Well, good morning, China Grove First Baptist Church it’s so good to see you this morning. I hope that you have had a fantastic week. My name is Trent Drye and I am the Senior Pastor here and I’m glad that you have chosen to sit down with us this morning and have a time of Bible study as we worship together through the reading and hearing of God’s Word.
Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Nehemiah Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 today. We’re continuing our series of sermons called Rebuild and Restore as we look at the book of Nehemiah.
It’s where God is glorified and God is doing the work. God is the hero of the story because He uses ordinary people like you and I to do some extraordinary things as they rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Now we have looked at some small sections of the book so far. We looked at, you know, some paragraphs in chapter one and a paragraph in chapter two last week.
But today we’re taking a larger section of the text ’cause I believe as in my study, that’s a unified theme throughout the last half of Chapter 2 and into Chapter 3. What we’ve seen so far is that Nehemiah is a passionate servant. He’s passionate about the Lord, he’s passionate about God’s people, and because of his passion for people, his purpose in life has aligned with God’s purpose for his life. He is now accepting the call and taking up the challenge to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem and restore, spiritually, the people of Israel or Judah, God’s people.
We saw that the first step was he was a prayerful servant. He took time to pray prayers of adoration, remembering who God is and what God has done and what God will do. He prayed a prayer of confession for himself and for the people. And then he prayed, a prayer of intercession and supplication as he asked God to grant him success and favor in the eyes of the King.
Last week we saw the patient and prepared servant. He patiently waited for four months for the King to grant him this request. He was waiting for God to open the right door at the right time, and when that door opened, he boldly and courageously walked through it because he had patiently prepared.
Well today we’re gonna see that the work is going to begin. I’m not gonna read all of it to you so let me just give you some background before we start reading. We’ll actually just read 17 through 20 of Chapter 2 in Nehemiah.
But after the encounter with the King, Nehemiah travels for many, many months to Judah. He experiences some obstacles along the way, and but we’ll talk more about obstacles and how to overcome obstacles. next Sunday as we look at Chapter 4.
When he gets to the city, he decides to take three days, and he’s probably resting. It was a long journey. He may be praying. I’m sure he’s examining. But then one day he wakes up early before anyone else, and he takes a look at the city. He goes from gate to gate around the city, examining the work that needs to be done. And then after doing that, he gathers some people together and he shares with him why he has traveled so far and what God has called him to do. And then he gives this motivational speech.
I’ve seen a lot of motivational speeches in my day. I think of one where I was a football coach. I was an assistant and the head coach came in and he put on a song but I think it was Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” and we won the game it was conference championship and just the speech he gave motivated those players to go out and play their hearts out. I motivate my children. Sometimes with rewards and sometimes you gotta motivate them a little sternly, you know. But you know, we give those motivational speeches and Nehemiah knows that he can’t come in and just start barking out orders. He can’t come in and start telling everybody what to do. He has to inspire the people to do the work and so here’s the speech that he gives in Nehemiah Chapter 2:17-20.
“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”
Man! Let us pray together.
Father, I ask that Your Word would be a lamp unto our feet and a light into our path. I asked today Father that what we have not, You would give us. What we know not, You would teach us, and what we are not, You would make us in Jesus Name. Amen and Amen.
So after looking around and taking notes, Nehemiah calls the people together. Some leaders together. He says it’s time to finish the work that we started 70 years ago. It is time to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Now he’s talking to people who I’m sure tried many years ago to do this. And then this King, the same King we talked about last week stopped the building.
But Nehemiah shows up and says, look, we’ve got God on our side now. The King has given us permission. Let us rise and build because the hand of my God has been upon me. And he is implying that God’s Hand is upon the people of Israel.
What Nehemiah is saying in his inspirational speech is It’s time to overcome the complacency that has set in over the last 70 years. Maybe they’ve become comfortable with their situation, although the work was not done, maybe building the temple was good enough. Maybe they felt that they had arrived and that things were going well enough that they didn’t need to continue to work. He’s saying they need to overcome their fear. Maybe they’re afraid of the opposition, they’re afraid of the obstacles, they’re afraid they won’t know how to build or how to overcome the obstacles.
