The opening chapter of Nehemiah reads, 1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ’If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."
The church has been in exile in America, the walls have been broken down and it is time for a fresh revolution of change to take place, for streams of revival to flow from believers, through the buildings, into the streets as living streams of revival into our cities, state, and nation and once again throughout the world. This New Year brings with it challenges and it also contains the promised victory of God for those who are willing to stand and fight in the name of Jesus Christ. It is time to let the revolution begin.
Nehemiah said he had heard of the plight of those who had returned home from exile, their walls of protection had been broken down and they needed help. He also was a man who knew the Word of God which brings victory, pointing out in prayer God’s words to Moses, the unfaithful will be scattered but for those who obey God’s commands, He will draw then together and bring them to a place of gathering in His name.
We repent today, for our nation, for our state, for our community, for our church and we, like Nehemiah call upon the Name of the Lord to redeem us, drawing us together in this place of gathering, and others of like mind who seek to restore the walls of faith which have been broken down in our city, to see a life transforming revolution begin starting with us and spreading out into the streets of our city. Let the Revolution begin.
Luke wrote in Acts 5:42 “And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: "The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus." Where did they share the message of Jesus the Messiah? In the Temple (the main gathering place for worship) and in their homes.
In Acts 20:20, Luke records these comments from the Apostle Paul, “Yet I never shrank from telling you the truth, either publicly or in your homes.”
He taught them out on the streets or in their homes the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Interesting to note, prior to Paul’s conversion, when he was the dreaded Saul, following the death and burial of Stephen, Acts 8:3 tells us this of Saul, “Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail.”
Where was he going to get them? In their homes? Why? Because the early church was a house church where people could come and gather knowing each other and knowing Christ in a more personal gathering.
The Temple, the main church building, and the homes were tied together. Nehemiah was informed the walls had been broken down, perhaps the walls of our faith have also been broken when we moved from the Biblical example of Acts into what we perceived to be a better form of worship. If it is better, then why do we find less genuine Christianity and more pseudo-Christianity today? Have we neglected the principles, which caused the church to grow 2,000 years ago by developing a new form, which has not seen growth but has lead to decay?
John Ortberg said in a column entitled “The Dangers of Pseudo-Transformation vs. authentic Christian spirituality, “Most of us want to be changed, to become more like Christ. But is it happening? According to a Gallup poll, nine of ten Americans say they pray daily, and 84 million Americans almost a third of the population say they have made a personal commitment to Christ as Savior. But as William Iverson writes, "A pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt. If this is real Christianity, the ’salt of the earth,’ where is the effect of which Jesus spoke?" Because by and large we do not expect people to experience ongoing transformation, we are not led to question whether perhaps the standard prescriptions for spiritual growth being given in the church are truly adequate to lead people into a transformed way of life.”
Let the revolution begin. Lets come to a place of understanding of our call, venturing out to grasp hold of God’s hand through the power of the Holy Spirit and see life transformation taking place within us, through us, reaching out and touching others around us. It is time to get back to the basic understanding of Biblical Christianity so we are not wandering about aimlessly, so we are connecting with Christ and through that connection connecting with a lost world in order to being hope into their hopeless situations.
I have several keys I learned as a youth pastor, which will be relevant to starting a revolution for Christ. The first key is…
Key One: Prayer. God said in 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, “ 13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
How long have you felt the heavens have been shut up, that locust in the form of immorality, drugs, criminal activity and the such, have been devouring our land and plagues of calamity have befallen us? That the rain from heaven has not been raining in our lives? God said, when that happens, if the people of God will call on him, and humble themselves, seeking his face and turn from their sins, he will not only forgive them, but heal the land around them.
Lets take this to heart and pause, right now, to offer up our prayers.
“Father in heaven, Lord Jesus Christ, hear the prayers of your servants today. We repent for our open rebuke of your word, for doing our own thing rather then seeking out your perfect way. We repent for our church, for our city and nation, which has taken callous indifference to your teaching, manipulating your word to satisfy our own selfish desires. Hear O God from heaven the humble cry of our hearts today. Bring a fresh revolution, a restoration of your ways into our midst, a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit into our lives and a renewed open door to heaven so our prayers can be heard. We turn from our sinful ways seeking to follow the path of righteousness you have laid before us. Help us to hear you more, to follow you faithfully and to walk forward in power so we can be used a transforming agents in your Kingdom as we walk out our faith here on this earth. Restore what the locust have eaten we pray, in Christ’s name, Amen.”
