Summary: Using points from a book on Nehemiah, by OS Hawkins, this sermon teaches that following God’s Vision requires us to get started well, start with a plan and step out of our comfort zone.
Drive Like a Pro
I enjoy playing golf. The most important shot in golf is the tee shot. Every hole is a new begin¬ning. At each hole, you step up on the tee and hit your first shot, which generally determines how well you will do on the hole. If you drive the ball in the woods, you have to "scramble" with two or three other shots in order to get to the green. If you drive the ball out of bounds you are penalized an additional shot. However, if you drive the ball straight down the fairway and position yourself for the second shot to the green, you are well on your way to finishing the hole strongly.
Many never score well in golf because they spend most of their time trying to make up yardage lost by poor tee shots. Getting started right is essential, whether we are playing golf or painting a room.
If Nehemiah had been playing golf… his drive would have been about 300 yards long and laying dead in the middle of the fairway… because when it came to rebuilding the walls… Nehemiah started right.
What did he do?
1. He Made an Honest Evaluation.
So many people are just not able to do this. They look at themselves and they just don’t see the same problems that everyone else is very aware of.
It is like you have this huge mole on your cheek and everyone sees it… except you. Like this (show clip from Austin Powers, Gold Member “moley, moley”)
Nehemiah did not take other people’s word for the situation. He was told, “the walls are destroyed, the gates are burned with fire and the people are a reproach.” He went out at night, made a complete tour of the walls and gates, looked at every inch of the situation and then returned and said, ““the walls are destroyed, the gates are burned with fire and we are a reproach.” Yes, what he found was exactly what he was told… but HE HAD TO SEE IT FOR HIMSELF.
Many people today will never rebuild their walls… in a failing marriage, a habit that has them hostage, a declining spiritual life, out of control sexual practices or thoughts… because they will never take the time or endure the discomfort of making an honest evaluation.
I could camp out here for the whole sermon because some of you here are just like Jerusalem… your walls are broken down.
Jerusalem in ruins is a picture of a life that has lost its defenses against attack and lies open to repeated hurt and misery.
We as believers we have walls of spiritual protection, spiritual security, that we put around ourselves in the disciplines that we’re meant to exercise as God’s children.
I could name a whole lot: the reading of God’s word, prayer daily before God, witnessing, fellowship, the breaking of bread, the prayer meeting - we could go on and on and on and talk about the many exercises that are encouraged for our spiritual well-being in the New Testament. They are there for our protection and cultivating of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are some of us here today that need to examine the state of our own spiritual walls. How are they? How is your communion with God? How are your quiet times of retirement with God? How is your prayer life with God? How is your testimony and witness with God?
Are you being influenced by the world? Are there are some gates that you have left open for the enemy to slip through? Has neglect of something loosened a brick or a stone, exposing a gap for the enemy to squeeze through? Have the roots of the weeds of compromise grown into the foundation walls, and are almost ready to tumble them down?
The book of Nehemiah is designed to teach us that only with God’s help can we actually change ourselves and recover from the damage and ruin of the past. That is the central lesson of this book.
You look back on your life and you see there are places where the walls have been broken down. There is no longer any ability left to resist destructive attacks. You have fallen victim to sinful habits that you now find difficult, if not impossible, to break. That is the kind of ruin that is described here:
There may be some who feel unable to stop wrongful sexual practices. You have gone along with the ways of the world. You have fallen into practices that the Bible says are wrong. You know they are wrong. But you have difficulty stopping them
Perhaps your drift began innocently. You did not realize you were forming a habit, but now you no longer can stop it. Your defenses are gone.