“Rebuilding the Wall”
January 10, 2016
Focus of message: Jerusalem, for the purpose of today’s message is not the city over in the middle east, it’s the people of God! God dwells in the midst of his people and is active in our lives. Just as in Nehemiah’s day there is a lot of rubble all around the Church that needs to be re built or perhaps reshaped and renewed! What is God calling us to do about it?
Introduction: Last Sunday we started a brief, 5 part, look at the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Today is the second message of five messages that are designed to help, us take a look at the vision for renewal that we are working on for the future of YFCOB, that I believe God wants to inspire in us, and how Nehemiah implemented the vision for renewing the people and city of God in his day.
We identified two principles last Sunday and today we are going to identify three more.
The first principle we talked about last Sunday was the principle of the ministry of prayer. We saw how Nehemiah settled things during a fourmonth period of fasting and prayer(spiritual disciplines). We then talked about how God wants to give his people of today a fresh vision for the renewal of his church and how it is going to take a serious commitment to prayer and that we will need people who are willing to be prayer warriors for the congregation.
The second principle we talked about last week was the willingness to risk everything for the kingdom of God and God’s work in and through us! Nehemiah was willing to risk his life by being sad in the king’s presence. We talked last week about the need to trust God with everything in the life of the church. God worked in the king’s heart and he grants Nehemiah’s request for time, authority, and resources to carry out the vision God had inspired.
Read text here: Nehemiah 2:114:23
Ex. “He is no fool who risks what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Missionary Jim Elliot
I.) The church of today is like the city of Jerusalem in the O.T., there are three basic elements to the church: worship, education, and mission.
A.) If I could transport all of us back in time to see the ancient city of Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah we would see all the ruins!
l. We tend to protect ourselves from seeing the ruins that are all around us today!
2. The affluent middleclass church in America today has little or no feel for all the human ruins in our culture.
3. The problem is we have few if any contact points with the ruins!
4. We, as a culture, are producing human ruins on an unparalleled scale and we in the church have very few contact points.
5. Our churches have little if any means or desire to work at resolving this problem because we have a mind set of “let them come to us!” and also, “Let some one else do it.” or “isn’t there a government program for that?”
6. We must figure out how do we go to the unchurched and the down and out of our society and minister to their needs.
7. If people need help in America today where do they go? The government? A parachurch organization, the local church? WHEW?
Ill. Visit from a man needing money and the frustration it caused me.
8. My point is that we who are sitting here today don’t see the ruins and because we don’t see the ruins we make plans for that which is to our benefit instead of meeting the needs and doing the ministry of reconciliation that we are supposed to be about.
9. For Nehemiah the ruins were stones, for us today the ruins are the shattered human lives that God’s heart is broken over!
10. Nehemiah needed to build walls and gates out of stone and wood, we need to be about building up human lives and leading them to God!
II.) What does Nehemiah do?
A.) He goes out and looks at the ruins for himself.
1. We have to open our eyes to the folks around us and see the ruins in their lives.
2. We cannot afford to be satisfied with a successful Sunday school program or packed pews, or a successful building program.
3.We must do something about building the bridges to the human ruins all around us
4. The first step is to SEE them!
B.) Vs. 17 (re-read) “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace.”
l. Godly motivator – Nehemiah
2. The people living in Jerusalem see the ruins everyday but don’t believe they can do anything about them.
3. In Ch.6 we will learn that in just 52 days they rebuild the wall around the city!
4. They had to have a catalyst or a motivator to get them going.
5. Let’s recap what we know so far: a. Prayer, b. A willingness to risk, c.confidence in God/asking for everything needed to accomplish the task.
d. Principle #4, a broken and burdened heart for the ruins.
III.) Chapter 2 of Nehemiah is loaded with action and chapter 3 is one of the most boring chapters in the entire Bible why?
A.) It is a list of names that we can’t pronounce and are meaningless to us!
