Monday, August 30, 2010

Practical Lessons from Nehemiah

After four months of fasting and praying for an opportunity to speak to King Artaxerses, Nehemiah asks for permission to travel more than 750 from Susa to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls which had been broken down for more than 140 years.

When he arrives he inspects the damage. Sometimes you have to face the brutal facts. If you want your marriage to get better, you need to be honest about what’s broken down. If you want your finances to improve, you be honest about how bad they are. Many people who are drowning in debt don’t even know how much they really owe, or how much interest they are paying. If we don’t really understand the depths of our sin, then we may not fully appreciate the grace of God. Yes, facing the brutal facts is hard to do.

Next he inspires the people with a rallying call. “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem” he says to these people who have been living among rubble for decades. He tells the people that the Hand of God was upon him, and they follow his leadership. That wasn’t just a good idea; it is God’s idea.

Finally he organizes the construction project, gives out work assignments, and puts people to work. As I think about this overview, I am reminded of several things:

1. God Uses PEOPLE to Accomplish His Purposes. As Creator of the universe, God could have easily spoken the wall back into existence. Instead Go chose to raise up a leader and a group of people to do the work.

2. God Wants You to Use YOUR GIFTS. Goldsmiths, blacksmiths, woodworkers, stone masons, etc were put to work in areas that matched their gifts. The same things that make you successful in the secular world can make a big difference in advancing God’s Kingdom on earth.

3. People Worked on the Part of the Wall that was CLOSEST TO THEIR HOUSE. Our families are near and dear to us. Nehemiah said “fight for your women, your children, your brethren, and your homes.” Strengthening your family will help strengthen the church, and likewise in reverse, strengthening the church will help strengthen your family. Work on the wall, but stay close to home.

4. Every Job is IMPORTANT When You Are Working for God. Doors, gates, and rocks don’t sound like ministry; it sounds more like a construction project. Pulling guard duty on the wall while working the midnight shift doesn’t sound very exciting; it sounds boring. It’s easy to think that some work is “spiritual” while other work is not, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” When we do things “unto the Lord,” then it’s sacred work.

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