Sermons

Summary: Nehemiah moved from fear to faith when he trusted in the Lord and His plan.

Building Blocks for Success - Fear and Faith

Nehemiah 2:1-26

Pastor Don Jones

Introduction

John Ortberg in his book- If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat notes this about fear: The single command in Scripture that occurs more often then any other-God’s most frequently repeated instruction-is formulated in two words: Fear Not. Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. You can trust me. Fear not.

Why does God command us not to fear? Fear does not seem like the most serious vice in the world. It never made the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. No one ever receives church discipline for being afraid. So why does God tell human beings to stop being afraid more often than he tells them anything else? My hunch is that the reason God says “Fear Not” so much is not that he wants us to be spared emotional discomfort. In fact, usually he says it to people to do something that is going to lead them into greater fear anyway. I think God says, “fear not” so often because fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do” (117,118).

How are you going to live in 2007? We have choices and if we are not careful we might end up in January 2008 looking back on a year filled with fear, trembling and doubt instead of faith, joy, and peace. How do we begin living the life of faith, joy, and peace?

A traveler crossed a frozen stream in trembling fear one day; Later another drove across, and whistled all the way. Great and little faith alike were granted safe convoy; One had pangs of needless fear, the other all the joy.

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king

Nehemiah was not a priest nor was he a king, he was a cupbearer to the king and yet, he was touched by the message from Jerusalem. The message saddened his heart to the point that he had to do something. But what could he do, he was a bond servant to the king, he was stuck in a land far away, a slave in exile from his homeland.

Nehemiah went about doing his regular duties. Evidently he was a trusted servant because he dealt with the king’s drink. He was patient with the burden put on his heart by God. But it must have shown on his face.

Miraculously, four months later as he was serving the king a drink, God opened the door for Nehemiah to carry out His great mission by prompting Artaxerxes to ask what was wrong.

Fear

It has been said by a few that without doubt there can be no faith. After all, faith is trusting in things not seen. There must be an element of doubt, however small, for faith to be used.

Many times with doubt comes fear. One risks something in order to exercise faith. One writer said faith is standing at the edge of the abyss with the enemy pressing in from behind, nowhere to turn but to God, and leaping, trusting that God will carry you across or give you wings to fly.

I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid,

Benjamin Disraeli said "Fear makes us feel our humanity." It must have been so when Nehemiah was asked by the king why he was so sad. Scripture says he was afraid.

It was not an unrealistic fear considering it came from the man who held his life in his hands. If the king were in a bad mood he could put him to death if he desired.

Joe Stowell says, "Fear haunts our hearts when all we can ask is “What am I to do?” Faith cuts to the exclamation point: The Lord is in control!"

Faith

Mary Manin Morrissey says, "You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith." Nehemiah in a demonstration of faith told the king what was bothering him.

But I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

Nehemiah leapt, he took the risk and trusted God would do everything else. Not only did Nehemiah tell him what was wrong but the king asked what he wanted. Brendan Francis says, "Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them."

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