priests, and men from many different areas.  The work was systematically divided up so that each did their share, but it was a cooperative effort.

What a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ coming together to build up the walls of the church. In the book of Nehemiah, the wall that surrounded Jerusalem was built for protection.  In the same way, the Body of Christ is to be a spiritual wall around this city.  Those who live within the walls will experience a sense of peace, prosperity and protection as the Body of Christ links arms.   The task of rebuilding the spiritual walls around our city is far too big for any one church to fulfill, and it will only be through linking arms together that we see the 'heaps of rubble' become life-giving stones chosen and selected by Him to fit perfectly into the corporate wall that surrounds our beautiful city.

 Nehemiah's work of rebuilding the wall did not happen without opposition.  In fact, as soon as Sanballat and his buddies heard about what Nehemiah intended to do, the mocking and ridiculing began.  Nehemiah's response reveals a type of resolve and confidence that we must have in order to withstand the opposition that will surely come.

Nehemiah answered his taunters by simply saying, "The God of Heaven will give us success.  We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."

This is to be our answer to our enemy as he seeks to discourage or dissuade us from the task ahead;    "Satan, we His servants WILL start rebuilding, but as for you, YOU HAVE NO SHARE IN AUSTIN, or ANY CLAIM OR HISTORIC RIGHT TO IT!"

Jesus,  call your people everywhere to rise up with humble hearts.   Give your leaders strategies and plans that confuse the enemy and exponentially build the church.  Thank you, Jesus, that "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ".   Let the "amen" of agreement from your people rise up to the glory of God our Father as You fulfill your promise, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it". (Matt. 16:18b) 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bottom Line Faith

Be still, and know that I am God....

Many times our faith flows out of what we know.  The 'what we know' kind of faith is how we learn to obtain our promises through His spoken word and revelation.  We hear a truth and the Holy Spirit quickens it in our spirit, and we attach our faith to claim the promise as our own.   But, the bends and turns on this faith journey will at some point likely find us in a place where the 'what we know' no longer seems to suffice.  We may have declared and claimed a particular promise to no avail.   When our hopes have been dashed and we experience firsthand the brutality of life, it is time then to hold on to the Who of our faith.

This is the bottom line of our faith, and it is the richest of places to visit in our journey with God, though you might not willingly choose this trip.  Abraham, known as the Father of Faith, made this journey, and when it seemed that all hope of seeing his promises become reality had passed, Heb. 11:11 says, "he was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise."

Too often, we only attach our faith to the promise itself, or even worse, we have faith in our faith.  But, like everything else in the kingdom, obtaining our promises should come through relationship.  We hear our promises through relationship, and we come to know the fulfillment of them through relationship as well.

There comes a crisis of our faith when it seems that there is no possibility on earth that we could see the actuality of those things spoken.   But, our faith transactions are not of this earth, in fact, they are very much a heavenly transaction as we put our hope in the God who calls things that are not as though they were.   The bottom line comes as we take our eyes off of the promise and place them fully on the the Faithful One.  This is the transaction that all of heaven must celebrate, when a child of God says, "No matter that I cannot see and no matter if I ever see, I choose to believe in You God, because You are altogether good and altogether faithful.

Consider Job, who in the midst of his suffering chose to say, 'though He slay me, yet will I trust Him' and then was blessed in the latter part of his life more than the first. Or remember, Abraham, who was willing  to lay down his son of promise, Issac,  and just in the nick of time, the angel of the Lord stopped the sacrifice and the ram in the thicket appeared.

Every person has a unique faith walk, a journey carefully mapped out with delights, discoveries, and challenges all along the way.  This walk is an ever deepening journey into our relationship with Him, filled with beauty and joy in the fulfillment of our promises, but better than that, intimate encounters with the Who of the Promise.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."   Heb. 12:2