- Talk to God
4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. Vs. 4-5
Nehemiah is hot here. He’s letting off steam! When you’re being ridiculed take Nehemiah’s example don’t ignore it talk to God about it. He says, “God, we’re trusting in You to defend us.” He doesn’t get caught up in a name calling game. Instead of calling names, he relies on God.
Proverbs 26:4 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.” If you’re getting ridiculed for your faith, if you get into a name-calling match, then you’re no different than the person who’s ridiculing you. If you’ve got a project and people are taking pot shots at you, first of all talk to God. Pray.
The greater the opposition the more you need to pray, to depend on God. When you’re ridiculed don’t take it out on people, talk it out with God. That’s what Nehemiah does. He hears this initial ridicule but basically he ignores it and goes to God. The best response to ridicule is don’t respond. Instead, you go and you pray and you keep on doing what you should be doing in the first place. We see from this passage that they were ridiculed, they prayed and they kept rebuilding the wall. Ridicule can never stop you from doing what you’re doing. Not unless you let it.
If you’re making progress and you’re under attack, the first thing you do is pray. You take it to God. Sometimes if you ignore the opposition the criticism toes away. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it intensifies. When the opposition realized that ridicule wasn’t working then in v. 8 it says they plotted together to fight against Jerusalem.
- Be Ready
9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Vs. 9
They did the prayerful thing and then the practical thing. Both. It’s fine to lay in bed at night and pray, “Protect me from the burglars.” But you also need to get up and lock your door. Rely on God when you’re being opposed. But also be ready the opposition. There’s nothing unbiblical about being ready for opposition, being ready for things that can go wrong. Here at church, we lock our doors, we have insurance, we are ready for things that can and will go wrong.
The Bible has a phrase that is used often, “Watch and pray”. Jesus said it. Paul said it. John said it. Peter said it. Watch is the human part — post a guard. Pray is the divine part — trust God. Watch is lock the door; pray is “God, I’m trusting You.” You do both of these things. Rely on God and be ready for the opposition.
Nehemiah sets up an alarm system. He sets up 24-hour guards. He posts a watch. He knows his opposition. Don’t just pray. Be aware. Know your opposition and don’t be ignorant about what’s happening
13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. Vs. 13
He is reinforcing his weak points, the lower points of the wall. This is where the wall was maybe only a couple of feet high. Where it’s ten feet high you don’t have to worry so much. At the weak points, the exposed places, he’s making a strategic placement. He’s reinforcing his weak points. Nehemiah is ready.
Do you know the weak points in your family? Do you know the weak points in your business? Do you know where you’re most open to attack? That’s the example here. To be ready where you know you are vulnerable and reinforce that area.
- Remember What God Put in My Heart to Do
14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Vs. 14
What was it that God put in Nehemiah’s heart to do? To rebuild the wall around Jerusalem! What is it that God has put in your heart to do? Maybe you started great and had an extra special portion of vigor and energy, but somewhere along the way, the fire has started to fade and distractions have come your way. You need to remember what God called you to do. You need to return to
that vision that preferred future, just as Nehemiah did. He reminded himself, his workers and even those in opposition to him that God had called him to this work and that he was going to complete it. And since that was the case, no opposition, no fear, no name calling, no threats were going to get him off of the wall.
Sometimes talk can help, but things like your calling from God are not up for
Henry Blackaby developed a great Christian growth workbook called
Experiencing God. He said that there are times in life when we
simply have to go back to the last time and maybe even place that God spoke to us and to keep going in that direction until God speaks to us again. As human beings we get sidetracked as we are building our life especially by opposition. We have a tendency to get off the building project of life and we get distracted for a period of time. Some even remain in that condition for years, having experienced a call of God but not knowing for sure where to pick up. Return to what God put in your heart, your vision, and your preferred future. Return to God and He will show you the way.
- Surround Myself with Supportive People
19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.
20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” Vs. 19-20
The next thing that will help us in opposition time is to surround ourselves with supportive people. In verse 13, Nehemiah stations the people by family, thus surrounding them with people who were important to them. And in verses 16 and 21 we see that the people work together as half of them do work on the wall while the other half protect the workers and stand guard. The people worked together to continue work and to make it through the tough situations. Without each other’s support and encouragement, the walls would never have been finished.
There is nothing worse in life than going through tough times alone, especially if they are getting worse and worse. It is so important to surround yourself with a good support group that will help you through the tough times in life. Some of you already have a good group of supportive people, it your Connect Group. If there is anyone though who feels like they don’t have a good group of supportive people, know that in the program each week and on the wall in the hall way are the leaders of our Connect Groups. They are here to support you; to hear to listen, pray, and love you as best as they can.
Something else, when you get connected to a small group you need to communicate when you need support. Just like in verses 19 and 20 where the Israelites set up an alarm system with the trumpets so they could quickly help one another, we need to not be afraid to do the same with our small group. Often times, our pride gets the best of us and we want to try to fix an issue by ourselves, which is ok sometimes, but bluntly, what good is a support group if we never use it! Unless we take the risk of being honest and open with others we can’t ever get the support and encouragement that we need most.
We will all find ourselves in tough situations in life. We will all find ourselves backed against a wall feeling trapped and ready to give up. Many of us have all experienced these times in our lives, some multiple times. Some of us here today may feel like this right now. Take the time to step back and look at the situation in perspective. Take it to God! He is listening and wants to be there for you. God will fight for you! Surround yourself with friends, family, and mentors to help you and make sure you don’t neglect to go to them for help. Let us remember in these times of opposition and struggle that there is light on the other side.
- Refuse to Quit
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” Vs. 21-22
Every time you start building for God, you’re asking for opposition. If you start trying to build your marriage, you’re asking for opposition or a battle. If you start trying to build up your own personal spiritual life you’re asking for opposition. If you start trying to build a ministry, there will be opposition.
We have to learn to build in spite of opposition. If you start doing anything of significance in this world, somebody is going to oppose you. What do you do?
Nehemiah had three alternatives. When every body started opposing him with criticism, scheming and threats he could, give up, leave the wall and go fight — do a preemptive strike, or build the wall and arm himself defensively.
What we learn from Nehemiah is to build in spite of opposition. You never leave the wall to fight the enemy. You could spend all your time putting out fires and never get your job done. You could spend all your time greasing the squeaking wheel (the critic, the complainer) and never get your dream or whatever God’s called you to do, done. You’ve got to learn to build and handle opposition at the same time.
How do you handle it when the going gets tough? When somebody laughs at you or criticizes you for being a Christian that may hurt but it cannot stop you. The secret of success is you simply outlast your critics. How do you get to be an oak tree? An oak tree is just a little nut that refused to give his ground.
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