We’ve been talking about having a determined heart – a concern that you can’t let go of. For Nehemiah it is the people and place of God (Jerusalem). He wants it protected; he wants the people to have a place and a name that matters. Last week we saw Nehemiah put his hands into the work and then call the people to get involved too.
The truth is we never really start something. We’re always just trying to find and join where God is working. He may use you to start the process or maybe you find a group of people already at it. Whatever the case, the key is that you eventually put your willing hands to the work God is doing.
That’s what’s happening in Nehemiah 3:1-32.
Now, this is one of those chapters of Scripture that it’s really tempting to skip right over. It’s full of hard to read names, it lists places that have no meaning for us, it’s repetitive. We read it and in the end we basically get: some people built a wall somewhere.
So, I’m going to try to connect you to that and look at why this passage might be valuable for us.
Some principles for joining God in the work He is doing:
~ The type of calling doesn’t matter. These people were called to move rocks. Just build a wall. But, that wall is just the beginning. By the end of the book this wall leads to a huge revival of hearts to God. If we’re not careful we let the “kind” or “size” of the calling keep us from following.
This can affect us a couple different ways that are really just different sides of the same thing.
The calling is not big enough: On the one hand we may be looking for something bigger. People see a need but they’re thinking, “I’m waiting for some way I can really serve God.” And, so they don’t do anything. This is dangerous – not just because we miss out on what God is doing – but because most of us think it doesn’t apply to us. If we weren’t looking for something bigger, we’d have a lot more people making phone calls, sending cards, visiting, sitting with kids…
I’m not big enough: On the other hand we may think we have too little to offer. What difference could my meager effort make? So, you don’t make the call or visit or offer to be present.
And, you’re stuck waiting for someone else with a “bigger” calling to do it…
I know that I can’t be everything to everyone in this church. But, I do believe we can be for each other together. Which is why…
~ God cares about what YOU are doing. This whole chapter is a list of who is doing what and where.
Think about that. In our day we have a famous guy who’s talking about building a wall. President Trump wants to build that southern border. But, can you imagine that he would know who each worker was or which part of the wall they were stationed at?
Individuals matter to God. We see this a handful of times in Scripture. God lists specific names, keeping track of what each did, genealogies that seem to ramble on, or Jesus working through a crowd to find a single person.
Now, there’s a positive and a negative to this. God sees and cares what you’re doing. [SP] And, he knows when you’re not involved. I think that’s why v5 is here: the nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. Is that what you would want God to say about you?
~ God will use you. Your lack of skills, qualifications, or training is not a problem for God. Someone once said, “The only ability that matters to God is your avail-ability.
In God’s kingdom, you don’t have to be the best at it to be useful. You don’t have to have special certifications to join in the work. You just have to be willing.
Notice some of the lists of names:
V1: the first people listed are the priests. I’ll be honest, the clergy wouldn’t be the first place I’d look to get some manual laborers.
Foreigners v2 – Jericho; v5 – Tekoites; v7 – Gibeonites; v13 Zanoites. They’re not even a part of the Jewish people, but God can use them.
V8: people with other skillsets. Here we read of goldsmiths and perfumers, v31-32 goldsmiths and merchants. We’ve already called out the priests.
Politicians. If there’s anyone less likely than the priests to do the building, it’s the politicians. But here they are. Rephaiah (v9) – ruler of half district of Jerusalem; Shallum (v12) – ruler of half district of Jerusalem; Malchijah (v14) – ruler of district of Beth-haccherem; Shallum (v15) – ruler of district of Mizpah; Nehemiah (v16) – ruler of half district of Beth-zur; Hashabiah (v17) – ruler of half district of Keilah; Henadad (v18) – ruler of half district of Keilah; Ezer (v19) – ruler of Mizpah.
V12: Daughters. No one is exempt from playing a part.
~ Godly partnerships can multiply effectiveness. Together we accomplish more. Nehemiah couldn’t have done it as well (maybe not at all) without the help. But together, the work was done.
This whole chapter is a testimony to the power of a united effort for God. Now, I understand that there are groups that would lead us astray from God and should not be our partners. But, there’s much we can do together here and in partnership with other Christian churches.
We are engaged in these kinds of efforts: Love My Neighbor, Celebrate Recovery, Summer Supper…
We can count on these principles not simply because we see them in Nehemiah, but because this is part of what Jesus came for.
He didn’t die simply to save us from our past, but also to send us into our future.
He didn’t just redeem us from the failure of our sins, He redeemed every moment of our lives to be a ministry.
He didn’t leave us alone, but sent the Holy Spirit that we would live in victory and power.
And, He didn’t leave us separate, but prayed that there would be unity between His people.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is at the center of what makes our hands able to be of service to a holy God.
This passage is a reflection of what God can do in you.
So, let’s think for a minute:
What is it that you’re wanting to do for God?
What will you look back on and wish you had done?
What is God leading our church to do?
Where is God moving that you could join in?
Are you stuck – thinking your not enough for the calling?
Are you united with God though Christ in the first place?
God is inviting you to join in his work – to take you willing hands and get involved…
Messages in this series
Messages by Greg Taylor