I would like to take this opportunity to give you my testimony. I grew up as the son of an Air Force Sergeant. I like to describe my childhood by saying I was born with a plane ticket in one hand and suitcase in the other. We move on a regular basis as we followed my father from base to base. We spent seven year in Germany.
I was saved at the age of 9 while we were living in Warner Robins, GA. Growing up the church became our adopted family as we moved from base to base. When I was 17 I surrendered to God’s call on my life.
Upon graduation from High School I attended Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg VA. It was while in college I met and married my wife, Janice. God blessed us with our daughter, Shawna while in college. I graduated from college in 1983 with a BS degree in Pastoral Ministries.
Upon graduation from college, we moved to Memphis, TN to attend Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. While in Memphis our son, Matthew, was born. I graduated from Seminary in 1986 with a Masters of Art in Religion and Education. God then opened the doors, through, FedEx to serve in small churches.
I just completed my 25th year with FedEx in June. Using FedEx as my tent making, we have been able to serve the Lord in my ministry situation. I have served as Minister of Ed for two small churches. I have be able to teach at Sunday School conferences, and provide Christian Ed Consulting for churches looking to grow there Sunday School.
Growing up I spent a lot a time around military bases. I would watch the service personnel march, run and prepare for war. All this was in preparation for a mission. They were ready a minutes notice to go into action. These soldiers hoped that they would never have to go into combat, but if they were, they were ready. They were ready to give the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. The one thing that I learned from being around soldiers is that the “Mission is Everything.
In the same way, we as must be prepared for the mission that God as planned for us. In Matt 28:19-20, we find the great commission. This is the Mission that has been given to the Church of Jesus Christ. Our Mission is to spread the Gospel and lead the lost to Jesus.
Tonight, I want us to look at the story of Nehemiah, the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes. Here was a layman, working for a king who had taken Israel captive called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Tonight, I want us to look at the first chapters of Nehemiah. From these chapters we will discover three truths about how when we allow God to work in our lives he will prepare us for the mission that he has for us.
I. God wants us to acknowledge the need for the mission.
Before a soldier, astronaut, or anyone goes on a mission, they must know what the purpose of the mission is and is it really needed
A. Nehemiah acknowledged the conditions of the walls. Neh. 1:3
They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”
Nehemiah heard the report concerning the conditions of Jerusalem and the remnant of people that were there. It grieved his spirit greatly. He gained knowledge of the condition of God’s people and the Holy city and it caused him great distress.
In Neh. 1:4 we see that he sat down and wept and mourned for many days. The rest of chapter one is his prayer concerning the condition of Jerusalem.
B. We must be willing to acknowledge the condition of our community.
When was the last time we mourned the condition of our community.
It does not take us long to look around and see the condition of our community. It is lost and without Christ. 60% of Bartow County is unchurched. They have no church home.
If we are going to be of any effect on our community, we have to first acknowledge that the condition is ungodly. We also have to acknowledge that it is our mission to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our community. The Great Commission compels us to go and share the Gospel, because the Gospel will change a man’s heart and until the heart is changed, the conditions of our community will not change.
That starts with us being available to God
II. God wants us to be available for the mission
A. Nehemiah make himself available to the mission Ne 1:11.
O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
For I was the king’s cupbearer.
As an escort of the monarch at meals, the cupbearer had a unique advantage to petition the king. Not only did the king owe him his life since the cupbearer tested all the king’s beverages for possible poison, thus putting his own life at risk, but he also became a close confidant. God sovereignly used this relationship between a Gentile and Jew to deliver His people, such as He did with Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai.
Nehemiah realized that God had placed him in this position of service the king so that he could complete the mission God gave him to do.
Nehemiah made himself available to God for the mission
B. We have to make ourselves available for the mission
Just like God placed Nehemiah as the cupbearer in the court of the King. So to God places us in situations and circumstances that will allow us to be used. I have experienced that many times as a manager. Having lost my mother-in-law, my mother and my brother to cancer, I understand some of the things that go through a persons mind when they find out that they or a loved one has cancer. I have been able to use my position to help employees to be there for their families.
God may place you in an uncomfortable situation in order that His mission is accomplished. Thinking of Joseph, he had to endure prison and slavery so that God could preserve the nation of Israel.
The secret is to be available. We have to remember that nothing in our life is arbitrary, It all has a purpose. “\
Albert Einstein said “God does not play dice”
We have to be like Nehemiah and make ourselves available to God.
The mission that God has given the church is to spread the Gospel to the world.
William Carey, the great pioneer of modern missions, made and repaired shoes in England. While he worked at his trade, he wept and prayed over a map of the world that he kept before him in his shop. After years of studying and strategizing, he was sent by God to work in India. He opened that nation to the gospel for every missionary who’s gone there since. God used a man with a vision for the future who was faithful in the present and proved himself capable.
What are you planning to do? Where’s your vision? There’s a whole world without God. What’s your strategy to reach someone for Christ? To develop your spiritual gifts? To use your ministry to its fullest potential? If you aimlessly float from day to day, saying, “I’m just waiting for God to give me something to do,” you’ll never be given anything. However, if you’re doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way, you will have a vision for the future.
Are you available for God to use…are you searching His purpose in your life. What will it take for you to be like Nehemiah and become available to God.
III. God will give us the ability to complete the mission.
A. God gave Nehemiah the ability to complete the mission.
6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him h a time.
Since Esther was the queen of the previous king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) ca. 486–464 b.c. and the stepmother of Artaxerxes, it could be that she had previously influenced the present king and queen to be favorably disposed to the Jews
Nehemiah goes before the King and makes his request and the King grants it.
Nehemiah went and surveyed first hand the condition of Jerusalem.
The King gave him all the materials necessary to rebuild the walls.
We will see next week that God also, gave him the leadership ability to complete a takes that seemed impossible.
B. God will give us the ability to complete the mission.
We have to understand that God wants us to be involved in the work of the Great Commission. That is the whole purpose of our being here on earth.
Is there a mission that God’ wants you to do? What is holding you back? Is it fear? Is it complacency? Is it unwillingness to get out of your comfort zone?
We have a great mission before us here at Rowland Springs. God is blessing us. We need to recognize that God’s is the author of the mission and He is going to give us the ability to complete whatever mission he gives us.
We have to be like Nehemiah and be willing to step up and allow God to use us.
Together we will be able to complete the mission.
I do not know about you but I want to be available and usable to God. I want to see men, women and children come to know Christ.
Our community needs the rebuilding power of the Gospel. Let’s be usable people.
The New King James Version, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996, c1982.
MacArthur, John Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed., Ne 1:11. Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997.
MacArthur, John. The Master's Plan for the Church. electronic ed., Page 130. Chicago: Moody Press, 1998, c1991.
h Neh. 5:14 ; 13:6
The New King James Version, Ne 2:6. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996, c1982.
MacArthur, John Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed., Ne 2:6. Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997.