Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sermon- 1-13-08-- The Benefit & Blessing of Vision-- Nehemiah

Here is the audio of this message.

The Benefit & Blessing of Vision

F.E. Marsh has enumerated some of God's blessings:
An acceptance that can never be questioned. (Ephesians 1:6).
An inheritance that can never be lost (I Peter 1:3-5).
A deliverance that can never be excelled (2 Corinthians l:10).
A grace that can never be limited (2 Corinthians 12:9).
A hope that can never be disappointed. (Hebrews 6:18, 19).
A bounty that can never be withdrawn. (I Colossians 3:21-23).
A joy that need never be diminished (John 15:11).
A nearness to God that can never be reversed (Ephesians 2:13).
A peace that can never be disturbed (John 14:27).
A righteousness that can never be tarnished (2 Corinthians 5:21).
A salvation that can never be canceled (Hebrews 5:9).
F.E. Marsh.
Last week we saw in the lives of a defeated people the truth that “where there is no vision, the people perish”

We saw that a people without Vision—are often paralyzed by fear, a lack of commitment, and so often the good things that need to be done around them are neglected, are forgotten—the opportunities are missed—and so often when we do not step up to the plate when God lays an opportunity before us—it’s going to be a while before He comes back to us and says—Here’s another opportunity for you.

When we don’t have Vision—there’s nothing to commit to, nothing to fight for, no victory to achieve, no sense of accomplishment, no sense of cause, nothing to live for—it’s just a drudgery of life.

But it’s moving to the truth of the flip side—that “where there is vision—the people live.”

Last week we finished with the truth that you and I are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that you and I together are being built into a spiritual house in order to serve as priests, dedicated to giving glory to God.

I like these definitions of Vision

Vision is the ability to understand the history, the present condition, and the potential of the church, and to conceive a plan for action that will maximize the ministry potential. More often than not, vision is a result of having spent much time absorbing the facts about the community, knowing the resources upon which the church can call (people, funding, facilities, equipment, etc.), and devising sound but creative strategies for moving forward. Vision always entails progress: it is never satisfied with the status quo.
George Barna, How to Find Your Church, p. 104.
Vision: the capacity to create a compelling picture of the desired state of affairs that inspires people to respond; that which is desirable, which could be, should be; that which is attainable. A godly vision is right for the times, right for the church, and right for the people. A godly vision promotes faith rather than fear. A godly vision motivates people to action. A godly vision requires risk-taking. A godly vision glorifies God, not people.
Bob Logan.
Eph. 1—Revelation helps us “Know Him better”
Phil. 1—knowledge and insight--Vision will help us “discern what is best”

1. Vision’s Blessing Helps you Clearly See What is Needed—1:3-4, 11
• It is easy to get comfortable when something is broken. I remember times when a picture was leaning, or there was a crack in the wall that needed repairs—it’s easy to go right on by—to get so used to seeing it this way—so comfortable with the problem—that you can lose the drive to fix it, that you can even be afraid of seeing the problem fixed at all.

• For those coming from Jerusalem, for years, they had lived with the problem—for years, they may have thought someone should do something about it—for years, the reminder of their defeat was before them and for whatever reason, they were afraid of what would happen if they tried to fix it.

• At this point—they didn’t know what to do with it—at this point, they may have lost hope it would ever change. But when they took the problem with them to Susa, the capitol of Persia, someone else heard about it—READ 1:2-4

• Nehemiah was broken by the situation –and he took it before God—called out to Him to reveal the way to impact what is a sad situation—
• The people of God had been paralyzed from living as God has invited them to live—and they were suffering for it--and everyone around them was suffering as well. When Jerusalem was not functional, when the Temple was not the central place of true worship it was supposed to be—everyone in the surrounding country couldn’t worship effectively either—they remained in darkness b/c those who should have been shining the light were afraid, were immobilized, had lost sight of what God had called them to be and so lost the vision of God.

