Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 6:1-16 about the qualities of the godly who finish strong
Text: Nehemiah 6:1-16, Title: Finishing Strong, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/14/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: story of Greg Louganis’ victory in the ’88 Olympics, pp. 76-77, Nehemiah, Boice
B. Background to passage: After dealing with some external conflict against the work, and taking some time off to call a community meeting to deal with internal conflict, Nehemiah is nearing the end of his initial burden. And so the attacks become much more personal against Nehemiah. But when the going gets the toughest, the toughest lead like Jesus and finish strong. And in a generation of quitters, church hoppers, never finishers, the church of Jesus Christ needs some people that will commit to service and endure to the end.
C. Main thought: So in the text, God shows us four things required of the godly who finish strong.
A. Requires Proper Focus (v. 1-4)
1. When Nehemiah’s opponents see that the project is nearing completion. They decide to change their strategy a bit. They appear to look like a political candidate that is conceding an election. “Come on down, and we will drink to your new governorship, and work out our differences. But Nehemiah knew that without the gates in place, the whole project could suffer destruction at the hands of an enemy. And Nehemiah has a good order of priorities, and adequate self-discipline to say no four times.
3. Illustration: "It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy." "So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away." “When you fully comprehend that there is more to life than just here and now, and you realize that life is just preparation for eternity, you will begin to live differently. You will start living in light of eternity, and that will color how you handle every relationship, task, and circumstance. Suddenly many activities, goals, and even problems that seemed so important will appear trivial, petty, and unworthy of your attention. The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears. When you live in the light of eternity, your values change. You use your time and money more wisely. You place a higher premium on relationships and character instead of fame or wealth or achievements or even fun. Your priorities are reordered. Keeping up with trends, fashions, and popular values just doesn’t matter as much anymore.” –Rick Warren, “It sounds bad but it’s true, we all must choose to cheat. It’s simple, the problem is not a lack of discipline or time management, it is simply lack of time. With only 24 hours in each day, we cannot do everything. We think we can give 100% to our family, 100% to our job, 100% to our hobbies, 100% to our leisure, but that’s 400%! It can’t be done. Any time we set a priority we have said that something else in that moment is less important. Anytime we say ‘yes’ to something we’ve also said ‘No’ to something. It’s a fact of life, we have to choose to cheat. The key is learning when and where to cheat.” It’s true isn’t it? We are faced with choices all the time that put one thing over another. Oh, many of us would say our priorities are God, family, work and leisure, but how many really live out that verbiage?” –Andy Stanley
4. In our lives we must have an order of priority to finish strong. There are always things to do. And many good things we may not be able to do because we are doing the best things. Diplomacy (if it was legit) would have been good for Jerusalem, but not at the expense of the completion of the walls. We must allow the bible to give clear guidance on what our priorities should be. Christ should be your first priority at the expense of all others. Your walk with Jesus should not take second place to sleep, or computers, or friends, or parents, or kids, or commitments, or sports, or food, or job, etc. Second your family and their walk with Christ is the second thing. Getting priorities out of order will hurt your testimony, your spiritual growth, your family, and your church. We live for an audience of One, and when our priorities line up with His, He will be pleased. He is the most God-centered being in the universe, so we should follow His example. And once we get priorities in order, we must have the self-discipline to say “no” under repeated attempts and pressure for us to change them. Pressure wears us down, but discipline and accountability helps us hold…