Well, this is our final week of looking at Nehemiah. We’ve seen how God led Nehemiah to return to Judah from exile to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. We’ve also seen how Nehemiah faced great opposition, but persevered in spite of it. Now today we are going to look at just two verses to wrap it all up. But I should mention that this isn’t the end of the story of Nehemiah. In fact, we’re not even half-way through. There is lots more to the story and many more things that can be learned, so I would encourage you to read through the rest of Nehemiah.
But for today, we are going to look at two verse in chapter 6, verse 15 & 16:
So on October 2nd the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
From these two verses we can draw four principles that we can learn about God’s work.
#1. God’s Work Is Not Hindered By “Impossible”
Building a wall around the city was no easy task. Not only only did they have to build the wall, they had to first clear away the rubble from the old wall, and they had to stand ready for attack while they were building. Remember how their enemies were threatening to attack them?
Nehemiah 4:16 says “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other”
This was not easy work. It would be difficult with two hands, let alone just one. Even the workers said in chapter 4:10 “We will never be able to rebuild the wall by ourselves.”
But somehow, they got it done in just 52 days. Why? God’s work is not hindered by “impossible”. How many other times in Scripture has God done the impossible? Let me give you just a few examples:
- The Israelites are trapped between the army of Egypt and the Red Sea – what does God do? He cuts a path right through the sea for the people to walk across on dry ground.
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo get thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship a statue – what does God do? He protects them from the fire so that they don’t even smell like smoke.
- Jesus is teaching the multitudes out in the countryside and there is only a little boy’s lunch to feed 5,000 people. What does God do? He somehow stretches that food so that everyone is satisfied and there is plenty left over.
And that’s just a sampling. Even today, God does the impossible. How many times has God done seemingly impossible things in your life?
When I was about 12 years old, I was bringing a tractor back home from a field a couple of miles away. I don’t know too much about mechanics and hydraulics and such, but from what I understand, this tractor had a button on the floor that would release the hydraulic pressure in the tractor to make it easier to start the engine or something like that. Of course, when you do that, the hydraulic steering doesn’t function properly until you press the button back in.
Well, I had no idea about any of this, so after my dad or my brother started the tractor, I got in and started driving the tractor without pressing the button in. I started off just driving straight down the road, but I had only gone a short way when the tractor started drifting towards the ditch. Well, I tried to adjust it’s course, but the steering wheel wouldn’t move and the tractor just kept going forward – closer to the ditch all the time.
Had I been a little wiser, I might have popped it out of gear and put on the brakes or even shut off the engine. But being just 12 years old and being gripped with panic, I just continued to fight with that steering wheel all the way down the side of the ditch.
Now here’s where the “God doing the impossible” part comes in. The ditch dropped off very steeply, and as I slowly drove down the side of the ditch, the laws of physics say that the tractor should have rolled. But, somehow it didn’t and the tractor eventually came to a stop as the tractor bucket dug into the bank on the other side and there was no real harm done.
But ever since then, my family always jokes that I must have a fat guardian angel who sat on the tractor’s fender, keeping it from rolling over. But really, we believe God intervened and did the impossible.
A few years ago when our girl was just nine months old, she became very pale and had no energy. So we took her to the doctor and he ran some tests. Later that night he called us and told us that her red blood cell count was very low. Well, we took her into the hospital and after they checked her out they very quickly transferred her to the intensive care unit in the children’s hospital.
We had no idea what was going on, and neither did the doctors. In fact, we never did figure out what caused all that to happen. But God knew all about it. Although our little girl was extremely sick and the doctors had no idea what the trouble was, God took care of her and us and He did what seemed impossible and she got better.
Jesus said in… Matthew 19:26 “with God all things are possible.”
It may seem impossible for our little church to change our community. Sure, maybe we can impact two or three families, but to change our whole community… Impossible. But that’s ok. God likes impossible. God’s work is not hindered by “impossible”. In fact, impossible just shows people how great and how mighty and how awesome God really is.
Are there a few impossible situations in your life? Maybe an impossible relationship? Or an impossible financial situation? That’s ok. God likes impossible. And perhaps He’s allowed this impossible situation in your life to show you just how awesome He is. God’s work is not hindered by impossible.
#2. God’s Work, Done in God’s Way, Will Never Lack God’s Supply.
This is actually the famous motto of Hudson Taylor, who was a missionary to China for over 50 years in the late 1800s and who founded the China Inland Mission. And he knew what He was talking about. Within one year of founding the China Inland Mission, he had 24 missionaries and had raise nearly a quarter million dollars. You can see why he could say “God’s Work, Done in God’s Way, Will Never Lack God’s Supply.” If you’ve never read the story of Hudson Taylor, I encourage you to do so. His life is a fantastic model of trust in God and zeal for winning the lost.
