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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!

				
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