Blessed Builders: Potential In Broken Walls

Blessed Builders: Potential In Broken Walls

Opening Introduction:
A boy told his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?" 

The dad replied, "Two." 

"No," the son replied. "There’s three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?" 

The dad said, "Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left."

The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump."

Point:
Frogs are a lot like people right? It is easy to decide to do something but never do it.  How many of us have decided to lose weight but here we are…still chubby?  How many of you have decided to save money but here we are…the same balance in our checking account?  How many of you have decided to pay off your credit card debt but here we are…still in debt?  

The point is this, it is easy to get inspired but it is often very difficult to move from inspired to action.

Nehemiah Moves From Inspired To Action! 

Background of Nehemiah 2:11-20

So in Nehemiah 1 we are confronted with a pretty alarming problem.  The walls of Jerusalem are in ruin.  The city has been devastated.  Culturally, religiously, economically, and militarily the city is in a state of utter waste.  Nehemiah is broken hearted.  

Then we move to chapter 2 of Nehemiah and we see a powerful thing happen.  After hearing the problems with his hometown, Nehemiah says “why not me”.  He sets a plan in to motion to speak to the King and ask for the King’s approval to return home to rebuild the walls and the city.  The King approves.  

This catches us up to where we are today.  Today we will read the second half of Nehemiah 2.  Nehemiah is no longer in the King’s court.  We find him in Jerusalem.  This is a city that Nehemiah has only heard about.  He has never seen the city or met the people.  You can imagine how stunned Nehemiah must have been when he saw the massive job that laid before him.  We will come back to that point in just a moment.  

Now that are things that take place in Scripture that you don’t actually read.  It seems that Nehemiah just appears in Jerusalem.  It’s like Jerusalem is about two miles away or something.  That is not the case at all.  As a crow flies, Jerusalem was about 500 miles away from Babylon.  However, Nehemiah could not take a direct route.  He traveled about 900 miles.  Why? A direct path would have taken Nehemiah through a brutal desert where he would have had no water or food.  He would have had to take the path of Ezra when he returned to the city.  He would have taken the path along the Euphrates River then south to Jerusalem.  

This trip would have been frightening and wrought with peril.  Again, this trip would have provided plenty of time for Nehemiah to contemplate what he was undertaking.  It would have given him plenty of time to back out.  

Illustration: Wait Till Your Father Comes Home
I can remember as a kid getting into trouble with my mother.  There came a time in my life where I exceeded the size of my mother.  Physically she really wasn’t able to punish me a real meaningful way.  However, she would send me to my room and tell me to “wait till your Father comes home”.  I hated that wait.  It was the worst.  It gave me plenty of time to think about what I had gotten myself into.  The same here happen’s to Nehemiah.  This is a long journey and I am sure that it gave Nehemiah plenty of time to formulate doubts in his mind about what he was doing.  

You and I are no different are we?

Also, remember that no one knows that Nehemiah is coming.  Jerusalem is not expecting him or thinking that anyone will show up to help.  

So, Nehemiah the outsider is coming to tell the people of Jerusalem how to get their lives together.  You can imagine that might stir some conflict among God’s people.  So, let’s read Nehemiah 2:11-20 this morning.  

Nehemiah 2:11-20 ESV
11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
17 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.” 18 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. 19 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?” 20 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.”

Let’s Chart Nehemiah’s Progress To Productivity 

Point:
After all, that’s where we all want to be right?  Productive!  All of us want to be productive.  We want to do something that will matter.  Something that will last.  Something that will leave a legacy.  Nehemiah’s story is really no different than ours.  Nehemiah wanted to do something that might help people, glorify God and leave a lasting contribution to society.  Hopefully that is where we all are today.  That’s where we want to be, but how do we get there?  How do we move from inspired to doing something to actually doing it?  Well, let’s look this morning at our very first point.  

I. Nehemiah’s Pause vs. 11
Nehemiah 2:11 ESV
11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 

Point:
Wait a second! Nehemiah travels some 900 miles and finally reaches the destination and he waits 3 days to do anything.  Nothing happens for 3 days.  What was he waiting for?  What was he doing?  

I think I know exactly what Nehemiah was going through.  Nehemiah was human.  Remember, Nehemiah was undereducated for a project of this scale.  He was undermanned.  He was undersupplied.  There was literally nothing about this that was going to be easy.  I think that in his humanness, Nehemiah hid.  I think that Nehemiah was overwhelmed.  This man who was clearly called by God was humanly overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of this project.  

