An Unstoppable Church
Fight For Each Other
November 11, 2018
Intro. On this Veterans Day weekend let me tell you about Desmond Doss. Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector, to killing, who became a hero in World War II. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and a Christian, who, because of his deep commitment to the Lord, did not believe he should kill, even in war. In the movie about him, Hacksaw Ridge, he was beaten and harassed by the men in his platoon because he wouldn’t carry a gun. The military tried to court martial him and tried to force him with a dishonorable discharge. He was committed to his country so he was given permission to be a non-gun carrying soldier. He became a medic. On the island of Okinawa his unit was in a huge battle with the Japanese. It later was called Hacksaw Ridge. The Japanese had the Americans on the run. Every healthy soldier was evacuated from the ridge. Everyone but Desmond Doss. He retrieved and lowered 50-75 wounded men, 30 ft, to safety. Hacksaw Ridge was eventually captured by the Americans, but one man stood when the others left.
May Vandover Baptist be as courageous as Desmond Doss. If we want to be An Unstoppable Church, we must be ready to fight for each other. No, we won’t be handing out weapons after the service. And we won’t be involved in Guns and Hoses Boxing Matches on Thanksgiving Eve. But we do need to learn how to fight for each other because The Church on the Pathway needs to be Unstoppable.
Last week I told you that Jerusalem and the Hebrews that lived there were in a desperate situation. Nehemiah was so broken by the plight of the people in Jerusalem that he prayed for 4 months. He then had the courage to ask King Artaxerxes to allow him to help rebuild Jerusalem.
This week we see that Nehemiah has arrived in Jerusalem and has assessed the situation. Now let’s take a look how the Hebrews in Jerusalem fought for each other. I think God has a word for us from this true story from God’s Word.
I need to cover more than just chapter 4 so that chapter 4 makes sense. After Nehemiah surveyed the destroyed wall of the city, he called everyone together to share what God had impressed him to do.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” 18 I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work.
Chapter 3 through 6 shares the entire rebuilding of the wall. Chapter 4 shows the problems and the effort that it took to complete the wall. There was opposition and problems in completing the wall. Those who enjoyed Jerusalem in a helpless state gave Nehemiah and the people of Israel a lot of trouble.
Sanballat said, “Are you going against the King?
So, I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore, we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
But Nehemiah didn’t answer Sanballat’s question about the King. Nehemiah, in so many words said we don’t need your help nor your discouragement. This is a phrase I heard many times as I began in the ministry, “God’s money from God’s people.” They didn’t need any help from people who were not interested in what God was doing in Jerusalem.
I have asked many people to come and invest with us here at Vandover. As of yet know one has come. The work of becoming an Unstoppable church, will be done through us, as we trust God, if it is going to be accomplished.
1 Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. 2 He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!”
Ridicule and threats at the beginning of a big undertaking can be extremely discouraging. Sanballat and his group was not going to lose Jerusalem without a fight. They would soon realize that fight if they must they were going to lose to God and His people.
We need to remember that we are fighting for each other because we are building God’s Kingdom with His power and resources. We are loving people into the Kingdom of God. That is worth fighting for.
Nehemiah’s source of strength was in prayer.
4 Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.
Nehemiah saw the opposition as opposition to God. So he called on God to make life miserable on any who opposed the people. Jesus reminded us that people hate Christians because they are opposed to God. We don’t work for them – we serve the God of the Angel armies and we work with each other.
The Plan task by task – Person by person 3:1-32
Take a look at this picture. This is the wall and the verses that related to each section. Family groups worked on sections. They completed their section faithfully and completely.
I’m not sure what skill level these wall builders had achieved up to this point. If the comments by Tobiah they were a long way from being journeymen.
What could you do to minister to someone on your pathway? Who could you share your story with? Do you see a need around you that you could probably help meet? What if someone were to fight with you or for you? What if you knew that someone was praying for your success in whatever you wanted to attempt?
You know that you don’t have to be perfect just be willing. Someone will have your back. You can make sure they have your back by not forsaking our assembling together each Sunday. Corporate worship is so important.
This section came before chapter 4. It tells how they worked together beside each person in teams doing their job and then next doing theirs. In Chapter 4 we see how the groups fought for each other. After the opposition and the prayer listen to the first report.
6 So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
All of a sudden, they were half-way done. Well, not really, they were half-way done because each one did what they committed to do.
I listened to an interview on Friday of someone who traveled across the Arctic or Antarctic. He lost both legs by an Improvised Explosive Device in Iraq. I think that he was in some kind of sled that he paddled to travel across the snow. He said that because of how cold the snow was the sled did not slide very well at all. He had not prepared for the extra effort to make his trip. While he was preparing for the trip, he worked out at times, 12 hours a day. He said it was tough but he motivated himself by having short goals. It wasn’t can I go for 2 more hours or can I go for 1 more hour. He said his motivation had to be can I go 10 more minutes. After that he asked himself if he could go 10 more minutes. Small steps until he got his 12-hour workout completed.
