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Restoring Order Nehemiah 7:1-3 HCSB When the wall had been rebuilt and I had the doors

installed, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. (2) Then I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, commander of the fortress, because he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. (3) I said to them, "Do not open the gates of Jerusalem until the sun is hot, and let the doors be shut and securely fastened while the guards are on duty. Station the citizens of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some at their homes." The great work was finished and the enemy had been discomfited but Nehemiah knew better than to think that his work was done. He was going to have to put into practice what Paul would advise hundreds of years later. Paul said: Ephesians 6:12-13 HCSB our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. (13) This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Many times when we finish a great work, a monumental task, we forget afterwards to consolidate and conserve the gains only to lose it all back to the enemy. 1Its a spiritual version of the Vietnam War. We fight hard, win a hill at tremendous cost of lives and materiel, only to let the enemy have it back again because of some boneheaded tactic dreamed up by someone whose life is not on the line. Theres a line in Murphys Laws of War that says, When you have secured the area, make sure the enemy knows it too. Just because you have won a major battle and think that you have set some defensive walls up in your life, dont even think for a second that the enemy has given up. I can assure you that he has not. Nehemiahs job was not done when the walls were done because Gods work is not primarily architecture. Both a city and a congregation are more than walls. Gods work is not about building buildings its about building lives. Its about people. Let me share with you a few things that leaders must do in order to protect people; to protect and conserve the gains that have been made in their lives. Elders and teachers! I trust that you are listening and taking notes. The congregation has put you in a position of leadership. More importantly, the Master has put you there and is expecting a good return on His investment. The first thing we must do is Establish Leadership (Nehemiah 7:1-3) A good leader deals in hope. Remember how Nehemiah began the project? He assured them that God would prosper their efforts.2 Later, when they were afraid, he asked God to strengthen them.3 When the enemy blustered and rattled his saber, Nehemiah stood with his people, called the enemys bluff and helped them get the job done in record time. However, as qualified and inspiring a leader as he was, Nehemiah knew that he couldnt do the job alone. He made sure first that he had Assistants (v.2 cp Proverbs 29:25)
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http://www.democraticgreensocialist.org/archive6/namwar.jpg Nehemiah 2:18-20 Nehemiah 6:9

Every leader worth his salt makes sure that he has one or two people in line to take over, even if only temporarily. Nehemiah chose his brother Hanani and this other man named Hananiah. Why these two? They had two main qualities that we should look for in our leaders: they were faithful and they feared God. Its been said The greatest ability is availability but I submit that The greatest ability is dependability. Plenty of people will make themselves availableonce. Fewer will make themselves availableonce in a while. Few indeed are the workers who are available day in and day out, constantly, for years. These two traits, fear of the Lord and faithfulness, are interlinked. If we fear the Lord we will faithfully obey Him, even when the going gets rough, or if the job gets long. Fear of the Lord will also keep a leader on the straight and narrow. Proverbs teaches: Proverbs 29:25 HCSB The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected. Many leaders are so caught up in their fear of man that they can barely make a decision without taking a poll! They are driven by whatever conversation they last had. In contrast, the leader who fears the Lord stays out of trouble. He refuses the polluting delicacies of this world and is thus kept safe. Fear of the Lord builds the character, the moral fabric of a person. All too often we have witnessed the tragedy of seeing weak men in important places little men doing big jobs. The British essayist Walter Savage Landor wrote, When little men cast long shadows, it is a sign that the sun is setting. Not everyone may be called to be a Nehemiah, but some may be called to be a Hanani or a Hananiah. Hashem is looking for faithful, God-fearing men and women who are willing to step up and strategically assist the congregations leadership. At some point, our congregation is going to have to lay hands on an assistant for me in order to help with the care and protection of this church. That person had better be a faithful, God-fearing person. Nehemiah also made sure he had Gatekeepers and Guards (vv. 1, 3) What good are gates if theres no one to close them in the face of the enemy? The gates are only as good as the gatekeepers. We need to not put our trust so much in policies, rules, and regulations as we do in the Lord and in His righteous gate keepers. Notice too that there were two types of guards; the ones on post and the ones near the homes. Nehemiah made sure that there were two levels of protection. Fathers, I submit to you that I and the elders of this church are the ones on post. We will watch over the entire congregation and will attempt to ensure that the enemy will not approach you unawares. However, you fathers each need to guard your homes. If you allow the enemy to infiltrate your family you will bring those influences into our congregation and you will allow the weakening of our defenses. We elders must dutifully guard but you fathers must also do your part. As Paul exhorted, be on guard for yourselves as well as for all the flock for savage wolves are seeking to come in among us, not sparing the flock. Men from among ourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure disciples into following them rather than Christ. Therefore, be on the alert!4 Not only do we need to establish leadership, but we need to: Establish Citizenship (Nehemiah 7:4-69; Ephesians 2:11-13, 19; Galatians 3:29; Romans 2:28-29; John 1:11-13)

