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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Rebuilding Our Broken Walls - Part 6
TOPICS: Restoration, Nehemiah, Rebuilding Our Broken Walls

In this post-Christian era, God is not looking for sunshine Christians. God is not looking for those who want to be entertained. God is not looking for compromises. In this day and age, God is looking for faithful, courageous, uncompromising men and women. God is looking for those who are sold out to the gospel of Jesus Christ; men and women, boys and girls, who, like Nehemiah, stand firm and give God all the glory.

Back in 1990, "Guideposts Magazine" republished an old story. Really, a legend. And it went something like this. Native Americans had a custom by which they take their boys through the rite of passage into manhood. And that particular rite of passage is to, around the time of 15 or 16, they sent those boys out to the forest or mountains to be all alone in solitude. And then, they come down in ceremony to make them be men. And the legend goes something like this. One particular young man hiked all the way to the top of a high mountain, and when he got all the way to the top, he was able to see almost, like, forever at the vista, this view for miles.

And as he was standing there looking at the view, he heard some rustling at the leaves at his feet. And to his amazement, it was a rattlesnake, and to his greater amazement, that rattlesnake began to talk to him. The rattlesnake said to the young man, "It's cold up here and I'm freezing. Put me under your shirt so I can stay warm. And then carry me down to the valley where I belong". "No," said the young man. "I know your kind. You're a rattlesnake. The moment I pick you up, you're gonna bite me". "That is not so," said the rattlesnake. "I won't harm you at all. In fact, I will be eternally grateful for saving my life". The young man insisted and persisted in saying no to the rattlesnake, but the rattlesnake kept on persisting and asking.

And sure enough, he picked the rattlesnake and placed it inside his shirt, and he carried it all the way down to the valley. And there in the valley, as soon as he took that rattlesnake out of his shirt and placed it on the ground, the snake turned around, struck him, bit him, releasing large amount of venom into his body. The young man cried out in pain and in fear, "Why did you do that? I saved your life. You promised that you wouldn't bite me". The rattlesnake said, "You knew what I am when you picked me up," as it slithered down the grass in the bushes. I don't think the story really needs explanation, for many of us have one way or another know the bite of Satan after he entices us, compromising our biblical convictions and our biblical principles.

Now, some people, when they get bitten by the snake as a result of their compromise, they immediately cry foul. This is not fair. The rattlesnake did not play by the rules. It's not my fault. But none of that works, for if you give in to the rattlesnakes of compromising biblical truth and biblical conviction, allowing sin in your life, you and I most assuredly will be bitten. Now, you might not be bitten the first day, or the first week, or the first month, or maybe even the first year, but bitten we will experience. The snake is no other than Satan, and that is why the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11:3, he said, "I'm afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds somehow will led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ".

Now, I hope you got Nehemiah chapter 6 open in front of you. There, you find Nehemiah was not just facing one rattlesnake. He was facing three rattlesnakes. Three: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. And those three rattlesnakes were out to destroy him. Whether you are 8 or 80, every one of us, not a single person who's here or watching around the globe cannot benefit from learning how Nehemiah dealt with the temptation and the enticement to compromise. Every one of us. And just in case you did not already know, let me assure you that compromise is extremely, extremely, extremely seductive. Satan will always hold out the shiny one, sparkling in the sunshine, shimmer. You wanna get ahead in life? Do you want to climb up the corporate ladder faster? Do you want to be popular? Do you want to avoid rejection? Do you want the easy way out? Do you wanna get rich quick? And on, and on, and on.

And the moment you say, "Yeah, that's an intriguing idea," ha-ha, the snake is inside your shirt. It hasn't bitten you yet, but get ready. Look at Nehemiah. Right at the time when the rebuilding of the wall is about finished, right at that conclusion, the three miserable rattlesnakes, we've been seeing them throughout the series of messages. If they could not destroy the work of God, they will try to corrupt and destroy the men of God and the women of God. Now, they're getting ready for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and these miserable three rattlesnakes went for enticement. You see, at this moment of history, the walls are rebuilt. The gates almost ready. They haven't been hung yet, so there's doorways open.

And let me tell you right away, Satan loves open doors. He loves ajar doors in your life and in mine. He loves those. And the doors were still open. Sanballat and company sent Nehemiah a message. In fact, four messages. Look at verse 4. They're right there. "Let's get together. Let's negotiate. Let's have a dialogue. Let's meet on the plains of Ono". And Nehemiah hears the word "Ono" and he said, "Oh no". I'm gonna come to that. I'm gonna explain to you why. What are these rattlesnakes doing? They are changing their tactics and beginning to say, "Nehemiah, my friend, let's just let the bygone by bygone. We don't need to fight one another. Let's be friends".

