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Jack Graham - Fight for Your Family

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    Jack Graham - Fight for Your Family
TOPICS: All In... The Family, Family, Marriage, Relationship

Now take your Bibles and turn to the book of Nehemiah chapter 4. Nehemiah is a hero, he is a hero, in fact, because he is a patriot. Not because he was a prophet, he was not a prophet, he was not a preacher per se but he was a man that God called from a life of luxury and contentment with a high level job with a king in Persia to serve his homeland and to lead the children of God, the people of God, Israel, in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem and more importantly, rebuilding their lives.

And our reading begins in verse 14: "And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, 'Do not be afraid of them' (that is, the opponents, the enemy) 'Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and (watch this) fights for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.' When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each one to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, and were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon and held his weapon with the other hand. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, 'The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.'"

So today's message is a rally cry to fight for your family because our families are under attack. We know that. The walls in effect representing the glory of God, representing God's protection as well as God's praises surrounding the people of Israel, the walls were down in that day physically, but spiritually the walls are down today. The walls of family life, domestic tranquility down. The walls of personal morality and security down. Our families are struggling, and so many are defeated and living in the brokenness of broken lives, broken walls. A nation is only as strong as its families. A nation is only as strong as your family. A broken family results in a broken culture, a collapsing culture, and that's what we're seeing today.

Back in the 1960's Billy Graham wrote a book called World Aflame. I devoured that book as a teenager. And I pulled out a quote from that book fifty years ago, and yet, how apropos are these words today, and then some! Here's what Billy said: "The immutable law of sowing and reaping has held sway. We are now the hapless possessors of moral depravity and we seek in vein for a cure. The tares of indulgence have overgrown the wheat of moral restraint. Our homes have suffered. Divorce has grown to epidemic proportions. When the morals of society are upset, the family is the first to suffer. The home is a basic unit of our society and a nation is only as strong as her homes. The breaking up of a home does often make headlines but it eats like termites at the structure of the nation".

So the walls are down, and we need men and women like Nehemiah to stand in the gap for our nation, to leave comfort and security and even safety behind in order to fulfill God's call upon our lives. I want to talk to you about that today. And right here in the fourth chapter of Nehemiah there is a battle cry and a battle plan to help us fight for our families in our generation. And the first thing that I want to show you is that we are to prepare for opposition, prepare and expect enemies to come, and that includes criticism and it includes persecution and everything in-between. Again, half the wall is completed. It's often a critical time when half the job is done and half the race is run, when half the marriage has been accomplished, when half of the child raising is done and you think, "I'm just half way there. Am I every going to get it done"?

So they were in a precarious position to build this wall, halfway home, halfway done when these enemies come. There were great victories already accomplished. The task was being accomplished. But when God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, Satan opens the the doors of hell to blast us. And that's what happens here. And there are some opponents that show up. They were more than opponents, they were enemies, and in verse 1, one of them is named, Sanballat; another is Tobiah. But when Sanballat heard they were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged. There is so much hate today regarding biblical values, conservative values, family values, not just opposition, but sheer anger and hate that is being unleashed against those who practice biblical morality and spiritual biblical values. And, of course, this is representative; Sanballat is just a tool in the hand, a pawn in the hand of Satan.

We're all engaged in a spiritual battle. Life isn't a playground; it's a battleground for the Christian. Every one of us should be engaged in this battle. Satan is real. He's not down in hell shoveling coal. He's loose like a mighty powerful lion on the earth "seeking whom he may devour". He has with him a host from hell, an army of terrorists known as demons that are wracking havoc in the spiritual realm, in the spiritual world, all around us, that greatly impacts your world, your personal world. We have a spiritual battle to fight. And there is a very real enemy. Again, Sanballat is just representative of the work and the power of Satan that comes against the people of God. So expect that! Realize that you're in a war, and it's a fight for survival. And in particular in our context, as we think about the family, it is a fight for our family.

You talk about focus on the family, that's good. But in our generation as in Nehemiah's generation, we must battle for our homes and fight for our families. And when we do we can expect ridicule. Verse 1, he begins to ridicule. He's enraged. He jeered at the Jews according to verse 1. Anti-Semitism has been around a long, long time. So he's jeering and sneering and mocking these Jews. And he even says in verse 2: "And he said in the presence of his brothers, 'What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish in a day? Will they revive the stones out of heaps of rubbish and burned ones at that?'" He's unleashing all of this criticism. He's taunting them; he's threatening them; he's ridiculing them.

You know, there are really two kinds of people in the world when it comes to doing something great for God, for a country. These are either the obstructionist or the constructionist. You are either a constructionist, building things up, building people up, or you are an obstructionist, attempting to obstruct the word and the witness of Jesus Christ. Now we know ultimately that's impossible "for the gates of hell will not prevail against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ". We win! But along the way there are battles to fight, and you need to make sure that you're on the right team, that you're in the right army, that you're in God's army! Because critics are everywhere. We see them all time. Those who criticize and minimize what people choose to do for God. The haters and the destroyers!

