Good Afternoon Scripture: Nehemiah Subject: The Power To Rebuild A survey was done recently about the rebuilding of the Twin Towers. In that survey, roughly half the people said, "I believe the towers should be rebuilt just as they were. Maybe one story higher." Another 25% said, "I believe that a different set of office buildings should be built on that same location." Another 25% said, "I believe we should build a memorial park in that location." The point for me in that survey was that virtually one hundred percent of the people said, "We need to rebuild! Whatever it is, we need to rebuild something. There’s something in all of us that says that we have to rebuild." That’s the message of our scripture reading. The Jewish city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC. 140 years later, God raises up a Jewish man in southwestern Iran named Nehemiah. And he says to the Jews, "With the help of God, we can rebuild this wall! We can rebuild this community! We can become a great nation once again! Together, we can do it!" Have you ever heard of the Christian singer Renee Bondi? Well, neither had I. Until Amy Jandrey told me about her at Evening Guild. In 1988, she was a music teacher. And a terrific Christian singer. And she was happily engaged to her fiancee Mike. Her wedding was just two months away. But in a freak accident, she fell out of bed. And she broke her neck. And the 4th vertebrae of her spinal cord. They took her to the hospital. And the doctors told her, "You’ll never walk again. And you’ll never sing again. You’ll only be able to whisper." But while she was in the hospital, one song kept going through her mind: "Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me. And I will give you rest." It was God’s way of telling her, "I’m going to help get you through this. You’re going to be all right." And she got out of the hospital. And she married her fiancee. And she worked hard at her therapy. One day a musician friend came over. And said, "Renee, try singing along with me on the piano." And she started to cry. She whispered, "Jim, I can’t do it." But Jim started playing, Be not afraid. I go before you always. The same song God used to comfort her in the hospital! How could he have known about that? So she started singing! And by the end of the song, they were both sobbing. God had given Renee her voice back! Since then, she has made 4 albums. And in 1995, she became one of the few quadriplegics to give birth to a son. And she travels all over the world. And tells people that God is the God of the impossible. And that he can rebuild broken lives. Perhaps you are in the middle of a rebuilding project right now. Some of you are trying to rebuild the trust in your marriage. Or you may be trying to rebuild your career. Or your finances. Or your sense of confidence. And you’re starting to wonder if you’re dealing with an impossible situation. But Luke 1:37 says "NOTHING is impossible with God!" God specializes in impossible situations! Remember Acts chapter 9. Ananias was saying, "Lord, Paul is a very evil man! He kills Christians! There’s no way he’s ever going to become one!" But God made the impossible possible. And on the road to Damascus, he brought that evil man to his knees. And he became a Christian. And Galatians 1:17 says that he retreated to the land of Arabia. Where over the next few years, God rebuilt his life. And he went on to become perhaps the greatest Christian leader the world has ever known. Just as God rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. And Renee Bondi. And the apostle Paul. God can rebuild the ruins of your life. And our passage in Nehemiah shows us the way. First of all: You have to want to rebuild. You have to say with conviction, "I want this part of my life to change! I’m not satisfied with the direction my life has been going. Things could be so much better! And I’m ready to start rebuilding now!" That’s the point where Nehemiah is at. In Nehemiah 2:3-5, Nehemiah said to King Xerxes, "I feel sad every time I think about my city lying in ruins. I want to rebuild the Jerusalem wall. This is in my heart more than anything else." Do you guys remember Donna Rice Hughes? She was the political aide that had an extramarital affair with former Presidential candidate Gary Hart. When the story of that affair hit the front page of the Miami Herald, it ruined her career overnight. She was labeled by the press as a bimbo. Many expected her to disappear into the woodwork of society forever. But she started going back to church. And she rededicated her life to the Lord. She married a good Christian man. And now she’s an activist speaking out against the evils of pornography. When Christianity Today interviewed her, they asked her, "What would you say to someone who wants to move on from the pain of their past?" And she said, "God is the Great Restorer. He doesn’t always remove the consequences of our actions. But he heals the pain. And allows it to become a door of hope for others dealing with the same thing." Donna Rice Hughes didn’t want to be remembered as Gary Hart’s bimbo. She WANTED to rebuild her life. And with the help of God, she did! And so can you. The second thing you need to do is to do whatever it takes to rebuild. Nehemiah had nothing when he started this project. But he was willing to do whatever was necessary to get the job done. He had letters written to heads of state. Asking for donations of timber. He asked the king of Persia for a calvary of officers and horses to come with him. And he vigorously recruited the help of the Jewish people. How much effort are you willing to give in order to rebuild your life? When the Rev. Gordon Macdonald had an affair with another woman, he lost his job as a minister. And he almost lost his marriage. But he said to his wife, "I will do whatever it takes. For however long it takes. To rebuild out of the ashes of my life. I love you. I can’t do it without you. And I desperately need your forgiveness." She forgave him. But the road back was long. It took three years of agonized counseling. Prayer. And accountability support. Finally in 1988, Gordon Macdonald was reordained to the gospel ministry. I know there’s probably people out there who will say, "Hey! That guy should never be allowed to be a minister ever again! He has compromised his moral authority!" I’m not going to argue with people who feel that