Building Destiny together means more than obtaining a building. This week we net unconditional to buy the building we meet in. It has been a labour of love, but we are now in a position to move ahead.
Question is, move ahead to what? Are we Building Destiny or just going through the motions?
I was doing the Bible reading program this week, and was struck with the similarities between our saga and that of Nehemiah. So today I want to talk about Building Destiny for the future, and how we as a body of believers can move into our God ordained destiny as a church, and as individuals.
THE STORY SO FAR
After years of the nation of Israel and Judah rebelling against God, they went into exile, The northern kingdom of Israel first in 722BC, and the southern kingdom of Judah in 587BC. The best people in the land were carted off to Babylon, which is where we read of Daniel in the lion’s den and the 3 young men in the furnace.
Then Babylon is defeated by Persia.
After 70 years we read this in 2 Chronicles 36:23
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”
After 70 years of exile, as prophesied earlier, a team was sent back to Jerusalem under Ezra the priest. They decided to rebuild the temple, but the walls of the city lay in ruins. There had been 2 attempts to rebuild, but things were not going well.
In ancient days, a city without walls was a weak city, easy to invade, easy to exploit. It was imperative that those walls be rebuilt, lest the city never reach its destiny and greatness.
Nehemiah was not just about building walls, he was about building the future of his people.
So we pick up the story in Nehemiah chapter 1… Nehemiah was asking after the returning exiles, while he was till in Babylon serving a Persian King Artaxerxes as cupbearer (and taste tester, a very important and trusted position the court).
Let me try and put this into modern terms…
Your dad, who lives in another state, calls to tell you the factory that’s always served as the main source of employment in your family’s hometown has been sold. The new owners are closing down the plant and moving production overseas. Many family members and friends will endure unemployment. Your hometown faces a severe economic depression as other businesses inevitably shut down.
Coincidentally, you work as a vice president in the same industry, and you know your company is exploring options for expansion.
What would you do? Where would you start? How can you be sure of what God wants you to do?
Steps to Building Destiny Together from Nehemiah’s Experience
1. IDENTIFY THE NEED
In the book of Nehemiah, he was about Building Destiny for his people, and the first thing he did was to identify exactly what the need was…
And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
The wall, the protection for the city had been burnt down. Nehemiah was a cup bearer to the King, what could he do? He saw the need, and his heart was deeply moved, but helping his people was not within the scope of his current job.
This was how I felt facing taking on Coast Church. I had not been a pastor before, and did not know the intricacies of the job, but I knew my God and I knew His voice and the need and the challenge stirred my heart. And I Covenanted to be obedient to His Word. Much of what God said at time time came from this very book!
So I saw the need. You see the need today in and around this church. There are millions of needs paraded before us, orphans, drugs, conflict, World Vision, Compassion, etc. I’m sure Nehemiah could see needs in the city where he served, called Susa. So why would the needs of people he didn’t know a thousand miles away be the ones that moved him?
Because God was stirring his heart, just as God is stirring your heart to be here. These are your people, this is your future and destiny, but what exactly are you to do? Ask God to help you see specific needs and roles right here where you can serve and help. Ask God about building destiny right here and your role in it.
Our time and resources are limited, we cannot assist every worthy cause. How, then, can we know which goals God is calling us to work on? Like Nehemiah, consider what most pricks your conscience, stirs your emotions and makes the best use of your abilities. That is often the sign you need to move forward. Do the Coastal Journey.
And Coast Church is the perfect vehicle to serve the Lord.
2. PRAY, DON’T BE MR FIX IT!
Nehemiah didn’t sit down and figure out how he could fix it, he turned to the Lord in prayer…
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
After hearing the news about Jerusalem, Nehemiah did not merely rush to implement his grand plan of action. Instead, he turned to the spiritual disciplines… Fasting and praying.
In preparation for any significant undertaking, our first step should be the same as Nehemiah, who “fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”.
As a guy, I’m your classic all action hero. I make decisions fast, and furious, and follow through on them. That’s a typically bloke thing to do. But it’s not God. God is about Building Destiny, not just solving problems as they arise!
So often even godly people make decisions then ask God to bless them. It’s the wrong way around.
We need to pray, ask God what He wants us to do, and then obey. So guys, with the church, don’t try and fix it… Pray first and ask God what He wants to change, and what your involvement could and should be.
3. ASK GOD FOR HIS VISION
Destiny is not something vague that smashes you in a certain direction… It is a series of choices, and making God’s choices is the greatest way of Building Destiny.
