Need a Fresh Start?

nehemiah-pic.JPGHave you ever felt you needed a fresh start in your spiritual journey? Have you ever sensed something was lacking in your spiritual life? Have you ever taken stock of your defenses against the onslaught of enemy attacks and found the walls of your spiritual stronghold in ruins?

If your answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, then I encourage you to spend a little time reading the book of Nehemiah. It opens our eyes to grand vistas of what God is able to do in the lives of those who trust in Him. In just fifty-two days the walls of Jerusalem went from rubble to renewal. Nehemiah 6:15-16 summarizes this as follows: “The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. It had taken fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work.” (The Message)

While there is reason to be amazed at the rapid rebuilding of the wall, an even greater rebuilding feat seems to have occurred during this process. As the children of Israel experienced the mighty hand of God at work in their lives, their hearts were renewed; their souls were stirred and their spirits revived.

What they needed; we need. Metaphorically speaking, we all have many “unfinished walls” in our lives and ministries. However, this is not our most pressing need. If you listen closely to the pulse of Christ followers today, you will find that our hearts are yearning for fresh fire from the Lord. The good news is: What Israel experienced; we can experience. Make no mistake about it, just as God enabled His people to finish building the walls of Jerusalem, He will enable us to experience the joy of fulfilling our Kingdom calling and accomplishing the work He has given each of us to do. Spend some time with God’s servant Nehemiah and you will see there is no reason to give up, given in our give out.

Grace and peace to all,

-bill

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Church, HOPE, Leadership, Life, Spiritual Renewal. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Need a Fresh Start?

  1. Kathy says:

    Good morning Bill et al! 🙂

    Oswald Chambers’ devotional today seems to address what you’re asking. His thesis is that only when we are totally emptied out, can Jesus then fill us with Him – the process of sanctification, which, imho is what you’re asking about today, or am I again out in left field of your thoughts? Wouldn’t be the first time. LOL Anyway, for what it might add to your thoughts, here’s the Chambers devotional for today.

    “July 22nd.

    SANCTIFICATION

    “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

    The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. “If any man come to Me and hate not . . his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

    The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but “myself,” that is the place of death. Am I willing to be “myself,” and nothing more – no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest – simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. “But it is so stern,” we say; “He cannot wish me to do that.” Our Lord is stern; and He does wish us to do that.

    Am I willing to reduce myself simply to “me,” determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with every thing but God.

    When I pray – “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me. (1 Cor. 1:30.) ”

    IMO, the only refreshing my spiritual journey can hope for or should hope for, is sanctification through and in Jesus the Christ. If He is not the center, first last and always of my being, I will never feel refreshed in my spiritual journey. As Revelation states, may we return to our first love [Jesus] and be refreshed anew with our dedication to and love for Him. Until He becomes all encompasing in my life, I will continue to stumble in my spiritual journey.

    When I begin to feel empty and dry I have to look again at my relationship with Jesus. Is it [my relationship with Jesus] ALL in my life, or have I allowed the ‘world and its cares and troubles’ to sneak in, pushing my LORD into a small corner of my heart, mind, strength and soul?

    Forgive the ramblings, but as you’ve read, I’m not at my most cogent first thing in the morning. LOL

  2. cwinwc says:

    It does seem that a common project can be a time that unites a church in love.

  3. New Beginnings are a favorite theme of mine. The steadfast love of the Lord is new (fresh) every morning . . . I am thankful.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  4. Greg England says:

    As I read your post, I was thinking of how we reach back into history and into the Word to find the stories that inspire us. And they do. How we need to leave stories for those who follow us! Not that our stories will supplant the Word of God, but in that we are the continuing story. Or should be.

  5. Dee Andrews says:

    Your post today makes me think so much of the church’s work as a whole along the Mississippi gulf coast and New Orleans since last August 29 when Katrina wiped out the entire coast line from the west side of New Orleans east to Florida. The rising up of Christians since to come down and come back down, repeatedly, and to keep on keeping on has been a phenomenal experience for positive change and renewal in the Lord’s church.

    Bobby Ross (of Christian Chronicle) is back down on the coast again this weekend (I’m not going to get to see him this time since I’ve come out to Abilene) seeking out more stories for the Chronicle to publish on the continuing disaster relief efforts that have led to so many being served by Christians, in coming to worship with churches and in becoming Christians. John Dobbs (in “Out Here Hope Remains”) has written nearly daily since the hurricane of the work there in Pascagoula that is so inspiring.

