“If it pleases the king…I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it”(Nehemiah 2:5 NKJV).
Nehemiah was neither a priest nor prophet(nor was he a preacher!). His gifts and God-given abilities lay elsewhere. We read from his own biographical narrative that his background was as “cupbearer” to the foreign king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah’s role was to taste the food and wine prior to it being placed before the king (making sure nothing harmful or deadly had been slipped in). He served as one who was valued and trusted in the king’s court. But as we read his story, we learn that Nehemiah had a much larger portfolio.
Nehemiah was a man full of deep compassion and concern for his people and city, both languishing in humiliating hardships. Hearing the report from his kinsmen, he agonized,prayed with fasting. Thus, making himself available before the LORD God. He was the right man for the job (Which really was his Call). God chooses whom He uses. There is no recorded history that qualifified him for this role, given graciously by God and granted by a Gentile king. Today, I meet Marketplace people who have the treasure of God deposited inside them; wanting to serve God in some meaningful way. They are frustrated in their congregation or religious community because they feel marginalized,not being called to the “pulpit” or as a traditional “missionary”. And yet, they are acutely aware that they are called to do much more than warm a seat and put a check in the offering basket(or box). They are Marketplace leaders and Kingdom influencers. Like Nehemiah, you will discover the favor of the King, who is waiting to grant permission for your “God-Call”assignment. But how can you become activated in your Marketplace setting?
OWN YOUR IDENTITY
Marketplace leaders must, first,own their God-given identity. They must not base their future destiny on their past history or what others may think about them. The psalmist gives us a great insight as to how you can unlock your gifts and calling by owning your true identity. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”(Read Psalm 139:14-16 NKJV). In other words, no matter the circumstances of your birth…God wanted you here on earth to play a part in His divine plan of redemption. Why not spend some time with Him in prayer and ask, “God, What did you write about me in Your book?” When He made you, with excitement He declared to the angels, “This one is one of a kind!” Celebrate the uniqueness of your life in Him. Thank him that He made you YOU.
TIME BOUNDED FREEDOM
When Nehemiah shared his vision with the king, we read, “So the king said to me…’How long will your journey be? And when will you return?’ So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time”(Nehemiah 2:6 NKJV). A man or woman’s gift makes room for them. This assignment for Nehemiah was time-bounded. In other words, although the task was of utmost importance, it did not require a “lifetime” call or commitment. I find that many initial assignments are brief in order to allow for “a time of discernment” to confirm the direction of the call of God and the work He wants your involvement. So, if a door of opportunity comes your way, step forward in order for the “motion sensor” to pick up your movement. If it opens…go through it. You never know what’s on the other side.
We live in daring times which, like Nehemiah, require prayer, courage and strategic vision. But above all these times require faith and obedience. Paul put it this way,”So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. Don’t be fools,then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do”(Ephesians 15-17 GNB).
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be shared free of charge, provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original content. Please address any correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
When Jesus began his public ministry he seemed to move more intentionally away from the religious community and toward the “common people”. Was he indicating that by finding his first disciples among the local fishermen that these were open to his message of the Kingdom of God? Or was it a case of the non-religious being more easily persuaded of his mission than the avowed religious? Matthew records that this was part of the Biblical prophetic narrative of Messiah’s coming, “Now when Jesus heard that John(the Baptist) had been put in prison He departed to Galilee…He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea,…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet,saying: ‘The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtili, By way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and those who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned”(Matthew 4:12-16 NKJV).
Beyond Matthew’s recording Jesus’ move to Galilee having prophetic significance, he reveals a strategic significance. Among other things, Jesus understood that his public ministry would be limited by his ultimate death (He had about 3-31/2 years public ministry). Therefore, He must seek out his followers not from the recognized religious crowd but from the more common multitude. He was not(Nor did he have time) out to burst “old wineskins”. Rather he must seek for new wineskins which could hold the new,fermenting new wine of the Kingdom of heaven. Hence, we read in Matthew Chapter 4, “And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen….Going from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him”(See Matthew 4:18-22 NKJV).
