Transcription | October 9, 2022 | The Book of Nehemiah | Chopsticks
I shared with you guys last week that this month we're going to be looking at some leadership concepts from the Bible and specifically within the book of Nehemiah and this morning, I'm going to again go to the Book of Nehemiah. I'm going to be looking at chapter two and I'm going to share a message entitled Chopsticks. Chopsticks, that will make more sense to you as we navigate this message this morning.
But I'm going to drop an anchor with one verse of scripture from the entire chapter two. It's actually verse eight. It's Nehemiah speaking. And he said, And because the gracious hand of God was on me, the king granted my request. And so Nehemiah is saying that one of the reasons that he was able to be successful as a leader in the efforts which which were assigned to him is because the hand of God was on him, the gracious hand of God.
And so this morning, we're going to talk about the book of Nehemiah Chopsticks. Father, help me to teach. Help me to preach. Put an anointing on me that only a special grace from heaven can make possible. May each of us be provoked to our next step. And you, whatever that might be in Jesus name in this church, said, Man, I shared with you last week, that is, I went on a journey to attempt to become a better leader in my home, in ministry, in life in general.
I began to study a lot of different leadership materials, and what I ultimately discovered is that when it comes to the subject of leadership, there's no greater resource than the Bible itself. And that within the Bible may be one of the most prolific books that we have available on. The subject of leadership is none other than the book of Nehemiah.
In that book is primarily about the man for whom it is titled After Nehemiah. And what we discover in Scripture is that Nehemiah is actually revealed as a cup bearer and he would become a builder, but not just any builder. He would become a builder and so to kind of recap that, make sure everybody kind of has a context in case you weren't with us last week or maybe you've even forgotten what we talked about last week is that Nehemiah was in the position of a cup bearer to the king, or you might say the emperor of the Persian Empire.
And what that meant is that he had a close relationship with the king because he was in charge of being the last line of defense over the king's life. When it come to the potential for a drink or food to be poisoned. And so Nehemiah served in this position. He served loyally. He served honorably, but he was connected to his nation of Israel, the nation of Israel.
His heritage was there. And as he learned that even though he was over here in the King's Palace in the Persian Empire, the land that he loved had been destroyed, specifically the the city of Jerusalem, when the enemy had come through, he had damaged the city. He had damaged the temple, he had damaged the wall. And so Nehemiah knew that there was a rebuilding effort that was taking place.
But specifically, he was burdened for the wall because he realized if they couldn't put up some form of protection, it didn't matter what they rebuilt. It would be easy for an enemy to come in and just try to destroy it again very quickly. And so Nehemiah becomes a re builder. And when you start to think about that term, rebuild or rebuild thing, I can't help but to think that most likely all of us have something that needs to be rebuilt.
Jesus said this. He said, You have an enemy and that enemy is going to come to steal. He's going to come to kill and he's going to come to destroy. Jesus made it clear that we are going to come under attack from the enemy. And sometimes, for whatever reason, maybe our faith fails, or maybe we just simply fall in our relationship with God.
The result is that we experience damage, and when we experience that damage, we then sometimes have to go through a rebuilding phase in order to see everything get back to the place it was before we came under attack. You might be in a relationship right now that needs to be rebuilt. Maybe it was damaged by deception or by cheating, or by an affair, or by simply someone telling lies through the form of betrayal.
Maybe your business needs to be rebuilt on the other side of this pandemic COVID challenge struggle that we've all went through. Maybe your ministry needs to be rebuilt. Something that God purposed in your heart towards helping other people. And. And it's been damaged. Maybe your name, your influence, your purity. Maybe there needs to be some rebuilding that needs to take place.
And so when you start to think about rebuilding, you come to the conclusion that we're going to have to assess the damage, if we're going to know what we need to rebuild and what we learn from the Amazon example is that it's okay to assess the damage. Just don't obsess about what you find, because when you start going through the rubble of things that have been damaged, you are going to discover some stuff that probably turns out to be worse than you even thought it was.
You might start going through the messages that were exchanged and discover This is worse than I thought it was. You might be going through the paperwork of a business transaction that has been damaged and you discover, Oh man, this is far worse than I thought it was. You start to dialog and maybe even work to counseling and you begin to discover it's worse than you thought it was.
And what happens is then you can start to obsess over how bad it is and obsess how you're going to be vindictive and how you're going to get them back and how you're going to get your vengeance. And you can get so obsessed with what you've discovered that you stop even focusing on moving forward with the rebuilding. And so with with Nehemiah, what we discover in chapter two, verse 13, is that he went out to the valley gate.
