Taking ‘building hope’ as her theme for the whole day the morning meeting began with the hymn ‘O worship the King, all glorious above’ before proceeding to a corporate declaration based on Psalm 138:1-3, ‘The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures for ever’.
The newly formed worship group assisted the congregation with the song ‘Worthy, you are worthy’ leading to prayer time and a showing of a ‘Self Denial‘ DVD clip providing information about Argentina, one of this year’s ‘partners in mission’.
Olive Long, a recent transfer to Chatham from the now closed Sheerness Corps, led a short time with the children . She told a story about a gift to a girl starting University from her Grandfather. The gift was an umbrella which was not received with great joy and consequently not used until one day the girl was going to a party and the rain was ‘chucking it down’. A bad hair day was promised until she remembered that the umbrella was at the bottom of a drawer in her room. When she opened it £50 fell out onto the floor. Her appreciation of the gift suddenly changed. Olive told the children that the wonderful gifts they have are of no use unless they are used. She encouraged them to use their gifts for God.
The Singing Company (children’s choir) brought ‘Once again I thank you’, the congregation sang the old favourite ‘When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word……..(Trust and obey)’ and the Songsters contributed ‘Song of the Saviour’ before scripture was read from Nehemiah 1:1-11.
In her message Major Karen said (summarised):
So what can we say about Nehemiah’s rebuilding? It happened 140 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Temple had already been rebuilt but the walls and gates of the city still remained inn ruins.
Nehemiah and Daniel both wept over the state of Jerusalem. In addition to prayer there was also fasting. Nehemiah needed to show God how important he was. We, too, are encouraged to fast (give up something) so that we also show God his importance to us.
There are similarities between the prayer of Nehemiah and Daniel. They pleaded with God to listen to their prayers, to hear what they say and to act. But first of all they acknowledge the greatness of God putting him first in all things. They both understood the importance of love for God and obedience to him. Nehemiah prayed day and night for his people and was totally committed to his cause. These qualities can also be true for us as we pray for The Salvation Army and the serious situations which also occur in our own lives..
Confession was also a part of the prayers of both Nehemiah and Daniel as they admitted their own sins and those of the nation. Nehemiah pleads with God to unite the nation back to Jerusalem. When we plead with God he will on our part just as he did for Nehemiah. He will keep his promises and we must remember them and not be afraid to call on God to make good on them.
God sympathises with our weakness and we can tell him that we are ready to ‘stand on his promises’ for they are his own words of promise to us. WE can come to him for action and stand on his words.
A verse from John Oxenham’s great hymn ‘Peace in our time, O Lord’, including the couplet ‘That without God as Architect our building comes to nought’ allowed time for reflection before the meeting was brought to an end with that great song of affirmation ‘Standing on the promises of Christ, my King’ and a benediction from Romans 15:13
Continuing with the same theme for the evening Major Karen began with the hymn ‘Stand up and bless the Lord’ before using the same corporate declaration as in the morning. ‘The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures for ever’.
Scripture was read from Nehemiah 2:1-9 and the Songsters brought ‘Go forth in his name” before Major Karen delivered the first part of her message saying (summarised):
Nehemiah asked for God’s favour but waited 4 months before acting on it. Was he having second thoughts? No, this was about God’s timing and Nehemiah trusted in it, waiting until God told him to approach the king for help. We don’t know why God delayed things but he did and told Nehemiah when the time was right. When we, too, are in a mind set of prayer he will make his will clear to us also.
Because we trust God it doesn’t mean we won’t have to contend with fear. All the same, we must trust him. I love the idea that Nehemiah was prepared to pray before approaching the king. ‘Help me Lord’ was his prayer. No situation need prevent this and amazing results can be seen and felt. Setbacks along the way can be overcome if we frequently revert to prayer. Seek God the whole time. This is a mind set we need!
Two songs, ‘Ask! Ask! Ask!’ and ‘For I’m building a people of power’, were sung and further scripture was read from Nehemiah 4:1-9 before Major Karen completed her message for the evening by saying (summarised):
Things were not going without incident. It was tough again and again. Nehemiah prayed to God and also posted a guard to protect the rebuilding of the wall. Those who threatened posed real danger but again Nehemiah prayed. Prayer, prayer and more prayer was his approach. But despite relying on God, actions were required and a guard was posted
Sometimes God tells us to be still as in the case of Moses at the Red Sea when being pursued by Pharoah’s chariots. But at times God also calls for action. Whatever he says, don’t be afraid to trust in him.
Nehemiah’s rebuild took only 52 days. He and his builders had absolute confidence against all opposition. What had been laid waste for 141 years was rebuilt in less than two months. When we are carrying out a good work for God we often feel the setbacks but we must trust in him and prayer will see us through. Patience, persistence, power, perseverance and prayer (a lot) are all needed.
Nehemiah had a lot to accomplish and contend with. His constant reliance on prayer worked for him and it will work for you as well. Ask God for everything!
The song ‘Father, hear the prayer we offer’ was used to consolidate the message and the day closed with a great song of affirmation, ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness’. The benediction was chosen from Revelation 7:12 and the Band concluded the worship with ‘Ave Verum’.
Majors Schultz return from their furlough today but Major Karen will be enjoying a few days break until Saturday. All three officers will be with us next Sunday. This week is also the half term break for local schools and we wish all those taking advantage of this a very enjoyable time. Have a great week. God bless you all.