Apparently, if you are bringing a spiritual revolution into the earth you had better find those who are tired of the status-quo. Jesus saw in these first disciples the potential to be taught and molded into the type of leaders that He knew they would become. Jesus was not looking merely for their ability but their capacity to “get the job done”. In meekness and humility, He always accepted those whom the Father gave Him and patiently, transformed them into who and what they were to become.
Where did He find his disciples? In marketplace settings. Or to coin a phrase from Eugene Peterson, Jesus found his messengers and workers among the “Coins, nets and fishing hooks”. These men were laborers and businessmen. Revolutions are not started(typically) among the status-quo leaders. They like things to remain as things always were (Promising the people “change” which never comes). But history proves that “a body at rest remains at rest”. Real change(Kingdom change) occurs when people say, “Enough is enough!” Jesus called out, after John the Baptist’s imprisonment, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”! The change you have prepared your heart for is here. In other words, If you want change…Be the change you want.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared at no charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Mark is believed to have recorded the apostle Peter’s eye witness account of the Lord Jesus. In Mark Chapter 9, Peter, James and John accompany him up the Mountain, in part, because there would be the need to have a full,verifiable witness. Scripturally, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word must be established. The apostle Peter’s explanation of what occured was no fanciful imagination gone wild. They were not hallucinating , they were eye witnesses. They, personally,saw that while Jesus was praying there on the mountain, heaven drew aside it’s curtain as it were and revealed another view of Jesus. They saw the natural, human side of him give way to the divine mystery of who he was,eternally. What had been a view of OUTSIDE-IN is now made known from an eternal reality, which is INSIDE-OUT.
GROWING IN HIM
For those who are growing in their walk with Jesus the Messiah this is the true order of things, “The natural things proceeds the spiritual things” only as an entry point into eternal reality. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why we, who are followers of Jesus Christ, are not without hope when a loved one in Christ passes this life. We have the blessed hope of seeing our loved ones again. The apostle Paul assures us that, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”(2 Corinthians 5:8).
MOSES AND ELIJAH
Back to the Mountain where Jesus was transfigured. This stunning event was not without guests from heaven. Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus. This startling event frightened the three apostles, causing them to be prostrate on the ground. We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, you don’t just come into the atmosphere of heaven and remain unmoved. We recall how Isaiah, the prophet, cried “Woe is me, I am undone!… I am in the presence of the thrice-holy God”(Isaiah 6). Saving for a Seraph flying with a blood soaked, burning coal from off the altar and touching his lips, he probably would have died on the spot! How casual the presence and the things of God have become today. Is it not a sign of our times? We have substituted ritual for worship, Wine for water in our formalism, head-knowledge for heart knowledge. Far too many of God’s houses know nothing more than “a form of godliness but deny its power” a place in their services, to which the apostle Paul admonishes, “And from such people turn away!”(2 Timothy 3:5).
Why Moses and Elijah? Both were very important in Israel’s history. God gave the Law(Teachings) to Moses to give to His people. It was a Covenantal document between God and His people, Israel. When they strayed away to worship the Baal God, the LORD GOD used Elijah to confront & call His people back to the true and living God(Read Malachi 4:4-6). But God also promised a New Covenant for Israel in which He would no longer write upon tablets of stones. Rather He would “take away the heart of stone…and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people and I will be your God”(C.f. Ezekiel 36:26-28).
Peter astonished at this mountain top experience wants to place Jesus right alongside Moses and Elijah. He feels that he deserves to be in the same category as these two great servants of the LORD God of Israel(Moses representing the Law & Elijah representing the Prophets). And yet…at that moment, a cloud descends, and a voice from His excellent glory is heard, “This is my beloved Son, Hear Him! Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves”(Mark 9:7-8). God had sent, in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, His final Word of salvation and deliverance for His people. His Son, Jesus the Messiah, was and is made available to all that will look to Him, all that would hear his voice, all that would trust and obey him. The apostle John later testified, recording his experience, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”(John 1:14 NKJV). If you hear His voice…Don’t harden your heart.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may to copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Jesus led his disciples Peter, James and John up the Mountain apart from the other disciples and there was transfigured. I’m reminded that the Lord God had once called Moses up to the top of the Mount. There, after six days of waiting in the cloud, he received an invitation to come into God’s presence. There, He received the two tablets of the Law. This should remind us that good things take place in the Lord’s presence, if we are prepared to wait on Him. Isaiah assures us, “They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength”(Isaiah 40:31). The higher we go in God, the more time we need to wait in His presence. What happens while we wait? We learn the secret of exchanging our strength for His. Much weariness comes from “I got this one God” attitudes. We start many things in the arm of the flesh and they result as nothing more than a fleshly, carnal work. But if we will wait on the LORD, He will come to us with newness of LIFE and new perspectives on life as we have known it. The apostle Paul said we should “Seek those things which are above where CHRIST is seated” at the right hand of God(Colossians 3). Our seating changes our seeing.
