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[thoughts] Courage to Face the Enemy (May 12-18, 2008)

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  • Mark Roth
    Thoughts for the Week Mark Roth http://www.anabaptists.org/clp/youth/ ... This edition goes out today to 4238 subscribers. Thank you! ... COURAGE TO FACE THE
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2008
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      Thoughts for the Week
      Mark Roth

      This edition goes out today to 4238 subscribers. Thank you!

      (Nehemiah 4:1-15)


      Did you know that?

      It's true! No good we set out to do will go unopposed. All
      around us exist adversaries, most of whom we cannot see, who
      will do all they can to resist us personally and impede any good
      our hearts determine to accomplish. These enemies will attack
      and undermine. They will try to discourage, distract, and
      dissuade us. They will not give up easily, refusing to give in just
      because one tactic fails.

      Did you know that?

      It's true! Yet so many Christians seem caught by surprise at the
      opposition, having neither expected it nor planned for it. They
      allow distractions to draw them away from their rightful
      endeavors. They permit discouragement to lead them to giving
      up the noble project. They let down their guard and too late
      discover they have been lured into an ambush. Being spiritually
      and mentally unprepared, they quit before they finish, they fail
      before they succeed, and they lose before they win.

      Did you know that?

      It's true! So what are we going to do about it?

      Remember the importance of the task. When Nehemiah's enemies
      tried to lure him into a trap where they could bring mischief
      upon him, he began his response to their invitation by saying,
      "I am doing a great work" (Nehemiah 6:3). To that he added, "Why
      should the work cease?" He put his assigned task above anything
      else. He knew it was an important job. He also knew it was his
      duty, which meant that he was important to the success of the
      project. So he refused to consider giving in to the opposition of
      distraction -- "I cannot come down...to you." Nehemiah would
      not leave his work for something of less importance and of
      suspect character. We must learn from that. When any type of
      opposition comes, we need to remember the importance of the
      good task which God has given us.

      Maintain personal integrity. When guile and enticement failed,
      the enemies of Nehemiah assaulted his personal character. They
      attributed to him ungodly motives, purposes, and tactics. Then,
      having attacked his integrity, they pretended to be on his side,
      saying, "Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together"
      (Nehemiah 6:7). Because Nehemiah had carefully guarded his
      integrity and character, he saw through their plan. He not only
      knew that the accusations were false, he also knew that everyone
      else knew them for the fabrications they were. Since he had kept
      his heart right, he did not have to worry about his reputation.
      Can we learn from that as well? Beware of giving the enemy solid
      ground from which to attack us! We must keep a careful guard over
      our own character and integrity in all things. It is never right
      to allow wrong, no matter how small the issue. How foolish to
      breach our own integrity, especially with something "little"!

      Recognize human weakness and divine power. Nehemiah did not
      deny that "they all made us afraid" (Nehemiah 6:8). He knew
      that as a result of that it was entirely possible that he and his
      crew would grow weary and quit before the work was done. So
      he turned again to the One who had given him the assignment in
      the first place: "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."
      (Nehemiah 6:9). May we reject cocky self-assurance and
      independence. They will certainly guarantee our failure!


      Negative people live everywhere, and sometimes it seems they
      outnumber all the rest of us. These naysayers complain, criticize,
      and condemn. They are bleak and make others that way. They
      have eyes and ears that quickly pick out the failings and
      shortcomings around them. They have lips and tongues that
      diligently pick apart almost anyone about them. They are
      insensitive prophets of discouragement. To listen to them, you
      would think we have no reason to smile, to hope, and to go on.

      Many negative folks believe and proclaim that they are not being
      negative, just realistic. They insist that an honest look about
      demonstrates the reality of their views and concerns. They
      declare that a good dose of realism will justify their negativism
      and pessimism.

      And aren't they correct? After all, man is naturally evil. Nature
      is gradually deteriorating. Human events are highlighting the
      collapse of people, families, churches, nations, and cultures. Sin
      is becoming bolder. Deception is increasing in number and
      effectiveness. All of this does represent the reality of the times
      in which we live, doesn't it? Therefore, it would seem that reality
      both vindicates and gives license to all those negative people.

      I agree. If that is the only reality a person knows, negativism is
      understandable and justifiable.

      But that perception of reality is a woefully incomplete view!
      Encouragers know that, see that, and believe that. The
      encourager is well-acquainted with the realities so aptly pointed
      out by the naysayer. Both of them live in the same world and go
      through many of the same experiences. But the encourager's
      perception is keener. He sees God and, therefore, he sees good.
      That allows him to hope, to have faith, to see possibility. So
      instead of tearing down, he builds up.

      My friend, you can be a grump, a complainer, and a critic if you
      wish. But please don't! Choose the grander view! Be a builder!
      Be an encourager! Be the personification of a positive attitude!

      Moses sent twelve men on a reconnaissance mission through the
      land of Canaan. These men did not volunteer for the assignment
      nor were they "just anybody." All twelve of them were rulers in
      their respective tribes. They were proven men, trusted men,
      tested men. By the commandment of the Lord, Moses sent them
      to Canaan.

      Judging by the two extremely opposed reports brought back by
      this group of men, one would think they hadn't all stuck together
      in their exploration of the Promised Land! You would think they
      had seen different things, situations and circumstances. I am
      certain, though, that all twelve of them traveled together and
      shared the same sights and experiences. What the ten saw was no
      different than what the two saw. How they saw was different.
      The data processed in their heads and in hearts was the same, I
      am sure. How they processed that data was worlds apart.

      As a result of those differences, the two were the only ones in
      their generation to possess the Promised Land. The other ten had
      to wander about and eventually be buried in the wilderness . . .
      outside the Promised Land.

      One of the challenges for us lies in making certain we always
      strive to see through the eyes of faith . . . in God and His
      promises. When we see flooded rivers between us and the
      promised goal, we must see beyond the rivers and see the One
      Who said we would reach the other side. When we see huge
      opponents in secure fortifications, we must look up and see the
      One Who said He would fight our battles for us.

      How we see makes such a difference! If we content ourselves to
      see solely from our perspective, then we must also content
      ourselves with unbelief and defeat. But if we see God above it
      all, then we can also see it all as He does. Just how impressed do
      you suppose God was by Jordan, Jericho and the giants? Well,
      are you intimidated by a trickle in the sand, by a house of cards
      and by a thousand gnats huddled on a tablespoon? Hmmmm.

      Do not misunderstand me, please. This is not an appeal for being
      unrealistic or for playing games with the facts as they are. Those
      giants, Jericho and Jordan were every bit as real to Caleb and
      Joshua as they were to the other ten spies. (By the way, do you
      have their names on the tip of your tongue?) Jordan, Jericho and
      the giants were just as real to God as they were to the twelve
      men. But of those thirteen people, three saw differently. They
      didn't just see the physical facts, they saw all the facts. They
      saw God.

      How do I see? How do you see? Of course there are adversaries,
      obstacles and contretemps. Shall we live life on the basis of our
      limitations against them? Or shall we believe that greater is He
      that is in us?

      (For a computer wallpaper reminder -- http://www.eaf.net/pantinghart/?p=555)


      Thanks again for subscribing!
      Mark Roth

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