Nehemiah, Building and Battling
by Dr. Jim Brown
Dr. Jim Brown was a preacher used of God all over the US as both a pastor and an evangelist, as well as missions outreach around the world. He graduated to glory in December 2013.
“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?” (Nehemiah 4:1-2)
Now let me just say, if you’re going to quit when folks ridicule you, you don’t need to get started. Because there is always going to be somebody around to ridicule what you’re doing. They’re going to ask or declare why (they think) you’re doing what you’re doing. Usually the reason they’ll say that is because their motives are wrong and so they assume you have the same motives they do. Now you need to understand that. There is a Bible principle. The same judgment wherewith ye judge others, you will be judged with also. The majority of time when a fellow thinks that you’re guilty of something, it’s because that’s what he would do if he had the opportunity. So you just need to be extremely careful about responding or reacting to the criticism and ridicule of other people.
“Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.” I like that. Nehemiah is telling God how God feels. He said, “God, You’re mad about this. Look at what they’re saying about us and You’re not happy about it.”
“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.” (Nehemiah 4:6-12)
Now let me just hesitate there a moment and say that this crowd that was doing the talking were Jews. Now the crowd that instigated it were not Jews, but the crowd that was doing the talking were Jews. You need to be careful because somewhere along the line, your opposition won’t just come from the liberals. Somewhere along the line your opposition won’t just come from the worldly crowd. Somewhere there will be somebody that speaks the same language you do. They won’t just stop at telling you one time, because these are people that are in your confidence. These are people who know how you feel and know the way you think. They’ll tell you ten times that you’ve got some problems. The whole intent of this is to discourage you from doing what God wants you to do. That’s what he’s trying to do -- discourage the hearts of the people.
“Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.” (Nehemiah 4:13-15) Evidently everyone of them had a work. I guess I ought to ask you what your work is. It’s dangerous to be a part of a church like this. It’s dangerous to be a part of a college like this. Because what you do is you get to looking around and saying, “Man, we have a wonderful mission program.” That’s great. How much did you give last year? “I’ll tell you one thing, Man, we had a bunch of people saved Sunday and nine or ten folks baptized. We have a soulwinning church.” That’s good. Who did you witness to? I’m just telling you it’s dangerous to be a part of something like this because, what you do is, you get lost in the crowd. You say what you want to, but Christianity is a personal thing. Every one of us is going to give an answer to God individually, personally. You and I need to be careful how we deal with that.
It says, “And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day. So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.” (Nehemiah 4)
There were several reasons this crowd should not have been able to build the wall and accomplish what they accomplished. There were just a few of them. They were the remnant, the remainder. Captivity had taken place. This crowd that was left was the offscouring of the earth. They were the ones that nobody wanted. They were the ones that were retarded, or physically handicapped, or folks in extreme poverty. Now a few of them had returned already from the exodus, but the majority of the people that were here were people that were really not much account as far as the world was concerned, yet God used them in a great way. There were just a few of them. You can count on it. That’s usually the way God starts off.
Years ago with Moral Majority, I was an officer in it. I didn’t believe it exists, but I was an officer in it. I always thought that the majority wasn’t moral. If you’re only going to march, or build, or you’re only going to do something when there are a lot of people, then there is a good chance you better stay where you are and not go out in the field and try anything.
Have you wondered why so many folks wind up staying after they graduate from college. I’m not talking about people who go on staff. I mean they just hang around. Do you know why? Because it’s safer here under this preacher’s direction and leadership and all the things here, than to get out there and face the real world where you’ve got to have a God. Here you can operate on the preacher’s God. Here you can operate on the God of the staff. Here you can operate on his standards. Here you can operate on his faith and his goal and his vision, but you get out there you have to have some faith of your own. You have to have a goal. You have to have some vision. You have to have a personal walk with God. I’m certainly not saying that it’s wrong for folks to stay around here, but I’m saying this. A lot of times we do that as an excuse rather than accomplishing what God wanted us to do.
