Finding Your Purpose

 A Study in Nehemiah 3:1-32 [Be sure to have your Bible nearby!]

NEHEMIAH’S VISION – To rebuild the walls around Jerusalem (Chapter 2:5-8)

If OUR VISION is to start rebuilding in our churches, our communities, in a relationship, our trust, our faith…the time is now to put into action all the planning and praying.

To REBUILD successfully, you need VISION. 

What Is Your Purpose?

If there are others in your midst that are going to be a part of your intentions to REBUILD, what’s their vision, their expectations, their purpose?  If your vision and their vision aren’t the same there’s a problem!

What if Nehemiah’s workers built their own visions of the wall?  You most likely would have had a section of decorative fence, a section of wood, a section of the block, etc…The fence would’ve looked…stupid?

My wife and I are both ardent followers of Chip & Joanna Gain’s TV show, Fixer Upper.  And in a lot of shows we watch together, we have differing views of what should have been done:  “Too much shiplap for me.  I would have done it in beadboard.”  And Dianne would counter, “I love shiplap there!”

To rebuild successfully you’ll need someone to unify everyone.

You need to lead!

Nehemiah had noticed and was troubled that the wall of protection had fallen into disrepair.  He had defined the PURPOSE, communicated his discontent, motivated the people to accept the task.

Now the work began.

The walls of Jerusalem had fallen into sad shape for about 150 years, and Nehemiah was determined to REBUILD them and to end the shame brought upon the Jews in Jerusalem.  It was work that couldn’t be undertaken or carried out by one person.  It would take many people with common purpose and desire!

Nehemiah was wise enough to allow a variety of people, some more skillful than others to pitch in to help build the wall.

There’s a good lesson for us here.

Some of us have more skill than others.  Some have more experience than others.  Some have more wisdom than others.  But there’s a place for ALL willing to work.

GOD USES ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE!

Nehemiah Chapter 3, notice that there are:

  • Priests and Levites and other temple servants.
  • Goldsmiths, perfumers, and merchants.
  • Officials.
  • Men and women.

What are they doing?  WORKING!

Nobody is too young, too old, too poor, too rich.

God accomplishes His PURPOSE through people…

But people need leaders to motivate, not manipulate, and organize them for the cause.

There are some areas in your life, in my life, where we need to lead.

It is your life…your purpose and if you’re not going to care enough to make a decision to lead then why would someone else?

The same people listed in Nehemiah 3 had been living in the city for years, but the wall didn’t get built until God sent Nehemiah to lead the charge.

I thought it was interesting that Nehemiah is never mentioned by name in chapter 3, but his labor is behind the whole chapter.

So a LEADER must…not mind if the credit goes to others.

Nehemiah didn’t want a huge sign over the main gate or a bronze plaque reading:  The Nehemiah Memorial Wall.  Rather, Nehemiah was committed to the task.  He wanted the wall to be built so that God’s name, His glory, would be exalted in Jerusalem and His people no longer live in ridicule.  I would call GOD’S PURPOSE…REBUILDING PEOPLE!

Nehemiah knew that God would recognize his efforts.

Hebrews 6:10 (AMP)

[10] For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name’s sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do.

Nehemiah was laboring to hear “well done” from the Lord.

With over 40 years in the construction industry and 5 years in sales management behind me…I learned by experience that MOTIVATING people on the job can be difficult at times.

MOTIVATING OTHERS AS A LEADER…

The Jews had been back in the land for 90 years, but the WALL for their own protection hadn’t been rebuilt.

But Nehemiah came along and got everyone excited about the rebuilding idea.

Motivation is a KEY to productivity.

The difficult thing about motivating others is what motivates some turns off others.  Even Nehemiah couldn’t get the nobles of Tekoa to join the project.

One way that Nehemiah motivated the people…now catch this; was assigning many of them to work on the portion of the wall that they had a particular interest in.  No one wants to be a square peg put in a round hole.  Me, included!

The priests worked on the SHEEP GATE where people would bring sacrifices to the temple.  Others repaired the wall in front of their own homes.

Jerusalem, 1940-1946

THE “DUNG” GATE

There are 12 Gates to the city of Jerusalem and I’ll admit that it might have been difficult to motivate someone to the task of building at the DUNG GATE.

