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SPIRITUAL WISDOM FOR SPIRITUAL WORKERS
Intro: Ill. The context of this passage. Nehemiah and his men are engaged in a serious work. In fact, the future of Jerusalem and of Israel itself depends on the successful completion of their project. As they labor, they provide a valuable illustration for those engaged in the work of the lord in these days.
As you know, this church is facing a great task. Now, I don’t want to place and undue pressure on you, but the very future of this church depends on the successful completion of this task. Thankfully, the Lord has not left you without a work in these perilous and difficult days.
This passage points out some very precious information for those who would see that the Lord’s work is done in this church. Allow me to point out just a few thoughts that are presented here as I preach on the thought “Spiritual Wisdom For Spiritual Workers.” The thoughts given in this passage will aid you in your efforts to do the Lord’s work and will in this church. Notice what wise spiritual workers do:
I. THEY RECOGNIZE THE DANGERS AROUND THEM
A. V. 1-3 They Fought Criticism - The enemies of Israel mocked and ridiculed the work they were attempting to do. You might as well face it, anytime you are determined to do something for God, there will always be those ready to criticize what you do. They would do it differently, better or not at all. Friend, don’t let that crowd get to you, just go on for God! Some of the Lord’s best workers, including the likes of Jesus and Paul were criticized. So, when you are criticized, praise the Lord, for you are in good company!
(Ill. “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain...and most of them do.” —Dale Carnegie)
(Ill. An officer on the battlefield aimed his cannon toward what he thought was the distant enemy. Just before he fired, the commander, looking through his field glasses, shouted, "Your aim seems perfect, but stop! They are not the enemy; they are our own people." Did you ever think that when you aim criticism at God's people so thoughtlessly, you are actually aiming your cannon at the Lord of your brethren?)
B. V. 7-8 They Fought Conspiracy - Their enemies plotted and planned how they might bring about their demise. This church will come under that attack of the enemy! In truth, it already has! But, that should not surprise us, after all, that is his way, 1 Pet. 5:8! You should always beware of those who would love nothing better than for this church to fail! There will be those on the outside who will plot against you and there may be some on the inside, who through their actions also plot against the church! Therefore, be on your guard!
C. V. 10-12 They Fought Complaints - It’s one thing when the enemy attacks your work, it is another when the attack arises from within! This is what happened to Nehemiah and his workers. Be aware this evening that there will arise within your own ranks those who will not be satisfied with anything you do! Some people can’t find a good word to say about anything!
(Ill. A certain father was a chronic growler. He was sitting with his family in the presence of a guest in the parlor one day when the question of food came up. One of the children, a little girl, was telling the guest very cleverly what food each member of the family liked best. Finally it came to the father's turn to be described. "And what do I like, Nancy?" he asked laughingly. "You," said the little girl slowly, "well, you like most anything we haven't got.")
(Ill. An angry pastor's wife looked over the remains of a dinner that had long since turned cold. She intensely inquired of her husband, "Where have you been for the last two hours?" His hollow eyes gazed toward his wife; then he slowly responded, "I met Mrs. Burton on the street and asked her how she was feeling.")
(Ill. A young couple was becoming anxious about their four-year-old son who had not yet talked. They took him to specialists, but the doctors found nothing wrong with him. Then one morning at breakfast the boy suddenly blurted, "Mom, the toast is burned." "You talked! You talked!" shouted his mother. "I'm so happy! But why has it taken this long?" "Well, up till now," said the boy, "things have been okay.")
Your efforts and motives will be brought into question and everything you do will be scrutinized. But, you need to remember tonight, your duty is not to please the critics and the complainers; your duty is to please the Lord!
(Ill. Here is a word of advise for all the complainers in the church: “The man who says it can’t be done should never interrupt the man who is actually doing it.” —Anonymous )
II. THEY RELY ON THE DEITY ABOVE THEM
(Ill. When the attacks came, Nehemiah and his men did the right thing. They turned to God in faith! They exercised the privilege of prayer!)
A. V. 4-5 The Leaders Prayed - Nehemiah called on God! He went to the Lord looking for help and direction. Let me challenge the leaders of this church to beware of turning to men and manmade organizations for your help in these days! Look to God, He has been guiding His people through treacherous waters for thousands of years. He had helped others and He will help you, Jer. 33:3!
