1 Sunday: Together, On Mission

Sermon by David Strain on October 27, 2019

Nehemiah 4

Well this has been such an important weekend for First Church. Yesterday, as you may know, we called yesterday “Service Saturday.” Almost 150 men gathered from our congregation to do some work projects here in the church. And if you look around the place, you’ll see the difference they have made. They worked out in the community amongst our ministry partners in the city of Jackson. And today is “One Sunday” and we have a united worship service and a united Sunday School class and a congregational meeting to elect new deacons to serve God’s purposes here among us. And then we’ll have a fellowship lunch together after that. And further today marks, as you’ve just heard, the beginning of our stewardship season as we focus on the financial and other needs of our church. Today is, as the choir signaled to us in singing Luther’s great hymn, it’s also Reformation Sunday and we celebrate and remember the blessings of the Protestant Reformation and the recovery of the Gospel. And so it’s good for us, I think, to gather like this and be reminded what it is that we are here for; what it is we are trying to accomplish in the purposes of God; what is it we are giving to. 

And so to help focus our attention on some of those themes today, we’re taking a break this Sunday from 1 Peter and instead I want to invite you, as you can see in your bulletins, to turn with me to the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah chapter 4; Nehemiah chapter 4 on page 400 if you’re using one of the church Bibles. And we’re turning there because it’s just one of the places where we get to see the unity and the sacrifice and the mission of the people of God on display very clearly. We get to see in particular their perseverance in the face of real challenges. 

Nehemiah, by way of background, you may recall, Nehemiah has returned to the city of Jerusalem. He has been serving as cupbearer to the king in the court of the Persian king, Artaxerxes who ruled the empire from his capital city in Susa. The remnant of the people of Judah have been returning to Jerusalem from exile for about seventy years, but report has reached Nehemiah’s ears in Susa that the walls of the city are broken down and its gates are burned with fire. So progress on the renovation of the city has stalled. And so Nehemiah now comes back to Jerusalem to work with a royal charter to work on the reconstruction of the city. And here in chapter 4, we join the laborers in the city on the building site as they work on the walls. And they are surrounded, as we are going to see, by enemies on every hand. And if you’ll look at the text, you’ll see the chapter divides very simply into two main sections. One through 14 talk to us about the opposition facing the people of God. Fifteen through 22 focus on the response. Our headings might be “the difficulty of the work” and “the dedication of the workers.” “The difficulty of the work” and “the dedication of the workers.” 

Before we think about those two headings, I think we need to take a moment before we read the text and consider its teaching to make sure we have the correct glasses on. If you read something, if you have to read something and you can’t find your glasses and you borrow someone else’s because their prescription is different from yours, if you can see anything at all, what you see is distorted and blurred and out of proportion. And if you’ve ever studied the book of Nehemiah and you’ve gone to consult some of the popular commentaries on Nehemiah, you will quickly discover a tragic but very common misreading of the text. In far, far too many treatments of the book of Nehemiah it’s all about leadership lessons about how to manage people, about mobilizing resources for success, about business principles from Nehemiah. And I get why that’s attractive. People like to hear that kind of stuff I suppose. 

But that really isn’t what Nehemiah is principally teaching us. If we see it that way, we’ve got the wrong glasses on. We need to read the story through the lens of redemptive history, seeing how the themes of this book connect to themes developed elsewhere as the Bible unfolds for us that ultimately point us to the good news about Jesus Christ. About His great project of building His Church against which the gates of hell will not prevail. Nehemiah is not mainly about leadership or church growth or business management. Nehemiah is mainly about Jesus. Jesus is the One who builds the New Jerusalem, the Church of the living God, not with bricks and mortar but as we’ve seen recently in 1 Peter, He builds the city of God from living stones, from changed lives brought out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Viewed that way, as I hope we’ll see, this is a text full of good news.

Now before we read it together, Nehemiah chapter 4, we do need to pray and ask for the Lord to help us. So would you bow your heads with me as we pray together?

God our Father, we pray now that You would open our hearts, open our minds. Take Your Word in the power of Your Spirit. Show us ourselves that we may despair of self and then show us our Savior that we may run to Him and rest upon Him as He is offered to us in the Gospel. For we ask all of this in His mighty name, amen.

Nehemiah chapter 4. This is the Word of almighty God:

“Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?’ Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!’ Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

In Judah it was said, ‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.’ And our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.’ At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, ‘You must return to us.’ So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to 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 homes.’

