I’m convinced that every human being wants to know their life is making a difference and they want to leave a legacy. Here’s the reality—the decision of one family or one person can impact others for years to come, and one decision can begin a chain of events. And for good or bad, better or worse, we have influence over the lives of others. The influence we have and the difference we make will echo and ring throughout all of eternity.
God has an important role for you to play in his mission for the world. To discover your true significance, you must find your place in God’s plan. God had an important role for Nehemiah, and from the beginning, Nehemiah knew he needed a strategy. He first prayed and put his focus on God. He confessed his own sin and the sin of Israel. He claimed the promises of God and made himself available to fulfill God’s plan. There was a remnant of Jews that came back from captivity with Nehemiah and together they rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem in only 52 days!
After they finished building the physical wall, Nehemiah built a spiritual wall around the people. They had gone through seven months of the Jewish calendar and celebrated three major Jewish feasts—they had an awesome time of revival and rejoicing! They wanted the effects of what God had done in their lives to impact future generations. The nature of revival is that it has a definite beginning and a definite end, but once the revival is over, the movement of God can just be beginning, but only with some structure and organization.
They had momentum, and the Jews were highly motivated to be used by God to fulfill the purpose and mission God had for them. But motivation without organization leads to frustration. Nehemiah, being a great leader, recognized this and began organizing the Jews for the long-term mission. They had just experienced a tremendous victory in rebuilding the wall around the city, but if Jerusalem was going to be the lighthouse to the world it was intended to be for generations to come, the real work was ahead. And that is what Nehemiah understood as he looked into the future.
The strategic keys to Israel’s future depended on three elements being in place – the people, the tools, and the cities. Nehemiah 11 lists the key people with an emphasis on their abilities (their key tools), and at the end of the chapter, you see the key cities where Nehemiah wanted to establish a strong Jewish presence. He was looking beyond the walls of Jerusalem, exactly as you and I are commanded to do. We are to look into the world and see where we are needed to help establish a strong gospel witness. Without understanding the same basic three elements that Nehemiah understood, we will never come close to fulfilling our mission and mandate.
In many ways, Nehemiah’s strategy was similar to the strategy of Acts 1:8 when Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In the Book of Acts, Paul trusted God to raise up some key people who would accompany him and who would give their lives to take the gospel around the world. They recognized the key cities of the Roman Empire, and it was there they would establish a strong Christian presence.
While the world has changed in the last 2000 years, the strategy is exactly the same. To discover God’s purpose for your life as it pertains to this kingdom vision, this kingdom mission, you need to realize three things:
1) You are a key person! If our lives are going to have significance and our church is going to make a difference, we have to know God’s plan. Nehemiah brought one out of ten people from outside the city into the city. Jerusalem was once weak because it had no wall, but now it had a fortified wall and it also had a strong Jewish presence. In Nehemiah’s day, Jerusalem was the front line. God had chosen one in ten to be on the front line…to leave their home and move to Jerusalem, but the others needed to stay behind and raise the crops and take care of other essentials to support the city.
Today the strategy is the same, the only difference being that Jerusalem is no longer the front line, it’s the world! Mark 16:15 says, we are to “go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” To reach our world for Jesus Christ and to fulfill the mandate of Acts 1:8, for every person who goes to the front lines, others are needed to stay behind and fill a support role.
How do we determine who goes? That’s simple—God determines it. If you want to find your place in God’s plan, you must take a step of faith and allow God to determine your plans. God desires a mentality that says, “I will serve God whenever, however, and wherever.” We ask God to use us, but then often put limitations on what we’ll allow God to do with us. You are a part of God’s plan, and while you can’t mess up God’s plan for humanity or God’s plan for eternity, you can mess up God’s plan for you if you don’t let God have all of you
2) Realize you have key tools. Understand the gifts and abilities God has given you. No one person can do it all, and God has given every person certain gifts and abilities. God has given you a gift and you are a gift to the body of believers where God has placed you.
3) God has strategically positioned you in a key place. God’s intent for Jerusalem was that it would be a launching pad to reach the world. The church is to be a launching pad to reach the world. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” God has strategically placed you where you live, and you are not there by accident. It’s a key place on God’s map, and God has put you there for one reason, to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”