Build Day 5 Building Faith
Read His Words Before Ours!
1 Peter 14:12-19
Did you know haters existed in the Bible? They did, and today I want to talk about two of them, Sanballat and Tobiah. Their target? Nehemiah primarily, but also the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile in an effort to resettle the city. Let’s see how Nehemiah’s haters operated.
The Israelites were minding their business, each working on rebuilding their assigned portion of the wall. Sanballat and Tobiah’s first line of attack against them was mockery and insults, trying to discourage the workers. (Nehemiah 4:1-3) Nehemiah, who was leading the building efforts, could have responded directly to them verbally or even physically, but he chose the way of wisdom and faith. He prayed. (Nehemiah 4:4-5)
Nehemiah trusted God to handle the opposition, instead of trying to handle them himself. His response reminds me of someone else who prayed in response to His haters. Jesus, hanging on the cross, accused of being a liar and a fraud, turned to the Father in prayer instead of using His unlimited power against His haters.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)
I’m praying we can follow these examples and respond to opposition with prayer, instead of trying to handle it by ourselves. After all, God said, “Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay.” (Deuteronomy 32:35) We need to trust Him, relying on Him to handle the situation.
If you thought Sanballat and Tobiah were done, think again. As the Israelites kept on building (Nehemiah 4:6), the haters upped the ante, plotting with other nations to attack the Israelites. (Nehemiah 4:7-8, 11) Some workers grew discouraged at the opposition and the sheer magnitude of the task remaining. (Nehemiah 4:10-12) This time, Nehemiah did not pray alone as many workers prayed alongside him. (Nehemiah 4:9)
Then Nehemiah asked everyone, leaders and workers alike, to do as he had been doing and would continue to do, trust God, who had shown Himself faithful time and again. While also, joining God by taking appropriate action. They could act as guards and protect themselves and their families. (Nehemiah 4:13-18)
Nehemiah armed the people with prayer and encouragement as well as the practicalities of guards, weapons, and an alarm system. The people responded by returning to the work God had given them. (Nehemiah 4:15-21) Nehemiah embodies the promise found in James 1:2-4, “The testing of your faith produces endurance.” That endurance makes us “mature and complete.”
Nehemiah was definitely being tested as a leader through escalating opposition and discouraged countrymen. Yet he showed himself mature by demonstrating his faith in God through prayer and works. He prayed, made and implemented plans, and even worked alongside the people. (Nehemiah 4:21-23) Imagine how encouraging it is for workers today to have their boss stay late, roll up her figurative sleeves, and help out with that critical project. Now imagine how the Israelites felt having Nehemiah join in the work, all the while risking his own life too!
James 2:17 says, “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.” How is this reflected in Nehemiah’s story? Nehemiah shows a complete picture of trusting God to work on our behalf, while also actively putting that faith to action by using the wisdom He imparts for leading well. We can learn much about building from this prophet.
As we are building our families, ministries, and communities, what can we learn from Nehemiah’s experience?
- Trust the one and only Builder, God, first and foremost. Without Him, we build weak straw huts and sinking sandcastles. (Matthew 7:24-27)
- Pray. By praying we acknowledge “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Who can stand against God? (2 Chronicles 20:6)
- Do the work. Don’t just make plans, but actively participate in the work as an act of obedience to God and for inspiration to our fellow builders.
- Endure the trials and the opposition. God is glorified when we suffer for His name. (1 Peter 4:12-19)
As we trust, pray, build, and endure, we can stand confidently on His assurance He will never leave us nor forsake us!
“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the LORD your God is the one who will go with you; He will not leave you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
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