Every competent leader knows the importance of building an effective team. Teamwork is a good thing; in fact, it’s essential. But how does it really work? What makes a winning team? Why do some teams go straight to the top, seeing their vision become reality, while others seem to go nowhere?
These questions don’t have simple answers. How does your work team perform? How is your marriage team, your family team, your church team?
A team is capable of accomplishing things that no individual, no matter how talented, could do alone. To function well, a team must be committed to a common vision and purpose, and it must be willing to work in unity for the improvement of the whole rather than the advancement of any one member.
No one person is greater than the sum of the team.
We are studying the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a mission. He knew it was a mandate from the Lord. He had prayed and studied the situation in chapters 1 & 2. But Nehemiah was just one man. He couldn’t rebuild the wall on his own. He had a vision, which he cast in 2:17-18, but he needed a team to accomplish the task.
The task was great. 10 gates, 2 walls and 3 towers were to be rebuilt. It was 2 mile stretch… a wall surrounding about 13 acres of land. For almost 140 years the walls were in ruins. The gates were down... the towers were in rubble...
The situation seemed hopeless.
However, Nehemiah did not loose hope. All throughout the book that bears his name, Nehemiah addressed his people using words like “we” and “us” and developed a team. A "they" mentality does not convey the idea of unity. “They” does not involve any ownership. “We” involves ownership, accountability, and responsibility. Nehemiah organized the people into groups and assigned work in sections that created ownership and made a big task manageable.
Do you live for a cause greater than yourself? Do you lay aside your interests for the greater good of those you love?
What was it that caused Nehemiah to achieve such great success? Yes, he rebuilt the walls, he organized people into teams, each family took part, developed ownership for the project and did their job well. But, why did it happen? How did it happen? People can make great plans, rally the troops and still fall short. What is the difference that caused the success?
The answer:: Prayer.
How did Nehemiah pray? What was it about His prayer that got such great results? What is the truth about prayer that can be applied for us today? How can we pray with great power?
1. Acknowledge God’s Greatness. We see this in verse 5. Here in this verse is an expression of Worship. Nehemiah reached up to God in worship. Acknowledging Him as the giver of all that is good.
Nehemiah faced a situation he knew he could not resolve by himself. From a purely human point of view, it was an impossible situation. The wall had been torn down, ruined. The setting and circumstances were not favorable. But Nehemiah also knew that God was not restricted by human limitations. He is the omnipotent God! With Him all things are possible because of who He is! Nehemiah had a proper view of God. In the midst of his own despair, Nehemiah acknowledged God's unfathomable greatness - His incomparable power. Worship for who God is!
2. Remind God of His Promises. Nehemiah reminded God of His covenant with Israel. Again, we see this in verse 5.
Certainly, God didn't need to be reminded of his promises. But it is a powerful lesson to learn in our own prayer life - it pleases the very heart of God to hear his children restate His promises when they are talking to Him. Why? To prove to God:: we listened, we understand, that we actually know what he said and that we believe it. We acknowledge Him as God, as Lord, not our selves. When we trust in the promises of God we must admit that we can't do it by ourselves but rather submit to His authority.
Take the time to read Psalm 139. This is a great reminder of what God has done - and what he has promised to his people.
3. Confess Your Sins. Nehemiah confessed Israel's sin. We see Nehemiah model this for us in verses 6 and 7. The key to praying with power is regular confession and repentance. If we allow sin to build up in our lives, we will become hardened to the things of God. For our prayers to get to the heart of God, we have to be in a right relationship with him.
4. Ask God for Specific Help. Nehemiah asked God for specific help in verse 11.
Be specific in your prayers if you want specific answers.
Nehemiah was unselfish in his prayer. He was not only willing to pray for the Jewish people, but he was willing to be the channel through which God would use to deliver the people out of their desperate situation in Jerusalem. This verse amplifies the divine / human partnership. Nehemiah knew the plan would only succeed with the hand of God, but Nehemiah also was willing to pay the price to be God's instrument.
Here are my Top 3 Reads of the week. Enjoy!
- 3 Actions to Communicate Love to My Wife - Ron Edmondson - Communication! Communication! Communication! Healthy and loving communication is an indispensable element in a healthy marriage. Edmondson helps us think through how we communicate love to our wives. While this is specifically geared towards men seeking to love their wives better, these principles can help everyone grow in their most important relationships.
- 10 Great Prayers for Every Marriage - Ron Edmondson - What this post lacks for in length, makes up for in concise wisdom! My prayer is that you would take the time to offer these prayers to the Lord.
- 7 Things You May Not Know but You Need to Know About Your Wife - Ron Edmondson - "Men and women are different." Isn't that the truth? Knowing your wife is essential to loving her. Here are some helpful nuggets of wisdom that will help us understand our wives.
God's Kingdom Family
In the Bible there are nearly 100 images or metaphors that refer to the people of God: as believers and followers of Jesus we are described as:
- a body
- the bride
- an army
- a temple or building
- a flock
- a branch
- a household
There are many other descriptors of the people of God but one of the more pervasive metaphors is that of a family.
