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Nehemiah-Just An Ordinary Guy
The Bible sometimes compares the building of a work of God [church] with the building of a building.
"Edified" means to build up. It's where we get the word edifice. Jesus said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
Of course, a church is not a building, it is a body. The body of Christ. The church is not an organization, it's an organism...a living, breathing entity. It needs health, it needs growth, and God wants to build it, bless it, and grow it.
1 Corinthians 3:9
If we build people, the church will automatically be built.
ill.--a cattle rancher got saved and surrendered to preach. He went to a Bible conference which was all about how to build a crowd. Asked about it later, he said, "It was strange. In all my years as a cattle rancher, I never had to go to a conference to learn how to get the cows to come to the feeding trough. I always just figured that if you put out good feed, the cows will come."
I'm not calling you a bunch of cows, just making a point!
My job is not primarily to build a church, but to put out good feed. And so we should not be about building a church as much as building people. You build a church one person at a time.
In every church there are 3 kinds of people:
1. Destructionists - they tear down the work of God.
2. Obstructionists - they get in the way of the work of God.
3. Constructionists - they assist in building the work of God.
I'd rather die than be one of the first two.
Nehemiah is the perfect
example of how to be the latter.
He led God's people in rebuilding the walls of
In this series we will learn lessons of leadership, organization, dealing with criticism and opposition, lessons on commitment and determination.
We will ask 3 questions: What did it mean then? What does it mean now? What does it mean to ME? We need to apply these principles to our lives.
Let's just 'lay the foundation' for this series on building.
In journalism class as a teen I learned that the first paragraph of a story is the most important, and that in it you should answer the who, the what, the when, and the where. Nehemiah does this in the first couple of verses.
What is the book of Nehemiah?
v. 1 "The words of Nehemiah"
This is an autobiography. His memoirs. His testimony of what God did in him and thru him.
-God works for us = salvation
-God works in us = sanctification
-God works thru us = service
If I asked you now to write down how God is using you to build up the work of God, what would you have to write down? Would what you write challenge and inspire others?
'The words of Nehemiah' were something worth writing because God was working in his life.
Who is Nehemiah?
"the son of Hachaliah"
There are 3 men who played
an important role in rebuilding
And you don't have to be a preacher to be greatly used of God! Our Lord has a way of taking ordinary people and doing extra ordinary things thru them.
ill.--D. L. Moody was never
ordained to preach. He was a
salesman who got saved, and heard a preacher state that the world has yet to
see what God can do with a man completely yielded to him.
And Moody said, by the grace of God, I'll be that man.
He had never been to school, and would butcher the English language.
They say he could pronounce
As a side note, Moody got a lot of hate mail, and much of it was anonymous. One time in a meeting he came to the pulpit and found a small note folded there. He opened it to find only one word inside, "Fool." He told the crowd, "In my years I've received a lot of letters with no signatures. But this is the first time I've ever received a signature with no letter!"
Anyway, there's no limit to what God can do thru YOU if you'll decide to let Him do it!
I used to try to get everyone on board with things in the church in order for them to succeed. But I've stopped because I've come to realize that God chooses to use the faithful few. It would be great to have a big crowd out for visitation, but God uses the faithful. It would be nice if everyone would come out to prayer meeting and stay at the end when we pray, but really God doesn't want you to pray because you have to...only if you want to!
Years ago Jerry Falwell
started his "Moral Majority".
That's a nice name and a nice thought, but truly if you are moral in
And today, it's the minority who is truly faithful to church, and the minority who believes in creation instead of evolution, and the minority who believes in saving themselves for marriage [everybody's doing it!]. But I'm proud to report that just as it has always been in God's economy it still is today--the minority is right!
Nehemiah did what he did as a minority, and in the face of criticism, opposition, and many naysayers. But one person, if he is with God, makes a MAJORITY!
What is Nehemiah? A testimony. Who is Nehemiah? A loyal layman...
When did Nehemiah take place?
v. 1 'the month Chisleu in the twentieth year'
This corresponds w/ about November and December. The 20th year means 'of the reign of Artaxerxes' which would be 445 B.C. It was extremely difficult times.
v. 3 Great
affliction and struggle for
And we should never think that we cannot accomplish great things in these difficult days. God's will being accomplished is not dependent upon favorable circumstances, but only upon the power of our Almighty God! And the darker our world becomes, the brighter our light can shine. The more difficult the time, the more definite the testimony will stand out!
