The Journey with Ron Moore

Joshua, the Old Testament leader of Israel, was given a heavy assignment. Following the great leader Moses, God charged Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua knew the challenges and risks. Seven groups of people inhabited the Canaan and there would be many battles to fight. Right after crossing the Jordan when Joshua looked at the walled city of Jericho, he had to be asking: How in the world will we conquer such a fortified city? How would he lead God’s people to take the land? How many husbands, fathers, and sons will give their lives for what God has called us to do? Joshua asked the same question we do: Are the battles worth it?

You tell me. Our ministry is one of leading people—empty, hurting, broken, fallen—to inherit the eternal promises of the eternal God. Jesus has gone before, fought and won the battle. He is the One who leads us into the eternal promised land. And as those called to proclaim his message, we get to follow him and simply encourage others to come along and follow us as we follow Christ.

When we are following Christ we can be sure that every battle is worth it. We are leading people to an eternal inheritance. And one day . . . if we do this thing right . . . we will look into His face and He will say, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant.” Yeah, every battle is worth it!

The great pianist Paderewski was holding a concert in a grand hall. A mother took her young son to the concert and, while she was talking to friends as the hall filled with people, he slipped down the aisle, crawled onto the stage, made his way to the piano . . . and started playing Chopsticks. The crowd, waiting for the great pianist, was aghast. From the wings, though, Paderewski saw what was taking place, slipped onstage behind the boy and whispered in his ear, “Keep playing . . . don’t stop . . . keep playing.” Paderewski accompanied the boy’s Chopsticks with a brilliant harmony that turned this simple piece into a masterpiece.

That’s what God does for us. When we are filled with fear, doubt, and discouragement, he puts his arms around us and says, “Don’t stop . . . keep playing . . . Don’t stop.” When we trust him, he strengthens our frightened hearts, bolsters our feeble efforts, and chases away the discouragement. He can turn a life of Chopsticks into a brilliant masterpiece.

As Christians, we are going to be faced with doubt, fear and discouragement. We live in a culture of greed. There will be those who threaten us, intimidate us and try to distract us from following hard after Christ. How do we deal with these things that try to tear us down and paralyze us? Here are five things we need to do.

 

  1. Understand your position in Christ.

In times of doubt, fear and discouragement the enemy will try to distance us from God. If you are a Christian, understand that you are a treasured child of the living God. That is something you need to remind yourself of constantly. Every thought that contradicts the truth of God’s love needs to be corralled and aligned with the truth in God’s Word. Heed the words of the Apostle Paul, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Doubt will come but, by God’s grace, you will not turn into a doubter. Things will come into your life that will cause fear but, through Christ, fear will not be paralyzing. As a human living on this earth, there will be times of discouragement but, by God’s grace, you will not lose your eternal perspective and will evaluate your heart to make sure discouragement has not been aided and abetted by spiritual compromise.

 

  1. Understand the power of prayer.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Before he went to King Artaxerxes to ask permission to return to Jerusalem, he petitioned God (Nehemiah 1:5-11). Nehemiah continued to pray as he faced opposition from Sanballat and his men (Nehemiah 4:4-5, 9).

There are many things in our life that we cannot fix. But we can turn them over to God. Paul gave this reminder to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 4:6-7

 

  1. Trust God.

There are two questions that every believer must ask. The first one is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on trust. The second question is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on you. The first question is philosophical. The second is rubber on the road practical.

Fear will come. It did for David, the man after God’s own heart. But when anxiety came David made a decision. He said,

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

-Psalm 56:3-4

The prophet Isaiah made the same decision. He wrote,

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.                                                                                            -Isaiah 12:2

Fear will come. We must decide to trust.

 

  1. Be Prepared!

While we understand our position in Christ, prayer and trust; Nehemiah reminds us that we need to be prepared. Notice the details of Nehemiah’s preparation.

Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed

places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember

the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had

frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God

will fight for us!” So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside

Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

-Nehemiah 4:12-23

 

Here are some lessons we can learn from Nehemiah’s preparation.

  • They acknowledged the threat.

Acknowledge what causes your fear, doubt and/or discouragement. When we acknowledge the issue, we can begin to deal with it. Peter wrote,

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith….

-1 Peter 5:8-9

  • They stood guard.

Nehemiah’s men were ready for the battle. Whether day or night, they did not take off their clothes. Even when they went for water, each man carried his weapon with him. We must stand guard.

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

-Mark 13:22-23

  • They stood together.

