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SF1015 - HOW TO OVERCOME OPPOSITION - 4 of 6 OVERCOMING OBSTACLES TO VICTORY (NEH 4 1-23)

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Nehemiah 4:1-23

Introduction

We have learned that opportunity equals opposition.  One to the tests of an overcomer is how we handle opposition/problems. 

“Opposition is not only an evidence that God is blessing, but it is also an opportunity for us to grow” (Warren Wiersbe, Nehemiah). 

“God had one Son without sin, but He never had a son without trial” (Charles Sprugeon in Wiersbe, Nehemiah).

We are entering a new era as a church.  An era of renewed focus, focus on the Lord Jesus, a focus on the Word of God, a focus on others, and a focus on evangelism.  As certain, as we renew our focus we will face the opposition of the enemy.

Satan will not allow us to do a great work for God without opposing us.  You can be certain that you will be attacked.  Satan hates us because he hates God.  We must remember however, that Satan is under God’s sovereign rule.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it..

Today we are going to learn how we can to anticipate opposition and how we are to answer opposition.

1A.      How to Anticipate Opposition

We anticipate opposition by understanding the tactics the enemy employs.  Satan has not changed his methods in four thousand years.  In this chapter, we see his three favorite tactics.  Remember Satan will use men to do his biding.

1B.      Satan will try to distract you (4:1-3)

They ridiculed the feebleness of God’s people (4:2a)

Ø      They ridiculed them because they were few and small. 

“Feeble” means withered, miserable.  We are a feeble people in the eyes of the world.  We are a small an insignificant group compared to the size and prestige of the world.  It is wrong to measure the church by the size of the people.

A little fellow applied for a job as woodsman in the north woods.  They told him he was too small to chop down trees; he said I can do it.  They gave him an ax and told him to chop down a sapling he went chop, chop and it was done.  They said try that on this redwood.  He went chop, chop, and chop and down it went.  The man said I never seen any thing like that, where did you learn to chop wood like that?  He said in the Sahara forest, the man said don’t you mean the Sahara desert, the little man said; well that is what they call it now.

God does not measure His people simply by their hands, how strong they are, or by their heads, how smart they are, but by their hearts, how surrendered they are.  Paul expresses it best in 1 Corinthians 1.


1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—31that, as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

They ridiculed the foolishness of their faith.  (4:2b)

“Will they sacrifice?”  They ridiculed the Jew’s faith in God.  The world will mock our faith. 

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 

They ridiculed the futility of their task.  (4:2c)

They will never do what they say they are going to do.  We are not about just buildings and budgets; they are a means to an end. 

Jesus is building a church, “I will build my church.”  An in building a church He is building a people of God.  We will win!  We cannot loose, because Christ will not loose!

They ridiculed the frailty of their work.  (4:3)

They were convinced that the work would not last.  The world laughs at us; the world says it will not last.  The world will tells us that what we do will not last.  Satan is still ridiculing the work of God.


2B.      Satan will try to discourage you (4:10-11)

There is an old legend that one day Satan had a garage sale.  He was selling all of his tools that he had used over the centuries.  Lying, hatred, malice, lust, greed, envy, jealousy, pride, all of these different things.  Over in the corner one tool not for sale.  It was so priceless that he would not sale it.  Why?  Because it was "Discouragement” That’s Satan's most important tool.  With this tool and can get into a heart and pry it open and destroy it.

Good people can become discouraged (4:10)

Judah was the chief tribe!  Judah was the best of the best.  These were the leaders!  Jesus would come from this tribe.

Fatigue will cause you to become discouraged (4:10a)

They were worn out, weighted down, and worried.  They were only halfway finished on the wall (4:6).  The beginning and the end are the easiest times to work; halfway is the hardest time! 

Middle age in life is a time of discouragement.  Some of you are saying we have been at this work a long time.  I am tired.  Some are saying when will we ever get ahead? 

Serving the Lord is hard tedious work.  We are to serve God until He calls us home.  Fatigue is dangerous, Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of all of us."  Fatigue can and will lead to discouragement.  We need to rest physically.  We need to work smart and be as effective as we can for the Kingdom.

Frustration will cause you to become discouraged (4:10b)

There is so much rubbish,” they were weighted down.  Frustration is usually a matter of perception.  Actually, the piles are getting smaller.  They just seemed to be never ending.  It is easy to become weighted down in serving the Lord.  That is why the trash must be removed.  If we are going to succeed, we must remove the clutter the garbage.  The hardest part of the job was removing the trash. 

Ø      We have a lot of trash that must be removed. 

Theological trash, we must regain a proper understanding of God and man, we must reaffirm our belief of the Bible, and we must live what the Bible says. 

Traditional trash, just because something has always been does not make it right or wrong. 

