41. Everything is wrong!

Oh! It’s so easy. Pick up a newspaper and start reading … and read until a deep, dark mood decides nothing works out right. Unpleasant, angry feelings fill your inner being. You know that your standards for good living, good government, good decisions and good environment are down the drain with no apology, no compensation. Self-pity and anger, harsh words and abrasive comments burst from you exactly there where the fountains of living water should flow forth to a broken world. What exactly did Jesus say?

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)

Jesus said it, so it is true and the consequences guaranteed. Trouble and tribulation will come. Would you like to choose your trouble? Lord, not this thank you. Oh no! I would like to surrender my life again and know that He will not allow anything to overwhelm me.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV)

This world is a challenge. Maybe we tend to divide our lives into spiritual and fleshly things. We feel justified to criticize world politics, our own politics and the decisions of authorities that we cannot change outside occasional elections until we fall into misery that bar the courage and strength of God’s word and work in our lives.

This is not a life of faith. Faith and the challenge to live fearless are the basis for our whole existence in imperfect and dangerous circumstances. The greater challenge is to look deeper and know that our God reigns over everything and in every possible condition. The purpose of our life is to be made perfect in Christ and respond to life in spiritual maturity. If worry and fear do not lead us into prayer, revelation and testimony of miracles, we live a tragedy.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:3-4, NKJV)

There is a place, Pebble pal, in the Garden of His presence with green pastures and still waters lacking NOTHING. It is all yours, now, this moment.

Paul also had trouble with the politics of the day, aimed against the new movement called Christianity and executed by his own people, causing “tears and trials”…

… serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; (Acts 20:19, NKJV)

Well, let us have a look at Nehemiah’s regional politics and the trouble it causes him. His response to devious plotting by his enemies was his characteristic quick prayers – resulting in constant communication with God. His narrative is meticulous, leaving the reader under no wrong impression. The wall is finished but the doors of the gates are not done. (Nehemiah 6.)

His enemies are active. Their activity is motivated by their own fear. Jerusalem in ruins with no defense and without organized residents suited them just fine. The picture is changed and they are afraid. Fearful people become bullies – we know that. They try to get to Nehemiah himself, knowing that if they can keep him busy or stir fear in him, the project will suffer. Four times they send messages to get him to talk to them. He refuses to get down from the place he is building. His response illustrates insight into their strategy.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave to come down to meet with you?” (6:3)

The fifth time Sanballat wrote a letter, which was not sealed. Did he want the people to see the content and spread the rumors, so that Nehemiah would be alarmed? Sanballat’s words in the letter were carefully chosen to spread rumours of rebellion against the Persian king, the very king who supported Nehemiah’s project. (6:6)

“It is reported among the neighboring nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king.”

Nehemiah answers short and sweet, not wasting time on lies, with a quick one-liner to God: (6:8,9)

I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.”  For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

 Every temptation to draw us from duty should quicken us the more to duty.

Then the attack came from inside, fueled by betrayal. Not everyone is on the same page as Nehemiah, determined to finish a God-ordained project and tapping into the source of quick-prayers. He sustains his courage and inspiration by constant communication with God. Semaja entices him to take refuge in the Temple, since Nehemiah’s life is threatened by Sanballat and his cohorts. Nehemiah answers: (6:11)

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!”

Semaja was bribed to help neutralize Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s insight into enemy strategy revealed empty threats and fear could not get a foothold.

Fear blooms in doubt and insecurity. Nehemiah’s steadfast dedication to the work, his unwavering trust in God’s protection and provision enables him to push for completion in record time. This is a precious principle of life.

The fear-strategy is so cunning; it is even launched among the prophets active inside Jerusalem. Nehemiah bemoans them all to God. (6:14):

My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

The result is undeniable success. The wall is finished in record time – 52 days. The consequences of this achievement in the enemy camp are a joy to read. (6:16):

And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

When the enemy looses self-confidence is a day of triumph for me. God’s miracle is acknowledged through grit teeth!

