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! 5 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).