As a young businessman I was co-founder of a logistic branch in Frankfurt am Main. In eight years we had 70 employees. – At that time, I also enjoyed being part of a business association, which discussed business launching plans.
Many years later, I was able to take part in helping to plant churches in Central-Asia and in Germany and also a Medical Missionary School in Uzbekistan. Due to the success of this school and after the country banned the school after four years, I recommended that OCI establish an institution that would act as a worldwide service provider for the establishment of medical-mission schools. As a result, LIGHT (Lay Institute for Global Health Training – https://lightingtheworld.org/) was formed. Since then this organization works in 88 countries and has trained more than 18,000 church members in health-mission work. (End of 2016)
A few years ago I held workshops at our German ASI convention on “Christ in the Company”. Consequently, I wrote a book together with Gerhard Padderatz called “God, Money and Faith – Christian Action in Economic Questions”. The seventh chapter is called: “Everything depends on your relationship with God.” This is what we want to talk about now. Our main text is:
Eph. 2:10 NKJV:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
This text talks about two works! First of all, it is about God’s first work. This is my new life in Christ. Jesus said: “Come to me …” Whoever has come to Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior Jesus says: “Abide in Me, and I in you.” John 15:4 He wants to have a constant living connection with us. How does this take place? The best explanation is found in The Desire of Ages.
“Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service.”
Our constant living relationship with Jesus results from a daily renewal of our surrender to Jesus Christ and a daily petition and receiving of the Holy Spirit. In this way God’s work for me – my new life, which I have received on the basis of God’s grace and my faith – remains alive in me.
The Second Work, God’s Work Through Me
In this setting God creates a second work – a work through me. It says that God prepared these good works beforehand. God is the best planner. He has a general plan and a detailed plan for me. He has prepared a task for me. It is now up to me to carry out what God has planned. By performing this task our faith and our talents grow, we have more joy and more strength and we are working for God’s kingdom. Since God knows each of us through and through, He knows how our life can best be used to His glory. God has a life planned for us, in which He can reveal His love to us and to others through us. In John 7:38 NKJV He promised:
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, [God’s first work] out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” [The second work through us]. Jesus‘ marvelous promise that rivers of living water will flow from us is unsurpassable. Can we expect anything more?
The prerequisite is our intimate living relationship with Jesus Christ. To better differentiate, I would like to call the second work – the work through us – “the Nehemiah work”, since he is our biblical example.
Was rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall Nehemiah’s idea?
What prompted Nehemiah, who wasn’t a construction expert and who had a very good position in Persia, to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall? Nehemiah said: “…what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem.” (Neh.2:12 NKJV) The work in Jerusalem wasn’t Nehemiah’s idea, but rather God had given it to him. God had planned beforehand.
The Day of Small Beginnings
God begins with small things with us. God’s word warns us not to despise the day of small things. Zach. 4:10 God expects us to be willing to do even inconspicuous tasks. It could be that the beginning is so inconspicuous that we don’t even notice it at the time – only when we look back do we spot it. As a slave Joseph was prepared for his high position: Moses as a shepherd.
The prerequisite for God’s leading in the Nehemiah work is an intimate living relationship with God in our new life.
Our complete surrender and living with the Holy Spirit gives the Lord the possibility to do both of these works. Only after my new life is making consistent progress – when a continual living relationship with God is present – does God entrust me with the work that He prepared beforehand. Only on the foundation of a living first work does the second work come from God. When the new life isn’t present yet or doesn’t exist anymore, then the second work is a work done in completely human power with all the corresponding limitations.
An example how God’s intervention in the second work is dependent on my living relationship with Him.
With reference to our literature E. G. White wrote for example: “A piece written in the Spirit of God angels approbate, and impress the same upon the readers. But a piece written when the writer is not living wholly for the glory of God, not wholly devoted to him, angels feel the lack in sadness. They turn away and do not impress the reader with it because God and his Spirit are not in it. The words are good but it lacks the warm influence of the Spirit of God.” 
