Saturday, October 18, 2008

Building Up The Walls In Our Lives

I preached this sometime last week, but didn't write the date on my notes. I wanted to write up this message because I know at least one friend who could use the encouragement because of some trials he is facing for standing for what it right. I encourage you to read Nehemiah chapters four and six first, as that is the background of this devotion.

Building Up The Walls In Our Lives

Nehemiah 4:1-3 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

Nehemiah travelled back to Jerusalem and saw firsthand the sad state of the city with its broken down and crumbling walls, its burned gates, and its streets in a sad state of disrepair. He was given all he needed to rebuild these fallen walls and gates by king Artaxerxes. With his men, he began to build up what was destroyed or in need of strengthening. But the enemies of God began to rise up and mock the work of God; even to go as far as stating their feeble work could be knocked over by a fox!

Nehemiah 4:4-6 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah and his men had a mind to work. First Nehemiah cried out to God, giving the situation into His hands, then they continued building the wall.

Nehemiah 4:7-9 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

The word for made up means "restored to soundness, wholeness." Stopped means "to repair." God's enemies didn't like it when they saw Nehemiah and the other Jews repairing what had fallen, didn't like them restoring the walls and gates. Now it wasn't just a few enemies that were rising up - it was a whole bunch of them! They rose up in wrath and were gathering together to fight against God's people, and to hinder the work that they were doing in His name.

Nehemiah 4:9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

Nehemiah, the faithful leader, was determined to keep praying to the Lord, and taking the needed steps to protect himself and his people.

Nehemiah 4:10-11 And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.

However, some of the Jews got discouraged, some were ready to give up the battle. Their enemies were determined to wipe them out and cause the work of rebuilding Jerusalem to cease. The word for decayed means "to totter or waver (through weakness of the legs, especially the ankle); by implication, to falter, stumble, faint or fall." Some of Nehemiah's people were getting shaky knees and were ready to quit in fear of their enemies.

Isn't that typical of the Devil and his followers? When God is working in some believer's life, and that believer makes the necessary choices to repair those areas he has let fallen into disarray or neglected, the Devil will show his wrath and stir up trouble to hinder that work of God.

When you try to pick up the slack in your Bible reading, don't you find that you get tired and have a hard time focussing - even though you were completely wide awake before you picked up your Bible?

Perhaps you make some choices to spend more time with your Heavenly Father in prayer - and so many things come up that it seems you never have the time! At the end of the day you are so exhausted, so worn out that you are discouraged from praying.

I am sure you can identify with me here: when you strive to be more diligent and earnest in your witnessing to others or in sharing some truth from God's Word, the phone doesn't stop ringing, the children start acting up, the doorbell interrupts again...

How about when you are determined to stop up that gap in your church attendance - and your car breaks down on the way there! Or on the day you vowed to yourself to be in church, you or someone in your immediate family gets suddenly so ill you need to stay home (or worse still, go to the hospital)!

When you analyze those broken walls in your walk with the Lord, and see what happens when you seriously work on repairing those areas, you will see that Satan has been hard at work attempting to discourage you - and to hinder the work of God in your life! Nehemiah clung more closely to the Lord in the face of his trial, and we need to do the same. He persevered, and the walls and gates were made whole again. We need to continue being faithful - and not let the Devil sidetrack us or convince us to give up. We need to resist the hindering attempts of Satan to cause us to falter or faint in our service to the Lord. If we press on in faith, we will see fruit from all our labours.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Chronicles 15:7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Nehemiah 6:1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

Nehemiah and his men soon finished building the wall - but the trouble was not yet over.

Nehemiah 6:2-8 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.

If the Devil can't stop or hinder the work of God, he will falsely accuse God's people (after all, one of his names is the accuser of the brethren! See Revelation 12:10) - and get the world stirred up against them. Sanballat attempted to convince the surrounding nations that the Jews had repaired Jerusalem so they could rise up in rebellion and set Nehemiah up as their king. Satan's fear tactics of despair and discouragement seemed to be working:

Nehemiah 6:9 For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Weakened here means "to slacken." God's enemies wanted God's people to slacken their hands in their work - to back off and give up - but Nehemiah was steadfastly determined to do God's will, and prevail in prayer. He pleaded with the Lord to strengthen his hands. Strengthened means "to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous)."

Lord, give us strength to do your will, and not let the Devil get the victory. Enable us to be courageous and to seize the work at hand - to not give up until we have done what You have called us to do. When we are striving to repair, rebuild, and strengthen our lives for Your glory, let the work of our hands - the work done in Your name - be established.

Nehemiah 6:10-14 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

Next, Nehemiah's enemies wanted him to flee for his life - but he refused to do that. God's work was too important for him to quit!

Nehemiah 6:15-16 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

Through prevailing prayer and dependance upon the Lord, Nehemiah and his men finished the work that God had called them to do. His enemies at last were cast down and had to acknowledge that this work was done by God. God was glorified because His people were faithful.

How about you? Will you continue in the work God has called you to do, despite the setbacks, despite the hardships and the wiles of the Devil? Will you keep repairing those breaches and build up those walls in your spiritual life? Will you press on in faith, claiming the Lord's promises and clinging tightly to Him in prayer - trusting your Heavenly Father to work all things out and to give you the victory?

Let's repair those walls and persevere in our service to the Lord, so that one day we will be rewarded and hear these words from our Saviour:

Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Written October 18th/08
Jerry Bouey

1 comment:

Jerry Bouey said...

This morning, I found a similar study online that I had not read before. The author makes more specific applications whereas I applied the study in more general ways. If you are interested in reading more on this theme, please read this excellent devotional: Building A Wall Around Us

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