Restoring The Vision

Do I care for the things God cares for?
Does my heart break for the things God's heart breaks for?

Scripture References & Transcript

Nehemiah 1:1-3

Nehemiah 1:4

Zachariah 7:8-10

Philippians 2:1-4

Nehemiah 1:5-11

Nehemiah 2:1

Nehemiah 2:17

So when I was growing up, my family did the same thing every summer for vacation. We went to Gardner State Park where we would go and we would camp for the week. Uh, so much so that when other kids, as I was growing up would say that they were going on vacation, I assumed that meant that they were going to Gardner State Park because I didn’t think there was any other kind of vacation. I thought that’s what it was. And when we went to Gardner State Park, we would always do the same thing. We would get inner tubes and we would tube down the river. Now, tubing has a whole lot of different definitions to it. And so there’s the style of tubing that you’re behind a boat and you’re hanging on for dear life and they’re trying to throw you off. Uh, but tubing down a river, it’s something different.

You, you basically get into, uh, the inside of a car tube, an inner tube, and you sit on top of it and then the current takes you down the river and you go down the rapids. And, uh, when you’re going with a young family, it’s kinda one style of tubing. And then college kids do a different style of tubing, but tubing is basically still the same thing. You get in a tube and you sit there and we would tube on the REO River. Now, if you don’t speak Spanish, REO means cold. So by definition it was a really cold river. It’d be a hundred degrees in Texas, but the river itself would be the same temperature as roughly what the Platte River is. It was really, really cold springs fed the river. They would come up from deep down underneath the earth. And so when you were a kid and, and really as an adult, I’d do the same thing.

You didn’t want to get wet when you were first getting in. And so you would do kind of this, this game where you would try and straighten yourself as much as possible and get on the tube and just try and coast out and last as long as possible without touching the water. But at some point, either an older sibling would turn your tube over or you would go down some rapids and you would get soaked. And when you first went into the river, it was so cold, so cold that it was painful, that it hurt. But as cold as it was, eventually you would get numb to it. Like after five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, swimming around in the, the water, something that a few minutes ago felt so frigid would become normal. You just grow accustomed to it. In life, there’s a lot of different things that that same thing happens to, that we grow numb to or accustomed to different things.

It can happen with smells that you can go into your house or your car and it smells a certain way and eventually your nose becomes numb to it. And it’s not until somebody else comes into your car, somebody else comes into your house and they say, whoa, what does that smell? And you don’t even recognize it. We can become numb to cleanliness. Sometimes I go into my kid’s room and I’m like, what is going on here? What is all of this? And they look at me like, what? What are you talking about? They’ve grown numb to the fact that their room is totally chaos. We can grow numb to brokenness. We can see so much pain and suffering, so many natural disasters on the news that eventually we just grow numb to it. Like, okay, there’s a fire, there’s a hurricane, doesn’t affect me. Probably the best way to think about it, if you remember the old Sarah McLaughlin puppy commercials, like the first time you see that commercial, they’re showing the puppies and the kittens and it just breaks your heart.

And like you got a tear in your eye and then the thousandth time you see the Sarah McLaughlin puppy commercial, eventually you grow numb to it. We’re kicking off a brand new sermon series on the book of Nehemiah. And the book of Nehemiah is primarily about him building a wall, a giant wall. But really the heart of Nehemiah is about him recognizing and seeing brokenness. And instead of ignoring that brokenness, he steps into the brokenness, he steps into the pain, he steps into the suffering. His heart is broken, and because of the compassion that he has, he chooses to do something about it. So if you’ve got a Bible, open it up. Turn with me to the book of Nehemiah. We’re gonna look at primarily the first chapter a little bit in the second chapter. Uh, but in order to fully understand what’s going on in Nehemiah, we’re gonna do a quick history lesson.

