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Summary: The 3rd in the Nehemiah series

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This and the other Nehemiah sermons in this series I borrowed in large part from Ray Stedman...just so that proper credit gets attributed (thanks brother).

DON’T BE PARALYZED -- GET ORGANIZED!

Nehemiah 3

I saw a cartoon recently of two men at a party. Each had a drink in his

hand, and they were sitting on the stairway talking while the party was

going on. (That is where party philosophers like to hold forth). One said

to the other, "My view is this: reality is something that you should

always treat with respect, but it should not be allowed to control your

life."

Many people seem to feel that way today. They are fleeing from reality,

regarding it as unnecessary. But in the book of Nehemiah we are learning

how to return to reality after we have experienced the ruin that comes

from following illusion.

Chapter 3, to which we come today, is one of those chapters that appears

to consist largely of unpronounceable names and long forgotten people!

When you are reading through your Bible, it may be discouraging to come

to a chapter like this. But it tells the story of the work of repairing

the gates and walls of Jerusalem which Nehemiah had been sent there by

King Artaxerxes of Persia to do. He first aroused the people to the

work, and this chapter tells how that work was actually accomplished.

One commentator has said, "God is a great believer in putting names

down." That is true. There are many chapters like this in the Scriptures.

But that should really encourage us. It means that God has not forgotten

our names either. He loves to record the names of obscure people. He may

be writing your name down in some great book right now that others will

read in times to come.

The central teaching of a chapter like this is that, in putting lives

back together, we need and must seek help from each other. We cannot do

it alone. This is a great chapter about cooperation. It illustrates the

New Testament truth concerning the body of Christ. First Corinthians 12,

Romans 12, and other chapters, teach that believers in Christ are part of

a worldwide body made up of many members. We belong to each other and so

we are to help one another and bear one another’s burdens. This is

portrayed in a very dramatic way throughout this chapter. The chapter is

too long for us to read in detail but if you will follow with me we will

discover four important principles for working together.

We learn from the New Testament that there are two things you cannot say

any longer when you be come a Christian. The first is, "You do not need

me." Everyone in the body of Christ needs everyone else. The second thing

is, "I do not need you." You do need others! It is the awareness of that

truth that makes a church a living, warm, vital, loving fellowship. I

hope we are finding this out more and more here.

In a moment we shall look at the importance of keeping in repair the

gates of our lives. Gates, in Scripture, are means of access and egress.

They represent ways of entering into other people’s lives and also

letting them into ours; of reaching out to others and allowing them to

share our thinking and feeling. As we go through this chapter we shall

look in particular at each gate in Jerusalem because each designates a

particular quality of the life that we need. The passage from Second

Peter which was read to us this morning is a very practical example of

what I am talking about:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;

and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to

self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to

godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. {2 Pet

1:5-7 NIV}

This exhortation to add certain qualities to our behavior is a marvelous

explanation of what it means to repair the gates of our lives. As we do

so we will be no longer unfruitful and unproductive. The book of Nehemiah

therefore is a picture in Old Testament terms of someone who is restoring

the walls and gates of his life.

Before we do that I want to skim through this chapter with you briefly

and point out some of the principles for working together that are found

in it.

Here is the first one. In summoning the people of Jerusalem to rebuild

their walls and their gates we learn from this chapter that all the

people were involved in the project. The whole city gave itself over for

a period of 52 days to building the walls and the gates. That portrays

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