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Strengthen Your Hands

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Introduction

Nehemiah 2:18 KJV 1900
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
Job 4:3 KJV 1900
Behold, thou hast instructed many, And thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
Isaiah 41:10 KJV 1900
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
The period of history we approach as we look at the book of Nehemiah is one of reproach, adversity and triumph for the nation of Israel. But in order to get a clear picture of where we are, we must go back in time a few steps. As Israel began to develop it’s territory under the leadership of David, they were still worshiping God in a Tabernacle. David was prompted with the desire of building a more permanent structure for the prescribed activities of worship. Because of his warrior past God allowed him to gather provision for the temple, however, the building of it would fall to his son Solomon. 1 Kings 5:1-5
Solomon’s temple was a glorious sight and a marvelous representation of God’s favor and provision on his people. After it was built and dedicated God reminded Solomon that he would dwell with his people as long as they would keep his commandments. 1 Kings 9:1-9 For 400 years the temple existed but through the years Israel had indeed broken God’s command to keep him on the highest plane in their lives. As the nation of Israel followed after strange god’s and neglected the worship of Jehovah God, judgement came in the form of a foreign power. The prophet Jeremiah had a message from the Lord that outlined in great detail the events that would take place. Jeremiah 25:11-12
After 70 years, just as God said, Israel was allowed to return to Jerusalem and to begin to pick up the pieces. The exile from Babylon happened in stages. First under the leadership of Zurubbabel a contingent returned and began the rebuilding of an altar to reinstitute the sacrifices. Ezra 2:1-3:3 Followed 60 years later by Ezra who was a scribe and focused his attention on turning hearts back to the Word of God. Then Nehemiah was appointed to return and his task was to rebuild the walls that had defended the city from its enemies.
Many aspects of this exile are instructive for Christians living in the 21st century. However, this portion of scripture before us today, draws our attention to Nehemiah and his task.

Declaration: Success in ministry, as in any serious endeavor requires strength

Preposition: Would you consider yourself spiritually strong or would you say you have need to strengthen your hands?

Transition: I want us to notice 3 important aspects of what Nehemiah referred to as "Strong Hands"

We are going to look at the requirement of "strong hands", the recipe for "Strong Hands" and the results of "Strong Hands". First notice with me the requirement for "Strong hands":

I. The Requirement of Strong Hands

As this group of Israelites began this endeavor to rebuild the walls surrounding Jerusalem, one thing was evident; they did not posses the strength to accomplish the task!
Can we admit the same thing? What God has called us to do for him cannot be accomplished in the power we posses on our own.

A. Strength was required because the task was Exacting

Starting a ministry (in our case a local church), is no less difficult. In fact, it may be more difficult. You don't just throw a few stones together to build a wall it requires wisdom and forethought.
1 Corinthians 12:18 KJV 1900
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

B. Strength was required because the task was Exhausting - it was physical work

Building a wall required strength. It was manual labor!
i. Its Difficult work
Matthew 9:37–38 KJV 1900
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
ii. It's Discouraging work
Nehemiah 4:10 KJV 1900
And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
Acts 15:36-41 Paul & Barnabas disputed over John Mark- was he discouraged?
iii. It's Dirty work

C. Strength was required because the task was Enduring

The wall was restored relatively quickly. However, the greater task of getting the nation back on track was never ending! It does require a long term vision and commitment- nothing significant will be done for God in a few months or in a few years even
Yes, Nehemiah rebuilt the wall in 52 days but we are not engaged in the work of rebuilding a wall, we are engaged in the work or rebuilding peoples lives through the power of Jesus Christ. We may see some immediate successes but most of the results will come years down the line.
James 5:11 KJV 1900
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

D. Strength was required because of the Extreme Opposition

Nehemiah 4:7–8 KJV 1900
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
2 Corinthians 12:7 KJV 1900
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

E. Strength was required because the task was of Eternal Significance -

Nehemiah 2:18 KJV 1900
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
"good work" - it was worthwhile and it had meaning and purpose
The Jews that had remained in the land during the captivity has assimilated into the culture of the surrounding nations. They had intermarried and the future of the nation was actually dependence on a wall that would separate God's chosen people from the heathen nations that surrounded it. One way to effectively eradicate a race of people would be to assimilate your people together and that is exactly what was happening in Nehemiah's day.
While we are not in a battle to preserve the purity of a people we are in a battle to grow and protect this local church!
There are many "good causes" in this world but none compare to the "great commission"!

We have see the Requirement for Strong Hands now lets notice the Recipe for Strong Hands

II. The Recipe for Strong Hands

So what can we do to Strengthen our hands?

A. The recipe for strong hands required that they Cooperate Together

"and they said...so they strengthened their hands"
i. Be faithful in the little things
Luke 16:10 KJV 1900
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Illustration: (Weight Lifting) When people begin lifting weights or trying to improve their strength, they start out with lighter weights. Many times we want to impress people with our strength, but in reality we are filled with pride and arrogance.
Example of little things:
1. be faithful to church
2. be faithful and dependable in whatever area of service God has for you at the moment
ii. Be about your own business
Nehemiah chapter 3 - They all worked on their respective areas
As they worked on their respective portions of the wall there was not time to quarrel about what was going on elsewhere.

B. The recipe for strong hands required that they Cry out to God

"Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."
Nehemiah 6:8–9 KJV 1900
Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
As Nehemiah faced opposition he didn't look for reasons to run, he simply cried out to God and asked for strength.
Psalm 18:6 KJV 1900
In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of his temple, And my cry came before him, even into his ears.

C. The recipe for strong hands required that they Contend

Through the opposition they came up with a plan and contended for what they believed God had called them to do!
Nehemiah 4:15 KJV 1900
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.
Jude 3 KJV 1900
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

We have seen the Requirement of Strong Hands and the Recipe for Strong Hands lastly I want us to notice the Result of Strong Hands

III. The Result of Strong Hands

What was the overall result of their strengthened hands?

A. The result of strong hands was Action

"so the people had a mind to work"
Nehemiah 4:6 KJV 1900
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

B. The result of strong hands was Achievement

"So built we the wall..."
Galatians 6:9 KJV 1900
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Nehemiah 6:15–16 KJV 1900
So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
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