Our reference scripture is Nehemiah, chapters 4 & 5.
Recently, God moved me to a new church. It wasn’t what I expected to happen, at least not right now. But, it is what it is and I trust in Him, completely. So, though I have questions of my own regarding the whys and the possibilities of where He is leading me for a future, I have simply obeyed and been at peace with it.
But today, when I opened my Bible, God spoke to me and reminded me of something I heard my new Pastor say not too long ago, when I had merely come to this church to visit at a friend’s request. It is interesting to me the events that we are privileged to be aware of as we live out this life.
It is common knowledge in my old church, God bless them all, that there has been prayerful consideration and a thorough search for 20 acres of land to build an actual church upon. They are currently in an office complex, where they are the major player renting space. But the doors are overflowing and, with four services every weekend, there is a genuine desire to expand the walls. I am sure that God is about to stretch their tents and set their tent spikes further apart; but, that is not where He wanted me to remain. That blessing will be for those who are there.
So, He led me to this new church, where the Pastor, upon my sole visit before the move, said that while the donation basket was being passed around, if we had a need, to take what we might need from the basket. He said that this church was here to serve the people and the community. That struck a chord within me. Was I serving others, or was I looking to be served? What were my true needs? I gave the few dollars I had with me that day, and knew I would have to start considering the needs of others over my own, even if I was really in desperate need. My real need would be to trust God. Not long after that, God moved me over, and this morning as I read today’s scripture passage, the church was brought to mind.
You see, the church helps us focus on righteousness in Christ, just like Nehemiah did with having the work on the wall begin (Neh. Chap 2 & 3). As the laborers began the work of building that wall, they were immediately opposed by the world (Neh. 4:1-3). The work, nonetheless, continued and the enemies of the Jews grew angrier (4:4-8) and they came against the work and the Jews performing it. This is exactly like our own lives. People around us who are not saved find it unbelievable that we could change or that God moves within us, and so they attack our new beliefs and threaten our livelihood.
So, God uses the leaders in the church, as He used Nehemiah, to help us grow and focus on Him, through the Word of God, our Sword (Heb 4:12). We see this in the equipping of those who worked on the wall (Neh 4:13-23), they had one hand building and one hand upon their sword. We are taught and brought up in the same way, learning to read our Bible, pray, and live according to all that God says, ready with a defense at all times (2 Tim 2:4). So do we grow in Christ.
Yet, there are those who, even within the Body of Christ, continue to struggle with the financial things of this world. We have bills to pay, obligations to fulfill. The Word tells us to submit to our employers as though to The Lord and follow the law of the land, as it is He Who appoints rulers and expects us to joyfully trust in Him to help us through in obeyance of the law and fulfilling our obligations. Yet, just like when the work was being done on the wall, we find ourselves crying out for our inability to keep up with our brothers and sisters, being held back by our own indebtedness. Of course, we are not beholden to them. We are beholden to the world, but we see the example set where the Jews forgave one another the interest on their debts, allowing more freedom to pay the principle. How does this apply?
Well, the Jews were all working on that wall, and that represents the identifier for those of us who truly are chasing Jesus and doing the Lord’s work. They helped one another in fulfilling personal obligations, relieving some of the pressures of every day stress to do so. Why is this important?
Well, like I said, my old church is seeking land. This costs money. This means they are saving it for the expansion of the church. But, as far as I am aware, they are not helping individuals through personal crisis. I am certain there are church members there who are in need of help but have no idea how to ask, nor would they consider asking. Yet, with the surplus of funds which simply must be in existence right now, the church is more than capable of helping. I’m not saying they should pay off all of the church members’ debts. That would be counterproductive to doing God’s work. But there must be a way, and further, there somehow should be a heart’s desire to do so within the church itself.
I don’t like admitting this, but I am one of those people who is in need. However, I am prideful and would never ask. There are a few who know my situation, and yet neither they, nor the church elders, have offered to help out. And that’s okay. I didn’t ask. They are due for a blessing of the land they have prayed for, as I said. But, that blessing will not include me.
My gifts and my life are to be entrusted elsewhere. I am now doing what must be done in my personal life to both obey the law and free up my ability to do the Lord’s work. After all, He said it is my year of Jubilee. The part of the Body that is more focused on helping the community and the church members themselves versus the expansion projects is where God will grow me further. He brought me over to learn how to truly trust Him with what He bestows upon us and to be humble enough to both know and admit that I need help. More than any other’s help, I need His. So, the focus for me is not to worry about where the church is going or what they do with the gifts they are given. My focus is to be on God, to do as He asks, and to live simply and let Him do what only He can do, whether He chooses to use others to bless me or not. He will work it out for me. Meanwhile, I’m gonna give what I do have. I have time. I have spiritual gifts to teach, to exhort, to admonish, and to love openly. Mostly, I have God, and it’s time I stop selfishly keeping Him to myself. He Who is within me is much more than just the Spirit of Sanctification in my life. He is the Spirit Who moves through me to bless others.
Remember this, if nothing else I have written today, as I remind myself:
The Body of Christ is not just in buildings. The church does not have walls. We are the church, and wherever we gather, He is in our midst. In fact, each of us is the temple of God. The Holy Spirit is in us and He wants to do something glorious in us all.
No matter what’s in store, when I cry out, I will cry out to the Lord, and I know He will hear my cry and be faithful to fulfill His Promises and to be the answer to all of my needs.