Nehemiah 3 _What Are You Building_(Audio file for download)
We have been looking at Nehemiah and how he went about rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. We saw how he was deeply distressed to hear of his people in the city and how they were left without walls or gates. We saw how he prayed and sought after God’s will for him towards the city, and last week we saw how he assessed the walls in secret, how he cast vision for the people of Jerusalem, and how they saw the vision and rose up to build. If you have joined the Table, you may have seen where I posted a question related to the sermon to help us think more deeply about the text we studied, and that generated some cool thoughts.
One result of that was someone mentioning how In different ministries they are often talking about the walls we build against God, and tearing those down, and that to speak about walls as good was a little different. That led me to think about how they were not only rebuilding the walls, but there were gates that needed to be repaired as well. The significance of that is that Gates let the right people in and keep the wrong people out. Now if you think about your life, your walls and gates may not be simply for people, but think about it as a wall and gate for ideas, and influences. Using the passage from proverbs that a man who lacks self discipline is like a city without walls. If you lack the proper walls, than any influence can get into your heart, and begin to affect you, weather it is true or not. A solid gate of truth will help you to discern what is from God, and what is not, thus protecting the city of your soul…
So as we think about this book, I want us to begin to think about it on two levels. One is, what areas in my life do I need to work on with God’s Help? Also, What are areas here at Emmaus that God may be calling me to be a part of?
This week should be a fun one for you to listen to as I read the whole chapter. there are a lot of names that are hard to pronounce, so I am just going to say them with confidence, and hope there are no Hebrew scholars here.
There is an old story that goes like this: there were three stone masons working, and a man came up to the first one and asked him what he was doing. The mason looked up and replied, “Can’t you see? I am laying stone!” The man went to the second mason and asked him the same question, to which he replied, “I am building a wall!” He approached the third and asked yet again the same question, “What are you doing?” The mason lifted his eyes and looked at the man. He said with Joy in his heart, “I am building a cathedral!”
I love this story in so many ways. Is it not true the vision you have for the task you are performing has a great impact on how you perform it. Each of us needs to understand that how you view the purpose of the tasks you perform really matters. Why you do what you do matters more than what you are actually doing. Do you believe that? Go says through Isaiah that: And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,”
So, you see it is possible to do the work of God, to honor him with your lips, while your heart is far from him. I the same way, it is possible to do work for God, while your heart is far from God. Most of the time in Christian circles that happens when we think that what we do in some way is either earning some kind of favor with God, or paying Him back for what he has freely given. So understanding that truth is crucial as e look at our text today. What we are called to build is closely tied to why we are building in the first place. So today, we will look at three ways vision matters to the people building the wall, and also to us.
Vision Matters when you are out of your comfort Zone.
There are times in our lives where we are asked to do things that are out of our comfort zone, or have nothing to do with our training, or schooling.
-It matters that the vocations of these people were mentioned. You have the High priest v. 1, goldsmiths v. 8, 31, and 32, perfumers v. 8, ruler of the half district v. 12, daughters v. 12, 16, ruler of a district v. 15, levites v. 17, priests v. 22, temple servants v. 26, a gatekeeper v. 29, merchants v. 32
Now there are people who did not help and they were the nobility of the Tekoites. It says in v. 5 that they would not stoop to serve their Lord. This phrase is a telling one, because it is once again shows that how you view the work matters. These nobles felt that they were above the task of rebuilding a wall, and they missed that fact that by rebuilding the wall, they were serving God…
Where is God asking you to step out of your comfort zone?
Vision matters when you are close to home.
-Much of the work that was done on the walls and gates was done by people who lived where they were repairing. The first verse we see it is 10, where Jediah repaired opposite his house. We also see this happening in v. 22, 23, 28, 29, 30.
I think there are some reasons for this. 1. the know the area. 2. They are already there. 3. They have a vested interest in the work. Ie. their work will protect their own family. 4. They will have to look at it every day.
How can you be used by God in the places you already are?
Vision matters when your task is different from other’s. Remembering the reason and the purpose of the work is essential to
– Dirty (dung gate)
- Just different: Some repaired, some rebuilt. some worked on walls, others on gates.
Do you gravitate towards tasks that get more attention? Why?
So, what is your vision for your life? Why do you do the things that you do? What is God’s vision for Emmaus? Well, I believe that the main reason we do anything at Emmaus, is to make known the name of Jesus, and honor Him above all else. I am reminded of The passage in Philippians that we studied. In Chapter 2:1-11.
“1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Imagine if Jesus had lost focus of the task that he was sent here to accomplish. What if he had not been willing to stoop to serve us, and die for us? But He didn’t. He came to earth, and was born in a filthy dank cave in the ground. the first breath he inhaled was probably urine soaked hay. He fulfilled a role that no one else could. He was the spotless lamb. He went to the cross for us, so that we might be made right with Him. He knew his purpose, and he didn’t deviate from it. He knew it was going to be tough, and yet, he followed through. He was out of his comfort zone in human flesh. He was close to home when he came to walk once again with man as he did in the Garden. And he was content with a task that was very different than any task we could fulfill.