There is nothing that weakens an army like division. Nehemiah and his men stayed together. And so must we!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

-Hebrews 10:24-25

 

  1. Read the Word of God daily.

God’s Word is the inerrant instruction manual for our life. It tells us the paths to take and the paths to avoid. It transcends culture. God’s Word is just as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet on the parchment. But Scripture is more than just a manual; it is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). Through his Word, God teaches us, encourages us, inspires us and shows us how much he loves us. The Apostle Paul says it this way,

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:16-17

If we are going to be thoroughly equipped for the voices of opposition, we must read and meditate on God’s Word daily.

 

Do you hear voices? Voices of fear, doubt and discouragement? Voices of greed, distraction, threats and intimidation? It’s easy to allow these voices to turn up the volume and drown out the focus, peace and confidence that God desires. But from Nehemiah we learn that God always gives us the strength to do what he calls us to do. Whether riding high in success or experiencing failure, the Heavenly Father will always be present with you. His help was not unique to Nehemiah. He is ready and able to carry you today.

Everyone hears voices … voices trapped in our mind…voices of criticism…voices of ridicule…voices aimed to hurt. The voices you hear may have come from the lips of a parent, teacher, coach, spouse, child or friend. These voices spring from our memory when we least expect them and can knock us for a loop.

Sometimes the voices are not trapped in our mind but projected from the person standing next to us. They are words that pierce like a sword, as the Proverb says, and after the attack we are left emotionally bruised and bloodied.

Sometimes the voices come from Satan himself. He loves to remind us of our past sin—How do you think you could ever be worthy of God? He loves to bring up our past failure—See how you failed in the past? Don’t you dare try anything worthwhile again, don’t take any risk. See how God let you down? You’ll fall flat on your face again. And he loves to keep us focused on our weaknesses—How could God ever use you?

Do you hear voices of opposition? If so, keep reading. Let me introduce you to a man named Nehemiah. Let’s identify some voices of opposition that he heard. Through Nehemiah’s experience we can learn to deal with our voices of opposition.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes, a privileged position in the powerful Persian Empire. He pre-tested the king’s wine (If Nehemiah clutched his throat and dropped dead the king knew not to drink it). His responsibility also included keeping things merry and lively during dinner. But as Nehemiah’s story begins, he is having a hard time wearing a smile. Nehemiah was a Jew and had just been given a discouraging report about his homeland. Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish nation and religion, was in ruins. The people were living in disgrace. And the God he loved and served was being mocked. Nehemiah desired to return to Jerusalem to bring honor and dignity to God and his people by rebuilding the city walls.

By God’s grace, King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah permission to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. But soon those working on the walls started hearing voices of opposition. Some of the voices were purposed to implant doubt, fear and discouragement in the hearts of those working on the wall. Other voices came to distract the builders from their great endeavor. Let’s consider these voices and Nehemiah’s response.

A man named Sanballat had a vested interest to keep the walls in shambles and the discouraged Jews under his thumb. Keeping the Jews down allowed him to maintain economic and political power. So, when the re-building began he pulled out all his verbal stops.

Sanballat questioned the builders’ strength—What are those feeble Jews doing? He questioned their ability—Will they restore their wall? He questioned their spiritual preparation—Will they offer sacrifices? He questioned their planning and wisdom to take on such a project—Will they finish in a day? He questioned their resources—Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble, burned as they are? Sanballat’s friend Tobiah joined in as well. He questioned the Jew’s ability to build a lasting final product—If even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!

Maybe you have a Sanballat in your life. Ignore him! If it’s a Janballat, ignore her.

Listening to voices, whether from the past or in the present, will paralyze our spiritual progress. Plug your ears to voices of doubt and keep building the wall!

 

Voices of Fear

Sanballat, Tobiah and their allies decided to join forces to attack Jerusalem. The fear of attack, they thought, would certainly take Nehemiah’s mind off the building project. The Jews in the area got wind of the attack and informed Nehemiah of the plans:

Also our enemies said, “Before they know it

or see us, we will be right there among them

and will kill them and put an end to the

work.” Then the Jews who lived near them

came and told us ten times over, “Wherever

you turn, they will attack us.”

-Nehemiah 4:11-12

 

Fear spreads, doesn’t it? Like a disease it is transferred to those around us. Moses knew this well. Once before a battle he gave the instruction, “Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too’” (Deuteronomy 20:8).

How do you handle voices of fear? Are you listening to the rumors around you or the certain voice of God?

Prayer

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