Let me tell you about the choice of Ono and why. Ono was about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, so he's gonna get out of the protected walls and go 20 miles north. And Ono, the valley of Ono, it's beautiful. I mean, it's a beautiful place. It is on par with any beautiful resort that you can think about today. I mean, it is a first class spa and relaxation everywhere. And what could be better for a man who had been working so hard and exhausted with bricks, and with stones, and with mortar? What can be better for him than to get time out and rest and relax? Ha-ha-ha. There's nothing wrong with relaxation, just be patient with me, okay? 'Cause there's more. Ono was halfway between Jerusalem and Samaria. Samaria's about 40 miles north of Jerusalem, and so Ono is 20 miles. It's exactly halfway point between Samaria, where Sanballat and all those miserable people came from, and where Nehemiah was.

What is Sanballat saying here? He's saying, "Nehemiah, let's meet halfway. We come halfway and you come halfway. We'll meet in the middle somewhere". And Nehemiah heard Ono and he said what? "Oh no". Oh no. Can you say that with me? Oh no to Ono. But before some of you get angry with me saying, "What's wrong with compromise"? there are times when compromise is necessary. So, I'm not against compromise. Sometimes a compromise is good and important. In politics, in resolving conflicts in relationships, in negotiating contracts, in making agreements between nations, each one would give in a little and they somehow come to an agreement, and that's fine. But look, compromising in these things that I talked about is one thing, but compromising with sin, compromising with Sanballats of this world, compromising your biblical principles, compromising biblical truth, these are all rattlesnakes that will always bite you big time.

What we need today more than any other time in my lifetime is men and women, boys and girls of God who have discernment and wisdom so they can discern the truth from falsehood. Especially these days, when we're seeing individuals who have sat under the Word of God, other individuals who have preached the Word of God for years, now they've heard the call of the rattlesnake, come down. And unlike Nehemiah, they came down and compromising their convictions. Listen, Nehemiah was not for a moment suggesting that this was great work because he was doing it. No, when you are obedient to God's purpose in your life, any work that God's assigns to you is an important work. It doesn't matter whether a Sunday school teacher or a small group leading, whether you're ushering or serving at the Lord's table. Whatever it may be, all of God's work done obediently to God is a great work.

Now, I want to say something to moms, because every now and again, sometimes I hear a mom who says, "Well, I'm just a housewife. I'm just a mom". Well, listen to me, you can absolutely confidently say, "I am an executive director of the future leaders of this country. I am the executive producer of the future generation of heroes in this country". Don't let others define you. Don't let other people deter you from your great work, the greatest of work that I can think of. Don't let other people run you down. But here's often what happens. When you refuse to compromise with sin and your biblical truth, when you stand firm, when you say "No" once, twice, a hundred times, the enemy's gonna go for sweet talking in order to intimidate you.

I know in these days of public opinion polls, and the Facebook, and Twitter, and focus groups, and Internet bloggers, my goodness, everyone has an opinion about everything. Sadly, very few have conviction. Some of you may ask, "Well, Michael, is there a difference between an opinion and a conviction"? I'm glad you asked. Listen to me. An opinion is a belief that we hold, but a conviction is a belief that holds us. A conviction takes grasp of our hearts and our minds and never let go. I doubt there are any of us, I know I'm not, who are willing to die for an opinion. I have lots of opinions, but I'm not ready to die for any of them. But throughout the centuries, we have seen people who have given up everything, including life itself, for their conviction. I know and you know that we live in a time that demands for men and women, boys and girls of conviction to stand up and be counted, to stand up for the truth.

Daniel Webster, statesman and a senator from Massachusetts, he lived during the momentous times in the 19th century. He was widely admired for his ability to speak and his oratory. He was admired man. In 1830, he was called the most eloquent man in Congress. Poems were written about him and about his conviction, about his eloquence, by such of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Poems written about him. He was a staunch anti-slavery senator. And he was on his way to becoming president of the United States, but to receive his party's confirmation and nomination, he had to compromise his conviction, and he went down in personal defeat, and his star waned so fast.

