Overcoming the Opposition

Date Preached: February 10, 2019
From the Series: Rise Up
Scripture: Nehemiah 4
Speaker: Gary Combs

Summary

If you’re trying to live for the Lord, you will face opposition. Sometimes it comes from the world’s culture which is contrary to the life of the Spirit. Yet, often it comes from friends and family who don’t know the Lord, or who aren’t as committed to following and serving Him as you are trying to be. And sometimes, opposition comes from other Christians who either don’t understand or aren’t walking in the Spirit. But as Jesus said, you will have trouble and opposition in this world, but He has overcome the world.

In the book of Nehemiah, the people of God placed their faith in the Lord to overcome the opposition against rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. We can place our faith in the Lord to overcome the opposition against doing the Lord’s work.

Transcript

Below is an automated transcript of this message

Thanks for listening to the podcast from Gary Combs and the preaching team at Wilson Community Church in Wilson, North Carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more. Have you heard that we’re being called to rise up . We have repeated it a couple of times. Awesome. How l love coming to church because you’re the church, right? I love being with you.

We’re in chapter four of Nehemiah because rise up is first of all a sermon series a sermon series in the book of Nehemiah. Because the people of God, during Nehemiah’s day had been called to rise up and rebuild what had been broken down and whether it’s broken down walls or broken down people. God’s calling us. He’s calling us to rise up in our city and to make a difference.

You know, in the book of Nehemiah, chapter two, we saw the theme for this for this book Nehemiah chapter 2:18. I went to the people of Jerusalem and said, The hand of the Lord God is upon me The king’s give me permission. Let’s rebuild the wall and the people said, Let us rise up and build So they strengthened their hands for the good work. And so how will we respond? I want us to be the kind of church that’s not okay with the brokenness in their world that we are the kind of church that will say, Let us rise up. The thing that is gonna happen started happening a little bit along the way, but it’s coming full blown and chapter four is that success attracts opposition.

As long as you’re not succeeding, you won’t see a lot of resistance. But when you start seeing God move in your life and there’s change in your life, or if a church starts seeing the revival, it tracks opposition from without and within. It always does. And so opposition will always come to everyone who seeks to join God in his work. And that’s what we’re talking about today is how to overcome the opposition.

Jay I. Packer, in his book entitled Knowing God said this. He says opposition is a fact the christian who is not conscious of being opposed to better watch himself or he’s in danger. Robert F. Kennedy said. One fifth of the people are against everything all the time. He must have tried to plant a church. I didn’t know about that part of his life. And Jesus, said John, quoting him. In this world, you will have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world. So trouble is assured. If you’re going through life trying to sort of navigate through life to avoid trouble, that’s not gonna work for you. Trouble is assured for the believer, the one who would who would join God in this work? Trouble is assured, but Christ has overcome, and so in him we can overcome. If you’re trying to live for the Lord, you’ll face opposition now. Sometimes it’s from the world’s culture because we’re swimming upstream against the flow of the culture. And so we feel that kind of a constant pressure of going along with the world because it’s it’s hard to swim upstream. But you can. You can just kind of dog paddle and go downstream with everybody. You don’t have to do much, so that’s one of the pressures we all feel.

Yet often opposition comes from friends and family in a way that it kind of hurts. Well, it really hurts. And if you consider the life of Jesus and you consider that one of the twelve betrayed him, then you kind of get an idea of of that. And so sometimes opposition comes from without and we feel it. It feels more like a constant pressure, I think. But then sometimes it surprises us and comes from within. And so maybe some of you have experienced this You made a decision to follow Jesus and you try to go and tell your family about it. But they weren’t believers, and they all laughed at you. Or they all said, Well, let’s just wait and see what happens or because we know the real you. We saw how you are. And so you feel opposition or you go to your friend and so oppositions a real thing.

But those who are walking in the spirit are overcomers. In the book of Nehemiah, the people of God placed their faith in the Lord to overcome the opposition that was against them in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. And I believe today that we can place our faith in the Lord Jesus to overcome the opposition that stands against us when we attempt to join the Lord in his work. How can we do this? How can we place our faith in the Lord in this way so that we’re overcomers? I believe the text gives us four types of opposition that we can overcome by faith in Jesus. This is kind of an unusual sermon, but I will try. And if you’ve been on this journey with me through the years, you know that I try to follow what the text is saying. And so this particular chapter gives you these four types of opposition. And then we watch to see how the people of God responded. So that’s what we’re looking for.

