At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem…
I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall.
I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.
And on that day they offered great sacrifices,
rejoicing because God had given them great joy.
The women and children also rejoiced.
The sound of the rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people…
Nehemiah 12:27, 31, 43, 13:1

I wish I could have been there on the day that Nehemiah and the people celebrated all that God had done through them as they trusted him! Can you imagine it? Leaders on the wall! Choirs walking on top of the wall around the city, singing! Men, women and children rejoicing so loudly it could be heard for miles!
And as part of their day they opened God’s word together and let God’s Spirit speak to their hearts through his inspired word.
We are going to have a number of times like this as a church! On the weekend of March 10 and 11 we will have our Celebration Weekend, where we gather the commitments each person who is willing will make! We will celebrate together our trust in God and our sacrificial giving to him and his kingdom!
Then, we will break ground, probably sometime in April – and see the beginning of construction!
When the building is complete we will have another weekend of celebration! And three years from now, when we complete our giving commitments we will rejoice one more time!
We believe God is in this! We believe he is calling each of us to be a part of it! And we will all be able to rejoice in him as we see his Spirit work to bring this to a victorious conclusion!
Take some time right now to ponder the many ways God has blessed you throughout the years of your life! Take some time to thank him for how he has already blessed us as his flock here at Crossroads! And take some time to thank him in advance for the many who will come to know him in this new addition we are adding to our building!
To God be the glory – great things he has done!

So the wall was completed
on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard about this,
all the surrounding nations were afraid,
and lost their confidence,
because they realized that this work had been done
with the help of our God.
Nehemiah 6:15-16

Remember Acts 5:38-39?

If their purpose or activity is of human origin it will fail.
But if it is from God you will not be able to stop these men…

We firmly believe that our REACHING BEYOND project is from God! We believe that, just like Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem, “this work will be done with the help of our God.” It will take time. It will take sacrifice. There will be setbacks. We could get discouraged. But if we don’t grow weary of doing good, then in due time we will reap, if we don’t lose heart!
And, in due time God will bring people to himself and glory to himself through this project!
What are you giving your time and energy to these days? Providing for your family? Seeking an education? Serving as a volunteer somewhere?
Whatever it is, ask God to confirm in your heart that what you are doing is from him and not just from your own desires. If it is of him, what you are doing will be done with the help of your God, and others will recognize that and give glory to him!
Pray that people in Parker and the surrounding communities see this project we are doing, and when it is accomplished, pray that they see it was done with the help of our God! If they do see this, God will be glorified, and more will come to know him!

Neither I nor my brothers
nor the men nor the guards with me
took off our clothes;
each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
I never demanded the food allotted to the governor,
because the demands were heavy on these people.
Nehemiah 4:23, 5:18

This passage reminds me of what Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:

We were not trying to please people,
but God, who tests our hearts.
We were not looking for praise from people,
not from you or anyone else,
even though as apostles of Christ
we could have asserted our authority.
Surely you remember, brothers and sisters,
our toil and hardship; we worked night and day
in order not to be a burden to anyone
while we preached the gospel of God to you.
I Thessalonians 2:4, 6, 9

One of the things I admire so much about the ministry staff at Crossroads and our Crossroads Leadership Council members is that each and every one of them is a servant, willing to do whatever needs to be done! And what is even more amazing to me are the hundreds of you who volunteer at Crossroads, giving hours and hours of your time and energy.
Thank you for all you do. I pray for each of you every other week as I pray through our church directory. Please pray for me and the other leaders of Crossroads, that we don’t become selfish or lazy, but that we lead the way in serving Jesus and his cause!

Then I said to the nobles,
the officials and the rest of the people,
“The work is extensive and spread out,
and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.
Whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.
Our God will fight for us!”
Nehemiah 4:19-20

In our culture today, all of us have different places to go each day. Some work at home. Some go to school. Some go to other places of work – and “the work is extensive and spread out… we are widely separated from each other…”
For Nehemiah and the people, to do what God had put on their hearts to do, they had to spread out! But they also knew that there is power in coming together, so they had a plan to come together if there was a need.
Our weekend services are when we at Crossroads “sound the trumpet.” Though we are spread out all week long, we find strength when we come together!
The author of Hebrews gives us this challenge:

And let us consider how we may
spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another –
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

Yes, Jesus is with you every day, everywhere you go! But he also wants us to find encouragement in gathering together with each other to worship! There is power in being together!
Please make sure you don’t “give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.” Join us this weekend for worship! And pray for our gatherings, that God would be glorified and his people would be encouraged!

