What are you willing to risk for God? In a way, that’s really a trick question because nothing you invest in God’s work is ever lost. In the book of Nehemiah, the Lord moved Nehemiah to take a faith risk to ask the king of Persia for permission to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem. The Lord always calls His people to take risks of faith to accomplish His purpose. How can we respond to God’s call to take risks of faith to accomplish His purpose?
Well, good morning, church. My name is Pastor Gary Combs and we welcome you to Wilson Community Church. And I have with me, Tim and Tia Stuart and wanted to talk to them about trusting the Lord with all that you are and all that you have. I was recently reading your testimony, Tim, on our Life on Life discipleship database. We have, a process at our church where one person disciples another person, as Jesus taught us to do. And Tim has been active in that, Tim and Tia both. Tim’s testimony was about trust. And so I want to talk to you about that. And how you answered this question.
There is a season when you hadn’t fully trusted the Lord and then something moved you to start trusting. And so when you talk to us about that for a second? “Well, the season Pastor Gary is talking about was when I didn’t live correctly. I used to give God what I had left in my wallet after I paid my bills and do whatever else I wanted to do. One saturday night, Chantia and I went out. We went to the movies and to a restaurant and spent I don’t know how much money. And then Sunday morning I remember sitting over here on the left side and I was looking through my wallet, seeing what I had left, and that’s what I was going to put in offering bucket. And then God, just it was like that light bulb just went off. It was like Didn’t I give you everything that you had that you spent last night. Didn’t I provide for you? And it was like, yes. I guess that feeling came upon me that I felt like I was cheating God. He gave me everything that I had. But I was only giving him the little bit that I felt that I had left to give him after I paid everything. I was giving him my leftovers. And you move from giving him your leftovers to what? At that moment, when I was over there, it moved me to start, tithing properly. When you say the word tithe, a lot of people might not know what that word means, but that means to give God the first portion of your income. The word tithe just really means ten percent. So he’s been using that that churchy kind of word. But that’s a word we use to describe giving God the first portion.
Instead of giving him my first, I was giving him my last. Well, and from that moment, I decided to start tithing properly. . From that day on, God has blessed my family and takencare of us. And he has given us more. Wow.
So, Chantia, whenever we make a decision like that, sometimes we find ourselves so in debt so much more month than there is money that we want to trust God but we actually can barely pay our bills, so we kind of have to get our house in order before it seems like before we can even get started. Was that kind of your story? Did you have some stuff to get in order? It was more like we had to get out hearts in order. And so Tim and I, as husband wife, had to come together and decide that we were going to give God our all and it was hard. But when we realized that it’s all God’s anyway, it became easy. We went through a period where we struggled, you know, finances were really tight, but we always had plenty that was nothing but the Lord. And so that was God proving that he can be trusted. And so, you know, we figure, well, he’s going to provide for us anyway. The money is his. We need to use it the way he wants us to use it. And so then was the heart change. And so now we find joy and giving all the time and the fear is no longer so heavy because God is going to handle it.
Tim, if I recall right, didn’t you guys go through a a financial mentoring at our church with some people in the church you went to a class, is that right? And so mention that briefly. But then tell the congregation why do you think they should go on this journey? That you and Chantia have gone on this journey of trusting God with all that you are and all that you have.
So, uh, yeah, we went through a finance class. Mike and Cindy Laramie helped this out; so we had a mentor with that. You asked for help? You were willing to open up your finances and have a coach come in? You say I trust God, and then you say I’m willing to have someone who’s an older Christian. Someone who’s who’s walked a journey longer to disciple me and to mentor me. That is correct. Because I was a selfish person with my money as well. So to invite somebody into my business is not something that I usually do. But you called it my business. Yeah, it was my business. I got it. And you should. Now it’s the Lord’s business it is the Lord’s. I would recommend it. If you’re looking for ways to get out of debt or just become more financially stable, always try to find somebody in a better situation as you through the journey. Like I said, I was selfish with my money. I was an only child. I’ve always thought of me with my time, talent and treasure. But through this journey and through taking the risk, I found that one of my biggest spiritual gifts is being a giver. Now, it’s an anxiety killer. Giving it all to God takes away the feeling of anxiety . Oh, that’s such a such a good word. So from being in control, thinking we’re control because we were never really in control to a life of generosity, it takes away anxiety. Give them a hand. Thank you, Tim and Chantia.
