Editor’s Note: The AMI devotional from October 26 –November 1 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Nehemiah 1:1-4 (ESV)
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 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.” 4 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.
If you can swap your eyes with any animal, what would you choose? I would choose the eyes of an eagle. Scientists tell us so sharp is the vision of eagles, that if I had their vision, I would be able to see an ant crawling on the ground from the roof of a 10-story building. I would also be able to go watch the Los Angeles Dodgers play from the cheapest seats and even make out the facial expressions of my favorite players. Objects would appear magnified, colors would be more brilliant and everything would move in high definition.
This makes me think about what it would be like to have the eyes of God. If I had God’s vision, what would I see, and what would I notice? This is essentially how the story of the prophet Nehemiah begins. Around 587 BC, the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, along with Solomon’s temple. About 70 years after the Babylonian invasion, Cyrus, King of Persia, gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Things were looking up for awhile as the exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
The exiles, however, not only stopped their building project, but they continued to adopt the religious practices and culture of the surrounding nations. There were no sacrifices or prayers being offered at the temple, and God was relegated to just another god, as people went about their lives seeking only their own interests. When Nehemiah heard of this, it broke his heart. Nehemiah’s concern over the condition of Jerusalem consumed him, to the point that he wept, prayed and fasted (v. 4). Thoughts of what was, as opposed to what could be, devastated him. This was no casual concern—it was a vision in the making.
How do you become a man or woman of great vision? You start with noticing the tension between what is and what could be. Nehemiah caught a vision for God’s temple, and this compelling picture is what caused him to grieve over the neglect of the temple. When we allow this disparity to ruin us, we have the makings of a great vision.
Anyone who is frustrated or brokenhearted about the way things are, in light of the way they believe things could be in the Kingdom of God, is a candidate for vision. A God ordained vision will begin as a concern. You will hear or see something that gets your attention. Something will bother you about the way things are or the way things are headed. Unlike many passing concerns, this will stick with you. You will find yourself thinking about them in your free time. You may lose sleep over them. You won’t be able to let them go, because they won’t let you go. Consider now what vision God is giving you. If you cannot see anything, pray today that God will grant you the gift of vision—His vision.
Bible Reading for Today: Zephaniah 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 10:9-33
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”  This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.  Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate  and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.  And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.  Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”  And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”  And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”  So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.  And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.  When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.  But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”  And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered.  And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.  So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”  And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing  and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.  Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’  So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
Questions to Consider
- This is one of the most important visions the early church saw through the apostle Peter. What was Peter doing when he fell into a trance and saw a vision that would change how people relate to God and to the world?
- In verse 13, Peter is commanded, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Why was this command so incredulous for Peter?
- What are some legalistic tendencies you may have that you use to judge others?
- Peter was in the middle of prayer. We cannot see the vision of God if we do not know how to spend time in prayer.
- The command to eat forbidden food made no sense to Peter, since it violated Jewish food laws. God was overturning the old dietary laws as a way of marking the new covenant God’s people shared with the Gentiles.
- Personal Response.
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John C. Maxwell