Did you notice what matters in our literature? –
- It must be written in the Spirit of God
- The writer must live wholly for the glory of God
- And be completely devoted to Him.
If these conditions are not fulfilled, then no divine influence is exerted. God’s participation in the Nehemiah-work depends on it – that I live in a constant living relationship with Him. That I am connected to Him with loyalty/faithfulness. And I think this applies to every kind of Nehemiah-work as well:
Example: pastor, mission work: what is crucial?
In The Desire of Ages, p. 671.4, it says: “The preaching of the word will be of no avail without the continual presence and aid of the Holy Spirit…. One might be able to present the letter of the word of God, he might be familiar with all its commands and promises; but unless the Holy Spirit sets home the truth, no souls will fall on the Rock and be broken. No amount of education, no advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light without the co-operation of the Spirit of God.”
God and the angels only cooperate when we are filled with the Holy Ghost and live in complete surrender to Christ. We can have a wonderful business plan or write a wonderful biblical book. That does not impress God. God’s criterion is a living personal relationship, not the circumstances. Without Him all our efforts will only lead to human results with the corresponding human limitations. No matter who you are or what you do.
I am working for God – or does God works through me?
Le Roy E. Froom says: “Working for God is one thing, but God works through us is another thing. Leaving the world and following Christ is one thing, but being a man in whom the Holy Spirit dwells in his fullness with his abundant power and grace is another. .. God cannot do anything revolutionary with man before he has done something revolutionary for them.” 
May I say it again: the criterion is my life in daily unconditional devotion to Christ and daily prayer and reception of the Holy Spirit. (You can read about it in the brochure “Steps for personal revival” (It is available in many languages.)
Serving God is a source of great joy
“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh.8:10
How did Nehemiah and the whole community get this joy? They received it by serving God. The walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in 52 days. By working for God we find the greatest fulfillment and joy. The book of Nehemiah is a textbook for us about the work that God has prepared for us beforehand.
Constant Prayer Connection
When we walk in God’s service, then we need a constant prayer connection with Him. We need a connection with the One, who prepared this work for us. He can best guide us in this work. It is like driving with a navigation device. God has given us a great promise concerning this connection: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3 NKJV) Not only does the Lord promise to answer us, but He also has promised to show us great and mighty things. Even today God wants to do great and mighty things. When living a life in God’s service great and mighty things will happen time after time. It happens like this: what God has planned in me and through me will repeatedly go beyond my opportunities and capabilities. And it is good that way. It nurtures my dependence on God and my collaboration with Him.
What were the effects of the earthly life of Jesus?
Philipp Brooks says, “I am not mistaken when I say that all the armies that have ever marched, all the naval forces that have ever been built, all the parliaments that ever met, and all the kings who ever ruled, have not moved the life of men on earth as sustainable as Jesus life did.”
How could Jesus Christ as man have such an enormous influence? Jesus calls us the reason for this very clearly in John 14:10 NKJV:
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works”
Jesus could exert such an enormous influence as a man, because “he was in the father and the father in Him.” The divine influence of the Father worked through Him.
Jesus wants to do great works through us
John 14,12 NKJV: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to the father”
Because Jesus is in authority of heaven and earth He can these greater works do through us. For us it is necessary “to be in Christ” and to abide in Him. (John 15,4). Under this assumption, Jesus Christ can work through us. When are we in Him and He in us? It’s about
• a constant reception of the Holy Spirit
• and a life of unconditional devotion to his ministry.
 [The Desire of Ages p. 676.2]
 E. G. White, PH 016 (www.egwwritings.org), p. 29.1
 Le Roy Edwin Froom, The Coming of the Comforter, retranslated from German, German Version p. 100
 (Buch Nehemia in der Bibel oder Propheten u. Könige, Kap.53 ‚Die Bauleute auf der Mauer‘, S. [635,636])