So let me read the text in chapter four. Get your seat belts on. We’re going to take this whole chapter on today. Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?[b] Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.6 So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.7But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.10 In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” 15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.This is God’s word. Amen.

Chapter four. Wow. Four types of opposition that faith overcomes. Here’s the first: Ridicule. Did you see it? Did you hear it? Ridicule right out the gate. How do we respond? How do we respond to ridicule ? Will we look at the text? How did they respond? They responded like this. Ask God to hear the threats and you keep working. That’s what I see when I look at the text. What name I did was He said, God, you hear their threat. We’re going to keep working. That’s so, in other words, when he had opposition from external places, from the world who were ridiculing him, which is a way of trying to get people to be discouraged and stop working by bullying them verbally and making fun of them. Some of us right now having flashbacks to kindergarten flashbacks to middle school whenever there’s a kid on the playground that you’re trying to avoid, who’s got the most biting tongue that can just call you names that you’ve never heard before. You have to go home and ask your parents. What’s that word mean that got called on the playground today.

Samballat jeered at the Jews. I don’t know what you see in verse one, but I see Samballat enraged. Why would he be so? He was enraged and he jeered, and I was looking at the word jeered in the Hebrew and it has this idea of to mock or to imitate with stammering, you know, to make fun of, to ridicule. He ridiculed the Jews. If you look at this type of argument, it’s a very popular argument in politics today. when In the Latin, it’s argument ( ) which means you argue by making fun of the person you argue by being against the man, not the policy or whatever. And so instead of arguing against the wall, he’s saying he’s making fun of the people who are building the wall. And then he asks five sarcastic questions in the presence of his brothers in the presence of the Samarian Army, which is under him. He’s a governor symbol, lots of governors over Samaria, so he actually has potentially the power to destroy the Jews. But because Nehemiah, if you’ve been been on this journey with us for a while, has been battling this the whole time I have been through this in the series. And he’s got these five sarcastic questions that he asked. What are these feeble Jews doing? So he basically called them weak. Will they restore it for themselves? The question is, they can’t do it. Who do they think? Will they sacrifice now?

There’s a couple of thoughts there. One is that when you’re building something, you offer a sacrifice in order to get God’s approval to do it. But it also might imply are they even willing to sacrifice? Because we’ve been living among these Jews for a while, and this stuff’s been broken down for a long time and we hadn’t seen them do anything yet.

Will they finish in a day? Well, because if they don’t, we’re going to kill them. Will they revive the stones? Because when limestone is burned, it gets crumbly and it won’t hold weight. And so he’s just attacking everything in those five questions. He’s filling them with doubt. You see what kind of argument? Ridicule just making fun of me. And Tobiah the Ammonite has got something to say, too. And he tag ins with, Even if a fox ran across the top of the wall, the wall would not bear his weight, you know, would break down.

A fox was a well known creature that was light of foot. So that’s difficult to track. Even in the snow you can barely see its footprints. And so he’s saying even a little fox would break down their wall. So they were ridiculed.

What was the faith response? We start seeing it in verses four through six. What we have recorded here is a prayer here. Oh, our God. Hear what I think he means hear them. Certainly he could mean hear my prayer, but I think he means hear the taunts, God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunts, turn back their ridicule on them. And that’s how he prays to God. He prays that God would hear.

In verse six, he says. So we built the wall. So here’s what they did. They prayed and kept preaching. They prayed and kept working. I wonder how many times we waste time arguing with bullies when we just need to turn it over to God and keep working. If you’re not going to help me, I’m just gonna pray for you. And we don’t need to waste time arguing with somebody who’s making fun of us or ridiculing us or they’re not on board. I pray for you and I’m going to keep working. God, you take care of that. I would just turn you over to God.

They went back to the working, verse 6 says, because the people had a mind to work. In other words, the people that were working, they were in it. They were in it, man. They had the right frame of mind, and they wanted to work. And so ridicule didn’t affect their attitude. It’s this prayer that Nehemiah is praying that reminds me of Psalm 2, but it also reminds me of the book of Acts chapter 4 where the people of God were being persecuted.

Whenever Peter and John had, in chapter three of Acts, healed the crippled man at the gate called Beautiful. And then the word got out that they healed him in the name of Jesus. And then the Sanhedrin and the Jewish rulers brought them in and ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore. And they had them whipped and kept them overnight in jail. And so when Peter and John came to the church, came to the people and told them they prayed.

