by Steven Chan
11 October 2009
In Psalms 127:1-2, the Bible declares that “unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
The Christian needs to be aware that each and every endeavour that we undertake to do must have the blessings of God if we wish for them to be in accordance with God’s will and be successful. All our efforts, regardless how long or hard we work, would come to nothing if the Lord does not bless us.
In Psalms 33:16-20, the Bible reminds us: “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” God is our guide, provider and protector.
We read the great achievement of Nehemiah who said that God had put into my heart what to do for Jerusalem (Neh 2:12); how he had prayed to the “LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Neh. 1:5); how he prayed that God will “give success to him, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man” (Neh. 1:11). In the face of opposition, he replied: “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build (Neh 2:20). What an incredible expression of faith and commitment! Thereafter, he proceeded to do what God had put in his heart to do.
The Jews rallied to his call to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The high priest himself “rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate” (Neh 3:1) – a manifestation of leadership by example (I Pet 5:3).
As usual, there will be those who would not join the effort: “their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord” (Neh 3:5) – whatever may be their excuses! There will be those who would try to discourage them and threaten to disrupt their efforts: “Yes, what they are building–if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” The critics and cynics are everywhere – even today! When brethren rally together to try to work together, there will be those who would say: “Yes, they are trying to do the work of the Lord, but their efforts will as usual not bear any fruit; they will not succeed!” Do you recognize the critics, skeptics and cynics in the church? They may be silent but simply do not bother to turn up for any such organized efforts by the brethren. Their silence and absence are often evidence of what they think in their heart.
Indeed the work was tough and it was said by some at that time that “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.” (Neh. 4:10). But Nehemiah encouraged them by saying “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.” (Neh 4:14) Remember the Lord! When faced with trials and challenges, it is so easy to forget the Lord! – yet, it is at such trying times that we ought to remember the Lord – who is great and awesome! Whilst they depended on God to deliver them and “prayed to our God”, they acted by “setting a guard as a protection against them day and night” (Neh 4:9). Praying to God for deliverance does not mean that we need not do anything other than pray! We need to act with God’s blessings and guidance.
Having committed their plans and efforts to God, they continued with their work. In Neh 4:6 we read: “So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.”( Neh 6:15,16). When God’s work is done with God’s blessings and in the face of much hardship, the people around us will quickly “perceive that the work has been accomplished with the help of God!
Brethren, we need to arise and build the kingdom of God, for God will make us prosper/succeed in our efforts! We shall meet all efforts to discourage us with the same answer that Nehemiah gave to the people of his days: “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.” (Neh 4:14) What will we leave behind for our children? A church that is strong, growing and which brings great glory to God – so that all will perceive that the work is done with the help of God! “The God of heaven will make us prosper and we his servants will arise and build” (Neh 2:20). “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Pro 16:9).
The Klang church will hold our annual church planning session on Saturday, 17th October, 2009 in our building premises, commencing at 9am. We hope that all brethren will make the effort to join in the discussion and take a personal stake in the work of building the church in Klang.
Will we arise and build so that God can prosper us?