    I know of many congregations, including in Picayune and Tammany Oaks in Mandeville, LA (who I got to visit with last Sunday for the first time since we moved) , all along the perimeter of the total devastation who are setting up permanent new “mission” minded works with outreach ministers, warehouses to store materials and places for workers to come stay as they go out to serve and to reach all they can for Christ.

    Thank God for the good works that have come from the disaster before. May we all renew our spirits so we may continue on our journeys.

  6. Dee Andrews says:

    Greg’s comments strike a chord with me:

    “How we need to leave stories for those who follow us! Not that our stories will supplant the Word of God, but in that we are the continuing story. Or should be. ”

    They make me think of one of my favorite ZOE songs, “May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful.”

    “Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
    May the fire of our devotion light their way.
    May the footprints that we leave,
    Lead them to believe
    May the lives we lead inspire them to obey”

    And so on.

    I was very proud of my younger son a couple of weeks ago when he told me that more than anything else he wanted of my personal possessions when I die (we were discussing Tom and I making our wills, etc) was a written “biography,” if you will, of my life and my family’s “story” as Christians that he could pass along as a spiritual legacy to his two little girls, Zoe and Hannah.

    He said he didn’t really care about having physical “things,” but wanted instead a historical record of events and circumstances in everyone’s lives.

    I agree with Greg that these stories of Christians today (as Bobby last posted about Fred Gray) are very important to all of us.

  7. Bill says:

    These are great comments. This is such a faith building bunch. I appreciate you all very much!

    This has been a busy day. The morning was spent teaching emergency preparedness and disaster psychology. It is always energizing to engage people in the community who have such willing spirits when it comes to serving others. I’ve had the privilege of working with this program for several years now and can tell you without equivocation that we share this planet with some really good people,

    This afternoon was “family time”. We enjoyed going out to eat together and seeing the movie “Lady in the Water”. It really was a good movie. Not nearly as intense as I thought it would be, with some tasteful humor. I don’t know if it was worth $9.50 a ticket, but that’s what we pay round here!

    Blessings to all,
    -bill

  8. Niki Nowell says:

    Bill,
    God has been slowly peeling away the layers on my heart in regards to my c of c upbringing in a legalistic church. You have no idea how glad I am that you found my blog and we’ve become friends. I find so much inspiration and pointing to the truth (that’s Jesus) here and I’m so grateful. One of your posts mentioned that you were stepping on toes and you said you didn’t mean to – you were aiming for their hearts. Well, you have stepped on mine quite a bit tonight as I’ve read everything on the front page here.

    God has been doing some unusaul things in my life lately. Good things…But things that scare me a little, and give me such excitement I think my heart will burst out of my chest! He’s pruning me and even though it is sometimes painful, oh the joy set before me! I needed to read every word you said (and those wonderful Bible authors) as I journey down the path I’m on. I’m loving the talk of living a life of faith, the purpose and works of the Holy Spirit that lives in us, and preparing oursleves for spiritual battle. Good stuff my friend!!! I am in the thick of battle right now and could use some prayers. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading – God seems to be using you to teach me a few things.

  9. Mark Wilson says:

    Awesome Bill. Keep on keeping on. 🙂

  10. kreyes says:

    Wow, I just love it when God confirms a message to me. Just a little over a month ago, I purchased a new Bible, The Life Recovery Bible, at the urging of a friend. Now I’m not a 12-stepper, but as a bipolar Christian, I guess I’m always cycling through various stages of ‘recovery!’

    Anyway, the VERY FIRST CHAPTER I opened up to was Nehemiah!! No kidding; I had never read it before etc. Anyway, I especially like the way each chapter is followed by a reflections page. So here are a few additional insights to Nehemiah courtesy of The Life Recovery Bible, NLT: 1. Rebuilding cannot take place until we know where to begin. 2. We all need a Nehemiah in our life – someone who will honestly tell us what needs fixing and who will then stick close to help us complete the task. 3. Nehemiah not only prayed against his enemies, but he set a twenty-four hour watch, to guard against attack: prayer must be balanced with action. and 4. One person cannot do everything. Exterior attacts don’t disappear just because we are busy focusing on our spiritual interior. We need to be prepared!

    Finally, the insights end with Neh 9:4-38; the pure, unmitigaged words of praise to God. Sometimes all we can do in the midst of the battle and construction is to stop and sing praises to our almighty God!!

    Peace,
    kreyes

  11. Excellent, Kreyes! Thanks for adding these insights from the Life Recovery Bible. They are great. No, they are better than than great. They are the essence of how to get a fresh start. Thank you so much for sharing them. -bill

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