There were just a few of them. They shouldn’t have been able to do it. They had no prior experience. They had never built a wall before. That’s for you folks that say, “Well, Preacher, I would teach Sunday school, but I never have.” And if you don’t start now you never will. “Well, I’d like to tell people about Jesus, but I just never have.” Why don’t you start now? They had no prior experience. They were not block layers or brick masons.
By the way, notice the tremendous opposition. I mean from day one they had tremendous opposition. Not only did they have opposition collectively, but enemies attacked their leader personally. They attacked Nehemiah. “We know why you came here.” They even sent word to the king. “He’s trying to rebel against you.”
Now this crowd ought not to have been able to build a wall, but they did. The Bible says in verse 6, “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” Boy, wouldn’t it be great if folks had a mind to work. I mean just wanted to do something for God. I like what it says back there. They said, “...Let us rise up and build...” (Nehemiah 2:18)
Now forgive me, but I’ve pastored for a while and usually when somebody says, “Let us rise up and build,” then somebody else says, “Let us rise up and oppose.” You need to be careful what group you fall in. You need to always be one of the builders, not one of the opposition. When you look at verse 6 you find the purpose, and that really is the key to this thing. They had a purpose. That’s the reason they were able to build something. They lived with the realization and there was a purpose for what they were about to do. But down in verse 10 you find a problem. It’s interesting, from verse 6 to verse 10, it’s not that many verses, and yet in verse 6 they said, “So built we the wall;...for the people had a mind to work.” The wall was half way built.
A lot of times you’ll have enough energy, enough enthusiasm, enough zeal, enough of God, whatever, you’ll have enough enthusiasm to get it started and get about half way through. Folks will probably be bragging on what you’ve done. “Man, I’ll tell you one thing. Look what God’s done with him!” and the wall will be half way built. Along about half way, you’ll run into verse 10. This is the same ones that said they had a mind to work. This is the same ones that said, “Let us rise up and build.” “And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.”
Nehemiah did not invent the rubbish. The rubbish didn’t just suddenly appear when they got half way through. If you go back to Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah couldn’t even get around the interior of the city because there was so much rubbish. The rubbish had been there all the time, but the problem was all of a sudden they started seeing the rubbish.
A young man was talking to me about a particular college. He was telling me some things he didn’t like and I said, “Was it that way when you went there?”
He said, “Well yes.”
I said, “Why did you not have a problem with it when you went there?” It always amazed me when I pastored, in the same service that people get saved and get right with God, other folks will get mad and leave. It amazes me how they can sit, listen to the same sermon, listen to the same Word of God, be in the same auditorium and one gets blessed and one gets mad.
Years ago I was pastoring in north Arkansas. I think it was Tuesday night and I was going to visit some folks that had been visiting the church for a few weeks and I thought they were probably going to join. So I told Pat, “I’ll take Jimmy.” Jimmy was about 10 years old then. I said, “I’m just visiting some folks, you know. I’m not going to run into any problems or anything that would be controversial so he’s not going to have to sit there and listen to all of it. I’ll take him visiting with me.”
So we went to the first house and knocked on the door. I had led the guy to Christ and we baptized him, but his wife just never joined. She claimed to be saved. We went in and sat down, then the wife said, “Brother Brown, would you like some coffee?” She looked at Jimmy and said, “Would you like a Coke?” I said, “Yes Ma’am.” He said, “Yes Ma’am.” She went to the kitchen.
When she went to the kitchen, her husband looked at me and said, “Boy, Preacher, she’s on a war path.” Well I knew I was in trouble, so I just sat there. She came back in.
I said, “I just wanted to come by and visit with you all. It’s been a blessing to have you coming to church. I was so thrilled about you getting saved, and I just wanted to talk to you. I noticed you never have joined the church, ma’am.”
She said, “No, sir, I’m not going to be joining the church. As a matter of fact, we’re not coming back anymore.” Now when the woman is the one that does all the talking, you know you’re in trouble.
I said like a dummy, “Ma’am, what’s the problem?” I was young. I didn’t know any better.