You know, I find that comforting…don’t you?  Don’t you find it comforting that you have a man of determination and calling who was eaten up with fear.  For three days he saw the issues, the problems and Nehemiah disappeared.  He had to have been scared.  

Friends, as a pastor I am afraid all the time.  I am racked with fear.  Sure, I may present a confident persona on Sunday mornings but none of you have access to the quiet places of my mind.  I deal, we all deal with a similar brokenness that Nehemiah experienced.  

Did you know that in our church we have have broken families?

We have marriages that are on the brink of blowing up.

In our church we have members who struggle with their sexuality.

In our church we have had women who have had abortions.

We have families who have lost children through miscarriage, sudden accidents and even murder.  

Broken.

At Eastern Shore Baptist Chruch we have church members who love their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who have openly embraced an alternative lifestyles.  This is a real battle for them. They are broken over it. 

In our church we have men and women who have made dishonest deals at work to cheat other people.  

In our church there are children that have been abused.  

We have women that have been raped.

We have men who are hopelessly addicted to pornography. 

In our church there are youth that are doing drugs and might even be high right now.  

We have teens that are living in open rebellion but are dragged to church every single week. 

We have members that are addicted to alcohol and prescription medications.  

So. Much. Brokenness. 

Friends, do you see why I am scared?  People with these sorts of problems often look to me to help them find answers.  It is absolutely overwhelming.  Friends, it is time to stop ignoring the brokenness around us.  It is time that we come out of the shadows and say “enough”. It’s time to start rebuilding the brokenness.  

HOW?!

I have the answer.  It is the same answer yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The answer is Jesus.  Listen to this stunning verse about brokenness.  

Ephesians 2:1-8 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Point:
So, what did Nehemiah do for the three days?  I imagine that Nehemiah does what I do when I am constantly surrounded by my own brokenness and the brokenness of others.  I believe that Nehemiah prayed.  

Why?

Because there is power in prayer.

Because prayer bring the presence of God near to the sinner.

Because prayer gives purpose to the soul that has lost his or her aim.

Friend, prayer is the key.  Without prayer we are nothing.  We have nothing and we can do nothing. 

Bruce Lee had it figured out.

Quote:
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” 

Let’s Chart Nehemiah’s Progress To Productivity 

I. Nehemiah’s Pause vs. 11
II. Nehemiah’s Partners vs. 12
Nehemiah 2:12 ESV
12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me.

Point:
So, Nehemiah paused but he was not paralyzed.  Friends the best way to move from paused to productive is to find some partners. Scripture tells us that Nehemiah hid away for three days.  I imagine that he prayed.  Next we see that Nehemiah began to move.  However, he would not do it alone.  Scripture tells us that he found a few men to go with him.  

You know, there is tremendous power in a few men.  

When men gather together in God’s name, God shows up.  Matthew 18:20

Joshua fell the walls of Jericho with just a few men.

Gideon defeated the most powerful army in the world with just a few men.  

Just a few men is a powerful motivating tool in doing great things for the Kingdom of God.  

When people partner together, God starts doing some pretty amazing things.  

I am so proud of the partners that I have in this church that are committed to making a difference.  

The same holds true for women.  

Point:
Did you know that we have a lady in our church who got burdened for other women in our church.  She felt that there was a demographic in our church that we were not reaching.  She saw something broken.  So, do you know what she did?  

She started to complain.  

She started to be critical.  

She started telling everyone how us ministers were dropping the ball.  

Just kidding.  She didn’t do those things.  

She saw a problem and God placed in her heart to do something about it.  She started a video driven Bible study that meets every Wednesday night at 5:30.  They started small.  Just a few ladies.  

You know, there is tremendous power in a few women.  

That group began to grow and grow and grow.  To this date, it has become one of the most impactful studies that meets at our church.  

From this one Bible study, another study has sprung off with even more women.  We have had 3 families join our church in the last month alone because one lady saw a gap and filled the gap with her obedience.  

Testimony:
I started going to the women's bible study last summer shortly after we joined the church. I was looking for a way to plug in and meet some new friends. My husband and I had only been living in the area a short time and I was desperately looking for women to connect with. I showed up to the class not knowing anyone or what to expect and I was greeted by a room of friendly faces. I had no idea that those smiling faces would end up being a group of women that I would laugh, cry, and pray with and for. These women have supported me, prayed for me and helped me become closer to God. We just finished our 3rd study and I'm so excited to start the next and see where God takes us and what we learn. I feel like this group of women have helped me become a better wife, mom, friend and Christian.