As we wait in the Lord’s presence, the noise of the crowd dissipates. The sounds and often the many voices that clutter our minds and crowds our soul settle down to a manageable whisper. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nation’s. I will be exalted in the earth”(Psalm 46:10). Recall how Elijah went to Mount Horeb, perhaps expecting God to boom at the fearful thoughts of Jezebel’s threats. But God did not come as he expected(Not in an earthquake, wind or fire). Just the gentile whisper of a still small voice (1 Kings 19). This is one reason why we should always take God’s Word with us into His presence. God will speak through His Word to our troubled heart. “Great peace have they who love your Law. And nothing shall cause them to stumble”(Psalm 119:165).
Finally, as we wait in His presence, we get a new view of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter, James and John got a view of future attractions. All that our Lord Jesus was, eternally and inwardly, began to shine out in a blaze of glory. It radiated out of every pore of His being and changed the very garments which He wore. Peter will later testify that, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty”(2 Peter 1:6). How we need to cry out for a new sense and awareness of His majesty as the King of glory. One view of eternal realities will transform our life forever. The mystery God held is now revealed; “Christ in you, the hope of glory”(Colossians 1:27).
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.”(Mark 9:2 NKJV)
Mark notes in his gospel account that this incident took place “after six days”. Six days after what? After the Lord Jesus had announced that death was going to be defeated and the kingdom of God would be seen with power by some alive among him. Obviously, they had no insight as to what he was talking about until after his death, burial and resurrection. This,by the way, is what made Jesus such a great Teacher. He would often punctuate his teachings regarding the kingdom of God with living illustrations.
Perhaps, Mark is hinting at God’s order in Creation. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day and God rests from His labor on the Seventh day; indicating the completion of His work. Man was invited into a place of rest from the Beginning. And yet, due to his disobedience, his rest was broken through his Fall from his high and noble position with God. His punishment would be ultimate death. And he will work and labor now with effort and sweat to obtain what the earth would have yielded freely (Read Genesis Chapters 1-3). But God does not leave him without hope and a promise. “The seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent”(Genesis 3:15). This was the first promise of Messiah who would come to save and redeem mankind. Later, the writer to the Hebrew Christians, alluding to Fall after Creation and the Hope of Redemption, wrote, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it”(Hebrews 4:1-2 NKJV). Perhaps, the hint that Mark is giving us is that when Jesus led Peter,James and John up on the mount it was to indicate that something lost in Creation would soon be restored…Rest with God. No religious performance could give it. Only faith in Jesus Christ is required. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”(See Romans 5:1-2). The writer to the Hebrew Christians wrote, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts”…There remains a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His”(Hebrews 4:7,9-10 NKJV). Human effort apart from faith in Jesus Christ and His grace to live the life already gained for us is “a dead work”. Religion apart from God creates “sweat work”, boredom, fear and anxiety. Why? Because we will always offer something to God less than His best. Our religious efforts(apart from God’s grace) is, at best, our own sinful, weak performance to impress a holy God versus trusting His atoning (Paid in full by His blood) work through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we come to accept the free gift of heaven’s best we can truly rest.
Mark understood that Jesus was leading three of His apostles up higher to see and perceive the best that was soon to come. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”(Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). The One who leads is the Way, The Truth and the Life.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared provided that is is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Recently, my wife and I went to see the movie version of the Marvel comic book character, The Antman (Somehow,when I was a child, I missed that comic book hero.). As the story goes, a special scientific discovery allowed a person to be reduced to the size of an ant and yet they retained their strength(or it became greater). While watching the movie, I could not help but reflect on the proverb “The ant are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.”(Proverbs 30:25 NKJV). What does the ant from this proverb teach us today?