She said, “I’ll tell you exactly what the problem is. All you preach on is britches, britches. I never heard anybody use the word britches and make it sound so nasty. You don’t say pants. You don’t say slacks. You say britches. You make it sound like it’s the worse thing in the world.” She said, “Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, all you preach on is britches.”
I looked at him and I said, “Brother, you were in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Did I preach on britches?”
He said, “Preacher, I’ve already told her. I’m going to tell you what it is. She’s under conviction about her britches and that’s why that’s what she hears.”
I said, “Now, ma’am, I’m not going to tell you that I don’t preach on that, because I do. I won’t deny that a bit, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do. We’ll get a tape of Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night and if I said anything about britches, I’ll apologize to you, because I feel sure that I didn’t.”
She said, “You’ll just have to apologize.”
Her husband said, “No he won’t. He didn’t say anything about it.”
She said, “Well, that’s not all. This once saved, always saved.”
Your problem is not your separation and your standards. You’re not in love with God like you ought to be and if you were then that wouldn’t be a problem with you.
I sat there and talked to her and couldn’t lead her to Christ so we got up and left and went to the next place. I thought, “Dear God, I hope we don’t run into another one of them.” So I knocked on the door of a nice big house, a beautiful place, obviously these folks made a lot of money and I was thrilled that they were visiting our church because most of our folks we had to bail out of jail. I knocked on the door. I came in and the lady said, “Brother Brown, would you like something to drink?”
I said, “Ma’am, I just had some coffee, but I think I’ll take another cup if you don’t mind.”
As she went out to get the coffee, her husband looked at me and said, “Oh, Preacher, you came at a bad time.”
I said, “Lord, help. Here comes the britches thing again.” So I’m sitting there and I said, “You know it’s been a joy to have you folks visiting our church. I appreciate you all coming so much. I just wanted to come by and see if there were any questions or anything. I know you’ve been thinking about joining.”
She said, “We won’t be joining. As a matter of fact, we won’t be coming back.”
Like a dummy I asked, “What’s the problem?”
She said, “I’ll tell you exactly what the problem is. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, all you ever preach on is money.”
I said, “Ma’am, here’s this lady’s phone number. Would you mind calling her and telling her I preached on money? She thinks I preached on britches every service.” Could I just go ahead and tell you that I didn’t preach on money and I didn’t preach on britches? As a matter of fact, there were seven people that Sunday morning that thought I preached on Jesus, because they got saved.
I’m going to tell you what the problem is. An awful lot of people look around and they see rubbish because that’s what they’re looking for. I’m not saying there’s not any problems. I’m not saying there’s not any heartache. I’m not saying there’s not any difficulty, but if you’re busy building a wall you don’t have time to look at all the garbage. They’ll be plenty of it for you to look at if you have time to be a garbage inspector and a rubbish inspector.
This crowd said that the strength of the bearers of the burdens was decayed because there was much rubbish there. They lost their strength. They lost their vision. They lost their confidence. They lost their security. They lost all of it. The reason they lost it is because they got to looking at the rubbish. You don’t have any choice about whether there’s going to be garbage or not, but you do have a choice about what you look at. I promise you that if you live long enough then you’ll find out that you’re going to have to get your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ and off the problems of the world.
The only difference in David and the rest of that crowd is David had been looking at God on the back side of the mountain, out keeping his flocks. Whenever he showed up and looked at Goliath, he compared Goliath with God, and Goliath didn’t look very big. That other crowd had been looking at Goliath for 40 days and 40 nights. They’d look at themselves; then they’d look at Goliath. They’d look at themselves; then they’d look at Goliath. They said, “Man, we can’t do anything to stop him.”
David showed up and said, “Somebody ought to shut his mouth.”
Somewhere along the line we need to understand that if we’re going to accomplish what God wants us to accomplish it won’t be because of how big we are, or because of what we know, or because of our abilities or talents. It will be because there’s a God in heaven that holds all power in heaven and in earth. If we can tap into that power and let him flow through us, then we can accomplish everything that He wants accomplished. This crowd wasn’t able to do anything. They were discouraged. They were down. They saw the rubbish.
