Summary: As with any project, before you can get anything done, you have to plan. Planning isn’t just a one-time step, it happens continually. Even as the work is being accomplished, planning is still happening. In this passage, we see three steps Nehemiah engaged
Tonight we’re starting an exciting section. It’ll take us a few weeks to get through it, but this is the section where Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem and gets to work. I originally wanted to cover this in one message, but there’s just too much here to do it justice. So we’ll work through it over the next few weeks. The title of the series is called, “Plan the Work.” It will actually run from where we started reading in verse 11, all the way through the end of chapter 3. Just in case you want to get an idea as to where we’re heading, tonight we’ll see how Nehemiah developed the plan. Then next week we’ll see how he communicated the plan. After that we’ll see how he defended the plan. Then we’ll be done with chapter 2. Then comes all of chapter 3 which is where they actually worked the plan. Plan the work and work the plan. One of the reasons Nehemiah is such a popular book is that it is intensely practical. Every word of Scripture is God-breathed. And that’s why 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. And verse 17 goes on to say, “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is the case with all Scripture. All Scripture is practical and applicable to our daily life. But we can’t help but notice how certain parts of Scripture seem to lay it out more accessibly than others. In other words, it’s a whole lot easier to see how Paul’s instructions to churches apply to us than a genealogical record in 1 Chronicles. That’s why Nehemiah is such a popular book. Especially the first few chapters we’re in now. It’s popular, because each and every one of us is called to lead something. Whether it’s leading a company or leading your kids or leading as a Christian witness. We are all called to lead. There was a debate several years ago about whether leaders were born or made. In other words, did you have to be born with certain leadership traits, or could anyone be taught to be a leader. It’s really a funny debate. Because everyone is a leader. So, if you think about it, you do have to be born a leader. It’s just that everyone that’s born is a leader. But each of us is born with different traits. Some of us are natural introverts. We would rather be alone than in a group of people. If you are an introvert, you can function well in groups and crowds, but you leave those situations exhausted. In order to get re-energized, you need to spend some time alone. Some of us are natural extroverts. These are the ones that people automatically think of as good leaders. Extroverts love crowds and groups. They are often the life of the party, but not always. Sometimes the groups they prefer are a few close friends. But extroverts go absolutely stir-crazy when they are away from people. Doing solitary activities like reading or woodworking exhausts them. But they are re-energized when they pick up the phone or go to lunch with friends. The point is, just because you are born with certain traits doesn’t make you a leader. And just because you’re born with other traits doesn’t excuse you from being a leader. What makes a godly leader is first of all His burden. God gives each of us a burden. No matter how big or small that burden is, that is God’s call to leadership. The burden God gave Nehemiah was a pretty big one. I don’t know that He has called any of us to rebuild a city. But He might—you never know. The burden is the call to leadership. You exercise leadership when you step out in obedience to accomplish the burden God has given you. The question is, how? We know that the Lord will equip you to accomplish the task He calls you to. It’s not in the Bible, but it’s a good saying anyway—God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” When the Lord gives you a burden, He certainly will equip you to accomplish it. Now, most of the time you’re not going to see that in the beginning. So there will come a time when you will have to step out in faith and wait for the equipping. That is the time when the practicality of Nehemiah is such a great help. Because you can actually see the steps that you should go through to get your project underway. And guess what? As you get started… even as you look back… you will be able to see how the Lord equipped you along the way. You will be able to see how the good hand of your God was upon you as you step out in leadership to accomplish the burden He’s given you. Over the next few weeks we’re going to see the practical steps it takes to plan the work that God has called you to accomplish. The steps don’t take the place of God’s equipping power. But as you faithfully move through the steps, He will equip you each step of the way. As with any project, before you can get anything done, you have to plan. Planning isn’t just a one-time step either. Planning is something that happens continually. Even as the work is being accomplished, planning is still happening. Even as you begin to work your plan, you will still be planning your work. You remember where we are. Nehemiah has left the palace in Shushan. He probably took about 3-4 months to make the journey from Shushan to Jerusalem. Last week we saw that along the way he met the opposition that will plague him throughout the rest of the book. That was his first confrontation with Sanballat and Tobiah. But by the time we get to verse 11, Nehemiah and his delegation had arrived in Jerusalem. All of the planning he had done up until this point had gotten him here. Now that he was on-site, the real planning could begin. Now that he was in Jerusalem, he could begin to develop his plan. In our passage tonight, we see three steps Nehemiah engaged in to develop his plan. The first step was rested development.