New Year's Renovations?
"I think someone should develop another home renovation or house flipping show" ... said no one ever. Even my dad can say, "Get rid of the popcorn ceiling" and "I think we need some shiplap"! (That along with "I'll Google it" ... from the man who doesn't even own or know how to operate a computer, iPad, or cell phone!) Still, we need to talk about some renovation advice.
Nearly every year, I tell the people at Lake Highlands that I like New Year because it is a reminder to do some self-evaluation of how life is going (good & bad) and a chance to do something new or differently in the coming year. But knowing something needs to be done is not the same has knowing how to do it, is it? Hence the high rate of failure for most New Year's resolutions.
For most of January, I am preaching through part of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah which talks about a major renovation project, not of a house, but an entire city—Jerusalem. After 150 years of Jerusa-lem lying in shambles as a result of being destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, we are introduced to a Jewish man named Nehemiah who was 800 miles away in the Persian city of Susa; very possibly he was totally unaware of Jerusalem's deplorable condition. However, his brother came from Jerusalem to Susa and gave him a report— "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire" (1:3). When Ne-hemiah heard that, he was heartbroken and began a 4-month period of fasting and praying about what could be done. I believe that is where real and long-lasting change begins—we become so broken and burdened about a condition that we turn to God for answers. At that point, the only change was in Nehemiah; but that was critical to what happened next.
After the period of seeking God, the first thing that happened was that Nehemiah understood his purpose for being where he was at the time (in the court of the king) and what God wanted him to do (to lead a re-building effort). Life changes when we understand our purpose for being here!
The second thing that happened was that Nehemiah began to develop a plan for accomplishing the task—he would need to be excused from the king's court, would need protection to travel, and would need the resources for the rebuilding. Amazingly, the Persian king agreed to Nehemiah's request. A huge part of the plan was accomplished. When Nehemiah got to Jerusalem and surveyed the situation (the condition of the wall and the people-resources available to him), the rebuilding plan was firmed up, presented to the people, and followed. Until mission and vision are followed with a plan, nothing happens successfully.
The third thing required was for Nehemiah to have perseverance to reach the finish line; it would not be easy. He was opposed by enemies from the outside, slackers on the inside, and a number of other obstacles ... but he was not going to be derailed or denied. In fifty-two days the monumental task was accomplished. It is a tremendous and true story.
As you look back at the year (or years) past, are there things that you see that you don't want to see carried forward into 2018 and beyond? What do you want to see change? What does God want to see changed? Get started!
Scripture quoted is from The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984