Becoming a Rebuilder:
Nehemiah 1&2 August 11, 2002
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 1 & 2
Question: Why did you come to church this morning?
You might say it is to worship, praise God and get fellowship.
But let me throw another light on it.
In one capacity or another the underlying reason is that you came here to rebuild (refresh, recoup, restore, rejuvenate, set new sights, discover new direction, renew your relationship with God, get new vision).
But, of course, worship, praise, and fellowship are part of all that.
Can we say that any of us don't have things in our lives that are fallen apart and do not need restoration?
You need new strength ---
We live in a world that is fallen. It fell with the first sin. It fell with the first human couple. Ever since, we humans have been trying to regain, rebuild, or restore what was lost in that fall away from God in the Garden of Eden.
Without rebuilding we are vulnerable to attack. Without defense we are helpless. We need opportunity to see our weaknesses and to gain strength. We are in a real spiritual war for victory in the kingdom of God.
Illus.: Fort George (rebuilt with better design)
Each one of us has blind spots that limit our effectiveness. Each one of us is in a family and in a church that needs our effectiveness if God's kingdom is going to prevail. And we know from Scripture that it will prevail, but the question is whether we ourselves will have the profound blessing of actively being part of its victory. The alternative is to squeak in without "decoration" – without reward.
Your family and your church needs you to be a rebuilder – one who proactively takes part in God's program.
1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Perhaps you have heard of the famous rebuilder named Nehemiah in the Old Testament. He has a book named after him about his life and work written by Ezra.
He and Ezra were important rebuilders after the exile. That was when God allowed the Babylonians to destroy the temple in Jerusalem and took them into captivity for 70 years because of their disobedience. The Babylonians also destroyed the city and the city wall. This was God's discipline toward his people because they had let their lives fall into disrepair. They needed the lesson of rebuilding. (Rebuilding, by the way, is a continuing process. We can never sit back and say the job is done. The nature of the world and the flesh is a need for constant vigilance.) They had let their lives slip into idolatry. They had forgotten God.
Question: Where is your life with God right now? Does it need rebuilding? Are there some things/relationships in your family or in our church that need rebuilding? Do you have some broken down walls in your life that need repair?
A previous group of exiles had been allowed to return to Jerusalem by the hand of God upon the Persian king, Cyrus, to rebuild the temple. After that was eventually accomplished (the work was stopped for a long time after the foundation was laid and God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to inspire them), Ezra returned with more exiles and called the people to a renewed righteousness (since their spiritual lives needed rebuilding once again). And then Nehemiah returns with the blessing of God through the Persian king to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
Walls are important. They protect the temple within. We need walls around our families and our church if we desire the blessings of God.
Isaiah 58:12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 ¶ "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.
There is a certain sense of separation from sin that we must maintain. We must be in the world but we must not let the world into us. We can hinge the door in our wall either to the left or to the right.
“We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment.” (Song of Solomon 8:8-10 NIVUS)
This verse also gives us the responsibility of wall building. Walls protect. Notice that if the girl is not a wall on her own, they will build a wall around her. We have responsibility for one another, for our church and family. But also notice that if she makes herself a wall, even though she is evidently quite desirable, she will be honored and bring even more fulfillment and blessing.
There are a number of principles that we can learn from Nehemiah about being a rebuilder as we consider God's purpose for our own lives here in church this morning. We will concentrate on chapters one and two of Nehemiah. Please turn there with me (page 750 in pew Bible) in your Bibles.
This message is about "Becoming a Rebuilder: Getting in Touch with God's Purpose for Your Life." It is about how God can use you in the continuing process of rebuilding the "wall of righteousness."
How can I become a rebuilder in the kingdom of God?
I. Cycle One: Do you have an inquiring mind/spirit?
A. Narrative (vv. 1:1-2)
Time & space/ people & place.
Becoming a rebuilder begins with wanting to. It is a deep concern for the things, the people, of God. In short, his kingdom. It is an active interest, a soul-search for how to spend yourself for God. It begins with an inquiring mind. A rebuilder has a mind to please God.
VOM Newletter, Aug. 2002, page 5, about Chatra and his spiritual journey.
II. Cycle Two: Are you broken over the need?
A. Narrative (vv. 1:3-4)
Becoming a rebuilder continues with being able to identify with the things that are broken, even to the extent of being broken over it yourself. It might involve weeping, mourning, fasting and prayer over considerable time. A rebuilder sees as God sees.
III. Cycle Three: Do you seek God's favor to fill the need?
A. Narrative (vv. 1:5-10)
Becoming a rebuilder cannot proceed without seeking God's favor to accomplish it (without him you can do nothing) or we might seek glory for ourselves. This involves confession, intercession, adoration of God, remembrance of divine truth. Remember it is God's purpose we want to fill. It cannot be done without him lest we drift toward our own fallen devices. A rebuilder in God's kingdom knows the job is too big for himself alone. He desperately needs God and the best way to find him is through honesty and submission.
Dan Barron's stolen car and my temptation to act in the flesh.
IV. Cycle Four: Do you begin where you are?
A. Narrative (vv. 1:11)
Becoming a rebuilder is also a matter of pleasing him with our immediate availability. When we have an inspiration from God he is pleased when we act upon it without hesitation. A rebuilder will not hedge an opportunity to serve.
