Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, July 19, 2018
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January 28, 2018 Sermon

“HOPE for the Heart!” Execute
Nehemiah 3:1 - 7

Ted Jansen  January 28, 2018  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        The last of our four words in our HOPE journey is Execute.  This means to do something, to begin something, to start something, to carry out some action.  When you execute a plan it means to put the plan in action.  Hope comes when a plan is put in action! 

 

2.)        God brought hope to the Israelite when they had been taken away from their homes into a land called Babylon.  They lived in a different culture and felt far away from God’s blessing. 

Jerusalem, the holy city, had been destroyed and for 140 years the walls were still destroyed.  God was working out His plan through Nehemiah. 

            Nehemiah hears and sees the condition of the wall.  He considers options and shares his plan for rebuilding to the people.  In Nehemiah chapter 3 we read that the rebuilding of the wall has begun.  The plan is being executed.  It is happening!   Hope is rising.  

            The local officials who were mocking the ridiculing this plan continued to do so.  Nehemiah encouraged the builders and they continued and did their best to not listen to the mockers.    

 

3.)        Nehemiah 4:6 says, “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” 

            The people were doing great.  They each had a section to rebuild and they had a great amount of hope in their spirit.  This hope caused them to work hard.

            It was all going along well, but something happened that they were not expecting.      

 

4.)        The officials who had mocked them earlier threatened the people.  Those working on the wall were fearful for their lives.  The workers thought that they might be attacked and killed.  Fear caused them to lose hope.  Their heart was not in the building, they were frightened, and were not working hard at building anymore. 

Nehemiah had to do something to renew their hope and heart.  What did he do?  He had to take the people on another HOPE journey.      

In order to have HOPE Nehemiah had to honestly asses what the conditions were now.  He had to consider some options, he had to create a new plan and then execute it.  Nehemiah knew that when things change you have to renew hope.     

Nehemiah 4:16, 17 tells us what the new plan was and how the people kept building.    

“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officials posted themselves behind all the people of Judah, who were building the wall.”

            Nehemiah brought hope by having half the men guard the work and even the builders all had a sword or spear on or near them as they worked on the wall.  We also understand that Nehemiah had some people with trumpets that could be sounded so that if someone needed help in a time of attack. When the workers and soldiers would hear the trumpet they were to rush to the scene and fend off any attack on the wall and keep the builders safe.    

            Nehemiah’s new plan began and it restored hope.  The people worked so hard that the wall was rebuilt in 52 days.  (Nehemiah 6:15.)      

 

5.)        We all need hope.  We need assurance that God is at work in doing something in our lives, in the lives of our loved ones, in the situations that we face each day.  Listen to the words of Holly has she shares about hope and how doing something instills that in her.        

How Planting Bulbs Is 'the Work of Hope' ” (One of the last fall garden tasks is to tuck spring bulbs into the ground, sowing hope for a sweet, colorful spring ahead.  by Holly Lebowitz Rossi Posted in Life Advice, Nov 9, 2017)

Is there any greater act of garden faith than tucking bulbs into the ground just before the freezing cold hardens the earth for winter? Digging, arranging and patting down an array of bulbs has become my launching pad for a positive path through the cold, dark season.

Working through bags of tulips, daffodils, crocuses and one annual experiment—this year, I’m trying dense, colorful ranunculus—I’m aware that the possibilities for failure are numerous. Squirrels could turn their sharp, hungry claws on the juicy bulbs. A mild winter could send the bulbs sprouting before their time. Or the human error factor could come into play, and I could either be too shallow or too deep in my planting.

Like with every garden task, our charge is to persist despite the ever-present possibility that things won’t turn out like we expect them to.

I love the way the poet May Sarton put it: “I long for the bulbs to arrive, for early autumn chores are melancholy, but the planting of the bulbs is the work of hope and always thrilling.”

The work of hope. What an inspiring phrase to capture the effort required, not only to choose, prepare and plant the bulbs, but to set our sights on the bright, warm days that we won’t see for many months.

Now that Daylight Savings Time has ended and the late afternoon sun has moved on to warm another part of the planet, it is the optimal time to practice the “work of hope” each and every day. It is that well-placed effort, after all, that will carry us toward the spring that is waiting to thrill us with its colorful surprises—especially those that are of our own making.

 

6.)        The work of hope is vital for our lives.  The work of planting a bulb, the work of making things better for the future.  The work of hope is touching a life.  