When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.’

So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.’ So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.”

Amen, and we praise God for His holy Word.

The Difficulty of the Work 

“The difficulty of the work” and “the dedication of the workers.” “The difficulty of the work,” first. The restoration work is extensive. Nehemiah says that to the people. Doesn’t he? In verse 2, Sanballat the Horonite characterizes Jerusalem as nothing more than heaps of rubbish and burned ones at that. In verse 6, Nehemiah’s editorial comment indicates the extent of the project. They have to rebuild the wall that encircles the entire city in order to provide some security for the beleaguered people. In verse 10, the remnant of the Jews living in Judah say there is too much rubble. So the comparison is not to “Service Saturday.” You know, these people are not engaged in pressure washing the sidewalk and scrubbing the baseboards. The walls, the buildings are piles of burned ash and rubble. There is nowhere to live. There is no security. There are no defensive walls. It’s an enormous undertaking in its own right. Daunting by any measure. 

But then add to that the opposition confronting the people. It comes from two different sources in the passage. Doesn’t it? In verses 1 through 8, the regional governors installed by the Persian overlords, they see the work of Nehemiah as a threat and they work to undermine it. But then in 10 through 12, the opposition perhaps surprisingly comes from among the Jewish people themselves who are discouraged and keep saying, “You know, why don’t we give up? Enough’s enough. It can’t be done.” Look at 1 through 8 first. Sanballat is the governor of Samaria to the north. He holds the Jewish efforts in open contempt. Doesn’t he? Look at what he says. “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish and burned ones at that?” He knows the ambitions of Nehemiah and his fellows is to restore not only the city but the temple and the worship of God and the sacrifices that were part of the worship of God. And Sanballat is furious about the whole thing. So it’s not only that he seems them as a political threat, but he opposed, root and branch, to the entire project including to the worship of the Lord.

And we are told he is joined by Tobiah, the Ammonite, in verse 3. Tobiah agrees with Sanballat. “Yes,” he says, “what they’re building, if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall. Even a solitary fox’s light footfalls will topple their labors back into rubble.” What’s interesting about Tobiah – just as an aside – is that he is probably himself a Jew. We learn in chapter 13 verse 4 Tobiah is a relative of Eliashib who was then the high priest in the finally completed temple. And after Nehemiah has returned for a visit to Susa, Eliashib clears out some of the temple rooms and Tobiah is invited to take up residence inside the temple. So that suggests that Tobiah has some political, or perhaps even religious ambitions. Perhaps he hopes to establish himself. He believes he should be the ruler of the city. Or perhaps he hopes to claim some religious role as he eventually takes up residence in the temple. Either way, Nehemiah just gets in the way. 

But so far, in the first five verses, the opposition seems to be mainly verbal. Doesn’t it? They are denouncing and mocking the efforts of the people of God. But in verse 8, things take a more sinister turn. Look at verse 8. “They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.” Or look at verse 11. “Our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.’” So there’s mockery and denunciation but it quickly escalates into a murderous, violent plot. 

And then there’s a second tier of opposition on top of all of that beginning in verse 10. Do you see it in verse 10? You really get a sense now of just how hard this work must have been. This time the opposition does not come from pagans or political rivals. Who does it come from now? It comes from members of the Jewish community. “In Judah it was said, ‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.’” Verse 12, “At that time, the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us, ‘Ten times you must return to us. Give it up. Leave Jerusalem. Pack it in. Come and join us.’” So both – among those inside the city working on the wall and those living out in the country – there is a widespread sense of disillusionment; a sense of defeat is just too hard. “We’ll never get it done.” The opposition is too fierce. We are too weak. We just can’t do it. We may as well quit.”

Now what is all of that really? Whatever it might tell us about the politics and economics of the region at this time, when you read it in light of the whole Bible, don’t we have to conclude this is simply another expression of the age-old conflict between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman? It’s another iteration of the ancient hostility between the people of God and the world; the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Between Christ and the devil. That’s what it is. And if you think about it, the strategies of the enemy so much on display here in Nehemiah 4 really haven’t changed. Have they? The accuser of the brethren, the evil one – that’s, by the way, what the name “Satan” means. It’s a title, not really a name. He is “the accuser.” He accused Job, you remember. He accused Joshua the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3. He accused Jesus in the jeering accusations of the priests at His trial in the mockery of the mob at the cross. And he accuses us and he slanders us and he belittles us as followers of Jesus Christ. 

