This is so timely for me…
Lessons from Nehemiah: (credit: excerpts from http://www.growingchristians.org/dfgc/obstacle.htm)
I included the author’s name below.
When you have a project to do or a mission to accomplish, how do you view obstacles and opposition? Do you see insurmountable barriers forcing you to quit, or do you see hurdles challenging you to jump and keep going? In his project to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was faced with a number of obstacles and significant enemy opposition. If we had been in Nehemiah’s sandals, many of us would have thrown in the towel because of the obstacles and opposition. Some of us would even have concluded that God had “closed the door,” because the obstacles and opposition seemed so great. But Nehemiah did not quit. He saw the obstacles and opposition as hurdles to be overcome in order to complete God’s work.
Every type of obstacle and every form of opposition that Nehemiah faced in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem is an illustration from God’s Word of the obstacles and opposition that we can expect to face as Christians. When we become involved in serving the Lord and “building the walls” of personal or corporate Christian testimony we will definitely face obstacles and opposition. The steps that Nehemiah took in overcoming the roadblocks that he faced are recorded by the Holy Spirit so that we can learn and follow God’s methods for defeating the enemy.
Nehemiah 4:15-23 makes it clear that no matter how great the threat of enemy attack, we should never stop building. Nehemiah took great pains to organize his round-the-clock armed defense of Jerusalem–but he never stopped building the wall. Building and battling go together in spiritual warfare. The importance of staying armed is brought out in these verses as well. Even though God had frustrated the enemies’ plan of attack (4:15), the people kept their weapons and armor at the ready. It’s hard to miss the obvious spiritual lesson of the importance of spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:10-18 commands that we put on the full armor of God and take up the sword of the Spirit to be ready to face and overcome the obstacles and opposition of the enemy.
Personal attack in the area of spiritual discernment is probably Satan’s most subtle form of opposition. It is the most difficult to detect, and only a thorough knowledge of Scripture preserves us from falling in such an attack. In verse 10 we read that a prophet named Shemaiah suggested that Nehemiah set up administrative headquarters within the Temple. Here Nehemiah would be close to the wall and could direct operations effectively. Not only that, he would no longer be a “sitting duck” up on the wall–he would be safe from any “stray arrow” that just might happen to come his way! Did Nehemiah praise God for sending the kind prophet with such logical advice? No way! He perceived that Shemaiah was a false prophet hired by the enemy (6:12). How was Nehemiah able to perceive such a scheme? Nehemiah knew from the Word of God that only priests were allowed into the Temple–and Nehemiah was not a priest. Nehemiah knew that a strategy that broke God’s Law could never be a strategy sent from God! How well do we know God’s Word? Do we know it well enough to recognize and reject subtle ideas that are contrary to its teachings? Are we able to perceive Satan’s personal attack in the area of spiritual discernment?
Because Nehemiah continually looked to God and successfully overcame all the obstacles and opposition he faced, the wall was completed in 52 days! That’s less than two months–a tremendous accomplishment and testimony to what God can do through a fully committed believer. Let’s follow the model of Nehemiah and, with God’s help, overcome the hurdles of enemy obstacles and opposition as we faithfully build strong walls of Christian testimony.
(David R. Reid)