So ask God for clear, concrete visions and objectives—
Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.”
When King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah, “What is it you want?” (v. 4), the servant didn’t give a vague, abstract answer, such as “to save and protect the Jewish remnant.” Or “To grow a big church.”
So often we want our church to grow, and that’s fine but that’s not what we should be about. Having a vague idea we want to be successful gets you absolutely nowhere! If we are to build destiny, we need to do it God’s way.
Instead Nehemiah provided a clear and concrete objective: to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. God gave him a plan, and he shared that.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: KJV
Proverbs 29:18 MESSAGE
If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
Some versions say without vision the people cast off restraint, or self destruct. If I offer you as a church no vision, then the church self destructs.
Last week, in the midst of all the distractions of trying to get the loan for this building, I attended a pastor Masterclass and God laid out a plan in my heart for the future of this church. I am not flying blind, I am not stumbling in the dark hoping God does something miraculous. I asked for His blueprint to grow the church going forward, and as He promised, He laid it out for me. He has shown me how He wants to be Building Destiny in our lives through this church.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Make your own plans at your own peril! God is in the house, and God has a plan and a purpose for this church, and your part in this church. So pause, ask Him His perfect plan, His objectives, His will, and follow Him. Don’t just make some crazy thing up, order Him to meet your wishes then get mad at Him when it doesn’t come to pass!
I stand before you with a vision for this church, and your role in it. God has already shown me where many of you fit in, so if you want to follow the Lord into your destiny, pray and step up… There I nothing greater in the Christian life than serving where you are destined to serve!
4. ASK GOD FOR HIS TIMING
And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.
First thing the King asked was, “What’s your time frame.”
When King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah permission to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall, he also asked him how long his journey would take and when he would return.
Nehemiah could have easily answered—as many of us would today—that never having built a wall before, he had no idea, or that because God had given him the goal, only God knew how long it would take.
Instead, he immediately “gave him a time” (Ne 2:6).
When setting our own goals, we can follow Nehemiah and “set a time.” For instance, rather than setting a nonspecific goal to “memorise Scripture” we can make time-bound objectives, such as “I will memorise four verses in 30 days.”
A vision without a time frame is just a wish, nothing more. If we are building destiny together, we need more than a vague vision… we need a time frame!
Saying we want to be a big, successful church is not a proper plan. Having the right plan and implementing it sometime when we get around to it will still not achieve the result. You need to have a vision, a plan and a time frame.
For us, God has laid out a plan which we will run with once I have shared it one on one with key people over the next few weeks. Within 1 month, I believe things should be in place!
We then set our sights on achieving the plan. Step one, we want to fill this building in a Sunday morning. Step 2, we flip to multiple services, and so on.
We are not floating in a soup of maybes and wannabes, God is speaking to my heart daily and I have a vision for the future, and a structure He has given me. Coast Church is moving ahead, and we have a destiny together to serve the Lord and reach out to our community for Jesus.
Even better… I have a plan and a timetable!
5. GATHER TEAMS TOGETHER AND INSPIRE THEM
When I first stepped up to become senior pastor I was told that this church will never be led by a team. Today, we are led by a great team, and our entire structure is about to be changed so that everything about our church family, all work, all ministry and everything, is going to be team driven. Building Destiny is about building teams.
Why? Because Jesus did it, and that’s good enough for me!
He wasn’t a one man band, He trained and inspired his team… The inner 3, the 12, the 70, the 120 and so on.
Nehemiah did it too… he assessed the situation, formulated a plan and then gathered team members…
So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode.
And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
But then this is the very next verse…
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
It is pointless recruiting others when you don’t have plans, or if you have plans other than God plans. As your pastor, I have to develop a plan before recruiting and inspiring you and Building Destiny together!
Arriving at Jerusalem, Nehemiah initially did not inform anyone of his plans (see 2:16). It was only when he had adequately assessed the situation for himself, when he knew what was needing to be done, that he began to tell others and recruit them in completing his God given objectives.
But even when he knew what was to be done, how could he inspire these good but tired and downtrodden, discouraged people? By connecting them with the vision.
An old traveller met two stonemasons who were chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, for he frequently looked at his watch while he worked. When the traveller asked what he was doing, the first mason responded, “I’m hammering this rock—and I can’t wait til I can stop.”
The second mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his task he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I’m building a cathedral!”
