Text: 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. (Nehemiah 6:13, NIV)
Teach: Intimidation is the technique used by a person who perceives themselves to be more powerful than another, whereby they attempt to frighten the “weaker” person into doing what they want. Over and over we read of Nehemiah’s enemies seeking to employ this tactic. The problem is they thought Nehemiah was weaker. They failed to understand the strength of his character, and his God.
Take: Numerous times we find the reminder in the Old Testament journey of God’s people that the battle belongs to the Lord. Paul reassured the Romans that in spite of what they faced they were “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37) John encouraged his epistles that greater is he (God) who is in us, than he (Satan) who is in the world (see 1 John 4:4).
Task: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” That quote is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. We will face many folks who will seek discredit us and make us feel inferior. We don’t have to give them consent. They may think weak and easily intimidated, but we can stand strong in the One who is greater and be more than a conqueror!
Text: 9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:9, NIV)
Teach: “If they’re wringing their hands in fear, they’ll be too weak (and distracted) to work.” That was the thinking of Nehemiah’s enemies. Nehemiah’s solution: prayer. Hopefully by now we’re learning that prayer is Nehemiah’s answer to every problem or situation. This time he asked God to strengthen his hands.
Take: Peter encourages the believers of his day to “cast all your anxiety (care) on him (God) because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). This wasn’t a new thought for the Psalmist had penned the same message centuries before: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22, NIV)
Task: Wringing your hands in fear is wasted energy. Instead, cast all your care on God, because he cares for you. He will give you the strength for whatever task you face.
Text: 8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” (Nehemiah 6:8, NIV)
Teach: Sanballat decides to shift his attack. Instead of coming privately to tempt Nehemiah away from the rebuilding of the wall, he sends an open letter and accuses Nehemiah of heading up a rebellion. His hopes were to discredit Nehemiah and incite the people against him.
Take: Lies and gossip. More harm to individuals and to the work of the Kingdom have been done by these tools of the enemy. Should we expect any less when the enemy made these kinds of attacks on Jesus?
Task: Nehemiah set the example for us once again. When his character was attacked, he simply denied the reports, asked God for strength, and went back to work. We need to be sure we are doing everything we can to protect our character (that’s integrity), and then entrust our reputation to God.
Text: 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:4, NIV)
Teach: Nehemiah learned the lesson of staying power. His consistent response to the invitation of Sandballat is a clear example for us: if the offer is wrong once, it will always be wrong, whether the enemy comes once, four times or a dozen.
Take: The enemy is prowling, seeking those whom he can devour. Jesus understood the relentless nature of Satan’s attacks and told his disciples to ask, seek, and knock, not one time but over and over. Paul likened the believer’s faith journey to a long race, one that we were to finish faithfully.
Task: Has the enemy been trying to wear down your resolve? Reaffirm your commitment. Remind him that his ploys will not bring you down. No matter how appealing his lies may be, claim the power of God, in the name of Jesus, and stand strong on the wall so you can finish your task.
Text: 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “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?” (Nehemiah 6:3, NIV)
Teach: Can you distinguish between what is important and what is urgent? Often the urgent things of life present as important to get us off track. Nehemiah was able to identify the ploy of Sandballat and his cronies as deception and he reaffirmed his commitment to getting the work done.
Take: Jesus encouraged his followers to keep their priorities straight. He told them to seek the Kingdom of God (the things of and about God) first, make those things their priority, then everything needed for life and living will follow (see Matthew 6:33)
Task: In your quiet moments with God, consider what your top five priorities are. What are the things in the list that you, like Nehemiah, wouldn’t leave or couldn’t be drawn away from? Seal your commitment in prayer.
Text: 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages[a] on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; (Nehemiah 6:2, NIV)
Teach: On the surface this could be seen as an opportunity to mend the relationship between disagreeing factions. It could be a pleasant offer from one leader to another of a brief and refreshing break from exhausting physical labor and the stresses of leading people. But it wasn’t.
Take: Jesus warned his followers that they needed to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (see Matthew 10:16). We are to be discerning so we will not be deceived. Nehemiah stayed on top of the schemes that would come his way by keep the communication lines open between himself and God.
Task: Satan doesn’t come to us in his ugliness. He knows our weakest points, our triggers, the ways he can wiggle into our thoughts. Our job is to be ready. Let’s make extra effort this week to be mindful of the times and ways of Satan’s attacks. Consider and commit to ways to God’s means of protection. God will keep you from all harm.