Now what do you do when you're criticized? Well, one thing you should do when you get criticism is to see if it's legitimate criticism and learn from it. No one, I'm certainly not above criticism. I welcome criticism if it is helpful. I have people in my life who can speak into my life and correct me and yes, criticize me, starting with Deb Graham. We're accountable to each other. So no one is beyond criticism or accountability. But so much of the criticism that we see today, I'm not talking about me personal, but just all of us who serve the Lord, who adopt family values and Christian values in our homes, we're seeing all this criticism unleashed against us, and it's not helpful. It's not building people up; it's tearing people down.

Some people are born-again and some people are born against! They're just against everything! And they're negative and they're critical. We see them online, on Twitter, on Facebook, and they get on their little Facebook things and they just start criticizing this, criticizing people at the church, criticizing what the preacher said, criticizing what the choir sang. They're critics and they get a little group of critics around them. Don't you know that that stuff is detrimental and damaging to the cause of Christ? Don't ever be a part of that kind of criticism. Because, let me tell you, not only is it damaging, but what's going to happen if a little group that's listening to you and chatting with you and criticizing with your little team. You're using their ears for garbage cans.

The next thing you know, they're going to be criticizing you as well. Because that's what critics do. Then people want to write anonymous letters, and they sign them something like "Concerned". They should actually sign them "Cowardly yours". You want to criticize or make a correction? You won't even sign it? You know what happens? First of all, I don't even see them. They get screened, but they go straight to the trash can. If you can't send a letter of correction and criticism that is helpful and can't even sign it, forget about it! But that's what the critics do. At least Sanballat got his name in the Bible! He signed his name. Zig Ziglar, I love what Zig said about criticism. He said, "Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you". And I like this: "Don't let the loudest voices in your life be your critics. Let the loudest voice in your life be God's voice".

Listen to God! I can tell you one way that you will never ever be criticized: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing, and you'll never hear a word of criticism. Nehemiah could have stayed sleeping on satin sheets in Persia, doing the work of the king and never heard any of this! But he chose to engage the enemy. He chose to get involved, to do a great work from God. So the ridicule, the taunts, all the rest, it did have an impact on the people. In fact, in verse 10, if you'll look at verse 10 of chapter 4, "In Judah it was said, '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.'"

So the impact of these critics was having an effect. The people are getting discouraged. They start talking to each other. You know, this sort of thing, this thing strikes fear in a people's heart, and they start pleasing man rather than pleasing God, and start listening to others, the voices of the destructionist and the haters. Start listening to all that before you know, you'll be discouraged! But you can't listen to that! But one thing they did learn is true. When they said, "You know, it's too big; this job is too big for us". That's one thing opposition will do for you. It will make you bitter or make you better. And it made them better in the sense that, "Look, we know we can't do this on our own. We know we're just feeble Jews. We can't accomplish this on our own. We're half way there, and we've got a lot of work to do. And now we've got this opposition. How are we going to get this done"?

They came to the place that every person must come to, and that is "'not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord". God's work done in God's way will not lack for God's power. And so they came to that place. Criticism will do that for you. Don't be discouraged when you're criticized but rise up and rely on the strength and the power of God. But expect spiritual battles! Nobody said this was going to be easy. Who told you that it was going to be easy to raise a family? To have a great marriage, to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! It's never easy! There are battles to fight! Expect them! Engage the enemy.

Number 2, pray with passion and conviction. That's what Nehemiah did. Look back in chapter 4, at verse 4. Nehemiah began to pray: "Hear, O our God". This is not "Now-I-lay-me down-to-sleep" kind of praying. "Lord, bless the food. Amen" No! This is desperate praying: "O God, we are despised. Turn", now these are the words of Nehemiah, he recorded his prayer, "Turn back their taunt on their heads, give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives". In other words, "God, go get them! These enemies deserve your judgment"! He went on the pray, "don't cover their guilt; God, don't even forgive them. And let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders". Did you know the Bible says God is angry with the wicked every day? Did you know the Bible tells us that there are evildoers in the world who are facing the judgment of God? So is it wrong to pray for justice, that God would be righteous in His justice and judgment in the world? Yes, indeed, it is right!

Now I know that's not a comfortable prayer. Some of you are taken back that anyone would pray like that. "God, judge the wicked". But this is one of the reasons that when we have a righteous cause of freedom and faith in our family, this is one of the reasons we defend America against those evildoers who would destroy us. Evil exist in the world! And we will either become overcome by evil or defend ourselves against evil and those who would do us harm. And our first line of defense is to pray! Because Satan fears our prayers. He mocks our schemes, he laughs at our strategies and our human efforts, but he fears our prayers! But, not only did they pray, but then we're told that Nehemiah put a sword in the hand of all the builders. We read that. Put a sword on their side, put a sword in their hands. So picture this: These are workmen. These are not soldiers necessarily, but they're workmen building this wall.