I want you to notice that Nehemiah had a plan and I like that. “Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.” (Nehemiah 4:13) Nehemiah’s plan had several points to it.
The first thing was he got the people united. He got them together to try to accomplish something. I want these two fellows to help me. I’m going to count to three. We’ll grab on to each other, then you go toward the piano. You go toward the organ. I’m going to go toward the pulpit. Did you notice that we didn’t make a lot of progress. If we had stayed at it, there would have been some sweat in just a little while. There would have been some noise in just a little while. I will remind you that there was a lot of activity, a lot of movement, a little perspiration, a little noise, but there wasn’t anybody going anywhere. That’s about the way the average Baptist church operates. The preacher is going one direction. Some folks are going in another direction. Some folks are going in an opposite direction.
In this illustration the pulpit is going to represent Jesus Christ. When I count to three I want you to go toward Jesus. Now you will notice the closer we get to Jesus the closer we get to each other. Now I didn’t go over here and say, “Now, brother, I want you to know that our brother over there has got problems and we need to have some kind of seminar and get together and try to help him.” I didn’t go over here and get with this brother and say, “I want you to know that guy over there, he’s got problems. I don’t know what we can do to get him closer to us.” No, it’s not getting closer to us. It’s all of us getting closer to Jesus. The closer you and I get to Jesus, then we’ve got to be closer to each other. If you can’t get close to each other, it must be because you’re not very close to Jesus. We need to understand that this thing is a united front, a united effort. If you’re going to accomplish anything for God, then you’ve got to get over your knit picking, belly aching, griping, and finding fault with everybody.
Years ago our kids were in Christian school and Jimmy was just a little fellow. Pat came home one day and said to me, “Honey, the school teacher is not treating Jimmy right.” So I found out and she was right. Because he was my son, he was treating him a little differently than the other children. So I said to my wife, “Honey, I can tell you, I grew up in a preacher’s home and he’s going to have to learn to live with that.” Now the man was not hurting him physically, but he probably was doing some things emotionally that were not like it ought to be, but that’s just the way life is. Some of you have never quit pouting because somebody didn’t treat you just like they treated somebody else. Great day in the morning! When are you going to grow up and realize that life isn’t fair? Nobody ever said you were going to get an even break. I love this crowd, “Well, I’ll tell you one thing. Everybody is created equal.” I beg your pardon. If you think that everybody is created equal, you go watch Brother Joe Finn dunk a basketball. This brother got up here and sang. I can’t sing like he can sing, so God must not have been fair with me.
You know, the only thing that gripes about the way God created them is people. Everything else just does what God put it here to do. You never see the red birds meet and have a convention because they were not black birds. You never see the female lions upset because they were not males. Everything just does what God put it here to do, except for people. People are going to gripe, complain, belly ache, and feel sorry for themselves. Somewhere along the line you have to understand that there’s a God in heaven and He made you. He put you exactly like He wants you to be. What you and I need to do is take this Book and be made conformable to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we can do that, then we can present a united front.
Let me say this about the family, because He did put them together as a family. Some of you are here today and you’ve got family that’s not what they ought to be. Some of you even criticize your parents because maybe they’re not saved or they’re not the kind of Christians they ought to be. If you keep living, one of these days you’ll regret that you’ve had that attitude. Because regardless of what your parents are, or regardless of what your Dad and Mom have done, somewhere along the line you need to make peace with God and make peace with them and you need to love them. If you don’t do that, you’ll regret it. I’m not talking about you justifying the fact that they are a drunkard, or justifying immorality. I’m just talking about you loving them because God put you in that family.
There are some areas that my dad and I would not agree on. If we sat down and began to discuss theology, certain areas, I’m sure we would disagree. We basically don’t discuss those areas. My daddy is a fundamentalist. On the doctrines of the Word of God, he is a fundamentalist. He and I could find something we disagree on, but I’m not going to argue with my daddy. He’s my daddy. I’ve learned more from him than anybody on the face of the earth. I’m thankful for him. I may find out one of these days that he was right and I was wrong. I don’t expect to, but I might. That doesn’t change the fact that we’re supposed to be united.
