Nehemiah 4:14-23 (NIV Translation):
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.”
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
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. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 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.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
Samuel Smiles was a political advocate in Scotland in 1837. As my investigation began this week, I ran across the following quotation of Doctor Smiles:
“The battle of life is, in most cases fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to achieve.”
Looking back over my life, I have been in certain circumstances (uphill battles)–reaching a point where I was ready to throw in the towel and give up. We sometimes become so tired and frustrated in ‘fighting the battle’, we get exhausted and feel like there’s no use in continuing to even try.
Whether it’s a job, a relationship, health related problems, school, trying to lose weight, etc…we sometimes just don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. We would rather just quit the whole process–the FIGHT. Have you been there before?
And then someone comes up to you, who doesn’t know where you’ve been or what you are going through and asks: “How have things been going with you and your family lately?”
And you answer, “Well, it’s been an uphill battle of late. How about you?”
Their answer is often the same as yours, “an uphill battle” or they don’t realize in the slightest that you are going through stress and pain; they smile and say something like “Well, nice seeing you again. Say hello to your wife/husband for me.”
WHAT ARE THE “BATTLES” WE FACE?
“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” (Nehemiah 4:14).
1. WE BATTLE FEAR AND ANXIETY:
Remember the Lord and focus our thoughts on Him in our circumstances no matter what they are:
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
The presence and peace of God comes when we put Him in the middle of our circumstances and issues of life.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When my wife went through breast cancer several years ago, we of course were both anxious in the outcome of surgery and radiation. We both used the above verse in our quiet times and confessed the words verbally to one another. Did anxiety completely disappear? No, it didn’t but…the peace of God, which transcends–goes beyond understanding, gave us PEACE; guarded our hearts, minds and soul. We were that confident because God said so; His Word promises that our hearts and minds will be guarded against the attacks of anxiousness, fear, and doubt.
ANXIETY and FEAR causes us to ignore the God of possibilities or potential:
FEAR can force believers into re-activity, disastrous and concrete thinking:
* Pushes us from God.
* Injures our trust in God’s deliverance.
* Avoids healthy spiritual disciplines.
* Distracts us from our faith.
* Chooses circumstance-centerness.
There is an answer…but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.
2. WE BATTLE ISOLATION:
“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,” (Nehemiah 4:16-17).
I LOVE THIS! Each builder had a TROWEL in one hand in which to build, the other hand carried a sword to defend himself. These two weapons or instruments should be in the hands of believers today, and carried always. There is nothing like preparedness before we are faced with difficult circumstances that will come our way. And yes, they will come your way!
The TROWEL represents the fact that believers should build themselves up in the FAITH. I disagree with folks who say that when a person is first saved (“born again”), they should immediately jump in the body and start serving. I don’t think new converts to Christianity should be used to quickly in the ministry.
THE FIRST NEED is to learn by experience that Jesus saves and keeps and satisfies. It’s wonderful to hear So-and-So was saved Sunday morning or last week; but let us hear from that person a year or two from today to see if they have been BUILT UP in THE FAITH (“discipleship”).
We need to hold the SWORD of the Spirit: the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God where we defend ourselves. We need the TROWEL in one hand and the SWORD in the other.
3. WE BATTLE INDEPENDENCE:
I Thessalonians 5:11:
“THEREFORE encourage one another and build each other up…”
Standing there at the wall with a trowel full of mortar is going to BUILD UP anything that is broken. You have to work at it and not all by yourself!
4. WE BATTLE IGNORANCE OF GOD’S WORD:
“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So, how then are we going to WIN THE BATTLE?
BY FIGHTING WITH OUR GOD–remember that our God fights for us:
“If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]” (Amplified Bible).
“One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord you God fights for you, just as He promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (NIV Bible).
2 Timothy 1:7:
“God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (The Message Bible).
WE HAVE POWER: (dunamus)-
“DUNAMUS”, the Greek word for power can be translated into the English language as “dynamite; explosive power”–strength, power, ability–
– power for performing miracles.
– power for maintaining purity.
– power and resources to use in the Assembly (the Church).
– power to overcome in anything we face in life!
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV Bible).
But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
What I like to do when I’m going through trials–passing through, deep waters, passing through rivers of life and even walking through the fire…I like to read out loud a certain Bible verse such as Isaiah 43:1-2 and make it personal. *[use a concordance for help]
Every time I see the word “you”, I replace it with Mel: He created Mel, He formed me in my mothers womb; He has summoned me by my name, “Mel”–Mel you are mine. I think you get my drift.
We Fight With PERSEVERANCE!
Nehemiah 4:21-23 NIV Bible:
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve as guards by night and workmen by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went into the water.
Being clothed today–
– They had a mind-set to work, v. 6
– They had a heart to pray, v. 9
– They had an eye to watch, v. 9 [seeing the spirit world]
– They had an ear to hear, v. 20.
Nehemiah says, “of course when we took a bath we took of our clothes” (You see, there is HUMOR in the Bible. Even in a crisis like this, the Lord inserted a little humor.)
Otherwise, they never removed their clothes–day or night in their struggles. They were on guard all the time.
Oh, to be so clothed today with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18).
ALWAYS BE PREPARED AHEAD OF TIME; grab your trowel and your sword and start patching and building up the ‘holes’ in your life today, never giving up!