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Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2024 12:00 am

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 29, 2024 12:00 am

In 1845, John Franklin led a confident but ill-prepared expedition to find the Northwest Passage, resulting in tragedy. Similarly, Jesus warned His followers of the trials they would face. Are you ready for the challenges of your spiritual journey?

Join us as we explore Nehemiah's story in rebuilding Jerusalem amidst fierce opposition. Discover how Nehemiah's preparation and reliance on God mirror the need for spiritual readiness today. How can we, like Nehemiah, withstand the winds of adversity and stay committed to God's mission?

Tune in to learn how to avoid the traps of ridicule and opposition, and find inspiration to press on in your faith, fully equipped for the journey ahead.

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The Red Dragon has had 2,000 years to hone his skill and fine tune his lore which he has used against the church and against the New Testament believer. Nowhere do you see a list, I believe, of Satan's schemes and methods in such an obvious fashion than in Nehemiah chapters 4, 5, and 6. While the adversary, the tempter, the enemy is never mentioned by name, if you look close enough perhaps you can see the shadow of his scales and smoke of his nostrils. You've likely heard the phrase, sticks and stones may break our bones.

Well, that's true. But let's be honest, words can seriously hurt too. Ridicule, mockery, the laughter of those who doubt you can sting way more than you might like to admit. In the Bible, a man named Nehemiah faced this head on when he set out to restore a broken city. He was a man of God on a mission, but the naysayers came out in droves. Nehemiah's expedition was not smooth sailing.

Today, Stephen examines the enemy's tactics to help you learn how you can stand against ridicule. In 1845, a man named John Franklin left England to discover the Northwest Passageway, a sea way for ships to be able to travel north of Canada in a way that connected the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. He had taken with him 138 specially chosen Navy officers from Her Majesty's Royal Navy. They were the sharpest of men, but no one knew what lay ahead.

In fact, it seemed that they weren't quite prepared for the harsh conditions of the Arctic North. Each ship was state of the art. In fact, they were both fitted with auxiliary steam engines, and they had a huge storeroom, each ship did, where they could hold a 12-day supply of coal should they ever need to be driven by steam power. They were confident in their quest as they sailed off amidst all of the imperial pomp and glory, but they were not ready.

In fact, the only clothing that they took along with them were their uniforms and the overcoats supplied by Her Majesty's Navy. Two months after their departure, a British whaler made contact with the two ships off the coast of Canada, and he would be the last European to see them alive. Search parties would spend the next 12 years retracing the path of this Franklin expedition, and they eventually would piece together the puzzle. Eskimo reported to them that they remembered seeing men pushing a small lifeboat across frozen water. Some members of another search party remembered and recalled seeing the eerie sight of three masts from one of the ship protruding up through the ice, an eerie sight. Probably the most devastating discovery of all was the discovery that neither ship had stocked their coal supply. They had instead fitted those huge storage rooms to serve as the library and the lounge. Inside each of those two rooms was an organ, 1,200 volume library, chairs, and cupboard space for china and silver settings for the table. One historian said that the Franklin expedition was prepared for weather conditions inside the Royal Navy Officers Club, not the Arctic Ocean. One search party found 30 frozen bodies in a tent near the water's edge.

The officers were dressed in their overcoats with their silk scarves still in place. They were confident. Their hopes were high, but they were not prepared for the challenge, the rigor of that expedition, and so they were caught by surprise. Jesus Christ said, the world will hate you because it hated me. Are you prepared for that? He also warned his disciples, they will make you outcasts. There will come a time when to kill you they will believe would be performing a worship service for God, John 16 too.

Are you ready for that? Persecution will arise because of the presence of the word, Matthew 13. Jesus said, I came not to grant peace on earth, but bring division. Members in your own family will be divided, father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, Luke 12, 51.

Are you ready for that? Our Lord throughout his life was mocked by the religious leaders. The chief priests mocked him. He was mocked by Herod. He was eventually mocked and crucified by soldiers. And the early church that would be birthed out of their belief in this one who was mocked would themselves be mocked. In fact, in Acts chapter two when the church is born, the men said of the apostles, those men are drunk.

Are you ready for that? Hebrews 11 records that many believers endure cruel mocking. Believers will be persecuted, Galatians 6 for the cross of Christ, 2 Timothy 3, the godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4, we are reviled, we are persecuted, we are slandered, we are roughly treated, we are considered as the scum of the earth, the filth of all things even until now.