So he puts a tool in one hand, they're working; and he puts a sword in the other hand. They are both building and battling. They are working and they are warring, and they are prepared and defensive of what they were doing. They had to take precautions. Jay Sidlow Baxter said this: "Prayer without precaution is presumption". I like that. It's sort of like what a general once said, "Pray, and keep your ammunition dry". Pray, and then prepare for battle! And, of course, prayer is a weapon and the sword represented here in our hand is the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit; our witness, our prayers. Jesus said, "Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation". So what am I saying? I'm saying that Nehemiah gives a battle cry to those who are doing the work of Christ. We're advancing the kingdom of God. We're building and rebuilding the kingdom of God, and at the same time, we are on guard and protecting our families and our future. There's that beautiful balance in the Christian life.

So when you're fighting for your family, expect this opposition. It's going to be hard. There will be critics. People will come against you. People will come against your kids, your family. And then pray with passion and conviction. And then thirdly, remember the Lord. That's what he says in verse 14: "Do not be afraid of them". You know, heroes are afraid. No one really is unafraid, but heroes, those who fight the good fight of faith, they persevere through the fear. Why? "Remember the Lord who is great and awesome". What does it mean to remember the Lord? That He is great, that He is awesome. That there is nothing greater than your God. There's no circumstance in your life, no situation in your family but that God is greater! And the greatness of God and remembering what God has done, the faithfulness of our God throughout our life, when we stop to think about it, we are encouraged and we are empowered to stay in the battle. Because we know that "if God be for us who can be against us?"!

When David went against the giant, Goliath, he was just on a mission, an errand for his dad to take food to his brothers at the front lines of the battle. He brought them bread and cheese. Sounds like pizza to me! He was a pizza delivery guy. And he brings his brothers bread and cheese. I mean, that's pizza, right? And he gets there and he sees this giant taunting them; terrifying giant. They're afraid. David said, "Why doesn't somebody do something about this"? And he says, "I'll go fight him". They say, "Well, you're crazy but help yourself. Have you seen that guy? He's too big to hit". David said, "No, he's too big to miss". They said, "Have you seen how big he is"? He said, "Have you seen how big our God is"?

So David goes out with his slingshot and a stone, and these things can become like rockets. Traveling in Israel, I've seen these little shepherds even to this day, they'll take a slingshot and a stone and fire that thing like a missile. And David was prepared: he fought the lion and the bear. He wasn't a novice; he knew how to use this thing. So he prayed, but he also was prepared. He went before the giant; the giant is sneering and jeering at him, and he says, "The battle is the Lord's and He will give you into my hands"! So what did David do? Did he get on his knees and sing worship choruses and worship the Lord and wait on God to take him out? Of course, not! In fact, I love the sentence. It says, "David ran to the battle"! He ran to that giant and he took him down with one smooth shot. Hit him right between the eyes. The giant went down. He cut off his head.

There was a great victory in the name of God. An enemy, an evildoer was defeated because David remember, "the battle is the Lord's". But God has given us our part in the battle and we must stay engaged and do what God has called us to do. And the primary thing God is calling us to do with our families, with our friends in our community is to pray and witness and to serve God by serving others! Remember the Lord. God can do anything but fail! And there's one final thing: that is, be courageous. Never give up and stay in the battle. When you read what happened, the rest of the story in the building of the wall, it tells us, and this is verse 19: "The work is great, widely spread, we are separated far from one another," so they were getting together; they were forming a line of protection.

And "In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us". Isn't that great! "Our God will fight for us". You're fighting for your family, you're God will fight for you. But watch the sacrifice that is made. "So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who follow me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his right hand". Earlier it describes them day and night in their place, in their position, remaining steadfast and refusing to lay down their weapon to stop the work that God has called them to do. Be steadfast, be strong, stay in the battle, and don't quit. Satan wants you to quit on your family. Satan is whispering lies to quit on your husband, to quit on your wife, to give up on your kids. All lies. Stay in the battle.

As the great leader Nehemiah said, "Fight"! Fight for your family! Fight for your son! Fight for your daughter! Fight for your wives! Fight for your home! Never stop fighting! And let me just say, we're not going to give up fighting and praying for our kids! We're not going to give up on our marriages! We're going to fight for women! I'm glad that so many of these adulterers and sex addicts and all the rest are getting exposed for their sins and abuse of women. I'm really glad for that! I hope they all get caught and get exposed! I do! Because we ought to be fighting for the dignity of women. And there's no place for abuse; there's no place for the put-downs; there's no place for the disrespect.

And men, we need to fight for our wives in the same way, to hold them up as God holds them up. Yes! So this is a rally cry. It's a call to the battle. Let us build God's church, build God's kingdom. And with the other hand let us defend in our culture our children and our children's children until Jesus comes again. And know that our God will fight for us. Amen?
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