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WANTED: PEOPLE OF VISION
Intro: The people of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were in a terrible condition. Over 150 years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon had invaded Israel and had carried many of the people away as slaves. The Jews desperately needed someone who had the vision needed to restore Jerusalem and Israel to her former glory. They needed someone who was different. They needed someone who had been captured by God and was set on fire by His Spirit. They needed a person of vision if they were going to see their situation changed. God had such a man! His name was Nehemiah and he was being prepared by God as a vessel to be used in a great way to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and to bring about the restoration of the nation of Israel.
You and I may be thousands of years removed from the time of Nehemiah, but we also live in a nation that desperately needs people of vision. We live in a day when the walls of morality and virtue in society have been torn down and the gates of decency are aflame. It is clear to all that the church in our day is a mere shell of its former self. The walls of separation between the church and the world have been torn down. The gates of glory that identified the church as the house of God have been burned by the flames of sin and tarnished by the blight of apathy.
We need people of vision! We can become people of vision! We can become the people God uses for His glory in these days to make a difference for His name’s sake! As we look into these verses tonight, there are three simple facts presented here that teach us how to become people of vision. Let’s look at those facts as I preach on the thought, Wanted: People Of Vision.
I. V. 1-4 PEOPLE OF VISION ENCOUNTER PROBLEMS
A. V. 1 The Calmness Of Nehemiah’s Life - The life Nehemiah lived as the king’s cupbearer was a life of peace, prosperity and political power. His job was to taste all the king’s food before it got to the king to prevent the king from being poisoned. He would have been one of the moist trusted men in the kingdom. The king would have looked to Nehemiah for advise from time to time. His was a life of great serenity and ease. Nehemiah was living the good life!
B. V. 2-3 The Calamity Of Nehemiah’s Life - He peace and serenity was shattered by a visit from his brother. He brought news that the people of Israel were being afflicted by their enemies and that the city of Jerusalem was completely devastated. (Ill. I find it amazing how life can be perfect one minute and can fall all to pieces the next.)
C. V. 4 The Compassion Of Nehemiah’s Life - When Nehemiah hears this awful news, his heart breaks and he enters a time of fasting, weeping and prayer before the Lord. Instead of being happy in his position, his life is shattered and he brought to his knees!
(Note: This is how God forms people of vision! He knows how to stir up our nests when we become complacent and He knows how to get our hearts and minds on the things that truly matter. For Nehemiah, the innocent question he asked in verse 2 was to be a pivotal moment in his life. The very fact that he cared about the people of Israel enough to even ask the question is evidence that God was already working in his heart. But, when he hears the response, it brings him to his knees before God. You see, God wanted to restore Jerusalem, but He needed a man of vision to bring that to pass. The news from Jerusalem was God’s call for Nehemiah to become involved in what God wanted to do.
When God stirs up your nest, that is His call for you to become involved with Him in what He is about to do. Now, when that call comes, people respond in different ways. Some, like Isaiah, respond eagerly to God’s invitation, Isa. 6:8. Others, like Jonah, try to run from the call of God in their lives, Jonah 1:1-3. Still others, like Moses see the vision, but try to take matters into their own hands and do the job their way and in their time, Ex. 2:11-14. But, when that fails and they are brought to the place where they have to wait on God, the job gets done the right way, Ex. 3-15.
Just remember, God knows how to get your attention. When He stirs up your nest and places a burden on your heart, do not hesitate, but go with Him into whatever He calls you to do. He has a great plan, and nothing is greater than being allowed to be a part of that plan!)
II. V. 4-11a PEOPLE OF VISION EXERCISE PRAYER
(Ill. As Nehemiah goes before the Lord in prayer, he sets the example for other people who would be people of vision. He teaches us how to come before the Lord in prayer.)