The denomination that my dad is a part of, back several years ago I was there and preached for him at First Baptist Church. So the brethren met together on Monday in a prayer breakfast. I love those prayer breakfasts where they discuss everything. They met together and discussed the fact that my dad had me preach for him. My dad was at that time about 68 years old. So they presented their little charge to him. My dad looked at them and smiled. He said, “Fellows, none of you are members of this church. If we voted on anything, you wouldn’t have a vote. When I was 40 years old, you guys didn’t tell me how to pastor my church and now that I’m nearly 70 you’re dead sure not going to start telling me how to pastor my church.” He said, “It’s none of your business.”
It would be good if some independent Baptists had that attitude. Somewhere there has got to be a uniting. It’s got to be in our churches. It’s got to be in our homes. Somewhere we’ve got to understand that God put us together and we ought to do what God said for us to do. This crowd had to understand that. Nehemiah united them together.
I like what he did in verse 14. He said, “Be not afraid of them because I can handle everything.” That’s the NIV, the Non Inspired Version. Some of you must have one. I don’t mean that you read out of it. I mean you practice out of it. You wouldn’t dare pick up one and read it, but I’ll tell you one thing, you’ll practice something that’s contrary to the Word of God. “...Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord,...” Boy, it would be good if you and I would remember the Lord. “Well, Preacher, you don’t understand. These people out there they’ve got this, that, and the other.”
The first little old church I ever tried to pastor, they had about 25 or 30 people in that church and seven of them were deacons. The only reason you’re not impressed by that is because you haven’t ever been there. They believed that God had ordained them to be the watch dogs of the pulpit. Pretty soon that little church started growing, people started getting saved, we started baptizing people, and pretty soon it was running 100 out there in the country. We were six miles out of town. The town had 300 people and one of the deacons said, “Brother, I don’t think all these people coming into our church are true missionary Baptists.”
I said, “You’re right. They’re not true missionary Baptists.” I said, “They’re true heathen. They got saved by the grace of God.” You say, “Yea, that’s that denominational stuff.”
I was moderating a fellowship of independent Baptist preachers over in Conway, Arkansas, one time. I believe in separation 100%, not a legalist at all. I was moderating the meeting. The preacher whose church we were in stood up and said, “I need you all to pray for me. We had a split last week and we lost about half our church. I just want to say, Thank God, we don’t have but about 20 left, but everyone of them, the men cut their hair and the women dress right and none of them smoke. All of our people are completely separated and I thank God for that.”
I was standing there and I said, “Brother, I’m sorry you had a split. I’m glad everybody you have left is separated, but if you do what God said for you to do, it won’t be about six months till you have a church full of cigarette sucking, long haired, britches wearing folks. You don’t win anybody to Christ that already understands about godliness. Everybody you win to Christ, everybody you get is going to have to come out of the world and that’s the reason you’re supposed to teach them the Word of God. Somewhere along the line you better forget about all the crowd and you better remember the Lord because there’ll come a time when He’s the only one that will see you through. You go ahead and be backed by that crowd and be excited about them.”
I had an old man in that first little old country church I ever pastored out there. Bless his heart. His name was Brother James. Brother James was a deacon, but he was a help. I was standing there one morning and I’d preached an especially good sermon, and folks had gotten saved, and I was young. I was about 22 or 23 years old. People were going out. They were shaking my hand. “I’ll tell you that was the best message I ever heard in my life.” Women were crying. People were bragging on me. I was eating it up, enjoying it. Old Brother James walked over and stood beside me. He said, “Brother Jim, I want you to listen. If you listen to them when they brag on you, you have to listen to them when criticize you. I know this bunch. You’d be a lot better off not to listen either time.” Now when they criticize you, you say that they lied. You’re probably right; they were lying when they bragged on you, too. Remember the Lord.
