The moment…you rediscover something great in the bottom of the drawer that you had long forgotten about. The moment…you come across a photo from years ago that brings the memories flooding back. It’s the story behind the story that triggers the emotions, reconnects you to your roots, re-establishes your present and reorients your future. For the people of Israel, this is the moment. The walls have been rebuilt, their hearts are being renewed. But it is only as they reengage the Word of God, that the real journey on the Road to Recovery comes into focus.For when people gather to hear the Word of God and understand it in the context of their lives, they discover the story behind the story; a story that revives their appetite for God, reinvigorates their worship and restores their community. And that community is commissioned to live from overflowing joy that releases healing, blessing & life to the world. Joy healing blessing & life equal to the crying need in our hearts & in our community right now.
#7 in series: "Road to Recovery"
Sports enthusiasts know it happens.
The lead car hits the wall or runs out of fuel in the last lap. A penalty kick is blocked or swings wide. The last ball of the last over clears the boundary for 6 and a match is decided. A runner/rider celebrates too soon and they’re overtaken in the last 100th of a second. It’s not enough to start something…you have to finish…and finish well. Nehemiah is in the home stretch of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. He can see the finish in record time. But it’s at that moment that we’re all vulnerable. It’s at that moment, with the end in sight that distractions pose the greatest threat. When we resist distraction and carry out the work to which God calls we honour God, bless people, and actively demonstrate God’s rule to the world in a way that enemies are defeated and outsiders are drawn into God’s salvation. Nehemiah is not just rebuilding a wall or a city; he’s restoring God’s people to theirGod-designed purpose, call & work in his world. And nothing can distract from or interfere with that effort reaching its completion.
#5 in series: Road to Recovery
"Never ask someone to do what you are not prepared to do yourself.' It's a leadership principle that every successful leader learns and which Nehemiah demonstrates repeatedly through the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall. But the rebuilding of the wall is just the first stage of a much larger and more difficult renewal project that needs to occur; the reformation of people's hearts as they are restored to their God-designed purpose and work in this world. As Israel's hope is renewed, as they start to feel safe, secure and protected again, the people revert back to old habits…living selfishly and for their own agenda. So when Nehemiah discovers a widening economic rift in God's people, he's swift to act, regardless of the risk to his influence as a leader. For just as the walls of the city need to be rebuilt on strong foundations, so do the lives of God's people. Nehemiah brings them back to their spiritual foundations, calling them to renew that covenant and live in their covenantal identity. We too are called to daily renew the covenant of grace that shapes our identity; a covenant sealed in the blood of Christ and poured out as a living sacrifice for the world. It's a powerful step in our journey on the road to recovery.
#4 in series: Road to Recovery
Pushback...resistance…it's increasing. States are pushing back against the Federal Government & each other. Councils & business are pushing back against measures that seem to be wrecking the economy & destroying jobs. More & more experts and people at the coalface are pushing back against strategies that feel like they hurt more than they help. Agree or disagree…it’s there. We shouldn't be surprised. Any time there is a perceived threat to the status quo, bold new strategies are implemented, or change is introduced, pushback, resistance or opposition will not be far behind.
Halfway through the rebuild of Jerusalem's wall, the opposition came from without and the pushback from within. But Nehemiah demonstrates a faith-filled way to Repel opposition that comes when we begin to live God's vision into life-changing reality and lead people on the Road to Recovery. While the work of God will always arouse the opposition of enemy, God is in control & continues the work of his kingdom through us, whatever the challenge. It's a timely reminder when discouragement comes and pushback occurs.
#3 in series: Road to Recovery
They've been one of the most searched items on the internet behind toilet paper, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, baking goods, tech gear and fitness items - the jigsaw puzzle. From 10-1000 pieces or more, there's structure, there's order and it's an activity that builds community (by-standers always join in!). Jigsaws inspire you toward a specific result, engage you and others and their impact always leads to a sense of achievement and joy. Vision works in the same way. Individual and seemingly random, unrelated circumstances - often what looks like chaos - are brought together and connected to form a beautiful masterpiece that is life-transforming, eternity shaping and creates delight for all who participate in it. That's what we'll explore today as Nehemiah recasts vision; a vision not just of a wall rebuilt but of a people restored to their God designed purpose and work in this world. It's a vision to which Nehemiah invites others to join him in working out a future that’s more glorious than people could ever imagine. In chaotic times, we too are called to recast vision and participate in a God-given plan that inspires with hope, fully engages our lives and impacts the community eternally as God leads us out of uncertainty on the Road to Recovery.
