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October 14, 2021 4:00 am
The all heard the expression, thought that counts.
Most of us have plenty of thoughts but maybe we blocked the initiative to make our intentions truly count today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg explains that when God plants a vision action follows and vision is turned into reality. We continue in Nehemiah chapter 2 if we're going to be effective in leadership. We have to be able to translate that into the most practical terms and in ways that are understandable both to those who will be following us and particularly those who will be engaging in the tasks which is one of course we find here. Now I'd like to trace a line through this by giving you a number of words I think there are some eight of them. If I remember. Yes, there are eight words so I have eight coat hangers on which I'm going to hang the clothing.
Is it we are on farm material first word may take a little by surprise emerges from verse 11, I went to Jerusalem and after staying there three days. The first word is relaxation. Relaxation. This is the kind of sentence that I think most of us are tempted to overlook it simply a point of information. It gives a chronological footnote is aware to what's going on. I'm tempted to suggest end.
Of course we have to be aware of ice and Jesus always but I'm tempted to suggest that there is something here that we could very quickly overlook and miss something in so doing, when we expect that after he had been anticipating this for so long after he had made this journey of all of these hundreds of miles after he had finally got within the precincts of the realm of opportunity that he would immediately get down to the business. Well, if we had anticipated that, of course, that is not what is happened.
He gives himself these three days and they probably included the Sabbath. Again, we can say with conviction, but it would seem that that would at least have that established parts of the framework and in that he recognized it would seem that rest is a necessary part of useful action. It is not something to be overlooked, neglected, denying it tends to be in many of the models of contemporary business life where successful leaders in the world of commerce and industry are seen being able to make the transition from continent to continent and from plaintiff playing an office to opportunity with the minimum of fuss and with the maximum of ease within the realm of church activities that can easily become the case also and it is not a good model. I would suggest for us to begin to follow.
Rather, we need to learn how important it is to take time to rest and relax in Ezra in the record in Ezra and in chapter 8 and in verse 15 we read, I assembled them at the canal that flows towards. I have a and we camped there three days, in verse 32 of Ezra 8 on the 12th day of the first month we sent out from the I have a canal to go to Jerusalem, the hand of our God was on a visit he protected us from the enemies and bandits along the way so we arrived in Jerusalem where we rested three days so there seems to be some pattern here some anticipated modus operandi that was essential in the unfolding of the actions to which he was coming. Makes perfect sense. The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem was a long one, and after such a long and tedious track the task to which he was about to give himself was absolutely crucial and therefore it was imperative that he stopped and he rested and he collected himself before he went on now is make two very practical point.
First of all, most of us in pastoral ministry ought to be aware of talking about how tired we are.
I've noticed him moving around places that I keep meeting these characters and I see them in the matter. Namely myself and we can often sound as though we're working exceptionally hard and by observation. I don't know that many of us are in comparison to many of our lay elders who are just about killing themselves, fulfilling the responsibilities of their day in daily routine. Trying to exercise the jurisdiction of father and husband being faithful in the responsibilities of ministry within the church and also in the oversight of what's going on. It is, I suggest a word of necessary caution to the wise to quit with the assertions of our great fatigue there is. There are fewer callings in life that afford such unbelievable opportunities to do virtually nothing, that are equal to pastoral ministry.
Most of us are not in danger of burning out.
Let's face it. Resting out is a distinct possibility. Collapsing under the weight of muffins.
Their problem is not overactivity. Trust me, I say that because what I'm about to say is the reverse of it but I don't want to especially if we have some lay elders here anybody to think that we think you know all while you know we are really doing the job now, having said that, it is possible to get tired and there are things that are demanding upon us and we know from experience that usually we are the last people to identify how tired we are and what happens is that we diminish in usefulness.
We diminishing our ability to cope with the day-to-day routine. We tend to be snapping at people and responding to people in a way that is less than marked by Christian grace and therefore we need to take a significant look at how we are endeavoring to fit relaxation into the framework of our establishing a vision when we find ourselves overtired. There are number things that we shouldn't do. Number one, we shouldn't make important decisions number two we shouldn't write important letters number three we should launch new projects. Number four.
We shouldn't shutdown old projects number five. We shouldn't quit number six. We shouldn't assess somebody else's spiritual condition number seven.
We shouldn't assess our own spiritual condition because most of the time. We will be warped in our perception of what's going on. And again, it will often take someone who knows as well to point out the predicament that were facing because the more tired you become, the more you tend to increase your frantic activity level because you can tell that in in soccer terms.
It's taking you longer to get to the ball when there's a loose ball and so it it just tyrannize you and you just try harder and harder and harder when put a fight when needs to happen is that you need to be substituted because you're now lost the ability you've lost your pace to make it to the ball.
It takes wisdom around to do that now. My was clearly wise, and he understood the importance not of laziness but of relaxation. I probably said more about that I should but enemy at the second word is motivation. Motivation in verse 12, I set out during the night I not told anyone what going to put in my heart to do in my heart is the key in my heart.
