If you watch some television you may notice there are a lot of shows that involve remodeling homes. There are kitchen makeovers, and bathroom makeovers.
There are shows that will turn part of your house into a rental property so you wind up paying very little or even having a positive cash flow. Home improvement shows are found by the dozen.
There are shows that will take a home, bulldoze it, and build a brand-new home for a needy family.
There are numerous shows that cover the art of house flipping… and flopping when they don’t go well.
We find millions of blogs on Do It Yourself projects. You can take a few discarded, broken pallets and build beautiful furniture to outfit just about every room in your home.
For absolutely no cost you can see how to rearrange a room or two and obtain a totally new and refreshing look.
It seems like the entire country is rebuilding something or other.
The makeovers sometimes take on a mind of there own. Sometimes when you move a wall, you uncover a myriad of problems that were hidden beneath the surface.
Termites, structural problems, leaky roofs and pipes – just about every unknown problem seems to come out of the woodwork – literally. These types of problems are not the only ones.
When contractors on Long Island were repairing homes damaged from Hurricane Sandy, thieves stripped out copper wiring and plumbing as soon as the copper work was completed. This thievery is still happening today in areas that had significant damage.
A year or so ago, a contractor was building some homes on the Pacific coast and vandals kept setting them on fire. They set up fences with razor wire, cameras, posted signs and still could not stop the fires and other destruction. They tried just about everything in the book and still the devastation continued.
Finally, they paid for a guard to stay on site around the clock. The delinquents would wait until the guard was at one end of the building site and set a fire on the other side. The guard rushed to the fire and put it out with a fire extinguisher. Can you guess what happened next? Yep! The hooligans set another fire at the opposite end of the site before running off.
Finally, two armed guards with radios were hired. They were in constant communication and could cover a larger area to make sure anyone thinking about destroying the work would pause and think twice about committing any crimes.
They also had communication links to the local police and fire departments, and signs advertised that fact. Amazingly, the destruction stopped.
Now, it is not hard to imagine that building or refurbishing a home requires many things not related directly with construction. Protection against vandals and coordinated, unified communications are just two of these.
Many weeks ago, LifeTree Café had a discussion on gun control. During that meeting, a person shared that they had used a firearm twice to save lives in a not-so-nice housing development. Surprisingly, they didn’t need to fire a shot. God provided a way to resolve the situation without death.
Then, a couple of weeks ago LifeTree Café had a discussion on domestic violence. One of the people who attended the meeting shared a 17-year long horror story of abuse, beatings and worse. They finally fled because their child’s life was threatened.
It looked like God made the situation totally unbearable until motherly instinct forced the person to leave the deadly relationship to save their child.
In both of these situations, the person involved was trying to live life and move forward in difficult and even evil circumstances. They were able to provide protection for themselves and the people around them through different means, both of which were effective and, I might add, enabled by God.
God ruled those days and provided the right people at the right time with the right solution for each unique problem.
Now, a long, long, long time ago – quite a few centuries or so before I was born – Nehemiah had a really difficult home makeover project. He had to rebuild Jerusalem, which was just a pile of rubble.
Nehemiah did his homework. He arranged for money and materials. He gathered tribes of Israel to provide the labor. He also had some soldiers for a modest amount of protection.
He knew they would have to travel through some unfriendly territories and received letters allowing for his safe and uninterrupted travel.
Nehemiah received a message from God to rebuild Jerusalem. He also prepared well for his job.
He also attracted attention of the various enemies that had destroyed Jerusalem. They gathered together and plotted to destroy everything that Nehemiah would attempt to rebuild.
The plotters were found out and everyone prayed and then set guards at night to protect their work.
Let’s see what Nehemiah did to accomplish his massive Home Makeover, starting at Nehemiah 4:14.
Nehemiah 4:14-15 (NIV)
14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
See, God was on their side and stopped the enemies from attacking at the moment. “God had frustrated it.” I love that saying “God had frustrated it.”
Isn’t that a cool way of saying God’s all-powerful hand held off the plots.
Next, Nehemiah rallies his people and even came up came up with a battle cry: “Remember the Lord!”
Yes! Remember the Lord!
Nehemia’s enemies had regrouped and could have attacked, killed the workers and destroyed what they had built. However, God had other plans, and we all know that God’s plans come out on top.
Let’s continue with verse 16.
Nehemiah 4:16-18 (NIV)
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah
17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,
18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Let’s analyze what Nehemiah did.
He set up protection. In fact, he had half his people dedicated to defending the construction site. He equipped them well with the latest technology.
