#109 Rebuilding Broken Dreams (28/12/03)

By: Robert A. Schuller

All week I have been thinking about last Sunday when Bruce Wilkinson shared his message about dreams. It was an incredible message.

So today, as the California fires are raging, I pulled from my files a message that I had written a few years ago entitled, Rebuilding Broken Dreams. I wrote an entire series on the life of Nehemiah and how he had the faith to Rebuild Broken Dreams. Nehemiah is not a fictional person. Instead Nehemiah was for real, a slave with an impossible dream. There is a book in your Bible named Nehemiah. You can read his story there - look three books before the book of Psalms in the Old Testament.

History records Nehemiah as a dreamer of dreams. I think about the dreams that you and I have, and about what God has called us to do, the purpose for which He has created us. But then compare your dream to the dream that God gave Nehemiah and you realize it was impossible. Five hundred years before Christ is born, Nehemiah was born a slave in Babylon. (Babylon is in current day Iraq.) And Nehemiah's dream was to go to Jerusalem, a long distance from Babylon, about a thousand miles. And why does Nehemiah want to go to Jerusalem? Jerusalem, the great city of his Jewish ancestors, had been destroyed by enemies 142 years ago. Now Nehemiah, a man of deep prayer, praying for four months, received an impossible dream to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. An unbelievable ... impossible task. It could never be done unless God performed many miracles. So Nehemiah's prayer, which we read in the very first chapter, is the foundation for the courage Nehemiah had for his impossible dream.

I believe if we pattern our prayers after Nehemiah's prayer, we too will see some incredible things taking place. So I want to challenge you now to pray the Nehemiah prayer for the next twenty-one days and then to write to me about what incredible things have taken place in your life as a result of this prayer. If nothing happens, write and tell me that nothing happened, but I am convinced that prayer works and Nehemiah's prayer works incredibly well. This prayer has six points that will help you experience the rebuilding of broken dreams with mountain moving faith.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

1) Recognize who God is

Nehemiah begins his prayer by recognizing who God is. That's very important. Who is God to you? Nehemiah prays:

"Oh Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of love with those who love You and obey Your commandments ..."
(Nehemiah 1:5)

The first thing Nehemiah does is recognize who God is. That is so critically important for us. We need to recognize who God is, the God who controls the winds and the seas. When I think of God, I think of action, I think of a force of great power. Recognize God by what He has done. Read how the Bible reveals this throughout ... the God who led the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land ... the God who separated the dry lands from the waters. In the New Testament Jesus Christ was known as the One who walks on the water, the One who raises the dead, the One who opens the eyes of the blind, who makes the dumb speak and the lame walk.

God is recognized by the miraculous things He does. And we have to remind ourselves that God has the power to do miraculous things. Begin your prayer by pausing and remember the miracles God still does. Recognize who God is.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

2) Call upon God to listen

The second thing Nehemiah prays for is that he calls upon God to listen to him.

"Let your ear, O God, be attentive, and Your eyes open. Hear the prayer your servant is praying before You day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel." (Nehemiah 1:6)

I have four children and today they are all grown up. The two youngest are now in their teens and it is very important to get their attention when I want them to do something. When we ask them to clean their room, the number one excuse usually is, "Oh, I didn't hear you." For those of you who have children, you know that excuse.

Now we also need to ask God to listen to us, in order to convince ourselves that God is going to hear our prayers. How often I hear people say, "I prayed, but God didn't hear me ... nothing has changed."

Prayer isn't for God. It's for us because prayer doesn't change our circumstances until for us deep within. So when we pray, it's not for God, it's for us. That's what prayer will do psychologically, emotionally and physically. Suddenly we realize a bond is created between God and us and when that bond is there, it is incredible how that changes our lives.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

3) Confess your failures and sins

First, 1) Begin by recognizing who God is. Then, 2) Call upon God to listen. Now 3) Confess your failures and sins ... those things that are holding you back, that are causing guilt. This is how Nehemiah prays,

"I confess the sins, we, the children of Israel, including myself and my father's house have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly towards you. We have not obeyed the commandments and the laws You gave Your servant Moses." (Nehemiah 1:6, 7)

When we have burdens of guilt, whether we're guilty or not, we need to confess them to God and let the healing process begin.

Friday night I made a hospital call on a young man. He is an employee here at this ministry. Joseph is eighteen years old and works the night shift in our maintenance department until 2:30 AM. Usually Joseph rides the bus home, but on Friday his stepfather said, "Joseph, your mother and I are going to pick you up tonight. I don't want you taking the bus home at such a late hour." So his father and mother picked him up at 2:30 AM and on the way home, his father fell asleep driving the car and was killed when the car veered off the road, spun a couple of times and hit a truck. His mother is in critical condition in the hospital. Joseph thought he was fine until he fainted and the doctors discovered he had a bruised liver and a bruised spleen, so he is still hospitalized.