• After many days of mourning, fasting and prayer, and taking things to God, Nehemiah was ready to step out and take a risk. READ v. 1:11

• What was needed was Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt—Jerusalem needed to return to the center of Jewish life and Worship—the covenant needed to be lived out. Hope needed to be restored—the light needed to shine again.

• The blessing of the vision God had given him helped Nehemiah see the problem—and see it so clearly that he was moved to do something about it.

• In the same way, when we hear about people here in Macomb who are struggling, who are suffering, who are trapped in darkness apart from Christ—you and I can be tempted to just go on living—and not really think twice about it because we’ve become comfortable with our own little world, our own friends and family, or because we’re afraid of stepping out and doing what is necessary to change things, or we’re waiting for someone else to do it—but just like Nehemiah we should be broken about the situation of the lost around us—and we need a vision from God to shake us—out of our complacency. Vision’s Blessing helps us to See what is Needed and also give Hope for a Solution

• Lord God, may we be so broken when we hear the report of those in need of Christ that we will call upon and pursue after God and His plan for making a difference.

2. Vision’s Blessing Rallies People to a Great Cause—2:17-18, 3:1
a. 2:17-18— Let us start rebuilding
b. waiting for a vision—they were waiting for someone to come along, and show the conviction to do something about it—it wasn’t that Nehemiah was smarter—it’s that he wasn’t going to let this moment pass by—not when God had given him the blessing of a vision—and the people responded to that.
c. 3:1—the rest of the chapter describes the different sections of the walls and the gates and the various groups or families that rebuilt them.
d. After years of doing nothing—of knowing the problem but unable or unwilling to do anything about it—after hearing from Nehemiah and what God had shown him, they were now ready to do it. The vision that God had laid on Nehemiah’s heart inspired them to action. Now they had something to believe in—the discouragement, the defeat, the years being dominated by local thugs are cast aside with a vision of hope and a future.

e. The people of Jerusalem were rallied by the blessing of Vision. The greater cause of fulfilling the vision allowed people to work together, even on their small sections, but accomplish something they could not do on their own.

f. This was a great cause—restoring dignity to Jerusalem and its people—restoring its place as a center of worship to almighty God.—the vision that Nehemiah brought with him was a breath of fresh air for those who had been waiting.

g. WWII brings many such moments to light—not many in England thought they could survive the German onslaught until Winston Churchill gave them a vision of Victory. Many in America wondered if the United States should cut it’s losses in the Pacific and stay uninvolved after Pearl Harbor

• Vision’s Blessing Overcomes Obstacles & Opposition
• The amazing thing about starting something for God is that you are guaranteed to face opposition. Nehemiah was no different. He endured tremendous opposition, undermining and threat.

• Nehemiah--2:10, 19—not everyone liked the vision Nehemiah brought with him. They were from neighboring towns and were fearful they may lose income or power. others resentful—Resistance to anyone offering a vision—opposition

• 4:1-3—Ridicule and Mocking—since the direct opposition wasn’t working the enemies of Jerusalem made fun of them and sought to discourage them—to sap their hope—to discourage them from completing the project and fulfilling their cord

• Then it went so far in 6:5-9—the opposition was even deliberately bringing up False Accusations and lies
• Satan was willing to throw anything at them to make them stop and discourage them from doing the work God had called them to do.

• That is so typical—Satan’s pattern hasn’t changed. As soon as you start moving toward fulfilling your calling and vision of God, Satan is going to try anything to stop you. And you should not expect to be exempt from such treatment. He’ll try any such tactics on us—so long as we don’t just stand on the sidelines or sit on the bench—he’ll use whatever means necessary to keep you on the bench and not in the game. Satan will use family, he’ll use your kids, your spouse anything.

• That’s why Nehemiah needed to set up guards to help them all—while some did the work of building, others did the work of guarding. READ 4:13, 16—the cause was worth fighting for.