Some are giving in today and saying, you can't build a church today preaching doctrine and having standards. People want to be entertained and pumped up and hear feel good sermons.
Well, we are growing. On Sunday mornings we are now a medium sized congregation, and our evening services would be among the larger in town of those who actually still have evening services. Don't think for one second that those who are coming out are doing so because they think I'm gonna tell a new joke--you've got another thing coming. Anyone who has been here any time at all knows...it's the same old jokes recycled!
But we are preaching the meat of the Word, and there's a market for it. Sure, it may be the minority, but we're growing and God is smiling!
Read Acts and the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul and you'll see the greatest revivals happened in the most wicked cities steeped in idolatry and immorality! Paul shined the light of the gospel and it pierced the darkness in a flourishing flood of heavenly rays!
In Nehemiah it is the most
difficult of days, but just like today in
When did this happen? In dark days. Also, it was just another ordinary day in the life of Nehemiah.
vv. 1b-2 It all sounds very nonchalant. They made small talk and the subject came up. One thing led to another, and very quickly Nehemiah was thrust into the ministry, leading the building crew!
God had a divine appointment arranged for Nehemiah on this day in order to change his life and accomplish God's will.
It was just an ordinary day for Moses when after 40 years of watching sheep day after day God spoke to him thru a burning bush.
It was just an ordinary day when David was called from the flocks to be anointed King of Israel, and that shepherd boy became a king.
It was just an ordinary day when Peter, James and John were fishing and mending their nets and then Jesus walked by...and they became fishers of men!
God can take an ordinary person on an ordinary day and do extra ordinary things. Perhaps He's speaking to your heart about this right now!
It was an ordinary weekday when I first heard and understood the gospel and I got saved and my life has been very different than what it would have been...all for the better!
It was an ordinary invitation like a thousand others w/ my head bowed and eyes closed when God spoke to me at the age of 14 and called me into the ministry, and I'll never forget that moment and all that has followed it.
Large doors swing on small hinges. And this could be your pivotal moment.
Granted, sometimes God gets our attention by shaking us in ways that aren't ordinary. September 11th was an ordinary day until about 9 AM, but God used what I saw on my TV screen to get me to resign my comfortable assistant pastor position in a large place, making more than I make today, doing less. God spoke to me that it was time for me to get 'out there' into the fields, white unto harvest!
Where did Nehemiah take place?
v. 1 "in Shushan the palace."
What was Nehemiah, the Jew, doing in the Babylonian King's palace?
150 years before this the
Babylonians had conquered
100 years later, 50 years
previous to Nehemiah's day, a group of Jews was permitted to return to
Who cares about the walls? In those days, they were everything. They stood for protection [sitting ducks], for separation [we need these walls still today], for glorification [curb appeal, for God's glory, not high class, but first class, clean, etc.], and for anticipation [the prophets had foretold that the walls would be rebuilt for the coming of the Messiah].
v. 3-4 When Nehemiah heard about the broken down walls it broke his heart. It became his burden, and his responsibility to fix it.
Why was he in Shushan the palace?
v. 11b It was a great position to have. It was a lucrative government position like being in the Secret Service or bodyguard to the President, because you would taste his food first and be his personal assistant. History tells us that to have this position Nehemiah had to be handsome, cultured, and knowledgeable. And because he had daily access the king, he had great influence.
Here was a man who had it made. He lived the way the king lived, and ate the way he ate, and dressed the way he dressed. In the lap of luxury. Who cares about the sins of his ancestors and some walls a thousand miles away? It wasn't his fault!
Many people don't want to know what's going on, because knowledge brings responsibility. But Nehemiah's heart was broken by the news and he volunteered to do something about it. He left comfort and security, trading it all for the rigors of a ruined city. He exchanged prestige for poverty, and comfort for criticism, and royalty for ridicule. He left an easy job to do an impossible task.
The lesson of this book: The Kingdom of God and His Church are built by those who are willing to sacrifice and leave their comfort zone.
Comedian Flip Wilson used to say when people asked him what was his religion he would reply, "Jehovah's Bystander". "I was invited to be Jehovah's Witness but I didn't want to get that involved." Jehovah has plenty of bystanders, but I wonder who God is calling right now on this ordinary day to do something extraordinary?
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