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God & the Spider

Nehemiah 8:10b – This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

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God & the Spider

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  1. Nehemiah 8:10b –This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Nehemiah 12:43 – Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away.

  2. God & the Spider • "Lord, if it be Your will, please protect me. Whatever Your will though, I love You and trust You. Amen." • "Hah”, he thought. "What I need is a brick wall but the Lord sent me a spider web. God does have a sense of humor." • He prayed, "Lord, forgive me. I had forgotten that in You a spider web is stronger than a brick wall.“ • When we face times of trouble, it’s easy to forget the great thingsGod desireswork in our lives. • And, He often does it in ways we least expect.

  3. As Nehemiah reminded the people of Israel when they faced the daunting task of rebuilding the wall: Nehemiah 2:20 – In God we will have success! • Looking at the task before us as a church—building a new building—it looks overwhelming. • Looking at our present giving levels, it looks even more daunting! • But, we have a word from God—Keep moving forward in faith! • As we do, God will perform many great miracles. • But, we have to break out of the limitations of unbelief and discouragement!

  4. Let’s look at Nehemiah’s story. • It’s amazing how relevant the Word of God is. Brief Background • Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, in 586 BC. • He burned down the Temple and broke down the protective wall around the city. • After 70 years of Captivity, a new king, Cyrus of Persia, allowed the Jews to return. • Company A left with Zerubbabel&managed to rebuild the Temple. • About 80 years later, Company B left with Ezra.

  5. About 13 years later, Nehemiah led Company C back to rebuild the City Walls. • Which hedid in a record 52 days! Nehemiah 6:15-16 – So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. • The last clause is key for us: They realize this work had been done with the help of our God.

  6. There was no way that this rag tag band of Jews could accomplish such an awesome task in the face of so many huge obstacles. • Yet, they did! • Only in God was it possible! • The same is true for us in accomplishing our vision and building our new building. • On our own, there is no way, but through God, all things are possible for them that believe!

  7. What did Zechariah tell Zerubbabel as looked at the overwhelming task of rebuilding the Temple? Zechariah 4:6-7 – Then he said to me, "This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. 7 Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel's way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: 'May God bless it! May God bless it!'"

  8. This is God’s word to us. • It will be done! • Not by ourstrength, but by His Spirit. Just keep moving forward in faith. • Hey, we don’t have a church of millionaires. • I wish we did, and I am praying for you! • But, we have a bunch of regular people obediently doing their part. • That’s the way it should be. • Then God will get all the glory. Just believe and keep moving forward in faith.

  9. Nehemiah 1:4 – When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. • Need – A group of men had returned to Persia where Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. • They had reported bad news: Jerusalem’s walls were still torn down &the people were in despair. • City Walls represented security, power and protection. • Without walls, the city was fair game to anyone wanting to attack and plunder. • The people were discouraged & it broke his heart.

  10. Remember this is the purpose of the new building—PEOPLE! • Just as Nehemiah’s motive was to bless the people of Jerusalem, our motive is to reach, disciple and to train people for the Kingdom of God. • VISION: To bring people from the dark valleys of life to the Summit where they will have an encounter with Jesus and never be the same. • Then, to repeat the process. • It’s always about people and glorifying God. • We cannot lose focus of our vision!

  11. Nehemiah knew how to keep the 1st thing 1st. • He prayed and fasted. • Prayer Nehemiah 1:5-11 – Then I said, "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands, 6 listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for Your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against You. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that You gave us through your servant Moses.

  12. 8 "Please remember what you told your servant Moses: 'If you are unfaithful to Me, I will scatter you among the nations. 9 But if you return to Me and obey My commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for My name to be honored.‘10 "The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. 11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring You. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me."

  13. He prayed and God granted him his request. • The king gave him permission to return, gave him a military escort, financed the operation and gave letters of recommendation. • The king gave even more than he had asked! • God’s favor—the hand of the Lord was upon us.

  14. Nehemiah’s 4 Point Prayer • Declare God’s greatness – 5b, O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands . . . • Remind God what His Word says – 10a, Please remember what you told your servant Moses . . . • Confess sins or any unbelief – 6b, I confess that we have sinned against You. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! • Be specific with your requests – 11b, Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.

  15. When the king asked Nehemiah about this matter, he was prepared to answer. • He had prayed ANDdone his homework. • He knew what he needed in order to make this happen. Nehemiah 2:4-8 – The king asked, "Well, how can I help you?" With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, "If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried." 6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, "How long will you be gone? When will you return?"

  16. After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request. 7 I also said to the king, "If it please the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. 8 And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king's forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself." And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.

  17. Here’s the proper formula for success: Prayer + Preparation = God’s Hand upon us • We can’t just rely on prayer as important as that is, but we also need to do our part—plan and prepare to build. • This is also true in just about every area of life. • Some people just plan and ask God to bless it. • Others just pray and wait. • But, the wise do both. • They pray and keep moving forward. • That is the course we choose to take.