Because of her initiative, men’s classes will be starting in the fall.  

I sincerely doubt that this woman realized that profound effect that she has had.  She would not take credit for it.  She just saw a need and filled a need.  She is not extraordinary but her calling is.  

What’s your calling?

Point:
Friends, when we partner together, we see lives being saved.  Watch this story about Wesley Autry and discover how partnering together just might save a life.  



Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

Let’s Chart Nehemiah’s Progress To Productivity 

I. Nehemiah’s Pause vs. 11
II. Nehemiah’s Partners vs. 12
III. Nehemiah’s Potential vs. 13-15
Nehemiah 2:13-15 ESV
13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.

Point:
So Nehemiah sets out and on his journey he comes to various gates.  The gates are very significant.  The first gate he comes to is the Valley Gate.  

1. The Valley Gate. This gate opened to the Valley of Hinnom.  Throughout the Bible we are confronted with valleys.  Valley are symbolic of the low times in the life of a Christian.  The valley is not a fun place to be but it is in the valley that the Christian grows the most.  

2. Then we come to the Dung Gate.  This is the gate where all the trash and garbage for the city was taken.  Notice that once we pass through the valley, God disposes all the garbage of our life.  You cannot reach the Dung Gate without first going through the Valley Gate.  Some try, but the best way to get rid of the trash of our lives is to go first through the Valley Gate then to the Dung Gate. 

3. Now we come to the Fountain Gate. The fountain gate is located near the pool of Siloah and was often used by the people for cleaning before proceeding on to the temple.  You will notice from the picture that the fountain gate is located extremely close to the dung gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out through the dung gate, true faith comes forth and the fountains begin to flow quite quickly! This speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life. Jesus said: Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:38

Point:
So we have three gates.  All three destroyed.  There was no access to the valley where the believer in God could grow.  There was not access to the Dung gate, so all the trash was budding up.  There was no access to the Fountain Gate, therefore no springs of life or living water was available.  

These gates were broken…but they had potential.  If only these gates could be rebuilt.  

Point:
Friend, when is the last time you saw potential in something broken.  In my very first point today, I talked about brokenness.  Maybe that made you feel uneasy.  Maybe you felt uneasy because one of those broken people is you!  

The Gates Were…

A. Broken

B. Busted

C. Burned

Just Like Me…Just Like You!

You are broken.  

You are busted. 

You’ve been burned.  

You look just like that gate that Nehemiah came upon some 2500 years ago.  

Friend, if that is you, I have good news.  God has come to fix the broken and bind up the broken hearted.  

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Psalm 34:18 ESV
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners…

Matthew 5:2-12 ESV
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Point:
Friend, if you have come here broken, busted and burned, you are in a perfect situation for God to use you in the most powerful of ways.  

Illustration:
Open your Bibles this morning and let’s read about one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  Open to Luke 19:1-10.

Luke 19:1-10 ESV
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus was busted, broken and burned.  Not doubt people judged him for being a tax collector. People had probably given him a hard time all his life about his physical stature.  The religious people looked down on him because of his sin.  Yet, Jesus saw potential in this man than everyone else wanted to throw away.  

Friends, we are Zacchaeus.  We are all worthy of being thrown away.  Like Nehemiah, Jesus saw potential in me and you.  

Quote:
“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” -Brian Tracy

Let’s Chart Nehemiah’s Progress To Productivity 

I. Nehemiah’s Pause vs. 11
II. Nehemiah’s Partners vs. 12
III. Nehemiah’s Potential vs. 13-15
IV. Nehemiah’s Petition vs. 17-18
17 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.” 18 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.

Point:
We are in trouble.  Look at the brokenness around us.  There is to much for one man to do on his own. Let us rebuild the broken and fill the gaps. 

Point:
Friends, I am inviting you to join me today in rebuilding.  If you are waiting for my invitation or permission, you have both.  I would love to see ministry out of control here at ESBC.  I would love to see our members so openly embrace the broken things of this world in hopes to rebuild lives for the glory of God.  

Join me.  

Jesus says join me.  

Look around, there are people here that need YOU!  

What bricks do you need to pick up this morning?  Where are the broken spots?  

Jesus is inviting you to join him this morning. 

Mark 1:17 ESV
And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." 


Are You Ready to Start Rebuilding?

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