"...Zerubbabel led the people to rebuild the temple, but some of the old timers remembered what the old temple, the temple of Solomon had been like. This new temple was quite small and modest by comparison. Solomon's temple had been fairly large, opulent, beautiful... and the old-timers just wept when they saw it. But it was God's provision for them. It was different, it was smaller, but the hand of God was in it.Just as the Lord did not leave or forsake the people of Israel, so he will not leave or forsake us.
"Here at Crossroads we've gone through a time of transition. Some of those who had been here at the founding of Crossroads have moved on to other places and we bless them and we're thankful for them. New people have begun to arise and take leadership in different areas. We're in transition. Who knows how it's all going to unfold, but we need to recognize that God is in it.
"Things are different. Things are going to look a little bit different and it's okay. Learn to life with something a little bit different. God is always on the move, he's got a plan, he's not going to leave us, he doesn't forsake us.
"He did not leave or forsake the people of Israel. He had plans for them..."
Sometimes it's honestly hard to believe that a "rebuilding program" would be worth the trouble.
In Nehemiah's day few people were living in the city. This was true of most cities until modern times. Unless the city was a wealthy trading center, most people would live in villages near their farmland. It's only in the twentieth century that this changed!
So why was Jerusalem important? For all those who had been exiled to Babylon, and for those who continued to live in the area under Babylonian and then Persian rule, Jerusalem was the city of God's promises and God's Word! The temple was there and great and wonderful promises had been attached to it. And the city itself--known as "Zion" and "The City of David"--God's promises encompassed the city too. (For example, see Jeremiah 33 and Zechariah 8).
Unless the people believed those promises the city of Jerusalem would be mostly irrelevant to the people's every day lives and there would be no real reason to rebuild the city. But, as Steve shared on Sunday, Nehemiah believed those promises! He believed that things could be different--that things should be different in and for the city.
As Steve Basney put it:
"Where did Nehemiah get his faith that the walls of Jerusalem could be rebuilt? Where did he get the belief that something good could come out of all this judgment rubble. Nehemiah knew the Word of God. He knew the promises and prophecies. There had been a prophecy that the people of Judah would be restored.Because he believed the promises, and because, after weeping and praying, Nehemiah came to believe that he had an opportunity (a "call" from God) to make a difference, he spoke with the king about the resources that would be necessary. He then traveled to Jerusalem, inspected the broken down walls and gates, and rallied the people, inspiring vision and teamwork against apathy and adversaries and division--and the stone walls were rebuilt--by hand--in just a matter of a few months.
"Even though it took a long time to make it happen -- there was 70 years between the time Jeremiah spoke it and the time that the first exiles came back -- and there was really another 100 years before Nehemiah actually came on the scene to rebuild the walls -- that's a long space of time -- Nehemiah knew the promises of God. He knew what God had spoken. "He said, 'You know what, I know this isn't God's best--what I'm hearing about what what I'm seeing--this cannot be God's best for us.' God has a plan and Nehemiah had faith to believe things could be different."
On Sunday at Crossroads, toward end of his message*, Steve made an application of this to our personal lives. He said this:
"We need to have faith to believe that things can be different. We need to trust God for all areas and all aspects of our life. Why do we trust God? Because God is faithful. God is good. God is for us. He is not against us. And he is interested in every area and every aspect of your life.How does this apply to your personal life? In what ways is God is calling you to step out in faith, praying and taking steps to rebuild? And in what ways is God calling us to do this here at Crossroads? Have we spent time in prayer? Have we believed God's promises? What steps of faith is God calling us to take together?
"Often we have the faith to believe God for salvation to get to heaven. But sometimes it's like that's the extent of our faith. And it's good you have faith for that. That's the most important thing, right? ...
"But still, we are here in this life. We need to learn to trust God and walk in faith here in this life. We need to believe God for our finances. We need to believe God for peace in our homes. We need to believe God that we can take our city for Jesus. We need to learn to walk in faith in all areas and and aspects of our life. God is interested in it!
"God has given us exceedingly great and precious promises in His Word that we can stand on. He says in Second Corinthians chapter 3 that all the promises of God are "Yes and Amen to the glory of God." He gives a promise and what do we do? We say "Yes! Amen Lord! Let it come to pass! We stand upon God's Word. We speak God's Word. We believe God's Word even when all our circumstances may look very different."
Please pray with me that we will clearly hear and see what God is calling us to do -- personally, and as a church.
Steve's main message on Sunday was about being "Set Apart" for God. You can listen to that important part by clicking here (just over 16 minutes long).