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.
B. The past can be the building blocks for your future.
Illustration: A fable from India illustrates this point. A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was cracked and when carried from the spring to the owner’s home always arrived half full. The other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. For two years this went on daily. The water bearer delivered one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what seemed to be a bitter failure, one day the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer about its feelings. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because of this crack in my side. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts," the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path. The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house." Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table.