See It Say It Seize It Part 4 Delivery Notes
Vision is the ability to look beyond what is and to visualize what could be and should be. The exciting thing is that your heavenly father, even if you don’t believe He exists, has a vision for your life, your marriage or your singleness, your relationship with your children, your friendships, your finances, your vocation, and your ministry. He doesn’t just see you how you are but how you could be be. He sees your potential and is cheering you on.
But one thing we have said is that if you are a follower of Christ, there is a context in which God’s vision for you life should be birthed. There is a framework from which we should think about God birthing a vision for our lives.
· That we are concerned about what God is concerned about.
· That we would see people around us the way God does.
· That we would have a clear understanding and commitment of God’s mission for the church in making disciples.
· That we would embrace the fact that God has designed each of us uniquely by our personality, our experiences, and our gifts and abilities to serve him in a unique way.
And as I understand, as we talked a little bit in our small group last week, this whole concept of vision is a little bit difficult to get a handle on. And while I can’t nor even want to take out all the mystery behind God birthing a vision, I would like to hone it in to something specific that may be easier to grasp.
Let me try to do that. God has something very specific that he is doing in the world. He has been implementing this plan since the beginning when sin entered into the world. Everything that God has been up to in history has been about pursuing a relationship with the people who live on this earth. More than anything, God wants a relationship with you and with me. Everything in the O.T. was moving toward the time He would send His Son, Jesus into the world to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He died to pay for our sin and secure forgiveness. God’s love would do anything for us but overlook our sin. His holiness demanded sin be paid for. So, Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to the earth and offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay for our sin. And with that act came the most incredible offer from God. He said, I am going to relate to you on the basis of grace. I’m not going to give you what you deserve, but I’m going to give you what you don’t deserve. I am offering you a relationship with me. You can’t earn it, buy it, religion your way into it, ritual your way into it. You can’t be good enough or moral enough because you would still fall short. You only by faith concede in your heart that you are resting your eternity not partially but soley on what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross. It is when you trust Christ and Christ alone for the forgiveness of all your sin and as the only means to be made right with a Holy God. God says, I want to relate to you by love and grace and work in your life here and now, guiding you, shaping you, and giving you meaning and purpose.
Jesus ushered in this incredible way to relate to God. After He had risen from the dead, he gathered His disciples around and in clear and unmistakable terms clarified the mission that He for them and for all who would follow Christ from that point on.
He said, I want you go and make disciples. I want you to go out and lead people into a relationship with me. I want you to go out and make devoted follower of Me—as many as you possibly can. That’s your mission.
And as you read the rest of the New Testament that mission stands clear. It becomes the mold that is to shape everything we do. It becomes the context in which we are to dream dreams and cast visions for God. And God in His brilliance said, no one person can do this. It is going to take a body, and I am the head. And it is my will and design that everyone of you contribute to that mission in a way that will be unique to you.
And if you can kind of take that understanding this morning into your thinking about God birthing a vision in you, I think you will get a handle on at least one aspect of what I am talking about. Every church is a body of believers who have a clear mission of leading as many people as possible to be devoted followers of Christ. We are one of those bodies. As a body, we have the same mission in terms of making devoted followers of Christ. But God has a vision for us as a specific church to go about it. The vision for this church is what gives us more specific focus. It is what compels us, motivates us, and energizes us. Everyone of us needs to capture that vision, protect that vision, and own that vision together.
As we do, God will begin to birth a vision in you about how he wants to use your personality, your experiences, your gifts and abilities that will contribute to that broader vision. As you get concerned about what He is concerned about, and as you begin pouring your energies into helping the church reach it’s corporate vision, God will begin working in your heart about what He has for you. It may be some ministry to a a certain segment of people. It may have to do with connecting and ministering to children or to teenagers or couples struggling in the marriage or hurting people. It may be struggling with their finances or their weight or with parenting or with trying to pick up the pieces after a broken marriage. God will put a burden in you and from that burden develop a vision. And what you will discover is that as you come to an appropriate time to share it or as you listen to others share, you will find that there are others that God has placed that same vision in. And you will find that God has equipped you to do whatever you need to do to be a part of making that vision a reality. God may have more than one vision for you in your life in all kinds of different areas, but I just want you to think about it in terms of how he wants to use you first under the umbrella of His mission make disciples and then under the umbrella of this particular church’s vision.
Now keep that in mind as we continue to track Nehemiah who clearly had a big vision. He worked for the King in Persia and had a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The problem was , he had never been there. Apparantly nobody in Jerusalem really cared whether they were rebuilt or not because it had been that way during the whole life of everyone who lived there whether young or old. Nobody stood more to lose than the king of Persian if Israel returned as a super power.
But God did amazing things to get Nehemiah out of Persia and into Jerusalem, protected and equipped. He goes and doesn’t say anything to anyone about why he is there, takes stock in the situation, and then at what he determined was the appropriate moment, gathered the people and cast the vision that God had put in His heart. And as He did, God used that vision to spark the hearts of the people who stood up and said, Yes. We’ve been thinking the same thing. Let’s go to work.
In chapter three, he got the people together, organized them, assigned them a task. He basically divided the wall into forty sections and assigned different people and groups of people to different sections and gates in the wall. Chapter three is basically a record of who worked on what. And we’re not going to read it because you would lose interest quickly because it’s not apparent to what’s really in there. But there are some insights here about vision.
