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Construction Sites & Church Cafeterias

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 12:00 am

Construction Sites & Church Cafeterias

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 28, 2024 12:00 am

Ever wonder why so many churches close their doors? Today, we explore a critical reason: not following God's directions. While most of us meticulously follow instructions for new gadgets or medicines, many Christians forget that the church needs divine direction too.

Dive into 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 with us to discover how the church, the "called out ones," operates like a human body. Each member has a vital role, from pastors and teachers to every individual part contributing to the church's growth.

Learn why following God's blueprint is crucial for a thriving, impacting church. How does your role contribute to the body of Christ? What happens when we ignore God's instructions? Tune in to find out and be inspired to follow God's plan for building His church.

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From this chapter, we'll learn this. All of the people willing to work were given the opportunity. We have single men.

We have single women mentioned. We have professionals and politicians and native residents and outsiders. We have craftsmen and artists. Some of them will repair portions of the wall near their homes.

Some will start from scratch and haul the rocks up from the Kidron Valley into which they have tumbled over the years. Some of them worked on different gates with their massive hinges and bolts, and others picked up rubble and cleared away trash. But everybody who was willing to work had a chance to. God's way of thinking sometimes differs from ours. It's easy for us to conclude that some forms of work, the more glamorous for example, are more significant and important.

That's not true. No matter what you do, God values your labors and wants you to use your gifts to serve Him faithfully. So, in the context of the church, what kinds of things should the church be doing?

Who should be doing the work that God's called the church to accomplish? Today on Wisdom for the Heart, you're going to see that everyone has a part to play, even if you don't think you're skilled enough for the task. I have been collecting for some time different stories and articles and different comments along the subject of reading directions first, which we men typically do. Amen? In fact, I recall that just a couple of Christmases ago, my family still laughs about the fact that I could put my daughter's tricycle together without the directions. Thank you very much.

I don't need those. I can put such a tricycle. And I put the thing together and got to the very last step where I attached the seat only to discover that I had put the thing together upside down. I've only done that once. Other than that, I always followed the directions. Somebody sent me a bunch of little comments on following the directions and some of the directions that are rather brilliant or not so brilliant. On Tesco's tiramisu dessert are the words on the box, do not turn upside down. Where do you think those words are written?

If you read them, it's too late. On a bottle of Boots Children's Cough Medicine and I emphasize the word children's cough medicine, quote, do not drive a car after taking this medication. On a Marks and Spencer bread pudding package, quote, product will be hot after heating. On night tall sleep aid, warning, may cause drowsiness. On a child Superman costume, wearing of this garment does not enable one to fly. I can understand that one. I'll bet some kid thought he could when he strapped that thing on. Now here's a true story.

It's almost too unbelievable to believe, but it is true. It has to do with the use of a special gun simply called the chicken gun. The gun has been specifically built to launch a dead chicken at maximum velocity directly onto the windshields of airliners, military jets, even the space shuttle. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne foul to test the strength of the windshield materials in construction. This is not April Fools when I get finished.

This is true. British engineers heard about the gun, wanted to use it to test the windshield of their newest high speed train. So arrangements were made and one of the guns was sent to the British engineers. The testing site was arranged and the gun loaded with a dead chicken. When the gun was fired, the engineer stood shocked as the chicken hurtle out of the barrel smashed through the shatterproof windshield, blasted through the control console, broke the engineer's backrest into and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin. The horrified Brit said disastrous results of the experiment explaining what they had done along with the design of the windshield and then asked for further directions. NASA responded with a one line instruction, quote, next time, thaw the chicken.

Most of us would agree that when it comes to firing chicken guns or taking medicine or strapping on a Halloween costume, maybe it's a good idea to read directions even though they may seem somewhat silly. This past week and any given week, some 70, nearly 80 churches in America closed their doors and go out of business. While I am sure that for every one of them there is a story, a volume of hurt, another interesting statistic, though tragic, 50% of all seminary graduates are not in the ministry five years after graduating.