#2 in series: Road to Recovery
The most watched hour of TV in the last month? State of Origin? No. Ash Barty’s Wimbledon win? No. It’s the 11a.m. daily briefing by the Premier & State Health officials on the current state of the Coronavirus that has sent us into lockdown. The nation stops, watches and holds its breath to see if infection and community transmission numbers are climbing falling or holding steady. We drop into suspended animation, hoping there’s an end in sight to the lockdowns; waiting for someone to lay out a road to recovery that isn’t cut off by a new variant or breakout. We’re alive but not fully living…like the disastrous conditions facing the Jewish remnant who returned from exile to Jerusalem. They were trapped in a captivity mindset far from the vision God had for their lives.
Nehemiah was still in Babylon but his heart was burdened for those who were free but not living in freedom. He was heartbroken for those who had settled into complacency amidst the chaos. But rather than blaming or shifting responsibility; Nehemiah accepts his part in the situation and lives the truth of Isaiah’s words, “In repentance & rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength…” – Is 30:15. The Road to Recovery begins with Repenting of the Rubbish and turning our eyes to the one who alone is faithful to all his promises and can help this nation and his church truly recover.
#1 in series: Road to Recovery
The last pages of a novel. The final scene in a movie. Your last conversation with a loved one. We want endings to feel complete. To tie up loose ends. To wrap up unfinished business. To bring a sense of closure & completeness…finality. We don’t get that as Luke writes the final verses of Acts…Instead we get a never-ending story that lives and adds pages from generation to generation. But it’s not a children’s book or an sweeping romance that revisits old characters or weaves a new tale in the next instalment. It’s your story…your autobiography of life with Jesus that fills the chapters ahead. Written in the tears & struggles, the joys & triumphs, the wisdom & folly of God growing you into the likeness of Jesus…the Spirit moves you out into the world with a calling and a purpose; to be an intentional invitation to draw others into that narrative of the God who loves the world enough to send his Son as a sacrifice so all might have life with Him forever. What unfinished acts has God purposed for you in the days, months and years ahead?
#8 and final in series: 'Getting your Acts Together'
"When one door closes, another opens." We've heard the saying. We know the meaning. But have you ever considered that a new door opening means a door closing for someone else. We see that paradox at work today. A door to freedom opening for the female slave shut closed the door of freedom to Paul and Silas. The earthquake which unlocked the doors of the prison and unshackled the chains that bound Paul and SIlas would have closed the door on the jailor's life. Paul clearly understands that if the open door for him meant the closed door for the Philippian jailer, the door was really closed to both of them. So in an incredible bold act, Paul and SIlas stayed, moving beyond individualistic wants, comforts and even freedom so that the light of Christ would boldly open the door of the heart to bring a freedom that transforms everything for everyone. Could the aftershocks of the Covid earthquake that has rocked our lives leading to closed doors and closed borders actually be the opportunity for bold acts that God is using to open someone's heart to real life and real freedom? We'll explore that today.
#7 in series: Getting your ACTS together
Siri, Google, Alexa - your own personal voice activated assistant that can update you on your daily appointments, give you a rundown of the news, answer your burning questions or even tell you a joke. Voice activated technology has come a long way since the old clapper device helped you find your keys or switch off the lamp. From the beginning, God's kingdom has been voice activated. He spoke and the world came into being. Jesus spoke and lives were healed and restored. The Spirit-filled apostles spoke the Word of God and saw thousands of people being saved. Powerful, life-changing, culture-shaping things happen when the Church speaks and shares what God has done and will do in this world. But it requires discernment to recognise and understand the implications of where and how God is at work right now in the world today. Too often we get stuck in a way of thinking or living, trying to box God in and put obstacles in the way of others coming to know the inclusive grace of God that has conquered our hearts. The early Church shows us the discerning acts needed that will enable and deploy more voice activated, Spirit-filled human devices into the marketplace to revolutionize the world today.
#6 in series: Getting our ACTS together