The third in our series of sermons on Nehemiah under the general heading of “Don’t despair, be determined.”
Vision is usually given to an individual as opposed to a group of committee, as in the case of Nehemiah who was given a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Having arrived in the city after a journey of probably a couple of months, he then displayed three principles of successful vision casting:-
1 – CONSIDERATION (v 11 – 16.)
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, for three days he told no one of his vision and seemingly rested up (c.f – Paul in Philippi – Acts 16 v 12), before on a moonlit night, he and a few trusted men inspected the walls and the gates of the once proud city. Such a “cloak and dagger” approach was adopted so as not to alert his enemies; as well as to enable Nehemiah to “take stock” of the reality and immensity of the visionary task.
When a church leader has a God given vision to build and to grow a local church then it needs to be measured and considered against existing factual realities. Time needs to be taken to access, because rushed vision will often result in failed vision!
2 – COMMUNICATION (v 17 – 18.)
After “due diligence” Nehemiah summoned the leaders and the people and skilfully cast his God given vision. He spoke of how things were, of ruined walls, of burned down gates and of a people in disgrace; before moving on to how things could be thanks to royal approval. Then came the visionary challenge – “come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” And the response of the people to this carefully communicated vision must have been sweet music to the former wine tasters ears – “Let us start rebuilding.”
When a church leader has a God given vision to build and to grow a local church then it needs to be communicated in a way that people can understand and enthusiastically embrace and own. People need to be inspired, excited and motivated by it, as it shifts from being “his vision” to becoming “our vision.”
3 – COMMITMENT (v 19 – 20.)
News soon “leaked” of the rebuilding vision and a triumvirate of external enemies (Sanballat, Tobiah & Geshem) mocked and ridiculed the people, accusing them of rebelling against the king. Nehemiah did not close his ears to the opposition; he did not enter a debate with them; he did not invite them to join the re-building project; instead he boldly declared that this was a God given vision being implemented by God’s people that nothing was going to thwart – “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start re-building.” The vision would not be derailed by the accusations of enemies and detractors.
When a church embraces a God given vision to build and to grow then it will inevitably be on the receiving end of mockery, ridicule and scorn from those who oppose it (John 15 v 18.) There will always be the temptation to buckle under the pressure and give up; or to be content with a half completed vision. But what is required is a single minded commitment to persevere, and to see the vision in its entirety become a reality. To borrow a phrase from TV quiz show Master mind – “I’ve started so I’ll finish!”
Challenge – Our vision is to continue to go “beyond 200” in terms of growth and development. Do you understand it? Are you fully on board with it?
Theme: “Casting vision”
Reading: Nehemiah 2 v 11 – 20
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Marion Brenchley