Summary: Third in a series in the book of Nehemiah. This message explores the "why" (motivation) of vision, versus the "how" (process of fulfilling) the vision. Emphasizes that the "how" is for God to handle, and the "why" will keep us focused on the vision.
(Prior to this sermon, utilized a Bible "Jeopardy" game with three volunteers from the congregation. Helped bring into focus the idea of asking the right question.)
There is a great similarity between success at Jeopardy, and success in seeing the current vision for your life come into focus. To be successful at Jeopardy, you have to ask the right question. That has always been the unique twist of that popular game show. The answers are given, and the question has to be asked.
As you begin to see a vision come into focus for your life. As God begins to reveal that area of concern, and passion for your existence. As Jeremiah phrases it, when you seek God and seek Him with your whole heart, He will have an answer for you. Then you will need to ask the right question. However, it will not be the question that you expect. Because if I was to come up to you, and share a given vision with you. . .I can probably guess what question you will ask.
For example, if I came up to you and said, “God has birthed within me a vision to reach the homeless of Lexington through our church.” Or if I came up to you and said, “God has placed within my heart a vision to reach out to teenage moms across Lexington.” You would probably look at me and ask, “How?” “How are we going to do that?”
And on the surface, that seems like a good question. In fact, in many ways, it is a very legitimate question. Yet, it can also be the question of vision death. Two reasons that explain how the “How?” question can lead to vision death. First. . .
1. IF THE VISION IS FROM GOD. . .THE HOW IS GOD’S PROBLEM. . .NOT OURS
Last week we looked at Nehemiah spending four months in prayer and reflection with God. The solution, the plan that he presented to the King, that wasn’t of Nehemiah’s doing. That wasn’t his creation. That was what God communicated to him.
Nehemiah was seemingly in the wrong place, at the wrong time, working for the wrong guy, at the wrong job. Humanly speaking, his vision was dead. There was no good answer to the “how” until he began praying, recognized it as God’s problem, and listened for God’s solution.
And many visions die in the “how”. We can’t see the “how”, so we lose sight of the vision. We can’t understand the “how”, so we assume we misunderstood the vision. We start walking around like Nehemiah. Remember his condition. Chapter 2:1 (read). He is down in the dumps. And most of us don’t want to walk around down in the dumps, so we dump the vision.
But if the vision is from God, the vision is going to need God. If you sit around totally preoccupied with how you are going to bring about a divine vision on your own, you run the danger of watching your vision blur away once again. If the vision is from God, the how is God’s problem.
Think for a minute through your entire Bible. Can you think of a place where the responsibility for coming up with the solution to a divine vision was ever the problem of man? Did Moses come up with the way to get out of Egypt? To cross the Red Sea? Did David have to figure out how to get Saul off the throne? Did the disciples have to figure out how to get the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth? Nowhere in this book is the solution, the “how” to a divine vision the problem of man. If the vision is from God, the “how” is His problem. Not ours.
God knows how to reach your lost family member or friend. God knows how to protect your children when you are struggling as a single parent. God knows how to get your business off the ground. God knows how to pay for your schooling. God knows how to heal your hurt. God knows how to reconcile your marriage. God knows how to start your ministry. And God even knows how to turn this church around. When the vision is from God, the “how” is God’s problem. And this is the really cool part. . .
2. “HOW” IS NEVER A PROBLEM FOR GOD
Let me start getting you in the Christmas mood. My three favorite holidays lie dead ahead. So let’s get Christmassy for a moment, and turn to Luke 1:26 (read through verse 37).
Mary asked the question of vision death. . .seemed like a very legitimate question, don’t you think? But she got the divine answer, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Now, I am a person that is highly motivated by vision, so let me tell you from experience, if we aren’t careful, we can “how” a person’s vision to death. In fact, I dare say, some of you have “how”d your own vision to death. It was welling up inside of you. It was exciting you. You were really starting to get charged up, ready to take the mountain, ready to make things happen. . .and then you started asking yourself “how” you were going to do it. And before you knew it, you talked yourself out of it. Why? Because you made the “how” your problem, and it’s not. If the vision is from God, it is God’s problem, and “how” is never a problem for God.