Building the Walls and Hanging the Gates
October 29, 2006 Penn Yan NY
Neh 1:1-5 In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the King Artaxerxes. He was saddened by the knowledge that Jerusalem had fallen into such a state. Let read on:
So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. When Sanballat the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites. I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.
After hearing from one of his brothers that the “wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah goes to prayer.
PRAYER MUST BE OUR FIRST STEP BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE!
One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest.
The challenger worked with all his might, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks throughout the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and somewhat annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had.
"I don’t get it," he said. "Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. How did you do it."
"Didn’t you notice," said the winning woodsman, "that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest."
Prayer is the action of sharpening the ax.
When work needs to be done there are certain steps that we need to take:
1st - Recognize the Need:
A) Read chapter 1 vs. 5-11.
3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Then I said:
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ’If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."
I was cupbearer to the king. Neh 1:5-11 (NIV)
Notice the format: Nehemiah Recognized God, sought forgiveness for himself and Israel, then made his request. He prayed; anything you do without the will of God being considered is domed to fail. It cannot be about what you want to do, it has to be about what God wants.
Once you have recognized the need: you must;
2nd - Evaluated the Need:
Nehemiah took a walk to all the areas around Jerusalem. He did not take anyone’s word ABOUT THE NEED. Leaders will listen to the advice of others, but ultimately they are the ones that are responsible for success or failure. The leaders of this church must become aware of what needs to happen to bring in the unsaved, repopulate the children’s department and bring in the young people.
ONCE WE HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION, THEN: WE LIKE NEHIMIAH WILL:
3rd - Enlisted the aid of God’s People:
We are not just rebuilding the physical building called the Penn Yan Church of the Nazarene, but the rebuilding of Gods church. This story in Nehemiah is not about a single church that meant something to Nehemiah, it was about his cultural history that was threatened. You do not have to look far to know that we are in a cultural war that threatens the existence of the church in America…. Not only are we invited to be a part of this rebuilding, we must engage, we must rebuild and all are invited and encouraged to become a part of the rebuilding. If we don’t do it who will? We have already lost two generations of Christians because the church has fallen asleep.
To begin this great work we need to determine as Nehemiah did ;
(1) _Who_ should work.
(2) _Where_ they should work.
(3) _What_ they should do.
I have asked you during my two visits to pray and seek God’s will. I asked you to begin to look at all those that intersect your lives and those who are not already regular church attendees in a Christian church, I ask you now to claim for God and the Penn Yan church those individuals.
I wanted you to seek to discover your gifts and PRAY ABOUT WHAT God would have you to do.
After Nehemiah finished these steps - He went to work.
ALL THE PLANNING IN THE WORLD IS OF NO USE IF YOU DON’T GET TO WORK. (HOUSE IN REIGHNBECK) Many years ago…
WE MUST ALSO BE AWARE THAT WHEN WE BEGIN TO WORK FOR GOD IN BUILDING HIS KINGDOM THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION. So don’t be surprised when people give you a hard time.
Lets look at NEHIMIAH 2:19
19 But when Sanballa the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?" I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."
I was not able to find anything about Nehemiah’s death, but we know much of his life. We have watched him carefully and closely, and there is one thing which we cannot fail to have noticed, and that is that Nehemiah was emphatically a man of prayer.
In every trouble, in each anxiety, in all times of danger, he turned to God. Standing behind the king’s chair, Nehemiah prayed; in his private room in the Shushan palace, he pleaded for Jerusalem; and all through his rough anxious life as a reformer and a governor, we find him constantly lifting up his heart to God in short earnest prayers. When Tobiah mocked his work, when the Samaritans threatened to attack the city, when the people were inclined to be angry with him for his reforms, when he discovered that there were traitors and hired agents of Sanballat inside the very walls of Jerusalem, when he brought upon himself enmity and hatred because of his faithful dealing in the matter of the temple store-house, when he had to encounter difficulty and opposition in his determination with regard to the observance of the Sabbath, and when he still further incensed the half-hearted Jews by his prompt punishment of those who had taken heathen wives, and by his summary dismissal of Manasseh; in all these times of danger, difficulty, and trial, we find Nehemiah turning to the Lord in prayer. There was one prayer of which he seems to have been especially fond, three times over does Nehemiah ask God to remember him. ’Think upon me, my God, for good,’ v. 19. ’Remember me, O my God,’ xiii. 14. ’Remember me, O my God, for good,’ xiii. 31.
There are over 17,000 souls within a small radius of Penn Yan, and many more as you branch out. For this next year lets try to reach some of them. If we only reached one tenth of one percent we would have an increase of 17. To grow this church and make it flourish will have to include prayer and a lot of prayer, but while we pray, and as we pray, lets survey our situation, choose the right people and set about to build the walls and hang the gates.
Thanks to the support of the district the forceful leadership of Pastor Carol and the hard work of all of you, much of the physical work has been done. Now it is time to ask God to direct us to those that He has claimed for This Penn Yan Church.
Lets know that God has each of you here for a reason and lets fulfill His calling in your life. Let me close with this story from Rick Labate
King Henry III grew tired of court life and the pressures of being the king so he applied to a monastery to be accepted for a life of contemplation. The religious superior said to him, “Your Majesty, do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”
Henry replied, “I understand. The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”
“Then I will tell you what to do. Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has placed you.”
Like King Henry, we sometimes often tire of our role and responsibility. But we need to remember that God has called us to be faithful where we serve no matter a plumber, accountant, mother or teacher.
We don’t have to change our lives, who we are, we just have to let God work through as to bring about His will for this church.