(Nehemiah 2:11-2:20) As we observe Nehemiah set the stage for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, we discover principles for setting the stage for church revival. He evaluated the situation, recruited workers and faced down his critics.
THE PLANNING STAGE
Nehemiah left as soon as his documentation was in order. He arrives at Jerusalem with the King's permission to rebuild the walls and authorization to take timber from the King's forest. He is also escorted by the King's troops. It seems that the need for building permits was not created by our society.
He paused for three days to evaluate the work. He toured the city and noted the condition of the walls. He looked for resources, potential leaders and measured the morale of the city. A leader who seeks to guide a church through renewal must do the same. Moving a church from decline to growth is a difficult task that is filled with peril. What are the causes for decline? Those issues that can be addressed must be prioritized. Who are the gatekeepers? How much will it cost and how will it be financed?
THE PARTNERING STAGE
Nehemiah recruited help by appealing directly to the people. He knew that the current leadership could not fix the problem. Too often, it's the leaders who say it can't be done. God needs a Nehemiah type to come in, find resources and cheer the church on fulfill God's mission. There are countless churches all over America that are told they can't. Maybe denominational consultants can't. Maybe church leaders and pastors can't. BUT GOD CAN!
Nehemiah was open and honest about the condition of the walls and gates; the work would be hard. Then he said, "Let us rebuild."
I heard a preacher say, “Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel.”
He presented the spiritual perspective. The ruins of Jerusalem represented their spiritual disgrace. The collapsed walls gave the pagans the idea that the God of Israel has abandoned his people. A building project is more than just brick and mortar. There are spiritual opportunities and challenges. Nehemiah assured them that God’s hand was in it. It’s God’s mission and He will give the victory.
They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work”
THE PERSEVERANCE STAGE
God's people can expect persecution when we do his work. Jesus promised us we would, “...they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20 NIV)
He also said we would be blessed for ours is the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:10 NIV)
Nehemiah's arrival under the King's authority diminished the power of some local big shots. They mocked and ridiculed and said that Nehemiah was breaking the law. Verbal onslaughts have always been part of the enemy’s demoralizing tactics.
When a church starts coming together to do God's work after a long period of apathy, Satan puts it into high gear. Slanders, whispers of discontent, stubborn opposition and vicious attacks will come from people who were once quiet and sweet. God's people can become discouraged by such action but now is the time to persevere. Satan's howls are indications that the church is coming back to life.
Nehemiah doesn’t answer their lies or engage in a conversation with them. Nor does he ignore them. He declares, “The God of heaven will give us success.”
He doesn’t let their criticism stop the work that God wanted done. He says, “We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
Those who ridicule and mock and threaten miss out on God’s plan. Now that is leadership at its best, keeping a biblical perspective toward the opposition.
When we follow God, we should expect spiritual opposition and even be thankful for it. It’s a sign that we’ve angered the enemy and encroached on some territory that He thinks is his. If there’s no conflict or opposition, then we’re probably not disturbing the enemy enough.
the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4
Hand Me Another Brick by Chuck Swindoll