Good morning. I just wanna remind you we’re in week two of the Nehemiah series entitled, Rise Up. We get the theme of this series from the book of Nehemiah chapter 2: 17 and 18 where we read, “You see the trouble we’re in. How Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer derision. And I told them of the hand of my God They’ve been upon me for good and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, Let us rise up and build so they strengthen their hands for the good work.” So this is our theme scripture.
As we dig in today, I would ask you a couple of detailed questions to make sure. First of all, do you have one of these? Lift it up if you’ve got one of these in your hands. Ushers, would you look and see if anybody needs one? Lift your hand if you don’t have one of our journals. We are still giving these out. Lift your hand quickly if you need a pen and a journey guide. I see the lady over here. Lift your hand high so the others can see you. Thank you.
And so what we’re doing during this series is we are taking notes in the journey guide rather than in the bulletin. And so we want to make sure you have one of those in your hands. The journey guide has several tabs, and we’re going on a journey together; a spiritual journey during this series so that it’s not just Sunday morning. Sunday mornings is kind of the kickoff each week to get you started on the week, but the idea to do the thirty day devotional it’s a Monday through Friday devotional that will end the Friday before our commitment Sunday to get spiritually prepared.
You’ll see that there are explanations about the vision that we’re talking about, a place to take sermon notes, a place to record prayers and to pray together. There are other items that you might notice; we have a bookmark for your Bible to help you dig in deeper during this Rise Up series. So I guess I’m saying, Rise up and dig in. I don’t know. That’s what I came up with just now.
The other thing you’ll notice this morning are a couple of Rise Up blue cards in your seat as you came in. We’re going to try to make these available. They won’t be in the seats every week, but in the following weeks they’ll be at the rise up kiosk that you saw in the lobby. And they’ll also be at the tables because lost people matter to God. If they matter to God then they matter to us.
The reason we’re going through this series is because we see our city as a place full of brokenness. In fact, if we’ll admit it we are broken people without Jesus And so we want to rise up and let Jesus build in us. And we want to rise up and make room for Jesus to build in others. At the end of the service, I will give you an opportunity. There is a place where we’re going to be dropping cards every week. And these cards will all represent people that need a God story. If you look on the back, your bulletins, you’ll see we shared two or three life changing God stories that people have shared with us in the previous weeks.
Who do you know that needs a God story? I want you to be thinking during the service, and then we’ll give you time at the end of the service to write those names down. At the end of the service, as you come forward to take the Lord’s Supper and to bring your tithes and offerings, bring forward this list of people and drop them here. And I’m going to give you time. You be thinking about that at the end of the service. This is a powerful Sunday. I’m glad you’re here.
So we were in Chapter one last week and we talked about how God gave Nehemiah vision. And now this week we’re in Chapter two and we’re seeing that Nehemiah is ready. He’s ready to take action. He’s ready to take the risk. It always feels a little bit risky whenever we trust God with everything, It’s like I almost have to pry my fingers open on on my plans and my possessions because coming to Jesus and saying He is Saviour and Lord is really admission that I don’t have control of my life. I’ve made a mess of my life and so things were broken in my life.
Are you willing to take a risk today? And really, it’s kind of it’s kind of a trick question if I say, “Are you willing to take a risk for God?” It’s kind of a trick question because it’ll feel risky. But it’s not really a risk because you can never lose with God, everything you trust to him, you never lose. So if it feels risky, it is because, well, you’ve never really been able to trust God. But when you finally trust and you grow to realize that nothing is lost. No good thing is lost, that you entrust to the Lord. And so it kind of feels like you’re going out on a limb, on a really shaky limb. But the truth is when you say yes to God, he always moves in your life.