For the most part, I wonder if it's because we're not reading the directions. Now, if you bought a lawnmower and you're going to start using that thing this spring, you probably looked at a little bit of the manual to figure it out and most people would, but it's interesting to me that when it comes to operating a church, when it comes to acting within a body of believers, we have the idea that it just happens. Ladies and gentlemen, an effective, growing, impacting church does not just happen.

It comes by following God's blueprint called his word. And as I was studying a chapter in Nehemiah where you're expecting me to go, I began to think as I read through that chapter a list of names that I can hardly pronounce and a chapter that I would more than likely skip if I were reading the book of Nehemiah. I'd skip that chapter and I would rush to chapter four.

That's where it gets interesting again. But as I read it and read it and studied it, it occurred to me that what we have in an Old Testament passage at an Old Testament construction site are lessons for the New Testament church. So I began to think about the church.

In fact, what I want to do is start in 1 Corinthians 12 and we'll work our way back to Nehemiah. What is a church, by the way? What is a church? The Greek word ekklesia, translated church, is from the verb kaleo, which means to call. It's a group of people called.

The prefix ekk, meaning out, further defines it as a group of people called out or a group of called out ones. We are indeed called out of a dying world. By the grace of God, we're like shipwrecked, drowning people who have been rescued on a lifeboat marked Calvary. And we have come by the faith God gave us to this cross and to this only Christ, the living Messiah. And we have been called out by redemption to him. But we haven't just been called out of the world. We have been commissioned to go back into the world. The called out ones band together in local assemblies and pool their resources and their strategies and their thought processes and their prayers to some way design ways by God's spirit to go back to the site of the shipwreck and pull as many people out of those waters as by God's grace they possibly can. Church is called out of the world and then it is commissioned to go back into the world. And you'll notice in 1 Corinthians 12 it is also compared to a living human body.

If you want to know how it operates, here's how it operates. 1 Corinthians 12, 14, for the body is not one member, but many. That is, it just isn't one bodily part, it's many. If the foot says, because I'm not a hand, I'm not a part of the body.

In other words, he's down on himself, he's complaining a little bit, and well, you know, a hand's more important than a foot, so since I'm not a hand, I'm not really that important. Well, is it not for this reason any less a part of the body? Verse 16, if the ear says, because I am not an eye, it would be so much more fun to be an eye than an ear. I'm not a part of the body.

It is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, now he's exaggerating, but he wants you to visualize this huge eye, this body that's just an eye. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?

If the whole body were hearing, that is one huge ear, where would the sense of smell be? He must be chuckling here as he gets his point across, but now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body just as he desired. So the manual on operating the church looks more like an anatomy poster than it does an organizational chart. Every person has a role to play. In this auditorium, there are those who make up the hands. There are those who make up the feet. There are those who make up the eyes and the ears and the nose. Everyone, according to the gift or gifting that God has placed within them, somehow then turns around and contributes and forms part of that body in that significant role, and we work together.

D.L. Moody, who 100 years ago founded a lot of things, including a church, said this, a great many people have got a false idea about the church. They have an idea that the church is a place to simply rest in, to get into a nicely cushioned pew and contribute to the charities, listen to the minister, and do their share to keep the church out of bankruptcy is all they want. The idea of work for them, actual, literal work in the body, the church never enters their minds.

We are not reading the directions if we think that way. Keep heading to the right, to Ephesians, and look at chapter 4, verse 11. He gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers.

He's talking about the gifts he gave to the body. And their unique role was to equip, verse 12, the saints for the work of the service, that is the body then turns around and works, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith. By the way, that's the key word to understand, unity of the faith. Whenever the word faith is preceded by the article the, the faith, it is referring to a body of truth. We call that doctrine, a body of doctrinal truth, until we attain to the unity of the faith. Jude wrote about the faith that was once for all delivered in Jude chapter 1, verse 3. In Acts 6, 7, it talks about the church that is exploding and many priests believe and they became obedient to the faith.

