Building With Faith and Trust
Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
September 18, 2016
Central Passage
Job 13:15
Description

BUILDING WITH FAITH AND TRUST

Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).

          When you truly commit to serving Christ in ministry…things often get messy.  That’s because you’ve had the audacity to pull on the devil’s cape…letting him know that he’s not in charge of your life.  He doesn’t like defiance...especially on the part of people he’s used to controlling.

          Job irritated the devil because he was a good guy…a straight arrow.  I don’t know why the Lord let the devil test him.  Maybe it was to prove to the devil that there were good people in this world that he couldn’t buy or own.  Whatever the reason, despite all the trials and tribulations he was put through…he didn’t falter or sell out his relationship with God.  Abandoning faith in God would have been the easy thing to do…and the thing most people would have done.  But Job said about God: “Even if He kills me, I’ll trust Him.”

          Peter made it clear that trusting in God didn’t guarantee a smooth ride through life when he wrote: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

          In other words, Jesus didn’t promise his followers smooth sailing…and you have a choice to make when things get tough.  You can GIVE UP on God…or you can GIVE IN to God.

          Let’s face it…the lives of most of us resemble the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado.  They’re like landscapes littered with sin’s rubble.  We can get out of the rubble and clean ourselves up…or we can just sit in the trash and learn to enjoy the smell of Satan’s garbage.

          The Book of Nehemiah teaches that lesson well.  After 70 years of captivity the people of God were back in their homeland rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem.  They became discouraged when Sanballat became angry with their rebuilding and ridiculed them…calling them “feeble,” which means “withered and miserable.”

          Anytime you do God’s work…you’re going to encounter opposition…and you’re going to be ridiculed.  And like these folks in Nehemiah’s day…you can easily become discouraged for any or all of three reasons.

          First of all…fatigue.  When you’re physically or mentally drained it’s easy to become discouraged at the slightest problem.  And, discouragement for these folks came into play when the wall was built to half its planned height.

          Sound familiar?  The first half of a new project goes quickly because you’re excited about accomplishing a goal.  But, when the newness wears off and the work becomes routine and boring it’s easy to become fatigued.  Nehemiah 4:6 tells us the people “…worked with all their heart.”  But four verses later they’re saying, “…we cannot rebuild the wall.”

          I don’t know if we’re even halfway through with building the spiritual walls of this church…or if it’s even possible to finish the job before we go to be with Christ.  What I do know is that many who started out this work with good intentions found it too hard for their liking…so they quit.  I also know that only a few will continue this work with all their heart…which seems to be the same story of every true church in the world.

          Some of the people of Nehemiah’s day first became fatiguedbut they also became frustrated byso much rubble.”  They were encountering old broken rocks, dried-out mortar, and other debris that was underfoot. This junk was everywhere…and it caused them to lose sight of their goal.

          It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when you have gobs of garbage in your life.  And Satan has what seems to be an unending fleet of garbage trucks dumping their loads on you.  That’s why Hebrews 12:1 tells you to get rid of everything that causes you to be frustrated in your pursuit of godliness: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us.”

          So some of Nehemiah’s people became fatigued…they were frustrated…and they were fearful.  Some of them wanted to give up because God’s enemies struck fear in their hearts.

          Government can’t…and won’t…do anything about the enemies of God and His people.  If by some miracle we elected a strong Christian President…along with a strong Christian Congress and Senate…and if everyone on the Supreme Court was a strong Christian…we would not be out of the woods.  If anything, the attacks against Christ and His Church would continue…because Satan is never going to let up.

          But fear of the future is not the answer.  If you want to limit the discouraging thoughts that bring fear into your life…then it’s best to not hang around with negative people.  And there are very good cures for fatigue, frustration and fear that cause discouragement.

          First, request God’s help.  Nehemiah prayed “Hear us, O God, for we are despised.  Turn their insults back on their own heads.  Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight...”

          Nehemiah’s praying wasn’t politically correct.  He didn’t pray for his enemies to become believers…but for God to judge them.  His enemies were fighting against God…so he asked God to deal with them.

          He didn’t lecture the workers…didn’t organize a raiding party against the enemy…and didn’t develop a propaganda campaign to put a different spin on things.  He didn’t respond to insults from the enemy…he talked to God.  So when the enemies of God start talking trash to you…pray.  That’s what keeps  a true believer on track.

          After requesting God’s help…Nehemiah said, “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest point of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows” (4:13).

          Nehemiah knew that an enemy attack would most likely be at the weakest point on the wall…so he put guards at all the vulnerable spots.  This served two purposes…it discouraged the enemy and it encouraged the people because it dealt with their fear.

          In your 24/7 battle with Satan…make sure your priorities are right…and strengthen the areas where you are most vulnerable.  Each of you know…better than I do…where you’re most vulnerable

          The most important thing you can do is to remember who God is.  Nehemiah knew.  He rallied his troops, saying in verse 4:14: “…Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…”

          God inspired the rebuilding of the wall.  So Nehemiah knew that even in the face of opposition…the success of the wall was wholly dependent upon God.  In building the walls of this church…we would do well to remember that, too.