Are you ready for that? Whether Nehemiah knew it or not, the adversary just moved his base of operation just outside the city of Jerusalem. Before we watch his strategy against Nehemiah, I want to take a closer look at the enemy himself. He has a number of disguises and a number of names. The first name is Satan. This name refers to his role as the adversary of God, the adversary of God's people. He's of course called the devil. That word means accuser and he is constantly accusing God before the people.

He constantly accuses people before God. Another name our Lord himself used of this enemy was the name Beelzebul in Matthew 12, 27. It simply means lord of the flies, master of the flies. It's a name that refers to his masterminding of everything that is corrupt. In John 12, 31, he's called the ruler of this world. In Isaiah 14, 12, he's called Lucifer. That name refers to the aura of light around which he is encompassed in which he was created. He's referred to in that same passage as a morning star in Isaiah 14, 12. He's also called the father of lies.

The reason he's so effective is because of that light that embraces him. He is a liar though. John 8, 44, the Lord Jesus said he is the originator of lying. That is when he speaks a lie, he speaks of his native tongue and when his children, the minions of this world, speak with lies that are literally speaking their mother language.

They are speaking that which comes naturally to them. We would expect an unbeliever to lie. He's called the tempter, 1 Thessalonians 3, 5, the God of this world, 2 Corinthians 4, 4. He's called the enemy in Matthew 13. He's referred to as the power of darkness in Luke 22.

In Ephesians 2, verse 2, Paul refers to him as the prince of the power of the air. Jesus calls him a murderer in John 8, 44 or the apostle John simply referred to him as the evil one in 1 John 2, 13. In Revelation, he's called the old serpent.

I find that interesting and I'm not sure if the inspired one is writing with tongue and cheek by calling him old. In the first book of the Bible, we have him introduced to us as the serpent and now the last book of the Bible, Revelation calls him the old serpent. I don't know if it's because he has had thousands of years to hone his craft as the wily serpent. Peter called him in 1 Peter 5, 8, the adversary. He's also referred to as the angel of light. Paul gave the church in Corinth and in Carey the same warning, 2 Corinthians 11, 13, for such men are false prophets or apostles, deceitful workers disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguised themselves as servants of righteousness whose end will be according to their deeds. In other words, Satan and his teachers, his false teachers wrap themselves in the vocabulary of the church, the vocabulary of righteousness, the vocabulary of truth, but they are deceiving, they are deceptive and they will lead people astray. The final name of Satan that I took note of this past week really for the first time is in Revelation 12 and we don't have time for you to turn. The context of the passage speaks of Satan's lust for blood, his lust for killing, his passion to intimidate, his power to deceive, the red dragon. How does this dragon operate?

Well, let me give you a few ways. Number one, with destructive purpose, he is the one, Peter said, who roams about the earth as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, a vicious roaring lion. He is dedicated to destroying the worship of the one true and living God. He coveted the throne of God. He fought for the throne of God and he lost the fight and he was banished to earth.

He will be banished one day to an eternal hell. And the Christian today or the Christian church today that seeks to give that God, to give his throne worship and glory and honor is the enemy of the enemy. Whenever you align your purpose to bring glory to the throne of God, to the character of God, all that opposes God will oppose you. You have become the enemy of the enemy.

Are you ready for that? He operates with destructive purpose. He also operates with remarkable proficiency. He is intelligent, discerning and cunning.

His kingdom is connected through communication systems that would probably boggle our minds. Now in the course of taking a closer look at the enemy, I don't want you to forget several things. These are usually missing from books that speak on the enemy or topics or conferences that talk about spiritual warfare.

Let me give you some things that I think are equally important. Number one is power is limited. He is not omnipresent. He is not omniscient. He is not omnipotent. His power is limited. He's a created being. He is not God. His influence is delegated. He cannot do anything apart from the permission of our sovereign God and his approval. And what he intends for evil, a sovereign God is able to turn it around for good. And that must drive the enemy to distraction. The serpent is a puppet on a string and the string is held in the hand of a sovereign God.

We don't need to run for cover. His destruction, thirdly, is already determined. He knows what the book says. He has a full understanding of what prophecy says, but his hatred and his anger propels him, moves him forward and against the throne of God while there is still time. He hates God so. His success is constantly hindered. Not only can he not lift one finger against God, he is limited in what he can accomplish against a believer.

The believer who dares by faith to mount an expedition and advance into enemy territory has been given, according to Ephesians 6, all of the armor necessary to withstand these schemes and these wiles of the enemy, the dragon's fire. The dragon not only operates with destructive purpose and remarkable proficiency, he also operates with enormous patience. He is as patient as any fisherman who drops a lure into the pond and waits. We have fishermen here today, perhaps in body but not in mind. In fact, you're out there, you've dropped your hook and you're patient. You go out there and you watch and you wait and I personally cannot do it. I've never been able to do it unless you could guarantee that I'd catch a fish and they can't guarantee it.

