No Holding Back: Fighting Through the Mess to Finish Strong





Sermon Notes

Isaiah 54:2-4a
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

Enlarged Vision - Stretched Faith - Lengthened Reach - Strengthened Resolve. 

Middle is the place where the mess is the greatest and our strength is the lowest.  You have to fight through the mess of the middle in order to finish strong. 

Nehemiah 4:1-3
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

All spiritual opposition is sourced by anger over identity. 

Ridicule becomes the first manifestation of anger. 

3 Areas of Ridicule

  1. Identity

  2. Ability

  3. Resources

Satan’s most prolific go to strategy is to come against your identity. But as a child of God, your identity doesn’t come from what you can do or where you have failed but who God says you are. 

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Just like our identity isn’t rooted in what we can do but in who we belong, our ability isn’t rooted in our own creativity and strength but in Christ! 

Philippians 4:4-7,10-13
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

It is true that each of us were once dead, burned up and burnt out but not anymore. When Jesus was resurrected He resurrected us too! 

1 Peter 2:4-5
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

Prayer is the Response to Ridicule

Nehemiah 4:4-5
Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. 

3 Characteristics of Middle Prayers

#1 They are emotional. 

#2 They are pointed.

#3 They are paired with movement. 

Nehemiah 4:6
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. 

You can’t talk your way out of a middle mess – you have to truth your way, pray your way and work your way through it!

Ridicule Leads to Plot

Nehemiah 4:7,8
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 

Truth + Prayer + Plan counteract ridicule and plots 

Nehemiah 4:9-14
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. 10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” 12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” 13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 

What keeps you in a fight?

A plan sourced by courage and real purpose.

  • “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome!

  • “fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”