He went to the Jacob well to the dung gate. And this is basically just moving through the city. And he's examining the walls and he discovers that they have been broken down and the gate had been destroyed by fire. So he assesses the damage and he assesses very clearly there's some stuff broken and there's also some stuff destroyed.
But rather than obsess about what he has assessed, the very next verse says, and then I moved on and then I moved on. I feel like that's a word for somebody this morning because you have been upset saying that what you have assessed, you've just been totally focused on. You found that this was wrong. You found that this was damaged.
You found that this thing had transpired in a negative way. And now you just are finding yourself absolutely overwhelmed with the concept of what you've discovered, and you're just really struggling to move on. And I need to help you understand you will discover a mess any time you start assessing what needs to rebuild, be rebuilt. And it may be hard to keep moving forward.
Does anybody ever remodel the house? I need to talk to somebody. Iowa isn't here this morning. Has anybody ever remodeled a house? And when you bought that house, or maybe you even just were observing your own house at the initial stages, it didn't look like that big of a deal. That's why you came up with the idea that we're going to fix this, we're going to make this better, we're going to spruce it up a little bit.
But then when you started to take up the floor that had originally just felt a little bit spongy, you discovered that there was something more than just a floor that was giving way. There were termites in the joist and you would wind up packing out 900 square foot of that house in scoop shovels. No, no, I don't have any PTSD whatsoever.
Don't know. Has anybody ever remodeled a house? And when you started to rebuild, you discover that it was a mess, maybe even beyond what you even thought it would be. And when you come up against that mess, man, it can be paralyzing. You're like, I feel overwhelmed. I don't know how to fix this. I don't know where to start.
I don't know what we're going to do next. Well, Nehemiah actually experienced the same thing because in verse 14, he says even though he was trying to move on, he eventually came to a place where there was no room to pass. There was so much rubble from yesterday's damage that as much as he wants to move on, he just can't get past it.
And that's also a word for somebody, because in your heart, you want to move on. You've been trying to even move on in that relationship. But it seems like every time you get to a certain point, something from yesterday's rubble reveals itself and you get stuck again and you find yourself obsessing over how could they have done that to me?
How could they have allowed that damage to happen? How could that have transpired in that way? And you find yourself hurt and hung up and struggling to be healed. And it's not that you didn't want to move on. It's just that every time you try, you just the same thing happens to us with addiction. But it's not that we don't want to move on.
It's just the enemy has a way of bringing yesterday's rubble into our today and hanging us up, trying to stop us. And that's what Nehemiah saying. He's saying there is so much rubble that he can't even navigate the area that he needs to inspect so that he can rebuild it. But you know what scripture goes on to say is that quite quickly, Nehemiah was able to get back to moving on.
He didn't stay stuck like so many of us stay stuck. And I think one of the reasons for that is actually revealed as we learn what chapter one and chapter two can teach us collectively. Here's what I want to show you. Four months passed between chapters one and two. So we learned last week that in chapter one, Nehemiah discovers his call.
He's burdened with a purpose from God to go back and be a part of rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem. But between chapter one and actually arriving in Jerusalem, where we see him in Chapter two. Four months have passed and chapter one reveals to us that one of the main things that Nehemiah did during those four months was to pray every day.
He just began to pray about the time when the rebuilding would start. So he didn't just jump straight into rebuilding. He took some time and began to pray about the rebuilding that was going to transpire. And that's important because for four months he prayed before he did anything for months. But in chapter six, in Nehemiah, it tells us that he was actually to complete the he was able to complete the rebuilding in 52 days.
That's less than two months. So if you're any good at math, do you realize Nehemiah prayed twice as long as he worked? And a lot of us choose to work, then pray when we hit a dead end. But Nehemiah understood. I need to pray before I work and I'll hit less dead ends. Most of us are up against something that we can't get past before we're willing to pray.
Nehemiah realized, I know I'm going to run into something I can't get past, so I better pray before I run into it. I came to tell somebody this morning, never underestimate the power of putting time into prayer because it will prepare you for the challenges of yesterday's rubble that the enemy is going to try to paralyze your forward progression with something else I learned from Nehemiah.
When you're praying, you don't always hear God as quickly as you would like. For instance, none of us really want to take four months to hear God, especially if we're excited about a new vision and a new strategy. Nonetheless, we must be careful changing channels. Just look at somebody and tell him Be careful changing channels. They have no idea what you're talking about.
Let's cause it to make sense. Nehemiah Chapter two verse Well, I sit out there in the night with a few others. Nehemiah said. I had not told anyone what God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. It's been four months and He has not talked to anyone except God and the King about what he's going to be rebuilding in Jerusalem.