So it’s gonna feel a little bit like going to Sunday school back in the day, if you never went to Sunday school, you’re gonna get a whole history lesson in about two minutes. So we’ll go back to a thousand BC King David Reigns in Israel, king David, same David who defeats Goliath. So even if you’re unchurched, even if you’re brand new to the whole Bible thing, you’ve probably heard of David beating Goliath. And about a thousand BC is when he becomes king a little bit before that. And he reigns over Israel. Scripture tells us that every enemy of the nation of Israel is defeated under King David. After King David, his son, Solomon becomes the king. Solomon builds the temple, and Solomon is incredibly wise, incredibly successful. And if you’re gonna take one date in time that Israel prospered the most, it would’ve been this moment right here.

The temple is there. Solomon is wealthy, Solomon is successful in, in the Old Testament, the idea of the nation of Israel is this, that God’s vision for the nation is that they would be set apart from the rest of the world, that they would remain faithful to God. And because of their faithfulness to God, God would bless them and it would cause the rest of the world to look at them and say, we want to learn more about Israel’s God because we recognize that there is something different about them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last very long. Solomon, if you know anything about the story, he goes and he marries a whole bunch of different wives. He does it primarily for political purposes. And so he’s marrying a wife from this nation and a wife from this nation. And instead of them coming into the culture and the, the religion, the following of Yahweh from the nation of Israel, instead, he allowed other religions to come into his household, to come into his family, to come into the nation.

And so Solomon dies, and after he dies, there’s civil war kingdom. Now, the kingdom of Israel now splits into two different kingdoms, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. We call it that because if you look at a map of Israel, it is the north and the south. That’s how they divide against each other. So the northern kingdom is called Israel, whereas the southern kingdom is called Judah. For the northern kingdom, there are 10 tribes, and the king of the northern kingdom is jbo. Then the southern kingdom is the kingdom of Judah. It’s specific thing that’s that’s different about it is that that is where Jerusalem is. So the temple is part of Judah and the southern kingdom, it only has two tribes, the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, and then their king is Raheem. So right after that, not long after that, about 200 years later, the Assyrians come in and they conquer the northern kingdom.

What we know about the northern kingdom through scripture is that they have ungodly king after ungodly king, after ungodly king. They never follow after God. And the result is that they get wiped off the face of the earth. This is the last time we ever hear about them. They’re also sometimes referred to as the lost tribes of Israel because they get conquered by Syria and then they’re gone. So Judah, the southern kingdom lasts a little bit longer until 5 86 they had a godly king and then an ungodly king and a godly king, and then an ungodly king. So they last a little bit longer, but ultimately their faith is the same. Ultimately, they still don’t trust in God and they have ungodly kings. And because of that, God allows the Babylonians to come and to conquer the southern kingdom. That’s in 5 86 bc. Some significant things that happen is that one, the temple is destroyed, and then two, the Jews are taken into exile.

So the smartest, the best, the brightest men and women from Judah get taken all over the world, but primarily they get taken to Babylon. So you have this gap now where everything is bad. And then in 5 38, God starts to soften the heart of the, the leaders of the world. And Abel gets sent back to Bob to from Babylon to Jerusalem to start rebuilding the temple. Historically, this is not a scriptural thing, but it’s important to recognize in history, in 5 39 bc Persia conquers Babylon. So all the Jews at that point are in Babylon and, and now all of a sudden it goes from being Babylon to being Persia. And Persia would be an empire that would exist for a long time until Rome ultimately comes in and takes over Persia. Then in five 15, roughly 70 years after the temple is destroyed, the temple is rebuilt by Abel.

Then in 4 58 the book of Ezra happens. So Ezra returns to Jerusalem with this second wave of Jews. At the very end of second Chronicles, you see that God softens the hearts of some of the leaders in the world. And so it causes the Persian king to say, we are going to send some Jews back. Uh, that’s all God’s doing, God working behind the scenes. So Ezra goes back, he’s really helping institute a biblical worldview to those Jews that have gone back to Jerusalem. And then in 4 44 BC is when Nehemiah, who we’re, we’re gonna be looking at, he returns to Jerusalem primarily. His purpose is to rebuild the wall. It’s all about the wall. And we’ll find out why in just a second. So if you’ve got a Bible, turn with me to Nehemiah chapter one. You can also follow along on the screen or follow along in the app.

