Summary: This sermon is about the significant value of participation when it comes to the work of the Lord.

Visioneering: The Value of Participation

Nehemiah 3

Matthew Sullivan

Now, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that most everyone here today knows about Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Because just a couple weeks ago, that was the only thing anyone in town seemed to talk about. Extreme Makeover Home Edition was the biggest conversation of the area because their latest project was a house just a short drive away in St. Meinred. If I went to get gas, or the store, or wherever I went one of the questions was, “Hey…you been out to see the house they’re working on?” No one had to ask, “Well what house are you talking about?” Because it was such huge event for the entire tri-state area and everyone knew exactly what house they were talking about.

So now I’m going to ask you…did any of you go out to see the house. Were any of you there for the reveal, when the family came home? And now here’s one of the neatest things to me…volunteers were from all over the area – from Dubois and Spencer – all over. Did any of you actually work on this house?

It was reported that construction of the house was completed in just over 95 hours with the help of over 1700 volunteers, and has a comfortable 3,300 square feet of space. To look at blitz builds like this, the area seems like an anthill of activity with people coming and going everywhere. Each person assigned to his or her task, and everywhere you’ve got plumbers and electricians and carpenters and bricklayers and artists. Then since it’s a TV show you’ve got camera operators, sound technicians, lighting engineers and people involved with production. Then you have to be able to support all those people with food service workers, firefighters, there are police directing traffic and keeping order, medical personnel on hand just in case anything should happen. And all these people are just working trying to complete their little piece of the puzzle, in order to accomplish the goal of building a house for a deserving family.

Last week we began our series entitled “Visioneering” as we look into the story of Nehemiah. Last week we discussed the Necessity of Preparation. We looked in the Bible at chapters one and two of the book of Nehemiah where we found that Nehemiah felt called to take on a major building project of his own. He felt God calling him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, his home city. And as he worked Nehemiah would not only be rebuilding a physical wall, but would be rebuilding his people as well. Last week we talked about how important it is for us as a church and us as individuals to take time to adequately prepare when we’re about to follow God in what he is calling us to do. This week we’re going to continue with the story of Nehemiah as we look into the Value of Participation. We’re going to be looking at selected passages in Nehemiah chapter 2 & 3.

Let’s pick up with his story where we left off last week in Nehemiah 2:11. Turn with me there. Chapter 2, verse 11. Now, for those who weren’t here last week, let me quickly recap. While living in Persia, an 1100 mile journey from Jerusalem, Nehemiah heard about the plight of his fellow Jews who had been allowed to return to Jerusalem from captivity in Persia. They were living in disgrace because their city walls were still lying in ruins. You see, over a century before, God punished the Israelites for their horrible sins by allowing them to be overrun and taken into exile by the Babylonians. Persia then conquered the Babylonian Empire, and thus you have a few million Jews now under Persian control. That’s where we find Nehemiah. And as I mentioned last week, he also happened to be in a very influential position as the cupbearer to the king. So, when news of his homeland reached his ears, he felt a burden on his heart to go and rebuild the city where his fathers were buried. King Artaxerxes of Persia grants him permission, as well as many provisions for the trip and the project. Let’s look to our text to see what happens next. Nehemiah 2:11-18:

11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 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. 13 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. 14 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; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 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. 17 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." 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.

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