What are the voices each of us hear as we go about our days?
Are they the voice of truth, or of error?
Here is a quick test, to assess the voices you may be hearing this day:
- Do the voice mock you? Mocking your abilities, skills, knowledge? How about mocking your calling or vision? Do they mock your devotion to the task before you? The work you do?
- Do they tear down your confidence?
- Do those voices even threaten and intimidate you?
- If so, do you find that discouragement creeps in and it begins to choke out joy, peace, HOPE?
Our pastor is preaching a series through the book of Nehemiah, and this past week, he taught from Nehemiah 4. In this passage, Nehemiah is leading people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Voices of opposition rise up against the work, until discouragement began to choke out the hope of workers.
In this narrative we are given an example of how to respond when facing opposition, when the voices of lies and discouragement rise louder.
When the mocking begins, take it to God. Don’t run to this person or that person. Go to the ONE who has given life and purpose. That isn’t to say that we don’t get counsel and support from trusted friends, but God is the One who can work in the hearts of people, He is the One who can help and direct us to help. We need to go to Him first.
Interested in the prayer Nehemiah lifted to God? It is found in verses 4 & 5
“Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.” Nehemiah 4:4, 5 NKJV
Now those are pretty strong words, and don’t seem to pair up well with New Testament passages that say “pray for your enemies.” After hearing the sermon and giving this some thought I remembered a prayer that I pray at times, a request that “God shut the mouth of the liars.” Not quite the same as Nehemiah’s prayer, but strong nevertheless.
Also, Ephesians 6 tells us that our battles are not actually with flesh and blood, so when I pray “shut the mouth of the liar(s), there is one particular liar who is the father of all lies.
The next point I found in Nehemiah 4 is this, challenges and opposition may and will continue. And we are to continue to pray, and to persist. Go back to God, and continue on. Prayer and Persistence.
Now, the opposition may continue still, even escalating to threats and intimidation. Nehemiah did not back down. And we are not to back down, nor run and hide. Nehemiah set up a guard and prepared to meet the threats, but he also continued on. Prayer. Persistence. Preparation. The lesson we can take from this, is that we must continue on, even if we have to work with one hand and hold an item of defense in the other hand.
I have struggled a bit in the writing of this, as there is a very literal physical realm of opposition, mocking, threats and intimidation. But I also want to acknowledge that often, that voice of opposition is in.our.minds. Yes, the battles that rage in our minds. And we must know how to combat those voices of, with what is true, or we become discourage. Discouragement leads to a loss of strength, fear sets in. The result, a loss of vision and purpose.
Here is something that came to my mind as I listened and studied.
I am. You are. strategically placed, to do that work which has been given to each of us to do.
#strategicallyplaced You and I are.
I am #strategicallyplaced to mother my children, to care for and encourage the children in my circle of influence.
So when the voices rise, I ask you to remember where you have been #strategicallyplaced, and do not give up. nor give in to fear. Pray. Prepare. Persist. Don’t give up!
One last word of encouragement for you today: God has not given you a spirit of fear. But of power. Of love. Of a sound mind.
Now your turn. Tell me, where have you been #strategicallyplaced? Are you hearing the voice of truth, or is opposition nipping at your ears?