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Nehemiah--A Man of Prayer and Action

(Nehemiah 2:4-8, 15-18)

Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 1997
November 16, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

Nehemiah, a man with a vision. Nehemiah, a man with a mission. Nehemiah, a man with permission. He saw the need, he saw how he could meet that need, and he asked for permission to do so. We can learn some valuable character lessons from Nehemiah.

Vision. Nehemiah knew how terrible things were back home. He knew he could help. He saw what he could do. He anticipated the obstacles and opposition his project would raise. How are things going in your own home (or school or church or community)? You can help, if you would. Spend some time seeing what you can do. Anticipate the hindrances to your plan. Vision must come first; if you don't have it, God will give it to you if you ask Him for it.

Mission. It seems that, somehow, Nehemiah figured out that God gave him a vision because He also intended to give him a mission. Nehemiah did more than moan and bemoan the fate that had befallen his land and his people. He did more than dream and envision what needed to be done and how he would go about doing it. He began to figure and compute, determined to translate vision into mission. He calculated what he would need in terms of resources, time and help. And he fit opposition into his equations. Now to you. So your home is pretty tough and desolate these days. The whole concept of home being a shelter from and fortress against the harsh world seems very untrue in your setting. How can you translate your vision for a happy home into a mission to contribute toward a happy home? The fact that God has allowed you to see the reality of things surely must mean He wants you to do something about the problem. In other words, let your vision lead you to mission.

Permission. I suppose Nehemiah could have figured out that with God's blessing and permission he could just launch out on the mission of his vision. But he didn't. He made sure he was working within the framework of his immediate temporal authorities. Nehemiah's trust in God was so great that he willingly made his mission dependent on the cooperation of a heathen king. Don't try to do things any differently in your mission. Mission without permission is disastrously counterproductive! Beware of assuming you can get by with it.

There you have them--three steps in reasoned order. Mission without vision or ahead of vision is hazardous. Launching on a mission without permission is extremely dangerous. Ask God to help you keep these straight in your life. Let the good hand of your God be upon you.

Now, shall we try to tackle a few specifics? I used your home as a parallel to Nehemiah's situation. Perhaps your home is characterized by one or more of these: unhappiness, clutter, selfishness, disrepair, bickering, disorganization. You can criticize it, you can condemn it, you can contribute to it. I would rather see you doing what you can to remedy it. No, you can't take control of your home. But you can take control of yourself. Do everything that you can to bless the other members of your family. Live your life for them. Make a difference!

Maybe your home is just fine, but your community is a disaster. Well, then get to work there! We tend to stereotype youth as a time of action and innovation, but I don't want to put undue burden on you. Ask the Lord to help you figure out and implement the ways that will contribute to a better community.

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