Summary: How is your vision? I wear glasses, not because they make me look awesome but so I can see what’s on my plate.
“How is Your Vision?” Nehemiah 1:1-11
How is your vision? I wear glasses, not because they make me look awesome but so I can see what’s on my plate. If you take my glasses and set a plate of mashed potatoes, green beans and liver in from of me; I might think it was a plate of collards, grits and ribeye steak. [If I couldn’t smell…] However I see far off pretty good.
We are preparing to celebrate 100 years of sharing Jesus from this old building. The building has seen 187 years of witnessing the grace and salvation of God. But if we focus, only, on the past our vision will be blurred for the future. My dream is that 100 years from now, there will be a group who look back at EBC and see that because we were forward focusing people that the gospel has continued to be spread from these grounds.
Looking at our text we see that over 150 years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon invaded Israel and carried many of her people away as slaves. You might say that they had lost their vision and those were dark days for the nation of Israel. The Jews urgently needed someone who had the vision to return Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to her former glory.
God had such a man in mind. His name was Nehemiah and God was about to use Nehemiah to begin the process of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and to bring about the restoration of the nation of Israel.
Our nation is thousands of years removed from the days of Nehemiah. Many may say that was then and this is the 21st century but we live in a day when our nation desperately needs people of vision.
We live in a day when morality means little and decency means even less.
For me, following our study of Acts, it has become crystal clear that the church of our day can’t hold a candle to its former self.
In researching for our 100 year celebration I read a number of entries to church history where the church refused to allow sin to run free. When someone was foolish enough to live in open sin the church came together dealt with the matter swiftly and Biblically.
Today the walls that once separated the righteousness of the church from the world have been broken down. The gates that once identified the church as the glorious house of God have been burned to the ground, by the flames of sin. Today the church that once stood proud and strong has been tarnished by the disease of compromise!
We need people of vision and you/I can become the people God uses for His glory, in these days, to make a difference for His name’s sake!
I want to show you two simple facts presented here that teach us how to improve our vision.
1. People with vision will face difficulties. Verses 1-4
Nehemiah served as the king’s cupbearer. Some make this sound like a glorious job and Nehemiah may have had a great package, with all the benefits. He was very close to the king. He was very respected by the king but I think most people misinterpret his job. Nehemiah was the king’s cup bearer and that sounds like he was the guy in charge of keeping up with the king’s tea glass.
BUT the truth is, he was not a free man…he was a slave and his job was to taste all the king’s food/beverages before it got to the king.
Nehemiah wasn’t tasting the food for seasoning and sending the king’s steak back if it wasn’t a perfect medium. He was tasting everything to prevent the king from being poisoned. Would you apply for that job?
Yet God is still God and even though Nehemiah was part of the group captured and enslaved He was still providing protection and provision for His own.
Nehemiah, even as a slave, who was in danger of dying with every bite or sip, was living a life of peace, prosperity and political power.
He was, possibly, one of the most trusted men in the kingdom.
Look at verses 2&3. Nehemiah’s peaceful life was suddenly crushed by a visit from his brother. His brother brought news that the people of Israel were being tormented by their enemies and the city of Jerusalem was completely devastated.
How many of you have experienced the fact that life can be perfect one minute and in a million pieces the next?
How do you handle times like this?
Look at verse 4. 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 high position, or saying “well that’s their problem…” Nehemiah was heartbroken for his people and his pain brought him to his knees in prayer!