Led by: Fay Graham – who will also be sharing with us some of her recent experiences with Operation Mobilisation in Hungary.
“If you can’t see beyond a hamburger, you will never eat steak!” For local churches to see the steak instead of the hamburger they need vision; and who better to call on as our teacher than one of the great Biblical visionaries, namely NEHEMIAH, the wine taster of the king of Persia, whose name means “the Lord comforts.” He teaches us that vision is received as follows:-
1 – Discovery (v 1 – 3.)
He was visited by a delegation from Judah and the first thing that Nehemiah did was – “I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile and also about Jerusalem.” The reply was hardly encouraging, in that the walls were in ruins, the gates burned down and the morale of the people was rock bottom.
Principle – If we want to receive vision then we must gather information and establish the facts, however discouraging they might prove to be!
2 – Discontent (v 4a.)
The bad news shook Nehemiah to the core of his being and he – “sat down and wept.” He began to experience a passionate discontent with the situation that moved him to tears, for he knew in his heart of hearts that this was not how it was supposed to be.
Principle – If we want to receive vision then we must not be satisfied and content with our current situation, however good or bad that might be!
3 – Dependence (v 4b – 11.)
For the next few days Nehemiah detached himself from earth and attached himself to heaven, declaring his dependence upon God in four ways:-
A – Mourning – He grieved and mourned over the remnant in Jerusalem; the ruined walls; as well as the holy cities reproach. Receiving vision involves mourning over the present predicament.
B – Fasting – He went without food to demonstrate that he meant business and in order to create more time for listening to God (Matthew 6 v 16.) Receiving vision involves seriously seeking after God (Jeremiah 29 v 13.)
C – Praying – He prayed “day and night” praising God; confessing sin; proclaiming God’s faithfulness; before ending with a rather strange request – “Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.” This tells us that God had given Nehemiah a vision to answer his own prayer and to journey to Jerusalem to rebuild the dilapidated walls. Receiving vision involves creating time for God to speak, even if we might not like what he says!
D – Waiting – He would need the king’s permission to leave his post, and there followed a four month period of waiting before Nehemiah felt the time was right to broach the subject with his majesty. Receiving vision involves waiting on God’s perfect timing and not rushing things!
Principle – If we want to receive vision then we must demonstrate our dependence upon the vision giver.
Challenge – Do we want this church to be consuming prime steak in preference to a hamburger? Then we need to do our homework; not be complacent; and seriously seek after our vision giving God, because – “where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint” (Proverbs 29 v 18.)
Theme: “Receiving vision”
Reading: Nehemiah 1 v 1 – 11
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Fay Graham