I once had a friend who always seemed to be involved in building projects. For many years he renovated houses, tinkered with improvements, and did his best to make life easier for his large family. His wife often commented that she lived with so much drywall dust you could taste it in their food. Despite their family disruptions, I had to admire his skill, energy, and drive to improve things.
In the same way, there are things for Christians to build in the kingdom of God. Jesus taught that we must build our lives upon the word of God. Like a house whose foundation rests upon a rock, our spiritual lives will endure, if they rest upon God’s word. (Luke 6:47-49). We are also called to build the church. God is using us to share the gospel and to build up the saved.
So let me ask you this: What are you building – as an individual and as a member of the church?
GREAT THINGS DON’T GET OFF THE DRAWING BOARD UNLESS WE PRAY ABOUT THEM
One of the great builders in the bible is Nehemiah. He worked in the palace of the Persian king Artaxerxes in his capitol city of Susa in the 5th century B.C. One of Nehemiah’s brothers arrived one day and broke the news that things weren’t going very well back home in Jerusalem; the city walls remained broken and the gates were burnt. This upset Nehemiah and he promptly prayed to God for an opportunity to do something about it.
Read his great prayer Nehemiah 1.
Nehemiah didn’t have a high-profile job in Susa, but it was an influential one. He was a cup-bearer to the king who demanded cheerfulness and efficiency. Nehemiah decided he needed to approach the king and ask if there was some way to return to Jerusalem. He was aware that slaves weren’t to speak to the king unless spoken to first. But he wasn’t willing to stay in Susa and let his people in Judea suffer; He had to find a way to help.
His first step was prayer.
GREAT THINGS DON’T PROCEED UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
Nehemiah certainly took a big one. He took the wine into the king and queen in hoping for an opportunity to speak. Artaxerxes asked him why he looked despondent – and that presented the opportunity he needed. Nehemiah was relieved that the ruling couple was interested in sending him. They asked intelligent questions about how much time off he would need and how they could help. Nehemiah asked for official letters to usher him through hostile territory and for supplies of building materials to use when he got there. He stepped out in faith, risking the King’s disfavour for the sake of God’s people, Israel. And having done all he could, he trusted God with the rest.
GREAT PROJECTS NEED CAREFUL STUDY AND PERSUADED PEOPLE
When he arrived in Jerusalem, he made a careful survey. He looked things over first-hand to see what needed to be done. One of those was to convinced the Jews in Jerusalem that the walls could and should be rebuilt. He described how God had helped to secure the backing of the Persian king. He had a vivid sense that God was behind him, which made him persuasive. The people of Jerusalem quickly saw what needed to be done and agreed to jump on board.
People get excited and will support well-researched, enthusiastic plans.
FAITH ALLOWS US TO BELIEVE THAT GOD IS GREATER THAN MAN’S OPPOSITION
The local Gentiles didn’t want to see the city walls go back up. They confronted Nehemiah suggesting that he was rebelling against the King. But Nehemiah knew better. He had the king’s permission and God’s blessing which made him equal to the task. (2:20). There would be other attempts to stop their work, but with God’s help, Nehemiah led them to succeed. .
He was a great builder, but he was building more than city walls. He was uniting a people who had failed to rebuild Jerusalem as they should have. He was giving them confidence. He was providing them with the leadership that they hadn’t had for a long time. He was showing them the great things that faith can do. He was a builder, and he encouraged a whole generation to do constructive things.
Don’t you think God wants us to be busy building good things too?
WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING IN LIFE?
If we place too much emphasis on ourselves, we may spend our time building the wrong things or treating unimportant things as matters of first priority. I knew of a man who seemed to live his life to create the perfect backyard. He later became terminally ill and said to his wife, “I hope I can live long enough to finish that wooden border across the back of the garden.” How foolish to devote your life to a back yard!
How foolish if your ‘backyard’ is just a bit bigger but more of the same. Some live for material wealth, position and promotion, or to travel the world to see and to do all that they can. They never get around to the spiritual matters of tending to their own souls. They’re too busy with physical life and sensory experience, to sense or experience a life of faith. There is nothing wrong with gardening, travel or personal success. But it is while we live in a physical world that Jesus urges us to be busy building great things in the Kingdom of Heaven, which will endure.
The purposes and priorities of God are eternal. He planned from eternity to save us, which is why Jesus made our salvation his first priority. Having saved us, Jesus has sent us to share the gospel with the world which is lost in sin. He has put us into His church to build each other up, serving those who are struggling, strengthening the weak and cheering the downhearted. Let us find new and innovative ways of serving and encouraging during what we hope are the final few months of Covid 19
Like Nehemiah, there are opportunities all around us, if we will see them. Nehemiah saw them from afar and ran to meet them.
Are you living in a changing community with people moving in and out all the time? What opportunities does this provide? What nearby communities don’t have a congregation? Start praying about it. Opportunities come to those who pray!
As Christians, we have taken our stand upon Christ and the foundation laid by his completed work. (I Cor 3:11) But there is still work for us to do. God will strengthen us if we ask Him. He will use our efforts and sacrifices to advance His kingdom, if we build wisely and according to His will.
I’m sure that Nehemiah felt good about himself when his task was done. If he went back to Susa as he originally intended, he was a changed man. Faithful work in the Kingdom of God changes us into the people that God wants us to be.
Will you build?