Work the Plan!
You’ve probably heard this famous quote from Ben Franklin, paraphrased slightly: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” No doubt, planning is vital for success in lots of areas of life. In fact, in the book of Nehemiah, it seems clear: To achieve the good work God has called you to, develop a thoughtful plan, then work that plan!
Nehemiah had a great, important work before him to rebuild the decimated protective wall around Jerusalem. He prayed, waited, and watched God provide. Along the way, he developed a thoughtful plan, then he worked that plan! Nehemiah knew how crucial it was to plan effectively, to enlist committed, hardworking people and to put those people in the right positions to succeed. If you want to be successful in any good work God has called you to, follow the example that Nehemiah set! (Ref. Nehemiah 3)
But one thing you can always count on is that you will encounter opposition when you are working a plan that honors God. The enemy always shows up. (Nehemiah 4:1-3). Ridicule is a favorite tool of the enemy; it has been referred to as the favorite weapon of those who have no other.
Once it became clear that the Jews were rebuilding the wall, Sanballat asks his cohorts: 2 …“What are those feeble Jews doing? Nehemiah 4:2b. These people may have appeared feeble to Sanballat, but what he didn’t appreciate is that God delights in using feeble people to do His work and accomplish His will in this world! In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. Where we are weak and feeble, God is strong and able! When you are weak, God has you in the perfect place to reveal His power and to use you in a remarkable way.
Over and over the book of Nehemiah, we see important lessons for How to Respond to Opposition when working a plan. There are at least five ways to respond to opposition in Nehemiah 4:
1) Ask God to fight for you! When Nehemiah faced ridicule, he didn’t cower, he didn’t give up, he didn’t withdraw… he prayed! He told God how his enemies despised him and his people, and He asked God to take up the fight for them! (Nehemiah 4:4-5). When you live in a way that honors God - when you faithfully seek His way and His will - you will face opposition, but you are not in that battle alone. God is ready to go to battle with you and for you!
2) Take necessary steps to guard against spiritual attack! (Nehemiah 4:7-9)
Nehemiah was faithful, but not foolish. He knew it was important to take steps to protect his workers. If you are striving to build a life that honors Christ, take steps to guard against spiritual attack. Surround yourself with Believers for accountability and encouragement; attend corporate worship weekly; engage in life groups fully; get your teens and children in The Port and KidsPort; read God’s Word daily; start your day with prayer; embrace Nehemiah’s prayer: “Give your servant success today;” and follow the Apostle Paul’s instruction to pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17) This is how to guard against spiritual attack!
3) Don’t let fear paralyze you and discouragement derail you! (Nehemiah 4:10-14)
Two of the biggest enemies you will face in this world are fear and discouragement. The people of Judah were really close to giving up. They were afraid and discouraged. The work was really hard and the enemy was threatening them at every turn. Have you ever been there? Don’t let threats deter your work for Christ’s sake! How do you keep fear and discouragement from beating you up, holding you down, paralyzing you?
4) Remember how great and awesome your God is! Nehemiah took some smart, strategic steps to protect his people, then he said, 14 …“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, Nehemiah 4:14. If you’re afraid and discouraged today, here’s the silver bullet for defeating both: Remember Who He is. Remember what He has done for you, what He is doing for you now, and what He will do for you in the future. You need not fear! Fear and faith do not live together in the same heart! Where there is faith, fear flees! When you remember, you will be emboldened and empowered.
5) Team up with fellow Believers for help and encouragement! (Nehemiah 4:15-23) Nehemiah had a plan for keeping his people safe and motivated. He paired them up; half were working and half were guarding. They watched each other’s backs and protected one another against attacks; they took care of one another. And God frustrated the enemy so the work could continue! The church does its very best work in this world when we are working together, watching after and caring for one another! I love that about Watermark Church.
For much more, including important steps to take when working a plan, click here to listen to: Resolute - Part 3 - Work the Plan!