Organizational trash; we need to look at how we do “church.”  We must organize ourselves according to the Bible and set God’ people free to serve Him. 

We must remove the rubble before we can build the wall.  We must get rid of the trash before we are ready to build. 

We must resist the temptation to do God’s work the cheap way the easy way.  There is no cheap way, no easy way to do God’s work!


Fear will cause you to become discouraged (4:11)

They were worried that the enemy would attack and destroy them.  The enemy promised to attack at an unknown time.  The enemy wants to keep things in turmoil.  When there is confusion in our church or our families we know the source is not God.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Satan has watched you long enough to know your breaking point.  He knows when you cannot take anymore.  Therefore, he will pour on just a little more.  Fear of Satan and man will cause you to become discouraged. 

“Fear and faith cannot live together in the same heart” (Wiersbe, Nehemiah). 

3B.      Satan will try to defeat you (4:12)

The most effective attack comes from within.

People within the camp who say it cannot be done.  They were with them but not for them. 

Two pastors were talking about committees.  Do you have any standing committees?  Yes, I have 12 standing committees, six sitting, three that are lying down.  We even have a bucket committee, the people that whenever we get ready to do anything for God pour cold water on it.  You will be either part of the problem or part of solution.

Those who are closest to the enemy are most likely to become negative.  (4:12a)

The Jews outside the city of Jerusalem, who lived near the enemy, they were the ones most negative.  What happens when you are around negative people all the time?  You become negative.

Negative people will always exaggerate the situation

“Told us ten times,” the point is: the negative is always exaggerated.

The opposition always has two goals.  One is to hinder God's word and the other is to halt God's work. 


2A.      How to Answer Opposition

1B.      Rely on God (4:4-5)

Nehemiah did not get into a name-calling contest

Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.

Ø      A bulldog can whip a skunk but it is not worth it.

Nehemiah told God on them

Ø      The greater the opposition the more you need to pray, the more you need to depend upon God. 

Ø      When you are ridiculed, do not take it out on people, talk it out with God. 

That is what Nehemiah does.  He hears this initial ridicule, ignores it, and goes to God in prayer. 

The best response to ridicule is no response.  Instead, you pray, and you keep on doing what you should be doing in the first place.  The first verse says -- they ridiculed, they prayed, they rebuilt the wall.  Ridicule can never stop you from doing what you are doing, unless you let it.

Ø      You must be willing to trust God to deal with those who oppose His work.

Our job is to be certain we are doing God’s work, God’s way.  Then we can trust Him to judge those who oppose us.

Proverbs 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

1 Peter 2:23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

2B.      Respect the Enemy (4:6, 9, 13, 16-18)

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Set a guard before you are attacked (4:9)

Ø      They did the prayerful thing and then the practical thing. 

Its fine to lie in bed at night and pray, "Protect me from the burglars."  However, you also need to get up and lock your door! 

Oliver Cromwell said, "Trust God and keep your powder dry."

Ø      Petition without precaution is presumption. 

Rely on God when you are being opposed.  But also respect the opposition.  Moreover, the stronger the opposition, the stronger the response. 


Arm the people for the battle (4:13)

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

Ø      Principle:  Never fight a fight alone. 

When you are facing opposition, get some support.  That is one of the purposes of the church.

Battle and build at the same time (4:16-18)

Ø      Principle:  Every time you start building for God, you are asking for a battle. 

If you start trying to build your marriage, you are asking for a battle.  If you start trying to build up your own personal spiritual life, you are asking for a battle.  If you start trying to build a church, that is a battle.  Everytime a church starts building there is a battle.

3B.      Remain Focused on the Lord (4:14)

Remember the Lord

Ø      Nehemiah says, "Remember the Lord!"

 He is saying, "Let's look at the future.  Get our eyes off the opposition and get our eyes on the Lord."  When you are under attack, if the devil can get you to focus on the opposition he has won a major victory.  Either you will focus on the opposition or you focus on the Lord. 

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Reverence the Lord

Ø      Circle "awesome.”

Ø      Circle "afraid.” 

In the Hebrew that is the same word in both places -- the word for afraid and the word for awesome. 

Ø      When you fear God then you are not going to fear other people. 

Luke 12:4-5 " And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Robert Lewis Stevenson, tells a story of a group of people on a ship in the midst of great storm.  One passenger made his way to the bridge.  He looked at the captain and the captain turned and smiled.  The passenger returned below and told the others we are going to OK.  I have seen the face of the captain and he smiled at me.

Have you seen the face to captain Jesus?  Jesus is still at the helm!  We must remember our God!

4B.      Rally Around the Cause (4:14b)

We are not building walls - we are building lives! 

Remember our purpose!

What would happen if the people of FBC were excited and committed to sharing the gospel with this city?  It costs to be on fire for God! 

5B.      Return to the Work (4:15)

One of the cures of discouragement is to go to work.