In chapter four of Acts, this is how they prayed. “O Lord, hear their threats and give us your servants great boldness and preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power so that miraculously signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” They prayed and went back to work. They didn’t let ridicule stop them.

If you look in the journey guide that would give out, we have a section called frequently asked questions, and those questions are not from our enemies. They’re not from people outside the church trying to stop us these are questions that we think are worth answering. These come from our members saying, What about this? What about that? We’re going to take the time to answer those because t that opposition is only because they don’t understand. We have a saying. People are always down on what they’re not up on. And so we’ve been having meetings after meetings and gatherings and written books and preaching sermons, etcetera, and we’ve tried to give people access to the information.

Now sometimes people will avoid every attempt we have to try to give them information because they’re so determined to hang on to their opinion. But we’re trying our best to answer the questions. But there are some questions, not the kind in the journal, but the kinds of questions that come from people who are just trying to hurt us. It’s best not to engage. Maybe you can apply this in your life, right? Just think about that in your life. Maybe it’s happening at the workplace or at school. It’s best just to give it to God and you keep working.

Now, here’s number to here’s the second type of opposition. Trouble Ask God to defend and you keep watch. It’s kind of similar, right? You start out with a prayer, except what I would note here is it was not just Nehemiah by himself, but he called a prayer meeting. Looks like they put a guard. So now because they’re being threatened, they they said, look, we need to put somebody on guard duty now to address this.

In verses seven and eight. It says they plotted together. Who did, who plotted together to cause trouble? Well, first of all, the ammonites, the ammonites who were descendants, who are the? descendants of Lots son who was named Ammon, which today is the capital city of Jordan. Today’s Amman, Jordan, right? And so if you’ll remember the son, Ammon was by Lot’s daughter. Go back and read the book of Genesis. It’s a story about what happened because I think of the daughter’s schemes, the whole world had been destroyed when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. And so they they went in and lay with their father. So the Ammonites are the people who came from Lot via the daughter. Okay, so that’s who they are.

Pop this map up because you all know that I love maps. Okay, so over here, on this side of the Jordan River which would be modern day Jordan, the country called Jordan and the city of Amman, Jordan is right over here. But this land was the land of the Ammonites, which was Tobiah, who was the governor of the Ammonites. Right. So that’s his land.

And then over here, there were the Ashdodite inhabitants of the Philistine city of Ashdod. Like the other Philistines, the Ashdodites are Philistines. . And we already know what the Philistines think of the Jews, right? And so that’s who that group is. And then up here is where Samaria is; where Sanballat is the governor over that area. They’re surrounded by enemies. And now, because the ridicule plan didn’t work, they’re plotting to kill them.

Look at it verses seven and eight. But when Sanballat, Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the wall of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches, in other words, the openings in the wall, were being closed. One by one, they got angry all over again, very angry, and they plotted. They plotted together to come and fight and to cause confusion.

Oh, that’s an interesting strategy again. That sounds very, what, satanic? Because that’s one of his tools. Satan often uses confusion. He tries to confuse the people so that work will stop because that is the goal. First say it’s going to cause confusion so that they could fight against them. And their goal is to stop the work. So confusion fight against stopped the work first.

Corinthians, chapter 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace. Wherever there’s confusion, God’s not in it And so as leaders in our church as leaders in our household and so forth we want to overcome confusion with peace and clarity by talking through things, being reconciled and at unity with one another. But the enemy always tries to confuse us so that we try to kill each other. That’s a satanic strategy because Satan cannot stop the church of the living God. Jesus says that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. The only way he can stop us is to confuse us and cause us to turn against one another.

And so that’s their strategy. They really couldn’t do a direct assault, even though they had the power to do it, because Nehemiah had the permission of the Persian king. So they have to plot and scheme and try to come up with a way to stop it.

What was the faith response? Verse nine is where we see the faith response. Let’s see what it says in verse 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. So can you kind of see a theme? We prayed, except here he didn’t say I prayed like he did earlier. He said we prayed, so he called a corporate prayer meeting. And they set a guard. So they were practical. They set a guard.

Now, how would we apply that today? I think we would say let’s keep watch and let’s pray to God in a certain kind of way. So here’s a couple of suggestions:

One, as you pray to God to defend you like in Psalm 49 Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars, for you are God, my only safe haven. He said, God, you protect me, I’m going to keep working. But also stand watch; it say in Ephesians, that Paul is giving the church instructions on how to be armored up against satanic attack. And he says, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand firm. And he goes on to talk about the different elements of the armor of God. And then he concludes by saying, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. And so he’s saying, armor up.