This is how we can become an Unstoppable church. Can each of you just ask God to impress on you to pray for one person on your pathway, this week? Just fight for each other in prayer this week, so that each of us will accomplish this, this week. Next week will you pray for one family from your pathway to join us one Sunday in December? Pray for someone in this room to make time to pray this week.
Nehemiah’s crew were not done yet though. But they were going to face more opposition.
7 Now when Sanballat(Head of Samaria to the North), Tobiah (Governor of the Ammonites to the East), the Arabs (to the South), the Ammonites and the Ashdodites (or Philistines from the west) heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. 8 All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.
I told you that Sanballat and his cronies were not going to give up Israel easily. Together they became even more committed to stopping the rebuilding of wall. What were Nehemiah and the people going to do with this new threat? Pray! What will we do when events get in the way of being an Unstoppable church? We must pray more earnestly. And continue to fight for each other on our knees. Listen to Nehemiah’s prayer.
9 But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
“Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” ~ Saint Augustine
This is what Nehemiah did. They prepared to literally fight for each other.
The four groups around Jerusalem that did not want the wall built nor Israel to become a functioning city. Israel was a source of money, land, and authority and they didn’t want to give that up. They were ready to attack.
Nehemiah prayed because He was hearing the discouragement the Hebrew people were feeling.
10 Thus in Judah it was said,
“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubbish; And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.” 11 Our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,”
I know we are discouraged right now but God wants to do a good work through us here. Continue to seek Him. When there seems to be no way God will make a way.
How do you deal with discouragement? Prayer – Serious prayer, that reminds us in whom we need to trust, and honor. We need to be more worried about failing in our commitment to the Lord than to someone who doesn’t have the wisdom to surrender to God!
I can tell you this that if we begin to see God bless us in new ways, we are going to face more problems. It may come from the outside. It could come within the body. It could come as some of our members decide to attend elsewhere or that their health changes and can’t be a part of what we are doing. (To be truthful, if we engage our family that are homebound they will continue to be involved with us in prayer.)
What we do when discouragement arises will decide if continue to build the wall or give up. Whether we fight for each other or give up.
Nehemiah and the people decided to fight for each other and to be ready to fight.
The Response to the Threats
13 then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows.
Nehemiah was ready to respond to the threats of Sanballat and his groups. He provided protection in the places that had not been built up yet. He showed the opposition that they were ready. Nehemiah wanted to make sure Sanballat new they were ready to fight. He showed a strong battle front that was in plain sight for the enemy.
If you pray, serve and care it will be obvious that this church is ready to be unstoppable. Serve the Lord faithfully with your gifts, abilities and interests.
The Battle Cry
This could go down as one of the most powerful speeches before a battle. Nehemiah wanted the fear and discouragement to meet the Great and Awesome God who delivered Israel from Egypt with His strong and mighty arm.
14 When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”
Always remember – If God is for us who can be against us. We can do all things that God calls us to as we trust in Him to strengthen us. Never give up!
They were ready to fight and they were ready to work. They worked with their swords in their hands.
15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. 19 I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. 20 At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.” 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.
Night and day, they worked and carried their swords. Some stood guard and other worked. At night they slept in their clothes so that at a moments notice they could be where they were needed. They even had an early warning system. When they heard the trumpet sound they were to go to that place and fight side by side.
Don’t be afraid to try something. Don’t be afraid to speak. Don’t be afraid to help others. If you ever find yourself in a situation that you cannot handle you know who to call. And no, it is not Ghost Busters. You can call on the Lord and you can call on each other. You need to know that it only takes one time to fail to be there for a brother or sister for the battle to be lost. Don’t let that happen.
Let’s be Unstoppable.
Challenge: Nehemiah gives this report in chapter 6:15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
I believe we can see many guests come through our doors. I believe that we could see someone baptized within a couple of months. I believe we could experience numerical growth in this body.
But it won’t happen unless we do what I asked earlier.
Can each of you just pray that God would impress on you to pray for one person on your pathway? Just fight for each other in prayer this week, so that each of us will accomplish this, this week. Next week will you pray for one family from your pathway to join us one Sunday in December? Pray for someone here to make time to pray this week.
Let us say and do like the people of Jerusalem – “Let us arise and build.” So, they put their hands to the good work.
Can you say, “We can do it.” and “We will begin this week.”? Speak it to the Lord and to each other. Let us sing our commitment to the Lord.