In Galatians chapter 1, verse 20, Paul talks about how I once persecuted the church, now I am preaching to them the faith. The faith is the basis of our unity. And I say that because of so many in our contemporary culture and the church at large, I believe, has lost this direction from the Bible.

They think that unity comes when you all like the same kind of music, or you all look alike or work in the same social spectrum, you think alike, you have the same standing, you just like everything like everybody else. No, our unity is based on a collective commitment to the faith. And that is the truth of Holy Scripture. Paul goes on in verse 14, as a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness and deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth and love, we are to grow up in all aspects into him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Paul says quickly two things that will happen when the body operates according to the directions. Number one, he said, we will be rescued from spiritual deception.

When you build up the body of Christ in verse 12, by attaining to the unity of the faith, verse 13, then verse 14, you are mature enough to keep from falling into spiritual deception. You will no longer be like a child. One of the characteristics of a child is gullibility. They will believe whatever an adult says.

Tell a child anything and they may believe you. Part of growing up as a body of believers together is that we are able to avoid the deception of false teachers. Number two, another benefit of building the body is not only to be rescued from spiritual deception, but to be rescued from spiritual disability. Again in verse 16, the analogy of the human body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, tendon, nerve, ligament, blood vessel, according to the proper working of each individual part causes the growth of the body.

The question you never ask somebody is if they're doing their job. The question you ask is of yourself, are you supplying your part to the building up of the body in love? When every joint of a human body operates, that body is coordinated, right? Whenever things begin to fail, whenever joints don't work, eventually that body becomes disabled.

Are we a disabled body or a coordinated body? It has to do with whether or not you are providing what you alone can supply in the way God has gifted you. Everyone contributes by virtue of their gifting from God. Supposing we were as a church body wanting to know how we operated, well let's go into a cafeteria and there a woman has walking toward her table, carrying her bowl of soup, tripped and fallen and she now sits in her puddle of soup. If we were the church operating according to at least a few of the gifts, here's what it would look like. The persons with the gifts of shepherding, pastoring would immediately form a line and say, okay now if you'll follow me, let's carefully walk around this way so that we don't fall in this soup spill. And it would be your great intention to see that people are carefully brought and led to their seat. The persons with the gifts of mercy would not form a line, they would go and sit down in that puddle of soup with that woman and say, oh I'm so sorry, I know this must feel terrible for you, here let me wipe some of the soup off your clothing. The people with the gifts of teaching would stand and say, may I have everyone's attention please? This woman has spilled her soup, you could translate that word spill to tip out or to tilt exceedingly far.

There are reasons why that is, there are three reasons why this has happened. The person with the gift of giving isn't listening, they're already over there at the counter, they got their wallet out and they're buying another bowl of soup and they're going to bring it and give it to this woman when she finally gets up. And then when she does get up and she is at her seat, the gifted exhortor will stand and lead everybody in three cheers for the woman who would get on her feet again. There have been people missing from that scene because they've been back, the gifted helpers, and now they arrive with their mops and their buckets and their pails and they come and they clean it up and they return the cafeteria to its original position. Finding your place in the church cafeteria, it's not really all that dramatic. It is birthed, however, out of a willingness to provide to the body whatever your particular niche and gift is.

Paul said in Ephesians 4, here's what happens, it causes verse 16, the latter part, it causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Now if I were to ask you what chapter you could possibly go to, anywhere in the Bible, you can pick anywhere in the Bible, where you will find an illustration of a group of people working together and showing the church how it's supposed to act. Where would you possibly think of turning? Nehemiah chapter 3, you are incredible.