Then Nehemiah says, let’s overcome those things. Let’s overcome the fear. Let’s overcome complacency. Let’s overcome our inward, focused mindset and let us rise up and rebuild the walls of God’s city.
I imagine some of the people were happy with rebuilding the temple and that they had worked long and hard and they had finished the work, and they felt like they had arrived. Maybe some others looked at the walls and said this job is too hard and we cannot do it, but God intends for the walls to be rebuilt. And he made that promise many, many years ago. So, the walls are going to be rebuilt because God keeps His promises. And so Nehemiah says, Together. But I love that word. I just love when he says, ‘let us’ that that word us just jumps off the page to me. He goes “together under the leadership and the lordship of God almighty. We will rebuild these walls and Glorify God by doing so.“
You see rebuilding the walls showed that God was with His people, that God was still on His throne, that God was still in control. Upon the completion of the walls, in Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah writes these words. “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”
You see the work to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the walls ultimately brought God Glory, because other people saw God at work. It was really an expansion of God’s territory. There were areas that are God didn’t have yet, and so they rebuild the walls to demonstrate that God can work and that the territory of God was going to expand. That God was in the habit of faithfully keeping his promises and saving His people.
You know you and I we don’t have a physical wall to build today. But when I look around, I see brokenness. I see hurt. I see pain. I see shame. I see disgrace. I see dis-heartedness. I see guilt. I see addiction. And when I look around and examining when you look around and examine the world that we are currently living in we see hate. We see division. We see war. We see hunger. There is sin and there is lostness.
For many people in this world, there is no hope and they’re asking “where can I find hope? Where is the hope?”
Brothers and sisters, hope is found in this truth, that God is still working today. He is working through this pandemic. He is working through the divisions of this world. He is working through the hate. He is working through the pain and the suffering. He is always working because He is always faithful. He is still the Lord. And in Christ, you and I have been invited to work under the leadership and the lordship of God Almighty as well, to expand God’s Kingdom to expand God’s territory. As God uses us to spread the Gospel, a Gospel message that will rebuild and restore the lives of people. A Gospel message that will rebuild and restore hope in the lives of people.
So for Nehemiah and the people expanding God’s Kingdom started with the rebuilding of the wall. And today for us, expanding God’s Kingdom means taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ first to our city. Then to our county, then to our state, then to our nation. Then to the ends of the Earth. That is the job of the church. That is the mission of every church.
But maybe we have become complacent. I’ve struggled with that in the past. Perhaps we’ve become fearful. I’ve struggled with that in the past. Perhaps we feel like we’ve arrived. Maybe we have turned inward and huddled together and just said “the world is in terrible shape. There’s nothing we can do. We’re just going to huddle together and do nothing.” Out of complacency or out of fear. Well, I can tell you what God says to us as a church and when He says to all the churches. He says, “let us rise and build. Let us not be discouraged. Let us not be fearful. For our courage in our strength comes from God. So, let us rise and build.”
Together under the leadership and the lordship of God Almighty, we will work to expand God’s territory and bring glory to His Name. That is what we are called to do. As I said each week because of the Great Commission we are disciples called to make disciples. So how do we do this? How do we do this based on the passage we’re looking at today?
The first thing I want us to see is we do this because we work together by working together to expand God’s Kingdom. The keyword is us as it jumps out. One nation, one people working in unison to bring glory to God. And as you read Chapter 3 as it goes through, this person is building this and this group is building this and this group is building this. You see they’re working together to accomplish God’s purpose, and so everyone has a job. As you read, the work is going around the city gates and we’re in Chapter 3 now. It starts with the sheep gate and it works all the way around through all of the gates and it tells you who is working on each section.
You come to this gate. This group is working and then this group is working down this side of the wall. You come to this gate and this one is working. Everyone has a job to do. They’ve been gifted to do the job. You see, God had placed all of these people at this place at the right place at the right time to complete this task that God had had over time organized the people so that they would be equipped and ready to complete the tasks that had been given to them. And everyone had a job to do.