When I visited him in the hospital he had his hospital gown on. He greeted me, and as I sat down, he told me the story ... how he was sitting in the rear seat of the car while his father was driving. Then he broke down with an incredible guilt, saying, "I killed my stepfather. If I would have taken the bus instead of letting him come to pick me up, he'd still be alive. Now I have to tell my brothers and sisters what I've done." Tears rolled down his cheeks as we cried together. Then I said a prayer, "God, You're in the driver's seat of life and we are the passengers. Help us to remember that we are the passengers and that You are taking us to destinations that are going to be healing and hopeful."

After we prayed, you could see that a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He was able to unload his tremendous guilt, even though he wasn't at fault.

It is very important to confess our failures and sins to God and, when we do that, we get rid of the guilt and shame and we are brought back into God's grace, spiritually, emotionally and psychological.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

4) Proclaim the promises of God

Now is the time to proclaim God's promises. Nehemiah quotes God,

"If you return to Me and obey My commandments, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling place for My name." (Nehemiah 1:8, 9)

We must learn the promises of God so that when we pray we can quote these promises. "Oh God, You promised, if we ask, if we seek, if we knock, the doors will open." "You promise that we, 'can do all things through Christ who strengthens us' ... You promise that, 'As we give, it shall be given back to us ... pressed down, shaken together and running over."

Continue to quote the promises that God has given to you and as you do, your mind, your heart, and your soul will be strengthened. You will be energized. You will get confidence. You will develop courage ... and you will know that with God at your side, you are able to do that which you never dreamed you could. The power of prayer is amazing.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

5)Affirm your relationship with God

Nehemiah continued to pray and affirmed his relationship with God. He said,

"We are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great strength and Your mighty hand. I am Your servant, Lord." (Nehemiah 1:10)

We need to tell God, we are His people. We are Christians. What is a Christian?

For the children here today, let me share this description: "What is it like to be a Christian?" "It is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in and washes all the dirt off of you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

So every time you see a smiling pumpkin, you remember, a pumpkin is like a Christian and you are a Christian with the light of Christ shining through your happy face.

Two men were flying their plane through the South Pacific and they ran into some problems. They had to crash land on an island. So there they were, stranded on this island. One gentleman jumped off the plane and went running around the island looking for food and water so they could survive. He went all around the island, coming back, he panics, "We're going to die! There is no food ... no water ... there's nothing on this entire island."

The other man, leaning against a palm tree, very relaxed replied, "We're not going to die. I make $250,000 a week."

"What are you talking about? There's no food and no water. There aren't any grocery stores on this island so you can't buy anything. We're going to die!"

"No, we're not. I make $250,000 a week and we are not going to die," comes the same confident reply.

The panicked man can't believe what he is hearing. "So what are you going to buy with your $250,000 on this deserted island?" He asks.

"I'm not going to buy a thing on this island and we're not going to die. We're going to be perfectly fine because I make $250,000 a week and I tithe. I promise you, my pastor will find us."

When you know who you are and you tithe, your relationship with God is incredible. When you pray, tell God, "I am one of Your people. I am Your chosen. I tithe. Remind God and yourself of the blessings that tithers receive."

"Bring your tithes to My storehouse, and put Me to the test, says the Lord God, and see if I will not pour out such a blessing upon you that you will not be able to contain it." (Malachi 3:10)
For those of you who don't understand tithing, tithing is giving 10% of our income to the church in an act of faith. Knowing that it is impossible to out give God, we prove to ourselves and to God that He is much more important than a few dollar bills.

Affirm your relationship with God. After you have prayed through these first five steps of the Nehemiah prayer, then you are prepared finally to ask God to help you to succeed. But most of us begin immediately with this petition.

Rebuilding Broken Dreams:

5) Ask God to help you succeed

Nehemiah now prays:

"Give Your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of the king." (Nehemiah 1:11)

And so this slave, Nehemiah, having said his prayers, dares to go to the king and ask him to send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of his ancestors' city and to restore dignity to his home. What was the king's response?

"The king granted it to me according to the good hand of God upon me." (Nehemiah 2:8)
That's what happens when we pray! It's absolutely amazing how impossible things become possible ... dreams are revealed, and through our faith in a God of power, mountains start to move.

Dear God, we thank You for what You are doing today, for the prayers You are answering right now, for the direction, the guidance, the hope, the future that You are developing. So help us each to pray the Nehemiah prayer that we may see the reality of Your goodness and Your power. Amen.

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