Progressing in the Work of the Lord
Progressing in the Work of the Lord Nehemiah 4:1-23
Intro: Those words from Gilbert Keith Chesterton were certainly true in Nehemiah’s situation. His arrival in Jerusalem was a threat to Sanballat and his associates, who wanted to keep the Jews weak and dependent. A strong Jerusalem would endanger the balance of power in the region, and it would also rob Sanballat and his friends of influence and wealth.
When things are going well, get ready for trouble, because the enemy doesn’t want to see the work of the Lord make progress. As long as the Jews were content with their sad existence the enemy left them alone; but the minute they tried to serve the Lord and bring glory to Him, the enemy got active. That is the way it is in the Christian life. As long as believers are content with mediocre Christianity, as long as they are not stirring the water, as long as they are not impacting the world or bringing glory to Christ then Satan leaves them alone. But the very instant we began to become what God created us for, then Satan begins to bring opposition.
I. The Conspiracy that Threatens the Work of the Lord v. 1-3; 7-8
A. The Enemy will Conspire to Discourage God’s Work v.1-3
1. Probably the number 1 weapon in Satan’s arsenal is discouragement. More people have been brought down by discouragement than any other thing. Discouragement is the main ingredient in defeat and failure.
2. Sanballat’s verbal assault
a. He Attacked their Condition.
1. He called “feeble Jews.” Weak and withered. He declared that they didn’t have what it would take to accomplish this task.
b. He attacked their Confidence
1. Do you actually think that you can build a wall that will keep us out should we decide to tear it down?
2. You don’t have anything to work with except for rubbish.
3. Even a small animal could knock it down.
c. He Attacked their Commitment
1. “Will they finish it in a day?” Sanballat tried to get them to doubt the possibilities of rebuilding the wall, see that it was too difficult, and withdraw from their commitment and quit.
B. The Enemy will Conspire to Defy God’s Work v.2
1. Will they sacrifice?
a. The rebuilding of the wall wasn’t man initiated it was God initiated.
b. He said, “Do you actually think that God will help you and give you the resources you need to accomplish this task?” I don’t think so.
c. He was blaspheming the Person of God.
d. When God calls you to it, He will equip you for it.
e. Satan does the same thing. He tries to cause us to doubt God’s care and power.
C. The Enemy will Conspire to Defeat God’s Work v.7-8
1. Sanballat didn’t just want them discouraged he wanted them defeated.
2. Sanballat would be happy to get them back to Babylon enslaved and miserable.
3. That is where Satan wants each and every one of you. They were making progress so the enemy wanted to stop and defeat them.
4. Satan doesn’t care about mediocrity Christianity. As long as you don’t stir the water or impact the world or get on fire for Christ, he doesn’t care.
5. If you ever begin to understand your calling and begin doing it you disturb him and he wants to defeat you.
Illustration: Opposition is not only an evidence that God is blessing, but it is also an opportunity for us to grow. Satan wants to use problems as weapons to destroy the work, but God uses them as tools to build His people. “God had one Son without sin,” said Charles Spurgeon, “but He never had a son without trial.”
Application: In the Christian life there will be opposition. In fact, if you are not facing any Sanballats, you need to find out what your doing wrong. Satan doesn’t beat a dead horse. Today you might be discouraged and even defeated. That is where Satan wants to keep you: beaten. Can I just say to you, “Get back to work.” No matter what Satan says it is a lie. Anything that keeps you from what God has called you to do will only help the enemy.
II. The Commitment that Triumphs in the Work of the Lord
A. The People of God must be Committed to Prayer v.4-5
1. It was a Prayer of God’s Worship
a. Nehemiah said O God. The worship is all in the name!
b. Nehemiah saw God Almighty! The all Powerful God!
c. This gave him confidence and courage. Basically he said I know You will act for us and help us.
Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy.
2. It was a Prayer for God’s Will
a. Nehemiah prayed that God’s enemies would be brought to nothing
b. He prayed that God’s plan would continue and that evil would be put at bay.
c. We too should pray like this.
3. It was a Prayer for God’s Warfare
a. Prayer wasn’t their last resort, it was their primary weapon.
b. This was the only response to have against their opposition
c. They knew that they were unable to defeat such an army in and of themselves.
Vance Havner told a story about an elderly lady who was greatly disturbed by her many troubles--both real and imaginary. Finally, someone in her family tactfully told her, "Grandma, we've done all we can for you. You'll just have to trust God for the rest." A look of absolute despair spread over her face as she replied, "Oh dear, has it come to that?" Havner commented, "It always comes to that, so we might as well begin with that!"
B. The People of God must be Committed to the Purpose v.6
1. The purpose was to rebuild the wall. The purpose was to accomplish God’s will by restoring the place of worship and becoming what God had called them to be.
2. They had a mind to work or they had a determined heart to fulfill their purpose, and they were productive. They had a vision! Nothing was going to stop them.
3. A purpose driven church is a progressive church. Every church must have a vision
Prov. 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish:
4. Satan doesn’t care about a church with no vision or purpose. This church, what is its purpose? Reach the lost, live openly the life and love of Christ?
5. We must become like Nehemiah and the Jews. We must become committed to the work. Had they only had a purpose with no commitment, they soon would have been defeated. We can talk all we want but we must have a mind for the work. We must not let anything or anyone stop us from the work.
C. The People of God must be Committed to the Plan
1. There must be Preparation
a. Watch and Pray
2. There must be Perseverance
a. Persevere by an absolute trust in the Lord Phil.4:13
3. There must be Participation