Summary: finding and following God’s vision.
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 4
April 6, 2003
Today we are concluding our series on 20 essential building blocks of vision. Over the past three weeks we have identified 14 of the 20 building blocks and today we will talk about the last 6. I have given you a handout with the previous 14 building blocks on it and you can add the other 6 building blocks to the handout as we talk about them today.
Last week we watched as Nehemiah faced many oppositions and obstacles related to the rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah proved himself as a confident leader and continued to press on with the vision that God had given to him.
Once again, Sanballat is trying to figure out a way to keep Nehemiah from accomplishing the vision. Once again Nehemiah puts His trust in God, who gave Him the vision in the first place and he does the right thing. He is not distracted by the messages or rumors that Sanballat sends his way.
Building Block #15 – Don’t get distracted
Life is full of distractions. Important things are often sacrificed for urgent things.
Let’s take a brief look at three distractions that Nehemiah faced in the verses that we just read. These are also the three primary distractions that we face as we endeavor to make what could be and should be a reality. (top three distractions)
1. Distraction #1: Opportunities – Every day of our lives, opportunities come along that have the potential to distract us from the main things that God has called us to do. Often they are “good” things. But to accomplish the most important things, we must learn to say no to some good things. In Nehemiah’s case, the opportunity was a meeting with Sanballat. It turns out that this would not have been a good thing, but even if it had been, Nehemiah was not going to sacrifice his time finishing the vision God gave him to attend this meeting. He responded “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” The next time that we are tempted to do something that would distract us from the vision that God has given to us, we need to respond as Nehemiah did and keep working towards the vision.
2. Distraction #2: Criticism – This was definitely not the first time that Nehemiah had dealt with criticism during the rebuilding of the wall. Sanballat had criticized the vision and the workers early on. But this time, the criticism was a bit more personal. Nehemiah prayed and asked God for strength to continue the work. He let God worry about his reputation and he continued with the vision that God had put before him. Don’t waste your time focusing on those who may criticize you. Pour out your heart to God and then get back to work.
3. Distraction #3: Fear – Shemaiah tried to convince Nehemiah to run and hide in fear for his life, but just as Nehemiah had not allowed opportunities or criticism to distract him, he also did not let fear distract him from the vision. At some point or another in our vision, we will want to run in fear. We will think about all the “what ifs” and we will be afraid of failing, but we can’t let fear distract us.
God always has a deeper purpose for the vision than what is visible on the surface. For Nehemiah and the people of Israel, the vision was to rebuild the wall. But as we have said before, God’s ultimate intention was to reestablish Israel as a light to the nations.
Building Block #16 – There is divine potential in all you envision to do.
Notice the response of Israel’s neighbors when the wall was finally completed.
Read Nehemiah 6:15-16
Notice who gets the credit. It’s not Nehemiah and the other builders. They realized that God was behind this. With God’s help, Nehemiah and his crew did in 52 days what many said couldn’t be done at all. Israel’s neighbors were confronted with the power and presence of Israel’s God.
While you are consumed with the details involved in pursuing God’s vision for your life, God is up to something that you may not even be aware of. God ultimately wants to draw people to Himself.
God always reveals Himself in the midst of visions He has authored. When He does, attention generally shifts from what has been accomplished to who has fueled the accomplishment.
Building Block #17 – The end of a God-ordained vision is God.