A guide for interceding for the advance of the gospel
“IN [CHRIST] YOU ALSO ARE BEING BUILT TOGETHER INTO A DWELLING PLACE FOR GOD BY THE SPIRIT.”
By the grace of our God, we are not who we once were. We have been made alive in the Spirit and been transformed into a brand new creation, the fullness of which has yet to be fully revealed. What adds to the extravagance of this reality is how we are kept momentarily in the broken world from which our old life originated. We need neither fear it nor loathe it, but are called rather to embrace it as our present mission field. As part of our new identity we find ourselves as more than recipients of His grace. Our spiritual transformation has made us ministers of this grace. This is why we are called coworkers with Christ (1 Cor.3:9). We are simultaneously a work OF God and a work FOR God (Eph. 2:10). This gives us the hope that even those things we have yet to grasp, it surely will be done as He continues and completes His work in us.
In the book of Nehemiah we read of efforts for major reform and rebuilding in the city of
Jerusalem. The work of rebuilding the wall was successful, as were some of the other initiatives. However, by the close of the story we are still left with unfulfilled hopes. This may appear to some as a failure to accomplish the work God intended to have done, yet when we look closer at the gospel story, we can quickly recognize that the rebuilding of the physical city of Jerusalem is a much smaller scope than God had in mind.
1 Peter 2 reminds us that Jesus is the living stone rejected by men but chosen by God, and likewise we are like living stones that He is building up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. The city that God is building does not look like those in this world, nor is it constructed in the same manner. Jesus, himself, is the cornerstone that has been laid in Zion, upon which all else will be built and measured. Upon Him, and in like manner, all believers are the stones that God is using to build His dwelling place. This challenges the old saying, “the Church is not the building.” While it is true to say that the church truly is the people and not a physical structure, the spiritual reality is that the people are the building that God is creating. Every believer shares this purpose and calling - to come together and actively allow the Spirit to complete this work. And as He does, we will witness the power of God increasingly manifest in our homes, workplaces, cities and beyond.
As we reflect on the things Nehemiah encountered in his efforts to build and reform, we find revelation into the type of things we encounter still today in our efforts. From opposition (both from within and from the outside), to exhaustion, lack of resources, governmental and economic oppression, and more. Take some time for reflection on these factors as well as contemplative prayer into our circumstances today.
Reflection Contemplative Listening & Prayer
Nehemiah 3 How can we pray against isolation and independence in the work of God,
as well as for those who are called to collaborate in the rebuilding efforts?
Nehemiah 4 What threats and opposition are evidently at work against the Kingdom
of God in our homes, cities, and region?
Nehemiah 5:1-13 & 13:15-22 Where are the injustices in our economy today? What
does the Spirit say and will towards these injustices? Intercede in
alignment with the Spirit.
Nehemiah 5:14-16 & 13:10-13 How or where is our governmental leadership
misaligned or out of sync with societal needs? Where is it performing
well? Pray into these matters.
Nehemiah 8:2-12 & 13:1-9 Consider the state of God’s Church and spiritual leaders.
What comes to mind? Ask the Spirit to guide you in prayer.
Nehemiah 8:13-18 & 13:23-28 In light of the family structures and practices in the
Church and society, what areas does the Spirit of God desire to speak into
and address? Pray on these things.
Nehemiah 9 Seek the Spirit for revelation on what we can confess for today. How have
we made allowance for compromise?