I want to go back to the Nehemiah 2:18b to the response of the people to the vision Nehemiah cast.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Nehemiah 2:18b (NIV)
When I look at this response and what happened in chapter three, I just have to ask: What happened? These people had lived their entire lives witnessing the ruins of their city, the broken walls and the destroyed gates. A stranger comes into town and says, Let’s rebuild the walls and they are like, “What are we waiting for? Let’s do it. And there is one answer: God birthed visions have power. It is the power of vision. A vision can be a very powerful thing. And when you look at the initial response of the people and how that translated into a determined effort, it is a testimony to the power of vision. And I want to take a few minutes to point to the power of vision in Nehemiah’s experience.
Vision has the power to:
1. Ignite passion in apathetic people
These peope were full of apathy and indifference. They lived in the ruins all their lives and it had become normal for them. Nehemiah casts the vision and they say: “Let’s go.” That’s is the power of vision. The vision God gave Nehemiah was bigger than Nehemiah. God knew Nehemiah had to have a team and He had one ready. They just needed a spark. They needed vision.
2. Unite people together
This is an incredible picture of unity. IT IS THE POWER OF EVERYBODY. The people were scattered. Many had moved out of the city for the most part—10-15 miles away. But they rallied together. Another thing that is interesting is the diversity of people who jumped in and got their hands dirty. They didn’t take bids and have professional builders come in and do the job. They had people from all walks of life.
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. Nehemiah 3:1a (NIV)
Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Nehemiah 3:8 (NIV)
Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters. Nehemiah 3:12 (NIV)
And between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs. Nehemiah 3:32 (NIV)
It was common, everyday people, business owners, clergy, sons and daughters, politicians. And they all came together, working in forty different areas simulaneously. That is the power of vision. Achievement of a vision requires specialists at times. At other times it requires all hands on deck, working outside of your element, diving in outside of your comfort zone, and getting your hands dirty. And when people are drawn to and driven by a common vision there is an amazing unity that takes place.
It was true of the wall and it’s true of the church. It will be true of us.
3. Keeps people moving with the movers
This is easy to miss here. The whole chapter is about everybody jumping in and working, doing their part. Or at least 99.9 % is about that. In verse five there is this interesting bit of info given.
The men of Tekoa built the next section, but the leading men of the town refused to do the manual labour assigned to them by the supervisors. Nehemiah 3:5 (GNT)
Hard to translate but either way, these guys don’t come out looking so good. Now if this were a typical church trying to accomplish something of magnatude, and a few guys balked, the train would be stopped and the mission would change to: Let’s find out what’s wrong with Brother John and Brother Joe.
But when I read between the lines here it kind of reads: The leaders of Tekoa refused to work because they had an issue with hard work and an issue with the leadership, so we put some other guys in their spot and moved on.
The power of vision is that it will move you to carry on without consensus.
4. Move people to risk and sacrifice
When you decide to act on a vision, there will come that moment where you have to step of of high dive or move from the safety of the shallow end into the deep. There is always an element of risk. They had no guarantees here. With that many people working, half of them could quit a third of the way in.
And risk is higher when the sacrifice required is greater. Think about this. These people basically shut down their businesses and put their personal lives on hold for nearly two months.
That’s the power of vision. When you take the risk and make the sacrifice to make a vision a reality, something happens inside of you that is really hard to explain. There is a consuming passion wihin you. Failure is not an option. Fatigue is not an excuse. You are driven by and draw to the vision.
And I thank God there are so many of you that have it fixed in mind and your actions over time reveal the commitment, the sacrifice, the attitude, the perseverance through adversity (and will get to some of what Nehemiah dealt with in that regard in a later message.
5. To help each person find meaning in his or her section of the wall
Along with the sections of the wall were gates that had to be rebuilt. When you read chapter 3 you read these names of different gates and the gates had function and special significance.
Sheep gate: Close to temple where sheep were brought for sacrifice
Fish gate: where likely the fish market was
Watergate—which led to the springs
Horsegate—entrance to the palace
What all these gates had in common was they were broken down. What the sections of the wall had in common was that they were broken down. And in order to be restored to their unique significance, they had to be rebuilt.
Now I don’t want to go over the analogy cliff, but I will tell you what comes to my mind. Team Nehemiah had to be broken up into a bunch of small teams who had to take on a section of the wall that contributed to the whole in its unique way.
As I think about that, I think about Impact’s vision which in part is inspired by looking and seeing sections of the wall broken and gates destroyed and having a burden to rebuild the church to what God had in mind and the Bible teaches.
It’s about rebuilding the GRACE gate, helping people see that you don’t get to heaven by earning your way in, and you are not made right with God by keeping the rules. You don’t live your Christian life by doing better and trying harder. By when you live according to grace trusting in God’s Spirit to empower you to do what you know you can’t do, wonderful change takes place.
It’s about rebuilding the FAITH gate where we truly learn to take God at His Word and believe Him for great things. I am learning to trust God more and more with everything in my life. I am beginning to say yes to God before I even know the question. I am discovering the difference between me manipulating circumstances for the outcome I want and trusting God for the outcome he wants. I am learning what it means to give my circumstances to God instead of trying to keep my grip on them. I am finding out that sometimes I have to simply trust God in the dark, when it doesn't make sense to me or even those around me.
Transformation Gate: I understand that change fundamentally begins on the inside, and that when I take care of the inside, the outside will take care of itself. I am more and more aware of my motives and attitudes and motives behind my actions knowing that these matters of the heart determine whether the outward action is a "good work" or simply a work of the "flesh."
RELATIONSHIP GATE: Buiding bridges to those who don’t know God. Atmosphere of acceptance. Being real with each other. Holding one another accountable. Navigating through the messy stuff.
SERVING GATE: Ministry, gifts, outward. Minister to hurts, needs.