The Lord has called us, you know, to work in His service as it were in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. We are to rebuild the walls by preaching Christ and by living for His glory in the world. We are to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That is our work so that living stones might be built together with us into Christ, the chief cornerstone. That is the great construction project in which we are all engaged as Christian people at First Presbyterian Church. And as we engage in it, Nehemiah 4 reminds us there is an opposition. We will be opposed. The opposition comes from the world, from the mockery and the jeers and accusations. The world will try to threaten and coerce – much as Sanballat and Tobiah do in our passage. It comes even from among ourselves. Doesn't it? We get tired. We get overwhelmed. We get stressed and we start to look at the piles of rubble and our limited resources. We assess our own failing strength and don’t we conclude the strength of those who bear the burdens is failing? There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.

And behind all of that, the Scriptures tell us stands the opposition of the evil one himself who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. And part of the teaching of our passage is that we ought not to be surprised by any of that. Paul, in Acts 14:22 reminds us that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 1 Peter 1:6 that we looked at together not so long ago tell us that “now, for a little while if necessary, you’ve been grieved by various trials.” 1 Peter 2:12 expects non-Christians to speak of us as “evildoers” as we follow Jesus Christ. The normal Christian life is a battle. That’s the main message. It’s a battle. We wrestle not, to be sure, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and hosts of spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realm. That’s true, as the apostle Paul reminds us. But the point is, following Jesus is war. Following Jesus is war. There is opposition and the temptation to back off and slacken the pace is sometimes very real. Let’s be honest. Haven’t you found that to be true? The temptation to back off and slacken the pace is very real.

At First Church, we have been called to glorify God by making disciples on the North State Street corridor, in the greater Jackson area, and around the world. We’ve been called to get out of these four walls, into our community with the good news about Jesus. We’ve been called to be a missionary force across the street and around the globe. And yet burnout is real. It’s a reality. Some of you serve around here at just about every event and every opportunity for ministry that’s going and you’re worn out. Discouragement is real. We’re not seeing as many people become Christians as we would like and it can feel a bit like we’re spinning our wheels. The rubble of the fall, the wreckage of sin still clutters the streets of Jerusalem, still clutters our lives, our marriages, our homes. Sanballat’s mockery lands with us. Doesn’t it? We are feeble. Our work is fragile. Tobiah’s right. “Look what we’ve build. Look what we’ve done for the Lord!” We ought not to boast. How fragile it is. A fox’s light footsteps would bring the walls down. And sometimes we want to give up.

The Dedication of the Workers

What’s remarkable about Nehemiah 4 as we take all of that in, given the temptations to give up confronting God’s people, what’s remarkable about Nehemiah 4 is that they don’t give up. Do you see that? They don’t give up. They want to, sometimes. They sound about as discouraged as we can sometimes be, but they don’t quit. Now we’ve thought about the difficulty of the work. Now I want you to think with me about the dedication of the workers. Sanballat and Tobiah, they suggest the work is impossible. But look how the people respond in verse 6 to the insults and the mockery and the jeers. Verse 6 – do they give as good as they’ve got? What do they do? “So we built the wall and the wall was joined together to half its height for the people had a mind to work.” The New International Version I think says, “For the people worked with all their hearts.” Instead of backing off, they stepped it up a notch. They are dedicated to the work.

And then there are naysayers among the people themselves in verses 10 and 12 as we have seen and the threats of the enemy to invade are very real in verse 11, but look how they respond to that. Verse 13, “So in the lowest parts of the space behind the walls in open places I stationed the people by their clans with their swords, their spears and their bows.” And in 15 through 18 when the enemies found out their schemes and their plots have become known, God has thwarted their plot, what do the people do? They press on. They all return to the wall, each to his work. It’s business as usual, albeit with a weapon in one hand. Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side while he built. It’s a great picture of perseverance. Isn’t it? Of stickability. 

That is our calling as Christians. Galatians 6:9, “Do not grow weary in well doing, for you shall reap if you do not give up.” We’re called, commanded to persevere. Luke 18:1, Jesus calls us to “pray and not give up.” Hebrews 12:1, “Run with perseverance,” run all the way to the finish line, “the race marked out for you, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.” Perseverance. Stickability. Running, not growing weary; walking, not growing faint. That is actually a mark of a child of God, an evidence of belonging as a citizen in the New Jerusalem. 