Prayer is only the first step. What you sow in prayer, you will reap in power. Power, which is not designed to be help but to be transferred. Power lines do not hold onto the electricity, which flows from the power station, they are merely the means of carrying the power so it can be put to use. We are the power lines of God, carrying His power to the place it can be best put to use, in transformation of our world. Power is not something to be held onto.
So what do we do with the power? We use it for four things.
1. Reaching. People will never know the truth of Christ and how He can bring a life changing revolution into their lives unless someone reaches out to them. Who will you reach this year? Who will you reach out to this month? Who will you reach out to this week? People who do not create a plan by default are planning to fail. The early church was not lead by a hierarchy, it was people reaching out to people, worshiping from house to house, studying the word together in community groups, living life together in those same groups. Reaching out to their neighbors, friends and strangers with something that so totally changed their lives they could not keep from sharing Christ with others. Oh that we could become so empowered.
One thing I have noticed about power lines. They are connected. And when they are not, nothing happens. The line, which is stung into my home, is also connected to the homes along the street in which I live, and we all generate power from the same source.
Wouldn’t it be something if we could start connecting our neighborhood with the source of ultimate power for living, Jesus Christ so we are not the dead end of the line. Who will you reach out to?
Secondly, after you have reached out, they must be…
2. Won. The church has a satellite dish so we can carry the Christian Communication Network broadcasts. They are all satellite transmissions. So we reached out and installed a satellite on the building. We added a receiver to descramble the signals so we would be able to project or use or televisions to show the seminars. Everything was wired together to make that happen. But just because we reached out and installed the necessary things to make it happen, the transmission does not flow through here until we have the right card from CCN installed into the receiver. No other card will bring the signal. In order for this to happen, CCN reached out to us, then they won our business with them.
You can reach out to your neighbors but unless you get them to cross the line, to sign up with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, you have made a connection, which will not transmit the right signal, and a scrambled signal is meaningless. Do you see what I am saying? Reaching people is only one step in the equations. They must also be won to Jesus Christ; they need to be shown why He is necessary and how they can get connected, to get the right card slide into the receiver of their heart and mind so they can see with clarity the truth.
And it doesn’t end there…the third thing is they need to be…
3. Trained. Through the Temple, the church, they came in the early church and then from house to house. New Hope is a training place with additional growth and accountability-taking place in the community groups, which meet throughout the week.
Last Sunday after the service, Dan was being asked a question about a computer problem, to which he had several solutions as to what the problem might be. Why ask Dan and not me? Well, Dan is trained in computers and I am not. I have learned much about computers by asking Dan who works with them daily and I appreciate his help. If I have a construction question, I ask Bryan. He just built a new garage which is extremely functional. Why ask him instead of me if you have a construction question? Just ask Laura if you want my advice, she thinks my solution to things that don’t fit quite right is just a few more pounds with the hammer. I am getting better; I now have a drill to use along with my hammer and screwdriver.
The point, if you want to accomplish something you need to be trained and if you want to be accomplished in your Christian life, you need to get involved in training situations which will educate and transform you.
Finally, after people have been reached, won, and then trained, they need to be…
Send. Now away from the group necessarily, but send to reduplicate the process so more people are coming into the Kingdom. So they will not be the dead end of the power line. So they are connecting more people with the truth of Jesus Christ.
All of this is revolutionary to the way we do things now. So often we expect professional clergy to do the job, failing to recognize the way of growth, the way of the cross, is through us individually.
It is time to let the revolution begin by saying in 2006, I am going to get connected and I am going to work on connecting others. That the church is one door of entry but my home is a far greater way to help people grow in their faith because of accountability.
I am going to speak more concerning the home church movement in our annual meeting in a few weeks. I believe we need the church and we need the home, hand in hand, working to advance the cause of Christ so we can break away from pseudo-Christianity into authentic faith.
AS we close, I want to give you an opportunity to respond. You might be here knowing what is the right way to Christ but having never taken the step of confessing. Jesus said if you will confess Him before man, He will confess you before His Father in heaven. I want to open the front here for you to make a statement of faith before this body of believer that you indeed are committing your life to be a Christ-follower, confessing your sins, seeking His forgiveness and walking in His way from today forth.
You might be here saying Pastor, I know these steps, prayer, reaching, winning, training and sending, but in your life you have struggled with one or more of these areas and you need prayer. The Holy Spirit is here and I would invite you to slip out and come to the front so we can pray in agreement with you for His strength to help.