Summary: 1. God wants to use your concern (Neh 1:1-4). 2. God wants to use your cry (Neh 1:4-11). 3. God wants to use your circumstances (Neh 2:1-2). 4. God wants to use your commitment (Neh 2:3-6).
We Can Make a Difference!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - August 3, 2014
*As we look into God's Word today, remember that the Jews had been conquered and carried away to Babylon. That terrible event happened because the Jews had rebelled against God for hundreds of years. They began to worship idols and participate in all of the evils that went along with those satanic religions.
*This Jewish Captivity happened about 600 years before Jesus was born. After 50 years, their new Persian rulers started to allow the Jews to return home to Jerusalem. And by the end of 70 years, they had rebuilt the Temple.
*Then 70 more years went by, but the walls around Jerusalem still lay in ruins. That basically left the city defenseless, and that's when the Lord moved a man to rebuild those desperately needed walls. His name was Nehemiah. He was a godly man, both full of faith and faithful to the Lord.
*Nehemiah was also the Cup Bearer for King Artaxerxes. In ancient courts, the Cup Bearer was a person of rank and importance. He possessed great influence, due to the nature of his duties and his frequent access to the king. (1)
*With this background in mind, let's read today's Scripture, thinking about how God wants to use our lives.
*Are you living your life with purpose? -- It really matters. Welch poet David Whyte put it something like this: "When people struggle through the weeds, pull back the moss, and read the inscription on my tombstone, I don't want it to say: 'He made his car payments.'" (2)
*We were made for so much more than that! Our lives can have real purpose and meaning. Our lives can matter. God used Nehemiah, and God can use you to make a tremendous difference in our world.
1. First: God wants to use our concern.
*And we can see Nehemiah's concern in vs. 1-4:
1. The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel,
2. that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3. And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.''
4. So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
 One of the first things to notice here is that Nehemiah really cared about the problems going on in his world.
*And that's something to think about, because if Nehemiah only looked at his own life, if he only looked at how things were going around him, everything seemed okay. He had a good job. He served in the palace of the king! That was a prominent and very important job. And as long as he didn't fall out of favor with the king, Nehemiah had it made.
*But Nehemiah cared deeply for people who were living hundreds of miles away. He cared for people that he had never met, and that's the way God wants us to be. He wants us to care about other people.
*Jesus Christ wants us to be able to look beyond our own backyard and see the needs. When we look around here, things look pretty good. The walls aren't falling down. But there are people in our church family who feel like the walls of their lives have fallen down.
*And just beyond the walls of our church, it's much worse. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of needs, and the greatest need is Jesus Christ! They may be happy and healthy today, but they will never make it to Heaven without Jesus. And they will never really have a life worth living without Jesus, so God wants us care.
 The Lord wants us to see the problems. -- But He also wants us to see the possibilities.
*Nehemiah might have been devastated by the bad news he heard from Jerusalem. But he had the light of hope in his heart, because he knew the Lord God. And Christians: We know the Lord God in a personal way, so we have great hope for the future. And that's why we can care without despair. We can care with great confidence, because our God is a great God! All good things are possible for Him.
*Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Also listen to some of the amazing words Jesus spoke a few hours before He died on the cross for our sins. In John 14:11-13, Jesus said: