Building Walls (Sermon by Jimmie Thomas)
Nehemiah 2:1-5, 12, 13

Sermon Summary
This message was delivered by Jimmie Thomas, retired Master Sergeant Mississippi State Police, on the Sunday we have our Blue Service to honor and serve our First Responders. Jimmie shared with us the difficult situation the children of Israel found themselves in. They had been conquered and the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down. Walls were important back in Bible days. They represented power, strength, protection, and were considered a thing of beauty. God inspired Nehemiah to respond to the need of his homeland. Nehemiah served as the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes. At great personal risk Nehemiah asked the King if he could return to Jerusalem to lead an effort to rebuild its walls. The King said yes and even provided resources and an armed escort. Jimmie related Nehemiah’s willingness to do something about the situation in Jerusalem with a first responder’s willingness to do something about the needs they encounter on a daily basis. Jimmie stated that, like Nehemiah, first responders are:
People of Vision
People of Action
People of Prayer
People of Preparation
People of Courage
People of Perseverance
Whether or not you are a first responder, God has called you to be a part of making a difference in the lives of others! When a first responder puts on a uniform, that person becomes a leader by nature of the position he or she has accepted. The decision becomes what kind of leader will the person be, good or bad? In many ways it is the same for a person who decides to become a follower of Jesus! When a person makes that decision, others are watching, looking and waiting to see what difference Jesus makes in their life.

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Nehemiah was a person of vision, action, prayer, preparation, courage and perseverance. First responders have a job that requires these same qualities. Should these qualities be a part of follower of Jesus’ life? Why or why not?

2. This next question is closely related to the first question. When a first responder puts on a uniform, they are also putting on a set of responsibilities and expectations. When a person wears the name Christian there are responsibilities and expectations as well. Is this fair?
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

3. There are no triumphs without troubles. It’s a part of life. When you try to do good, there will be opposition. Have you faced this? How have you handled this?
Nehemiah faced this. Read the following passage and discuss how Nehemiah handled things.
The opposition...Nehemiah 4:1-2aWhen 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?

The response...Nehemiah 4:14 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

4. Mr. Jimmie talked about building spiritual walls in our lives to defend against the enemy. What are some of the enemies we face in our lives and what can we do to build those spiritual walls of protection? There is a good hint in Nehemiah 8:1-3 and 8:5-6...
Nehemiah 8:1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. 2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Nehemiah 8:5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.