In C.S. Lewis’, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of The Chronicles of Narnia books, Reepicheep, who is a mouse, kind of a heroic figure in the book, and Prince Caspian, they’re sailing to the edge of the world. It is Reepicheep’s dearest ambition to journey all the way into Aslan’s country, but at one point it looks as if there’s going to be a mutiny. The crew do not want to go any further. And so Lucy asks Reepicheep for help. “‘Aren’t you going to say anything, Reep?” she asks. ‘No, why should your majesty expect it,’ answered Reepicheep in a voice that most people heard. ‘My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader’” – the ship they were on – “‘When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiseek will be the head of the talking mice in Narnia.’” Reepicheep longs for Aslan’s country. He’s determined to go, to keep going, to spend himself going till he gets there. That is your call, believer in Jesus. Press on till you get there. Do not stop sailing east till you reach Aslan’s country. Persevere.

But do notice how the builders in our story persevered. First, they meet the fresh challenges confronting them by doing the same thing they did yesterday. Their building work provoked their enemies to anger, verse 6, “so we built the wall.” Their enemies threatened violence, verse 13, “so I stationed people with their weapons and we got back to work.” They went to work with swords strapped on. They didn’t pull back. They didn’t slow down. They didn’t change course. They kept doing the same thing – the thing God called them to do. No silver bullets; no clever strategies. Build the city, then get up and do it again tomorrow. Sometimes we’re looking for a shortcut, aren’t we? Aren’t we? Some magic method, some silver bullet, some highway to spiritual power overcoming sin, making a difference for Jesus. Some shortcut. That’s what we want. We’re tired. We wish it could be easier. 

But that’s really not the normal Christian life. Plodding. Plodding – that’s the normal Christian life. Laying a brick on top of the bricks you laid yesterday. Sweeping away the rubble. Do the same thing over the long haul, step after step. Don’t back off. Don’t slow down. Stay the course. Far more fruitful than any sudden paroxysm of spiritual energy soon spent. Do the same thing. That’s the normal Christian life. Just keep at it. Open your Bibles. Get yourself to church. Cry out to Jesus Christ. Serve where you can as you can and then do it again tomorrow. 

And secondly, notice they prayed and they got ready for war. Do you see that? Their enemies plot and scheme, verse 9, “so we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them.” Now wait a minute, Nehemiah! Which is it? Do you trust in the sovereignty of God? Well if you do, what’s all this business with a sword at your side? What do you need a guard for? Aren’t you hedging your bets? If God is sovereign, why do you need a guard? What’s the swords and the spears and the shields all about? It’s a pretty common objection to the relationship between the sovereignty of God and human responsibility. We hear it often. If God is sovereign, why are we called upon to obey or act or serve or do anything for that matter? It’s really not a question the Bible is in the least bit concerned about. In Scripture, the sovereignty of God and our responsibility, they don’t cancel each other out. In fact, our obedience to Him and our use of the means He has given us in His service to make progress in faithful following Jesus, they go together. It all rests on the sovereignty of God. That God is sovereign gives us the confidence, feeble as we are, to make use of the means He has given. Not because we have any confidence in the strength of our own arm, but because we believe, as Nehemiah puts it in verse 20, our God will fight for us. Our God will fight for us. 

And so we step up. We do not back off. Pray. Use every means of God’s appointment to make progress to His call in your life. Seek Him. Cry to God. Plead with Him and then strap on your sword and get ready for battle. That is the believer’s mindset. It’s not, “God is sovereign so I don’t have to bother.” It is, rather, “Since God is sovereign, who can stand against His purposes? And I am ready to march, therefore, with courage into the fray.” It’s really the only way to make sense of the people’s perseverance in our chapter, isn’t it, if you think about it. Their enemies were right, after all. They were feeble. They confess it themselves. The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. The work was too great for them; it’s too great for us too. Isn’t it? Can you slay your own sin? Can you save another sinner? Can you make the church grow? It is the work of God, after all. Aren’t we weak? But He is mighty and nothing is too great for Him. His arm is not shortened that it cannot save. In fact, God delights to us the weak things. That’s His M.O. Isn’t it? That’s how He ordinarily chooses to operate. 

