Find please, the Book of Nehemiah. And, we’re beginning, now, a series through this book. I want us to notice what I consider to be the verse that sets the tone for the book, in Nehemiah chapter 2 and verse 20. We’ll look at that verse; and then, we’ll go back to chapter 1, verse 1, and begin there. But, I love this verse. I believe it is so applicable to us today. In Nehemiah chapter 2 and verse 20: “Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build” (Nehemiah 2:20). Don’t you like that verse? “The God of Heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build.” We begin a new series, this morning, entitled, “Together We Build.” And, I want you to look now in Nehemiah chapter 1. Our message today is entitled this: “How to Turn Your Problems into Possibilities”—“How to Turn Your Problems into Possibilities.”
Anybody here ever have any problems? Oh, you do? Well, wonderful. Congratulations. Because, you see, a problem really is an opportunity in disguise. And, you need to learn this: that God wants you to see your problems as potentialities, and your adversaries, really, as opportunities. A Christian is not someone who sees a difficulty in every opportunity, but to the contrary, he’s one who sees an opportunity in every difficulty. And, that’s what we’re going to learn as we study together the Book of Nehemiah, under the general heading of “Together We Build,” and, today, particularly, “How to Turn Your Problems into Possibilities.”
Now, let me give you a clue, as we study the Book of Nehemiah, or study any book of the Bible. If you want to understand it, and if you want to make the Bible come alive to you, ask these three questions. Number one: What did it mean then? You study it in its historical setting. What did it mean then? Number two: What does it mean now? Because, you see, you have to take it from yesterday and put it into today. What does it mean now? But, you’re not finished yet. After you’ve asked what it meant then, and what it means now, ask the third question: What does it mean to me personally? Now, if you’ll look at the Scripture that way—what it meant then, what it means now, and what it means to me personally—then the Bible will burst aflame in your hand, and it will become a very living and a very vital book to you.
We’re going to look at the Book of Nehemiah that way: what it meant then, what it means now, and what it means to us personally. Whether we, as a church, are going to try to turn a problem into a potentiality, or whether you, as an individual, are transforming your problems into potentiality, we’re going to see that God has a wonderful plan for us.
Now, there are three steps in getting ready to do anything great and glorious in the name of Jesus, three steps in achieving our maximum potential. Number one: We call this to visualize, to visualize. I want you to notice here, in chapter 1, the first three verses: “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:1–3).
Now, Nehemiah is in Persia, and he has seen certain brethren who have recently been in Jerusalem. And, they had no television; they had no radio; they had no newspapers, as we know them. They had no telephones; and so, he’s wanting some news. He said, “What is the city of God like? The people of God—what is their condition? I want to know. Tell it to me, so I can visualize it, so I can see it.”
And, they brought this report. They wept, I’m certain, as they said, “Oh, Nehemiah, you cannot believe the degradation. You cannot believe the desolation. You cannot believe the danger. You cannot believe the poverty. The city is in disarray. The gates have been burned with fire. The walls have crumbled. The streets are filled with weeds, and trash, and debris. The people are discouraged; the people are in poverty; the people are in hunger.” And, Nehemiah saw this: a city with walls that had crumbled. And, you’re going to find out that the Book of Nehemiah, a large part of the Book of Nehemiah, is the story of the rebuilding of these walls. And, that’s the reason I’ve chosen it, as we can preach together on this theme: “Together We Build.”