Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Lakeside Christian Church · Facing My Discouragement—Call to Faithfulness | Unbroken episode 07 Scripture Verses Nehemiah 6 Worship Playlist Love So Great by HillsongCome Thou Fount (Above All Else) by Shane & ShaneAlways by PassionGive Me Faith by Elevation Worship Study Questions Describe a time when you felt intimidated or discouraged in doing God's work. What helped you to remain focused and persistent?What are you faithfully working on right now? How can we each fight off discouragement and distractions that may come along?What three distractions did Nehemiah address in Nehemiah 6: 3, 8 & 11 that are also common in our day? What can we learn from his responses?What distractions did Jesus face in his ministry and work on earth? How did he remain focused on his mission?How can you maintain faithfulness in your relationships (with Jesus...The Holy Spirit...The Church...the World)? Downloads & Resources Facing My Discouragement–Call to Faithfulness Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/16/2022 This Fall we’ve been looking at the story of Nehemiah in the Bible. I want you to think of a time when you struggled to complete an enormous project. Maybe you eventually finished it, or maybe not. One summer (and keep in mind this was a very long time ago), I was at a construction site where they were laying the foundation of a spacious home along the Kankakee River. I would have said a “beautiful” home, but it became an ugly pink-colored mansion! They’d just poured the foundation walls, and dump trucks had unloaded several mounds of rock. When we arrived the boss said, “Boys, grab those shovels, grab those wheelbarrows, grab those planks, and move those piles of rocks from there, into the crawlspace here.” He may as well have given us five-gallon buckets and asked us to drain the Kankakee River. A friend and I scooped and scooped under that hot summer sun. We slowly filled up the crawlspace—but those piles grew larger and larger! That same job would have taken a Bobcat mere hours, yet there we were! In the story of Nehemiah, in your Bible, the builders had an insurmountable job that eclipsed anything we’ve probably ever done. Imagine with bare hands sorting through tons of rubble from collapsed walls and burned gates. Salvaging whatever could be used, carrying away all the rest. A wall running miles. Many sections the length of a football field. It takes a special kind of crazy to even begin such a project. No power equipment. No end-loaders. No air-conditioned bobcat, or apple music earbuds. No nicely machined shovel from Ace Hardware or wheelbarrows. No thick leather gloves, nor Carhart boots and overalls. Scarce water, scarce food, constant threats of danger… and oh by the way you can only work with one hand while carrying a sword in the other! Have you ever found yourself “DIS-COURAGED?” Let’s put that work up on the screen! Discouragement comes in many forms. I find “physical” discouragement the easiest to deal with. There have been so many times where through a sheer force of will, I pushed this body to the finish line. You know… you shovel that snow (its coming!), run that jackhammer, stack those bales of hay, move those boxes. Even today, I love flipping that switch and going into beast mode. Yet it’s not so easy to overcome “mental” discouragement. When no matter how hard you try, you can’t find a solution (And I’m probably thinking of those pre-YouTube days—where you actually had to think things through and there wasn’t a YouTube video clicks away). Or when something becomes infinitely larger in your mind, than it actually may really be (like those piles of rock along the river.) What about “emotional” discouragement, when you are just spent? Anxious. Depressed. Beat down. Demoralized. The worse thing by far is “spiritual” discouragement when you wonder, “Why God?” or even “Where are you God?” When the devil gets in your head and doubts take hold. When I think about God’s Kingdom, and the vast harvest fields of people that surround us everywhere, I sometimes feel spiritually overloaded, overwhelmed, discouraged. Sometimes just helping one person can be overwhelming, much less a whole church or city! In Nehemiah 6, discouragement visits Nehemiah. Discouragement can have many faces. For example, sometimes discouragement can look like distraction. In Nehemiah 6:1-2 we read these words, “When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it—though at that time I had not installed the doors in the city gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” They were planning to harm me.” Sometimes a text just preaches itself. Hey Nehemiah, take a break and come to the valley of “ONO.” Is that where that phrase comes from? How many times has your phone buzzed and when you looked down said to yourself, “ONO. What now?” In the olden days they sent forth messengers. Nehemiah’s enemies sent messenger after messenger. 