So Paul tells us something of that in 2 Corinthians 12:7. Here’s Paul’s attitude. “A thorn,” he says, “was given me in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to buffet me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore,” Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest on me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” Only a confident conviction of the sovereignty of God who fights for us can make the weak Christian say, “When I am weak, then I am strong, and I will not back off but I will persevere.” “He chooses the foolish things and the weak things and the things that are not, the low and despised things, to shame the wise and the strong and to bring to nothing the things that are, that no human being may boast in the presence of God” – 1 Corinthians 1:26. 

So, weak believer, stumbling along, wondering what difference you can make, pray on, stumble on – not because prayer changes anything, you know. The people give themselves to prayer. They strap on the sword. They get back to work. Not because prayer changes anything. Stop saying that! It doesn’t change a thing! The One to whom you pray changes things, is mighty to hear and answer and do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or imagine. Pray and strap on your sword, therefore, and get back to work. Are you weak? Yes, you are. Me too. Are you opposed by a terrible enemy? Without a doubt. Is the work too great for us? Of course it is. “But He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world” and the work will be completed. The broken down walls and the doors burned with fire will be restored. New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven from God as a bride adorned for her husband. The building will steadily rise all over the world as living stone is laid upon living stone, each fitted into the Cornerstone, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as men and women, boys and girls from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation are transformed by the grace of God in the Gospel. It will happen, not because we are mighty, but because Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

And that’s the last thing I want you to see here. The real key to the people’s perseverance is not that they prayed. It’s not that they were unified. It’s not that they were ready for battle should it come. Those things are not unimportant. But the real key to their perseverance was not them at all. The real key to their perseverance was Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the key to their perseverance. When Sanballat and Tobiah opposed them, Nehemiah didn’t send the Judean equivalent of SEAL Team 6 in to take them out. Did he? What did he do? Verse 4, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads. Give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt. Let not their sin be blotted out from your sight for they provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.” Instead of taking vengeance, he commits himself and the people to God and says, “Vengeance is the Lord’s business and may the Lord act in just judgment.” And when the people are ready to quit? What does he do? He mobilizes them into companies and arms them for the fight and then he preaches truth to them. Verse 14, “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 homes.” Verse 19, “The work is great and widely spread and we’re separated on the wall far from one another. And so in the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Nehemiah is the reason they persevered. Isn’t he? He is the great builder and defender and intercessor and the people follow him. And because of him they stick at it and they press on. Without him, the work would never have succeeded. And here of course in this Nehemiah is a pale shadow of our Savior, the Lord Jesus, who is our Defender, who is our Champion. Jesus is the One who defeats our enemy, the devil, triumphing over him, making public spectacle of him at the cross. Jesus builds the temple. Jesus gives Himself for His bride that He may present her to Himself a radiant and spotless bride. The heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, is the city Jesus builds. He is our Rescuer, our Keeper, our Captain. He ever lives to intercede for us. He is our Advocate with the Father in the face of the accusations of the enemy. He is the greater than Nehemiah. And because He is in our midst, the construction project we’re all engaged in cannot fail. Do you believe that? It can’t fail.

Part of my agenda in this message on “One Sunday” is not actually to ask you to do anything special at all. It is to call you to keep going. To keep giving. To keep serving. The fight of the Christian life is not won by a single, heroic charge into the ranks of the enemy. It is a cold war with many skirmishes and battles to fight along the way. We fight that warfare together as a church. We do it in sacrificial generosity, giving what we have to the cause of King Jesus. Giving ourselves to the work. We do it in evangelism, in spreading the good news throughout our city and around the world. We do it in faithfully using the means of grace, sitting regularly together under the Word and around the Lord’s Table. But above everything else, whatever else we do in our Master’s service, brothers and sisters, we must keep plodding on till the war is won, sailing east till we reach Aslan’s country. Do not grow weary in well doing. Do not grow weary in well doing. You will reap if you do not give up. Christ, the greater than Nehemiah, is in our midst and He has secured the victory. 

Let us pray.

God our Father, how we adore You for Jesus who endured the insults and taunts of the enemy of our souls, the devil, and of the wicked rulers of His day and the unbelieving, cruel mob that surrounded His cross. He endured it and endured worse the wrath and curse of God that we may be reconciled to You. And because He did and rose and reigns at Your right hand, His promise to build the Church, to bring New Jerusalem, cannot fail. The victory is assured, so help us, resting upon our greater than Nehemiah, to persevere, to press on, and to be strong and courageous. For we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

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