Today is the last day that we’re accepting applications to our short term mission trips. This year, we have trips planned to Baltimore, to Guatemala and to Uganda. Why are we doing that? Because we believe that God’s called us to take the gospel to the nations. And so we have extended the date so that you would have time to take the risk so that you would have time to contemplate it. And so we’re closing that today. If you are interested, put that on your connection card today because we want to make sure that you’ve been willing to take a risk and trust God now.
Whenever God wants to get work done, he always calls someone and gives him a vision. And as we look here in the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah was that man. He had a problem in Jerusalem. God wanted to do something about the brokenness in Jerusalem. He wanted to do something about the shame and the trouble in the broken down city and the broken down people. And he got a hold of Nehemiah and it seems like it always starts with one person. Then it kind of catches fire and goes out to others.
What if it started with you today? God always gets a hold of somebody. And when he wants to get some work done, he uses people. I mean, God could do it himself. Remember what Jesus said? Whenever the Pharisees said, You tell those people to stop saying Son of David and Hosanna Hosanna. When he was going into the city of Jerusalem, he says, If I tell them to stop, the rocks will cry out. So you got to get the work done. He doesn’t need me or you; He just wants you. And He has chosen the church. And the church is not the steeple, the churche is the people. So the church’s us and he’s chosen us as his vehicle of blessing. He wants to bless the world first of all back by giving you blessing and then making you a blessing. So he uses people.
In the book of Nehemiah, the Lord moved Nehemiah to take a faith risk. Remember what I told you about that word risk. It feels like a risk, but it really isn’t. And his risk was he was going to ask the King of Persia for permission to go to Jerusalem. Nehemiah worked for the king, and he wanted to go rebuild the walls. So that was the big risk. He’s going to go in and ask him. And the Lord always calls people to take a risk of faith in order to answer his call and accomplished his purpose. It always starts with that.
And I believe today, as we look at the text, we could recognize the kind of faith steps the kind of risky faith steps that God when he always calls us people to take when he has a calling on their life. So are you ready to dig in? Let’s look at Nehemiah Chapter 2 We’re going to take on the first ten verses we are going on a journey through the book of Nehemiah and we’re applying it to our lives
In the month of Nissan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence and the king said to me, Why is your face sad? Seeing you’re not sick. This is nothing but sadness of the heart. Then I was very much afraid I said to the king, Let the king live forever. Why should not my face be sad when the city, the place of my father’s graves lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Then the king said to me, What are you requesting? So I prayed to the god of heaven. And I said to the king, if it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in your sight that you send me to Judah to the city of my father’s graves that I may rebuild it. And the king said to me with the queen sitting beside him, How long will you be gone? And when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me when I’d given him a time. And I said to the king, If it pleases the king , let letters be given to me To the governors of the province beyond the river that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah and a letter to a staff, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the tip of the temple And for the wall of the city and for the house that I shall occupy. And the king granted me what I asked for. The good hand of my God was upon me. Then I came to the governors of the province beyond the river and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard this. It displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel. This is God’s word.
We’re digging in, people; we are taking the risk today and I want to talk about three risk taking steps that God always stirs us up to take when he gives us a call on our life.
Here’s the first: Surrender completely to God’s plan. Surrender your plan to God’s plan. notices We look at these first few verses, the first few verses. He tells us the time, he says. It’s the month of Nissan. No, that’s not the car you drove here in. That’s a Jewish month. It’s the month of Nissan, which is probably around March or April. It’s the month of the year when the Jews celebrate Passover. And so, if you’ll remember Chapter one back there in verse, one of Chapter one, He said it happened in the month of Chislev, which is around November or December.
So about four months have gone by since Nehemiah has first heard about the brokenness of Jerusalem. What’s he been doing for four months? Well, he’s been praying. He’s been praying. He’s been fasting. He’s been mourning, weeping over the city. He’s been praying a lot. He’s been studying God’s word and looking for God’s promises. We talked about this last week, but now we know that it lasted four months and then the day has come. It’s still the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes. They didn’t keep a calendar like we do today. Well, kind of. They did. They kept it based on their king. We base it on our king. It’s the year twenty, nineteen, two thousand and nineteen years since King Jesus was here.