1. Be honest, when you come one of these lists in times of Bible study don’t you just skim right over them? I do!
2. I think there are several lessons to be learned here in chapter 3.
3. Chapter 3 tells us where the different people worked or built on the wall and in some instances what their gifts, jobs or ministry’s were aside from building a wall.
4. We see here the secret of why the wall was rebuilt so quickly and I might add the secret to the successful completetion of any vision in any organization or church – Everybody on the wall or everybody involved in ministry!!! This is principle #5.
Ex. In the New Testament we have the words of Paul to the Ephesians in 4:1 l-l2, which tell us that everybody has a ministry, “God gave pastors and teachers to the church to be equippers of the saints not the ministers! You sisters and brothers are truly meant to be the ministers of this church. This is a shock to our longstanding way of thinking isn’t it?
5.Lay people running the church and professional clergy doing the mission, this is opposite of what I believe God intended!
6. This is another of the lessons of Nehemiah 3 as well as Ephesians 4!
Ex. The church is a lot like a sports stadium on Sunday afternoon. You have 40, 50, 60 thousand lunatics in the stands who all badly need some exercise and 22 players on the field who badly need some rest! 7. One person could never have rebuilt the wall in 52 days or in a lifetime for that matter!
8. lf we want to see renewal of God’s vision for renewal fulfilled then it’s going to take all of us getting involved and along those lines when God inspires a ministry in your heart then you need to feel empowered to pursue it and the rest of us need to support you!
Ex. Dan West and heifer project, can you name some other examples?
B.) My main desire as a pastor is to walk with God and to glorify him in my life!
l. Tied to that is the desire to see every person in this church walking with God and fulfilling your callings as a child of God!
2. In ch.3 we see people from all kinds of occupations involved in rebuilding the wall, involved in ministry.
3. For Nehemiah almost everybody got involved, look at vs.5, there will always be some who want to be special and above everyone else.
IV.) Crisis point Chapter 4
A.) Opposition from without – vs .l-3
l. In our country, we in the Church know very little about this – YET!
B.) Opposition from within – vs.l0
1. Most deadly is discouragement
2. Look at vs.2l – what has happened in between vs. 10 and vs. 21 to reverse the situation?
3. When they started working they had their eyes focused on God! In verse 10 what are their eyes on? All the rubble!
4. There is no more rubble in Jerusalem in Chapter 4 than there was in chapter 2 and in fact there is half as much because they have rebuilt half of the wall!
5. What changed is their focus – they no longer have their eyes on God and the vision instead it’s on all that rubble!!! Not only that but their energy level is dropping.
6. Discouragement has set in and they feel tired and weary.
C.) Remember that Nehemiah has settled some things back in his prayer closet!
1. A heart that beats with God’s heart
2. First things first, priorities are straight!
3. Willingness to risk everything including his life!
4. God would see him through!
Ex. Reread vs.l4 Where did he get this? Months earlier and many miles away in Susa the capital, Nehemiah settled this question in his prayer closet. Truly God is a great and awesome God!
Conclusion to message: We have to keep our focus on God and God’s vision for us and not on all the rubble. Does that mean we don’t see the rubble and seek to do something about it? Of course not that is our vision, our ministry of reconciliation! We don’t tire out when our vision is on God. We have the power for the long run but we have to keep our focus on the “great and awesome God!”
We must take the time, as we begin work on a vision for renewal of ministry, and dreaming new dreams of what God has in mind for us, to be sure that our focus is centered on God and his plan, his goal for us and that periodically we take a check to be sure that the focus is right where it should be!
As a way of saying that this is where our commitment is, I think it was appropriate that we celebrated the Lord’s Table last Sunday with the bread and the cup. This is a way of refocusing ourselves and keeping our ministry together, centered in Christ Jesus.
Today as we bring this time of worship to a close I want to remind you that if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and you wish to have prayer for something or to rededicate your life or to receive anointing for the healing of something in your life, the altar is always open and I am available to pray with you should you feel that God is leading you to respond.