What does it mean for us today?

If you are busy with a great work in the name of our Lord, you do not waste time on fear and intimidation.

You might say you have only an ordinary job to earn money. You are not serving in ministry or any such high and lofty calling-stuff. It does not matter. Everything you do, you do as unto God.

After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.

(1 Samuel 10:7, NLT)

Every job is a calling. Being a parent, a friend, a sibling or a child to your parents are the stuff a calling is made of. Live it as unto our Father. Do not give in to fear. God has great plans for your life and He promised to be with you always. In Jesus’ own words:

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NKJV)

The key to knowing our enemy’s fear strategy we find in Psalm 37 with the answer of trusting God. Read with me in The Message:

Don’t bother your head with braggarts

    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings

    and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,

    settle down and stick to your last.

Keep company with God,

    get in on the best.

This is our life attitude, developed in the strength of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We have not received a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) We have peace when the rest of the world withers in worry and dread. We cannot allow ourselves to listen to the fearful intimidation around us. We must respect the high calling of God in our life.

Our calling is our family and closest relationships in the first place. See what God has given you and build your wall. Further on in Psalm 37 is encouragement against the negative forces of life.

Less is more and more is less.

    One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,

For the wicked are moral weaklings

    but the righteous are God-strong.

 

God keeps track of the decent folk;

    what they do won’t soon be forgotten.

In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;

    when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.

 What is the last word on Nehemiah’s success?

A jolly feast with a live band! Do not forget the feast in God’s honour.

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. (12:27, NKJV)

Just read about the choirs and trumpet-playing priests, marching around the wall from gate to gate, giving thanks, feasting and singing at their handiwork.

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. (12:43, NLT)

Yes indeed, the enemy heard their rejoicing.

Nehemiah closes his narrative with a full report on sustainable management with focus and diligence. (12:44-47)

40. How is your wall coming along?

Most conversations consist of sharing opinions; those personal conclusions we come to in the privacy of our own minds. Unconsciously and consciously we test our views against others or comments we read or listen to. The sharing and testing influence us and shape our thoughts. We grapple for solutions to put order in the chaos and bar the evil and destruction of a world in need.

World news so often shows the chaos and tragedy going on. Most people agree that we live in a world crying out for love, constructive politics, sharing and caring of resources and peace on every level of society – homes, communities and states. Nature cries out for our responsible actions. Every conservationist and every doctor in every hospital in the world, fight against evil to hold back the devastation threatening our existence. Every one of us that cleans up our dust, mud and pollution, fight against the garbage that defile our environment. On a psychological level we fight against the assault on our values and culture. In the media and even in the arts, our most core values in relationships, marriage, family and friends are being made ridiculous or unimportant.

It is clear that the enemy has an agenda, strategically hitting our mind and thought patterns to sow fear and frustration so that we miss out on the life of abundance that Jesus promised in John 10:10. A life of anxiety and depression is not His plan. He promises peace and joy and it is not possible to fake peace and act joyful when our hearts are heavy and our burdens painful to bear. Peace and joy are born deep within by the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. To the measure that we enjoy the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), we live in abundance.

The sustained attack on our thoughts is part of the global wickedness that rules the cursed earth so that we would surrender to negativity and defeat. We are under the impression that all the negative thoughts we think are a product of our own twisted minds, but in actual fact they are thoughts sown by the enemy. Only when negative and defeatist thoughts are rooted in the fertile soil of unbelief, fear and hurt, they become our thought patterns and determine our decisions and opinions.

Evil seed can be discerned with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and should be rejected and discarded.

We change the nature of our mind -“soil” by faith in the promises of God. His Word, spoken into our hearts with revelational knowledge and a daily experience of the presence of our Father, equip us for building up our wall from the ruins of fear and doubt.

Just like the returning exiles many centuries ago, we cannot build the wall before the altar of personal worship and relationship with Jesus is in place and the Temple of good teaching and fellowship is restored. Only by emerging ourselves in the Word of God can we join Nehemiah’s teams to build with the trowel and the sword strapped around our hips, ready to build and fight.

