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Nehemiah 6: Stand Firm, Do Not Fear & Trust

This is a sketch of a sermon I preached on Nehemiah chapter 6. After praying


about what to preach on, I felt very strongly that there were three things Jesus
wanted me to talk about for people in the church who are going through a tough
time - that is to Standing Firm, Do Not Fear and Trust. Whilst I followed the
general structure of this sermon, I preached unscripted and used a lot more
personal stories and illustrations than appear below, however I hope that what is
written below may be of use to some people.

Introduction

Life can be difficult & challenging.


Health problems
Relationship difficulties
Financial concerns
Worries about work
Anxiety
Depression
Loneliness
Isolation

Being a Christian, does not mean were immune to these problems.

Billy Graham The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of
deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and
say O God, forgive me, or help me.

When you are going through a tough time, just getting through the day can be a
struggle.

BUT THERE IS HOPE BECAUSE JESUS IS WITH US

If you are going through a hard time at present, there are three things I believe
Jesus wants to say to you STAND FIRM, DO NOT FEAR and TRUST.
We can stand firm, because Jesus is with us
We do not need to fear, because Jesus is with us
We can trust, because Jesus is with us
In the book of Joshua (1:9) it says Be strong and courageous. Do not be
afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever
you go.

And Jesus said Remember I am with you always. (Matthew 28:20)

Nehemiah knew all about what it was like to face opposition and challenges, but
he was someone who STOOD FIRM, REFUSED TO GIVE IN TO FEAR, and
who TRUSTED in God.

The Story So Far

586BC Jerusalem razed by the ground by King


Nebuchadnezzar. Jews taken into captivity - Babylonian Exile or
Captivity. Tiny remnant remain in Jerusalem.
538BC first wave of Jews return to Jerusalem following decree by
Cyrus II of Persia, work begins to Temple in led by Zerubbabel.

516BC 2nd Temple rebuilt

455BC 2nd wave of returnees led by Prophet Ezra


444BC Nehemiah returns (94 years after first Jews returned)
City in ruins
Nehemiah leads rebuilding of city walls. Nehemiah Tackles problems
of injustice, Jewish nobles oppressing the poor order cancellation
of all debt & mortages
Chapter 6 walls rebuilt, only doors needed to be reset in the gates.

Opposition to Nehemiah

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab, see rebuilding of Jerusalem as threat
to their own power in region. Do all they can to disrupt rebuilding of the walls.

Plots

Nehemiah faced three plots


Intrigue (6:2-4)
Innuendo (6:5-9)
Intimidation (6:10-14)

Intrigue (Nehemiah 6:2-4) STANDING FIRM

Seemingly innocent invitation sent 4 times. Would take Nehemiah


away from Jerusalem where hed be vulnerable to attack
But Nehemiah STOOD FIRM.
He was a man of prayer & discernment, and he knew that they
wished to harm him. He would not allow anything to distract him
from the task God had given him.
I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should
the work stop while I leave it and go down to you? (6:3)
Nehemiah would not allow anything to distract him from the task God
had given him to complete.
When we are facing tough times, we need to stand firm, and not
allow ourselves to be distracted, from what God has called us to.
Even seemingly good things, can if were not careful distract us.
There was a missionary in China whose abilities were so outstanding
that an American company tried to hire him. They offered him an
attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told
them that God had sent him to China as a missionary. He thought
that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better
offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down too, but again
they came back, doubling the financial package. Finally he said to
them, Its not your salary thats too little. Its the job thats too small!
He stood firm.
God has called each of us to a great task. This is true of every
believer in Christ. To be his witnesses in the world. To serve Him on
our frontlines. That is our calling. This means STANDING FIRM
when times are tough.

Innuendo (Nehemiah 6:5-9) DO NOT FEAR

After failure to get Nehemiah to leave Jerusalem, they try to slander


him.
Open letter sent claiming Nehemiah planning to revolt and declare
himself king
Power of rumours It is reported among the nations.. i.e.
Everyone is talking about it, Lots of people say This is why
gossip and rumours can be so damaging.
When criticised, especially when its unfair, its easy to get distracted,
want to defend myself and lick my wounds, even quit. But Nehemiah
didn't allow himself to be distracted by the criticism.
Nehemiahs he refuses to get drawn into pointless argument, which
would have distracted him from his main task. Nehemiah instead
simply dismisses the claim Nothing like what you are saying is
happening; you are just making it up out of your head. (6:8)
Gossip and rumours can be very damaging. Which is why before we
say or write something we should always THINK:
T--Is it true?
H--Is it helpful?
I--Is it inspiring?
N--Is it necessary?
K--Is it kind?
Nehemiah realised there strategy was to make him afraid. But he
refused to give into fear.
Many people live paralyzed by fear. Fear of what others are saying
about them, or what they might say about them. Or fear about the
future.
Nehemiah refused to allow his actions to be dictated by fear of what
others thought or said.

Nehemiah knew that God was in charge of the situation, so why give
in to fear. Instead his response was to turn to God in prayer, asking
God to Strengthen my hands.

If you are facing a difficult situation, and feeling fearful and anxious, it
is worth remembering these words from Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for
I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will
strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous
right hand

Phrase Do Not Fear is repeated 365 times in the Bible one for
each day of the year.

The reason we do not need to worry is because God is faithful and


just.

Intimidation (Nehemiah 6:10-14) - TRUST

Nehemiah went to house of Shemaiah who warned Nehemiah that


men were coming to kill Nehemiah, and to hide in the Temple.
Sounds reasonable, but Nehemiah sees through plot.
To run into the Temple would have not only undermined his authority
as a leader, but it would have been in violation of God's Law only
priests allowed in temple. Although Shemaiah uses religious talk,
Nehemiah sees through it. Shemaiah is a false prophet, on
Sanballats payroll.
Nehemiahs response was to say Should a man like me run away?
Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will
not go! Despite the threats, and intimidation Nehemiah chose
toTRUST God, and turned the situation over to God in prayer.
Trusting God can transform our lives. But what does it mean to Trust
God?
Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you, Hes good, He
has the power to help you, He wants to help you, and He will help
you.
Proverbs 3:5,6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean
not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths

Nehemiah faced a lot of opposition, but he STOOD FIRM, DID NOT GIVE INTO
FEAR, and TRUSTED in God.
The reason he did this is because it was rooted in his relationship with God. His
character, how he responded to the challenges he faced, was shaped by the
God he worshipped and followed.

It is only if we spend time in the company of Jesus, that we will be able to


develop the character of Jesus, so that when tough times come our way, we can
STAND FIRM, NOT GIVE INTO FEAR, AND TRUST GOD, like Nehemiah did,
and more importantly like Jesus did.

Because Nehemiah stood firm, did not give into fear, and trusted God, the walls
were completed in record time. Nehemiah did in 52 days, what no one had
managed in 94 years, to rebuild the walls. Even his enemies recognised that
this work had been done with the help of God.

If God can use Nehemiah to set right a 94 year old problem in less than 2
months, then what can God do through you and me?

As Gods people we can stand firm, because Jesus is with us


We do not need to fear, because Jesus is with us
We can trust, because Jesus is with us not matter the challenges we may
face.