Summary: We began this year discovering what God has to teach us from the Book of Nehemiah. - Where we find a calling I believe is appropriate for this new year; a calling to fresh starts… fresh starts for the unfinished walls of our personal lives and the vision
We began this year discovering what God has to teach us from the Book of Nehemiah.
- Where we find a calling I believe is appropriate for this new year; a calling to fresh starts… fresh starts for the unfinished walls of our personal lives and the vision God has given us as a fellowship... in this time and place.
- As you may remember, the book of Nehemiah is set at a point in the history of Israel, the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed and a majority of the people taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
- A remnant remained and had previously rebuilt the temple but the walls of the city… the kingdom… were still rubble…
- THE PEOPLE HAD GROWN FAMILIAR with unfinished work they lived in.
- You can imagine how they might have wandered in and around the slabs of broken wall day after day…
- After a while they likely grew more accustomed to the reality of rubble than restoration; more accustomed to the work of familiarity than the work of faith
- A condition that we can all face…
Nehemiah recognizes what God set forth has been left unfinished. He has a ‘holy discontent’, not born of regret but of faith to see the establishment of the temple… city… Kingdom of God.
All this stands as a dynamic parallel and preview of the Kingdom of God being established in and through our lives
- Christ said he came to proclaim the Kingdom of God; and that the Kingdom of God was to be born “within” us; that is the reign of God in and thru us.
- The Holy Spirit has been sent to us as a Comforter even as Nehemiah came as the Comforter of God. The Holy Spirit is dent as the divine Reminder… and Restorer… even as Nehemiah was.
SO IT IS THAT IN NEHEMIAH WE DISCOVER WHAT IT MEANS TO FIND A FRESH START IN FINISHING THE WORK OF GOD IN OUR LIVES.
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4:1-3)
- Now there’s some encouragement! We’re reminded that the Israelites didn’t really have a home team advantage here.
- We find these two men in particular, Sanballat and Tobiah, stand as figures of opposition throughout the rebuilding under Nehemiah. Both were influential. Sanballat was a ruler in Samaria (a document dated 407BC refers to him as governor of Samaria. Tobiah is a Jewish name… and history points to him as likely as Jew who had grown resentful of his own people. (Sometimes our detractors can be those within our own circle or family.)
- Back in chapter 2… verse 10 we read, “When these two heard about Nehemiah coming back to initiate the rebuilding, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.” They were threatened… their power to rule over the people was threatened.
1. WHEN I’M ACTIVELY RAISING THE WORK OF GOD MY LIFE WILL DRAW SPIRITUAL OPPOSITION.
- As your life is the temple of God thru Christ… the Kingdom within thru Christ…
your life is a threat to the spiritual powers separated from God.
- And the Church as the living body of Christ—a corporate manifestation of the kingdom of God—is a threat
> Part of a fresh work of faith in our lives and ministry is simply a fresh awakening that we don’t live in a neutral world.
- Just as the Spirit of God is constantly at work to help us; there are also powers at work to hinder us.
- Most of us may conceive of this on a cognitive level, but on a conscious level… day to day… we may more easily accept mere the idea of obstacles rather than opposition
- Christ defeated evil and evil powers on the Cross, inaugurating the Kingdom of God, but the fulfillment waits so that God’s redemption can go forward.
- In this period, there lies a spiritual opposition for which there’s no truce… no demilitarized zone… no conscientious objectors.
2. THE GREATEST OPPOSITION IS THAT WHICH AFFECTS OUR INNER DISPOSITION
- No weapons are wielded here… words are! Words looking for a home in the human heart; for there they have the potential to sow discouragement, doubt, distraction.