From that day on, half of my men did the work,
while the other half were equipped
with spears, shields, bows and armor.
The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah
who were building the wall.
Those who carried materials did their work with one hand
and held a weapon in the other,
and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.
Nehemiah 4:16-18

If you know Jesus as your Savior then you are called to be a part of seeing his kingdom furthered! We all are. That means using the spiritual gifts he has given us to serve him and to build up others. Sometimes that is teaching. Sometimes that is doing manual labor. For some it is leading others in worship. For others it is setting up coffee and donuts to build a welcoming environment where people sense they matter to us – and to God.
And while we are all called to serve in some way, we all also need to stop at times and serve others and serve God’s kingdom by praying!
That is what this passage reminds me of. Some were working hard at manual labor. Others watched over them with their armor on.
There are times you are called to work hard at serving Jesus and his kingdom – and there are times when you are called to pray over others who are doing the serving.
Before your day gets busy (if you are reading this in the morning), or right now while you have a few quiet moments (if you are reading this during a break or during your lunch hour), or right now when you have some alone time (if you are reading this in the evening or before you go to bed) take some time to “remember the Lord who is great and awesome” (Nehemiah 4:14) and to pray for his Spirit to watch over his church and those who are at work in his ministry right now!
If you don’t know any “prayer warriors” that you can call on in need, seek out Pastor Dave to help you find a small group, or join the men’s or women’s ministry and get connected! We all need others who will pray over us while we are at work for our Lord!

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot
and that God had frustrated it,
we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
Nehemiah 4:15

Life is full of ups and downs. We are in a war. Sometimes we are in the middle of a spiritual battle that is raging. Sometimes we are at peace. From yesterday we saw the challenges that Nehemiah gave to the people when there was an imminent attack. Now we see that because the people were prepared, those who were going to attack went away.
Satan is not afraid to come after us! He went after Jesus! He tried to get Jesus to sin three times in one encounter! (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13) But Jesus was ready for the attack. Jesus had on his spiritual armor! He met the lies of the enemy with truth. He responded to the temptations with the sword of the Spirit – God’s word. He kept on his breastplate of righteousness and did not give in. After three spiritual attacks of temptation, Satan realized that Jesus was aware of his schemes, and Jesus was able to frustrate his attempts, Luke tells us, “…[the devil] left him… until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

The apostle Peter puts it this way:
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in your faith…
I Peter 5:8-9

Yes, life is hard. Yes, the devil only wants to undermine and destroy us. But also, our Heavenly Father only wants to support us and help us – and give good to us!
The devil is like the enemies the people of Jerusalem faced, and like the enemies we face. If we are aware of their schemes and if we are prepared for the battle (by putting on the whole armor of God) then the enemies will realize they have lost their advantage, and will leave us alone. But not forever! The devil is always looking for “an opportune time” to attack.
Are you under attack right now? Call for back up! Get family and friends praying!
Are you at peace right now? Don’t let it lull you into a sense of complacency! Put on the armor of God every day – so that you are able to take a stand!
Pray for the leaders of Crossroads to diligently put on the armor of God everyday as well!

After I looked things over,
I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials
and the rest of the people,
“Don’t be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord,
who is great and awesome,
and fight for your families,
your sons and your daughters,
your wives and your homes.”
Nehemiah 4:14

Nehemiah, as a wise leader, brought the people together and gave them three different commands about…
1) …their enemies,
2) …their God,
3) …their loved ones.
These word apply to us as well:
1) Our enemies: Don’t be afraid of them!
2) Our God: Remember him! Focus on how great and awesome he is!
3) Our loved ones: Fight for them!
“Don’t be afraid” or “Fear not” is the most repeated command in the Bible! Someone has said it is in the Bible 365 times – one for every day of the year. It is repeated so often because there are a lot of scary things in this world.
Most of the time the most repeated command is followed by the most repeated promise in the Bible: “I am with you.” This time it wasn’t God saying, “Don’t be afraid!” It was Nehemiah who said it, and instead of saying, “God is with you!” he said, “Remember the Lord who is great and awesome!” We can often get so focused on what frightens us that we forget about our God who defends us!
And then Nehemiah says to fight for the ones we love. In II Corinthians 10:3-5 Paul writes,

