Sermon: A Fragmented Hard Drive/Expository Message Series in the Book of Nehemiah Part 2 of 9

A Fragmented Hard-Drive

 NEHEMIAH 1:1-4 


Nehemiah 1

Then I said:  “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, 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 for my Name.’

 Observations when we have a Fragmented Hard drive (Heart):[1]


Observation One: When our Heart is dislocated we have a tendency to pray for miracles. In most situations, it is more appropriate to pray for opportunities.


Observation Two: We need to understand the difference between a “vision” and a “dream.”

Dreamers and Visionaries






Observation Three: We have a passion about the vision going beyond “me” to its impact on the “we.”


Goals can be energizing-when you win.

But a vision is more powerful than a goal. A vision is enlivening,

It’s spirit-giving, it’s the guiding force behind all great human endeavors.

Vision is about shared energy, a sense of awe, a sense of possibility.

Benjamin Zander, Conductor,

Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

  1. The Master Strategist
  • What God puts on our hearts will always seem overwhelming at first.
  • God-inspired visions always seem too big for us to handle at first….because they are. We have to consider the source.
  • God had Nehemiah at the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time.
  • God’s building blocks for our vision are our circumstancesregardless of how daunting they might seem at the moment.


Key Point:  There is often no tangible or discernible connection between our current circumstances and the vision that God has given us.


Romans 8:26-28 NIV

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches ( To Examine)[1] our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love (to cooperate with a higher purpose)[2]  him, who have been called[3] according to his purpose (.the call of God originates in God’s purpose not ours. The call of God is not a response to anything we purposed to do. God has his own high and holy purposes that govern whom he calls, and his call accords with these purposes not with ours)[4].


Romans 8:28 (MSG)

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.


Key Point:  It is not necessarily a problem that you currently do not understand why you are not where you assume you ought to be.


Personal Application: Where are you struggling to trust God with something that He has called you to do that is challenging your comfort zone?


  1. The True Definition of Success
  • Success is remaining faithful to the process that God has laid out for you.
  • If you are where God wants you, doing what He has asked you to do, then you are successful. 
  • You are a success when you choose to show up for duty every day.


Nehemiah 1

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.

  • Nehemiah was successful long before he was known, because he did everything he could to advance the vision that God had given him.


Key Point:  We confuse the process of success with the rewards of success.  When we don’t experience the rewards right away, we can give in and give up.


Personal Application: What are the areas that you want to take matters into your hands rather than trust God?


III. When What Precedes How

  • We will usually know what God wants us to do before He shows us how He will do it.
  • God had a plan—the what–for rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah become the who, to whom He showed the how.
  • What God originates, God orchestrates. “How” is His specialty?


Luke 1:3  (NASB)

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

When God gives us a vision, we can live with expectancy. We train ourselves to look for His presence, His handiwork—because we know that we are entirely dependent on it.


Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


John 15:5 (NIV)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.


Key Point: Of course, we can do plenty on our own, but probably nothing of eternal significance or consequence.


Personal Application: What is the one thing you need to change right now in your priorities to stop being fragmented in your heart?






(3) Differing Translations

That is the meaning of the all-time favorite verse 28: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” The versions differ a little bit here. The NASB says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” And the KJV says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Same Basic Point

From my study I am inclined to view the KJV as the most faithful to the original wording of Paul. But the difference is not so great that you have to take my word for it I think. All the versions mean basically that God is so supremely in charge of the world that all the things that happen to Christians are ordered in such a way that they serve our good. Tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and peril and sword all work together for the good of those who love God.

So the rugged hope of the believer is not that we will escape distress or peril or hunger or slaughter, but that Almighty God will make every one of our agonies an instrument of his mercy to do us good. “You meant it for evil,” Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery, “but God meant it for good.” And so it is with every calamity of those who love God. God meant it for good!




(4) Note: In OT and NT there are some 700 occurrences of the word as verb, noun or adjective. The principal Heb. root is qr’; in Gk. kalein (with its compounds, and derivatives klētos, ‘called’, and klēsis, ‘calling’), legein and phōnein are used. In both languages other verbs are occasionally rendered by parts of ‘to call’, e.g. ’mr in Is. 5:20, and chrēmutizein in Rom. 7:3.[1]




Piper, John. Called According to His Purpose. Podcast audio. Desiring God. Expository Sermon, 35:25October 13, 1985.


Farrer, M. R. W. “Call, Calling.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.


Rienecker, Fritz. Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Edited by Jr. Cleon L. Rogers Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976. Textual Criticism 1980.


Stanley, Andy. Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision.  Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah, 1999.

[1] Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, ed. Jr. Cleon L. Rogers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976; repr., 1980), Textual Criticism  p 367.

[2]  ibid. p 367.

[3] Farrer, M. R. W. “Call, Calling.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

[4] John Piper, Called According to His Purpose, podcast audio, Desiring God, Expository Sermon, 35:25October 13, 1985.




[1] Andy Stanley, Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah, 1999). p 42-43.

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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