You can buy insurance for most things. Cars, homes, pets and health can all be covered, with the premium reflecting the risks involved. The downside is that you rarely get your money back if nothing happens - that’s the risk you take and the company’s profits you contribute towards. You will only get a payout, a replacement or support when something goes wrong.
There’s no cover, though, against bad things happening to good people. The unexpected will always be with us - computers will malfunction (I’ve just lost a whole paragraph of this study I can’t recover), cars will break down and we won’t stay fit and well for ever.
Even the best laid plans with clear goals and community support will sometimes seem in danger of unravelling, especially when there are competing parties involved.
Nehemiah faces a challenge of this very nature. The opposition have not gone away but have retired to lick their wounds and to reconsider their strategy. They are looking for any gap they might exploit in order to stop the building work. It’s power politics at its worst, playing dirty to become top dog again.
.... we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5: 3, 4)
Wearing a cross will not make you a disciple, carrying a cross does ....I’d rather stand with God and have the world as my enemy, than to go along with the crowd to destruction ( A W Tozer)
Pause for thought
- Where would we normally expect to find opposition to the gospel?
- How do we normally react when things go wrong unexpectedly despite all our best efforts?
- Please re read Romans 5: 3 - 4. How do these verses help us to put problems and difficulties into perspective?
- What does it really mean to carry a cross? How would you explain this to a new Christian or a non believer?
The work of rebuilding the city has begun and, with the whole community working together, Jerusalem is buzzing with activity. The King has provided the raw materials – as well as releasing Nehemiah to project manage the job – the people are giving their time and energy, but God has driven the vision.
Not everyone is happy with this rapid turnaround in the fortunes of the city. Opposition comes from a familiar quarter: we’ll see from chapters 4 & 6 how they try different approaches to throw the project off course. They are, ultimately, unsuccessful but their unwelcome input brings valuable lessons for a community working in unison to achieve their common goal
Please read Nehemiah 4
To think about
Dealing with discouragement (verses 1 to 9)
- When might we become discouraged in doing God’s work? What examples of this do we find in these verses?
- How does the nature of the opposition change? (see 2:10,19; 4; 1 – 8; 6: 1 – 7)
- What response does this bring from Nehemiah? How do his reactions help us to deal with the same kind of issues when they arise in church life?
- How would you support a new believer who is facing significant struggles and who feels discouraged?
When Igor Sikorsky was 12, his parents told him that competent authorities had already proved human flight impossible. He went on to build the first helicopter. In his American plant, he posted this sign:
According to recognized aerotechnical tests, the bumblebee cannot fly because of the shape and weight of his body in relation to the total wing area. The bumblebee does not know this, so he goes ahead and flies anyway.
Opposition can seem overwhelming, especially when the task seems impossible in the first place. Light on his feet, mindful of God’s intentions and ever ready to pray, Nehemiah responds to difficulty as it arises.
To think about
Shared Responsibilities (verses 10 to 23)
- In what ways does verse 23 emphasise how we need to be prepared in order to build God’s Kingdom?
- Why do we need to continually re-evaluate our understanding of God’s vision for GHBC?
- How do Nehemiah’s actions in these verses demonstrate how we might work together to share responsibility as well as vision?
- How do we keep ourselves safe from attack?
- What do you need to do to become (remain) part of God’s team at GHBC?