Armor is the the defensive weapon. All the parts of the armor of God are our defensive except for the sword; that’s \what you do battle with. All I have to do is look at the temptation of Christ in Matthew chapter 4 where Christ quotes Scripture every time Turn these stones into bread. If you’re the son of God and he goes, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Every time he quote Scripture, he gets the sword out.

Are you committed to be on the spiritual journey with us? Are you doing the daily devotions Are you attending the services? You obviously can’t if you are sick or be out of town. Do you watch the sermon on the Internet that we provide? Are you going to community group and engaging? If you said no,no, no. And that’s why you’re confused. We’re doing everything that we can as a group of believers, as a church, as a family of God, to put away the opposition that we know is coming from outside our church, which is from the evil one who always wants to stop the work of God.

Now, I’m not saying we should be afraid of Satan; we serve the one who is the overcomer, the Lord Jesus. But I am saying you should armor up and be aware of him and be united one to the other. I know that some of us have other priorities, but we’ve been asking you week after week if you’re a part of this that God is calling us to. Get United. We’re asking for one hundred percent spiritual engagement on this journey. Stop holding back, trust the Lord and follow him.

Now during this phase, people start getting discouraged; they’ve been attacked twice from an external force that’s the third enemy, if you will. That’s the third source of opposition. Now it seems to be coming as a combo. It’s still related to the external threats, but now it’s discouragement from within. Which is a different kind of opposition, isn’t it? Look, at verses ten through twelve, you’ll see in verse ten it says, “In Judah it was said…” That sounds like something that a lot of people will come to you and say, You know what everybody’s saying? Well who is saying this? Well, Susie said. You know, often, if they come to you, everybody say, and it’s usually them that’s saying it. Everybody’s saying in Judah, it was said In other words, we don’t know who’s saying it, but somebody saying this the strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. In other words, we’re burning out. We’re struggling with burnout. We’ve started the wall and we were really excited when we started. We didn’t realize how much it was going to cost , and they’ve got it to halfway.

If you go back there to verse six, it says they’ve got it half way. They got it to half its height. You know what archaeologists who have discovered some of the remnants of that wall say it was eight feet thick. This is not some little wall; l think this is a serious wall, and they’ve got it to half its height. So they got it half way. And now their own people are saying, We’re burned out. There’s too much rubble because the old wall is what they’re building the new wall out of and the stones are everywhere, and they’ve been there for over a hundred years and all kind of bushes and trees that have grown all around him to the point. If you remember back in chapter one, I think it is. Or maybe it was chapter two where Nehemiah couldn’t get his donkey through there. He had to go by foot and then still had a hard time. And so it’s just difficult working conditions. It’s so hard.

It would be like being a portable church for nineteen years; something like that. And they were discouraged. They were burning out and the enemies overheard some of that discouragement. They went, Oh, let’s jump back in here. And soon they will not know or see come among them and kill them and stop the work. In other words, the whispering was coming from the enemies were going to come a time when you’re not expecting that, we’re going to kill you and stop the work. That’s serious stuff.

And then it goes on to say in verse twelve. At that time, the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, I think maybe they did actually say it ten times. What? Maybe more like they just wouldn’t stop saying it. They just kept saying, “You should come home. You should leave the wall and be safe.” Stop risking your lives doing God’s work. Come back, Come back to us. Dear family, We love you. Come back now. That’s a harder one, isn’t it? Stop being so spiritual and weird and come back to the world where we are. This one’s harder. I would say this one’s harder than the external stuff because it sounds like they love you when in fact they they probably do. But they just don’t understand the calling that God spent on your life. You must return to us.

Here’s how Nehemiah responded in verse t thirteen and following in the lowest parts. In other words, the parts of the wall that they don’t have built up very far he started putting more guards. I feel like reading this with more of a I don’t know, kind of a Celtic accent. I station the people by their clans and with their swords with their spears and their bows . Because for some reason, when I’m reading that section, I kind of feel like I’m watching Braveheart. Yeah , And I looked and I arose and said to the nobles and to the officials, It just feels appropriate. Don’t you agree?

So he sets a guard and he says to the people, What does he say to the people in verse 14? What does he say? Remember the Lord. That becomes their rally call. They’ve stopped the work; they’re discouraged from within and without. They are burning out they’ve put out all that can put out. Remember the Lord. This was their motto; their rallying cry.