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Is there something that stirs fear in your heart right now? Then do what Nehemiah challenged the people of Jerusalem to do – fight! Fight by…
1) …remembering God and who he is!
2) …getting on your knees and praying to him for help!
3) …while you are on your knees, pray for yourself and your loved ones to follow God and his ways!
While you are on your knees, pray for the ministry at Crossroads today! Remember, our Lord is great and awesome!

Therefore I stationed some of the people
behind the lowest points of the wall
at the exposed places,
posting them by families,
with their swords, spears and bows.
Nehemiah 4:13

It is wise to know where we are vulnerable – “the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places.” It is wise to work closely with others we know and trust – “posting them by families.” It is wise to have the right equipment to do a job – “with their swords, spears and bows.”
The apostle Paul wrote these words:

Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:11, 13

It is interesting that Paul says, “so that WHEN the day of evil comes…” He does not say, “IF the day of evil comes.”
We are in a war. We have a real enemy. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. His strategy is to divide and conquer. We need to be watchful and ready for battle every day.
Every day when we get up, we get dressed as we get ready for the day. We put on different clothes depending on what lies ahead of us that day.
Do we get up every day and put on the armor of God? Do we get ready for whatever may come our way spiritually? Do we put on truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith and our salvation by taking up God’s word and reading it – by getting on our knees and praying?
The day of evil will come. We need to be prepared.
Today, ask Jesus to help you take seriously this called to put on the full armor of God so that we can face the enemy. And if you are not in a Life Group or some other small group for encouragement and accountability, seriously consider joining one. It will give you a “family” that will stand with you as you seek to be on guard in the “lowest points… and exposed places” of your heart, soul and life.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs,
the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod
heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s wall had gone ahead
and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.
They all plotted together
to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard…
Nehemiah 4:7-9

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard…” What wisdom! Ask God for his grace, strength, protection and help – and then take responsibility to do all we can.
This verse has inspired others – including Oliver Cromwell who lived in the early 1600’s. He was a military leader. His men used muskets. He is quoted in a poem written in 1834. Here is what I found on Wikipedia about that quote:
“Trust in God and keep your powder dry” is a maxim attributed to Oliver Cromwell, but which first appeared in 1834 in the poem “Oliver’s Advice” by William Blacker with the words “Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry!” The poem is a dramatic representation of Cromwell addressing his army during the invasion of Ireland. Edward Hayes, who edited the anthology in which the work first appeared, calls it a “well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell.”
These are good words for you and me today! “Pray to our God, and _________.” You fill in the blank.
Today, spend some time praying to our God for help, and then ask him to help you to know what he would have you do! Pray the same for Crossroads!

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height,
for the people worked with all their heart.
Meanwhile, the people in Judah said,
“The strength of the laborers is giving out,
and there is so much rubble we cannot rebuild the wall.”
Nehemiah 4:6, 10

There is often a lot of enthusiasm when we begin a significant project. We can go at it with great zeal. But over time we can begin to wear out. To sustain enthusiasm over a long period of time is difficult. And if you add being insulted, persecuted and criticized to it, well, we can get part way done and just want to give up. That is what happened to the Jewish people rebuilding the wall. They got half way done and wanted to give up.
Nehemiah 6:15 says, “So the wall was completed… in fifty-two days.”
It didn’t even take two months, but with the opposition of their enemies, and with the difficulty of working through the rubble, the people almost gave up half way through the project.
If God has put something on your heart to do, and you are getting discouraged, remember Galatians 6:9:

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.

It will take more than fifty-two days for us to build the new addition at Crossroads. There will be inconveniences on our property as we do it. It will take three years to gather all the offerings to pay for it. Sometimes it might be easy to get discouraged and want to give up. But we believe God has called us to this, and if we do not become discouraged, if we keep working, at the proper time it will all come together – if we do not give up.
Is there something you felt God put on your heart to do that you are struggling with now? Do you just want to give up? (Maybe a New Year Resolution?) Let me encourage you to keep going!