Rev. Dr. Lester A. McCorn
Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church
Biblical Relevance: Nehemiah 4:1-6
4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
Excerpts from the Lesson:
Today we are talking about community transformation. Churches are planted where they are for the mission and ministry that God has called them to be. We are called by God for such a time as this. God reminds us of our responsibility that we are on a mission for him. We are not a social club. Discover your mission by looking outside of the four walls of the building. Open your eyes and see what God has called us to do. If you see something, say something. Churches today are devoid because they have blinders on. Often we come to Church and leave and are not doing much to help. If we are the people of God we must recognize that we are called to make a difference in the world. People and places should be transformed because of our ministry. Nehemiah is profound by what he says and what he does - he is a builder. Don't ever discount or overlook the importance of place or location. Throughout the Bible God called people to a particular place and their destiny was to that place or location. God has a land for us filled with milk and honey. Our destiny is connected to our location. Thank God for Bishop Marshall H. Strickland and the people who had a vision many years back for this Church in this community. Today our community has crime, poverty, drugs, lack of educational opportunities, healthcare, employment, and more. God is still speaking and he is here with us.
Jerusalem was in bad shape and at the time Nehemiah was in good shape and living well. However, he was a prophet. Prophets have a conscience. He understood that his identity was caught up in his homeland. You are in danger whenever you are disconnected from your family. When you are disconnected from your family, you are disconnected from yourself. You will not make it without them. Your responsibility is to them. When you are in touch with your whole self, you are better off as a human being. The Jews owe a great debt to Nehemiah because he went back and claimed the land for them and helped them to reconnect to God. Nehemiah felt something down on the inside when he heard that Jerusalem was in ruins. He wanted to help to restore the connection to God. He was on a mission to move Jerusalem forward and not backwards. We don't allow the past to prevent us from moving forward towards our future. Vision is a burden. There has to be something in you that won't let you rest until you accomplish the vision. The people no longer had resources to help to rebuild. Nehemiah realized he needed some resources to help the people. The king knew something was going on with Nehemiah. Nehemiah told the king that he needed to go back and help to rebuild Jerusalem. The king offered to help and told Nehemiah to get his plan together. God asked us, "what's in your heart?" We must stop looking in our wallet and look in our heart. God will supply all of our needs.
Vision happens because of what's in the heart. It is incumbent on us to make it plain for our future generations. Pray for God to give each of us foresight. The current generation is a visual generation. For example, for some of us growing up we listened to music with our ears only; the current generation watches video music with their eyes and listen with their ears. They are from the “show me” state. Show them through spiritual interpretation. We have to pray for a vision in our heart and speak with spiritual power and favor. Nehemiah was able to build a major team before he built the walls. He had to build the people up before building buildings. God is trying to get us ready. He is trying to pour into us before any concrete is poured. God is pouring into our power, spirit, vision, and so much more. Feed people by loving them, nurturing them, and they will do anything for you. The people did not believe that Nehemiah could help their community. Nehemiah told the people that they could do the work that God called them to do. Community transformation requires at least three things:
1. A heart of compassion. Love. Nehemiah loved the people so much that he put his own life on the line. The same people that tore up the community have a vested interest in our misery. They exploit our poverty and help to overpower our misery. We must be concerned about the condition of our community. We must look at our own lives. Lack of vision is a disease - amnesia - we forget what God has done for us, from whence we have come, and from where God has brought us from. We sometimes have myopia and we are short sided and cannot see the forest for the trees. Other times we may have a bad case of mystalgia - we want to go back to the good old days - we always believe that things were better back then – and we want to go back because we believe the past was better than the present. Community transformation begins with a heart of compassion. We must embrace the idea that everyone deserves an opportunity and a fair chance to be better and improve. We must be committed to work to ensure that everyone is making it.
2. A head with conviction. Liberation. We must be concerned and obsessed with the liberation of our people. During slavery our forefathers and mothers were held down. They did not have a home or a Church. When you liberate a people you remind them of who they are - from Africa, and the gifts are resident in you. The first American art form came from African- jazz. We are a great people and we must be reminded of how good God is to us. We are a great people and able to overcome obstacles. We become stronger and wiser and greater because of where God brought us from. We must have a head of conviction. We must do affirmations. Remind yourself that “I am somebody. I am somebody.” Our children need to know that they are somebody. We have to believe it. We have to teach somebody. We need to do something for our children.
3. Hands for construction. Labor. Our hands need to be in the building business. Labor. The Bible says that “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” God is still calling on some laborers. We have to have a mind to do the work. We have to keep on pressing, keep on pushing to do the work for the kingdom. Kingdom building – this is what are we talking about. Kingdom building is about fulfilling the mission of God on this earth. We must keep on building the kingdom of God. There is no place for backbiting, we must collaborate and be co-laborers. There is plenty of work to be done. We must pray that God gives us strong men, great mind, true faith, opinions, have honor, will not lie, and will live above the fog. We must have public duty and in private thinking. God will send us men and women who will bind together their hearts and hands. Transformation is on its way. God is building us to be an exceeding great army. We must have a Nehemiah spirit. We must do a great work and can't come down. Our money is low and our resources are down, however, we are going to do a great work. God is building a kingdom. We are tearing down satan's kingdom. One day we will be able to stand for the great collation. We will shout Hosanna in the highest. Blessed be the name of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. Amen.