But he is so patient, he will drop his lure into the pond of your life and he will wait, perhaps for a week, perhaps for a month, perhaps your entire lifetime. His lures are called several things in the New Testament. One word is the word method. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the methodias, the methods of the devil. The methodias gives us our transliterated word method, which implies the crafty planning and strategy of the devil. The second word is the word scheme. It appears in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 11 where Paul warns that no advantage would be taken of us or you by Satan for we are not ignorant of his schemes, his noema. It's a word that could be translated design.

It actually refers to intellectual capacity. He brilliantly masterminds the lure. He cleverly designs the scheme, which he hopes will entrap the church and the believer and he lays those traps with great care.

Read the book of Proverbs and see how with such care he spreads the net for the believer and he is very patient. The red dragon has had 2,000 years to hone his skill and fine tune his lure, which he has used against the church and against the New Testament believer. We operate against him upon the vantage point of victory and we watch our Lord who defeated him summarily in the desert by quoting three verses from the book of Deuteronomy.

But yet he is a crafty foe. Nowhere do you see a list, I believe, of Satan's schemes and methods in such an obvious fashion than in Nehemiah chapters 4, 5, and 6. While the adversary, the tempter, the enemy is never mentioned by name in Nehemiah 4, 5, and 6, if you look close enough perhaps you can see the shadow of his scales and smell the smoke of his nostrils. Maybe you can even hear the slip of his oar against the water as he moves his boat and anchors just outside of Jerusalem. Lucifer will design four lures and drop them one at a time into the pond of Nehemiah's life. The first one has been effective against most people, perhaps against us even today.

It is the lure we'll simply call ridicule. Now go with me to Nehemiah chapter 4 verse 1. Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became furious and very angry.

Whenever there's repetition like that it means he was really, really angry. And he mocked, he laughed at, he ridiculed the Jews. Now the ridicule of Nehemiah and his fellow workers by Sanballat and his friends will eventually take the form of five questions and we're going to work our way as quickly as we can through these questions which have been designed to intimidate and to embarrass the Jews for ever attempting such a foolish expedition. Notice the first question in verse 2. Sanballat spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, question number one, what are these feeble Jews doing? This is a question of the Jews' strength. What are these weak, literally, what are these withered? A man came up to me and said his translation, the Berkeley translation said, what are these decrepit Jews doing?

In other words, who do you think you are? Goliath asked the same question, didn't he? When little David came running out to fight him, armed with a shepherd's sling and five smooth stones, one for Goliath and four for Goliath's four sons, should he need to use them on them? And the Israelite army held its breath as little David ran toward that nine foot, nine inch giant named Goliath. And they were thinking to themselves, Goliath is too big for little David to kill. But as one author said, David ran toward Goliath and he was thinking to himself, he's too big to miss. And when Goliath saw David coming toward him, he laughed. He derided. He mocked. Oh, you send me a little boy.

Alan Redpath, who pastored Moody Church in the past, wrote, the world judges everything by size, by headlines, by imposing plans, by vast advertisements, and it pours contempt upon the feeble little flock of the people of God. You, with your feeble prayer meetings, you with your silly little plan of getting people converted one by one, how can you possibly stand alongside our great economic program in which a whole world can be revolutionized in a few years? You have no intellect. You are out of date. You have no money.

You have no status. You feeble little lot. That was the intention of that first question, have you ever been laughed at for your faith, my friends? Have you ever been ridiculed for your convictions? Were you ready for that? They go on to ask sarcastically in verse two, are they going to restore it for themselves?

This is a question of intelligence. In other words, do they really understand what they're attempting to do? They don't even have the foggiest idea what it takes to build a wall. Are they going to do it for themselves? There are no professionals here to build walls. They probably noticed on the wall the perfume maker and the gold smith and the artist and left and said, you know nothing of rebuilding walls.

You're going to do this for yourself? Third question, question their faith, the text quotes them as saying, can they offer sacrifices? Terry Kidner in his commentary, I think correctly, reworded this for our own understanding and our culture by rewarding the question to read, are these Jews going to pray their wall up? Are they going to pray their wall up? You're going to get it up by sacrificing to your God? You think your prayers are going to have any effect on these broken down walls?

What a clever lure. In effect, they were saying, hey, remember the faith of your fathers. It was useless. They couldn't rebuild the walls. Why do you think you can't do?