What that tells us is that he was careful about changing channels. He had told God what he needed. He had communicated to God what would help him to move forward. But when he didn't hear from God as clearly as he would have liked at the moment, he snapped his fingers. He didn't run to Beulah or Freddie and try to get them to tell him what he wanted to hear.
That's what we do sometimes, is that when God's not speaking at the rate of speed that we would prefer, we'll start switching churches and switching relationships and hopping from this voice to that voice to try to get somebody to tell us what we want to hear so we can just get to it. Sometimes you just need to be steel and see that the Lord is God as He makes His voice manifest in your life and you just sit silent on the channel.
Now, this is a true story. There was a husband and wife. They were elderly, but for many years they had went up in their private plane and just enjoyed looking at everything beneath them. And one particular instance, they go up into the air and this man who is now elderly in age, the pilot dies. His wife has flown beside him for many flights, but she doesn't know how to fly.
She's just always sat in the copilot seat. Now what? What? What's she going to do? He he's. He's passed out. He's not responsive. They would later learned he is dead. Well, she takes the controls and she just tries to maneuver the plane to where that she can hopefully find some kind of runway within sight. This goes on for hours until the plane is out of fuel.
And along the way, she has been periodically picking up the radio and she. Mayday, mayday. My pilot is unconscious. Somebody help. She would switch the channel. Mayday, mayday. My pal is unconscious. Is somebody going to help me switch the channel? Mayday, mayday. Eventually, due to a lack of fuel, the plane crashes. What would be discovered is that multiple towers and air traffic controllers had heard that woman's call for help, but they couldn't respond to her in a way which she could hear them because she kept flipping the channel and just tell somebody, be careful changing the channel, because sometimes God is waiting on us to just stay on the channel.
He's ready to speak. It's happens to us. We come to church. We feel inspired to start a morning prayer time. We get up the next morning, we pray, we take 5 minutes or so, read our Bible and I didn't get anything out of it. I don't feel like God said anything to me. So the next day you change the channel, but if you stayed on that channel, God was about to download vision to you for your life.
That was going to absolutely revolutionize everything you thought you understood about your calling and your purpose and the strategy that he was going to reveal to you. Me show you another thing about Nehemiah so that we learned from his life. You must start with the end in mind. You got to know where you plan to land. Nehemiah We discovered that because he had been praying, God downloaded a plan to him that even involved a timeline for this project.
I learned a long time ago that an action item without a deadline is just a dream. Nehemiah, chapter two, verse six. And then the King Queen set him aside. Him asked, How long will your journey take and when will you get back? Because it pleased the King to send me. And because Nehemiah had been praying, because he had a strategy downloaded from God, he was able to say, I have a plan that even involves a timeline of that.
We're starting this thing with the end in mind. We know where we want to land even at the time that we're taking off. Start with the end in mind. Know where you want to land when the greatest communicators I've ever heard. Phenomenal preacher, the gospel. I had the chance to sit with him a few years ago. He just has this way that when he speaks, it comes to a conclusive point.
It's like the whole room shifts. It's just seems as though every person that's present begins to receive something from God and I ask him, I'm like, How do your messages always end at such a powerful place? He said, Eric, I always start with the end in mind. I know where I want to land before I take off. A lot of us jump into relationships with no thought of the potential ending.
No idea of how that thing could land. And the problem is that even while we're switching all these channels, we wind up taking on damage crash landings that would never have had to have been as bad as they were if we'd have just given a little more consideration to God's plans. Same thing happens with debt. I met a guy recently, one of the wealthiest individuals I've ever encountered, so picking his brain a little bit, I said, How have you been able to be so successful despite times when you've had to take on significant debt?
And he said, You never sign the paper on debt unless you have a plan for how you're going to resolve it. He said What most people do is all they have a plan for is how they're going to make the interest payment or how they're going to get from month to month. He said, I've been successful because every time I went into debt I had a plan for how I was going to get rid of the debt in total.
In our life, we have to start with the end in mind and you'll find it's going to be a whole lot easier to know where God wants you to land, even on the stuff that you're trying to rebuild. If you continue to stay linked up with him in prayer. So here's the deal. When you start getting a plan, when God starts revealing to you what it is that He wants you to do, you can start feeling real sassy and you can get more zeal than you've got wisdom, and you can start to feel a little bit aloof and a little bit arrogant about how I got the plan.
And that's why I need somebody to also understand this morning that the way you say it matters when Nehemiah comes into Jerusalem with this plan and he starts to arrive, the thing that sticks out is the way he talks to people. He has incredible authority. He has come from the side of the king. He has papers straight from the desk of the king.