Do you know all that happened to David? You say, “Oh wicked, ungodly.” No, the Bible says that he was a man after God’s own heart. Do you know what happened to David? He forgot the Lord. You can’t remember the Lord and commit adultery. He didn’t hate God. It wasn’t a thing where he despised God. He still loved God, but he forgot about the Lord. He was not aware and acknowledging the presence of God. If you get to the place where you are not aware of the presence of God, you won’t do anything and you’ll wind up messing up your life. You don’t have to hate God or despise the church. You don’t have to get mad at anything. All you have to do is forget the Lord. That’s why Nehemiah reminded them to remember the Lord.
Look at the latter part of verse 17. “...every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” I have written in the margin of my Bible out beside that verse simply the word balance. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” I’m amazed at this crowd. They say, “Well, Preacher, I don’t think it hurts your testimony to dress this way.” We’re not talking about your testimony. We’re talking about what God feels about it. “Well, Preacher, I think I could reach more people.” I’m not talking about what you think. I’m talking about what God said. The Bible says that it is an abomination.
Do you know that same word abomination is used when it says, “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1) The hardest thing you’ll ever do in your Christian life is be balanced. We are extremists by nature. That’s why we’re independent. We tend to follow the pendulum way over here, but if we’re not careful we’ll follow it way over here. Balance is a hard thing for you as a Christian to do.
The Bible says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) The Bible talks about our spirit and our body. I know some people, they are so separated that they don’t even squeak when they walk. They have it all down. They have the rule book. They have some leader of fundamentalism tell them everything they thought was wrong and they don’t do anything that anybody thinks is wrong. Then they sit up and look down on everybody else that’s not quite where they are. That’s not legalism, but it is Phariseeism. Then on the other hand, you have some other folks and they’ve seen that and say, “I’ll tell you one thing. Bless God, that bunch, they’re critical. They’re backbiting and they’re judgmental and they’re this and that. I don’t want to be like that.” They go the other way. So they’re just as kind and sweet and gentle and can get along with everybody, including the devil. They are nice, but they are liberal as the devil.
Years ago we had a little town meeting in Cave City, and I was pastoring out in the country. We went in town. A whole bunch of people were there and so they were trying to get a dance in the town. One of the doctors jumped up and he said, “Well, I’ll tell you one thing. I’d rather my daughter be at a dance than have my daughter be out parked in the bushes somewhere.” I was young. I was 22. I jumped up and said, “Those were not the two choices my daddy gave me.”
Did it ever dawn on you that you could serve God and have a good attitude? Have you ever thought that you could take the whole counsel of God, not just cut out the part that you’re doing good with? Have you ever noticed this about us? We always compare our strengths to other people’s weaknesses. We look at them. “I’ll tell you one thing. They don’t do this and they don’t that.” No, but they do a lot better in some other areas than you do. Why don’t you get you a Bible and try to measure up to what Jesus said? We’re talking about balance.
Look at verse 20. “In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” Whenever the battle becomes strong and the enemy comes in then you need somewhere you can go. I call it a rallying point. You need to have somewhere you can regather, put everything back into perspective, where you can understand what you’re supposed to be doing. Now if you don’t have that, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll get crossed up because what all of us tend to do is look at the problem so much that we get our eyes off the Lord. You’ve got to have something that raises a red flag in your mind. When the battle comes and the heartaches and difficulties come, you go back to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s how the average Christian life operates. A person gets saved. When they first get saved, they realize that they have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ and they’re excited about it. Because of that relationship and knowing a little bit about the Bible, they realize there are some rules that they need to go by, so they’re excited about following the rules. So they find out what the rules are, but if they’re not careful, pretty soon the rules are what they live by instead of the relationship. Then if they live long enough and grow in the Lord, somewhere along the line they understand that it’s not rules at all. It’s principles that they’re supposed to live by and so they find out the principles of the Word of God. They get excited about them. They still keep the rules, but now they have principles. If they grow through the principle stage, then one day they get to the bottom line and discover that it’s not rules. It’s not principles. It’s a relationship and they’re back where they started. The sad thing is some people never grow through it. The sad thing is some people get one place or another and they stop. Some of you are saying, “Well, if that’s true then I don’t have to worry about any of this.” Oh, what are you going to do with the verse, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Somewhere along the line you’ve got to hit the reset button.