These days, people are compromising their convictions so easily. Many are tempted to rethink their belief about the authority of the Scripture. Many others are re-evaluating what the Bible says or what the Bible calls sin and immorality. Here's a warning to the faithful. After you say no once, and twice, and three times, and a hundred times, the enemy, if he cannot sweet talk you, if he could not discourage you, he's gonna try to intimidate you. Look at it. First discouragement, then ridicule, mockery. None of that worked, so they tried enticement, manipulation, wheedling, sweet talk, and cajoling. And when neither bullying nor beguiling worked, they tried intimidation. They sent him an open letter and they published it in the Jerusalem Times, verses 6 and 7. I mean, you can tell that they were so exasperated, they were so frustrated that private attempts have failed again, and again, and again. So now, they resort to public intimidation. They threaten him to tell the King of Persia that Nehemiah is building his own kingdom.

You see, when all else fails, they resort to blackmail and lies. They knew if the king really believed their lies, he would have turned on Nehemiah, he would've captured him. He would've tortured him, and he would have executed him as a rebel in order to set an example. That's how they did it. Not only that, but the king probably would have sent another army and redestroyed the walls. Question: would the King of Persia have believed their lies? Probably not. He knew Nehemiah too well. He worked for him as his chief of staff. He knew him. He knew his heart. He probably would not have believed it, but it doesn't matter. See, Sanballat constructed a deceptive, and yet plausible scenario, a very sound scenario, to stop Nehemiah. He concocted this false accusation that went something like this: "Nehemiah, you're an egomaniac. Nehemiah, you're in for glory for yourself. Nehemiah, you want to be a dictator. Nehemiah, you're an autocrat. Nehemiah, you want all personal power grab".

What's happening here? Listen carefully please. Nehemiah became a victim of gossip, and he shows us here how a godly should respond to opposition, intimidation, threats, and blackmail, verses 8 and 9. You see, because his conscience was clear, because he lived his life as an open book, because he knew their wicked nature, he basically said to them, this is a Youssef translation. You're not gonna find it in your Bible, "Take your best shot," and so, it didn't work. I think from time to time, many of us face false accusations, and those false accusations can spread so fast before you get a chance to refute them. These false accusations sap your physical energy. They sap your emotional energy. It cost you sleep. It causes ignorant people to turn on you. It can destroy your reputation.

When that happens, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:11-12, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". When all else fails, they only got one thing left. Assassinate him. Kill him. That's the last resort. Look at verses 10 all the way to 14. They tried an assassination attempt, and for that they employed a false prophet by the name of Shemaiah to help them in their miserable deed. Listen to me, there's nothing worse than someone who knows a little bit of the Scripture and they know exactly how to twist it, how to torture it, how to abuse it and falsify it to intimidate you.

Oh, doesn't the Bible say that you shouldn't judge anyone? Have you heard that one? Doesn't the Bible say that Christianity is inclusive? Doesn't the Bible say that you should love everybody regardless of what they do, regardless of what... on, and on, and on, and on. We hear it all the time. You see, when the false prophet told Nehemiah that the assassins are on their way, what is he trying to do? He trying to flush Nehemiah out. He's trying to flush him out so that they can get a clear shot at him and kill him. This trick brought about the opposite effect from Nehemiah. And here, Nehemiah uses one of my favorite phrase in the entire book of Nehemiah, verse 11. It's my favorite phrase. "Should a man like me flee"? or "Should a man like me run away"? You see, Nehemiah knew that Shemaiah was a false prophet and a traitor who sold his soul to the devil.

You say, "But why"? Well, Nehemiah was a layman. He was not a priest. And only the priests were allowed to get into the sanctuary of God, not the laypeople. As a matter of fact, it is a crime in the law of God. In the book of Numbers chapter 1:51, in the book of Numbers 3:10, in the book of Numbers 18:7, read it when you go home. It is a crime punishable by death. Test the spirits always. Test the spirits. Know who's speaking the truth and who's not. And God honored Nehemiah's faithfulness and his refusal to break the law of God. Verses 15 to 19. In 52 days, the walls was built. What was impossible appears now to be possible. Because of God's power working and because God's people united together, God began to do the impossible.

Listen to me as I'm concluding here. Don't ever forget that we do serve the God of the impossible. I know in the midst of trouble sometimes we forget that. And if and when every member of the church discover and uses their spiritual gift, I can tell you on the authority of the Word of God, God is gonna do some great and mighty things. In this post-Christian era, God is not looking for pew-warmers. God is not looking for sunshine Christians. God is not looking for those who want to be entertained. God is not looking for compromises. In this day and age, God is looking for faithful, courageous, uncompromising men and women. God is looking for those who are sold out to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is looking for fearless people. God is looking for people who hold onto his Word when everybody else is putting it down, when everybody else is undermining it, when everybody else is watering it down. God is looking for men and women, boys and girls, who refuse to be tricked by rattlesnakes. But men and women, boys and girls, who, like Nehemiah, stand firm and give God all the glory. Will that be you?
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