Would you turn there? And let's take a look. Nehemiah chapter 3. Nehemiah's plan can be summarized with the words divide and conquer. That's exactly what he did. He will form 40 some task groups who will accomplish certain sections and there you have a list of names in chapter 3 in gates and wall sections and you discover, however, in between the lines and sometimes rather obviously in the lines truths from this list of names that I think most of us would have skipped that provide the New Testament church with an example of how to serve one another.

Let me give you some observations quickly. Number one, from this chapter we'll learn this, all of the people willing to work were given the opportunity. All of the people willing to work were given the opportunity.

You can just look through that list, we don't have time to read it, but we have priests, we have professionals, we have noble born, we have common stock, we have single men, we have single women mentioned, we have professionals and politicians and native residents and outsiders, we have craftsmen and artists. Some of them will repair portions of the wall nearest their homes, some will start from scratch and haul the rocks up from the Kidron Valley into which they have tumbled over the years. Some of them worked on different gates with their massive hinges and bolts and others picked up rubble and cleared away trash.

But everybody who was willing to work had a chance to. I think it's interesting that they begin with a high priest, look at verse 1, then Eliash of the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the sheep gate. They consecrated it and hung its doors. Obviously this would be important ground to the priests. The sheep gate was near where they would keep the sheep and the lambs who would be brought as Paschal lambs to be sacrificed on the altar in the temple process of worship. So these lambs and sheeps would be brought to the temple through the sheep gate. Could they have possibly known that some 400 years later they didn't know we do.

The lamb of God would walk through that gate and go pray in a garden named Gethsemane as he prepared to be the lamb led to the slaughter, the final Paschal sacrifice. Priests don't know how to work with hammers and stone and mortar do they? Well they set the example for the rest of the people. Anybody who was willing to work did. Number 2, some of the people didn't necessarily know how to do the work. Go to verse 8, Uzziel the son of Harhiah the goldsmiths, of the goldsmiths made repairs and next to him, Hanahiah, one of the perfumers made repairs and they restored Jerusalem as far as the broad wall next to them.

Rephiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem made repairs. Interesting, you have a politician, a goldsmith and perfume makers who are laying brick. What do they know about building with rock? Probably nothing, but it didn't matter. Evidently Nehemiah provided them with instruction or maybe some experienced workers as part of their task force to show them how.

The person who says I don't because I don't know how could learn a lot from a perfume maker who is in the process of slapping mortar on stone with a trowel. Third, some of the people were able to do more work than others. Verses 11, 19, you could circle those, verse 21, verse 24, verse 27, verse 30 all have the same phrase repeated, they repaired another section. That is they did what they were asked to do and then they did more. We finished, we'd like to do more. And so they went and they repaired another section. What a tremendous testimony of people who went the extra mile.

They finished their job and then they looked around, is there something else we can do? The fourth characteristic of a good church is found in some of these people who were willing to work in more difficult places than others. Look at verse 14. You'll notice a man named Malchijah, the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-hechirim who repaired the refuse gate.

Just one sentence, you could easily miss it. If you have a King James it probably jumps out at you a little more. It is translated dung gate. It was a gate through which all of the garbage of the city, all of the filth was taken and then dumped in the valley below the valley of Hinnom.

Here is a member of the royal aristocracy. He is willingly working in a place where the stench from the valley below would continually waft up to him and even as he worked they would be hauling trash out periodically underneath where he worked. You compare his working conditions with the location mentioned in the next verse. Shalom, the son of Kolhozah, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the fountain gate.

He built it, covered it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars and the wall of the pool of Shelah or Salom at the king's garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David. In other words, you have here one official who willingly works near the garbage dump and you have another official who gets to work near the pool by the king's flower garden. Now if we were given a choice, which would we choose?

We'd head to the pool by the flower garden. But here is an official who is willing to work in a more difficult place than others. So likewise in the church there are those willing to do things that others will not do. Fifth observation, some of the people were willing to work with a better attitude than others. He said, now wait a second, now they're all working. Well, I know and that was great. I wouldn't have mentioned it but here even Nehemiah makes mention of the fact that somebody worked with a better attitude than others. In fact in verse 20 you discover him, his name is Baruch, the son of Zabai, who zealously repaired another section from the angle to the doorway of the house of Elish of the high priest.

