Summary: This sermon looks at the ministry of Nehemiah as it pertains to the beginning of a new building program.
Building for the Future
Last Sunday our congregation took the next step in a journey of faith for the future. We decided to enter into a Capital Campaign to build our Family Life Center. The Leadership of our church and the those in the congregational meeting I think understand that this is a monumental undertaking but it is not without precedent. Almost 30 years ago ¡V this same congregation gathered around a seemingly undoable project ¡V to build this church in which we worship. Because of their vision and sacrifice today we are here worshipping. The truth is that most of you who are here today don¡¦t remember those days ¡V but a few do. Those of us who worship here today are enjoying the benefits of their sacrifice and labor. The journey we are on will with God¡¦s help provide the same benefits for the generation that follows us.
I began my ministry here years ago with a simple understanding of principle, I hold to it today.
If we are to be used by God we must do 3 things:
„Y We must expect great things from God ¡V knowing that nothing is impossible with God.
„Y We must attempt great things for God ¡V risk, sacrifice, and push outside the box
„Y We must ask great things from God ¡V without Him this is useless.
As we venture forth on this great adventure together ¡V I want to take you back for a moment to the life of a great builder and leader of Israel who faced a daunting task of rebuilding not only the wall around Jerusalem but also the people of Israel who were in bondage. His name was Nehemiah and this is how his story begins.
Nehmiah 1:1- 1:4
Nehemiah teaches us that building something great for God requires 4 things:
1) Compelling Reason ¡V v4a ¡V look at the heart of Nehemiah here ¡V it¡¦s broken. Nehemiah is about to set out on a quest to rebuild and repopulate Jerusalem. He is going to leave the place where he is a slave and become a leader of his people. That¡¦s a pretty daunting task ¡V don¡¦t you think. Let me tell you something Nehemiah doesn¡¦t set out on a whim. Just woke up one morning and decided to rebuild a city. No his heart is broken. His heart is broken because the house of God ¡V the place of God is now a reproach and his people are scattered. Nehemiah needed a compelling reason to leave his cushy job in the kings house to set out on a treacherous journey to accomplish something great for God. This journey wasn¡¦t about pride, or wealth, or fame, or popularity, it was about accomplishing something for God.
„Y Only a compelling reason will cause us to sacrifice
„Y Only a compelling reason will cause us to risk and venture
„Y Only a compelling reason will cause us to finish
God is not calling us to build a building ¡V He is calling us to build a ministry. The compelling reason to build this FLC is people not property. It¡¦s ministry to seniors through activities and exercise programs, to young adults through sports and recreation programs, to large groups through concerts and large scale programs, and to young people through after school programs. Folks I¡¦m not willing to risk what I have to risk, give what I have to give, or do what I have to do for a building ¡V but I am willing to do anything to reach people for the kingdom of God. Nehemiah¡¦s heart was broken ¡V he wept and mourned. When was the last time you walked through this town and wept in your heart for the lost? Maybe it¡¦s time you started.
2) Complete Dependence ¡V v5-6; 2:1-4¡V What does Nehemiah do first? Two words here are important ¡V Chislev (November) and Nisan (April) ¡V for five months Nehemiah prayed, fasted and planned. He knew that with man it was impossible but with God ¡§all things are possible.¡¨ Every step of the way Nehemiah depended on God. Remember Nehemiah is in a pretty cushy job but he is still a slave. Five months after he begins praying ¡V God moves to change the Kings heart. Nehemiah doesn¡¦t even have to initiate the conversation ¡V the King just says what do you want ¡V what do you need. Folks if we are to move forward we need to place our complete dependence on God. We cannot do this ourselves we need Him. Nehemiah did the possible (he planned) but God did the impossible (He provided). So it will be with us ¡V we will do the possible and trust God to do that which is impossible.
3) Cooperative Spirit ¡V 4:1 ; 4:15-23 ¡V ¡§Each one to his own work.¡¨ It is a truism of life that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. 20% of the people give 80% of the time, talent, and treasure to make an organization work. The truth is that any great task requires and investment of all the people. Everyone had to step up and be counted in Nehemiah¡¦s plan ¡V each one had to take up his part. Each one had to sacrifice ¡V each one had to labor ¡V each one had to hold a spear in one hand and a trowel in the other. So it is with us. If we are to accomplish something great for God ¡V we are all going to have to find our place ¡V all going to have to sacrifice, all going to have to use our gifts, talents, abilities, - all going to have to work together to be more together than we can be alone. There will be trouble from without and irritations from within ¡V but we must stand united in a cooperative spirit if we are to accomplish this task.