But they say the twentieth year, the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes. And they continue to be in the palace there in the Winter Palace on a place called Susa. And so pop the map up quickly there, if you would. And so I like to pop up maps. Some of you have told me you like it when I pop up maps, but it gives me context. I would always remind you that when the Bible is giving a story like this, they’re not mythology, they are history. So this is Susa in modern day, uh, on a map. You see, that right here would be the border between Iraq and Iran. But it’s right on the border of Iraq. Iran right there it’s works at and the ruins are still there.
So Nehemiah, after four months of prayer and preparation, how do we know? He prepared because he gave the King the list. When the king asked he had the list ready. He had thought the whole thing through, and he went in there ready. He had planned; he had gotten his house in order. He had thought through and he had already counted the cost of what it would take to go in there. Now we need the last verse of Chapter one in order to understand this. Let’s read it again at verse eleven of Chapter one gives us the timing of him going in here.
He says, Oh, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name and give success to your servant today And grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Which man? Artaxerxes. Now, I was cupbearer to the king. We’ve covered this that the cup bear to the king was an important job. He tasted the drink and the food before the king received it. He probably ran the kitchen and hired the help. I know I would want to hire the help if I had to be the first taster. I’d want to make sure I didn’t die on the job.
He was like the king’s secret service guy, you know? He was present when the king was consulting people. So he has this important job, but he’s got a problem. He doesn’t have an appointment with the King to talk about stuff. He’s there to serve the king. He doesn’t have an appointment. He cannot bring up Jerusalem now. That’s not the relationship he has with the king. And so he’s like, Lord, I’ve prayed for four months and today’s the day. So give me favor with this man. I surrender everything to you. And I realize that I’m going to talk to him no matter what now. But it could get me killed because you have to understand the king of Persia and the power, the power he had.
So he’s going in today. He’s praying to God for success. And by the way, check this out; success always belongs to the Lord. You can’t control whether or not you succeed you can Only control whether or not you will act whether or not you’ll take the risk that’s your part. The yes or no is your part. The success is always up to God.
We celebrate people when they have success. We should celebrate God when people succeed. And he says, Give me mercy with this man. Give me favor with this man. And why does he need it?
Well, let’s just check out another book, the book of Esther. We get the reason he needs favor and mercy with this man. So look at this verse from Esther. She was the queen of of Persia. And this is at a time, several years before Nehemiah. And it says this is what it says In Esther 4:11, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the King inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law to be put to death.” Okay, so if Nehemiah just goes and talks about something here, he’s dead, right? So here’s what he has to pray. God cause the king to ask me what’s up so I can tell him.
So God, who is over all kingdoms? You tell the king that’s over me, that you’re over, to ask me and then give me mercy and favor so he doesn’t kill me when I answer him. Now he’s taking a risk. Has God ever told you take a risk like that. He’s never asked me and he’s asked me to take a lot of risks, and it felt really risky to me. But I look back on it. He didn’t ask me to go anywhere and risk getting killed. I don’t know what is going to with me tomorrow because I belong to him, I am blood bought, I’m a slave of Jesus Christ. I was bought with the price. How about you?
Nehemiah is there and he goes in and he says in verse two that it’s the first time I ever let the King see me with a sad face. Now some of you could never pull this off. some of you, like, if you’re sad, everybody knows it. But Nehemiah had the kind of job that when he got up in the morning, he had to look at himself in the mirror and try to get straight because you don’t want to go into the King’s court looking all gloomy. He’d be like, kill him and get a happy guy. I don’t need a gloomy guy in here.
