Monday, October 9
Scripture: Nehemiah 1-2, Psalm 133-4, Luke 22
Nehemiah was inspired by God to do something, to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and make the city safe and secure again. The first two chapters describe how this happened: the birth and launching of his vision.
Step 1: holy discontent. Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem and it bothered him. He wept, he mourned, he fasted and prayed. He was burdened.
Nehemiah 1:4 When I heard all this, I sat down and wept. For several days I mourned and did not eat.
What is my holy discontent? What bothers me? What makes me weep? What takes away my appetite and drives me to desperate prayer? Great visions begin with great discontent. We don’t move from here to there unless we’re discontent with here.
This is more important than it seems. If we have no holy discontent, no burden, then we’re not likely to have a vision for change. It’s easy to be content where we are. Especially for someone like me: life is good. Why change?
Lord, give me a burden, a holy discontent.
Step 2: prayer. Nehemiah let his burden push him to prayer.
Nehemiah 1:4 I prayed to God.
Somewhere in the burden and the prayer, Nehemiah got a vision. The Lord inspired him (2:12). In his prayer, Nehemiah confessed sin, reminded God of His promise, and asked for God’s help.
Nehemiah 1:11 Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.”
Give me success. Help me do what You have put on my heart. And it started with making the emperor sympathetic to his plan.
Visions are born in discontent and nurtured in prayer.
Step 3: take a chance. Nehemiah was the king’s wine steward, a position that gave him regular access to the king. He waited four months before approaching the king with his request. When he did, he prayed an arrow prayer on the spot, and made his big ask. He was risking his life and his job—he took a big chance.
You can’t launch a vision without taking a chance. There is risk involved. If you play it safe, nothing will change. It takes lots of courage!
Step 4: make a big ask. Once Nehemiah had an audience with the king, he made a big ask. He not only asked if he could have a leave of absence from his job to go to Jerusalem and supervise the rebuilding, but he asked the king to support the effort with letters to local officials and supplies for the rebuilding effort (including Nehemiah’s home)!
Nehemiah 2:8 The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.
Big visions require big asks—don’t be afraid to ask big. Ask for what you need to do what God has prompted.
Step 5: see for yourself. Once Nehemiah got to Jerusalem, the first thing he did was take a look for himself. He had heard about the city’s ruins and been moved, but hadn’t seen it for himself.
Nehemiah 2:12 I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me.
Before he went charging into his project, he needed to know what was true and what wasn’t; he needed to know the true state of things. He needed to see for himself and know what he was up against. So Nehemiah took a midnight tour and assessed the need for himself. Now he’s ready…
Step 6: launch the vision. Nehemiah’s tour was secret, but now that he had first-hand knowledge of the problem, he was ready to tackle it. He pitched his vision to the leaders and people, and the work began
Nehemiah 2:16-18 None of the local officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of the other Jews—the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work. But now I said to them, “See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let’s rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace.” And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me.
They responded, “Let’s start rebuilding!” And they got ready to start the work.
I’m writing all this out because I’m dreaming some big dreams these days. I want those dreams to be more than good intentions; I want them to become realities. Nehemiah is helping me do that.
Prayer: Lord thank you for the encouraging example of Nehemiah. Inspire me to do great things and help me take the next step to make my dreams reality.