By E L Thornton
11. So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 12. And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. 13. And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. 14. Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 15. Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 16. And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. 17. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
It all started when Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem. The report was bad, the news not good. The walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire. He asked about the welfare of Gods work. Is there anybody here that has, in the rush of life,
in the frustrations of living, in the perplexity of troubles, in the uncertain of the world in the bewilderment’s of decisions, in the puzzlement’s and stupefaction’s, dare ask about the Work of God. Is there anybody here that has, in the confusion of trying, in the quandaries of questions, in the skepticism and distrust, in the complications and enigmas, in the plights and dilemmas, amid the paradoxicals and contradictions, asked about the welfare of the Church.
If you stop long enough, if you pause for awhile, if you will take a break, an interlude from your selfishness, a cessation, an interim, from your self-indulgence, an interregnum, an abeyance, from your egotism and asked about the Kingdom of God.
If you love the work of God, if you can ask this question honestly, and if you can hear what the reporter is saying, then the same spirit that came over Nehemiah will strike you to your knees. (Neh 1:4) “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,”
Prov 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: —.” Yes VISION, real vision that comes from the heart, may be the most important factor about us as the people of God. Vision is: what you know in your heart the Church should be and strive for that goal.
I would like to say, at the onset of this message, “Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where they are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited.” (repeat)
Unless you, as a child of God, attend to His call upon your life and work, you are likely to experience confusion, frustration, dissipation, and most important, impotence. (the lack of ability to produce your kind)
With recent “new age” techniques such as “visioning” and or “imaging”, the notion of associating the Christian faith with vision may appear improper or unorthodox.
But the good book of God used the word “vision” first and what ever you have you must have vision or perish. So without a clear cut direction, a positive goal, there will be too many side roads, you will eventually become directionless and this has destroyed many children of God.
However some people do so well at everything, that if they would have been Captain of the Titanic, they would have said they were stopping to pick up a load of ice.
When all the time they were sinking.
Even Jesus set a goal. Does that surprise you? Yes even Jesus set a goal and it’s “the gospel to every creature.”
Somebody asked an old Jazz Musician, “What is rhythm?” His reply was, “If you got it, you don’t need no definition, and if you don’t got it, ain’t no definition gonna help.” Now I believe this definition of rhythm will help us understand what “vision” is.
“Once you got it, you know it, when you don’t got it, you not sure of anything.
Vision is a picture or desire held in the mind, of the way things could and should be in the future. Vision for God’s work is “a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through you to build His Kingdom. And I would like to tell you that the Pastor needs the input, prayer, and help of the congregation if the vision of building God’s Kingdom is to succeed.
I. A VISION FOR GOD’S KINGDOM COMES FROM GOD:
This is something you will never conjure up. Vision is something that you will not get with enchantments. I will not materialize out of a Jeanie bottle. You will never invoke it by some kind of charm. You may have great charisma or attractiveness, you may possess alluring personality enticements, you may be able to mesmerize people with your disposition, you may be able to astound men with your predilections. But the only way you will ever have Kingdom vision is to get it from God.
Kingdom vision is not self motivated.
I become a little irate at preachers I know who are self motivated. It’s not smoke unless it’s emanating from their chimney, it’s not music unless they’re singing the song. I’m leery of preachers that never have a bad Sunday Night, I worry about preachers that never have a U-Haul Monday.
And I’m just as worried about saints that are self motivated in the work of God.
It’s not God that excites them, but it’s what they do and call it the work of God, that excites them. It’s not what God is achieving that makes them feel good but it’s the part they’re playing that gets the spot light.
I get tired of the “who’s wearing the biggest hat,” or “who’s singing the greatest song,” or “who plays the best music” syndrome. But I tell you UNLESS God is getting the glory for what we’re doing, we’re nothing but sounding brass and twinkling cymbal.
Unless God is getting the glory for what we’re saying we are just full of frothy words, or hot air if you please. Brother if you’re going to work in the Kingdom of God then give God the glory due His great Name.
There is no room in God’s Kingdom for self-motivation. God will get all the praise or He will fix it to were there will be no praise.
Kingdom vision is not self gratifying.
I heard someone say recently that the Sunday Night service wasn’t what they felt it should have been. O really? Well what did you do to correct it. What did you do to make it better. What did you do that pleased God more in that service. I’ll tell you what that person did. They did just what they’re good at. Fault Finding. No wonder they go home empty, no wonder they go home disillusioned, no wonder they go home in an antagonistic mood. is there any wonder that they go home from church estranged from God and separated from friends.
Whoever told us that church is self-gratifying? I’ll tell you that Church should be a soul filling experience. It should be a time when the rain of Heaven fills the empty cistern of our souls. It should be a time when we lay aside our petty differences and put God on the throne of our life.
All vision from God will “BUILD” His Kingdom.
Not tare down but build, not eradicate but build, not demolish but build, not nullify but build, not dissolve but build, not invalidate but build His Kingdom.
John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Very few of us could be as great as John was in the flesh and yet be as great he was in spirit. If you are building anything else, under the pretense of building God’s Kingdom, but Gods Kingdom, you will find out, and maybe too late, that you are in trouble with God.
II. IT MUST BE PUT IN THE HEART:
With the world making it’s bid for your soul, with sin making an allurement out of everything conceivable, and with Satan dogging your every step, and if you intend to please God in these last days, you desperately need to get the vision of God’s work in your heart. It’s a good thing that Nehemiah had it in his heart to do the work. It’s a good thing that he made the work of God a driving force in his life. Because there were some “vision killers” that he had to deal with.
Nehemiah had to deal with discouragement, and discouragement would have destroyed a lesser man.
Discouragement came from outsiders.
That was bad enough, But then discouragement came from the insider, and this is the kind that hurts the most. It was Joseph’s brethren that hurt him the most. It was David’s brothers that hurt the most. It was those that was close to Jesus that hurt him the most.
Gal 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Child of God, I exhort you, be careful how you treat a child of God. I can scriptural prove to you that God keeps a record. Forgetting what you did to a brother is not forgiveness. You will answer to God for every idle word and every deed that we have committed in this life.
Nehemiah face the vision killer called complacency. Complacency means self satisfaction, or smugness, contented, comfortable, apathy, or indifference. And the next word in my dictionary is complaint, which means fault finding, or displeasure.
Complacency! What a vision killer. Vision is challenging. God loves to stretch his people, walk on tip-toe. Always onward, upward, gaining, climbing, reaching,
(Phil 3:13-14 “—- this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Fear was a plague, fear was a scourge, fear, real fear was an epidemic among the people that was working with Nehemiah.
Vision requires change, get out of the comfort zone, change can be scary. Yes!
vision raises questions but does not create nagging doubts. Vision will not cause you a nerve problem. Vision will lighten your steps, put a song on your lips, a prayer on you mind and a joy in your heart.
All three of these killers plagued Nehemiah’s church until the people changed the circumstances.
Neh 4:9 “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.” They did what was necessary, regardless
as to what others were doing.
Neh 4:6 “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.”
The only way you will be at the finish line at the finish time is that “you have a mind to work.” (Luke 13:24) “Strive (work) to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
Nehemiah’s people were over-worked, under funded, stretch out, short handed,
long hours, short breaks. Many of them