Do what God has called you to do. God has a great plan for each of us.
Today, I want to talk to you about a wall builder called Nehemiah. He is in the palace of the Persian king serving as a cup-bearer. His brother came to visit him and informs Nehemiah that the city of Jerusalem is destroyed and its walls remain in ruins.
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
What follows is a wonderful prayer of Nehemiah which we saw last week.
1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 3but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 6Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
If you take a look around, you can see various demolished walls. The very moral walls of our society lie in a crucial state. There is adultery in our society. Live-in relationships and gay relationships are on the rise. Do you know that countries around the world are trying to legalize these things?
The boundaries that God set for our existence is redefined by man. In the midst of such a world today, God is calling us to build the walls. Furthermore, God is looking for people who can stand in the gap and live for God’s purposes.
As a pastor, I have heard many people telling me, “Pastor, God has called me for so and so ministry and I have a burden for this. This is my calling and I want to do this for the Lord.
However, I am not sure how to begin this whole process.”
Doing What God Has Called You To Do
We are going to see from Nehemiah’s life how he did what God had called him to do.
Let us go back to around 440 years before Christ. We have a man who is in a palace in Persia. He meets his brother who comes to visit him. He asks his brother, “How is the city of Jerusalem?” The brother said, “The city is in ruins, the walls are broken.” They had hope in the security of Jerusalem, that it will be untouched by enemies. They thought Jerusalem would be protected where the temple of the Lord stood.
15“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
The wall was a symbol of God’s protection upon Jerusalem. But the rulers of Israel led them away from God. After David, the three kings were wicked in a row. Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam. The leaders led them astray one after the other.
In any civilization and culture, when you see a city in moral decay, look towards the leadership and see what kind of leadership they have, what has brought us to this point where adultery is okay, drugs are available everywhere.
Nehemiah sees the broken walls as the sin that has been committed by his leaders. How does Nehemiah deal with it?
1. Realize You Have A Responsibility
Nehemiah realizes responsibility is required. There is a role to play. Nehemiah believed he could have a part.
In the book ‘Nehemiah God’s Builder’ Richard Sumi the author quotes Richard Elsworth Day’s comment.
“It would be no surprise, if a study of secret causes were undertaken, to find that every golden era in human history proceeds from the devotion and passion of one single individual…there are no bona fide mass movements, it just looks that way! At the center column, there is always one man who knows God, and knows where God is going!” -Richard Ellsworth Day (Filled With The Spirit, p.20).
You are irreplaceable to God
At the center of the column, there is a person, like Ezekiel who is standing in the gap. Here there is a person who is the builder of walls. The biggest mistake we make in life in the task that God has called us for is that we assume that we cannot do very much. God has used children to do his work. God has used ordinary people. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.
It is not because of who you are but because of how God has wired you and how you are not replicable.
Charles Wesley said, “God buries his workmen but carries on his work.”
Unquestionably, that work goes on through you and through me.
When Billy Graham the great evangelist the world has seen was questioned by someone in the press stating, “I have heard many preachers better than you Billy Graham, but why has God chosen you to be the evangelist of the world? With a smile, Billy Graham said, “When I get to heaven that is going to be my first question.”
God uses ordinary people. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.
Nehemiah was a construction worker but look where God placed him. He was serving in Babylon as a cupbearer to the king who is an enemy to Israel. He would taste the food and wine before the king tasted it. That is the kind of integrity that Nehemiah had.
This Nehemiah had a burden. He had a burden for the broken walls. You are an individual, there is no replica for you in this entire world. You have a unique capacity and God can use you maybe with your life, with your word, with your gift or with your job for his glory, if you are totally submitted to God.
2. Prioritize Your Mission By Prayer
He Prioritized His Mission By Prayer. Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Eleven times in 13 chapters Nehemiah says, “So I prayed to the God of heaven..”
If God has used anyone in the scripture, they were also people of prayer. Jesus had to find the way out of crowds and took time to pray. If the Lord taught us to pray, if the Lord prayed in the most critical moments of his earthly ministry the most definitely prayer is very important.
Prayer determines your spiritual life.
Three Things Prayer Does
a. Prayer Recognizes The Sovereignty Of God
When you pray and begin your prayer with ‘my heavenly father’, that opening phrase recognizes the sovereignty of God. Immediately you recognize that you cannot ultimately depend upon your strength. The reason you are bowed before him is that he is sovereign over the universe.
When you pray you are aware that you are just a small entity in this world, it is only God who has made you a somebody. When you pray it recognizes the sovereignty of God.
b. Payer Enables You To See Your Heart As It Really Is
Remember when Jacob was coming from his father-in-law’s house back to see Esau and he is sending all these gifts but he is terrified. He knows that Esau is powerful. Jacob is going over to his land. Jacob has betrayed his brother. He has stolen the blessing.
That night he has an encounter with the Lord and is saying to the Lord, “I am not going to leave you until you bless me.” God turns back to Jacob and asks him, “What is your name?” Someone said, “If God asked him for his name, it is because when he stole the blessing he lied who he was. He pretended to be Esau.” Now he is in front of an all-knowing God and God is asking, “Who are you.” He knew God knows everything. He said, “I am Jacob.” God said, “Because you have admitted who you are, I will make a great nation out of you.”
You bow before a great God and you see your own unworthiness. Prayer reminds you of what the true condition of your heart is. Prayer tells you what is true about yourself.
Each of us is a chosen vessel bearing precious treasure in us. God has chosen us.
c. Prayer Unfolds God’s Will In Your Life
Prayer is not so much of what you ask of him but what he does in you.