Nehemiah chapter one, sir, in verse one, it says The words of Nehemiah, the son of Aya. Now, it happened in the month of Chile. Now probably you don’t know what Chile is, and even me as a pastor would not know what Chile is unless I go look it up on Google. Uh, but it’s part of the Hebrew calendar, and roughly it’s about November or December. That’s not important right now, but it will matter when we get into chapter two and get a reference for some time of how much time goes by by. So it’s roughly November and December in the 20th year. That’s the 20th year of Arctic ex Xerxes reign. That’s really historically how they, they referenced everything. When the king would take over, then they would stout start counting up from that person. So the 20th year of his reign, and it says, and as I was in Suse, the citadel Susa was the capital of Persia that h and i, one of my brothers came with certain men from Judah.

This again is the southern kingdom. Judah is that nation of Israel. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile and concerning Jerusalem, he’s saying, I asked him, Hey, how’s it going? How’s Jerusalem? Tell me what is happening there? In verse three, it says, and they said to me, the remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame, the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are destroyed by fire. Now the wall being broken down for you and for me, I mean it doesn’t really apply much because we are not a people that have walls that provide protection. But back in Nehemiah’s time, the wall was everything. A city really wasn’t a city unless it had a wall. Uh, the wall represented some very specific things. It represented separation, that that wall kept bad people out, kept your townspeople safe on the inside.

And so the wall designated to other people, Hey, don’t cross this boundary. This boundary is when it becomes our city. It represents relaxation that if you are gonna chill and relax, you needed a wall that that meant that you could sleep safely at night not worrying about anybody that might raid at any given moment in time. And ultimately, it’s because the wall represented security. That wall was protection. It’s hard in our cultural context to have something that’s similar, but probably the closest thing to it would be to imagine if 9 1 1 did not exist. Like if you go home today and, and someone has broken into your house or, or someone starts attacking your house, you pick up a phone and call nine one one with the expectation that really quickly there’s gonna be some police that show up to stop the bad guy. Now imagine if tomorrow, all of a sudden they just say, Hey, there’s no more 9 1 1.

It does not exist. Then what do you do if something bad happens? You’re on your own. It’s good luck. It’s a terrifying feeling. You don’t have that security. You can’t just relax. There’s always some amount of anxiety. Well, that is Jerusalem without a wall. They don’t feel safe. And then look with me in Jeremiah chapter one, verse four, because something odd happens. It’s something that really, we just kinda read past it, but it doesn’t actually make sense. We see Nehemiah’s response to the news that the wall is broken. He says, as soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days. And I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Now why is that strange? It’s strange because Nehemiah most likely has never been to Jerusalem. He’s never stepped foot in Jerusalem. He’s never been to the nation of Judah.

We find out at the very end of this chapter that he’s the cut bearer to the king. Now, the cut bearer to the king is an interesting job because for the most part, it’s a really cush job that the before the king would eat or drink anything, the cut bearer would be the person that tasted those things. A cup bear would drink from the cup, eat from the food, and then they’d just kind of sit back and wait. And if the cup bearer died, they’d say, alright, don’t eat that king. And if the cup bearer was okay, they’d say, all right, it’s fine. You’re good to go. So it was either a really great job or a really rummy job, depending upon the day. For the most part, a cup bearer was pretty cush life. And a king doesn’t eat what you and I eat.