He’d been fasting and praying, and the king had never noticed any change. He was shaving like he was supposed to. He was, you know, taking a shower and putting on something that smelled good. But this particular day he went in, the king looked at him and he says some stuff to the king. The king says to him that because the king starts the conversation in verse two and he says now, I had never been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, Why is your face sad seeing you are not sick? At that very moment, you better believe that his knees started knocking together. He’s like, Oh, boy, this could go either way right now.
The first thing he says is, then I was very much afraid. That was his response. Now he had prayed for this. He had prayed for this to happen. But that doesn’t take away the fear when God calls you and you begin to take the first step to do something that God’s called you to do.
Does God take away the fear? Sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he lets the fear be part of the story so that it is teaching you something. He didn’t take it away from Nehemiah. He got to feel that full blown. In fact, I looked it up in the King James and always like to look it up in the King James sometimes and see what they say. I love this. He says he was very sore afraid. I He was sore afraid he was really, really, really scared, terrified. And so then he responds to the king boldly. He says, let the King live forever. What he meant was, let me live. I mean, he’s like, I want you to live Forever, King. I’m hoping you feel the same about me.
Why should not my face be sad? The city where my forefathers are buried is all broken down. And so I think he appealed to something that made sense to King Artaxerxes. This is the land of the generations that went before me.
Proverbs. 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” You got your plans. God’s got his plans. He’s the one in charge of your plans.Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for for evil to give you a future and a hope.” He tells us that. But we still have to surrender our plans, our possessions, our control and say, “God, I am going to trust you.”
Nehemiah was afraid, but the king was in the Lord’s hands. Remember over there in Genesis chapter 12 where God called Abraham. Remember that call? Here’s how it goes in Genesis. 12:1 Now, the Lord said, Abram, go from your country and your kindred in your father’s house to the land. I will show you. God still does that. And that’s the most aggravating kind of call.
Now, some of you don’t mind that. Randy Tuttle doesn’t mind that kind of call. Like head that way, Randy. Randy’s probably good with that, You know? That’s probably right. Kind of like that. But a guy like me asks, Where you going? Where do you want me to go? How will I know that I got there? Which way should I go? I want a few details. I don’t know how you are. I’d like to know some details. Lord, go to the land that I will show you when you go to show me. Just head that way. I’m the little kid in the back of my dad’s Buick on vacation asking, “Daddy when we’re going to get there?” . How about you? Are you the little kid in the back seat going? Daddy, when we’re going to get there, How will we know when we get there? What’s it gonna look like when we get there?
God says surrender your plans. Surrender the map to me, I’m the navigator. I’m in charge. Surrender completely to God’s plan. Now it’s going to feel like sacrifice. It’s this surrender that is going to feel like something died. And really, that’s what Jesus always calls us to do, he says. Deny yourself and take up your cross daily. Well, the cross is an implement of execution. It’s not the little gold thing hanging around your neck. You need to die. Jesus invites us to join him, to come and die to the old nature and be risen to new life in the new nature. And so it feels like sacrifices. And so it demonstrates when we rise up for God we say everything I have is yours, Lord do in me and through me whatever you want to do.
When we pray that kind of prayer, it feels like I’m giving up. Something of that makes me feel insecure rather than finding my security in God. Like Tim and Tia Stuart were talking earlier about when they finally start trusting God and money’s just kind of a symbol for our trust. I mean, even our forefathers put on the front of the bill ‘In God we trust’. We trust God. This is just a symbol. And and so it requires life chang to trust God with your plans and your possessions. It will require putting his agenda above your agenda and to make the kind of decision that we’re calling ourselves to make over the next three years will remain that it will go against the old nature because the old nature will say, No, don’t do it. You need everything you have. You can’t even make it with what you have. Plus you have plans to get more. And so it will take a spiritual awakening in each of us a supernatural birth of generosity for us to continue to reach out and make room for more people.
Someone came up to me right before the service and said, If we want to start giving because I mean, like after one sermon last week, this person’s like, if we want to start giving to to this new phase, like, how do we make it out? And I said I hadn’t told you yet. And he goes, Well, how do I do it now? I said, don’t do it yet. And he looked at me like what kind of preacher are you? Thank you. We’re going to do that on February twenty fourth. I want you to take the spiritual journey. That’s my goal. Let’s take the spiritual journey. Whatever God tells you to do, that’s between you and God. But I believe that success is in God’s hands and he chooses to use his people. That’s what he always does.
