Summary: WOrking hard for the Lord.
Title: God-Honoring Ambition
Text: Chapter 2:11-20
God-honoring ambition leads to a life of purpose.
Nehemiah 2:11-20 11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13 So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was no place for my mount to pass. 15 So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials or the rest who did the work. 17 Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach." 18 I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me 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. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, "What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?" 20 So I answered them and said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem."
God-Honoring Ambition Requires You To…
I. Listen to the call of God
II. Assess your situation
III. Be patient
IV. Cast your vision
V. Proceed with confidence
Nehemiah is my hero. He’s always been one of my favorite biblical characters for a lot of reasons. We’ve already talked about a few of those reasons. First of all I love Nehemiah because he is so totally and completely connected to God. He lived his life with God close to him every step of the way.
Second, Nehemiah is a stud because he was a man of great faith. Like we saw last week; Nehemiah’s faith wasn’t a weak, idle, namby-pamby faith. No, it was faith in action.
Probably my favorite character trait of Nehemiah is the he is very clearly a man of great ambition. He was a guy who possessed great ambition to do great things for God and for others.
That’s the kind of man I want to be. I’ve always had an extra measure of ambition. I like tackling new things and trying new adventures. I like to set my goals high and then go out there and work to achieve them. I know a lot of you out there are like that too.
On the flip side of that, I’ve known people who seem to have a total lack of ambition. Life just happens to them. They don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, they float from one thing to the next. They always seem to be unsure, insecure, and often even unhappy.
Ambition can be defined in a couple of ways. In one sense it is a hope or a dream. It is an aspiration to something higher. It is also a goal or a purpose. Ambition gives us direction and drive to accomplish things.
Ambition mixed with a firm reliance on God can be a great thing. However, ambition without that connection to God can turn into a selfish, greedy, ugly thing. There is no doubt that blind ambition has driven people to do some lousy things in pursuit of their selfish dreams. Just like anything in life, we humans have an amazing ability to take something that is good and turn it into something bad.
But I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ there is a measure of God-honoring ambition that we all need to posses.
Today I want to talk about what God-honoring ambition looks like. Nehemiah is very clearly a man who exemplifies God-honoring ambition. And as we continue to read through this book we will see how that ambition drove him to accomplish some great things for God.
Just by way of a quick review for those of you who weren’t here last week… In chapter 1 of Nehemiah he hears this report about how the Jews, who have returned to Jerusalem after years in captivity, have returned to a city that is in ruins. The walls are still broken down, the gates have been burned. They are vulnerable to attack and totally humiliated.