A king eats the absolute best food. A king drinks the absolute best wine. Nehemiah wasn’t drinking boxed wine. I mean, he was drinking the best stuff that they had in the world. That’s what he was tasting and sipping on every single day. So he’s now hearing about he, he knows, he, he knows what we see from his prayer, prayer in a second, that he’s definitely raised understanding of the culture of his people, the religion of his people. He has, uh, that belief in that faith and that trust in God. But there’s still enough distance where it seems odd that he hears about a, a group of people that is so far away and he weeps and it breaks his heart to, to put in perspective, Nehemiah lived in a palace that was 800 miles from Jerusalem, yet he wept. Uh, why is that so odd?

Well, it’s odd because the natural human reaction, the natural response we tend to have is, well, that’s not my problem. I mean, if I’m Nehemiah and I’m eating great food and drinking great wine, I hear about Jerusalem like, well man, that stinks for you guys. But that’s not my problem. I mean, I’m here. I got a job, I’ve got a life. But, but that’s rough for you. But that’s not what happens. You know, it says that he weeps, his heart is broken, his heart is torn in two, he cries out to God. And it leads me to ask myself this specific question, do I care for the things that God cares for? Why is Nehemiah’s heart so broken? Because of what Israel was supposed to be? God’s vision for Israel is that they would be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness that they would demonstrate to the world around what it looked like.

When a nation put God first in that dream, that vision right now was dead. And so his heart was broken because God cared about it. He cared about it. And then I also asked myself the question, does my heart break for the things that God’s heart breaks forward? When’s the last time that your heart really broke for something? When’s the last time that my heart really broke for something that I cried, that I wept, that I was moved? You see, throughout scripture, we as the people of God, if you are a Christian, if you are a follower of Jesus, scriptures clear that we should care. We should care what’s happening in the world around us. We see that over and over again, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Look in Zacharia, uh, what it says. It says. And the word of the Lord came to Zacharia saying, thus says the Lord of host, render true judgments.

Show kindness and mercy to one another. Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner or the poor. And let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. God cares about the broken and the marginalized. We see the same thing in the New Testament and Philippians, uh, Paul writes this. So if there’s any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love being in full accord of one mind. It goes on to say, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Scripture calls us that when we see brokenness in our lives and the lives of those right around us and the world around us, that that brokenness should break our hearts.

It should cause us to recognize it and to do something. And yet so often, if I’m honest, I don’t. Why, why do you think our hearts oftentimes don’t break for other people? I think there’s two primary reasons. Number one is that the natural human tendency is to focus on ourselves. That’s just the way that we’re born. If you’ve got kids, you know this, that you’re raising up kids and their whole world revolves around themselves. That, that in the mind of a child, everybody that exists only exists to make them happy all the time. Every day you’re here to feed me, you’re here to clean for me, you’re here to entertain me. If you bring some other people over to the house, they are now here to entertain me. And part of parenting is to try and change that perspective. And yet what’s so naturally happens is that we have people and our culture and our church and our world, that they never quite grow up from them.

And they are the center of their universe and everything revolves around them. And we live in a highly individualistic, individualized society. I think social media has, has just raised that up a notch where everything is about your brand and your influence and your truth. And so the world can revolve around us. And when the world revolves around us, if the world revolves around me, then I’m not really paying attention to your brokenness ’cause it doesn’t affect me. I think the other truth is that suffering makes us uncomfortable. That’s why so often when you engage with someone who is suffering, you wanna try and fix the suffering, not necessarily for their sake, but for your sake. It feels uncomfortable. I’ll give you a great example. If you have a friend that goes through a bad breakup, what are the types of phrases that you say to that friend, oh, it’s gonna be okay.

There’s plenty of fish in the sea. You can do better than him or you can do better than her. Anyway. Now, why do we say that? Does that really make that person instantly? Like, you know, you’re right. They were the love of my life and my heart is crushed, but there’s plenty of fish in the sea, so I’m just gonna get past it right now. Does that ever happen? No, but we feel uncomfortable that they’re crying and and they’re in pain. I I remember a personal story. I I had a good friend, one of my best friends when I was in college, he was a little bit older. He was in engaged and his fiance broke it off. And so then you, you’re doing that friend support thing. And I remember being in the car with him and we were driving somewhere to try and take his mind off of it.