Please make a note on this point:  IF YOU HAVE A BAD ATTITUDE ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING, others may have the same attitude.

As a LEADER, sometimes you’ve to be the ‘cheerleader’; get people excited about what they’re doing.

That brings us to PLANNING & ORGANIZING.

Leaders gotta do this!

It’s obvious the smooth operation taking place in Chapter and it is evident Nehemiah had done some extensive planning and organizing.  He had figured it out how to go about this huge task by breaking the project down into small manageable units.  He assigned the available workforce into various units, then worked to coordinate them so everything fit together.

Just a reminder here, its God who provides the strength.  He alone provides the skills.  He alone provides the wisdom.

God is looking for our FAITHFULNESS!

Even though you might feel that your contributions to a given task are insignificant in the process, everyone counts, every effort counts in God’s kingdom work.

There was a big job to be done in Jerusalem, and it took FAITHFULNESS from everyone to get it done.

WHAT FAITH CAN DO – “By FAITH…” Hebrews 11:21-34

  • Prompts us to do…
  • Activates us…
  • Arouses us…
  • Motivates us…
  • Urges us…
  • Helps us…

Delegate & Oversee –

Nehemiah couldn’t possibly have done all the work himself and neither can we.  Sometimes, being honest here, it’s easier to do the job myself than to delegate it; but as the task grows in size, the necessity to DELEGATE grows.

Nehemiah had to entrust the work ahead of time to the workers giving them authority (an important gift) to get the job done.  And by the way… delegating doesn’t mean dumping or dictating.  To dump something on someone and walk away from it isn’t effective leadership.

While all along, Nehemiah was delegating the workload, you can be sure that he went around inspecting and overseeing the progress, talking to his leaders, helping them keep things moving toward the GOAL.

In 3:20, Nehemiah makes a specific note on a worker’s ATTITUDE on the project:

Baruch “zealously” repaired another section…”

Apparently, Jeremiah knew not only WHO was doing what, but also HOW they were doing it.

We don’t use the word ZEALOUSLY in our ordinary conversation these days, at least I don’t, so I turned to the KJV Dictionary for an accurate definition:  ZEALOUSLY = WITH PASSIONATE ARDOR – WITH EAGERNESS.

Baruch did an exceptional job.

A leader must give proper recognition when due.

Apparently, Nehemiah wrote down in detail who was doing what on the project.  He mentions some workers completing more than one section of the wall; BUT…the important thing I noted…not every worker was recognized, yet God recognized them by including their names here.  Oh, that’s GOOD!  How many times over the years have I felt hurt in service because man wasn’t recognizing my efforts?

As a leader, you can’t get distracted…

And the enemy will do everything to try to distract you.

Nehemiah 3:5 (AMP)

[5]  The Tekoites repaired, but their nobles or lords did not put their necks to the work of their Lord.

Perhaps the nobles of Tekoa refused to “put their necks to work” was because their necks were stiff–from PRIDE.

To the nobles’ shame, the people of Tekoa built two sections of the wall, and some other towns nobles rolled up their sleeves and went to work; but Nehemiah didn’t expend any energy on the nobles of Tekoa.  Rather, he worked with the many willing workers.  Those who didn’t get involved were losers in the long run.

To rebuild successfully, you’re going to need the help of others.

The PEOPLE heard Nehemiah’s VISION and they responded by building.

The WORKERS were willing to complement each other.  Everyone couldn’t do the same job.  Some worked on the walls, others worked on the gates, others carried heavy stones, etc…   Some workers were willing to work outside of their areas of strength.  Some of the people did things they weren’t trained to do and were not even good at.  It had to get done and they were willing to do it.  And those who physically couldn’t work, as there are in churches today, spent time on their knees in prayer during the project.  We can all do that!

Some workers were willing to do less glamorous or desirable jobs.

In Nehemiah 3:14, Malchijah (a “goldsmith”) repaired the Reuse (or Dung) Gate.  This was the GATE to the dump and sewer.

CONCLUSION:

What can we take to heart and mind from this passage of Scripture?

It’s time to start REBUILDING in our communities, our families, our churches.  No more, “I’m no leader! Let someone else lead.”

