Disturbing Reports:Nehemiah 6:4-9
“But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: ‘It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.
“Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’”
Disturbing reports abound in the current climate of our culture. Sometimes those reports come from news media, social media, and print media. Other times these disturbing reports might come directly to us from friends, neighbors, or family. In any case, we must be prepared as God’s people – and as Nehemiah was – not to quit in the face of disturbing reports. We must prepare to be spiritual stubborn, even when things are said about us or we are wrongly blamed.
One of the enemies Christians can often face is disturbing reports that threaten to dissuade us from pressing on. Believers need sanctified stubbornness to proceed.
The Reverend Dr. EK Bailey planted Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, TX in 1975. Within a few years, it became one of the fastest growing churches in America. Dr. Bailey had a passion for expository preaching and did it quite well.
In 1995 he started the EK Bailey Expository Preaching Conference that is still effectively operating today (with between 600-700 pastors attending it virtually in July 2020). This conference continues to help train pastors all over the country. In 2010 Dr. Bailey was listed as one of the twenty-five most influential preachers of the previous twenty-five years, in spite of him having already passed away.
In the early 2000’s Dr. Bailey battled cancer and finally succumbed to it in 2003. An autobiographical book titled Farther In and Deeper Down was published post-humously in. This book chronicled Pastor Bailey’s battle with cancer and gave amazing insight as to how God was growing him through the fight.
One of the pieces of that book that stood out was Dr. Bailey’s refusal to all overly dramatic or disturbing reports to come out about his illness. He faced dark days, and he faced difficult times, but he knew that there was more at stake than just him. His family, his church, and many other followers of his had spiritual lives at stake. And, though he shared reports about his health, he would not allow them to become melodramatic or disturbing. He wanted to be an exhorter. Dr. Bailey had Holy Spirit filled, sanctified stubbornness.
Deceitful Religion: Nehemiah 6:10-14
“Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.’ And I said, ‘Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!’ Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
‘My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.’”
Nehemiah was being asked to disobey and contradict God’s will, and use the Temple, to get ahead for himself. There are times where there are those who would have you compromise the very truth of God’s Word you say you believe to gain personally. To contradict God’s Word, or use God’s church for personal gain, is sin and is not fulfilling God’s plan at all.
Years ago, in an article in Christianity Today, a story was shared, by an older black Christian businessman 1960s, of young black Christian businessman heading to an appointment for Monday. He left early Sunday morning for full day of driving. About time for church to begin he was in a rural area and passed by a small church getting ready for worship. He turned around, pulled in, parked, then got out and went inside to worship with them before heading on to his business destination.
He slipped into one of the back pews that had an open seat in the all-white church. As worship began, he noticed the ushers at the back talking. One slipped up to him and softly said, “Sir, the usher team sent me to suggest to you that there is a church down the road where we think you will be more…comfortable. We think it would be much better for you if you attended there.”
This man was facing segregation and its attitudes and burned with embarrassment. He slipped out of the sanctuary, got in his car, and his eyes burned with tears of humiliation. After sitting there for some time in anger, he cried out to God, “Lord, that church does not want me there!!” After a few more moments, he cried out, “Lord, how can those people call themselves Christian and not want me there!”
As he sat, it was as the Holy Spirit prompted him, and in a still small voice said, “My dear child, do not be discouraged. That church has not wanted me there in years.”
Some people will use church and faith for their own personal gain. God’s people cannot allow this kind of attack from the enemy to take place. We must have Spirit-filled, sanctified stubbornness to reject this attack and press on.
God’s enemy will often attack and threaten God’s leaders to stop God’s work, but His people must stand stubbornly against it. Learning to walk filled with the Holy Spirit like Galatians 2:20, 5:16-25, Colossians 3, and many other New Testament passages teach, is going to enable us to stand with sanctified stubbornness.