Summary: Once we develop a vision to rebuilding something that’s broken, then we need to have a plan to turn our intentions into actions.
Most everyone has good intentions.
Some people know what actions will make dreams come true.
But few people have a real road map to turn intentions into actions. That’s why life just happens to many people. I said this last week: Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose. It takes vision to end up somewhere on purpose. But it takes even more than that!
Someone said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
How to turn your intentions into actions
Series: Here’s Hope: Rebuilding a broken world
Text: Nehemiah 2:1-8
The setting: about 500 years before Christ in a Persian king’s court.
The main character: Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king of Persia. At each meal, he tested the king’s wine and food to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. Since he was so close to the king, the cupbearer was a man of influence.
The situation: Several decades before Nehemiah lived, God’s people had been defeated by the Babylonians. Jerusalem, the holy city, had been leveled. The leading citizens had been carried 1,000 miles away from Israel. In Nehemiah’s day, Persia was in power. Some of God’s people were given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild a broken down temple and a broken down city. But very few people lived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a city of ruins.
The problem: How to rebuild a broken-down city.
Last week, I asked everyone to identify something broken in their lives – to pinpoint a wall that
needs to be rebuilt in their own lives. Then, we looked at what it takes to get vision – something necessary for every rebuilding project.
A person with vision sees the need, feels the need, shares the need, and meets the need.
Today, we want to think about what it takes to turn vision into reality. Nehemiah had already turned his problem into a possibility. Nehemiah’s heart was set on going back and helping to rebuild the city. He had good intentions. Now, he’s developing a plan of action.
I see at least five lessons for me in this passage. Maybe they will help you, too.
To turn intentions into action…
1. Be patient:
Spend some time in God’s waiting room. v. 1a.
God often puts us in His waiting room to keep us from rushing around trying to do in our own strength what only He can do.
We can see this idea throughout the Bible.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.
I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word I do hope.
One reading of Isaiah 28:16 says, “He who believes will not be in a hurry.” Are you willing to spend time in God’s waiting room? To see this truth in Nehemiah we’ll have to turn back to 1:1.
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol…
Chislev corresponds to our December. Now, look at 2:1.
1 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes…
Nisan corresponds to our April. Four months passed between Hanani’s visit from Jerusalem to his brother Nehemiah in chapter 1 and the events in chapter 2. For four months, it seemed like nothing was happening.
Nehemiah had a vision to meet a need. And over time, the burden grew deeper and deeper. It lasts. A vision from God is long-term. It grows stronger with time. Over time, a God-given vision grows deeper – the burden grows stronger. You’ll find that it’s OK to be in God’s waiting room.
You’ll learn that when you’re in God’s waiting room, He’s always at work behind the scenes. The temptation for us is to think that nothing’s happening. So we want to get out there and make something happen. But resist that urge. Do not run ahead of God.
As you study this passage, you get two clues from Nehemiah about what to do while waiting.
Two things to do while waiting…
On Wednesday we learned that the prayer in chapter 1 can be a model for us in our prayers. Prayer in God’s waiting room exalts God, admits sin, reviews truth, and requests help. It’s a good outline if you don’t know how to pray about what’s broken in your life. Write the outline down and use it.
Nehemiah and his friends prayed consistently like this for four months. The moment Nehemiah saw the need and felt the need, he fasted and he prayed. He didn’t dash off to do the task the moment the need was known. He knew that before he could be successful in any work for God, he had to be sure that God was calling him and he had to have the favor of the king.