Now we see that there was a group that didn’t work, but we’ll talk about that in just a minute. But everyone else had a job to do, and they did it. Church, listen. God has called us to serve Him together in this local body.
If you’re a member of China Grove First Baptist Church, it’s not an accident. God called you to be a part of this and He has gifted you to work in this church and to serve this church as we work to expand God’s territory. He has brought all of our wonderful gifts together so that we can go into all the Earth to make disciples.
I love what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-20:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
We are one body with one job and that is to serve the Lord and expand God’s territory by being disciples who make disciples. And all of us have a job to do. The ear has a job to do. The eye has a job to do. The nose has a job to do. The feet have a job to do. And listen, not every job is easy. Not every job is glorious.
In chapter three, we read that there was a group who had to build the Dung Gate. Now that is the gate where all the waste was carried out of the city. It was a dirty job. But somebody had to do it. You know there was another job that was kind of dirty. It’s kind of hard, but somebody had to do it and that was the job that Jesus took up to go to the cross.
See God sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. That was a hard job. It was a dirty job. It was a painful job, but He did that job so that whoever would believe in Him would have eternal life. The only way to get to Heaven is through the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, His death and Resurrection. And so we confess our sins to God. We believe in our heart that He is the Lord of our life and that God raised Him from the dead and through that. And by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, we are saved by Grace through faith alone.
It was because of that hard job that we are able to work together as one body under the leadership and lordship of Jesus Christ. Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made, we are able to work and have been gifted to work. And listen, I know that life is busy. Life is full of things that take our time. The church brothers and sisters, we have a job to do here at the church. We need people to serve in children’s ministries to teach our children, to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. To come alongside of parents and assist parents to do that. We need a team of adults to work with our students as they navigate the difficult teenage years. And we need to work together as a church to disciple them and to grow them.
We have young adults who are just beginning in life and they need people to work with them and come alongside of them to live life with them as they are being disciple and as they learn to disciple. We need a strong adult ministry and a strong senior adult ministry. Listen, there’s a job for everyone and you have been gifted to do that job. So, let me ask you this, what job has God called you to and gifted you to do? Are you doing it? What gift has God given you? Are you using it to bring Him glory? We need people to rise up. We all need to rise up and serve the Lord with the gifts that He has given us. Everyone has a job. And as we work, notice this too, that everyone has a job. But as we work, we work side by side and we work together.
The church has to be a unified body of believers. Everyone stands side by side to do their jobs. And as I read Chapter 3, there’s a phrase that just jumps off the page and that phrase is “next to him.” You see it will start in verse 3. You see it. “The Sons of Hassenaah built the Fish gate, they laid its beams and set its doors its bolts and its bars. “And next to them.” And then you see it again. “And next to them.” And then you keep going and you see it again. “And next to them.” “And next to them.” That’s four times. And in those verses, you see that phrase “And next to them.” Listen they were all using their different gifts and they were all working because they all had a job, but they were working together. They were working shoulder to shoulder. They were unified under the lordship of God Almighty. Church, we are unified under the great and mighty Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is what unifies us. The work that Christ has done for us. And listen, when we work together, we are strong. When we are unified, we are capable of doing what we have been called to do.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Listen when it’s You and me, and God, that threefold cord cannot be broken. But it has to be unified. We work together as the body of Christ, along with Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. There’s a lot of work in this world that will divide us. There’s a lot in this world that’s going to divide us. The enemy is at work and listen church, when we start to follow God more closely, and when we really start to work and get into our communities and share the Gospel and when we begin to do the things that God has called us to do and continue to do the things that God is already called us to do, the enemy is going to try to divide us.
The enemy is going to work. You see it already happening. In uh, in the end of chapter two, people are rising up to stop the work, and you’ll see it even more in Chapter 4 next week. The enemy doesn’t want us to succeed, and so he finds those little cracks and he sneaks in. The enemy will try to make a huge division. But we must stand firmly planted working hand in hand to be an example and to expand God’s Kingdom.