          When you try to build something for God…you’re always going to contend with Satan’s rubble.  When Nehemiah’s people began rebuilding the wall…they were focused on God and His character.  It was only when they took their eyes off God and started looking at the rubble that trouble erupted.

          If you focus on all the junk in your life…and in the lives of others…you will become discouraged about building the spiritual walls of this church.  That’s why we need to be God-gazers instead of garbage-gazers.  When you face trouble…focus on God…not the garbage in your life.

          Nehemiah 8:1 says thatWhen the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate.  They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.”

          Verse 3 tells us that Ezra started reading at dawn and read until lunch.  The people listened to the Word of God for more than six hours…a regimen that continued for a week.

          They knew that this was not just a man speaking…that they were hearing the very Word of God.  After Ezra praised “the great God” in verse 6, all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!”  Then they “…bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

          The anticipation of hearing Scripture in a way that they could understand totally gripped them.  They were locked in…focused…and ready to hear from their great God.

          In verses 7-8, the Levites joined Ezra in helping to instruct the people.  They “made it clear” and gave the meaning “so that the people could understand what was being read.”  They probably mingled with the people and…when there was a break in the reading…answered questions and told them how to live out the Law.  There was both a public proclamation of the Word in a large assembly and then face-to-face interaction in a small group.

          Nehemiah was able to build his team around a central rallying point.  He pointed them to the purpose of the work…the glory of God.  They weren’t just working on a wall…they were worshipping their worthy God.  As 1 Corinthians 10:31 so aptly puts it: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

          There are 12 different prayers recorded in Nehemiah.  There are prayers of anguish, joy, protection, dependence and commitment.  The book is brimming with compassionate, persistent, personal and corporate prayer.  Prayer gives Nehemiah perspective…widens his horizons…sharpens his vision and dwarfs his anxieties.

          Nehemiah’s public life was the outflow of his personal life…which was steeped in and shaped by a lifestyle of prayer.  His devotion to God…his dependence on God for everything…and his desire for the glory of God…found equal expression.  He knew that only ventures that are begun in prayer…and bathed in prayer throughout…are likely to be blessed.  There is no other human activity as lofty as that of adoring God.

          In Nehemiah 12:27 we read about a dedication service for the newly constructed wall.  Celebration of this nature is the primary aspect of praise.  It begins with who God is…what God has said…and what God has done.

          True worship is all about God…not about us.  It’s not a question of musical style…but of majestic substance.  Praise must take precedence over our preferences.  It’s too easy to start sinning when we talk about singing.  The purpose of our praising…according to Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16…must be to worship God and to encourage one another.

          The secret of acceptable worship is not simply what we do…but how we do it.  The new residents of Jerusalem radiated joyful hearts with jubilant songs of thanksgiving.  Worship was never meant to be drab and boring.  And, there was nothing stereotypical or monochromic about this thanksgiving service.

          In Nehemiah 9:4-5 another worship service is described.  The Levites divided themselves into two groups.  Some were standing on the stairs on one side of the assembly and the other group stood across from them.  These two groups called back and forth to the congregation…one group confessing the sins of the people and the other praising God for His greatness.

          Cries of guilt were followed by shouts of praise for God’s greatness, goodness, and graciousness.  Tears of grief form the lyrics of lament…while tears of joy transpose the anthem of adoration.  Our services should be filled with both reverence and rejoicing.

          If you’re struggling with your faith…it may well be because your view of God is too small or too narrow.  Our sense of inadequacy or ineffectiveness can usually be traced to our limited understanding and experience of God.  But God’s truth is not distant…His grace is not ordinary…His judgment is not benign…His gospel is not easy…and His Christ is not common.

          We should understand that…and we should understand that worship should alter the way we live.  If worshippers leave a service with no thought of becoming godly in their lives…then the purpose of worship has not been achieved.  If people continue to be unkind…or mean-spirited…or self-centered…or immoral…then there has been a breakdown somewhere in the process.  If they’re not at peace with one another in the assembly…then they’re not at peace with God.

          In the middle of Nehemiah we read that the community of believers started to self-destruct because of some festering grievances.  So in chapter five Nehemiah had to turn his attention from the construction of the wall to the walls that were being put up between his workers.  Internal conflict threatened to divide and destroy them.

          It’s much easier to conquer and subdue an enemy who attacks us than it is to forgive and restore a friend who hurts us.  And there is a direct correlation between how we treat each other and the effectiveness of our mission.

          Nehemiah 12:31-39 tells us that the leaders went up on the top of the wall to worship.  They were bearing witness to the watching world that God had done the work…and that He alone should be glorified.  The enemy had said that the wall was so weak that a fox could knock it down…but people were marching on it…proving the truth of Nehemiah 6:16: “…this work has been done with the help of our God.”

          God made you for the purpose of marching on a spiritual wall that He helped you build…not for standing in the rubble and grieving over what might have been.

          So pray…pray…and pray some more…that God will build this church into whatever kind of fortress He wants it to be.  And make sure that God alone is glorified for what He allows us to do on His behalf.

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