Recently, our church went through the book of Nehemiah for
our Building Hope Capital Initiative. Nehemiah has 13 chapters, and the basic
outline runs like this:
- 1-2: Nehemiah hears the bad news, prays for
months, and prepares to leave
- 4-6: The work of building. Nehemiah deals with
threats of violence, opposition, power problems, and justice issues.
- 7-12: Nehemiah works to build a culture of
devotion – worship, promises, telling the story of God. He sets up systems for
- 13: Nehemiah returns from being away and deals
with continued problems and need for reform.
The last chapter I preached on was Nehemiah 13 (naturally).
I showed how the pattern of what happened in Nehemiah’s life (devotion preceded
construction and action) is the same pattern Nehemiah led the people to live
out. I used boxes to illustrate how devotion to God is the foundation, and only
devotion to God is a secure source of hope. God’s hope is the fuel that fires
enduring action: people sacrificing and going the extra mile to do what is
right. Nehemiah raised up their devotion enough to build the wall – they found
hope in his leadership, in God’s presence in Nehemiah’s life. Once the
construction was done, Nehemiah and other leaders increased the devotion level
of the people even more – so that the level of integrity and action for God
would increase even more.
So where is Covenant Grove in this timeline or pattern? Even
though we preached through chapter 13, we are not at chapter 13 in the
timeline. We are actually in chapter TWO. Chapter two is where Nehemiah hears
the need, prays for months, personally considers his personal sacrifice, asks
boldly, and pays the price to do God’s work. This is what we have been doing
for the last few months – and there is still a lot of work ahead of us.
The rest of the book of Nehemiah gives us an idea of what is
ahead of us. We can expect hard work in the construction phase. We will all
need to chip in. We can expect opposition, struggles, and doubts. Yet God’s
work will be done, and we will expand our facilities to reach more people with
Jesus. The goal is greater devotion and greater systems of devotion so that a
greater level of God’s mission can be done in our church. It will be tough, but
devotion and hope will be our anchor. New leaders will emerge, the level of
worship will rise, and even greater promises will be made to God. There is a
whole new level of faith that God will raise at Covenant Grove.
It is only the second chapter, but that doesn’t make me discouraged. In fact, I am really excited! There will be hard days ahead, but we are facing these together as a church family, together with Jesus. We can see the pattern of devotion, written in the pages of God’s word. We will follow His word and His Spirit. We will stay on His mission. God is just getting started with us. I love the church that we are, and I love the church we are becoming. Lead on, Lord!