I am amazed at the shameless abuse and open insults in the public domain these days, as if good manners and weighed words were buried with our grandparents. Performances in talent shows, business ideas of new entrepreneurs, game shows and even chefs in cooking competitions are humiliated and insulted, as if the general anger of our society is vented live on reality television. Speaking negativity and destruction is the new entertainment.

Pebble pal, life and death are in your words.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)

James 3 paints a frightening picture of the power of the tongue and the evil, which it can breed. The full impact of this description should compel our hearts and minds into submission to the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome our wicked words and speak victory.

 And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:6 Ampl)

Hear the Word of God, church, and listen, so that you will know how to speak words of life.

 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. (1 Peter 4:11, NIV)

See in your mind’s eye how your wall crumbles by your negativity and gossip. Go to the website http://www.biblegateway.com and type the word “tongue” into the search function. God’s word is clear on the standard of speech to live full lives in the fullness of God Himself.

So much of our life is a struggle to maintain our moral values. Gossip is entertaining – magazines full of it. Do you feel free to speak revenge over somebody who has offended you? Do you share the wave of wallowing in the failures of celebrities and prominent figures with a good dose of “schadenfreude”, condemnation and word slaying flowing freely as they are comfortably distant?

Do you talk like somebody who has been richly forgiven?

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression],

The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech. (Isaiah 58:9, Ampl)

In the next chapter of Isaiah the warning comes again. (59:3, Ampl)

For your hands are defiled with blood

And your fingers with wickedness [with sin, with injustice, with wrongdoing];

Your lips have spoken lies,

Your tongue mutters wickedness.

I am convinced that a lying spirit is active in gossip and without conscious effort to relay the facts of the story accurately, our speech is prone to be negative, especially in anger and offence.

Nehemiah’s response to mocking and gossip is prayer and a confession of the truth. In chapter 6 Sanballat makes a serious accusation: (6:6)

It is reported among the [neighboring] nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king.

Although Sanballat invites Nehemiah to talk, Nehemiah declines to stop working, knowing that the work on the wall is of absolute importance and finishing the work is priority. Nehemiah’s answer is a mixture of speaking the truth and prayer. (6:8,9, NKJV)

“Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.”  For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands.

 It is of utmost importance to discern lies from truth and cling to the Truth that we have in the person of Jesus. (John 14:6, Msg)

Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life.

Only with the Father, through Jesus, will we be able to discern truth from lies and will be strong against the lies surrounding us. Jesus said that the whole world lies in the realm of the father of lies, the devil. (John 8:44)

Nehemiah prays to God to vent his revenge and anger – not really the calm, pious little prayer so often “expected” of a “good” Christian. God knows the turmoil in your heart! You do not need to hide the flaming hatred in your inner being from Him. Fall down and hit the floor in your secret place of prayer and get it all out. Read David’s prayer in Psalm 109.

Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. Nehemiah 4:4,5, NKJV)

Listen carefully to his words – they have provoked You. I am a child of God and my Father will take on my enemies on my behalf. Nehemiah knows this and prays it out loud to build his faith. We are the apple of His eye.

For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8, NKJV)

Your enemies will be upset by your success (4:7); they will plan to attack and sow confusion (4:8). You will make your plans to set up armed fighters and watchmen to sound the alarm.

He made an inspiring speech to all the nobility, officials and people.

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14, NJKV)

This is “normal” for the rest of the project. Just do what it takes. (4:17,18)

Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

We are living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities of darkness and all its demons. We are clothed with Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27) and filled with the Holy Spirit so that we are armed with His armour for every good fight, equipped with everything we need. (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is all the armour we need to defend our wall. We are not called to the struggle to take territory. All the territory possible was already taken by Christ on the cross. We need to defend what He has already given us. Praise God!

Let us speak out our victory which is guaranteed in Christ (Jude 24).