Summary: See an example of how God can help us restore spiritual passion.
Have you ever watched an episode of “Extreme Makeover?” These shows select a home that needs a makeover. They remove the family from the home for a period of time and then they bring in a crew of skilled carpenters and redo the home. In televising these shows they always show before and after pictures. There is a radical difference in the before and after pictures. These are amazing restoration projects. Sometimes we need a similar experience in our spiritual lives. We need a restoration. Life will rob spiritual passion. Circumstances of life will destroy passion. When those times come, nothing less than restoration will do.
We are going to look at an occasion when God restored the spiritual passion of His people. The text is taken from Nehemiah. There is a before and after picture. The before is found in Nehemiah 1:3. “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” I believe you would agree, they needed an extreme makeover. God ignited a new fire within these people. In chapter 4 verse 6 we see their new passion. I want to read their story from three different translations so that you will get the full picture.
“the people had a heart for the work.” The Message
“the people had a mind to work.” NKJV
“the people had worked with enthusiasm.” NLT
In reading from three translations you get a feel for what was taking place. They had their spiritual passion restored. In Nehemiah 6:15-16 you see the effect of the restored spiritual passion. “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.” The people’s enthusiasm for doing God’s work accomplished three results.
1. Great success was achieved.
2. People were discussing the accomplishments of God’s people.
3. God was glorified.
Thus, in Nehemiah we see an extreme makeover. God restored the spiritual passion of His people. The question I want to ask is, what was involved in God helping these people to restore their spiritual passion? This will help you if you have lost your spiritual passion. This will also help you to maintain your spiritual passion. Notice two key truths that helped God’s people.
I. God helped them rise above the pain and hurt of the past. In Nehemiah 1:3 we find a bleak description of the Israelites’ past. “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” They were defeated, depressed, and discouraged. Their past had a death grip on them.
A. The past can defeat you. Last Sunday there was an article in Parade Magazine about Marilyn Monroe. It has been widely reported that Marilyn Monroe was a very unhappy lady when she died. There has always been much speculation that her death was self induced. In the Sunday article they shared a quote from her life. “I feel if I fulfill myself as a person, I’ll find myself as an actress. The thing is, it seems like I have a superstructure with no foundation. But I’m working on the foundation.!” (7/27/08 Parade Magazine) Her past did not equip her with a solid foundation. A weak foundation resulting from a painful past can lead to defeat.