His way of blessing people is always through his people. So I’ll be satisfied that God’s got it if we’ll just go on the journey together. So don’t worry about stroking a check today for the building fund or for the rise up campaign. Just your normal tithes over these coming weeks until I say do it now. Now is the day we’re going to do it. I had to tell the guy to hold on just a little longer, because it’s not a quick conversation you’re having with God. It’s not a quick conversation you’re having with your spouse, either, because you’ve already worked out in your head what you can afford. You’ve already figured out what you can do in your own power. You have since we started this thing and we start showing pictures.
Your final gift will be more of a miraculous supernatural decision. It’s going to feel like a wrestling match, which Jacob had. So don’t count yourself out, especially if you’re triggered today like that preacher wants my money. No, I don’t. I want you to give your whole life to God, and that includes your stuff, your possessions, which, because you’ll never know. You never know what God can do with a couple of fish and five loaves of gread. You just never know how many people he could take care of and how you can multiply that blessing He’s given.
He trusts people who will be a funnel of blessing. He trusts people who will open up their arms. If you’ll open your hand to God so that he can bless you so your hand is not shaking a fist at God anymore and say, God, I have needs. Help me. It always starts there. If you open that hand and let it flow to you. It will dam up downstream if you don’t give it away. So to be a river of blessing you gotta have both hands open one hand open to God. One hand open to others and then you’ll your needs will be met and then others needs will be met. More of a river blessing flows to you and through you as you keep that open. But if you close one of those, what happens is you have to bless people through another means because he can’t trust you.What’s he asking me to do? Take a risk. It’s not really a risk. He has created you to be a blessing an experience the joy of generosity.
Here’s number two. To surrender and open your hands to God and to others. To take action according to God’s power. Take action according to God’s power. Verse four, “What are you requesting? The King asked.” I didn’t hear him request anything. The King is completely under the Lord’s control. At this point, it’s like he has no control. He’s first of all sitting there and this detail that Nehemiah includes.
We wrestled over this thing earlier with my study group this week. Why do you mention that the queen was there? What was the point? The queen is there, like, did you see that over there? The queen, sitting beside him, in parentheses. Maybe it’s at the end of the day, I don’t know. Maybe he’s already seen all the people who were waiting to see the king. And they’re just such good friends with Nehemiah because they trust him. Nehemiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, felt it was important to tell us that the queen was there. She was there. . She doesn’t say anything. Maybe she was a supporter of Nehemiah. I don’t know. I don’t know why she is there. I’ll ask the Lord when I get to Heaven. Maybe I could meet up with Nehemiah and say, ‘What was that detail about the queen?’
God has given Nehemiah such favor. He’s prayed for four months. God, give me mercy and favor. Today he is going in and this king’s asks why are you sad? I am sad because the walls of the city are broken down where my forebearers, where they’re buried in the cemetery. And the king wants to know what Nehemiah is requesting. I like this king; he’s action oriented. So Nehemiah whips his list out. He says some cool things here. He says, What do you request the king says. What are you requesting? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Did you know you could do this? You can have a conversation with somebody, but in your head, you’re praying Lord, make this go well. He’s just now asking the thing. I’ve been praying for four months. He just asked me. I mean, the king owns everything You are Lord, God of heaven, I mean, can you see his mouth’s moving, talking to the king, but in his head, he’s actually talking to the real king.
Isaiah 6:8 “ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Nehemiah, what are you asking? Send me now.. And the king wanted to know how long. Thhe king didn’t want him to be out of his sight for very long. This is a trusted member of the court. And he has a number he answers with its not recorded here. So we’re uncertain. Some suggest it might have been about six months. The wall was miraculously repaired in fifty two days. So it wasn’t long Is the length of the journey the time of the rebuilding the length of the journey back and even thought of getting letters to the governors of the province beyond the river beyond the river being capitalized. We would say this is the Trans-Euphrates region. And because he was passing through different regions, he needed a passport and some visas. And he asked the king for all that. And the king did it. And so the Trans- Euphrates area I think I have a map.