The time is right now, so do it right!

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CREDITS –

Dictionaries Used:  KJV Bible Dictionary; Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Advanced settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), New International Version (NIV).

Commentary:  God’s Task, Our Task by Scott Spencer–Sermon Notes.

Be Careful What You Ask For (PART ONE)

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In the past several months, during America’s political process, the world has its eyes on the events as they unfold during the campaign process of nominating a Presidential candidate.  On the way, we will read and hear many concession speeches.  

In 2004, Secretary John Kerry, then a United States Senator, was running a fierce campaign for the highest office in the land; trying to secure his place in history as the next president.  But it was not to be.  The following is his CONCESSION speech  [See Footnote [i] ]. 

“I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that even with all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won’t be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio. And, therefore, we cannot win this election.”

[Definition, “to concede” :  to confess, admit as being true, or to acknowledge defeat”]

Senator Kerry’s concession speech wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last.

In the Bible, God too gave a concession speech.  One might say that He prefaced His speech when He said back in Genesis 6:3,  “My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man.”

In First Samuel, Chapter 8, we read in the verses that God was no longer popular with the people.  The masses thought He was irrelevant in their lives; unable to meet the needs of their nation.  God had lost the popular vote, failed to secure the electoral votes and conceded by giving a speech through His former running mate, the Honorable Prophet Samuel.

THE PROBLEM (found in vs. 1-3):

[1] WHEN SAMUEL was old, he made his sons judges over Israel.  [2] Now the name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second, Abijah.  They were judges in Beersheba.  [3] His sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

The prophet Samuel had appointed his two sons to become judges over Israel.  It seems as if Samuel was trying to create a family dynasty and placed his sons in a position where they were charged with judging ALL the people righteously, yet they instead had some favorites.

Samuel was a godly man, yet his children went astray.  But you can’t be in a position of LEADERSHIP, claiming to be on God’s side, all the while JUDGING with partiality.

SCRIPTURE says they, “turned aside after gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

In other words, only they only supported those who would make them wealthy.  If you didn’t have any money, or any high-ranking social status, then you, unfortunately, were oppressed in the name of God.

One can appear to be in a position of FAVOR, receive BLESSINGS, yet be out of favor with God.

These two young men used their religious positions, backed by the name of God, to gain political and material advantages.  Sound familiar?

They gave perks to the wealthy and if you had a problem with those in power, Joel and Abijah were bought off by the corporate powers that be, so you didn’t have to a fighting chance.

Many confess God but do not serve Him.  And, the last time my Bible defined “AUTHORITY”, YOU HAD TO BE A SERVANT LEADER to ALL the people NOT just to the people in your inner circle.

THE PEOPLE (vs. 4-5):

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.  They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have”  (NIV Bible).

1-Samuel-8

The Bible teaches us, when the blind leads the blind, they all fall in the ditch.

Here we see in verse 4, the elders of the people, the Senate, the House of Representatives, came together in a joint session and told Samuel that they wanted a king like all the other nations, all because his sons were not walking with God.  The “theys” saw an opportunity to pursue their endorsement because of the failures and mistakes of others–minimizing God!  They were elders, and instead of them using their influence to unite the people, they told the people a partial truth, okay, a LIE, damaging their unique relationship with God.

All this was a teaching moment to me in my meditation on the verses here.  Neither the LEADERS nor the PEOPLE were praying and seeking God.  Instead, they were trying to get from man what they had available with God.

According to verse 20, they wanted a KING to fight for them, lead them in their frustrations and fears.  No doubt, all because they were a ‘civil religious’ nation; probably all the time thinking they were doing the right thing–suppressing the poor and disadvantaged while demanding that all they needed to have was a LEADER to further their program.

THE PROPHET (vs. 6-9):

[6] But it displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.”  And Samuel prayed to the Lord.  [7] And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to the voice of the people in all they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be King over them.  [8] According to all the works which they have done since I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they also do to you.  [9] So listen now to their voice; only solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them”  (AMP Bible).

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To Be Continued in PART TWO…

 


CREDITS AND FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [I]:  History’s Best Victory And Concession Speeches – November 6, 2012, Northwest Public Radio.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  AMPLIFIED Bible, except where noted.