This One Thing

June 28, 2013, 0 Comments

In my continuing message series on Nehemiah, I based my latest message on the idea of “This One Thing.” In speaking from chapter 3, I focused on the idea that all of the citizens of Jerusalem united their efforts on “this one thing” of rebuilding the wall. It is a great message for us to remember that there are times in the work of a church family, that we must rally around a singular effort. It is also the reminder that ultimately, the church must have the mission of God as “this one thing” that takes precedence in our lives. The following are my sermon notes.

The video included below is the 11-minute documentary of “The Great Boat Lift of 9/11” and its story was a primary illustration for the message. I think you will be fascinated by it.

This One Thing – Nehemiah 3:1-32

Summary of the previous messages:

  • Message #1 – Embracing the burden
  • Message #2 – Reminder that when God makes the assignment, He also makes the provisions.
  • Message #3 – Embrace being called out.

Read Nehemiah 3:1-2

Who joins in the work?

  • Priests – v.1-2, 22
  • Rulers – v. 9, 12, 14, 15-17, 19
  • Levites – v. 17-18
  • Temple servants – v. 26
  • Guards – v.29
  • Merchants – v.32
  • Goldsmiths – v.8, 31-32
  • Perfume makers – v.8
  • Men of the city – v.3
  • Daughters of the city – v. 12
  • Everybody… almost – the nobles refused – v.5
  • Of the thirty-eight individual workers named in this chapter, and forty-two different groups there are no expert builders or construction workers mentioned.
  • Commoners who did this great work of God.


  • Once the need was realized, everyone moved into action.
  • Alan Hirsch’s term is Communitas: It “is the community, the brotherhood, that is born out of an adventure, an ordeal, a challenge or a mission.”


  • Harmony in diversity
  • Diversity — Everyone has specific gifts and talents
  • Cooperation — There are seasons when, no matter your talent or preference, we all do one thing.
  • Unity is not the focus. The mission is the focus. Unity is a by-product of us pursuing God’s mission.


  • Preferences dropped
  • Preferred work or skill set aside
  • Our desire for a more fulfilling life is a great deception that distracts us from a sacrificed life for Christ’s glory.
  • Illustration of The Great Boat Lift of 9/11
  • People fled south and suddenly realized that Manhattan truly is an island
  • Who needed rescuing? Everyone!
  • Who came to help? Ferries, tug boats, Coast Guard, private boats, party boats, fishing boat.
  • Back and forth all day long, carrying all they could. None of the captains said, “My boat is not designed for evacuations.”
  • Average people stepped up when they needed to do it.
  • Largest sea evacuation in history; 500K in 9 hours
  • One captain said: “I have one theory in life: I never want to say the words ‘I should have.'”

Our Mission

  • Mission of Christ
  • John 17:20-21 – Our unity in God is a testimony of the redemptive work of Christ.
  • 1 Cor 12:12-14 – many parts in one body
  • 1 Cor 12:18 – all placed together by God
  • No matter what your skill set might be, focus on the mission of Christ is always “this one thing” that we do.


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