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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - Rebuilding A Broken Culture

Tony Evans - Rebuilding A Broken Culture

Tony Evans - Rebuilding A Broken Culture

I wanna call our attention today to Nehemiah chapter 1, Nehemiah 1. Because here is a man who had to develop kingdom vision. Because kingdom vision is not just about you, your future, your career, your salary, your desire, your education, it is about the imprint of God through you in history. This glimpse of the future now. The words of Nehemiah we're introduced to in verse 1. "It happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, when I was in Susa the capitol, and Hanani, one of my brothers and some men from Judah came and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity and about Jerusalem. And they said to me, 'The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and it's gates are burned with fire.'"

So these are God's people in distress and are reproached. Not taken seriously, not believed, not followed, not requested for their perspective 'cause we don't take them seriously. They're as racially divided in the church as we are in the culture. They're as class divided in the churches as we are in the culture. They got as many divorces in the churches as we got in the culture. We got as many men abandoning their responsibility in the church as they do in the culture. So how are we gonna listen to them? And how are we gonna listen to their God when they don't even listen to their God? They are reproach. He says the walls are burnt down, the walls have crumbled.

Well, the walls encase the city, so that means there's no security everybody's got to fend for themselves, there is no police and community agreement 'cause crime then gone through, through the wall, they burned up so stuff can infiltrate the city and bring havoc to the community. In other words, it's a mess up there. Things have not gotten better since they left captivity, since they left Persia, since they started with Babylon captivity, then they were with Persia and now that they've been released to go back home, nothing's better in the old neighborhood. That's how they felt going back to the magnificent city of Jerusalem, apple of God's eye. And all they could report is bad. I mean it's really bad.

Nehemiah, hears this in verse 4 and when he heard it, he sat down and wept and mourned for days. So that's the problem. The problem is regression in the community of the saints which made them a reproach to the environment in which they were situated and it brought him a broken heart. Well, the first thing he does after hearing about the problem, is go to prayer. Because it says at the end of verse 4, "And I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven". He's got a, what looks like an unfixable problem that drives him to fasting and prayer. I mean this is so deep for so long and so bad, only God can fix this. So I better talk to heaven 'cause of how messed up things are on earth.

Now please notice, we're gonna conclude by seeing what happens but he doesn't go to heaven last, he goes to heaven first. He doesn't pray after, he prays before. God is on the front end not on the back end because the nature of this problem demands heavenly intervention. Kingdom prayer is designed to call down earthly intervention because you need to access heavenly authority. Does prayer work? He has an unconditional will and a conditional will. What's the difference? An unconditional will means things he's going to do regardless of what anybody else does. In other words, it's just based on him deciding to do it regardless of anybody else doing anything. His conditional will is tied to things he decides only to do when you meet the qualifications for him doing it.

One of the primary conditions that God says has to be met to meet his conditional will and his desired will, is prayer. That's why he says "You have not because you ask not". We don't know whether this is unconditional or conditional. Is it his desired will or is it his determined will? And since we are not sure often, which is which, that's why the Bible says pray about all things. He Goes to God and he says, "You are great and awesome". Why in verse 5 does he say God is great and awesome? Because you have to know how big God is when you see how big your problem is. So he extols the character of God in light of the crisis. Far too many of us have a God that's too small. Which is why we don't go to him 'cause if we thought he was really that big, we would go to him more. But since we got this tiny God, we go to him for tiny things. To the great and awesome God.

Does that mean he's gonna say "yes" to every prayer? Absolutely not because some things he has determined that even if you pray he's not gonna do it. So he's got a determined will but don't miss out on the things he's agreed to do if you meet the qualifications because you did pray. He says, "Who serves his covenant, his loving kindness to all who love him and keep his commandments". See the qualifications. Now he comes to the situation. Verse 6, "Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to the prayer of your servant, which I'm praying before you now. I confess". Verse six, "My sins and the sons of God".

So let me tell you now, if you're not willing to deal with sin, your voice won't be heard in heaven. Now He says, "I need you to forgive me for how we have abandoned you". And then he comes to verse 9 and says, here it is. "Remember the word which you commanded your servant Moses saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the people but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered, were in the midst of the remote part of the heavens. I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause my name to dwell".