And for 45 minutes, it was, man, let me tell you why this is the best thing that could ever happen to you. Okay? Like, you deserve so much better than her. Like, I never wanted to say it before, but now that you’re broken up, let me just go ahead and list some flaws that everybody else was saying. And so, I mean, it was 45 minutes of, you know, this bugged me. I mean, did you notice how she laughed? That was terrible. And in my mind, I thought I was being a really good friend, helping him to get over it. Was I helping him to get over it? No. What I should have done is just suffer with him. I should have just entered into the pains and I’m so sorry. That stinks. I’m gonna cry with you. I’m gonna feel for you. I’m gonna walk alongside you and I’m not gonna try and make it better. I’m gonna just see you through it. Unfortunately, for me, after just absolutely spending 45 minutes talking about how terrible his fiance was, uh, three months later they got back together and got married. And so made it a little awkward when, uh, oh yeah, she’s great. I mean, I always loved her, always thought she was fantastic. So you learn some things as you go in life, but we tend to avoid brokenness. ’cause we don’t like suffering. We don’t know what to do with it. Instead of entering into the suffering, let, let’s keep going.

Nehemiah chapter one, it’s in verse five. This is Nehemiah’s prayer, he says, and I said, oh Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel, your servants confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. And pause for a second. ’cause there’s, there’s two really important concepts that he does that, that we can learn a lot from if we really grasp it. That he starts his prayer actually the same way that Jesus would later teach us to pray in the Lord’s prayer. They, they both start by recognizing how awesome goddess that Jesus says, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, holy be thy name.

He starts by saying, God, I recognize how awesome you are. And we, we can lose the meaning of that word awesome, because we throw that word awesome around all the time. Our football team is awesome. The weather is awesome. My spouse is awesome. This burrito is awesome. Like the word is just interchangeable for anything in life. But truly the definition, the understanding of the word awesome. Nothing is awesome except for God. Awe inspiring out of this world, unimaginable better than anything ever. So it’s this recognition that God, you are holy, you are truly awesome, and I am beneath you. And then what he says is, God, I have sinned me and my father’s house. Now, for Nehemiah, it would be easy to say that the problems that are happening 800 miles away are probably their problems because of their sin. But he doesn’t do that.

He doesn’t individualize it. He enters in as part of the community and group and says, we as a nation have sinned against you, and I personally have sinned against you. And why is that such a big deal? Because oftentimes in life what we do is we put ourselves first and we make God secondary. We make really everything about us. And then we try and use God to help us accomplish those things that we want. Our our prayers are really about, God, will you give me this? God, will you bless this? God, please help this. But that’s not what Nehemiah does. God is first in his priority and he’s saying, God, you are holy. You are awesome. Everything needs to be subservient to you. And in that he says, I am second and I am a sinner. You see, in life, when we put ourselves first, it causes us to naturally become judgmental to the world around us.

If I believe that my success in life, any good thing I have in my life, whether it’s in my marriage or my kids or my family, whether it’s in my career, any good thing, if I see that as the product of just me being awesome, then when I see someone who doesn’t have the same success, I naturally say, well, you just need to try harder. You, you just need to be more like me. And then you wouldn’t have the problems that you have. Now, if instead I have the perspective that everything I have is the gift of God, everything I have is by his grace and by his mercy, then I no longer hold it as if it’s because of how great I am. Instead I say, no, it’s only by the grace of God. And so now I can more easily have a heart that breaks when I see someone who’s struggling.

