I’m not much of a television watcher but I do enjoy watching S.W.A.T. In that particular television show two characters—Hondo and Deacon (and their team) are the good guys, and they work in their area of gifting to get people out of all kinds of messes. They also always win, so there’s that.  They are both leaders but in different roles. This is the first year I’ve read Nehemiah (whose name means the God who comforts) and realized that Nehemiah desperately needed the God of comfort because of all the attacks he faced, within and without. It’s easy to say “God is my comfort” when you sit in an Ivory Tower. It’s a whole other thing when you say it after trial, struggle, death threats and impossible circumstances.

Here are two leaders—Ezra who builds the Temple and Nehemiah who builds the wall. I now think that Nehemiah must also have had some serious bodyguard-like training to do the work he did in protecting the King. Guarding that cup from poison was serious business. We also see him later in the book as more rough guy than sanctified guy. Yet THIS is the guy that GOD chose. God wanted Nehemiahs’ exact skill set to get the job done.  Listen to what Nehemiah does in chapter 13, “I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair.” Now we know why Nehemiah was not called as a priest! He was rough around the edges, just like Peter. This guy took vacation days from work, he rallied military leaders and came in the cover of night to assess the wall and its damage. That’s serious reconnaissance work. We know he had courage because he was traveling in a broken-down city with broken-down walls at night. He had backup– but did not know what he was facing.  Ministry guys are very different from military guys and yet God used the combination to get the job done. Hoo-rah! The saying goes, “hire for your weaknesses, not your strengths,” is so true but many are not able to understand why that is so important.

All this work was done to guard the people but also to preserve and revive their word and worship. It was of utmost importance. Why? The Word reminds us of our covenant with God and the worship reminds us who God is and what He can do. It’s of paramount importance. We see Nehemiah and Ezra calling the people to repent, revive, restore and rebuild. It was a team effort.

In the middle of the book, the priest rises up and remembers what he is called to do. This secular builder inspires the man of God and then the men of God start building their houses, their neighbors houses and the work takes off more quickly than anyone would have realized. Seven trials later—we see Nehemiah starting to get battle fatigue. Maybe you understand that today also? You get in the journey and keep keepin’ on and then one day you just don’t see the point or remember the purpose. After all the spiritual warfare, no one would blame Nehemiah for slowing down or stopping. After all, fourteen years of arguing and torment and flat-out gossip would slow anyone down. But instead of quitting, Nehemiah makes room for Ezra to bring forth the Word, to worship. The scripture that shines forth in this book is “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.” Not ripped muscles or abs, not placement in the King’s palace, not credentials or family structure—the joy of the Lord is your strength! Everyone does a little something and the thing takes form, and the wall gets built and worship is renewed. Has God been your source of joy this week?

How do we firm up our spiritual wall? Get your house in order. Get your priorities in order—God first, family, knowing your call and the House of God. Repent, rebuild, renew, restore. When Word, Worship, and the House of God gets damaged or forgotten—people are devastated and moral decline is around the corner. Remember God! Remember His works! Remember what is important!

This past week some of my dreams have come back to life, much to my surprise. God has done things I did not think that were possible. I’m looking back in utter shock at some of the things I laid down in days of disappointment and wonder how I could ever have let those dreams or promises lose steam. Stoke the fire, feed the dream, get back the calling, don’t let another day go until you REMEMBER what God told you and what He wants to do in your life. 

While studying Nehemiah I listened to many good sermons and one of them, preached by Dr. Randall Smith said something that caught my attention—“when building listen not to the need, but the nudge.” He said there will be many needs in life but know your calling and what God is asking you to do. Follow the nudge, not the need. If the Holy Spirit is leading the work of rebuilding the people of God, the Spirit knows best. Ephesians 2:22 tells us, “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”  We are God’s new building project, and He wants to fill us with Word and Worship. 

If you are battle fatigued today, get revived in the Lord. Rest, refill, refuel, renew, repent and then find your nudge, your place of God calling you. He will fill in the where and why and how.

Nehemiah prays twelve times in this book. That was his secret to success. Prayer.

A family or church that does not pray together –will not see souls won or people restored. Spiritual work requires spiritual disciplines. Heavenly transformation does not come from skill or title but from God above. One commentator said it this way: His prayer helped him not to overreact and take revenge on his enemies. “The problem with doing God’s work is that sometimes we get so engrossed in attacking our enemies and defending ourselves that we have very little resource left for actual constructive work.”[1]

When falsely accused, the temptation is to stop or pause the work. The work for these folks ceased for fourteen years. That is a long time. If their enemies had asked questions, verified their assumptions, sought understanding instead of bearing false witness or accusations against their neighbors, the work could have continued. Nehemiah kept building through prayer and hard work. There are many lessons in this book for us today.

It reminds me of a little boy whose dad died when he as just seven years old, leaving him to care for his mom and two little sisters. He tried several jobs and traveled around cooking for various restaurant owners. When this little boy became a man, he was denied 1,009 times before he made his first sale. He kept going because he was not just building for himself but for his family. Well, 600 franchises later, Colonel Sanders sold his company for $2 million dollars and is ranked as one of the world’s most recognizable celebrities. He kept going despite the shut doors and false accusations. We must also. 

You have a purpose—whether others see it or not. You have a call – regardless of the opposition in your path. To follow God means we keep going. Memorize the following scriptures, get them down in your soul and keep on keepin’ on.

These scriptures remind us to keep building (ourselves and the work God has called us to do). Whatever comes your way DO NOT GIVE UP:

Ps. 90:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 Cor. 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

Gal. 6:9 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Heb. 6:10 God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.

Why were these reforms so important? They needed to return to God being their joy. God being their strength. God being their focus.  What if the men decided to quit or take a break for a while? They were commanded to rise and build. I believe they rose up spiritually before they rose up physically.  We rise up spiritually through word, worship and delighting in God – not programs, events. Jesus is the cornerstone for ALL building. Wonky wall? Go back and find your cornerstone.  The setup for this holy city will put a theological emphasis in place before Jesus comes on the scene. Judaism will become  redefined not by rituals but by a renewed covenant, by repentance, by rebuilding, by restoring and those changes will welcome the Messiah. They got their spiritual agenda back on track, just in time. What is God setting your work, my work up for in the next decade? We can not see the importance now–but God can. Hondo had a Deacon, Nehemiah had an Ezra – find your co-laborers and then rise and build. The world is waiting, Messiah is returning….

Call someone today—ask them to be on your “wall”-building team for God’s plan for your life. Get prayer support, get resource support, get counseling support, whatever you need but KEEP MOVING FORWARD. No matter what nutty or brilliant person questions your motives or judges your call. GOD SEES. GOD KNOWS and it is GOD who will see you through.

Building with you, praying with you,