Now let me give you another point of prayer. First of all, you have to recognize God's person and how big he is. That's why when I hear a problem, I try to, I'm not always successful, but I try to juxtaposition it up against the size of God. Awesome God. And then he goes to God's purity. We have sinned, we have not met your standard, we've disobeyed you. He comes clean with God. And why not? He knows it anyway. But then he says, "Remember what you said". He says, "Remember your word that you spoke through your servant Moses". Did you know... this may not sound right, but did you know you can hold God hostage to his Word? He's exalted his Word above his name. You can hold him hostage, "God you said," and if you need some help, read it to him. Just open up your Bible and read it to him. Just say it, "Right here you said," okay? "So we're your people".

Verse 10, "Who you've redeemed by your great power and your strong hand". And we've seen what you can do yesterday, I'm asking you to do it for us today. We're in a bad situation in our country, in our culture, in our church. And so verse 11, "O Lord, I beseech you," I'm begging you. "May your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and the prayer of your servants who delight to revere your name and make your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man". What man? The last line of verse 11, "Now I was a cup bearer to the king". The cup bearer to the king is like the chief of staff. Doesn't mean he just drank before the king drunk and ate before the king ate but it was a high level administrative position called the cup bearer, the chief of the staff, the executive. So he was way up there. So when I go before this man today, I need you to go in that room with me 'cause this is a bad situation.

Now why did I point that out? Why did I even bring that up? Because of chapter 2, verse 1. "It came about in the month of Nisan". Why does that matter? Because of chapter 1, verse 1. "Now it happened in the month of Chislev". Those are two different months. There is a four and a half month gap between Chislev and Nisan. Those are four and a half months apart from each other. He got the news in Chislev. When he got the news, he prayed. In his prayer he said, "Do something today". But nothing happens for four and a half months because your time and his time is not always the same time. I know 'cause when you are in a crisis, you want God to do something right now. So it's four and a half months later. What happens?

This is where you got to see, you got to see, you got to have kingdom sight. He goes in to serve the king, verse 1, "So the king said to me, 'Why is your face sad though you are not sick? There is nothing but sadness in your heart.' Then I was very much afraid". Okay, I don't want you to miss that. He's sad for four and a half months 'cause he's still sad and it's four and a half months later. So that means there's a big problem when you're sad for an extended amount of time. But notice what God did. He let the king bring it up. He said, "Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city and the place of my father's tombs lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire"? He said, "You asked me and I'm scared".

And look at what he did in verse 4. "Then the king said to me, 'What is your request?' So I prayed to the God of heaven". Wait a minute now. He prayed in Chisvel, now he's praying because a specific opportunity has arisen. The king says, "How can I help you"? He prays again, "Lord, give the right words to say, I don't wanna mess this up". You know, you going in for a job interview, pray first. You don't wanna mess this up. God got something special here. He says, "And I prayed that God would do something".

Now, I wanna show you something else that is easy to miss unless you have spiritual eyes, unless you are looking heavenly first. And that, he says that he is now talking to the king. Verse 6, "Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him". He said to me, the queen sitting beside him. The queen had nothing to do with nothing. She doesn't come up, it doesn't tell us anything about the queen, it doesn't give us any information about the queen, all it tells us is when I was talking to the king, the queen was sitting next to him. Why would Nehemiah tell us that? I mean, it doesn't seem to fit. You just look like a throw in phrase that the queen is sitting next to the king when I'm just talking to the king about the problem the king asked me why and now this throw in, but the queen was there too. He's in Persia.

You know who else was in Persia? A lady named Esther. Stay with me here. You remember Mordecai told Esther, I need you to go before the king and plead my case and the case of the Jewish people before the king. But Esther said, "I can't go in there because until you are invited to become before the king and he has not invited you, I will be putting my life in my hands". Mordecai says to her, "You've been called to the kingdom for such a time as this and if you don't do it, God will find somebody else who will". 'Cause God has a kingdom vision and a kingdom purpose. She said, "If I perish, I perish". She goes in, she saves all the Jews from Haman who wants to destroy all the Jews. This influence of a woman on a man set the stage.