And so he says I need some letters to pass through these areas, and I need a letter to the guy named Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. He’s thought this thing through.
Verse eight says so He gave God credit. He made the big ask. Have you ever heard of that? Making the big ask. He made the big Ask Google that sometime And there’s all these articles written on how to make the big ask how to go to your boss and ask for a raise how to go and ask for a job. How did Nehemiah do this? He prayed his guts out for four months, then went in.
Make the big ask. Make a commitment to act. Be ready to make the big ask. But not yet. Right now, just pray your guts out right now asking the Lord, “What do you want to do in me and through me?” Will you decide? And when you do it, leave success to the Lord and then give credit to the Lord.
Here’s number three, overcome adversity with God’s protection, overcome adversity with God’s protection. So now we’re down to those last couple of verses verses nine and ten and he’s moved from the palace in Susa the Winter Palace, and he’s on the road now. He’s on the road and he’s got the letters. He’s got everything he needs. He has no idea what he’s up against. He’s been praying for four months to get a breakthrough. We think it’s done now, but it’s just getting started because now the test is will he stay the course? Because adversity always comes when you answer God’s call. It always does, and it tests our steadfastness. Will you stay the course?
So here he is. He’s left Susa, right? He’s left Susa, He’s traveling up the Euphrates and this is called the Tran- Euphrates Area. And this is the Mito Persian Empire. So he’s headed where he can’t go. You’re like, look at the map and you say, Why couldn’t he do this? Because this is all desert and all of his camels and donkeys would die. And all this he wouldn’t make it. So you got to go up with the river. And so this is how he would travel. And he had letters in order to make this journey. So along the way, he’s going this way. And he stops often and gets his lumber. This took a while and in addition, by the way the king threw in soldiers. Did you notice that, the king threw that in for him because protection’s up to the Lord. And so God told him, hey, throw in some soldiers. God’s got your protection. Your defender is the Lord whether or not you make the ask whether or not you take the journey, that up to you to say yes or no to that. But your protection and your ability to overcome adversity is the Lord’s.
So I came to the governors. And I love these names. Sambalat the Horonite in this corner, and over here Tobiah the Ammonite. I don’t know if the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor here or if it’s something wrong with me. But Nehemiah and King Artaxerses then you get to these two cats, you know, like Sambalat the Horonite over in this corner and over in this corner is Tobiah of the Ammonites over here, like the bad guys have a title. That’s how you know that the bad guys, these are the bad guys. They are governors of the Trans- Euphrates region. And they’re ticked because they found out that the king has authorized Nehemiah to rebuild the city. This will potentially weaken their power. They don’t like it. This displeased them greatly. You have to recognize if you go back and read the Book of Ezra, which is just before Nehemiah, historically as well as in order in the scriptures. In Ezra, some other guys and these guys also had titles very similar like Sambalat the Horonit and Tobiah the Ammonite. Go back and read It. Ezra Chapter 4 They had worked up letters to the King Artexerse. He had stopped the work, so Ezra had been trying to rebuild the gates in the walls and King Artaxerxes had stopped the work based on that previous group.
By the way, if we say that we want to rise up and make room for more people to come to Jesus to come just as they are We have awakened one that would be against us. The minute that we say we’re doing it in awakens adversity in our city to stand against us and stop us. And it awakens adversity, even in our midst. But we have to overcome it with the Lord’s protection.
How do we do it? Ephesians says, Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand, not run, but to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. That means the person that you think is against you. That’s not the real enemy. The real enemy is spiritual. So we don’t really wrestle that person is not your enemy. The evil one is the enemy. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spirits of forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, 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. So we’re called to stand firm against adversity, to keep the course stay the course. And besides, Proverbs warns us that if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. It’s kind of a test of your faith.
