My Dad was a builder; he liked to make things with his hands and to build in the garage. And his occupation was as a land developer. He had vision; he could look at a dry plot of land, and in his mind he could see a vibrant community there. I watched as he brought places like that to life.
In the Bible, Nehemiah was also a builder ... but he didn't start out that way. He was a cupbearer for the king of Persia, which meant that he tasted the king's food so that the king wouldn't be poisoned. But he made a journey of 750 miles from Persia to Jerusalem, and built up the walls of the city in just 52 days. He got involved, though he lived far away.
What I want to point out is how Nehemiah responded to a need, and from that I want to show you four ways you can build God's kingdom.
First, Nehemiah asked the right questions. His casual inquiry about the situation in Jerusalem brought news of the desolation there. With that information came responsibility, the obligation to act. In the same way, we should care about the spiritual condition of the church. We should want to know, and we should be ready to respond.
Next, Nehemiah felt the right emotions. His reaction was compassion; he sat down and wept when he heard of the condition of the city, just as Jesus wept over its spiritual condition in Matthew 23. God wants our hearts to break over the things that break His heart, for us to be moved by what moves Him.
Then, Nehemiah had the right reaction. He fasted and prayed before God. But not only that, he identified with the people who had sinned. He saw himself as part of the problem before he tried to be part of the solution. And we should all ask ourselves, "If everyone in my church were just like me, what kind of church would this be?"
And here, it's important to pause and remember who we're talking to: "Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments" (Nehemiah 1:5). God is all-powerful ... but He is also loving, and we should never be intimidated to ask Him for something.
And finally, Nehemiah performed the right action. He wept and he prayed, but then he stood up and offered himself as a worker. Our reaction should be like that. Upon seeing some need, we should ask God, "What do you want me to do for your kingdom?"
Our prayers are often self-centered. But our concern should always be for God, His Kingdom, and His church. We should seek a fresh outpouring of His Spirit into our lives. We should have an authentic relationship with Him, and be authentic and real with one another. And we should be excited about spiritual things, and have zeal in our hearts to build His kingdom.
"What do you want me to do, Lord?"