What was in my heart of the core of his being. What makes you take now my why are you involved in this.
Why did you even show up. What are you planning to do. None of this yet is yet shared with any of the people who were going to be involved and this is very very important especially when we have within us a longing of the passion to see something happen when we have the responsibility somehow or another to convey that vision to others who are actually going to be implementing the vision because in the initial die mention of it is possible for people to respond in all kinds of ways, and to look at us and to draw all wrong kinds of conclusion from the outside.
For example, the observers could've seen them. I coming to Jerusalem and said all here we go.
Here comes the Empire builder. He simply come here to make a name for himself. After all, why would you come 900 miles does he really think he so significant do we think that we need him with the fact of the matter was that under God. They didn't need him and he didn't think he was so significant because he didn't think he was so significant that he was about to become so significantly useful wonderful paradox again. Those of us who think we are so significant will live our lives in insignificance and it is a very awareness of our insignificance that may prove to be the pathway to significance that any Christian living in ministry. The way to up is now.
I think probably he would being aware of those things as all who are in leadership are aware of these things my mail when I came back the other day and I had a significant amount of correspondence and and in the middle of that I came to I came to a one line letter from a man who left the church because he didn't like. A number of things in it and you know it's not like in a number of things in the church was a good reason to leave.
I would've left myself long ago. But anyway, he had this letter and it said dear Alister pride comes before a fall. Love, Joel.
So I said well that's a cryptic message what to how should I respond to this I said I'll take it from the hand of God. Here I am with 65 or 70 pieces of mail that could give you such a fat head that your wife wouldn't be able to sleep in the bed with you and in the province of God just slots to slots and says hey by the way, fathead like in this mail try this one God is a wonderful way of working speaks through Balin's donkey and he can speak even through disenfranchised people see now my was internally driven and whenever a man or woman is a woman of passion, a man of passion that is not simply a member of the bright ideas society and they are driven by something that God is put in their heart to do that something will become apparent to others what you think of Paul explaining his ministry in second Corinthians 5 says the love of Christ compels us, it compels as it drives me from the inside.
He says it might migrate longing first Corinthians 9 to win as many as possible. That's actually the phrase in the NIV what you doing Paul I'm seeking to win as many as possible what you doing now my on coming here to establish God's glory. I believe God is sent here burns in your heart, what is inside of us. What drives you will makes you take relaxation, motivation, examination, verse 13 for going to list everyone. Erica vision and we need to rest in order that when we get on our feet.
We can go if we want our vision that we need to be motivated by a concern that is God-given, rather than man engendered because in the words of Robert Burns, the best laid plans of mice and men gang after glee. Translation later examination by night I went out through the valley gate towards the jackal well and the dung gate examining the walls of Jerusalem, which been broken down and its gates which have been destroyed by fire, and he describes for us this little reconnaissance mission clear in his mind about what needed to be done. Sure, in his heart about his motivation. He now sets out to see how it can be accomplished.
I think this is where some of us fall down in our eagerness to implement. We miss the reconnaissance part and so when the engineers in our session who think in linear progressions and are really quite bright encounter. This sort of artistic pseudo-philosophical, theological, rambling, going on there able to cut to the heart of it very quickly and see. I'm sure you actually know we are talking about here, Alister's very painful but very helpful. And the reason that we often don't is not because we are motivated because were not relaxed and ready to go. It is because we haven't done this part, we haven't taken the time to do the reconnaissance. We haven't thought about it now look at the hallmarks of his examination. First of all, he did it quietly, quietly, as the significance of the last phrase of verse 12. There were no mountains with me except when I was writing on. I don't think he's identifying the fact there that you know here are donkey and no one hosted in the funky is not the spirit of leadership not servant leadership is not now my I think is an expression of the fact that the last thing you want when you're doing this kind of things, a lot of snorting and neighing so he is not going to carry on with a bunch of these things. There is a time to be silent. There's a time to speak isn't come in with a big farce big bother.
