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Finding the Motivation to Carry You Through the Tough Times

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Title:  FINDING THE MOTIVATION TO CARRY YOU THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES

Text:  Nehemiah 2:11-20

Introduction:

            Tough times come and go…but surely all of us face them.  Some faint from the pressure, others rise to the occasion and step out to lead others through it.  What makes the difference between the two?  Reaching deep inside to find the motivation to carry you through depends upon your reservoir of faith.  If your reservoir is shallow, perhaps we can find encouragement through Nehemiah to replenish it.

            In 444 B.C., the city walls of Jerusalem were in ruins and the gates had been burned.  The smoke had long dissipated, but the people were still in great distress. 

            In 1940 A.D., London’s homes, businesses, and churches were in ruins and the black smoke blocked the sun.  Despair and sorrow had taken the heart out of the people, and now a ruthless tyrant from Germany was closing in on Great Britain.

            Nehemiah and Winston Churchill were two heroic leaders that reached deep within to find the motivation to say, “Give me the tools, and we will finish the job!”  At times like this, a mere speech can have the impact of an army.  Words may be only ink stains on paper, but they can find their way into fearful hearts and liberate disheartened souls.  When these encouraged souls unite, they can become a tenacious and formidable force that brings victory. 

            Defeat to victory…that’s God’s call upon our hearts tonight.  Our neighborhood and friends need someone in touch with a great God to lead them to safe passage.  Read Text.

1.    V. 11  Why did Nehemiah wait three days before doing anything after he arrived in Jerusalem?
Insight: No luncheons with city officials, no press conferences, no guided tours around the city…only silence.  In view of the task before him, he sought solitude in Jehovah.  This is where he was dipping deep within to tap the reservoir of faith before acting.  We would do well to do the same!  Have you ever acted in haste and spoke too soon because you didn’t quietly consult God first?

2.    V. 12, 16  Why do you think Nehemiah toured the city walls at night?  (He wanted to get an honest appraisal of the damage without a bunch of people tagging along telling him the task was impossible, or mocking him.)
Insight: Great leadership walks about with their eyes open, looking at the problem.  Ostriches don’t make for good leaders.  It’s the Nehemiah’s and Winston Churchill’s that take ownership of the problem and the solution.  It’s obvious now what was going on during the 3 days of silence…God was putting the plan in his heart.  Like Moses’ years of silence in the Midian desert, he was pausing to learn.  Gal. 1:15-18

3.    How are you doing about meeting alone with God to hear from Him?        Do you hunger for those special times of intimacy with the Father?
Insight: You wouldn’t think Jesus would need to pause to hear from God, since He was “One” with Him.  But on many occasions He got away from the crowds and disciples in order to hear from God.  If He needed to…how much greater is our need!  It is on the anvil of solitude that character and right thoughts are hammered out.  Lk. 6:12-13

4.    Why the wall?  Why wasn’t Nehemiah as concerned for housing conditions?  (The wall was Jerusalem’s main defense against enemies.)

5.    V. 13-15  The path Nehemiah chose to walk was through the gate that led to the Kidron valley, or valley of Hinnom.  This is where refuse was dumped and the smelly fires smoldered constantly; it became known as the Refuse or Dung Gate.  What does it do for you when your leader is willing to walk through the lowest, smelliest valley, to forge the thoughts of revival? 
Insight: This leader was willing to walk through the worst…not even his mount could make it through all the debris…and he did it without an audience to boast to.  The site of the worst condition of Jerusalem became the starting point…it also became his  choice of celebration when the task was done.  Neh. 12:30-31

6.    How much of the city wall did Nehemiah inspect?  (All of it; he began and ended at the Valley Gate.)

7.    After the silence, after the midnight tour in solitude, Nehemiah immerges to commit himself to the people to take on the task of their most pressing need…protection of their homeland.  “Come let us rebuild the wall that we may no longer be a reproach (v.17).”  What emotions are kindled inside when you are handed down mandates from leadership that has no intention of rolling up their sleeves to help in the matter?
Insight: When Churchill addressed the House of Commons during WW II, he said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”  And so it was with Jesus, who left Heaven to be our sacrifice to redeem us to the Father.
Insight: At critical crossroads that appear every day, we have a decision to make…do we blame or beat them down…or do we fan their smoldering hope into flame?

8.    Nehemiah has no reward to offer for their efforts…no names on plaques on the wall…only an appeal to remove the reproach.  Neh. 2:17     What was Nehemiah appealing to with this word?  (He appeals to their desire to assume dignity again as God’s holy people.)        What was the response of the people?  (“Let us arise and build.”  So they put their hands to the plow.)

9.    Even though the majority met the challenge with enthusiasm, it was also accompanied with criticism.  Where did the criticism come from?  (From within, v.19.)         He also faced opposition from without.  (Neh. 4:10-17)       Which do you find it harder to deal with?
Insight: Opposition often comes from those who like things the way they are…but growth often means that changes are in order…having to move out of our comfort zone.  How can we insure our own comfort zone doesn’t keep us from following God’s leading?  Dynamic…or static…which are you?

10.            What’s to account for Nehemiah’s boldness?  2:20  (He’s no milk toast.  He knows God fights with them.) 

11.            What was the reward (or lack of it) for those who opposed Nehemiah?  (You will have no portion of living within our walls…no memorial on the wall of your help…no right to our protection.)       Does that encourage you concerning your own opponents?

Conclusion:

            An iron constitution…inexhaustible energy…and total concentration...faith in a powerful God…these are the motivators I find in this study.  How about you?

            Most people do pretty well about manicuring the their outward appearance, but inside are withered souls.  They spend all their energy and resources dressing up the façade.  But they live unguarded, with no prayer walls erected about them.  They are easy prey for the bellering lion with an empty stomach.  But before you can help them, your own spiritual walls must be fortified.  How can this group help you in this matter? 

            Heb. 12:1-2

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