Sermon by: Dr. Todd Morris
Text: Nehemiah 2:17-18; 4:6
Title: Let Us Rise Up and Build
Date: January 5, 2003 Ground Breaking Abney Baptist Church
Introduction: There is a plague in an old English Church that reads, “In the year 1653 when all things sacred throughout the land were demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley built this church, whose singular praise is this, to have done the best of things in the worst of times.”
Those middle years of the seventeenth century in England were, indeed, very trying times. Charles I had been beheaded after a mockery of a trial in which his witnesses were locked out of the building. Anglican churches were being closed and Presbyterians were being harassed and persecuted. Yet in the midst of that…in the worst of times, Sir Robert Shirley did the best of things…he built a church!
A church is a physical monument to the spiritual presence of God. It is a place where God and people come together for a special and holy purpose. To build a church, then, is to do the best of things regardless of the times. As worthy a task as it is, I confess that it is not a task I have sought. I have jokingly said through the years, “God deliver me from churches with cemeteries, softball teams, and building programs.” And here I find myself in my most beloved church with all three. I have not sought this hour; this hour has come to me. It has fallen to us, to you and me, to do the best of things in this hour. It is for us to build a church.
So, let us focus on the ingredients needed to make such a task a success. Amazingly the Bible has much to say on the matter. There are several entire books in the Bible devoted to the subject of building, and there are large segments of other books that are devoted to building. It is obvious that building a house of worship is important to God since He devoted so much space to it in the Bible.
Nehemiah is one of the books dedicated to a building campaign. Nehemiah was a Jewish layman and a high government official in the court of the king of Persia. He had an intense love for his homeland even though he had never seen it. He learned through relatives of the need of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and God laid on his heart that he was to lead in the effort. When the time was right he went to the king and asked permission to take a leave of absence to perform the task that God had called him to. Not only did the king grant his request, but gave him papers to guarantee his safe passage, a requisition for lumber, and a military escort.
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem he called together the leaders of Israel, told them how God had led him and how the king had helped him, and challenged them to join in in rebuilding the walls. Their response was immediate and enthusiastic, “Let us rise up and build,” they said.
That beloved, is the spirit we need! That is the resolve that we must have. We must have “a mind to work,” we must say in our hearts as well as with our mouths, “let us rise up and build.”
It will not be easy! It will take faith. It will take commitment, and make no mistake, IT WILL TAKE SACRIFICE! We must be willing to take the criticism as well as the risks. BUT THE END RESULT WILL BE THE GLORY OF GOD!