Ø      Do not wait until you feel like working. 

Ø      Do not wait until everything is just right. 

We are to build and battle!  We must be warm-hearted and hard headed.

6B.      Recommit to your coworkers (4:19-20)

There is something wonderful about unity!

Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

In order to work together we must come together!

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Ø      A fellow courted his girlfriend by writing her a letter every day for two years.  She married the mailman.

7B.      Refuse to quit (4:21-23)

The opposition wants to stir up trouble (4:8)

The opposition wants to stop the work (4:11)

We must refuse to quit

Calvin Coolidge said, "Press on.  Nothing can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not.  Nothing is more common that unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not.  Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not.  The world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are the overwhelming power."

Ø      Persistence is the ultimate test of faith. 

They worked through the night. 

This is the acid test of our faith in God.  How do you handle it when the going gets tough?

How do you get to be an oak tree?  An oak tree is just a little nut that refused to give his ground.  It does not take a lot of intelligence but if you just hang on you will outlast the critics.  There is nothing the devil would rather do than stall us, and stop us, and move us into neutral so resist discouragement and keep on.


Do not let go…

I want to let go, but I won't let go.
There are battles to fight,
By day and by night

For God and the right

And I'll never let go!

I want to let go, but I won't let go.

I'm sick, 'tis true,

And worried and blue

And worn out through and through

But I won't let go.

I want to let go, but I won't let go.

I will never yield.

What?  Lie down on the field

And surrender my shield?

No, I'll never let go!

I want to let go, but I won't let go.

May this be my song,

Mid legions of wrong,

O God keep me strong

So I'll never let go.

Application

1.         Consider the cause of the opposition

Ø      Ridicule is a substitute for reason

Ø      Laughing is a substitute for logic

2.         Consider the character of those who oppose you

3.         Consider the company you are in when you are opposed.

4.         Consider the compensation when we are opposed

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

5.                  Consider the conclusion of the matter

God wins!

Whose side are you on?


Nehemiah 4:1-23

Introduction

 “Opposition is not only an evidence that God is blessing, but it is also an opportunity for us to grow” (Warren Wiersbe). 

“God had one Son without sin, but He never had a son without trial” (Charles Sprugeon).

1A.      How to ________________________________________ Opposition

1B.      Satan will try to _________________________________ you (4:1-3)

They ridiculed the feebleness of God’s people (4:2a)

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

They ridiculed the foolishness of their faith.  (4:2b)

1 Corinthians 1:18

They ridiculed the futility of their task.  (4:2c)

They ridiculed the frailty of their work.  (4:3)

2B.      Satan will try to ____________________________________ you (4:10-11)

Good people can become discouraged (4:10)

Fatigue will cause you to become discouraged (4:10a)

Frustration will cause you to become discouraged (4:10b)

Fear will cause you to become discouraged (4:11)

1 Corinthians 14:33

 “Fear and faith cannot live together in the same heart” (Warren Wiersbe, Nehemiah). 

3B.      Satan will try to _______________________________________ you (4:12)

The most effective attack comes from within.

Those who are closest to the enemy are most likely to become negative.  (4:12a)

Negative people will always exaggerate the situation

2A.      How to ___________________________________________ Opposition

1B.      ______________________ on God (4:4-5)

Nehemiah did not get into a name-calling contest

Proverbs 26:4

Nehemiah told God on them

Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 2:23


2B.      _____________________________________ the Enemy (4:6, 9, 13, 16-18)

1 Peter 5:8

Set a guard before you are attacked (4:9)

Arm the people for the battle (4:13)

Ephesians 6:13; 2 Corinthians 10:4

Ø      Principle:  Never fight a fight alone. 

Battle and build at the same time (4:16-18)

Ø      Principle:  Every time you start building for God, you are asking for a battle. 

3B.      Remain _________________________________________ on the Lord (4:14)

Remember the Lord (1 John 4:4)

Reverence the Lord (Luke 12:4-5)

4B.      Rally ________________________________________ the Cause (4:14b)

We are not building walls - we are building lives! 

5B.      Return to the Work (4:15)

One of the cures of discouragement is to go to work.

6B.      ___________________________________________ to your coworkers (4:19-20)

There is something wonderful about unity!  (Psalm 133:1)

In order to work together we must come together!  (Hebrews 10:25)

7B.      Refuse to quit (4:21-23)

The opposition wants to stir up trouble (4:8)

The opposition wants to stop the work (4:11)

We must refuse to quit

Application

1.         Consider the cause of the opposition

2.         Consider the character of those who oppose you

3.         Consider the company you are in when you are opposed.

4.         Consider the compensation when we are opposed

6.                  Consider the conclusion of the matter

Preparing for Next Week

Read Nehemiah 5:1-13 paying particular attention to the internal struggles Nehemiah faced.

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