We are the family of God…. We live in region here in North Texas that is family focused. Because of that, this Biblical metaphor is a great way to understand who we are as believers and model for our city… how to be and do family. We often times refer to this gathering of believers as our faith family.
As a faith family, we are in a spiritual war. There is little to no imagery in the NT of comfort or our American culture in the Scripture. We are in a spiritual war. When you became a follower of Jesus – you joined a new family and in the process the enemy has declared war over you and your life.
We don’t like to hear it that way. We prefer a nice, safe, comfortable American Jesus. But that is a false god. Today, there’s a lot being written about the decline and the death of the American church. Church attendance has declined across our land. A lot has been written as some want to point fingers, cast blame and do anything but accept responsibility.
We need to know - The church of Jesus in America is not dead. It is changing and ultimately that’s a good thing. The church is growing into a new creation … and sometimes healthy growth involves growing pains. And it probably will not look like what we have known. So over the next few weeks we need to engage together as a faith family and remind ourselves Who we are... and What we are about… and How we are going to accomplish the mission to make disciples that the Lord Jesus gave us as His followers.
We will be looking at the book of Nehemiah for this series. Will you join me as we look at the Foundations of what it means to be a family family?
"Thank You for the Cross" is such a powerful, gospel-centered song. Often, a full-work week can leave a person feeling drained... let this song be a blessing to you. I pray that its truths would fill you up!
Here are the lyrics::
Thank you for the cross, the mighty cross.
That God himself should die, for such as us.
And everyday we're changed into your image, more and more.
Yes, by the cross, we've truly been transformed.
And we're so amazed, and we give you praise.
That you would save us, at such a cost.
We're so amazed, and we give you praise.
For the power of the cross... or the power of the cross.
Spiritual growth is fundamental to the Christian life. Check out this stirring message from my brother in Christ, Leroy Armstrong. You can grow spiritually! January is typically when many people join gyms and dedicate the new year to growing in their physical fitness. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 4:8, "for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." Lets us this opportunity grow spiritually that we may attain an even greater value.
Happy New Year 2016!
One of the great things about a New Year is the feeling we get that this year can be different - our best days are ahead of us. We can commit to turning things around. However, we can tend to want to do this in our own power. Thankfully, for believers in Christ, we don't have to do it alone! We rely on God for all that has been given us. We seek his face daily. And we depend on him for everything.
One of the most practical ways to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit is to read the Bible. I'm attaching a LINK for you to explore different yearly Bible reading plans. If you start today by following one of these plans, you can make it through the entire Bible by this time next year. Psalm 119:105 reads, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." I sincerely believe that if we press into God through the reading of his word - our lives will never be the same.
What is Christmas really about?
Christmas is about a birthday. Jesus’ Birthday. Instead of singing we wish you a Merry Christmas it would probably be more appropriate to sing Happy Birthday Jesus. Yes, it’s Jesus birthday but He didn’t come to receive gifts, He came to give a gift.
The party gift from Jesus is a priceless gift. You can’t earn it, You can’t buy it, You can’t trade it.
You only have two options: Receive it or Reject it.
At our home, we put our presents under the tree. God the Father put his present on a tree. And Jesus said on that tree – Calvary’s cross - Father forgive them…. That’s why Jesus came… to forgive us and give you and me a 2nd chance. The best thing about Christmas is that it points us to the fact that Easter is on the way! Jesus came to be our Savior.
A Savior? A savior implies I need saving… saving from what? From myself.
— firstmckinney (@firstmckinney) December 25, 2015
In our culture today, sin has been re-defined and excused. At best, it’s been justified… at worst, it’s been celebrated. It’s human nature to think in terms of a less harmful version of sin, as if you could grade sin on its caloric count. Tastes great! Less Filling!
We tend to think… There’s really bad sin (everyone else’s) and then there’s my sin (not so bad).
But if I think this way, it means the rest of my experience with Jesus and the gospel will be "lite" as well. Sin lite means grace lite, forgiveness lite, love lite — how about overall Christianity lite? Less filling; less faith.
When we exchange gifts at Christmas (which is Jesus’ birthday party) it is to be a reminder of the gift of Forgiveness that Jesus gave.
The Greatest gift you can receive is the gift of forgiveness. And the greatest gift you can give is the gift of forgiveness. We choose to forgive those that have wronged us not because they deserve it – they don’t. But we forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
Forgiveness may be the single most difficult act of love.
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice we make to send away the punishment of the one who deserves it.
Receive the gift of Forgiveness this Christmas… Give the gift of Forgiveness this Christmas.
What is the secret to real forgiveness? Remember how much we’ve been forgiven by God. Remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through to forgive us. Forgiveness has great power to heal and restore relationships.
Most importantly, this begins in our vertical relationship with God. Then, it forms and shapes our horizontal relationships with others. This Christmas, embrace the forgiveness we find in Jesus. Extend this grace to others.
We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s First McKinney’s Christmas Eve Services, on December 24 at 2, 3:30, 5 & 6:30 #ChristmasEve
— firstmckinney (@firstmckinney) December 21, 2015
I'd love for you to join us this Thursday for one of our Christmas Eve services. Come and experience the spirit of this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if you go to church every Sunday - or you haven't set foot in a church in your entire life. You are welcome and encouraged to join us.