A Work Half-Done (Study Guide)

What did you learn from last week’s sermon?

Q1: Is opposition and tribulation always part of Christian life, or is that just for those of us screwing up?

Q2: What must humanity have to overcome prejudice and racism?

Q3: Can a Christian ever pray for the destruction of their enemy?

Q4: What valuable command did Jesus give us against our enemy?

Sermon Summary & Answers

This past Sunday, Pastor Steve jumped back into the pulpit to continue our series in Nehemiah. We read the whole fourth chapter but focused on verses one through six. This chapter is about the trouble and persecution of God’s people. We have to know that opposition is always a part of the Christian life. Acts 14: 22 tells us that we MUST have many tribulations.

Enter the three bad guys from chapter two again. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem start messing with Nehemiah after he’d already told them to mind their own business and go home basically. We learn how their dislike for the Jews is not just based on racism but also their progress in Jerusalem’s major trade city. The revitalization of Jersusalem would cost them economically. Progress will always get the attention of the opposition. That’s true in our own lives and business.

Racism

“Sure – – people are different – – and without the grace of God to accept every man and woman as being created in the image of God … there is no hope to overcome prejudice and racism.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

We looked at how one political party pushes very hard against racism today, but that same party, seeking “justice for all,” rejects the very notion that humans are made in the image of God, male and female. They also promote and provide freedom for parents to murder their innocent children. That’s not justice for all. That’s just justice only for those that can fight back. Hypocrisy is always exposed in those without God’s grace at work in their hearts to accept all people. We’ve grown up with the saying that “racisim is taught” (typically by redneck parents, right?), but that isn’t wholly true. It’s not about what is taught. It’s about having God’s grace to correct the improper prejudices inherent in us all.

Truth-slapping to hyperbole

The three bad guys use truths about the Jews (feeble, common, and weak) to mock. They even use other facts about the Jews to insinuate that their spirituality is stupid and that they are out of their depth intellectually. This truth-slapping-tactic is a fundamental and handy tool of Satan, where he exploits existing truths to harm us. If there is truth in it, it hurts (you’re fat). If there is no truth in it (you’re a moron), then it doesn’t hurt. This tactic is often followed by a ridiculous insult that is meant to injure, as we see in Nehemiah 4: 3 “Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him, and he said, Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!”

How do we react to these bullies? Do we pray that God squashes our enemy (imprecatory prayer) like Nehemiah or like King David repeatedly did in Psalms? Isn’t it wrong to pray for harm to others? Pastor Steve takes his time and shows us in scripture that yes, we are to pray good for our enemies but that LEADERS can wage just wars and pray for success and protection in that. This action conversely means they are praying for the destruction of an enemy.

So, we can’t ask God to squash them, and we have to pray for our enemies’ good. What if our enemy is doing something sinful or blasphemous? Can’t we do something more than just a love-dovey prayer? We’re mad at the injustice to God, after all.

Settle down…you are about to fist pump the air with a “YEA!”, my friend.

Jesus specifically gave us the power, via command, to “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10). When we pray for His kingdom to come, all of our enemies will be thrown into the lake of fire. We are therefore asking God to destroy our enemy in a genuinely horrible manner. Like leaders, we are asking for success and justice (God’s word to be kept). We have to have the patience for this ultimate justice because it’s not about our satisfaction. It is about God’s satisfaction.

Let’s pray for our enemies but at the same time, let’s pray for the Lord to set it all right in His way and His timing. This in-between-time is hard, but we can find peace like the Jews did even when they only had half the wall built, and they were anticipating an attack from the three bullies.

John 16:33
33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Remember, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (people), but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness (Satan), against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)


Melissa Strautman

Did you find this quiz and sermon summary helpful? Log on to gccbg.com/blog each week for the latest sermon study guide. Jessica will send the link out in the Midweek church emails. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please email me at thepew@gccbg.com.


Answers:

  1. It is for ALL Christians regardless of your goodness or screwups.
  2. You must have the grace of God changing your heart and causing you to completely accept all humans as made in the image of God, thus equally worthy.
  3. Yes, if they are a LEADER (king, president, etc.), but not if they aren’t in such a role appointed by God to protect a nation.
  4. To pray for His kingdom to come.