A. V. 5 Visionary Praying Involves Praise - Nehemiah begins his prayer by exalting the Lord. He praises God for His Superiority, His Strength, His Sovereignty, His Sacredness and His Sincerity. He praises God for Who He is! That is a lesson we all need to learn! After all, this is how Jesus taught His disciple to pray, Matt. 6:9. (Ill. Psa. 100:4)
B. V. 6a Visionary Praying Involves Perseverance - Nehemiah prayed “day and night”. He got before the Lord and prayed until the answer came. That is the kind of praying we need to see demonstrated in our day. Not the kind of prayer that will stop after a time or two. But, the kind of prayer that goes to God and stays before God until it has what it came after. This is what Jesus has called us to do, Luke 18:1. After all, prayer that is born out of a genuine burden cannot be satisfied until it is answered! If we can pray for something once or twice and then forget all about it, we should ask ourselves whether or not we were truly praying from a burdened heart!
C. V. 6b-7 Visionary Praying Involves Penitence - As this man prays, he begins to confess his sins as an individual and the sins of His people as a nation. He even confesses the sins of his fathers. What we see here is a man with a repentant heart. My friends, this is essential in seeing our prayers answered, Psa. 66:18. (Note: It is important to understand here that Nehemiah was not just interested in talking about where others had gone wrong, he was also willing to see where he, himself, had missed the boat with God. Repentance is about me getting my heart right with God!)
D. V. 8-10 Visionary Praying Involves Promises - Now, Nehemiah begins to remind God of the promises He had made to Israel. Promises to punish their sins and to restore them in the event of repentance. (Note: When prayer is based squarely in the Word of God and founded upon the promises of God, the one praying can be sure that he will have the things he prayers for. Why? Because God has stakes His reputation on the accuracy of His Word, Psa. 138:2. He has promised us that His promises will always be fulfilled, Rom. 4:21.)
E. V. 11 Visionary Praying Involves Partners - As Nehemiah prayers he reminds God that he isn’t the only one involved in t his prayer effort. He might have been the one destined to be the star of this show, but he knew that he was part of a team effort in prayer. (Note: Let me encourage you to get as many people as possible involved in praying for you and praying with you. The Lord told us there was power in corporate prayer - Matt. 18:19.)
F. V. 11 Visionary Praying Involves Petitions -Nehemiah finally gets around to what is on his heart. At this moment, he is merely praying for the Lord to give him grace in the sight of the king. He knows that to prevail with man, man must prevail before the Lord! (Note: Certainly part of prayer ought to be the expression of our needs before the Lord, Phil. 4:6. The Lord is interested in His people coming to Him by faith to ask for the things they have need of. He may already know what we need, but He still wants us to ask! The faith involved in our praying honors Him greatly!)
III. V. 11b PEOPLE OF VISION EMBRACE PROVIDENCE
(Ill. The final statement of Nehemiah in verse 11 seems to indicate that he felt the weight of the assignment. He knew that who he was and where he was at that moment was no accident!)
A. Position Is No Accident - Regardless of your position in life, whether at church, at work, at school, at home, etc., you need to know that it is no accident! God has placed you where He has for a purpose. He has place you where you are for His purpose! There are no accidents or coincidences with God! You are where you are for His glory! (Ill. Esther - Esther 4:14)
B. Prosperity Is No Accident - The resources you have been given are not your’s by luck! They have been given to you by the providence of God to be used for His glory. Find out what He would have you do with what you have! (Ill. The wise men and Joseph - Matt. 2:11-15)
C. Power Is No Accident - The influence you have been given in the lives of others is no accident! God has given you the ear of others for a purpose. Allow Him to use you where you are for His glory! (Ill. Nehemiah and the king; Ill. Servant girl and Naaman - 2 Kings 5:3)
(Note: “I thank God for the Unseen Hand, sometimes urging me onward, sometimes holding me back; sometimes with a caress of approval, sometimes with a stroke of reproof; sometimes correcting, sometimes comforting. My times are in His hand.”—Vance Havner)
Conc: Would you agree with me that we desperately need people of vision in our day? I think we all see the need for people who in touch with God, for people who are moved by God and people on the move for God. We need that kind of people in our churches, our families and our communities. Those are the people who will be used to change our world in these last days.
Now, the question we face tonight is this: Do you want to be one of those people? If you do then you need to realize that God has you living in these days for a purpose. Then, you need to get before Him to find that purpose and to catch His vision for seeing that purpose fulfilled. God will use y ou if you will give Him you to use!