You may think that Nehemiah 3 is not the most exciting chapter in the Bible. It's a long list of names, many of which we find hard to pronounce. The first two chapters may seem much more exciting.
But wait a minute: this is the story of the job getting done. This is Nehemiah's heart cry being answered. This is people putting faith into action. This is a vast group of people co-operating to achieve a big goal. This is what success looks like.
We love the idea of miracles, but success is often about a lot of hard work.
Nehemiah somehow got things organised. There is a hint that not everyone was enthusiastic, but Nehemiah somehow managed to get the whole wall built. There were no gaps. We've admired him already for his prayer and his ability to get things started. Let's admire his ability to organise. He was able to see things through.
Let's give three cheers today for those who are good at organising. We depend on them. Church would fall apart without them. Projects wouldn't run. People wouldn't be cared for. Dreams become reality when you have good organisation, whether we are talking about plans for a night shelter, a foodbank, pastoral care or just about anything. The book of Acts tells us that the first major problem was an organisational one. Paul gave detailed instructions about the way worship was to be organised, as well as the way that widows and orphans were to receive help.
Let's also give three cheers to people who do the work that organisers give them. In this chapter there are some unlikely builders. There are people who seem to have been called in from outside the city. They were not all talented construction workers; they were people prepared to do their part so that the job would be done. Some of them had to do more than one job. This is what success looks like.
Let's see this chapter as a picture of the church with everyone working together to achieve a great goal. Let's see the organiser and the organised working together effectively. Let's see people working together to get the job done.
I love Nehemiah 3.
Sometimes we know that things need to change. When the story of God's people seems to have gone off track then someone has to do something about it. Sometimes it will take a lot of people to get things back on course.
I love the way Nehemiah goes about things. First of all he prays, as we saw last week, but he does not stop there. Four months after he starts to pray he makes his move.
First of all he lets his sadness show. He was known for being a happy man but this time he let the sadness show on his face. Then he spoke to the king. He was afraid to do this but he prayed again and then he asked the king for help. He wanted time off, safe-passage and a load of resources. We need people like this in the church: brave people who are there in the right place at the right time with the right gifts who are prepared to step out and make things happen.
Next he looks very carefully at what needs to be done. He does it quietly so he dose not draw attention to himself. he needs to know exactly what he is talking about.
Then he spoke to the people. They all knew that something had to be done. It was time for someone to tell them to step up. Nehemiah was the man, and he could already show that God had given him favour with the king. The people reply, 'let us start rebuilding' and they begin to do the work.
It's been said that the job of a leader is to show that things are not as they should be and to help people get from 'here' to 'there.' Nehemiah was a great leader. He had faith. He prayed. He saw what needed to be done. He took action. He motivated people. And as we shall see next time, the job got done.
Our church doesn't need to be full of Nehemiahs, but it could really do with a few. Who is God calling?
Nehemiah was a man of action and bravery. He was also a good organiser. But more of that in the next few weeks. Today we are going to look at Nehemiah as a person who prayed.
Nehemiah believed in God. He also believed that he was part of a big story. He believed in a God who was committed to his people and who had promised to love them no matter what. If God's people were in a mess then Nehemiah knew that it was worth praying for them, because he could call on God's consistent love.
You can't tame this God as Nehemiah knew very well. But you can remind him of his promises. He has promised to love his people. He has promised to restore them when they turn to him. God is a covenant keeping God.
Nehemiah wept because things were not going well. He prayed. He fasted. He mourned. This wasn't how he normally behaved. He knew that God had invested in these people. He was distressed to see the plan of God going off course.
So what about us? Well Nehemiah rebuilt a wall and we have started work on our Community Hall. There's a long way to go and a lot of faith needed. So let's pray today as Nehemiah did.
But more importantly, let's pray as people who are part of a big story. Jesus loves his church. He is in a covenant of love with us. He has given his church the job of representing him in the world. We can't tame God but we are part of his great big plan. Let's love the church, let's love our church.
Nehemiah prayed for success. He asked for success because he was about God's business. And he had a plan which needed God's backing. What a great example.