Summary: The devil is at his worst when he realizes time is about to run out-he must know the signs of the times, and that Jesus could return at any moment. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
The project is almost complete...all that remains in restoring the walls is the placing of the gates. And the devil is at his worst when he realizes time is about to run out. The devil must know the signs of the times, and that Jesus could return at any moment. And he is at his worst today!
The devil made his last ditch effort at this point, pulling out all the stops, and we looked this morning at the tool of distraction, trying to get them to compromise.
Now he uses the tool of slander:
v. 5-6 An open letter in Bible days was posted publicly for all to read. It was like a letter to the editor. They accused Nehemiah for doing this project not for God but for his own glory. They said he's trying to set himself up as a king. 'He's trying to feather his own nest.'
They slander the motives of the man of God, and they still do it today. And the devil is behind it all...his last ditch effort to stop God's work!
The devil knows how to use gossip and rumors to destroy people.
The nature of rumors:
Normally the source is anonymous, or is attached to the name of a notorious gossip.
v. 6 "it is reported among the heathen..."
Today it sounds this way: "people are saying..."
"And Gashmu saith..." I've got a feeling he was a notorious gossip.
Who are these nameless people that are saying things? If they have a name I'll listen to it. Otherwise it's probably just your cowardly way of making your point, using others.
"But, I can't break their confidence!" Well if it was in confidence, you shouldn't be telling me anything of it anyway.
"People seem to just trust me w/ this stuff." It's because they have sensed you will perform the duty of a garbage truck for them. You'll deliver their trash talk so they don't have to get their hands dirty!
It's not too hard to find the person in the church who has trash can ears. How do you know the person who will carry your message? Because you've heard them carry so many messages before. They are the church gossip!
So, the next time somebody brings a complaint to you that's really for me, direct them to come to me, or bring them with you to me.
Rumors are almost always anonymous. I get a lot of anonymous mail, and I pay it no attention.
Rumors are almost always an attack on motives.
Here they attack Nehemiah's motives, like they know his heart. "I can see right thru you!"
They charge that Nehemiah wants to be king. This is a serious slander, because Nehemiah could lose his life over this. Persian kings squelched resistance in an instant.
This cut to the core of his being. Nothing hurts quite as badly as doing something w/ pure motives and being attacked as doing it for the wrong reasons.
ill.--Living Christmas Tree Pageant I put on in MO cost over $30,000 per year to put on, and we had thousands attend in multiple showings, so we sold $5 tickets, trying to recoup about half the cost. One day in the lobby of a hotel we overheard 2 people talking about it. We kept hearing our church name and so, we weren't eavesdropping, but we seemed to accidentally hear very clearly everything they were talking about. "Imagine, trying to profit off of Christmas!" We approached them and introduced ourselves. They said, "Umm, ahem, blubba blubba, umm." We gave them all the details and explained how the good people of the church were actually footing most of the bill. "Why would you do that out of your own pockets and not charge more?" they asked. We said, "Because we love our community and want this to be our gift to them as much as possible."
It's a perfect example of what we're talking about. And you've had similar experiences on a personal level. It hurts. That's why the devil inspires people to attack motives...because he wants to hurt us. Only God knows your motives. I think it's ok to question motives, one on one, but not to judge them.
Slander is usually an attack on someone trying to accomplish something. So, the only way to avoid it is to do nothing and be nothing. But where there's friction there's motion, and some will be rubbed the wrong way. I want to be a mover, a shaker, and a change maker. I don't want to intentionally hurt feelings, and try hard to avoid that, but not at the expense of accomplishing things.
Here's what Nehemiah did:
• Deny the report.
v. 8 What a simple statement. "Let not your good be evil spoken of." Jesus answered not a word, but that's because He WANTED to be held guilty in our place. And He is our defender, but the truth is His weapon. And people of character will be able to decide for themselves what is true based on the character of those involved.