V. Cycle Five: Are you humbled by the opportunity?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:1-3)
Becoming a rebuilder cannot take place without a proper attitude, and that attitude is one of humility. This goes hand-in-hand with seeking to serve, being broken over the need, seeking God's favor, and realizing your present position of opportunity. Humility realizes our proper place before God and that is what will carry out his influence in each opportunity he gives us to serve – to be a rebuilder.
VI. Cycle Six: Are you confident in God's direction?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:4-5)
Becoming a rebuilder must include the actually taking action. We can ponder the call, the need, the process, and pray about it for a long time, but unless we act in faith we cannot please God. A rebuilder is confident of God's direction because, after all, he is working with God toward what God has already done. He is rebuilding the original design of God's kingdom – coming back to the perfection of his desire and design.
VII. Cycle Seven: Do you think through the process?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:7-8)
Becoming a rebuilder also requires your own responsibility. Being confident in God's direction does not excuse ignorance on our part. God chooses to work in concert with us. We can do nothing without him, but he chooses to work through us. This is a real miracle of redemption, that we should be called sons of God. It is as if God has given mankind (required of mankind) responsibility to get out of the mess we created. We are to be as innocent as doves but as shrewd as snakes.
“ I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NIVUS)
The point is that being a rebuilder requires spiritual warfare. A rebuilder must think on his feet. A lot is at stake – it is the kingdom of God. It is the souls of his children. God has planted his Spirit resident within us as believers. We have the capability from God to think ahead. His Spirit works divinely with our spirit to give us Holy Spirit intelligence.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIVUS)
We might also see that our adequate preparation unnerves the enemy (2:10).
VIII. Cycle Eight: Will you continue in God's will?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:11-16)
Becoming a rebuilder requires perseverance. It is not enough to plan out your obedience to God in safety. You have to act out your plan on the battlefront. You have to go where the action is. You have to assess the plan on the battlefront. In a sense, you have to go to Jerusalem. You have to lay down the coordinates. You have to proceed to do battle. We must walk the talk to be a rebuilder.
Illus.: Movie: "The Windtalkers" (The scene where extreme personal danger was required to direct friendly fire and also the guns from the battleships.)
"Courage is like a kite --- a contrary wind causes it to rise."
IX. Cycle Nine: Will you enlist help?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:17-18)
Becoming a rebuilder is usually not a "Lone Ranger" proposition. God intends that we work together whenever possible. Most jobs of rebuilding are too big for us. That is why we need God first of all, but he has also risen up others to help. We must find them. We must share the vision and the need. We must hold forth confidence in God to inspire success. A rebuilder should find and encourage others so that he is one of many. It is the will of God for our unity.
X. Cycle Ten: Will you overcome opposition and secure success by giving glory to God?
A. Narrative (vv. 2:19-20)
Becoming a rebuilder must result in one final thing in the end. It must bring glory to him. And it is only this end result that will ensure any real success in the process. It is God's glory that will overcome all opposition as it works spiritual warfare through us to overpower the enemy. In a sense, it is the end that enables the means. And we must keep the end in mind. God will bring success as long as God gets the glory. A rebuilder knows that what he is rebuilding belongs to God in the beginning and in the end. A rebuilder focused upon God's glory cannot be defeated because God cannot be defeated. The enemy can stand against us but not against God. So when God is in us we are victorious in him for his glory.
Story: A Winning Combination (on the ceiling – pastor and church secretary).
The winning combination is you and God together.
Conclusion: The process of becoming a rebuilder ---
I. Do you have an inquiring mind/spirit?
II. Are you broken over the need?
III. Do you seek God's favor to fill the need?
IV. Do you begin where you are?
V. Are you humbled by the opportunity?
VI. Are you confident in God's direction?
VII. Do you think through the process?
VIII. Will you continue in God's will?
IX. Will you enlist help?
X. Will you overcome opposition and secure success by giving glory to God?
So we have seen some steps in the process of being a rebuilder like Nehemiah. These are proven principles because he accomplished his mission. What walls are broken in your life/family/church? What do you need to repair?
In the end, we ourselves are the wall that is to be rebuilt. And all things are rebuilt upon faith in Jesus Christ.
So: Let us consider ---
And in the words of Paul in 2Cor. 5:11-6:2, a master rebuilder himself under Christ Jesus his Lord --- our efforts are for you, that you and your family and your church might be a fortress of righteousness for our God. The alpha and omega of rebuilding is saving faith in Jesus.
I challenge you to follow through with your time in church this morning to get in touch with God's will for your life – to see what he wants you to rebuild and how to do it.
You can fulfill God's purpose for your life/family/church in his kingdom by rebuilding the wall of righteousness upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ.
The narrow way is enclosed by the wall of God that leads the way to his kingdom.
When the walls are in disrepair we can begin to lose our way to his kingdom.
Our purpose is to keep that wall in good repair so we don't drift off in our own direction – the way of the world.
Let us keep building the wall around the city/church/family of our God.
The Raw Materials of Becoming a Rebuilder:
As we come to our time of communion this morning, let us consider that rebuilding starts with basic raw materials – like the body and blood of Jesus – because that is what makes us right with God and each other.