(1) The power of community. For example, my wife wife and I recently made a trip to Kenya. While there, I kept noticing along the country side roads these huge mounds that must have been at least 2-3 feet in height. Asking what they were, I was told by our host that they were “Ant mounds”. These mounds housed thousands of ants! And because these ant colonies were not “stinging ants”, the children would often be seen sitting upon these mounds. God gave the ant colonies the instinctive nature to accomplish many incredible feats together which they could not have done apart. Likewise, the ant teaches us that special nature of the collective power of community(Common-Unity). The psalmist declared, in Psalm 133, that there is a “commanded blessing” from the LORD God where is there unity among God’s people.
(2) Preparedness. The ant gets ready for the change in season. Although their food supply may be abundant in the summer, it is scare in the fall or winter months. So the ant stores up for the eventual change that was coming. Recall the story in the Bible of Joseph. God used Joseph to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream: 7 years of a bountiful harvest would later be reversed by 7 years of famine! Pharaoh, being warned, promotes Joseph from “the prison to the palace”; believing that Joseph had the wisdom and skill to prepare his people for the coming crisis while there was time. Today,God’s people are being challenged not merely to prepare but BE prepared.
The ant has also been endowed with a wisdom from its Creator to know the season and times to gather and store it’s food supply. Likewise, God has a “food supply” for His people. The LORD has declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”(See Deuteronomy 8:4). God tested His people (under all manner of circumstances) in the wilderness, then He blessed them, bringing them out into the Land He had promised Abraham.
(3) Communication. Although the ant has no apparent Commander, they are guided and communicate with one another to function as a mighty army. God has given His people the Holy Spirit as our guidance system as well. How we need the voice of the Holy Spirit to give each of us guidance,wisdom and direction for these days that are upon us. Our Lord Jesus has promised never to leave us alone. He promised, “I still have many things to say to you…when He, the Holy Spirit is come…He will guide you into all truth”(See John 16:1312-15). Let’s listen to the voice of His Holy Spirit and we will not be distracted from our God-given purpose.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. This article may be shared without cost provided that is it is not sold or altered in any way from it’s original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
David records the posed question from his enemies, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”(Psalm 11:2). He is not in agreement with the wicked. He knows that he has the help of God. Even though the foundations of the righteous may be shaking for the moment, they will not fall. God’s throne is unshakable.
Foundations are very important to the stability of any house. Without a foundation under a house…In times of trouble, persecution and distress you are left as a house of cards. Of course,there are many types of foundations in life. For example, there are “Social” foundations. The marriage of a man and a woman, whereby a family is produced from this sacred union was not an idea originating from human beings. It originated with God. “Let us make a man and a woman and let them be fruitful and multiply”(See Genesis 1:26-27). This was intended not to reflect what mankind thought of themselves but what God had in mind in the heavens. Their union was to bring into view what could not otherwise be seen or understood in the heavens. This highlights one of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, Who are in the heavens…Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”(Matthew 6:9-10).
The kingdom of God and the will of God must become first, in priority, if social foundations remain strong. The weaker a foundation, the more prone to it giving way under pressure. The Hebrew word for “foundation” is “Shathah”. It means, “A purpose, basis, or a political or moral support”. In other words, What is the purpose or basis for the decisions being made as to how they will affect other’s social and moral well-being?
Some foundations matter more than others. Our first foundation stone or basis for living must be spiritual. By this we mean our relationship to God which affects our relationship to others. To this end, Jesus spoke a parable in Luke Chapter 6, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”(Luke 6:46-49 NKJV).
When we embrace Jesus’ Lordship, we see this as both our wisdom and stability in life. One of the great ways to evaluate the foundation stones in our life is through the biblical teaching given by Jesus Himself(Read Luke Chapter 6:20-23,27-31,37-38). Here we find three aspects for Kingdom living: (1) Personally – We have come to know them as “Be-Attitudes”. They are the personal attitudes of the kingdom of heaven on earth. (2) Socially – My attitude toward Others. Finally, (3) Eternally – In light of these eternal realities, How shall I live and order my world around me…Now? These are the things that really matter in the final analysis.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. all rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com