See, Nehemiah wants us to know that this queen was critical to this decision 'cause it comes from the same circumstance that was in play in Esther. And so I pray to the God of heaven and then what did I wind up with? Here it is, God gives him a plan. "I said to the king, 'If it pleases the king,'" in verse 5, "Your servant thou cities let me go to the cities that I may rebuild it. And I said to the king," verse 7, "'If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me from the governors of the provinces beyond the river that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah.'" He says, "Our culture is broken, but I believe God wants to fix it". The king is not a believer. "But the earth is the Lord's, the fullness thereof, the world and all they that dwell in it".

Not only did the king, if you read the chapter, give him the letters that would give him safe travel, he gave him the resources to do the rebuilding. Wait a minute, wait a minute, you don't understand that. God used the devil's man and the devil's money to rebuild the kingdom program. See, God knows how to use sinners to help out saints when saints see what God wants to do for his kingdom program. Because all of it belongs to God, Satan just wants to use it. But when God sees that he can use us for kingdom impact, kingdom purpose, kingdom rebuilding because we see heaven's purpose, then when we are in his will, he provides what we need and that's how you know you have a kingdom vision because God always supplies what he calls you to complete. And so what does he say as we close? He makes some profound statement.

Verse 12 of chapter 2. "I arose that night, I and a few with me. I did not tell anyone what God was putting in my mind to do for Jerusalem". Then he comes down to verse 18. "I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and about the king's word". Verse 20. "So I answered them and said to them, 'The God of heaven will give us success.'" You see how much God comes into this? Okay, so let's bring this home now, look. A kingdom vision is when God lets you see a need that he wants you to be part of meeting even though you don't know how it's gonna get done yet. How do you see that? How do you see your kingdom purpose? He said, "I'm a cupbearer for the king".

That was his job that was not his mission. But his job opened the door for his mission. His mission was to rebuild Jerusalem, his job was merely a conduit. Don't confuse your job with your calling. Now your job may be your calling, okay? You can have a job that's also a calling. My job is also my calling but every job is not your calling. Paul was a tent maker, that was his job, his calling was to reach the Gentiles with the gospel. So your job may be your calling but don't mix up your job as your calling because your calling will always involve something God has given you to do to make a difference for him, not just make money for you.

Number one, he had a burden. You'll always see based on a weight God puts on your heart, that's a burden, something you cannot shake. 'Cause for four and a half months he has not been able to shake his concern for this situation.

So there is a burden. Secondly, he says, God put it in my mind to do something. So it starts in his heart with a burden but then it comes to his mind with an idea. Because the Holy Spirit renews the mind. He brings God's thoughts into your thinking, even though you don't know how to do it. He says, "I don't know, just help me with the king today," and it was four and a half months, you don't have the particulars. So from the burden came the prayer, from the prayer came an open door, the king comes to him, from that, God puts an idea in his mind that leads to a plan to make a difference for the glory of God, for the good of people using the skills that he had learned. Because as the administrator, watch this, for the king, he knew how to put projects together.

So God used his secular employment to prepare him for his kingdom vision. So yes, you may be employed as a teacher but God may be wanting you to use teaching skills for the kingdom. How can I take the vision God has shown me, burden me, and given me, and transfer it for something he lets me to see that creates a burden in me. A kingdom vision is a vision where you can see the change that God can use you to make in a world of desperation. Because I see heaven wanting to make a difference through me on earth in a decaying culture. If Christ does not come back soon, if things keep going the way they're going, you won't wanna live here anymore. If things keep going the way they're going at the speed they're going without divine intervention, this is not gonna be a happy place to live.

Now, I don't have time to get into all the idiosyncrasies of all that could happen as things unravel but you're what you're looking at. So we better get some folk with some kingdom vision. Who can look to heaven to intervene on earth. But if we can get some folk with some kingdom vision, who can see heaven on earth, we can rename this bad boy and give it something that God can be glorified in and people can be proud to live in 'cause we're not looking like they're looking, we are looking up there and asking up there to make a difference down here.

What do you do when society has shredded, when the life that should breathe hope and help in a community has become a wasteland, emptiness surround you? How do you resurrect it? Well, God has not left us to guess about that. He has a specific order and plan for the rebuilding of the lives of people where it's been shredded by evil and sin and breakdown and disintegration. We do not have to give up hope even when the culture looks like it's collapsed because after all, God created government, God created civilization, God created society but he also created rules. And when we follow the rules and when we follow those guidelines, we can see what was broken, rebuilt. Let's see how to rebuild a culture that is broken down.
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