Summary: Here is a message that uses the life and actions of Nehemiah as a lesson to challenge and teach the true nature of a servant. This message would work for either dicsipleship or as a challenge for an ordination service.
THE ACTIONS OF A MAN GOD USES
One of the greatest issues facing the church today is the dearth of leadership. There has never been a greater need for God called, God inspired, God equipped leadership. God has however taught us all we need to learn about leadership in the Bible. He has also given us incredible examples of leadership throughout the events of scripture.
One such man is Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah gives incredible insight into the character required to become a man God uses. The book also gives us great insight into the actions and behaviors of a Godly servant leader. Nehemiah’s actions provide a model for the actions of a servant and leader. They provide an excellent challenge for men being ordained into our deacon body, and all those who serve the people of the Living God.
Chapter 2 of Nehemiah recounts the events of how Nehemiah began the rebuilding project. After hearing news that the walls were in ruins and the people of Jerusalem were in “great distress,” God granted Nehemiah great favor before the King Artaxerxes who agreed to his request to move to Jerusalem to undertake this project. King Artaxerxes granted him letters of transit, letters of credit for the materials, and even sent him with a military escort. Read Nehemiah 2: 9-20.
The Spiritual Character of a Man God Uses
In a previous message, we have detailed Nehemiah’s spiritual character. We should not however take for granted the fact that his spiritual character is the foundation of all his actions. His acts of service are merely a reflection of his heart – a heart formed and molded by his love and devotion to the Lord.
We see from chapters 1 and 2 that Nehemiah is first a man who loves God. He seeks out people from Jerusalem to ascertain the condition of Jerusalem and the people of God. He is broken hearted when he hears the news. His love for the people of God is clear. Next, he seeks God passionately and persistently. He fasts and prays for months asking for God to give him a chance to become a part of the solution. He also has a heart of repentance we see clearly exhibited in his prayers.
It is this character which forms the heart of a servant. This spiritual character forms the heart of a man who acts. He does not pay mere lip service but is sacrificial in his willingness to act on behalf of the Lord and His people. The acts of a servant of the Lord are always preceded by the seeking of the Lord.
The Service of a Man God Uses
A passion for God produces a willingness to step out an act as a choice of faith. There is no such thing as a passive, non-acting Christian. Jesus said in John 15 that anyone who abides in Him will bear fruit as a branch attached to healthy vine will bear fruit. The faith of a Christian who loves and follows Jesus is a faith which bears fruit and acts on behalf of the Lord Jesus and His church. James reiterates this point by stating unequivocally, “Faith without works is dead.” The Apostle John commanded us as the children of God to go beyond mere words and to love in “deed and in truth.” As a servant of God, Nehemiah exhibits four ways for us to act in service of the people of God.
1. Be a champion
First, Nehemiah is a champion of the people of God. Verse 10 describes the clear motivation for all of Nehemiah’s commitment to the rebuilding of the walls. He is described as a man “who had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” Nehemiah left his home and position in the palace to undertake a seemingly overwhelming project. The context of this book shows clearly the amazing risk Nehemiah was willing to take on for this project. The account of his life also makes clear his motivation. He was acting as a champion of the people of God. He was broken hearted over the distress of the people of God and committed his very life to repairing their situation.
A servant of the people of God must look out for the well-being of the people of God. Your heart is to love who the very people Jesus loved. You love them the way Jesus loves them – sacrificially. Nehemiah did not act for his own growth, wealth, or fame. In fact, he risked all to act. To serve the church is to always act for the benefit of the church. Too many people are looking to benefit from the church instead of being a benefit to the church. Too many people are looking to tear down churches when we should be building up the church. Too many people in churches are fighting over what makes them happy and comfortable in the church rather than fighting for what the church needs to be healthy and strong.