• 7:1-3—guarding—ordinary guards—everyday citizens were given charge of the gate—required the participation and commitment of everyone.

• It was the vision of seeing the walls back up—the dream of the gates functioning as they should that helped all the people overcome the opposition—don’t you want to take part in something worth fighting for? Something that has an eternal value—because our mission, the vision for this family, this body of believers is worth it—especially when we are standing by each other—guarding and working.

• It is vision helps you overcome obstacles and opposition—it may not be easy but reminders of what you’re doing something for and why it will make a difference.

• Vision’s Blessing has Amazing Accomplishments
• 4:6—early on, despite the opposition, the wall was rebuilt to half it’s height—the people were inspired and worked with “all their heart”

• After helping out the social situation—restoring justice to the poor—again Nehemiah faced opposition again and Sanballat attempted to lure him into a trap. But Nehemiah continued to pray and seek God—“Now strengthen my hands” he said in vs. 9

• Successful Vision—6:15-16—completing in 52 days—fear of the enemy—now those in Jerusalem were able to truly live as they were intended to live
• 7:1—with all these things in place—the singers and Levites were appointed—true worship was restored.

• 7:4—city was large and spacious—few people in it—they were ready to receive

• 8:1-3, 5—Hunger for the word

The rebuilding of Jerusalem was for the Glory of God—that the people would no longer be a disgrace—and they experienced some great aspects of mercy from God. they rallied around Nehemiah and the vision God had given him and together they accomplished a great task. They had the foundation laid and it was time to build upon them.

They had walls to build in order to keep unwanted enemies out—a matter of protection and defense. But the gates were supposed to give access to anyone who came—so they might benefit from the access to God. Strength and access—so long as the people of Israel held to this vision—they were pleasing to God and He blessed them.

I believe we are in a similar situation—we have walls that need repair—we need gates and access to God restored—we need an awakening of the vision and calling of God in our hearts so we will impact the community around us and not live in fear, not be paralyzed to inaction, but work with all our hearts to accomplish our mission—the one that Jesus gave to us—strengthening the family of God to reach out to the lost and hurting.

We have such a good foundation to build upon—our situation is far from hopeless—I believe we are on the verge of God’s great blessings.

Here’s some things to do—

First—pray and seek God’s vision for our church and for your life.

Second—allow yourself to be broken for the lost and hurting around you—don’t continue to pass by the same thing that needs fixing and not do anything about it

Third—if you haven’t seen someone in a while that you’re used to sitting next to or your used to seeing—give them a call this week. Invite them to lunch or over for dinner. Be excited about our church and invite them to join you in the work of God—come be a part of the Church visitation this Saturday,

Fourth—start building—take a section of our church’s needs and fulfill it with all your heart. Start building upon the foundation of the Temple that has been laid in this church, in your heart—don’t let the foundation remain unused—if God has laid something on your heart—share it—Patrick and I and others will help you in fulfilling it.

How many of you know that a few years ago, the church came together and agreed upon a Vision Statement. It’s a very sound one—when the foundation is Christ—and these are great building blocks to shape what and how we build.

UBC Vision

• To be a dynamic spiritual church empowered by the Holy Spirit to share Christ with as many people as possible in our church, community, and throughout the world.--Evangelism

• To be a worshiping fellowship, experiencing an awareness of God, recognizing His person, and responding in obedience to His leadership--Worship

• To experience an increasingly meaningful fellowship with God and fellow believers--Fellowship

• To help people experience a growing knowledge of God--Discipleship

• To be a church that ministers unselfishly to persons in the community and world in Jesus name.--Ministry

• To be a church whose purpose is to be Christ-like in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment of life, personality, and possessions to the Lordship of Christ.

UBC is like Jerusalem—we need to see the vision of God to awaken us to His great Mission—that will sustain us through opposition—that we can expect to accomplish great and wonderful things.

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