Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What is in Your Hand?

Bless the Lord!

God has been dealing with so much lately about the state of the Church - the Body of Christ. Many of us are literally in spiritual ruins, tossed to and fro with no sense of direction. Where is our discipline and obedience? Where is our RELATIONSHIP with the Father?

Praying and pondering...praying and pondering. I've been doing so much of this lately. The Lord took me to the book of Nehemiah, the fourth chapter. In the early chapters of the book, Nehemiah faced a similar concern with the physical state of Jerusalem. The city was in ruins, and the man of God was grieved to see the devastation. After asking permission of the king and after praying to God, Nehemiah set out to rebuild the city.

Isn't the church in a similar state today? The church lies in ruins. The people are weak. Our faith is not fortified. We are disobedient. We are sloppy in ministry and everyday affairs. God is not pleased. There is a heavy burden on my heart to help the church "rebuild." God's people need to get back to the basics. We must begin seeking His face again, especially in this country.

Getting back to the text, the Father drew my attention to the fourth chapter.

BUT WHEN Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and in a great rage, and he ridiculed the Jews.

2And he said before his brethren and the army of Samaria, What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things [at will and by themselves]? Will they [try to bribe their God] with sacrifices? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?

3Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him, and he said, What they build--if a fox climbs upon it, he will break down their stone wall.

In the first few verses of the passage, we see that Nehemiah was picked on and frustrated by Sanballat and his associates. Sanballat was a prominent Samaritan of the time. He represented the pious and traditional. Isn't it funny how those who have a "name" in the physical church like to pick on the "little" ones who try to fix the issues in the Body? My God. "Baby, it's been that way for years." "Who do you think you are? You don't know everything." "Where is your respect for tradition?" Yes, I've heard them all. Yet, I've learned that many are simply afraid of losing a position. Glory to God! If the Lord calls us, appoints us and ordains us for a place, He has prepared us to do that specific job. If we are replaced, our own disobedience is to blame. Amen?

4[And Nehemiah prayed] Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their taunts upon their own heads, and give them for a prey in a land of their captivity.

5Cover not their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have vexed [with alarm] the builders and provoked You.

Praise God for a mind to work! Saints, it's time for us to get back to work - God's work. Despite the ridicule and persecution, Nehemiah sought the Father. He reminded God of their transgressions. Notice that he didn't lash back at those who persecuted him. He simply sought God and made his concerns known. Ahhh. How many of us could have avoided a lot of trouble has we just sought God and kept our mouths shut?!

6So we built the wall, and all [of it] was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart and mind to work.

7But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were going up and that the breaches were being closed, they were very angry.

8And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem, to injure and cause confusion and failure in it.

My, my, my. Don't be surprised, people of God, when the enemy comes against you using the very "church folk" you thought had your back. Not everybody who claims to be saved is going to be happy when God's work is done by your hands. Not everyone has a mind to rejoice at your testimony! In fact, many WANT to see you fail. BUT GOD!!! Hallelujah! He who has begun a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!

9But because of them we made our prayer to our God and set a watch against them day and night.

10And [the leaders of] Judah said, The strength of the burden bearers is weakening, and there is much rubbish; we are not able to work on the wall.

11And our enemies said, They will not know or see till we come into their midst and kill them and stop the work.

12And when the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, You must return [to guard our little villages]; from all places where they dwell they will be upon us.

Again, when the attacks came, Nehemiah and his people WATCHED AND PRAYED. Saints, we must watch for the enemy and fortify ourselves in prayer, EVEN IN THE CHURCH. The church is the enemy's favorite hangout, and he has a plan to destroy the spiritual baby God is trying to birth in all of us by way of ministry. Do not be deceived. Now is truly to time to be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves.

13So I set [armed men] behind the wall in places where it was least protected; I even thus used the people as families with their swords, spears, and bows.

14I looked [them over] and rose up and said to the nobles and officials and the other people, Do not be afraid of the enemy; [earnestly] remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.

15And when our enemies heard that their plot was known to us and that God had frustrated their purpose, we all returned to the wall, everyone to his work.

Armour...armour. Where is the armour of God we are commanded to put on in Ephesians 6? This is how we withstand when the enemy comes. Nehemiah reminded the people not to be afraid of the enemy. Instead, they took on their weapons with a mind to fight for the safety of their families. Saints of God, this is a warring season! Satan is attacking right before our eyes, and many of us are just sitting back and taking it. Where is the fight in God's people? Where is the spiritual warfare. Where is the five-fold ministry in action? Apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors - did no one see the enemy coming to destroy the wall and invade the city? When the enemy is exposed, as we see here, then the people can return to work. We are distracted, perplexed and confused because the enemy is not being detected. Hmmm.

16And from that time forth, half of my servants worked at the task, and the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail; and the leaders stood behind all the house of Judah.

17Those who built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other hand,

18And every builder had his sword girded by his side, and so worked. And he who sounded the trumpet was at my side.

My God! This truly blessed me. God said, "What do you have in your hand?" When I read this portion of the scripture, it was truly a blessing. Nehemiah's team worked with tools in one hand, but weapons in the other! My God! Saints, we must do the work God has called us to do, but we cannot lay down our weapons. The tools are given to us in the form of gifts, offices, signs and wonders, etc. Yet, God has also given us weapons to stand firm against the enemy. The Word of God, faith, prayer and many others. Too many of us are trying to work without being prepared to fight. Too many of us are working UNARMED! Check yourself. What is in your hand? Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, how can you expect to fully operate in your gifts without a fight from the enemy! Wake up and get ready to fight!

19And I said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people, The work is great and scattered, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another.

20In whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.

21So we labored at the work while half of them held the spears from dawn until the stars came out.

22At that time also I said to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that at night they may be a guard to us and a laborer during the day.

23So none of us--I, my kinsmen, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me--took off our clothes; each kept his weapon [in his hand for days].

Oh, bless God! Nehemiah saw that his men were scattered, so they set up a code - a plan. When the trumpet sounded, they would all gather together - to fortify the group. My God! Don't you hear the Father sounding the trumpet? The prophets are speaking! We must gather as a Body to cover one another. Now is the time to cry loud and spare not! Listen for the sounding of the Word of the Lord, and take heed. Furthermore, don't put down your weapons! Walk in your calling and do the work of the ministry, as the people symbolized by dwelling in Jerusalem. They worked and they guarded. They never took off their clothes, but were always ready to work and fight!

Saints of God, don't let the enemy catch you unaware and unarmed, and don't let the Father catch you not working. What is in your hand?

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