When the Alamo fell in Texas and the people were battling, they said, Remember the Alamo I In World War I, when the Lusitania was sunk, they said, Remember the Lusitania. In World War two, when Pearl Harbor was attacked? They said, Remember Pearl Harbor. And most recently we had men and women sign up for the military saying, Remember 911.

But we’re the people of God. Remember the Lord, Nehemiah says. This became their motto , and he says, Who is great and awesome and remember who you’re fighting for. You’re fighting for your brothers and your sisters and your mothers and your fathers and your daughters and your sons. You’re fighting for the people of God, and you’re fighting for the broken. And remember the Lord and remember who you’re fighting for. It’s not about the wall. It’s not about the bricks. It’s not about the building. Remember who we’re doing this for?

In the book of Joshua. We hear this from the Lord. This is the people of God coming into Israel to the promised land. And this is his instruction to Joshua says that commands you God speaking to Joshua and to the people of God, “I command you, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever You go. Remember the Lord put away your fear and your discouragement.”

I once read that the devil was having a yard sale and all of his tools were marked with different prices. They were a fiendish plot. There was hatred and jealousy and deceit and lying pride all of expensive prices. But over on the side of the yard, on display on a special table was a tool that was obviously more worn. But yet it had the highest price. The most costly and labeled upon it in all caps was discouragement. And when questioned, the devil said, It’s the most useful, too, that I have because I can bring down victims with it better than any other tool because so few people realize it belongs to me. Discouragement; don’t be discouraged. Remember the Lord.

Then finally, laxity. Laxity. Now, that’s a word, isn’t it? This week, I was studying with my son Jonathan, who’s preaching the same sermon at our Rocky Mount campus this morning. He asks, “Dad what’s that word mean? Shouldn’t we give them a word that they can understand?” Finally, I convinced him it was the best word. I hope I can convince you. It’s this idea of becoming lax; becoming this idea of being slack. I guess I could have said slackness. It’s this idea of becoming lazy in effort, kind of lackadaisical. This will happen when you start getting back to work and you start feeling like you’re going to get there and you’re almost at the finish line. You’re in the fourth quarter and you kind of feel like you can coast the rest of the way, or you’re sixty years old and you’ve been pastoring for twenty seven years, and you just kind of feel like maybe I could just take it easy for the rest of this journey. This idea of of coasting.

I would say first of all, to the people that are in my age group in this room. This is not the end of your life where you need to retire and let off the gas. This is the time of your life when we need you the most. There’s a generation of young people that need your wisdom. They need your experience. They need your investment. Don’t let off the gas, don’t become lax. Trust God and stay connected.

So we’re at verses 16-23. The opposition is implied. It’s not frontal and verbal. Now it’s gone underground. That’s what it always does. It’s been addressed through prayer. It’s been addressed by putting on the armor of God. It’s been addressed by calling out and having good preaching from Nehemiah, who says, Remember the Lord and fight for your sons and daughters, and now the people are back at work. But now there’s this creeping slackness that slips in that Nehemiah is concerned about in verse sixteen. He says, “From that day on, I put half the people on the job of building the wall and the other half on guarding the people who were doing the wall. Now you know that would slow down the work, but it was necessary to slow down the progress in order to take care of the people.

Now I’m one of those guys who once I see a goal . The Lord is working on me. But once I see a goal, I sometimes run over people trying to get to it. My wife is the exact opposite of me; she cares so much about people and I like people, all right? I see it like it’s already finished, and I I want you to see it too, and I want us to go together. I go too fast sometimes, and I leave people behind. But\ I’m getting older now and I’m learning. I hope you’re noticing.

If you’ve been on the journey for a long time with me, you’re going like, Okay, he’s got a little bit better. He’s learning a little bit. I’ve really tried to go really slow on this part of the journey so you can keep up so I don’t leave any sheep behind. But I wish you’d try to keep up a little harder on your own.

If we’re going somewhere, my wife’s always saying you’re walking too fast. You’re walking too fast. I got to take twenty steps to your two with those long legs and and she’s right. So sometimes I walk backwards and talk to her, you know, just so I feel like I’m doing something and forgive me if I’ve gone too fast as your pastor. But I’m really, really trying to go slow enough so we can all keep up. But try harder. Lean, lean in, don’t get lax. Read the devotions, Listen to the sermons, go to your community group, engage in the process and watch out to see what God does. Remember the Lord.