  18. Let’s pick the story up after Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem and told the leaders what he had in mind to do: Nehemiah 2:18 – Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, "Yes, let's rebuild the wall!" So they began the good work. • Workers to Connect • He found a crew that was willing to work, and they went to work rebuilding the walls.

  19. In the English language, we have sayings that spur us to action when the time is right: • Strike the iron while it is hot! • Get with it! • Git ‘er done! • It’s as if the Lord is telling us: The time is now and I’m in it! Get to work! • And, the people responded: Let’s rise up and build! Git ‘er done!

  20. Unfortunately, the gates of Jerusalemwere torn down. • The people were wide open to the enemy’s attacks. • For us an open gate: Discouragement is one of the devil’s most effective tools to hinder the work. • If he can demoralize us, anyadvancement will come to a halt. • When we are discouraged, we are vulnerable. • Don’t open that gate in your life! • Be intentional in fighting the devil’s attacks.

  21. The Attacks • Whenever God’s work advances, the enemy will try to stop it. • Reminds me of the story of the Sunday when the devil came to church. . . • The devil does attack so don’tbe ignorant of his devices &how he seeks to work in our midst. • We do not need to fear him because Jesus has given us authority over him. • You will see 2 basic methods: external attacks & internal attacks.

  22. Look at the enemy’s external attack: Nehemiah 4:1-3 – Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samaritan army officers, "What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they're doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?" 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, "That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!"

  23. What were they trying to do? • They were attempting discourage and demoralizethe workers. • This came after they had enthusiastically worked for about a month. Nehemiah 4:6 – At last the wall was completed to half its height around the entire city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm. • They were at the half way mark. • The workers were exhausted.

  24. Nehemiah 4:8, 11-12 – They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion . . . 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, "Before they know what's happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work." 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, "They will come from all directions and attack us!" • Now, the enemy was threatening a direct attack. • They were threatening to kill everyone in the city. • More than likely, they were much bigger and much better equipped than the Jews were. • They were battling both discouragementand fear.

  25. Then, came the most insidious attack of all—complaining from within their ranks. (internal) Nehemiah 4:10 – Then the people of Judah began to complain, "The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves." • Fatigue– the initial euphoria of beginning the work had worn off & now they were tired. • Frustration –When you’re tired, the task looks so much bigger, and the piles look so much higher! • Fear – Fear will paralyze us from moving forward. • Fear and discouragement often work together and are on opposite poles with faith.

  26. When you’re discouraged, you’re looking at the task and not at God. • Nehemiah’s Plan—He reminded them of God! Nehemiah 4:9 – But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. • The 1st thing they did was to pray! • The 1st thing is not to complain about the problems. • Remember that God is not the problem; He is the solution. • Whenever trouble strikes, pray 1st! • Then, go to action. • Speaking of action . . .

  27. 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. • 2ndthing: he armed and organized everyone according to their families. • This makes perfect sense because you are motivatedto fight for your family. • When building the new addition, I reminded the guys that this is for our children & grandchildren. • Lisa & I gave to it because we want a place where our daughter will learn about Jesus. • When you’re weary, remember why we’re doing it.

  28. 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, "Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!" • Nehemiah issued a challenge to the workers. • Remain focused. • Keep the main thing, the main thing—people! • If we will do our part and move ahead in faith, God will do His part and bless it significantly! • God can’t bless it we’re not doing anything.

  29. The result? 15 When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. • Pray, trust God and keep working! • Stand your ground in faith! • The plans of the enemy will be exposed and frustrated. • But, stay battle ready. What were our last marching orders from the King? • Keep Moving Forward in Faith!

  30. Notice: Even though the enemy’s plans had been exposed, they did not let down their guard. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.

  31. In one hand they had their tools for building and in the other they had their sword to fight. • That is what we are to do. • We’re in a battle for souls and for our families. • We must be battle ready with the Word of God (Sword of the Spirit) inour mouth. • Also, we each need to use the tools God has given us. • Find your place along the wall and start working. • You have been given a sword and a tool. • Learn to use them effectively!

  32. Each man built the wall next to his house. • They stood shoulder to shoulder, side by side building until the job was done. • A job they completed in a record 52 days! • Why? They were focused and kept moving forward in faith! • Each person was equally important and each part was necessary. • A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. • All parts of our body are needed for us to finish this project.

  33. Conclusion • Dr. Henrietta Mears Dr. Mears, if you were to live your life over again, what would you do differently? • Without a moment’s hesitation she replied, I’d simply believe God more! • Let it never be said that our lack of faith stopped us from moving forward. • We are on brink of something special here, and we need to keep moving forward in faith.

  34. We need your faith. • And, we also need for you to take your place along the wall to see this vision accomplished. NOW: Nehemiah 2:20 – In God we will have success! THEN: Nehemiah 6:16b – They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. • The word of the Lord is: Keep Moving Forward in Faith!

  35. Keep Moving Forward

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