(Summary of the sermon from 09 Aug 2015)
COST OF THE CALL
Last week, we started exploring the costs involved in our calling. We learnt that in order to live our dream we must be willing to meet certain expectations.
Close to 2500 years ago Nehemiah recognized that he needed to rise from his position as cup bearer to the Persian King. He sought the king’s favor and managed to get permission and resources to rebuild the wall in Israel. He took a risk of petitioning the king and by God’s grace he was answered favorably.
BUILD UP YOUR WALLS
Do you know about the wall that people admire while on a tour of the Holy Land (Israel)?
Well, Nehemiah built up that wall in the midst of intense oppression with the resources provided by the enemy in just 52 days!
The Bible says that when the ways of a man please God He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Nehemiah’s nemeses Sanballat and Tobiah constantly harassed him and tried to trip him up. But this man stood firm in the wake of such intense persecution and built up the wall!
The world around us may mock us when we rise up and build walls. The walls need not be physical walls around a city but the spirit of control that guards our lives. The Bible says that a man who does not have a reign over his spirit is like a city with broken walls.
What are the areas that we need to wall up? How good is our control over our diet, our speech and our impulses? Are we able to wake up in the mornings and seek the Lord? Do we make decisions and choices based our on our eyes, flesh, tongue and attitudes? Maybe our walls are broken down or it could be that of someone around us. God has called us to do the needful.
STEP UP THE GAME
The Bible says that Nehemiah prayed and sought the Lord in building the walls. He repented and then realized that he is the solution to the problem. Often we can be the answer to many broken lives, spirits and hearts. Of course, on the outside it might appear as if everything is fine in these lives. But if we walk a step closer we will recognize the cracks. What is our response? Do we intend to just sail through life minding our own business or are we willing to live for God on His terms? Are we only concerned about ‘our marriage, our children, our jobs and our finances’?
The Bible specifically tells us to ‘seek His kingdom first and His righteousness and then all the other things will be added unto us’. Let’s get up and build the Kingdom of God; walls et al. We are called to go to the next level. We cannot turn a blind eye to the atrocities in the world around us.
Nehemiah’s enemies attempted to kill him. When he got word about it, Nehemiah and his crew worked with a spear in one hand. They were on their guard. Within 52 days God enabled them to build up a wall. Nehemiah walked around the city in the dead of the night to figure out a way to resolve the situation. God met him there and inspired him to keep the work up.
In the darkness around us, God can show us his light. He wants us to rise up and seek Him. When we do that He will shine His crystal clear light. Nehemiah organized the people and they worked hard. So when the enemy struck they were prepared.
BEWARE OF THE ENEMY WITHIN
A dangerous enemy that lurks around often is someone from within our inner circle. Nehemiah 6:10 says, ‘Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” There was a secret informer in Nehemiah’s troop. Jesus’ enemy turned up from within His close inner circle – Judas Iscariot. When we rise up for God there might be some people who try to detract us. But God expects us to stand strong. Instead of just standing around and watching, we are called to rise up and respond.
What are we living for? Let our purpose be to build God’s Kingdom. As we step up to do that, let’s recognize that there might be a cost attached. But God will give us the grace to withstand it and also provide for all our needs. Let us stop looking for the hand of God; instead let our focus be on listening to His call.