Acts 20:28-31

We often avoid the long lists of difficult names in the Bible, but we need to understand that these people were bridges from past defeat to future hope. It was not so important to count the people as to demonstrate that people count! For example, consider the people from the Senaah (v. 38). The word means hated and many people (including myself) believe that this was not a village but a class of people. These were the Middle Eastern version of the Japanese Eta or the Indian low-caste. They were the lower class that most people would consider untouchable and even invisible. Yet, here they are listed in Gods account of those who mattered; those who counted; those who were necessary to the accomplishment of His will. I want you to notice the huge variety of people.5 They ranged from the Senaah to the Levitical priests; from the average peasant worker to the nobility of Judah; from the slaves to the masters. All were critical to the effort regardless of their social status or financial ability. The only thing that mattered was Are you a Jew? Not to be able to prove your connection to God and His people was tragic. It meant second-class citizenship and separation from all that God had promised to His people. It STILL means that. Listen to the Holy Scriptures. Ephesians 2:11-13 HCSB remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh--called "the uncircumcised" by those called "the circumcised," done by hand in the flesh. (12) At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world. (13) But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. Ephesians 2:19 HCSB So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God's household, Galatians 3:29 HCSB And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise. Romans 2:28-29 HCSB For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. (29) On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart--by the Spirit, not the letter. His praise is not from men but from God. How does that happen? How do we ensure that we have been adopted into Gods family and had our connection to His people made official? John 1:11-13 HCSB (Jesus) came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. (12) But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, (13) who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. Before we move on, it might be good for you to ask yourself, If I had to prove my genealogy in order to get into Gods holy city, could I do it? Who is your Father? You are heading for one of two destinies heaven or hell and only those who belong to Gods family can enter heaven. You enter Gods family by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior, by bowing your will to His, by reestablishing His sovereign kingship in your life. This alone guarantees your citizenship. A third element leaders must do in order to protect the people is Encouraging Worship (Nehemiah 7:70-73)

5 There are ten separate groups listed here: Leaders who returned with Zerubbabel (v.7); Various families or clans (vv. 8-25); Villages (vv. 27-38); Priests (vv. 39-42); Levites (v. 43); Temple singers (v. 44); Gatekeepers (v. 45); Various temple servants (vv. 46-60); Those who could not demonstrate their genealogies (vv. 61-65); Miscellaneous servants (v.67)

It takes worship to turn a group of people from a horde into a godly nation. Citizenship and leadership together can make a nation but what kind? A World War II Germany? A modern narcissistic and materialistic United States? As John Stuart Mill wrote: The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. The worth of the individual depends on his or her relationship with God, which depends on the quality of their worship. When individual godliness declines, the moral quality of the group declines. Where the moral quality of the group declines, soon chaos and injustice will reign and Gods blessed presence will depart. There is a term in Hebrew that Id like to teach you. It is kavanah. It is the intense mental concentration or emotional devotion in the utterance of a prayer or during the performance of a mitzvah. It is the state of mind requisite for prayer, meditation, or worship. Consider Colossians 3:15-17 which says peace and gratitude should control our hearts and that our single-minded focus should be on the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. I want to pause and say that Lynn and I have been encouraged with the way the congregation has been going in this regard. We hear of your attempts to worship in your homes, both personally and with your family, and we see the results in the way you are entering in to the singing and the preaching here in church. Keep up the good work. Feel free to speak out during the sermons and testimonies. Let Amen and Hallelujah be a regular part of your vocabulary. Sing out in worship of your Savior. Lift holy hands that have served Him through the week in praise and honor of His name. Kneel in worship of His majesty. Rock back and forth in prayer as you wrestle with the Lord and your own sin nature. Use whatever means necessary (while maintaining decency and order) to develop kavanah in your worship and you will find spiritual power flowing through your lives. Let me draw this midrash to a close by summarizing a few more lessons we could gain from Nehemiah 7. Derashot: 1. People are important to God, therefore people should be important to us. 2. God is able to use anyone regardless of their social status so such things should be irrelevant to us. 3. Because God is a kingdom builder, His people can rebuild what has been torn down and start over again. Isaiah 58:11-13 HCSB The LORD will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters never run dry. (12) Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live. (13) "If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath, from doing whatever you want on My holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, or talking too much; 4. Hashem keeps accounts of His servants. He knows where we came from, what family we belong to, how much we give, and how much we do for Him.6 When we stand before Him we will give an accounting of our lives before we can receive our just reward.7 I dont know about you but I want to give a good account. There are many, many more lessons we could gain but time presses. Close with an altar call
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Hebrews 4:13 Romans 14:7-12; Luke 16:2; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 4:5