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Putting It All Together When the World Is Falling Apart

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August 14, 2005

       I.      HORSES PULLING A VERY HEAVY LOAD OF LOGS

A.    CAME TO A HARD PLACE

1.      Struggled As Hard As They Could but the Weight of the Load Was Too Much

2.      Driver Rolled Off Some of the Logs but the Horses Still Couldn’t Pull the Weight

3.      Repeated Until All the Logs Were Off

4.      Only When All of the Logs Were Off Would the Horses Pull the Cart Up the Road

5.      That Day There Was No Profit!

B.     SOME PLACE IN THE PROCESS “COULDN’T” BECAME “WOULDN’T”

1.      Those Horses Had Been Utterly Discouraged;

2.      In the Beginning They Had Pulled with All Their Collective Strength … but Failed

3.      Failure Brought About the Conviction That They Couldn’t Even Haul One Single Log.

4.      Even Horses Experience Discouragement!

5.      We’re In Good Company.

6.      Every One of Us Has Experienced Discouragement.

a.       We’ve tried to lose 20 extra pounds … & gained 5

b.      We’ve tried to get out of debt & had to borrow more money because the car broke down

c.       We’ve tried to make the perfect strawberry pie & …

                                                                                                        i.            Had it come out like cardboard

                                                                                                      ii.            Or had it come out perfect & gained those 5 pounds

d.      We’ve all experienced failure, felt defeated, … & been discouraged

7.      But ... Do We Just Give Up?

8.      How Do You Turn the Negatives of Life Into Positives?

C.     HOW DO YOU PUT IT ALL TOGETHER WHEN THE WORLD IS FALLING APART?

1.      How Do You Find Courage In Discouragement?

2.       How Can You Be Encouraged When You’re Discouraged?

3.      What Does It Take to Make the Glass Half Full When It’s Half Empty?

SCRIPTURE TEXT

    II.      FOUR SIMPLE STEPS TO GET WHERE YOU’RE GOING

A.    STEP ONE: HAVE A HEART FOR THE WORK

1.      Read vs. 6

a.       The whole project was completed in 62 days (about 8 weeks of 6 days each)

b.      The halfway point probably took about 4 weeks

c.       They had made incredible progress

d.      The accomplished what they did because “…the people worked with all their heart.”

2.      You Will Accomplish What You Have a Heart For!

3.      The Problem:

a.       Sometimes having a heart for something or someone can become painful

b.      KFB – Going to Hell

                                                                                                        i.            It breaks my heart

                                                                                                      ii.            To pray for him every day hurts too much

                                                                                                    iii.            Easier to give up, think of him less often, etc.

                                                                                                    iv.            In the process I become harder, less concerned for the lost … or …

                                                                                                      v.            I change my theology to say things like, “God won’t keep anyone out of Heaven.”

                                                                                                    vi.            Then in my mind, the problem goes away!

c.       The result is that few are won to Christ and, even if they do come to the Lord … there is nothing to celebrate.

d.      Here are the facts:

                                                                                                        i.            Hell is real!

                                                                                                      ii.            Jesus is the only way to escape eternal misery!

                                                                                                    iii.            If you don’t pray for those who are lost & invite them … there may be no one else who does!

4.      What Do You Have a Heart For?  What Are You Passionate About?

a.       Don’t lose heart!

b.      Galatians 6:9

   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

B.     STEP TWO: PRAY BEFORE YOU ACT

1.      Enemies On All Sides

a.       Arabs were from the south

b.      Ammonites from the east

c.       Ashdodites from the west

d.      Samaritans from the north

2.      Threats Were Very Real & the Temptation Would Be To Act Quickly & Decisively

3.      Read vs. 9

4.      It Took Discipline & Courage to Pray & Think Before Acting

a.       Great men & women of God understand this

b.      It was a key distinction between King Saul & King David

5.      Two Reasons Nehemiah Succeeded

a.       Prayer & Thinking Produced An Awareness

                                                                                                        i.            Nehemiah realized that the enemy only gets angry when you are you are accomplishing your goal

                                                                                                      ii.            Nehemiah realized that the purpose of the evil plot was to stop the progress on the wall

                                                                                                    iii.            Prayer helped him remember that God was bigger than their problem

                                                                                                    iv.            Prayer also helped Nehemiah know what needed to be done.

b.      Prayer & Thinking Preceded Action

c.       Three types of Christians  

                                                                                                        i.            Think without Acting (ready – aim, ready aim, ready aim …)

                                                                                                      ii.            Acting without Thinking or Praying (fire – ready – aim) (Mr. Phillips)

                                                                                                    iii.            People who pray & think it through first & then act (ready – aim – fire)

d.      The people under Nehemiah’s leadership accomplished so much so quickly because he started with prayer.

C.     WORK THROUGH THE PROBLEM

1.      Read vss. 10 – 12

2.      Elements of Discouragement

a.       Exhaustion

   “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out,…” [vs. 10a]

b.      Problems that seem to big to overcome

   “…there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” [vs. 10b]

c.       Enemies

d.      Repeated threats [vss. 11f]

e.       Discouragement is a natural result

                                                                                                        i.            Even though they had been working with all their hearts…

                                                                                                      ii.            Exhaustion, overwhelming problems, enemies that make repeated threats will wear anybody down

f.       Without some kind of encouragement from somewhere defeat is inevitable

3.      Read vss. 13f

a.       Nehemiah placed the people at the lowest points so they could be seen

b.      Arranged them in family units

                                                                                                        i.            Think about this

                                                                                                      ii.            Nehemiah may have brought the Jews who were living outside the walls that had been warning them inside the walls to protect them and to help w/ the work

                                                                                                    iii.            Forced them to work hard as family units &, if they had to, fight for their families

c.       Reminded the people that God was big enough for the challenge!

D.    GET THE JOB DONE

1.      Follow Through!

2.      Read vs. 15

3.      What’s Keeping You from Building the Kingdom of God?

a.       Do you have a heart for the work

b.      Have you prayed the problem through

c.       Are you working through the problem?

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