KINGDOM BUILDING 101: OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION
NEHEMIAH 4: 1-23
SUPERBOWL SUNDAY FEBRUARY 1, 2004
INTRODUCTION: THOUGHTS ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY AND OVERCOMING ALL OPPOSITION TO MAKE IT TO THIS GAME: GO PANTHERS!
There once was a not so bright fellow who saw an advertisement for a cruise. The sign in the travel agency window read “Cruise -- $100 Cash.”
I’ve got a hundred dollars, he thought. And I’d like to go on a cruise. So he entered the door and announced his desires. The fellow at the desk asked for the money, and the not-too-bright guy started counting it out. When he got to one hundred, he was whacked over the head and knocked out cold. He woke up in a barrel floating down a river. Another sucker in another barrel floated past and asked him, “Say, do they serve lunch on this cruise?”
The not-too-bright fellow answered, “They didn’t last year.”
It’s one thing not to know. It’s another to know and not learn. Contributed by: David Yarbrough
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Life is full of learning opportunities. Life is also full of all kinds of opposition. The secret to life is Learning How to overcome the opposition that comes our way. Our text for today is a model for Overcoming. We learn two distinct truths from this text: Opposition comes and Opposition can be overcome!
THESIS SENTENCE: WHEN WE ARE PARTICIPATING IN BUILDING THE KINGDOM OF OUR GOD, OPPOSITION WILL COME AND WE CAN OVERCOME THE OPPOSITION!
I. OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION IS WORKING THROUGH THE RIDICULE VV. 1-5
A. RIDICULE IS A RESPONSE TO FEAR
1. Our text starts with an Enemy of the Kingdom hearing that someone was actually building the kingdom.
2. Sanballat’s first reaction was anger. Why would someone get angry is someone else is being productive? The reality was that Sanballat was a neighboring official that knew that if Jerusalem was rebuilt he might just lose power. 3. Fear of others and of the accomplishment of others brings ridicule.
B. RIDICULE IS A TOOL OF THE ENEMY
1. Sanballat wasn’t the only one in on the ridicule. Tobiah joined in with Sanballat. Both had a singular goal. If we ridicule these folks enough, they will stop building! 2. Hear their words of discouragement… (Verses 2b-3).
C. RIDICULE IS FACED WITH THE HELP OF GOD VV. 4
1. Nehemiah and the builders of the wall could have become discouraged and given up. Wouldn’t you?? If others mocked your work and said it was worthless, wouldn’t you quit?
2. Nehemiah knew that he could stop the mouths of those who ridiculed him and his people, but HE KNEW A GOD WHO COULD!
3. In verses 4 and 5 we learn the answer for overcoming ridicule. The real issue here is not that Nehemiah and his people were being ridiculed, but that God Himself was being Mocked! Who had called Nehemiah to this great task? Hear this prayer: (verses 4-5)! I know you have prayed one of these!!
ILLUSTRATION: Brad Paisely song: "CELEBRITY"
Someday I’m gonna be famous, Do I have talent, well, no. These days you don’t really need it, Thanks to reality shows Can’t Wait to date a supermodel, Can’t Wait to sue my dad. Can’t wait to wreck a Ferrari On my way to rehab....
Chorus- Cause when you’re a Celebrity It’s adios reality You’ can act just like a fool
People think you’re cool Just cause your on TV. I can throw major fits When my latte isn’t just how I like it They say I’ve gone insane, I’ll blame it on the fame,
And the pressures that it goes with Being a Celebrity uh huh I get to cry to Barbara Walters, When Things don’t go my way. I’ll get community service No matter which law I break I’ll make the supermarket tabloids, They’ll write some awful stuff But the more they run my name down, THE MORE MY PRICE GOES UP!
Chorus- Cause when you’re a Celebrity, It’s adios reality. No matter what you do,
People think you’re cool, Just cause you’re on TV. I can fall in and out of love, Have marriages that barely last a month. When they go down the drain I’ll blame it on fame And say it’s just so tough. Being a Celebrity So let’s hitch up the wagons and head out west To the land of fun in the sun We’ll be real world bachelors Jack Millionaires Hey, Hey, Hollywood Here we come!
Chorus- Yeah, When you’re a Celebrity It’s adios reality No matter what you do,
People think you’re cool, Just cause you’re on t.v. ...Being a Celebrity ...Yeah Celebrity! ...uh-huh "Where’s my coffee?"
The Best part of this song is the video and the way it ends. William Shatner playing the role of the bad guy on American Idol tells Brad he likes the end of the song. And Brad asked him what part of the end, the guitar of the lyrics. Shatner say, “The part when it is over!”
In his book, A Ready Defense, Josh McDowell states: “You can laugh at Christianity; you can mock and ridicule it—-but it works. If you decide to trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions, because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives.” Contributed by: Robert Leroe
TRUTH: WHEN WE WORK FOR THE KINGDOM RIDICULE WILL COME!
QUESTIONS: ARE WE WILLING TO BE RIDICULED FOR THE WORK OF GOD? WILL WE TURN TO GOD WHEN OTHERS BELITTLE US? WILL WE STAY ON TASK REGARDLESS OF THE WAY OTHERS TREAT US?
II. OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION IS DEALING WITH THE THREATS VV. 7-14
A. THREATS ARE A RESPONSE TO FEAR
1. Do I have any Emeril Lagasse fans here? He likes to step it up a notch and does so with a Bam! Have you seen that tooth paste commercial??
2. Well, when ridicule doesn’t work, you have to step it up and notch and add some threats to the mix. Now a threat is worse than ridicule because it is ridicule with action attached.
3. Again, fear is the motivator! If the “enemy,” Sanballat and Tobiah would say, is going to grow and get strong and be able to defend themselves, we must do something!
4. Verses 7 –8 and 11-12 tell the story (read text)!
B. THREATS ARE A TOOL OF THE ENEMY
1. Verse 10 tells the story here. The Enemy wants us tired and discouraged. 2 If we get tired and discouraged, what happens?
3. Fear can become the factor in our lives and we might just stop building! 4. This is the enemy’s greatest goal!
C. THREATS ARE FACED WITH THE HELP OF GOD VV. 9 & 14
1. Nehemiah knew that God was always the Answer and to get to Him we must pray! When we pray, God can work.
2. Not only did Nehemiah pray, He reminded the people that it was The Lord who was Great and Awesome, not the enemy!!
3. Nehemiah teaches us that even in the face of legitimate threats, we can stand with the help of our God!
ILLUSTRATION: Russell Brownworth writes, “The worst threats the church has ever encountered have come more from within than without. External pressures are like water on a grease fire– causing the church to intensify and spread. Internal strife and bickering are like AIDS– sapping the strength and vitality from the Body.” Russell Brownworth contributed by: Craig Cramblet
TRUTH: WHEN WE WORK FOR THE KINGDOM THREATS WILL COME!
QUESTIONS: WE WILL GIVE UP WHEN THREATENED? WILL WE YIELD TO THE THREATS OF THE ENEMY? WILL WE STAY ON TASK REGARDLESS OF THE WAY OTHERS TREAT US?
III. OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION IS BUILDING THE WALL (KINGDOM) VV. 1, 6, 15-23!
A. BUILDING THE WALL IS GETTING ON TASK
1. Our text began, Verse 1, with Nehemiah and his crew building the wall and the ridicule began.
2. In verse 6, we learn that Nehemiah and his crew continued to build and the wall was half way completed. At this point, the threats began.
3. As I have mentioned throughout, it would have been easy to stop at any time because of the reaction of the enemy, but Nehemiah keeps encouraging the crew to stay at it, God is their help.
B. BUILDING THE WALL IS STAYING ON TASK
1. Verse 15 makes it clear that this Kingdom building crew stayed on task, “Each to his own work.”
2. These workers had a great resolve. They went forward with God’s plan and with God’s help. They knew they each had a part to play regardless of the opposition. Together they accomplish this great task! Notice verse 16, this is an example of staying on TASK!
C. BUILDING THE WALL IS WARFARE
1. One of the greatest truths Nehemiah teaches us is that to participate in the building of the Kingdom of our God is to participate in warfare. To often the enemy has lulled us to sleep thinking Kingdom work is skipping through a field of daisies with the sun on our back and a cool breeze on our face.
2. When we find it otherwise, we often turn from the work of the Kingdom thinking something is wrong and it just shouldn’t be this way. The harsh reality of it all is that we truly do have an enemy that works against us and the work is hard, but we have the Help of the Living God of Heaven.
3. Building is the greatest work we can do. It proves to the enemy that he cannot win against us. Whenever we succumb to his ridicule or threats, he has won. BUT, when we build, when we work together, when we side with the LIVING GOD OF HEAVEN, we become more than conquers! We move into the reality of being the People of God. We show our allegiance to our King and to His Kingdom.
4. The greatest weapon we have against the enemy is to build!
ILLUSTRATION: A Builder or a Wrecker: The Poem
As I watched them tear a building down A gang of men in a busy town With a ho-heave-ho, and a lusty yell They swung a beam and the side wall fell I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled, And the men you’d hire if you wanted to build?"
He gave a laugh and said, "No, indeed, Just common labor is all I need."
"I can easily wreck in a day or two, What builders have taken years to do."
And I thought to myself, as I went my way Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care, Measuring life by rule and square?
Am I shaping my work to a well-made plan Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks to town Content with the labor of tearing down?
"O Lord let my life and my labors be That which will build for eternity!"
Author Unknown, The Increase, 35th Anniversary Issue, 1993, p. 9.
TRUTH: THE ONLY WAY TO OVERCOME THE OPPOSITION IS TO BUILD!
QUESTIONS: ARE WE BUILDING? ARE WE GETTING ON TASK? ARE WE STAYING ON TASK? ARE WE WILLING TO FIGHT FOR THE WALL/KINGDOM?
CONCLUSION: We have been called to participate in the building of the KINGDOM of OUR GOD! We must have broken hearts and open eyes if we are even to approach the Kingdom of our God. We must seek out God’s Plan and follow it alone! And as we continue, we must face the reality of the enemy’s opposition. As we overcome the opposition of the enemy, WE WILL SEE THE KINGDOM COMING AND THE KINGDOM BUILT. WILL YOU JOIN ME? ARE YOU READY FOR THE WAR? A QUICK ASIDE, WE WIN!
BENEDICTION: 2 CORINTHIANS 13: 14