I, I’ll give you a a really tangible example. Uh, we have three kids. Uh, our oldest Brandt, he, he’s about to be 11 years old, but for the first year of his life, he was what you call a colicky baby. Now, we came up with the term colicky because colicky sounds better than child who never quit screaming all the time and making your life miserable. Like that’s, that’s too hard to describe to somebody. So you, you can’t say, is that a child who can’t quit screaming and makes your life miserable all the sudden? No. Instead we’re just gonna say, is your child colicky? And we don’t know what that means. We don’t have a definition of why. We just know that colicky is bad and miserable. And so for the first year, he just screamed nonstop. And he did not sleep through the night. First year of his life, did not sleep through the night.

You learn when you have kids that everybody says you need eight hours of sleep and eight hours of sleep means nothing unless it’s consecutive hours of sleep. And so we were just miserable. And, and, and here’s what happened is we had some friends that they had a daughter who slept really, really well, an amazing sleeper. And and so they would look at us and guess what they had? They had all kinds of judgment. They were like, well, you’re just doing it wrong. Like, like clearly you’re not parenting well, clearly you need to do stuff different. And if you would just do stuff different, then he’d be fine. And can I tell you, we tried every book, like if there’s a book on sleeping with a child, we tried it every option out there. And it did not matter until one day we were over at their house and their daughter was playing with some toys on the ground.

And and she’s about six months old. And, and as she’s playing with with toys, she falls asleep. Like she falls asleep and then falls face forward onto the ground is a bam. And like I jump up like, whoa, Hey, hey, she, your, your kid just, they just collapsed. I don’t know what’s going on. And they’re like, oh no, she just fell asleep. Like she did what? <laugh> Yeah, she just, she just fell asleep. She falls asleep all the time like that. And we just, we’re just gonna roll her over. We’re gonna go put her in her bed, she’s gonna take a nap. And I’m looking at my wife like, you have got to be kidding me right now. <laugh> like, no wonder they have an easy child with sleep. Their child is an narcoleptic. Their child just sleeps all the time. And and so at that moment they thought we were inferior.

Inferior. And they looked down upon us and we were doing everything wrong. And, and then here’s what happened. They had a second child and we had a second child. And our second child, Kinley, slept great. And it was not because of our parenting. It was not because of what we were doing. It was not because of our sleep method. She slept in her bed, she slept in a car seat. She slept when you were holding her. She slept when you put her down on the ground. She slept when she was eating food. Like she just slept all the time. We could not take credit for the fact that she slept, but our friends had a second child who happened to be, there’s the word colicky. <laugh>. And man, I loved it. I thought it was the greatest thing, <laugh>. I was like, oh, why? I mean our daughter’s sleeping great.

Have you tried this book? Look, because this is what happens in life. When we decide that our success is because of us and that God has nothing to do with it, then we become judgmental. So Nehemiah doesn’t have that mindset and Nehemiah doesn’t say, well man, it’s their fault. I’m the cub bearer. I’ve got a great place in life because of how awesome I am, because of how godly I am. No, he says, I recognize that I’m in my position because of the grace and the mercy of God. And if not for the grace and mercy of God, I could be in their position too. And so my heart is breaking for what they’re going through. Look at verse seven.

He says, we’ve acted

Very corruptly

Against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses saying, if you are unfaithful, I’ll scatter you among the peoples. But if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from here I will gather them and bring them to the place that I’ve chosen to make my name dwell there.

They’re your servants and your people whom you’ve redeemed by your great power in your strong hand. Oh Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, to the prayer of the servants who delight to fear your name and give success to your servant today. And grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was a cup bearer to the king. It’s interesting because he’s clinging to the promise that at that time did not feel true. God, you’re faithful God. You’re loving God. You’re merciful. Now, did any of those things feel true at the moment when he was in exile 800 miles away from his capital city? Did that feel true when Israel’s city, their crown jewel Jerusalem lay in ruins without a wall? No. And there are times in your life, in my life where the faithfulness of God does not feel true, yet we clinging to it ’cause we know that it is true.