If you won’t serve while you are in college, you won’t have anybody follow you when you get out of college. We’ve had a President trying to lead without having ever served. You see the dilemma. I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat. It doesn’t make any difference. Any time a man comes to a position of authority without ever having been a follower, then you have got a dilemma.
The majority of us do not by nature have a servant’s heart. You have to develop a servant’s heart. Now you cannot follow Jesus and not have a servant’s heart, because He was a servant. So if you and I are going to be like Him, we’re going to have to determine that we’re going to serve.
Pastors will say to me, “How do you find somebody, how do you get somebody on your staff that will just do whatever needs to be done?” They say, “Man, I hired this guy and he’s a specialist. He’ll lead singing. He’ll sing specials, but I need somebody to cut the grass sometimes. I got this guy and he thinks God called him to be a youth director, but he doesn’t want to clean the toilets.” You’re not liking this, but it doesn’t matter. It would really be good for just about every preacher, if they had to pastor some little old country church for a while, because you’d have to do everything. Now you believe what you want to, but I don’t believe God’s work needs a bunch of specialists. I believe we need some general practitioners. I believe we need somebody that will try to meet the needs of the people and try to build a church.
We’ve got this special group and they’re church builders and we’ve got this special group and they’re pastors and we’re trying to divide them. The best I can figure out, the pastor ought to be a church builder. Do you know what that means? That means when he came here back yonder all those years ago and had 300 people or whatever he had, he couldn’t just say, “Okay, all I’m here for is to build a church.” No, he had to pastor the 300 that was here and that was tough. It would have been a lot easier, knowing his background and knowing the bus ministry and all he’s done, the easiest thing for him to do would have been to come in and to just build all over again, but he had to build while he pastored. If he would have quit pastoring that crowd, he wouldn’t have had anybody to pay the bills for the ones he’s building. Somewhere along the line you ought to learn you have to pastor people and you have to build people. You have to accomplish something for the glory of God. Nehemiah is just crammed full of practical things that will make your life different.
Are you doing what God said for you to do? Do you have any idea what God wants you to do? Do you have a servant’s heart? Over the years I’ve had lots of people that thought they had leadership ability and they’d come and volunteer, “Preacher, if you need somebody to lead such and such, I’ll be glad to do that.”
I never will forget when I took the church at Pine Bluff. A guy came in and said, “Preacher, do you know there’s a pot hole out in the parking lot?
I said, “No, you’re kidding me?”
He said, “No, a big old pot hole; I drove through it when I came in this morning.”
I said, “Really?”
He said, “Yes, I didn’t think you knew about it.”
I said, “Well, I’d like to appoint you chairman of the pot hole committee. If you don’t mind, I’d like for you to get some other men and you all fix it.”
After about six months, the building there could have fallen down around us. Nobody would tell me anything. It didn’t matter. It could have been burning down and nobody would say anything because I would have told them to go get a water hose.
What you want to do is you want to be the one that comes and tells all the problems, but you don’t want to do anything about it. Why don’t you just grow up and realize that you have a relationship with the God who created heaven and earth, and that’s the greatest relationship in all the world. He’s given you an opportunity to work for Him. He’s offered to give you everything you could possibly need to accomplish what He wants to accomplish. But we sit around whining, griping, and belly aching, and all the time there is a God in heaven who can take care of it.
This crowd got half way through and quit. Thank God, Nehemiah had a plan to get them started back. Some of you are about half way through the job God’s called you to and you’re ready to quit. Some of you are just hoping you’ll wake up in the morning feeling bad so you can use that as an excuse. You need to accomplish what God has put you here to accomplish and God will be glorified.