This is the only person in this entire list of nearly 70 some names where we find Nehemiah mentioning anything about his attitude or his spirit. The word zealously could be translated to glow. To glow, interesting. Just because you work willingly doesn't mean you work with a glow, right?

There are people in the church I'm sure that come to their posts as if their arm had been twisted behind their back and you almost hate to see them come. I'm not thinking of anybody in particular. But there are people who come with a glow.

It's hard to define. It's not necessarily something you could print or duplicate but there is a spirit about them and when they show up you're so glad to discover you're working next to her or him. Because they work like everyone else works but they work with this extra sense, this glow about them that just makes people take note. May their tribe increase. The sixth observation, all of the people able to work wouldn't. All of the people who were able to work wouldn't. One author makes the comment that Nehemiah not only included in this list the workers but the shirkers. In verse five, moreover next to him the Tekoaites made repairs but their nobles did not support the work of their masters. Now we're not told why. We're just informed here by Nehemiah that there were some who refused to help. The nobles of Tekoa, they wouldn't do anything.

Why not? Well Nehemiah didn't tell us which tells us a lot about Nehemiah. He didn't spend a lot of time telling us all of the problems with the nobles of Tekoa. He just did tell us that they wouldn't do anything.

They wouldn't work. Last observation, all the people who worked with their hands revealed the condition of their hearts. If you skip ahead to chapter four you discover a wonderful description which ought to be the description of the church today. Verse six, so we built a wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height.

Now they've just completed the circumference but they have not completed the height. For the people had, here it is, a mind to work. Literally the people had a heart to work or their hearts were in their work. They put their hearts into the work. What a great description of any body of believers is that one. These people put their hearts into the work.

No wonder it would be contagious. Perhaps with those 70 plus churches they lost heart or they ignored the directions. We don't know. But this is who we are to be, willing to work, roll our sleeves up, put our shoulder to the task with a glow and with our heart in the work of Christ in the church. I want to move to just more than exploring the need to challenging you to confront yourself. Where is your place in the cafeteria now? Where is your place at the wall? You say, well, no, wait a second. I gave money when the offering came by. No, no, no.

You cannot buy your way out of the commission. Where do you serve? Where at the wall will you roll up your sleeves? I'm convinced the construction sites and church cafeterias are not necessarily glamorous places we're in to serve. They're godly places, God honoring places. And since people last forever and we're working with people, that means the results of your labor last forever.

You know that Stephen's right, isn't he? Not all roles seem glamorous to us. Some tasks seem less important than others, but God is honored in all of our faithful service. No matter what we think of the task he's called us to do. Every person's contribution is important.

It's like Paul said in Ephesians 4, six, every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part, causing the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is the president of Wisdom International. We're currently working through a series in the book of Nehemiah.

Today's lesson is called Construction Sites and Church Cafeterias. I want to share some information with you about our global prayer team. From the very beginning of this ministry, Stephen has said that we are empowered by prayer.

We're convinced that that's true. It's our desire to provide biblical teaching resources that are faithful to scripture. And then as the word of God goes forth, the spirit of God takes the truth of his word and uses it to bring about true and lasting change. I invite you to join our global prayer team and pray for us. You'll find information about the global prayer team at wisdomonline.org forward slash prayer. We're currently reaching listeners in 150 countries. So each week we pray for one of those countries and ask God that his word would bear fruit in the lives of people who live there.

Sign up to receive those updates. We also want to pray for you. We have a team of people who pray for the requests that come in. That website includes a way for you to send us your prayer needs. Learn more about this at wisdomonline.org forward slash prayer. Then join us back here next time on Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 00:53:53 / 2024-05-28 01:04:47 / 11

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