READ: Nehemiah 4-6
THINK: How do you handle criticism and hold up under pressure? Do you meet resistance with persistence? Or do you give up your goals when you’re opposed? If your goals are from God, the best way to silence critics is to keep praying and plugging away at your purpose until the work is done. When it becomes apparent that what you’ve accomplished could have only been done with God’s help, your opposition will have to take up their case with Him.
RESPOND: How did the Jews overcome opposition to rebuilding the wall (4:4,6)? In overcoming opposition, what is God’s part, and what is yours (4:6,9)? How did Nehemiah encourage the people (4:14,19,20)? When working for God in the face of danger, why is it vital to remain physically and spiritually alert? How can your response to attacks and criticism influence others? Why was Nehemiah confident of success? (See 4:20 note.) Why did some Jews make “a great outcry” against their countrymen? (See 5:1 note.) How did Nehemiah respond (5:6-11)? (See 5:6 note.) How and why did Nehemiah’s officials act differently toward the people than the leaders before them (5:14-16)? (See 5:15 note.) What forms of attack did Nehemiah’s opponents use in trying to stop his progress (6:1-9)? What does Nehemiah’s response reveal about his faith and character? How can you learn to tell whether or not a message is from God? (See 6:12 and 6:14 notes.) What was remarkable about the wall’s completion (6:15-16), and what did this show other nations? What were some reasons the wall was completed so quickly and efficiently? (See 6:15 note.)
PRAY: Pray for God’s help in resisting discouragement and overcoming opposition. Ask for wisdom to recognize and avoid potential distractions to your faith and purpose. Ask God to help you be diligent in your work and alert to the spiritual battles that arise in the process. Give God thanks for fighting for you and giving you victory.
ACT: Encourage a fellow Christian who is in the middle of a large or tough task. If there is a practical way you can help, do so. If you’ve backed off of a godly task or purpose because of ridicule or opposition, look to God for help and get back to the task. Do your best to treat everyone fairly and don’t take unnecessary advantage of any authority or position you have in a way that could make things difficult for others.