But lest I get sidetracked, we’re talking about Nehemiah, though I think he shared the same motto.
Remember back when Nehemiah was still in Susa talking to the King about coming to Jerusalem? Nehemiah requested that the king supply him with letters that would ensure him a safe journey, as well as timber for the wall, the fortress, and his house. And why did the king grant his requests?
“And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.”
God’s Work, Done in God’s Way, Will Never Lack God’s Supply.
This should be a great encouragement for us. Whatever projects and activities God directs us to undertake, if we do things His way, we will never lack His supply.
But I should make a couple of clarifications. First of all, it’s got to be God’s Work. Not our work. Not what we think might be God’s work. But God’s work. If He wants something to be done, he will always supply whatever is necessary to get it done.
The second clarification is that it must be done God’s way. Think about Jericho – God wanted them to take the city, but what if they had just laid siege to the city and done things their way? Would God have blessed their efforts? No. It has to be done God’s way.
But when you do God’s work, in God’s way, you will never lack God’s supply.
If our camp needs counselors for this summer, won’t God provide them?
If our worship service needs people with musical abilities, won’t God provide them?
If our church needs dollars to build a facility, won’t God provide them?
If, when we talk to our neighbor about Christ, we need the right words, won’t God provide them?
God’s Work, Done in God’s Way, Will Never Lack God’s Supply.
#3. God’s Work Makes an Impact.
“When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence”
When this wall was completed in just 52 days, things changed. Before this, Jerusalem was a symbol of disgrace. For over 100 years it had laid in ruins. The few exiles that had returned were seen as weak, defeated people. But not anymore. When the surrounding nations saw how quickly they built the wall, despite great opposition, they became afraid and lost confidence. God’s work had made an impact.
And God’s work makes an impact today too. God doesn’t do things for no reason. He doesn’t give us things to do just to fill time and keep us occupied. No. God gives us work to do that will make an impact.
And that might be a good measure of whether or not we are doing God’s work. Is what we’re doing making an impact? As a church, are we making disciples? Are we bring people to Christ? Are we sending out missionaries? Are we building up the body of Christ? Are the things that we are doing making an impact? If not, maybe we’re not doing God’s work. Maybe we’re just doing our work. Because God’s work makes an impact.
I think we really need to constantly evaluate what we are doing as a church to make sure that we’re doing God’s work – not ours. I don’t want to waste my time, my resources, and my efforts doing things that God hasn’t asked me to do. Because those things aren’t going to make an impact. I want to do God’s work, because God’s work makes an impact.
#4. God’s Work Brings God Glory.
“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.”
Who gets the glory? Was it Nehemiah? Was it the builders? No. It was God who got the glory. And that’s exactly how it should be.
It’s a hard thing to learn in our world of me, me, me that its not all about me. It’s all about God. Even as Christians we have a hard time remembering that.
I have a book written by a Christian author entitled, “It’s Not About Me”. And what’s funny about this book, is that right under the title on the cover, in great big letters it says “By Max Lucado”.
Have you ever tried going for a certain period of time without saying the words, “I”, “me”, or “my”? It’s just about impossible. I would challenge the youth that from now until the end of our Sunday School class after church to try not to use those three words – I, me, or my. I bet no one can do it.
But it really isn’t about us. It’s about God. History is HIS STORY. We exist to bring glory to God. Our church is here to bring glory to God. You were put on this planet to bring glory to God. And when we realize that, everything changes.
- Imagine if you spent your money, not for you, but for God. How would that change where your money goes?
- Imagine if when you talked to people, you talked not to make yourself look good, but to make God look good. How would that change your conversation?
- Imagine if when you decide how to spend you time, you spent your time not doing things for you, but doing things for God. How would that change your daily schedule?
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name”
In other words, bring God the glory that He deserves. It’s a tall order, but the challenge for you and for me is to live our lives not for our comfort, not for our pleasure, not for our fulfillment – but to bring glory to God in everything we do.
Because, after all, doesn’t He deserve it? The more I get to know God and the more I see what He’s done, the more I realize just how great and awesome He is and much he deserves all the glory that I can possibly give Him.
Just consider this: The God of the universe who made everything in existence, who lovingly created me, (knit me together in my mother’s womb according to Psalm 139), who, even though I rebelled against Him and insisted on doing things my way, He died on a cross as man – taking my punishment, so that if I just believe and accept what He did, I can have eternal life with Him in Heaven.
That’s the God I serve, and that’s the God that deserves all the glory.