This is the end of a three part series of messages taken from the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah. In this series we have asked three questions: Do I care? Do I trust? And now today, Do I work?
The amazing events of Nehemiah are undoubtedly powered by the Lord Himself. But f we’re honest we have to ask ourselves, if someone didn’t actually do the work and make the sacrifices, would this rebuilding effort ever have happened? Find out if God actually needs us. And I say that reverently…
Does God need anything?
As the Lord of everything, omniscient, omnipotent and everlasting, God doesn’t need anything. He is the One who supplies breath to your lungs, heartbeats and everything to everyone. So He doesn’t need anything.
But does God need you? Technically no, but here’s the truth.
In His sovereignty, He has decreed to need you, as crazy as that sounds. Don’t believe me? Name a move of God, a story of God’s work on this earth after Creation, that didn’t involve God using a man. You’ll have to find an obscure or rare example.
It was according to His pattern that God used Nehemiah, others too of course, to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and to secure the city. God gave Nehemiah a burden, as we saw when he was overwhelmed with the situation in Jerusalem. He had to trust in God, knowing that in order for that wall to be rebuilt, especially if it were through him, God would have to fully undergird the process. But now Nehemiah is actually in the city of Jerusalem. Here’s what he finds.
11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.
The reality was that this was a mess. He continued to survey the situation, but it was as bad as he was originally told, right there in front of him.
Nehemiah was someone who understood the past. And God gave him a burden and care for something big. He even trusted the Lord in a very real way. But if he didn’t actually make realistic plans and go and do work, none of the other mattered very much. What was left for Nehemiah? Just do it.
In 2005, a couple of us flew South to help out with hurricane Katrina/Rita cleanup in Western Louisiana. It was a mess. There were trees down all over the place, sometimes very large ones. Some were on houses, some on cars, others blocking roads. When we first surveyed the damage we were overwhelmed. And they would still be there if not for one thing. We fired up the chainsaws and started cutting. Work.
Things don’t get done on their own.
As Spirit filled believers we have a great sense of what it means to dream. To have plans, to envision things, to understand spiritual concepts is a part of that. There are things we learn as Christians that explain the past and anticipate the future. The problem is that we tend to leave it right there. So Christians aren’t doers in the same way the rest of the world is, for the most part. We’ll hear a prophecy and act like it’s already come to pass. That isn’t how God designed things.
There is a nuts and bolts, get ‘r done, kind of doing that completes a vision. I may have a vision for getting out of debt. Great. But if you don’t make very real plans and engage those plans with the resulting change and effort needed, it will be a pipe dream. Losing weight, getting in shape, having a better marriage relationship, fixing your house, all are great ideas with no fulfillment if you don’t work.
There’s a day when you actually put your hand on stones and timber and put that first course of the wall up.
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
They actually, at Nehemiah’s direction, put stones, timbers and gates together. There was sweat, a little blood and a whole lot of ache at the end of each day, but the plan of was not going to come together without it.
Every work has obstacles to its completion. There will be problems no matter what you do.
Enemies (people and demons)
7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.
10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”
11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.”12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”
Procrastination has its roots in fear. You put things off because you’re afraid of what will happen if you step out.
That hole won’t dig itself. That roof won’t patch itself. But we have the same three general problems with everything we do. Enemies. Weariness. Fears. And each has to be answered and gritted through to get to the end. The Dip.
Prayer, plans, willpower, communication empowered by the Holy Spirit will accomplish great things. But not without sweat, doing your homework or putting your hand to the work with the accompanying problems, opposition and disappointment.
You get to make it happen. And staying in constant contact with God, trusting that He will bless and further your efforts. Otherwise every good vision is a good idea only.
Most every church in America has a set of plans for a new building that are now dusty and unfulfilled in a closet somewhere.
Most every Christian in America has prophecies in a notebook, godly ideas and ideals, opportunities that just sit in a file or in a corner of their mind that doesn’t go anywhere. And the devil just loves that.
It may be that they were never meant to be fulfilled. But if they were, they don’t happen because you don’t, for whatever reason, get to work, overcoming your obstacles.
What happened to Nehemiah and the people of God in Jerusalem?
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.
Wait a minute. You mean they did all the work but God got the credit? Yup. That’s how it should be. God gave them His Spirit’s working, protection and efficiency. He gave them breaths and heartbeats and the mental and physical capacity to do this. The truth is, the works of God are a partnership, a partnership of His making. He moves, we work, we work and He moves. They worked but God was in it, so it only took 52 incredible days.
What is it that you could or should be doing that you aren’t or haven’t? PAUSE.
And what are you doing now that will outlive you? Bill Hybels
Is there a phone call you need to make? Is there a meeting to set up? A class to take? Hammer and nails that should be being used? What is it that you have not put any or enough effort into, that you know is good and right and godly? Did a prophecy that has been judged call for action that you haven’t taken?
The question is: Will You Work?
And then there’s one thing for which you cannot work. Jesus did all that work for you. You just need to believe.