way. Life’s too short. But I will say this: I have nothing but respect for a person who rebuilds their life from the ground up with the help of God. And makes something beautiful out of his once fractured existence. It takes a person of great strength and determination to do something like that. And I have to take my hat off to them. Proverbs 24:26 says "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." Praise God for fallen Christian warriors who are determined to rise again. Praise God for people who say, "I"m not quitting! I refuse to give up! I’m going to pick myself off the ground. And rebuild my broken world with the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" The third thing you need to do is to trust God. The Kings of Persia were very strict. If you went in and made a request of the king, and he said yes, that was great. But if the king said no, he’d cut your head off. Right there on the spot. That’s why in Nehemiah 2:4 when the king asks him what he wants, Nehemiah prayed before he makes his request. I’d say that was a good move. If there was a 50/50 chance that I was going to get my head cut off, if I never prayed before, I’d become really good at it for that one minute! But Nehemiah trusted God. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that God was gonna pull some strings. In fact, in verse 20 he says, "The God of heaven WILL give us success!" I think it takes great personal courage for someone to stand up in the face of skepticism. And say, "I believe in the power of God. I believe that God can do this." When I was in Ladysmith last month, I took lots of pictures. But my favorite one was a shot of a wrecked house. It had Isaiah 52:10 scrawled on one side. Which says "The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations. And all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God." I took that to mean that God is going to do great and mighty things in the town of Ladysmith in the coming days. And on a sign on the front lawn, there was another sign that said, "We will rebuild!" Those people had great faith in the God who rebuilds broken communities. And broken lives. The truth is that everyone in this room has been broken by sin. Guilt. Tragedy. And personal failure. But praise God, that’s not how the story has to end. In chapter 8, the people come together after the city wall had been rebuilt. And Ezra led them in worship and said, "Praise the Lord! Praise to our great God! And verse 17 says that their joy was very great! That’s what it’ll be like when you surrender to Christ and let him rebuild your life. Luke 15:7 says that there is more rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents than over 99 persons who do not need to repent. No matter how bad you think your life is, there is no one in this room that God cannot rebuild. My nephew’s grandpa had a beat up old 65 Pontiac GTO. Before he started working on it, it was a total piece of you know what. But after 4 years of rebuilding and painting and waxing and tweaking, now the car looks awesome. Jesus Christ can do the same thing for you life. Give your life to Christ. And let him rebuild your life. Let’s pray. What is a Mother? Mothers are teachers. Mothers are disciplinarians. Mothers are cleaning ladies. Some mothers are gardeners & mowers of lawns. And most mothers understand that baking cookies is more important than washing windows, too. Mothers are nurses & doctors & psychologists & counselors & chauffeurs & coaches. Mothers are developers of personalities, molders of vocabularies, & shapers of attitudes. Mothers are soft voices saying, "I love you." And mothers are a link to God, a child’s first impression of God’s love. Mothers are all of these things & much, much more. ILL. One of my favorite columns by Erma Bombeck tells of God in the act of creating mothers. She says that on the day God created mothers He had already worked long overtime. And an angel said to Him, "Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this one." The Lord turned & said, "Have you read the specs on this model? She is supposed to be completely washable, but not plastic. She is to have 180 moving parts, all of them replaceable. She is to have a kiss that will heal everything from a broken leg to a broken heart. She is to have a lap that will disappear whenever she stands up. She is to be able to function on black coffee & leftovers. And she is supposed to have six pairs of hands." "Six pairs of hands," said the angel, "that’s impossible." "It’s not the six pairs of hands that bother me." said the Lord, "It’s the three pairs of eyes. She is supposed to have one pair that sees through closed doors so that whenever she says, `What are you kids doing in there?’ she already knows what they’re doing in there." "She has another pair in the back of her head to see all the things she is not supposed to see but must see. And then she has one pair right in front that can look at a child that just goofed & communicate love & understanding without saying a word." "That’s too much." said the angel, "You can’t put that much in one model. Why don’t you rest for a while & resume your creating tomorrow?" "No, I can’t," said the Lord. "I’m close to creating someone very much like myself. I’ve already come up with a model who can heal herself when she is sick - who can feed a family of six with one pound of hamburger - & who can persuade a nine year old to take a shower." Then the angel looked at the model of motherhood a little more closely & said, "She’s too soft." "Oh, but she is tough," said the Lord. "You’d be surprised at how much this mother can do." "Can she think?" asked the angel. "Not only can she think," said the Lord, "but she can reason & compromise & persuade." Then the angel reached over & touched her cheek. "This one has a leak," he said. "I told you that you couldn’t put that much in one model." "That’s not a leak," said the Lord. "That’s a tear." "What’s a tear for?" asked the angel. "Well it’s for joy, for sadness, for sorrow, for disappointment, for pride." Before we leave, I believe that God is speaking to someone today. God is not mad at you; your sins have already been forgiven. I want to give you an opportunity to find peace with God. Would you bow your heads. I know you may not be living right or you may not be making decisions that are pleasing to God. Let me ask you this question: if your heart stopped