B. V. 9a The Laborers Prayed - It wasn’t just the leaders who called on God. But, everyone involved in the work, bathed the work in prayer. They all turned to the Lord in dependence upon Him and believed Him for the help they needed. The best thing this church can do right now is come together in a spirit of united, focused prayer! You need the Lord and His help in these hours! If you will call on Him, He will hear you and He will help you, Phil. 4:6-7! (Note: Verse 14 - They were told not to fear the enemy, but to focus on the Lord!)
III. THEY RESPOND TO THE DUTIES ASSIGNED THEM
(Note: They didn’t just pray about the work and think they were finished, they knew that prayer was just the beginning. After prayer, it was time to bend the back under the load!)
A. V. 6 They Were United In The Process Of The Work - Notice the word “we” and the phrase “people had a mind”. This expresses a unity of purpose and work. These folks were working together and as a result, the work was accomplished! (Ill. Neh. 6:15) I touched on this Sunday evening, but the process fo this work is going to go far more smoothly if you ALL will work together! (Phil. 1:27)
B. V. 9 They Were United In The Protection Of The Work - While they ALL worked, they also ALL watched! Everyone had each other’s best interests at heart! For them, the big picture was the main focus! Each member of this church should keep his or her eyes open for the slightest hint of trouble! If each person is watching for the enemy, he will have a more difficult time getting his foot in the door! (Ill. The strongest walls are useless if the gates are weak or if the gatekeepers are careless or disloyal. The Great Wall of China was penetrated by enemies at least three times, and each time the guards were bribed. The church desperately needs strong gates and loyal gatekeepers.
C. V. 13-18 They Were United In The Progress Of The Work - As the work progressed, they were ALL in it together, until it was completed. Each person had a different function, but they were ALL united in the work! This is essential to success in the church! Unless the church works together as a team, it will surely accomplish nothing of eternal value! (Ill. Have you ever wondered why the Canadian geese fly only in the V formation? For years specialists in aerodynamics wondered the same thing.
Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel what happens in such a V formation. Each goose, in flapping his wings, creates an upward lift for the goose that follows. When all the geese do their part in the V formation, the whole flock has a 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Each depends upon the other to get to its destination.
Something else--When a goose begins to lag behind, the others "honk" it back into place.
Now, let us learn from God's animal creation. The church needs to fly in a spiritual V formation, "honking" one another into steadfastness. And it must be at least 71 percent easier to live the faithful Christian life flying with the flock as opposed to going it alone. "Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb. 10:24).)
IV. THEY REMEMBER THE DETERMINATIONS ABOUT THEM
(Note: They needed to remember what they were fighting for, and so does this church!)
A. V. 14 They Were Fighting For Their Faith - More was at stake in Jerusalem that a wall! Nehemiah know that the very worship of Jehovah was in the balance! Remember as you pray and labor for your church, that the future of your worship is at stake! What you do now, will determine the atmosphere of worship in this church for a long time to come! Be careful that you do not allow the enemy to empty your altars, silence your praise and extinguish your testimony!
B. V. 14 They Were Fighting For Their Families - Nehemiah knew that the struggle was for the very lives of their families! If they succeeded, their families would live. If they failed, then they would all die! The struggle in this church is just as real tonight! You are fighting to maintain a place of worship that will impact your families! Be careful that you take the time to count the costs for the families and the community as you seek the Lord’s will for your church!
C. V. 14 They Were Fighting For Their Future - The very future of Jerusalem and the Jewish faith was on the line during this time of conflict. These people were battling, not just for themselves and the needs that were currently at hand, but they were fighting for the next generation and all future generations to come! No one knew that future, but they knew that the future rested on what they did right then! (Note: The same could be said concerning the struggle you folks are entering now! No one in this room knows what the future holds for this church. However, it is certain that your future, whether bright or dim, rests on the decisions you make at this crucial time! That is why you need to seek the Lord in prayer and take the right steps of faith so that you may arrive at the bright and hopeful future the Lord has placed in front of you!)
Conc: Spiritual work requires spiritual wisdom! And, that spiritual wisdom is available to all those who will ask for it, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”, James 1:5.
Do you need to get before the Lord tonight to seek His face concerning His will for Gilead Baptist Church? Do you need wisdom that surpasses that of mere mortals? If there is a desire in your heart to see the Lord take this church and prepare it so that its future is far brighter than its past, then I invite you to come before Him and seek His blessing, His wisdom and His power to for task that lies ahead!