Summary: how to discover and fulfill God’s vision for your life, family, church, or vocation.

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This sermon series was inspired by the book “visioneering” by Andy Stanley. Parts of this sermon are taken directly from the material in his book.

20 Essential Building Blocks of Vision – Part 2

March 23, 2003

Nehemiah 1:1-2:18

Video clip “baby steps” from What about Bob?

Last week we started talking about vision. Society would like us to believe that we can accomplish whatever we put our mind to and if we work hard enough we can be successful.

While it may be true that it’s usually not a good idea to rush into things, taking baby steps does not guarantee us success.

Review building blocks #1 and #2

#1 – A vision begins as a concern

#2 – A vision does not necessarily require immediate action

We’re going to begin this week talking about what to do during the period of time where you are waiting to see what God wants you to do next.

Visions can die during this stretch of inactivity while you are waiting. It’s discouraging to continue dreaming about something that appears to have no potential of ever happening. After a prolonged period of waiting, a vision of what could and should be, slips into the realm of what won’t ever be.

So what should you do in the meantime to keep your dream alive?

Let’s look at Nehemiah 1: 1-11

When Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem, there was nothing he could physically do to remedy the situation. It seemed as if he was in the wrong place, with the wrong job, working for the wrong guy.

But Nehemiah was not inactive. The four months between hearing about the condition of the walls and finally being able to do something about it was a productive time for Nehemiah.

Nehemiah did two things to prepare for the time when God would lead Him to pursue his vision.

1. He prayed – Prayer is critical to vision development. Why? Because we see what we are looking for, and often miss what we don’t expect to see. Prayer keeps us looking. It keeps our eyes and our hearts in the expectant mode. When God begins to move, we are only going to see it we are ready and watching. Notice that Nehemiah did not pray for God to rebuild the wall. He prayed for an opportunity to go rebuild it himself. That is the difference between a dreamer and a visionary. Dreamers dream about things being different. Visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something.

2. He planned – Nehemiah thought about what would be needed to accomplish this vision (or at least get started). If God has given us a vision, we need to go ahead and start developing a plan. Assuming you had the resources, what would you do? Assuming you had the time, what would you do first? Nehemiah laid out steps of how to pursue this vision. He made sure that if he got an opportunity to present his vision to the king, he was ready.

This is Building Block #3 – Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.

The problem is that many of us fail to pray and fail to plan.

If the person you have been praying for were to ask you about your relationship with Christ, do you know what you would say?

If you suddenly had the opportunity to switch jobs or careers, do you know what steps you would need to make the transition successfully?

You probably have a vision for how you want your children to turn out, but do you have a plan?

You probably have a vision for your marriage, but do you have a plan?

Even as we pray about and plan for the vision, it seems overwhelming and impossible. When God puts something on our hearts, it always seems out of reach (because it is). God ordained visions are always too big for us to handle.

There are always more questions than answers and more obstacles than solutions.

As we said earlier, Nehemiah no doubt felt like he was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. But God knew what He was doing. He had Nehemiah in the right place doing the right thing at the right time.

God had given Nehemiah a place among the palace servants. Then he maneuvered him through the ranks of influential Persian officials so he would be noticed for his integrity and trustworthiness. Eventually he was recommended to the king and appointed to the position of cupbearer.

On the surface it might have appeared that God was moving Nehemiah in a direction that would make it impossible to accomplish this dream. But actually, just the opposite was true. God gave Nehemiah a job and a relationship that gave him an inside track to the king. Like a master strategist, God was working behind the scenes putting everything in position.

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