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x. They kept ringing his doorbell! I love how Nehemiah responds! Nehemiah 6:3-4, “So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.” It needs to be said that there are different types of distractions. There are inconvenient distractions. A legitimate need arises. Your family or a friend needs help. An unforeseen problem arises like a famine! But then there are malicious distractions. When you really lock into serving God, God’s enemies begin to circle. They have a vested interest that you NOT succeed, NOT build, NOT preach, NOT challenge the status quo, NOT usurp their power or control. In the early church, as people came to Christ, and started to please God, and desire holiness, to live godly and holy lives of character, it disrupted the corruptive power hierarchies of entire cities. “What do you mean you won’t cheat the scales? What do you mean you won’t steal, kill, and destroy? What do you mean you now love Jesus?” Remember Saul the Persecutor trying to destroy the church house to house? As Christians we sometimes assume every is nice and well intentioned. We’re surrounded by people with malicious motives, who’d rather see us canceled, than work of God succeed. Discouragement can come in the form of disparagement. Have you ever been slandered, ridiculed, or misrepresented? Have you ever had someone vilify your character, your intentions, your motives? As a leader, and Lara will surely tell you, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I can step in something. Maybe I created a misunderstanding—not just that I was misunderstood—but that I didn’t choose my words properly. Maybe I didn’t handle a situation well. Maybe I was tired, or blunt, or lacked warmth, or needed perspective. Most of the time you can go to a person, explain yourself, and move on. But sometimes an opportunistic person seizes upon something to discredit you. Their intention though, is malicious. They aren’t seeking peace. They aren’t well intentioned. They are seeking to weaken, or damage you. Here is how you know: You humble yourself, you go to them, you try to reconcile, but they keep escalating. You try to heal the wound; they keep clawing it open! One time I tried to reconcile with a member of our church. This person was alienating all sorts of people. He was so self-centered. And as with any leadership role, its often the case that if you don’t deal with problems, you can become the problem. I spoke to this person about how their behavior was impacting the body. I had to put certain limits on them, so others wouldn’t be hurt. But then this person’s reaction was they felt betrayed by me. No matter how I tried to explain the situation they just kept saying, “Jon, I’m just hurt. I’m just really, really hurt.” So, I’d listen, and listen, and listen. They didn’t want healing, they wanted blood. In Nehemiah 6:5-7 we read, “Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written: It is reported among the nations—and Geshem agrees—that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king 7 and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf, “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together.” What is the best way to put out a brush fire, or even forest fire started by malicious rumors? Nehemiah 6:8-9 Nehemiah says… “Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will drop their hands from the work, and it will never be finished.” Think of how much time and energy we waste trying to defend God’s work, or sometimes defend our character. Most often the best response is “Hand me another brick.” Just keep building what God wants you to build. Starve the “rumor mill” of the oxygen it needs to thrive. Get back at it! Discouragement can come in the form of distraction, in the form of disparagement. Another face of discouragement is intimidation. In Nehemiah 6:10-14 Nehemiah recounts, “10 I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: Let’s meet at the house of God, inside the temple. Let’s shut the temple doors because they’re coming to kill you. They’re coming to kill you tonight!” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can someone like me enter the temple and live (Nehemiah wasn’t a priest, only priests could enter the temple]? I will not go.” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me. 14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.” Let me share the most important personal lesson I’ve learned about facing discouragement—whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Whether its distraction, disparagement, intimidation. In Nehemiah 6:9, Nehemiah prays, “But now, my God, strengthen my hands.” In Nehemiah 6:14, Nehemiah prays, “My God, remember what these men have done who wanted to intimidate me.” I have to keep learning and relearning to pray and let God shoulder my discouragement. I love Nehemiah 6:15-16, “15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” One reason we feel discouragement is because God’s work is infinitely bigger than us. If we could do it in our own strength, God wouldn’t get any glory from it. But the fact that there is no humanly possible way to do a thing… and that thing gets finished… there is only one conclusion people can make and it’s that God accomplished the task, God did it! Word of warning. Even after the wall was built, the discouragement never ended. It continues to morph. Nehemiah 6:17-19, “During those days, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, since he was a son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19 These nobles kept mentioning Tobiah’s good deeds to me, and they reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.” You know what… just keep building. Hand me another brick. God strengthen my hands. God defend your work, your servant, your people. God fight for us. Another brick please.