From that day on, I put half on the work and half on the guards. Surely that slowed the work down; that had to frustrate Nehemiah because I think he sounds a little bit like me. But he was wise here, and he slowed down to protect the people, and he was aware that the work was widely spread out. In verse 19, he says the work was spread out, and so he needed to have somebody walking around with a trumpet next to me. And if he told all people, look, we’re spread out. But I think he’s really helping there. He’s given more courage because he says, You see this guy who’s following me? He’s got a trumpet. If you hear the trumpet, all of you run to the sound of the trumpet. That way we’ll have an army ready if there’s a breach in the wall. Don’t you think people would be like that makes me feel better knowing that if I get under attack, he’s going to stop the work. He’s going to come towards me. He’s going to bring the army. I can work harder now knowing that they care about me.

May I say to you, I really care about you. I was trying to be funny, I guess, saying I like people. All right. I just get so focused on the vision sometimes. But really, my pastors heart says I don’t want to leave anybody behind. I want all of you to catch up and go on this journey together. I pray if the Lord allows that every time somebody moves, I ask how you do you want me to pray.

Verse twenty says God will fight for us. That’s back to the remember the Lord rally cry, right? Look, we’ll sound the trumpet and all will run to the right spot. But guess who? Who has success? It’s not us. It’s the Lord. So they labored at the work, and then he asked people to start spending the night there. Don’t even go home because he was concerned. If they went home, those family members would try to convince them to stay. Just stay. So he started saying to spend the night here. Just stay. I think he was really seeing now the biggest threat was disunity. Just sleep here too; stay. Stop checking out. Because if you go home, you might not come back because this is hard work. But he was also setting the example he says, neither I nor my brothers nor my servants changed clothes. We worked night and day and we kept a sword strapped to our side. And so he set the example.

The book of Galatians says, “Let us not grow weary of doing good for in due season. We will reap if we do not give up.” According to some surveys, the average church member attends one and a half to two times per month. The average church member attends Sunday services one and a half times per month. So we’ve been preaching five weeks now on this. And so that means that some of you’ve only heard one, maybe one and a half sermons now and some have been here every week. You’re like I am sick and tired of him getting that laser pointer out, talking about what we’re doing. Well, trust me. I’m tired of it too. I want to build the thing and move on to the next thing I want. I want to do that so we can reach people and put them in it. I don’t care about that building. I led a church for nineteen years that didn’t have a building. Otherwise, I don’t care about that. I care about reaching people for Jesus. But I know that we need a place to put them. So I get impatient. Well, here’s what I’ve learned. If I don’t repeat it over and over and over again for like ten straight weeks, I might get you twice because of the level of commitment in our culture today and the laxity among Christians today, it’s hard to lead them. But I am not talking to you. You’re here. I’m praying that we grow in our fierceness to follow God in our commitment. To T The instinct is to scatter and to grow lax; But we must sacrifice and stay connected. You can overcome when heaven advances. Hell always opposes. Yet the Lord Jesus has overcome. He’s overcome ridicule. He’s overcome trouble, discouragement and laxity. All of these we can overcome by faith in Jesus.

Let’s pray, Lord, Thank you for your word, your strong word. Lord, may your Holy Spirit penetrate hearts now. Is there someone here that’s being attacked? You’re under opposition from the evil one who’s saying you’re nobody? You’re nothing. You can’t do this. Your feeble. You can’t follow Jesus. You’re an addict. You’re just You’re a rebel. You’ve turned away from God. He doesn’t love you. Are you hearing those voices? That’s not the Lord. He’s not the author of confusion. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. The Scripture says he loves you. Would you come to Jesus right now? You can do it by faith, by praying by faith, believing in your heart.Jesus? I believe in you. I’m a sinner. Come into my life. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. That you were raised from the grave that you live today. Come and live in me and forgive me and make me a child of God. And I make you my savior and my Lord. Today, if you’re praying that prayer right now believing the Lord will save you more than that, he’ll adopt you into his family. Others are here today and you know the Lord Jesus. But all of this talk about being on a rise up journey where we’re stretching to be more extravagant in our generosity has just really hit all your buttons. And I would just pray with you right now and say Why? Why is it hitting all of your buttons? Why? If we’re more in love with world, if we’re more in love with our stuff so that we’re not willing to be extravagant in our giving. Break us; break our hearts. Pull our fingers off of our stuff and help us to live the life of the open hand. I pray for myself and my wife and my kids and my grandkids. But I pray for these kids too, these sheep lord that you’ve entrusted to me for this season. I pray, Lord, that we would be marked by extravagant generosity as a church. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.