You know, when I played football, I was an offensive lineman and we did a pull drills. There were five of us that would line up and we would all pull the same direction would pull right pull left and we would move right about four yards then we would sprint upwards. And if we did it together, it was an amazing thing. It was unified. It looked cool really. But one day, me, I didn’t hear the coach correctly and I pulled left. The rest of the guys, I was at the front so I pulled left. The rest of the guys pulled right and I ran into them. Me and this guy, you know we’re talking, you know, two 285-pound guys just crushing in to each other and we fall down. I fall back, he falls back, but he falls into the rest of the linemen and they all fall down. And it was a disaster. But what happened was we didn’t go the same direction. I tried to go my way and he tried to go his way and it didn’t work. It caused chaos and destruction.
But when we all run the same way, it was a beautiful thing and it was a successful drill. Church, when we move in the same direction, it’s a beautiful thing. When we work together, it’s a beautiful thing. But when one group goes one way and another group goes another way, we’re gonna run into each other. And chaos and division and destruction can occur. ‘Cause we’ll all fall down.
The Apostle Paul writes this in Philippians 1:27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel.”
Church, we will stand side by side or we will not stand at all. We are not, I know, we will not agree on everything. No family does. There will be disagreements. But how we handle those disagreements is important. We should never let our disagreements divide us. We should pray through them and work through them and under the leadership and the lordship of God Almighty, we will be unified in the work that we are doing. And so everyone has a job to do. We must work together.
But there’s one more thing that I want to point out in the text in Chapter 3 that’s very important, and that’s this. The work will happen even if some choose not to work. The Kingdom will expand even if you do not work. The Kingdom will expand if I not if I don’t work.
In Chapter 3, there’s this phrase that says “And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.” See, there’s a group of people who felt they were too good to stoop down to build this wall. There’s always going to be people who don’t work. There’s always going to be people who don’t think the vision is right. There’s going to be people who consider the task beneath them, or that the task shouldn’t be done. There’s gonna be people who say that that the task does not stir them that this motivational speech that God’s calling to do this doesn’t stir them or ignite a fire in them. But work was still done.
I’ve always heard it said if God called you to do something and you refuse to do it, then God is gonna go use somebody else. I don’t want that to be said of me. I don’t want God to have to go use somebody else when He called me to do a job. I can tell you that the work will continue if you do not rise up, God will use someone who will. If churches do not rise up to fulfill the Great Commission, God will use churches that will. Because God’s plan and God’s purpose in God’s Kingdom is going to advance because that is the will of God.
So what about you? That’s the question I’ve asked myself every day this week. Will I stoop to serve the Lord? Will you stoop to serve the Lord? Will You consider the Lord Jesus? Will you take time to reflect on this truth, that the Lord Jesus stooped down, to wash the feet of his disciples? Will you consider that Jesus hung on a cross on our behalf?
What’s so amazing about the feet washing ceremony is Judas was still in the room? I’ve thought about that. Jesus knew what was going to happen that night. And He washed the feet of the man who was going to betray. It’s a powerful image and it’s a powerful example.
Will the mercy of God and the grace of God motivate you and me to work. Not to earn His favor, that’s not why we work. We work because we love Him and He loves us. We work to bring glory to God, not to ourselves.
The Gospel message is this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Do you believe that today? Do you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior? Do you want to serve Him today? Do you want to stand side by side with this church? To work together to expand God’s territory. Let’s pray together.
Father. We know that You’ve called all of us to a job. A nd You’ve gifted us and equipped us and through the Holy Spirit, You empower us to use those gifts to bring glory to Your Name by doing Your work. Father help us to stand side by side and seek ways to expand Your Kingdom in Your territory. Motivate us, inspire us and ignite a fire in our life so that we would be committed to making disciples of all peoples everywhere. And God, we know that Your hand is with us, and in all we do, we pray that it would bring honor and glory to Your Name. We ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen. And Amen.