They had the latest in weaponry: the best bows, arrows, spears and shields. All the weapons were long-range. You might say they were equipped with the assault weapons of the time.
Now, Nehemiah didn’t stop there. Many workers were equipped with swords.
The builders wore swords strapped to their sides.
Other workers handled bricks, stones and trowels with one hand while holding a sword in the other hand, ready to defend their work.
“Remember the Lord!” was the battle cry that united them.
I can imagine standing there with a sword in one hand and a brick in the other, shouting “Remember the Lord!”
Nehemiah had planned all of this, but he was not yet done!
Nehemiah saved the best for last – the trumpet player!
Those of you who may not know this, I happen to be a trumpet player.
Nehemiah had the trumpet player right next to his side. You might ask why he did this.
You also might think the trumpet player is a musician, and someone had to keep an eye on him!
That trumpet player had a real cushy job of sitting around, just waiting for a song request. At least that’s the impression many people have of a musician’s job.
Remember, this was quite a few years before radios and cell phones. The trumpet player had to be ready at a second’s notice. As soon as someone tried to attack, the trumpet player had to communicate to the various groups, what they needed to do and where to go.
Nehemiah told the trumpet player what he wanted and the trumpeter sounded the various trumpet calls directing the soldiers and workers.
You may remember a few years ago, Pastor Lewis Greer held a Wednesday night “Trumpets of the Bible” service. We demonstrated several different trumpet calls that woke people up, gathered people together and sounded when to eat and when to sleep.
There was even a trumpet call to go to church.
Back in Nehemiah’s time there were probably well over a hundred different trumpet calls, and the trumpeter and the people had to memorize them all.
The trumpeter was the sole communications infrastructure and I bet he prayed that his lip would be ready and strong enough to meet all the calls he would be performing. There was no room for mistakes or cracked notes in his line of work.
Nehemiah was successful. We can see that Nehemiah and God were in sync and God’s plan won.
What Does This Tell Us?
This was a great bit of history, but what to we get out of Nehemiah’s Home Makeover?
We at PACC are in a transitional state. Any time a pastor is changed, the church will also go through a change.
The change may be great or small, but there will be a change.
Now, PACC has been around for over 50 years. PACC has seen many changes, both big and small. PACC is still here and it will be here and survive through many changes in the future.
We recently went through a small Home Makeover. We had new electrical outlets installed in the baptistery to ensure no one gets to meet Jesus prematurely.
We had doors fixed, popcorn ceilings removed and walls painted. Restrooms were rejuvenated.
The multipurpose room was transformed into a modern café to help spread the Word of God.
Additionally, we are blessed with a new Elder!
Now, we embark on a search for a new pastor as our Home Makeover continues.
What is our first Order of Business?
Nehemiah realized that everyone would have to be united and on the same page. Their goal was to do a massive makeover on Jerusalem.
How did he unite everyone?
United with a Battle Cry
Nehmiah united everyone with a battle cry, so, if it was good enough for Nehmiah, it should be good enough for us.
Now, I ask you, what is our battle cry?
“Remember the Lord!”
Let me hear you yell it!
“Remember the Lord!” “Remember the Lord!” “Remember the Lord!”
By using this battle cry, we will be united.
We can stay united by remembering the Lord and worshiping Him!
We must remember that God comes first. We must remember and not lose sight of Him.
By doing this, we will remain united as a family.
What do we do next?
Do a Home Makeover
Well, we perform a home makeover for the church. We pray, plan, pray, plan and pray some more. Nehemiah prayed and planned and prayed some more.
God comes first, so we pray.
Nehemiah had all his ducks in a row and planned for everything. Plus, he was on a mission from God!
Next, we implement the plans. Nehemiah had the various tribes doing the work on different parts of Jerusalem’s walls and gates.
We don’t have a bunch of tribes at our disposal, but we do have workers. All the families of the church are our collective tribes or teams.
Our home makeover will involve each and every one of us.
As our Elders act as Nehemiah did, guiding the workers and working themselves, God will direct the scope of our whole operation.
We may also get advice from strong Christians that are veterans of change in the church. It is always useful to get help and guidance from people who have Been There – Done That.
And if they also got the T-shirt, so much the better!
Next we have to deal with protection.
Nehemiah had enemies who wanted Jerusalem to remain a pile of rubble. Nehemiah had evil surrounding his crew, ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness.
We have already seen the evil gathering around us. We have been attacked by a couple people who attempted to disrupt a Bible class and put a seed of doubt in our souls.