This man has authority upon arrival. But when he steps into his new position, he says. Then I said to them, You see the trouble we are in? He wasn't even in Jerusalem when the damage happened, but he takes a sense of ownership for the problem and for the challenge in the struggle. And he says Jerusalem is in ruins.
Its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will no longer be in disgrace. There's a sense of ownership that's involved here that teaches us that the way you say it matters, the way we say it, matters that you can't just boss people around and speak as though you're the one that's the smartest in the room and you've always got the right ideas.
Like sometimes being a leader, the most effective thing you can do is communicate in a way that takes shared ownership. You. And it's a lot easier to do that if you realize that we are nothing without the hand of God. Nothing. I don't care who you know. I don't care what your address is. Don't care how much money you got in the bank.
Don't care what you claim is your sphere of influence. We are nothing without the hand of God. Nothing, nothing.
Nehemiah addressed this subject. I spent a lot of time with this verse this morning of Just pray, praying, do it, meditate on it. Look at what Nehemiah says and because the gracious hand of God was on me, the king granted my request. He doesn't say it's because of his resume. It doesn't say it's because of his ability to articulate.
It doesn't say it's because he's got the greatest revelation of anyone that happens to be present. He said, There's only one reason I've been successful. There's even only one reason that I've been able to accomplish the things that I've asked for, because of the gracious hand of God was on me. When's the last time that you thanked God for His hand being on your life and you stopped for a moment and you just didn't celebrate everything that you know how to do?
Well, that that gifting, that ability, that talent that you realized. The only reason that any of that can take place is because God chose to allow you to have it.
We are nothing without the hand of God. I'm going to give you one more story, another true story was an incredible piano player in Europe. He was planning a concert for the ages. The master was about to step onto a stage in front of a concert hall and wow, people with musical magic word spread far and wide. People came from all over the country to be present is the time for the moment of the concert came near the front of the platform.
It's a giant Steinway piano. The atmosphere was electric, waiting for the moment when the piano player would step out and begin to play. But nobody expected it came out of nowhere, little boy. On the second row, when his mama turned her head, he jumped away from her, ran up, came onto that stage and plopped down at this big old piano, took out two fingers and started playing chopsticks.
And the place was bewildered. The moment was ruined. The master's entrance has been destroyed, but then from behind the curtains, the master piano player himself stepped out. He walked over to where the little boy is, given his best attempt at chopsticks. And he didn't rebuke the kid. He didn't correct the kid. He just leaned over him and put his hands on the keyboard.
And he started to feel in the notes of a childish attempt at chopstick with musical magic. And he played. And he played until finally the crowd was so overwhelmed that they stand to their feet and they begin to clap their hands, glorifying the work of the master. You and me, we're just a little boy. We're just playing chopsticks.
But we have a master that if we will make ourselves available to him, he will reach around our life and he will begin to feel in our weaknesses and our inadequacies with a beauty that will cause the whole earth to begin to give him the praise, the honor and the glory that he is worthy of, and that He is the.
So let's hear some chopsticks. Let's hear somebody make that decision of God. I'm ready. I'm ready to let your hands work through my hands. I just feel like this morning, as every head is bowed and every eyes closed, that there are some of us that desperately need the hand of God. And if that resonates with you, if that speaks to you, I'm going to ask you just to lift your hand.
And as you lift your hand by faith, I want you to believe that the hand of God is going to reach further down than you can reach up. And He's going to meet you at the point of your damage, at the point of your struggle, at the point of your challenge, begin to pour your heart out to him.
Confess all the places that you need him to touch, all the places where you need grace, all the places where you need favor. Knowing that he paid for this opportunity by his blood, he paid for it with his cross. That's how he's going to rebuild. All the stuff the enemies damaged anyway is with the timbers of Calvary father.
Right now we come to you and we admit that we are damaged in so many places, so many spots in our life where that the enemy has tried to steal, kill and even it sometimes has been effective in destroying. But God, we come to you right now and we ask for the touch of Heaven's Hand. And Lord, you would reach down and you would take our surrender, and you would transform it into victory.
Touch us, Father, at the same time, God, I believe that there are people that are here today that Lord, they're stuck. Yesterday's rubble has prevented their progress today. And could I just thank you that you're going to even now begin to give them divine insight and divine clarity on how to move forward? Because, God, there's some stuff that you're going to rebuild to your glory, and the glory of the Ladder House will be greater than the glory of the former house and everything that the enemy mean for evil.
It's going to look as though God, you minute for good. So I thank you, God, that there's some stuff that's getting put back together, that there's some stuff that's getting rebuilt, some things that are being reestablished. Lord, we surrender to you. We thank you. We praise you in Jesus name. In Jesus name. But you.