            I know that as a congregation we were involved in a work of hope when we entered into our Capital Campaign to pay off our debt.  It was an area that needed hope in our lives. 

            The work of hope can be tiring, discouraging, and without appreciation.  The work of hope touches all those around with a full heart. 

            If we had decided in our Capital Campaign to honestly asses more of the situation or consider options and come up with more plans that would not have brought hope.  We needed and we executed the plan.  God worked in our midst in each of our hearts and together we are paying down the debt and our hope is strong.       

 

7.)        What does the work of HOPE look like to you?   If you are raising children what does the work of hope look like to you?  If you are being treated for cancer what does the work of hope look like?   If you desire to be financially healthy what does the work of hope look like?    

If you live in Martin County, Florida, and you struggle with addictions, with mental health, or have broken the law the work of hope can look like a garden.  I want to share the story of two organizations called the House of Hope and Project LIFT that have worked together to bring hope to teens!  “At-Risk Teens Grow Hope in Community Garden” (Here's how Project L.I.F.T.'s inspiring after school program helps teens prepare for a better future.  by Jessica Toomer - Posted on Mar 21, 2017)

 

8.)        In Martin County, Florida, two non-profit organizations have come together to plant seeds of hope through community gardening. Recently, the House of Hope charity for the homeless and people with addictions and other mental health issues partnered with Project L.I.F.T., an organization that helps at-risk teens, to grow community gardens in 4 small towns across the county.  

The teens in Project L.I.F.T.’s program—many of them aged 14-19 who are also struggling with addictions, managing mental health or legal issues or have been victimized by crimes—visit the gardens every day after school where they grow seeds, maintain and water plants, set up irrigation, harvest the produce and learn to create their own meals. They take some of the produce home to their families but most is sent to House of Hope’s pantry for the homeless community.

“We saw a need for people that were hungry and homeless,” Laura Lyman, House of Hope’s agricultural coordinator tells Guideposts.org of their decision to partner with Project L.I.F.T’s community gardens initiative.

Beyond the need for food, Project L.I.F.T. envisioned the gardens would provide an educational opportunity to their teens.

“We’re trying to teach nutrition,” Bob Zaccheo, the executive director of Project L.I.F.T. tells Guideposts.org.

            “We have a problem with diabetes and obesity in our community, like a lot of other communities,” Zaccheo says. “We want to start with education and nutrition, but when we get into the garden, now they’re doing hands on stuff that really connects.”

The gardens also offer the teens vocational skills that can help them find work later in their largely agrarian county. Beyond skills, this project has helped the teens find confidence and hope for their futures.

Alisia Kifer, director of the all-girls branch of Project L.I.F.T. called The Willow Project, can speak to that.

“Once you give them something to get their hands dirty in and they see the fruits of their labor quite literally, they become passionate about it,” Kifer says.

So far, the four gardens around Martin County have yielded 100 pounds of produce for the pantry and the community at large. It’s just a dent in the greater need – the area’s homeless population is high, especially in the off season when tourists return home and work is scarce – but the opportunity to teach kids the importance of giving back is just as valuable as the food they’re harvesting.

“You see a paradigm shift in the thinking of these kids,” Zaccheo says. “You see them giving. The kids are learning to give at a bigger level than they’ve ever been able to give at before.”

Lyman hopes the collaboration can foster seeds of togetherness in the community and bring sustainability, nutrition and hope to the area.

 

9.)        What does the work of hope look like to you?  When we see something started it fills our hearts with hope. 

Sue has had her heart filled with hope since the beginning of the year because of something that got started.  What got started was a remodeling project at our cottage. 

We have honestly assessed the needs for years, and have considered all the options and have thought about various plans.  All of that brings hope and anticipation.  

Last summer Sue said she needed to see something happen.  She needed hope and the word that was going to bring it to her was execute.  Do something, start something, begin. 

Last summer she met a builder and then I met him.  We shared our ideas and we got a quote.  Then we put a down payment down on the project.  We knew something was going to happen but were not 100% what all he would find when he started the process.    

He began after the first of the year and the first time we went up to the cottage to see things it was a mess.  It was a good mess!  Things were dirty, torn apart, boards, nails, wires!        

The mess was a sign of hope to Sue.  It meant that something had started and something will be done.  A plan was being executed and it brought hope to her.