When it comes to such happenings, I do not believe in coincidences. We need to be vigilant and be prepared to protect what we are trying to build.
It would be prohibitively expensive to provide all our church members with a sword from the 5th century BC. First century swords do not come cheap either.
Let’s continue down the list: The State of California frowns on fully-automatic rifles with grenade launchers attached.
And, the City of Palo Alto might complain about a tank sitting in our parking lot.
So, what do we do? We need to protect ourselves!
I ask you “What would Jesus do?” After all, our battle cry is “Remember the Lord!”
Matthew tells us what Jesus did do!
Satan took Jesus to the highest point of the Temple and tempted him.
Matthew 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”
Here is how pure EVIL works: Satan attempted to use the Word of God against Jesus by twisting the meanings and taking the Old Testament verses out of context.
There are people in the world that are twisting the Word of God for their own liking, even to the point of using the Bible to try and prove God accepts sin.
What did Jesus do? Jesus fired right back with the Word of God.
We just need to do the same thing! We stick by the Words of God and Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and use those words to defend ourselves.
Besides defending our Home Makeover, we can also defend ourselves by standing behind and living as the Word of God tells us to. We need to follow Jesus!
This is our protection!
Remember, Hebrews 4:12 tells us the Word of God is “sharper than any double-edge sword.”
We also, need to get all our ducks in a row.
How many people have watched Duck Dynasty?
[For those of you who haven’t seen Duck Dynasty, the father in Louisiana invented what is agreeably the most effective duck call in the world. He built them by hand and sold them to make a comfortable living with a few of the sons helping out. They hunted ducks and other wildlife including frogs for food and lived a simple life.]
One of his sons went to college, came back with a Masters of Business Administration and built the company, Duck Commander, into a multi-million dollar business.
The Discovery Channel made a reality show featuring the Duck Commander. Several long-time employees and neighbors were also able to share in the wealth generated by the TV show.
The show closes every episode with the family sharing dinner together. They love Jesus and they give thanks in prayer before they eat.
After a couple of episodes, Discovery asked them to drop the prayers and the bowed heads, as they received complaints orchestrated by a few humanist and atheist organizations.
The father told Discovery they could pull the plug the show because they always pray and thank God before dinner. It is part of how they live their life. The father stood up for his faith and would not change.
In fact, he told them to cancel it in the middle of filming and leave. Evidently, the executives had a change of heart because the prayers are still part of the show. It is interesting that Duck Dynasty is still one of the top shows, if not the top show on the Discovery Channel.
We just need to do what the Duck Dynasty family does: We stand firm on our faith. You didn’t see Nehemiah back down, did you?
We defend our faith by refusing to give in to others that want us to turn away from God and by living that faith.
James tells us to follow God, stand firm and resist evil.
James 4:7 (NIV)
James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
We say: “Remember the Lord!” He unites us and protects us. Stand firm in our faith and Satan will flee!
That Pesky Trumpet Player
Now we have to deal with that pesky trumpet player.
We communicate among ourselves. We can pray and worship together. We do not need a trumpet player to communicate amongst ourselves here in Church.
After we all go to our homes, that’s a different story. I would bet the neighbors would complain if we sent trumpet players around to everyone’s home to communicate.
Plus, every one of you would have to remember hundreds of trumpet calls.
Telephones, cell phones, Email and even Facebook have become the communication tools we use to implement our protective plans and coordinate our Home Makeover.
Face-to-face word of mouth is still the most effective method of communication.
The main point here is to always keep communications open – all throughout our home makeover.
A good example of communication is the electrical work several people have performed. Keith was changing out a programmable timer switch. I was working on hooking up a new outlet in the office.
What would have happened if one of us had finished before the other and then turned on the wrong circuit breaker?
We communicated. We even put red tape across the circuit breakers with DO NOT TOUCH written on them to communicate with other people working in the building.
As you can see, Keith and I are still here. This proves that good communication works in accomplishing our home makeover.
We need to keep the communication lines open as Nehemiah did – and we don’t need a trumpet player to do it!
So in summary here is what we do:
- We keep God first and pray for His guidance.
- We unite and work together with our battle cry… “Remember the Lord!”
- We set up a plan and get our ducks in a row.
- We all work together and do our own part – we are all part of God’s plan.
- We use the Word of Jesus and His Father as our sword to protect us.
- We protect ourselves by standing firm in our faith against Satan and evil. The devil and evil will flee when we do this.
- We keep the communications open all the time.
If we do all of this, we will have a blessed and successful Home Makeover.
Let us pray…