As you pray God starts to unwind his design for you in your life.
He prioritizes his mission by prayer,
3. Plan Your Steps In Faith
Even when things are beyond your control it is important that you organize your life by faith. We need to see the changed circumstances in your spiritual eyes and start organizing. Faith and organization go together. I really like that about Nehemiah.
In chapter 2 the king figures out that Nehemiah is sad about something. When the king questions him about it Nehemiah is so organized and planned that he tells the king exactly what he is planning.
Faith & Strategy
I have seen a lot of people who say, “I walk by faith.” “So brother what is your plan for your future?” “No I don’t have any plans, I’m just waiting in faith.” For some people waiting in faith is a simple excuse for laziness and sloppy planning.
Can you imagine what the king would have said if Nehemiah had answered, “Well, King, I don’t know when I’ll be back, I’m just walking by faith. Whenever the Lord tells me to go, I’ll go. When the Lord tells me to come back, I’ll come back. I’m not really sure about it at all.” If Nehemiah had said that, Artaxerxes would have said, “You’re not going to Judah. You are going to stay right here.”
But because Nehemiah had a definite plan, that wasn’t the case. You see, faith & organization go hand in hand & it is important that we realize that.
7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.
Do you see what Nehemiah was doing? He is making sure that all of the bases are covered. Before he leaves he is making sure that he has everything he needs to carry out the mission before him. He certainly prepared well in faith over the circumstances which were beyond his control!
4. Investigate Before You Initiate
So Nehemiah leaves Babylon and reaches Jerusalem. It is probably worse than he imagined.
Now Nehemiah has got a project at hand but even before he begins he is investigating his project. Nehemiah knew that in order to lead this project, he would need a firsthand picture of what needed to be done. So he sets out in the night. This moonlight journey is one of the most dramatic scenes in this book. Prior to the construction, Nehemiah is determined to know the worst. Sometimes, we are very hasty with our decisions and we do not consider the pros and cons of our action. Nehemiah was never like that. He investigated the situation. He wanted to know exactly what he was up against.
Why do we investigate? We need to get a clear image in our minds as to what exactly the task is. Only when we investigate and know the task can we set goals – long-term, mid-term, and short-term. While others slept, Nehemiah was wide-awake. He diagnosed the situation and surveyed the walls.
It is important to note that while investigating not to talk to anyone about what you have in mind.
I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.
The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
Nehemiah surveyed the wall with a few others but he never told anyone the reason for his trip. Before you start something it is very important to keep quiet. Moreover, do not share your information with everyone and if at all only share it with the key motivators of your life.
Remember, vision doesn’t always require immediate action. The walls didn’t break down in a day neither can they be rebuilt in a day. Do some in-depth investigation first. Walk before you talk. Conduct some fact-finding. Don’t let yourself be driven by the emotion of the moment. Yes, you’re excited about your plans? Great. But keep a level head.
See the phrase about Nehemiah – in the night and at night. Nehemiah was awake when others were sleeping. Leaders are often awake when others are asleep, and working when others are resting. Nehemiah made a careful examination of the walls. Investigate before you initiate.
5. Be Self Motivated and Motivate Others
Finally, the time has come to motivate the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah prayed and listened to God, as well as he inspected the damage and planned the work. Now he is ready to stand before the people of Jerusalem and motivate them.
Listen carefully to his speech. It is certainly a masterpiece of motivation.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
Notice the words he used “we” & “us” & “we”. You see, Nehemiah is motivating the people toward work & he is identifying himself with their situation. Nehemiah never said, “Well, folks, you sure got yourselves into a mess. Your wall is a disaster. You need to get busy & rebuild that wall. ” He said, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” He identified himself with the people & he motivated them.
6. Avoid The Paralysis Of Discouragement
When you do the work of the Lord you are going to face opposition.
Boldness. Be bold to face any opposition.
“But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official & Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked & ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’ they asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’”
The moment Nehemiah shared his vision to the people there arose opposition. There were people to mock, ridicule, and question Nehemiah. Nehemiah didn’t feel discouraged. He was bold to face any opposition, without a doubt.
“I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. His servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’”
Nehemiah didn’t lose his temper, he didn’t get angry or upset but he stated, “We are the servants of God. This is God’s will, & God will see that it is a success no matter what you may say or do.”
Be bold, prepare and take action
Many of you are facing stiff opposition in different areas but if you want success, be bold to face oppositions that are against the will of God. But before you are bold to face and oppress your opposition do the hard work of preparation and investigation. Some people just think and in no time jump into action. Then someone may say, “I don’t think it will work and you get all worked up and discouraged.” Better listen to them because you have neither prepared nor investigated.
Be warned that several times such warnings is from God. However, but then there are some of you when you have done your homework, you still find people discouraging and opposing you. At such times be bold to face oppositions.
However, people will tell you it is hopeless, it is never going to change. Your work will never make a difference. I can tell you when you stand up for the truth, life will change. For example, look at the sole initiative of Nehemiah, he took the responsibility, built up the walls and completed the long due project.
Finally, I believe God can use the most painful situations of your life and turn it out for his glory. Therefore, take your call seriously. Undoubtedly, God has called every one of us. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.
Accordingly, you must reach out to your office, in your school, in your place of work. Young people, reach out and touch lives. Let them see Jesus in you and your strong commitment to uphold his truth and his scripture. And when years go by they will remember you if they mock you now. So get close to people.
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