Do you think your prayers are more effective than theirs? You're going to see some kind of miracle here? They continued their sarcasm by asking the fourth question, can they finish in a day? This was a question of organization. It was like saying you're going to need to finish that in a day because you're not prepared for the long winter of this expedition. So if you don't finish it today, you'll never make it. The final question of ridicule is this, can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble?

This was a question of skill. They're trying to resurrect a wall out of the midst of a century of rubble. It'll never work.

They'll never make it. And then this guy, Tobiah, verse 3, is just standing there, and he adds this little barb. He throws it in. Yeah, and even what they are building, if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down. And they all laughed and laughed and laughed. People of God were laughed at because of their faith, their organization, their skill, their strength, and their intelligence. Warren Wiersbe once wrote that some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.

And the red dragon just watched and he waited and he waited. You don't have the skill to raise godly children. Did you know that?

You don't have the strength to maintain your character on that campus. Didn't you know that? You don't have the organizational ability to move forward together for the cause of Christ.

You don't have the faith to finish anything for God. Didn't you know that? Who do you feeble people think you are?

Has the red dragon ever dropped that lure, perhaps even recently, into the pond of your life? You can only imagine how powerful this ridicule was to the people of Nehemiah, trying to do something that for a century no one else could do. Surely somebody here probably thought, maybe they didn't say it, but they probably thought it.

Nehemiah, they're right. We might as well just go ahead and admit it. We don't know what we're doing out here. I've never held a trowel. I've never built a stone wall.

This is impossible. We're not wall builders. How did Nehemiah avoid the dragon's lure?

Let me give you three things quickly. What he did not do is retaliate. You don't find anything of that in this text. And I would expect it and probably would have liked to hear Nehemiah say something like, oh, is that right, Tobiah? A little fox can push this wall down?

Well, come on over here, you little weasel, and try to push it down yourself. Man, I would have loved to heard that. But none of that.

Retaliating never, never builds any walls. What he did do was pray. Would you notice his prayer in verse four?

Hear, oh, our God, how we are despised. Now stop. Don't miss that. There's a little ditty that goes like this. You finish it for me.

I'll start it. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words never. And that's not true, is it?

It's not true. Nehemiah was in effect praying this way. Lord, sticks and stones may break my bones, and their words have really, really hurt me. Hear, oh, our God. In other words, have you been listening, oh God, to what they have been saying?

Have you been hearing what they have been saying? How they despise us. Have you ever been despised? Was Nehemiah caught by surprise?

No. But it should hurt him nonetheless. Hear, oh my God, how we are despised. He's not finished praying. Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out before you, for they have demoralized the builders. Now you better stop for just a second here and understand this prayer belongs to the old covenant dispensation.

I hope nobody in here is praying that God will never forgive anybody's sins. We don't pray that way in the new covenant. The old covenant was based upon the law, and the law included the fact of retaliation.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Christ in the new covenant would say turn the other cheek. No, you have here people who hate Jerusalem, and to hate Jerusalem was the earthly purpose of God. That was to hate God. And an enemy of Jerusalem was an enemy of God. And the Old Testament Saint David prayed it often this way in the book of Psalms. They would often pray that God would enact vengeance upon the enemies on behalf of the character and glory of God and the character and glory of God's holy city. Nehemiah said nothing to his mockers, but he did say everything to his maker, his master. And he fully expected his master to take care of his mockers, for vengeance belongs to God. He didn't retaliate. He did pray, and would you notice what he did next? He worked.

That's what he did do. Verse 6, so we built the wall, and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart to work. You remember, their hearts were in the work. So they would have said, sticks and stones will break our bones, and words will always hurt us, but even though they hurt us, they do not have to stop us. Oh, that we would be like this one who avoided the powerful lure of the red dragon who dropped into the pond of his life that effective lure called ridicule.

Oh, that we would be like him who was like our savior, who continued to build the wall. So, the next time words start to wound you, our taunts and doubts fill the air, remember Nehemiah. Those who want to see God's plans fail will use every tool they can.

Keep building. Don't let those who've forgotten what God can do distract you. This is wisdom for the heart.

Stephen called this message, sticks and stones may break my bones. Now, if you'd like to learn more about the Christian faith, and how God strengthens you to overcome, visit us at wisdomonline.org. I suspect that you know some people who could benefit from hearing this message. Please tell them about wisdom for the heart, and share this message with them. The audio file and the printed manuscript are on our website, so you can share that link with your friend. You'll find us at wisdomonline.org. By the way, when you're at the website, take a look in the resource section. Stephen's book through Nehemiah is available at a deeply discounted rate during this series. Come back next time for more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-29 01:03:37 / 2024-05-29 01:13:47 / 10

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