The first time I went on a mission trip, I thought I had overcome the hardest part when I had gotten the shots, gmy passport and raised the money from believers who supported us. And I thought, I am finally getting on the plane. Then we got off the plane. Well, I didn’t have to wait that long. I had to find out that just the plane trip was demanding enough. And then getting there was demanding enough . The first time that the team I was on went to Uganda, we hired somebody in Rwanda; hired a bus driver. He took us to the wrong place. So were there in the middle of the night at the wrong border. Guys with a K forty seven. My wife is saying to me I need to go the bathroom. So, I’m sitting there going I don’t want to get out of the bus now. I got to be a man and find a bathroom like I looked her right in the eyes and with all my heart, I said, Can you hold it? And she said, I don’t think so. And so I go outside and it’s pitch dark. Everybody’s got a K forty seven’s. They don’t have like signs that say men’s and women’s. We’re out in the middle of nowhere on the wrong spot that we weren’t supposed to be. And I see a car parked up against the building and there’s a guy there. I ask, Is there a bathroom in there? And he says yes if I had shillings. I didn’t have any shillings So I go back to the bus and get some shillings. I opened the bathroom door and look in there, see what I’m offering my beautiful bride that I’ve taken care of the best I can. I look in there…. And the stench. There’s no light, but there’s a candle sitting on the floor and there’s a hole. And that was the bathroom.
If you’re going on the journey, you will encounter adversity. You have to decide if you want to keep going. It always means surrendering and letting go of your safety and security. And really, let’s be honest your idols because you’re trusting your money, your possessions, your stuff / You’re trusting that more than you do God, all of that God gave you. You have to surrender your plans and your stuff, and then you have to say, I’m going to do it. I’m going to take the first step. But God, you need to give me favor. And then you have to be ready for adversity because adversity always comes. And you have to say, I’m going to stand firm with God’s protection. This is what it costs to rise up and make room for more people who need stories like we saw this morning on the back of the bulletin.
So I want you to be thinking about first of all, your story right now. What’s your story? Do you have a God story? If I would ask you to write down a life changing moment in your life, where God moved, would you be able to think of it immediately because you’ve taken a journey like Nehemiah or would you be struggling and trying to do things yourself?
What you have to do is let go and give your whole life to God, to give your whole life to Christ. I say all you have to do with that sounds like a risk. Well, it only feels like a risk. The minute He saved you, you realized I really didn’t let go of anything. Because you never lose with God. Would you give your life to Jesus? That’s the first step today. And then I want you to think about your willingness to rise up. , People have stories. God stories. Because people matter to God. Lost people matter. I think the Church of Jesus is Christ body and its God’s plan for reaching planet Earth touching planet Earth. I can’t think of a better investment for your life and for my life.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for Nehemiah and the leadership principles he teaches us. Lord, I pray right now for your people. First of all, Ipray, Lord, that we would surrender ourcontrol over our plans and our programs. I want your plan. God, I want your power. I want to take the first step today. God, I want your protection. Knowing that there’s already adversity. The minute right now, even in your mind, the minute you start thinking that you’re going to trust your life to God, you start feeling adversity, voices coming against trusting God. Friend, if you’re here this morning and you’re ready to trust the Lord for your salvation, pray with me right now. That’s the first person I want to talk to. Will you pray with me? Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I need a savior. I believe you died on the cross for me. That you were raised from the grave that you live today. I believe it. Come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. Make me the person you want me to be. I want you to be my Lord and Savior make me a child of God. We pray that prayer believing the Lord will save you. Others are here today and you know Him as savior. But you’ve yet to surrender To him as Lord, you’ve yet to put him in charge. You trust him with your eternity. But you won’t trust him with your today and your tomorrow, right now. Open up. Surrender, Lord, All I am and all that I have is yours. Do what you would do in me and through me today. And then I want to pray. Lord, put someone on my heart. Let me see their faces right now that you want me to write on this card people that need a story, a God story. Lord I pray you would save them. And I pray you’d use me to share your gospel with them. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.