I stand before you today with what I know is God’s plan for our church in my heart. I’ve written it down, and spoken to many leaders, all of who, are on board and excited. I’m not a deaf, blind and drunk sailor steering a rudderless ship! I know I have God’s plan in my heart, and the next many months are going to be exciting and something you just won’t want to miss!
If you want to be part of something incredible, if you want to join a winning team, this is your moment! The lure is not going to be chipping rocks, you have the opportunity to join me and others building a cathedral!
If you want to serve the Lord, if you want to discover your gifts and find a place to serve Jesus that you love, you’re in the right spot… Whatever your gift is, welcome home to Coast Church. You have a destiny here!
6. EXPECT OPPOSITION WHEN BUILDING DESITNY FROM OUTSIDE
Not everyone is in synch with my heart for this church. Everyone wants to be part of a successful church, but not everyone will agree with everything.
There will be opposition, sometimes from those we love most! Sometimes it will be from outside, and sometimes from people who were here and no longer attend this church. Why listen to them, when they are not Building Destiny with us?
But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”
Notice how they attack? They falsely accuse you of things you have not done.
Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.
They get angry and jeer you, insult you, try to ruin your reputation.
And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.
They plot and try to undermine the work of God.
Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”
They arrange pointless meetings, they interrupt what you are doing, but we need to say,
“Sorry, I don’t have time to meet with you, I am doing the work of the Lord!”
7. EXPECT OPPOSITION WHEN BUILDING DESTINY FROM WITHIN
Even within our own ranks some people just want a nice little local church. Some just want to turn up and do their thing and that’s it. They want to attend, but they are not committed to Building Destiny with us.
Nehemiah faced not only attacks from outside, but from the very people he was serving. In a time of economic downturn, well to do Christians not only failed to give, but they exploited their poorer brothers, even into selling their children into slavery. The work on the building stopped because people got greedy and ceased being generous.
And Nehemiah got mad…
I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.
So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest.
If you are blessed with finances, now is not the time to abandon the work of the Lord. We still need money to complete the purchase, and later to expand. Make a convenient in your heart to give and bless others, and not only will God bless you in return, but you will know that you’ve been part of something great.
It’s not my church, it’s yours. Let’s join together to work hard and see God prosper us!
8. LOOK TO YOUR LEADERSHIP AS AN EXAMPLE
The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.
I know many of you have been hurt in the past. I recognise that leaders have often taken advantage of you and your generosity, and your hard work. But as Nehemiah did, I stand before you as your leader willing to lay my life down for you and this church. Jesus said,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
That’s my role. I work full time, and I pastor full time. I make no wage demands on this church, although you now give me a small amount off my house loan. Essentially, I work full time for income and I pastor full time for free. I also am committed enough to give to the point of pain in offerings we have for the building. I am committed to Building Destiny as God has called me to be, right here in this church and community.
I’m not saying this to big note myself. I’m not saying this to force your hand. I want to live as an example before you, giving my all, laying my life down, that you might be inspired to join the destiny of this church. As the leadership, so go the people, so I am figuring that if I serve you and encourage you, that you will do the same for others.
Nehemiah did not take what was due him as governor, and neither do I. Nehemiah gave of what he had and worked hard side by side with the people, and that too is my solemn pledge to you. Nehemiah was generous with his time, his skills, his money and his resources, and that is what I intend to do also.
God has challenged me and shown me that this church is destined for greatness, and I intent to give everything I have, finances, blood, sweat and tears to fulfil what God has called us to do. I am determined to give it all in Building Destiny in this place, for all of us!
As I read yesterday in my quiet time from Amy Carmichael, “If the Leader bears the brunt of the battle the soldiers can follow.”
I intend to serve hard, love hard, give hard, work hard and above all trust hard in the Lord!
So what about you? You can float along, you can just attend church, that’s fine. But I am betting some of you want to join a winning team. In fact, I challenge you to join me. I challenge you to stand side by side with me and the leadership and I challenge you to see what God will do in and through you at Coast Church.
THE CALL- BUILDING DESTINY TOGETHER
God called Nehemiah to rebuild the city and provide a home and a destiny for the people. He was Building Destiny for his people. God has called me to do the same. To rebuild this church, to restore it to the path of destiny God has for it, to follow Him with a pure heart and to lay my life down for the people I love. I am dedicated to Building Destiny for all of us here in this place.
Next week, we will have an offering and I charge you to seek God and give as He calls you to give. This week, I challenge you to stand with me, shoulder to shoulder, to pledge to join me in the work of the Lord and to share the great destiny He has ahead for us.
And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
So come on, join us in Building Destiny at Coast Church!