Posters now mile will be arriving next week. My is coming due down, you know, none of that John not classy American evangelical hi sorry you know if your church is the size you get this size a picture for churches. This size you get the size of picture churches. The size you get the whole back page of your church is the size they don't even want to know who you are. May the Lord forgive us for all that stuff now Meyer comes into town quietly quietly some of his hard time with being quiet. He comes actually secretly secretly underlines why it is he's coming by night says it endorsed 11 verse 13 verse 15 in verse 16. The officials didn't know what I gonna what I was doing I was this fit with full disclosure will, there's a time for full disclosure, but there is a time for full disclosure. If you give full disclosure prematurely. People may not be able to handle the disclosure that you give and furthermore, as I just suggested we may be disclosing things that we haven't fully thought through and so instead of establishing a vision recently established chaos, and it teaches ages to repair the breaches we have to go all around and come back and start all over again I was saying to the gentleman to pick me up and brought me here from the airport this morning was asking about the transition from Scotland to America. I said that after he been in this church for about three years. I suddenly realized I would have to start all over again. I didn't tell everyone I was starting all over again and only the perceptive would know but I sense that to start all over again because the first three years I had all kinds of assumptions. The first three years I shared all this wonderful material that nobody had a clue what I was on about, and I realize that Mark Twain was right here we have two nations divided by a common line and that the ropes that I was pulling the renewal bell ring and the other end because the rope was not attached to the bill and the people who were the bells is aware that were making any noise could understand why I was working myself up into such a frenzy pulling on this big ministering so we had to come around again and start all over again. What was the problem. There into the reconnaissance into the reconnaissance. I assume too much too soon launched into it. See, I think he probably was secretive. First of all, to ensure that when he finally stated his plan.
He knew it was feasible and also to prevent his enemies via traitors from jumping on the strategy. So in terms of examination, it happened quietly. It happened secretly and it happened methodically, methodically, silence and secrecy. Without this dimension would yield very little. He moves around were told he arrives at the Kings pool, which in the New Testament we know as the pool of siloing remember where Jesus told the blind man to wash so was exciting when you read the Old Testament you realize how it fits with the new place that Hezekiah had built a tunnel from inside the wall to the pool which was on the outside to ensure solid supply of water in case there was a seat.
And if you going to Jerusalem and last while you will have gone down Hezekiah's tunnel and you will broken your bank examining that that is exactly there. And as he does. This reconnaissance methodically. He realizes that the wall had fallen down the steep terraces and because it's falling down the steep terraces he's unable to proceed on his mount, so he dismounts and he leads his donkey, you just picture them going around building a picture of what needed to happen, perhaps making notes of who needed to be involved, asking God to make the concept clearer in his own mind before he introduced it to the workers seat. That's the challenge isn't of what we do in pastoral ministry that if our responsibility is to edify the saints so that they can do the works of ministry. If we're going to do God's work in God's way that it doesn't mean that we are the minister. I hope are not standing on toes. You're not no man could sure is is is not the issue by the gentleman with whom I spent time this past weekend in Ireland was explaining to me how overrun he was how demanding the task was how the expectations were very high and everything else and I tried as graciously as I could to say, you know you got to start doing this biblically. You gotta be prepared to live with the fallout that comes from implementing a biblical strategy and doing it methodically. In other words, if you take your if you take your little brochure on your church and look at what it says against your name, there's an inherent flaw.
All right there. But the thing says welcome to the church and then it gives a list of the key people. Okay, I was the first name right.
Why do we go first because we want everyone to know that we are the more significant person. There is that it I don't know and it's there to have a name that's all right is alphabetical, but underneath it says V minister V minister is not to be a rocket scientist sitting in the congregation put two and two together and work this out. We put the money in the box so that the minister can do what the minister is supposed to do. As the minister, namely minister and let them get on with it. No reason for us to start interfering. So when the minister starts to discover New Testament pattern for implementing ministry and discovers that he is not the minister but that he is a pastor teacher that he is a shepherd that he is a teacher that he is a guy that he is a servant. As a result of the unfolding of the Scriptures the people themselves become ministers that it unleashes the church and ministry. But the challenge is how do you do how do you do a reconnaissance during the night to find out where Joe and Mary and Fred and Bill and Agnes are all going to go and then tell there's a work for Jesus.
None. But you can do that's exactly what he was doing building a picture of who is going where listening to Truth for Life Alastair Bragg first part of a message titled birthing a vision for your part two tomorrow if you been enjoying our current series titled the pastor study.
You might be interested to know you can own all eight of these volumes for pastors and leaders comes on a USB drive to find it online that Truth for Life.org/store and on the mobile app. Just search for the pastor's study and tomorrow's the last day I'll be mentioning Sinclair Ferguson's new book titled devoted to God's church. This is a book that Alastair and the leaders of Parkside found helpful and he's here to talk with us about. Thanks, Bob. As I've often said books by Sinclair excite me. The instruct me and the insights in this particular book devoted to God's church are absolutely fantastic.
Reminded us that were called to far more than simply weekly church attendance.
What it really means to be united with Christ united with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I really can't say enough about it.
We're studying it together here at Parkside.
I hope all of you will get a copy those of your listening bubble that you know how you can do that.
Thanks Alastair, you can request your copy of devoted to God's church. When you give a gift of any amount by clicking the image in the app or by visiting our website for life.org/if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book devoted to God's right to us the Truth for Life PO Box 39, 8000 Cleveland, Ohio. ZIP Code is 44139 Bob Lapine. It's not uncommon for pastors to deal with opposition, and apathy when trying to establish a vision how can they accomplish their God-given task without becoming disheartened sure to join us tomorrow.
The Bible teaching up Alastair Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living