08 May He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.
Many thanks to Southport Presbyterian Church for inviting Rick Alvis, President/CEO of Wheeler Mission, to preach on Sunday, April 28, 2019 for their Spring Missions Fest Sunday! You can catch Rick’s sermon in full here.
When I read Nehemiah 2:11-18…
I’m reminded that sometimes, God’s calling seems impossible…Or at the very least, intimidating.
I remember when I first realized how big and enormous God is, and how small our world really is–simply because God is in it with us. So when I think about our ministry as believers, when I read about Nehemiah’s mission to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, I know that God really has it all in His hands. And I don’t have to worry.
The observation of yesterday.
Looking back to my first few years at Wheeler Mission, our focus was simpler. We zeroed in on alcoholism among men. But today, problems and crises related to homelessness have spiraled, are so complex, and affect men, women, and children alike. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tempting to put all our hope and energies into programs we have or think we need.
The same could have been said for Nehemiah, but instead, he had a singular focus that he stuck to: he set out to repair the wall and get it finished. And that reminds me what my focus should be, too. It’s not about solving every problem in our community. It’s about the Gospel, and how it impacts lives.
The opportunity of today.
Just look around, and you’ll see countless opportunities to serve Christ right here at home. So how do you choose where to start? In vs. 17-18, Nehemiah had one focus and we need to have one too–we can’t do everything. His focus was on the wall, just as my focus is the Gospel.
During the winter, Wheeler hosts 800-900 people every night. Rather than being consumed by the heartbreak, chaos, and overwhelming physical needs, I always remind our staff that we have a unique opportunity to present the Gospel of Christ. Yes, our guests battle addiction, violence, poverty, and mental health challenges. But when they come to us in desperate need, sometimes by the hundreds, we get to invite them to see Jesus–so start there!
Nehemiah could have looked at the challenge before him–the wall in shambles–and blown it out of proportion, proclaiming he’d been dealt more than he’d bargained for. But never in the entire book do I ever get the sense he got discouraged. And because of our relationship with Christ, we shouldn’t be discouraged either.
The optimism of tomorrow: “Let us rise up and build.”
I love verse 18, when the people say, “Let us rise up and build.” They had faith and put their hands to the good work. I can just see it: rolling up their sleeves, getting dirty, getting it done. There was a sense of excitement in the air, and I have that same excitement about our future. I KNOW God is in control of Wheeler. And as far as I’m concerned, if we stop preaching the Gospel of Christ, we may as well close our doors. Because it’s the Gospel that brings hope, restores, and redeems. It’s the Gospel that brings life transformation.
Our culture is yelling out for God and they don’t even know it. And we can do something about that. There are lots of opportunities for today, but our optimism for tomorrow is that God is in control.