beating in the next 5 minutes, are you at peace with Almighty God? When you lay down & sleep tonight, you know that everything is alright between you & the Creator of the Universe. If not, we would love to pray with you today. We’re not here to condemn anybody. We’re not here to point out your faults. We’re here to help you find a new beginning; and I know that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And I don’t believe that any of you are here by accident. I believe that you’re here in God’s divine plan. And the Bible says that today is the day of salvation; That means when you hear the message of hope, love, & forgiveness, like you’ve heard today, don’t put it off. Make a decision right then & there. In just a moment, I’m going to ask people to stand, right there where you are, if you are not at peace with God. Or maybe you’ve gotten away from the Lord, & you know you need a fresh new start. Well, I’m going to challenge you in just a moment to not let the enemy keep you in your seat. We love you today. We’re here to help you, but you’ve got to do your part and take a step of faith. Show God that you mean business. Show God that you want to get on the road to victory. And really we’re not talking about finding religion. I’m not even talking about joining this church. I’m talking about finding life & peace & true fulfillment. There’s a void in you, only God can fill. You can try to fill it with power, money, with drugs, with alcohol, but you can get all that stuff and it may keep you happy for a little while, but in the long run, you’ll still have that void, only God can fill. I want to challenge you to get on that road to victory today. Maybe you’re saying, “Brian that’s embarrassing to stand there in front of all those people.” Listen to what Jesus said: “If you won’t be ashamed of me before men, then I won’t be ashamed of you before my father in Heaven. I’m gonna give you an opportunity right now, let me ask you, if you are not at peace with God, or maybe you know that you need a fresh new start-you need a new beginning. You wanna recommit your life to the Lord. Why don’t you stand up right where you are and we’re gonna pray a great prayer together. Would you stand? All over this room-don’t be embarrassed-Come on and make a step of faith for the Lord. You need a new beginning. You wanna find peace with the Lord. Some of you right now, your heart’s beating fast; that’s the Lord drawing you unto Himself. **IF ANYONE STANDS**---We are so proud of you for taking a step of faith. If you didn’t stand, I want to ask everyone in here, if you would to pray this prayer with me: say Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins; I ask you to come into my heart today, right now. Wash me in your blood. Today I make you the Lord & Savior in my life. And God, you’re now more than my God. You’re my Heavenly Father. I’m gonna serve you with my whole heart all the days of my life. Jesus is my Lord-Amen. While we are here, let me encourage you-First-Get into the Word of God and get into an atmosphere of faith & victory with other believers; and Secondly-Don’t hang around friends that are gonna pull you away from your walk with the Lord. That’s one of the easiest things to get us off track. For those who would like to join this ministry there is a list in the back that we would like for you to fill out. And before we leave today, I would like to speak a blessing into your life. Do you remember in the Old Testament when the Dad, when the father was getting close to death? He would call his family around him. He sould speak words of faith & victory into their life. And those words would set the tone of the children’s life: it was called, the BLESSING. It was a very powerful thing. Well, I believe that we can do the same thing; not only in our children, but in other areas as well. And I know that God has raised me up today as a leader & a pastor to speak a word of favor into your life. So I would like to do that today. Some of you have had a lot of negative things spoken over your life. some of you have had a lot of junk-Some people have put you down. Some of you have had a lot of negative people in your life, have told you what you couldn’t do, what you’re not gonna be; but I just wanna encourage you today to let all that junk go and just release it right now. All those negative words or if it was a bad relationship. I would just encourage you to let today be a day of new beginnings-let go of all those words that may have scared you. Listen to these words that I speak over you: let them sink deep down into your spirit. Let them begin to take root, so that you can begin to go out of here knowing that you are blessed; knowing that God has you in the palm of His hand. Father I just thank you today and for giving me the authority that I may speak words into your people’s lives. I declare right now, in the name of Jesus, that every person under the sound of my voice is blessed-I declare that you are blessed with God’s wisdom-that you have clear direction-that you make good decisions in life. I declare that you are blessed with creativity; with good ideas; with courage-with strength-with ability. I declare you are blessed with good health; with a good family; with good friends; and a long satisfied life. I declare that you are blessed with promotion; with success-with an obedient heart-with a positive vision for your life. I believe that whatever you put your hands to will prosper & succeed. You will be blessed in the city; you will be blessed in the country. You will be blessed when you go in; you will be blessed when you go out. I declare that you will be above only & not beneath. I declare right now in the name of Jesus, every negative thing that has been spoken over you; every curse that has been declared over your life-I declare that that curse is broken; that new things are in store for every one of you. I declare that the negative things that have been in your family maybe for generations past, but even today, that curse is broken, & things are beginning to change, that you’re gonna begin to see God’s favor, that you gonna have a new sense of joy; a new sense of freedom; a new sense of victory-Friends I declare that you are blessed & if you receive the blessing shout with a loud Amen! From our family to yours, we love you-we’re believing God’s best for you and we’ll see you back here next week-God bless you!