And that’s what faith is all about. And look then in Nehemiah chapter two verse one, it says, in the month of Nissan, that’s March or April and the 20th year of King Artes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now, I had not been sad in his presence and now it’s gonna go on because King King art exes is gonna ask what’s wrong. And he’s gonna give an opportunity for Nehemiah to petition the king, and then he’s gonna ultimately bless him and send him off to go back to Jerusalem to go rebuild the wall. But here’s what’s fascinating in the whole book, what we see just now taking place between chapter one and chapter two, we know because of the dates, it’s about four months, that for four months Nehemiah prays for four months, he’s on his face for four months he’s weeping and crying out to God.

Now, one of the things you’ll learn and hear about the book of Nehemiah is that the wall itself only takes 52 days, 52 days. That’s that’s how long he builds a whole wall around a city. It’s a miraculous thing that’s only possible because of God. And we can so focus on the 52 days of rebuilding the wall that we miss out on the fact that he prayed for four months. He spent twice as much time praying as he did the doing. John Bunion, who was a puritan, a very different than Paul bunion. So if you need to Google that later, John Bunion wrote this, you can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you can do more than pray until you’ve prayed. Pray often for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge to Satan. You see, Nehemiah saw brokenness and it moved his heart and his soul.

And so he spent four months on his face crying out to God for that brokenness. You see, Nehemiah knew that God’s vision for Israel, that there would be a lamp to the rest of the world. You know that vision is the same for the church today. The capital C Church that we would be God’s vision for us is that we would be a light to the world, that we would live in such a way that we have compassion on the broken, that we see brokenness in the world around us and we desire to fix it. Why? Because that’s the gospel. Romans five eight says that God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God looked into the earth and he saw the brokenness and he saw that we were incapable of fixing the brokenness on our own.

And he sends his son Jesus to enter into the suffering, enter into the brokenness, to die on the cross for your sins and my sins. And that if that becomes true in our life where we enter into a relationship with Jesus, that should change how I live. It should change everything that now because God has become first and I’ve become second to him, I no longer live a life. It revolves around me. No, it revolves around him and his purpose. And so now with godly eyes that see, and ears that hear, my soul is attuned to the brokenness in the world around me. That’s the mission that God is sending me on. One of my favorite verses in Nehemiah is what we see in chapter two, verse 17. So Nehemiah shows up to Jerusalem, he’s walking around, he meets a little bit of opposition and he’s scoping it out.

And then he says this. Then I said to them, you see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies and ruins with its gates burned, come let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer derision. And can I tell you that that is the cry of God’s heart for us. That that the wall, whatever brokenness exists in your life, whatever brokenness exists in the people’s lives right around you, whatever broken exists, exists in in our community, that God is in the business of fixing and healing brokenness. I don’t know what brokenness you have. Maybe it’s your marriage, maybe it’s yourself, maybe it’s a relationship, family member. I don’t know what brokenness is in the community around you, your friend’s, marriage, your neighbor across the street who you know is struggling. The brokenness in our community around us is not hard to find brokenness in the world around us.

And what is God wanting us to do to enter into the suffering? Just like Nehemiah, Nehemiah has compassion. And here’s the thing about compassion and scripture. Compassion enters into the suffering and does something about it always. Compassion always leads to action. You see, here’s the truth. The truth that was true for Nehemiah and the truth that is true for us today. That God is in the business of fixing broken things. We can’t do it by ourselves. It happens when our hearts are broken and we spend time in prayer crying out to God. And just like Nehemiah saying, God, help me do something about it. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for just an exciting new sermon series on an amazing book, amazing hero of our faith, Nehemiah. And so I gotta just pray that as we enter into the broken things of our own lives, the broken things of our culture, the broken things of our world, God help us to be different. God help us to not fall into the trap of making life all about ourselves, but instead put you first, recognize that you are great and you are awesome, and that we are broken without you. And so, Lord, our prayer is that our hearts would break for the brokenness. Holy Spirit, we just ask that you would soften our hearts. Help us to weep for those things that you weep for. It’s our prayer. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.