Gail thanked everyone who came to the fish fry yesterday, which raised almost a thousand dollars.
We sang songs from the blue hymnbook during our worship time this morning. An offering was taken and then we spent time in prayer for our various needs and the needs of others.
Have you ever felt like giving up? We all know that we've given up on things, whether a diet or a dream. Today's message would be taken from Nehemiah. And the question is, when is the time to quit?
A couple weeks ago we saw how Nehemiah's heart was broken when he saw the walls broken down in Jerusalem and at great personal risk approached the king for permission to re-build Jerusalem. Today Pastor Brad talked about the opposition Nehemiah faced when he set about to undertake the work of re-building.
But there is more opposition, verbal abuse and deceptive statements, that the king of Persia is going to be angry when he finds out what was going on.
In chapter 3 we see that people from every station in life pitch in to help with the project. No one is left on the sidelines. The buy-in is big time. Everyone is signed up. But Sanballat, who has been opposing this project, becomes even angrier and continues to ridicule the Jews who have begun the work.
When the project is halfway complete the opposition increases still more so that there are death threats against those who continue working. As if this weren't bad enough, there are some within their own group who start saying, "It's never going to work. We're never going to make it."
Nehemiah keeps praying. He sees that the threat to their success isn't just external, it's also internal. Nehemiah turns to the people and says, "Don't be afraid."
There's nothing flashy about perseverance. It's like offensive linemen in football. They just do their jobs because the work has to be done. The quarterbacks and running back might get the glory but those same men know that the linemen were essential to their success. It is a team effort.
Brad took Nehemiah's story and noted how it applies to us. When we're doing God's work, God's message to us is "Don't give up."
When is it time to quit? Not when it's hard. The time to quit is when the work is done.
God uses perseverance to make us grow. As Paul wrote to the Romans, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. (Romans 5:4-5)
When is it time to quit? Jesus set the example for us. From the start of His life He met opposition. A king tried to kill Him after he was born. He made the religious leaders angry by things He taught. His hard sayings sometimes made crowds turn away. His friends ran away from Him in His time of need. One betrayed Him, another denied Him. Yet He continued, all the way to the cross where crowds jeered Him as the weight of the world's sins was laid upon His shoulders. Even there he could have called out to the angels to rescue Him but He remained till He poured out His blood whereupon He declared, "It is finished."
There's something in your life that isn't easy right now. God's work is never easy, but the message here is don't give up.
Perseverance isn't something I do alone. God has given us His Spirit to walk with us, beside us and in us, to accomplish the work He's called us to do.