Jump Start # 2754
Nehemiah 2:18 “I told the how the hand of my god had been favorable tome and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ so they put their hands to the good work.”
Every year the congregation I am a part of chooses a theme for the year. Everything is built around that theme. The Bible classes, the VBS, the meetings, are all tied directly to the theme of the year. Sermons, articles, podcasts, reflect and return to that theme over and over and over, throughout the year. We’ve had some great themes in the past such as: Life the way it was meant to be; Heaven Bound; Now I see.
This year, a lot of thought went into what to focus upon. Last year, 2020, was difficult for so many. As a church, we had to cancel many things that we had planned and some of our worship services were held through videos. What a year it was. And, one immediate passage came to our minds, which is our verse today. “Rise and build,” is what we are wrapping this year around. The book of Nehemiah is the key. It will be taught textually, as well as used to focus upon building leaders. Let us arise and build is what the people said then and it is what we need to say today.
It is easy to look upon the rubble of disappointments, cancellations and problems and simply sit down and quit. It is easy to allow the problems to be greater than we are. It is easy to think, “It’s too late to make any real difference.” Can you imagine what Nehemiah saw when he looked upon the rubble of those fallen walls? What a mess! It would be hard to know just where to begin. But, he did. And, where he started was with the Lord. Nearly every chapter in Nehemiah contains a prayer. God first. God is our help. With God, we can do this. Those are the platform upon which Nehemiah rallies the people to build the walls.
And, what powerful, faith structured lessons for us as well. The rubble we look upon is not the debris of fallen walls, but something far greater. A community filled with fear and hate. Suicide rates have soared during the pandemic. The word of the Lord needs to be sounded forth. But even within the congregation, there has been a lot of rubble building up. People have gotten used to worshipping at home in their pjs. Some have declared that they may never return to a church building again. Bible classes have fallen. And, with all of that, comes a weakening of the congregation. The walls have fallen. We are open to attack. We are vulnerable. Disappointment and discouragement is common.
As, Nehemiah surveyed the ruins of Jerusalem, his mind was moving. He was not seeing rubble, he was seeing walls going up. God would partner with them. God alone wasn’t going to build the walls, and without God, they would never be successful. However, with God’s help, as partners working side by side, the people had a mind and a heart to do what seemed to be impossible.
With that spirit and that divine partnership, congregations can become stronger. Families can become better. Marriages can be a real example. How do we do this? Where do we begin? There is so much to be done?
First, it begins with prayer. Nehemiah’s first chapter has the man of God praying to win the king over and allow him to begin the work. This doesn’t seem to be spontaneous or a whim. The journey home from Jerusalem was 800 miles. Months and months it would take to travel that. There is a lot of thinking, praying and planning going on during that time. The focused and faithful Nehemiah was sketching things out in his mind. How do we get our congregations roaring back and powerful? We need some Jerusalem to Susa time. We need to be thinking. We need to be sketching things out. We need to be talking to others. We need to be doing some deep praying.
Second, Nehemiah needed help. Of course, from the Lord, but also from the Persian king. Nehemiah knew exactly what was needed: safe passage ways, timber, letters of permission. Nehemiah had this all thought out. He was ready when he went before the king. His ideas were well thought out. All he needed was to put wheels to the plans.
Third, before the walls went up, the debris went out. Demo day is often the best part of the home improvement shows. Give a guy a sledge hammer and step back and watch him get at it. And, for us, there has been some debris that needs to be tossed out. Bad attitudes. Selfishness. Unwillingness to cooperate. Much finger pointing and complaining on social media. Not wanting to follow the leaders. Until these massive stones of debris are cleared out of the way, the walls will never go up. You can’t build upon anger, ugliness and a lack of forgiveness. The walls won’t stand. So, lessons about getting along, respect, authority, submission are part of tossing out the debris. You can’t build until you get rid of the debris.
Fourth, Nehemiah inspired the people to work. There is no way Nehemiah, by himself, could have built those walls. The stones are too big for any one person to move. It took others. Someone had to lead. Others had to follow. And, that very thought is enough to kill most projects. Everyone wants to be the boss and no one wants to be the worker. But Nehemiah inspired the people. They had a mind and a heart to work, even as our verse today illustrates. Find what you are good at and then get at it. Within a congregation, some of the best work is never seen publically. It’s the cards that have been sent. It’s the phone calls made. It’s the work to make sure everything is up to speed and running properly. The quarterbacks always get the attention, but it’s the linemen, the receivers, the coaches, the trainers that make the quarterback look good. It’s a team effort. Nehemiah got that. The walls went up in 52 days. It takes longer than that these days to just get the permits. It is believed that the walls covered four miles. Four miles in 52 days! The people wanted it done and they got it done.
When you and I get serious about the Lord’s work, it is amazing what great things can be done. Noah built the ark. Solomon built the temple. Jesus built the church. And, you and I are building lives through Jesus Christ. We are building for now and we are building for future generations. What will the church look like in 25 years? That answer really depends upon what we are doing now.
Rise and build—powerful stuff.