Overcoming Obstacles To Victory

Bible Book: Nehemiah  4
Subject: Victory; Prayer; Commitment; Faithfulness; Overcoming; Obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles To Victory

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Nehemiah 4

A young boy had been promised that he could climb to the top of a hill where his older brother loved to play. He just had to wait till his next birthday. When his birthday arrived, one of the first requests from the younger brother was to join the old boy in climbing the hill. Permission was given and off the two boys went for the climb. As they came to the steep part of the hill, the younger brother complained because the path was not smooth but filled with stones and bumps. The older brother laughed and replied, "Don't worry about that. The bumpy and stony places are what we use to climb up on. It is not nearly as hard as it looks." The two boys made the journey by using what appeared to be difficult ground and made their way to the top. Had it not been for the more mature boy, the younger one may have well turned back.

I have been amazed through the years to observe many Christians who think that the Christian life is meant to be a smooth path. This has been accentuated by the more recent doctrinal teaching seen on television and heard on radio which posits that a person who is really living for God will have it easy, that and God will make everything simple and sweet for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You will not find one disciple of Jesus in God’s Word who moved onward and upward without facing many trials and troubles along the way. I want one person to show me a biblical character who ever served God without having to go up a stony and bumpy path. No, the way of victory with God is not easy, but it is fulfilling.

I want to show you today how to negotiate the obstacles on the road to a miracle from God. The devil cannot defeat us in our journey, unless we turn back in fear, sit down because we are lazy, or because we fall into a hole the enemy has dug for us. If we are not focused biblically and spiritually upon God’s way of progress, the true victory of Christian living will elude us.

We discover the continuing journey of Nehemiah in Nehemiah, chapters 4, 5 and 6. These three chapters reveal that Nehemiah did not waltz to victory in Jerusalem. He did not lie in a palace somewhere and just have people bring him reports of the progress. He did not go out each day to hoorays and shouts of praise. His way was not an easy one, but it was a victorious one. I want you to see three important things about Nehemiah's miracle expedition in this message today. It is my prayer that we will apply these to our lives, to our homes, and to our church during these critical days.

I. Obstacles in the Path of Obedience

Nehemiah knew it was God's will for him to go back and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He began with nothing but the knowledge of the will of God and a burden to see it done. He then began to pray. He prayed and fasted regularly for months. Then, God opened a door of opportunity for Nehemiah to go back and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He went to Jerusalem, organized the people, and began the work. Now comes the hard part. Starting something for God can be easy, but completing it requires true faith and total commitment.

Nehemiah is about half-way through project when real trouble begins. Look at Nehemiah 4:6 …

"So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work."

Most Christians have no problem getting excited about the beginning of some great work for God. Great beginnings have a tendency to create wonderful excitement. And, it has been my experience to note that most Christians have no problem enjoying great victories. We find victory to be sweet and pleasant. The problem for most Christians comes in the middle when we are midway along the road to victory. It is at that point that we must face the hardship of mid-term. When the new has worn off and the end is not yet in sight, the problems loom like giant walls before us. That is exactly what happened to the people in Nehemiah's day.

Let me share with you two categories of obstacles they faced and the three consequences of these obstacles. I want you to be aware that every Christian will face these obstacles when seeking to serve God in any capacity, and especially when seeking to complete a difficult divine task.

A. Categories of Obstacles

1. Obstacles from Without

Nehemiah and the people of God had obstacles outside the family of God. The world came against them. They had enemies to the north, south, east, and west. They were cornered on every side. Threats were made against them by those who were outside their camp.

2. Obstacles from Within

Sadly, Nehemiah came to realize that he had problems among the people of God. The people began to complain, and it looked as though the work would come to halt.

Adversity from without is expected, but seldom do we expect opposition to God’s work from within the camp. Actually, Satan loves to discourage God’s leaders by placing people in the way who have influence in the camp – among the very people who need to keep moving forward. Every Christian organization has faced this, and every obedient, dedicated Christian church member has been confronted by it. I’m not saying that plans or church programs must be accepted without questions and suggestions, but there are those whose entire purpose seems to be one of halting the work of God. If you can’t take that, you will never grow and climb higher on the mountain of God’s will for you.

B. Consequences of the Obstacles

What do these obstacles create when placed in our way do to our attitude or progress? In what way do they hinder us?

1. Exhaustion - Physical - Fatigue vs. 10a

2. Depression - Emotional - Frustration vs. 10b 3

3. Apprehension - Spiritual - Fear vss. 11-12

Friend, be assured of this - obedience to God's will always lead to obstacles. Think with me about Moses. Most of you think of him as this greatly beloved leader, but if you think that is true, you don’t know your Bible. Moses obeyed God and almost immediately he began to face one obstacle after another. He had a flip-flop pharaoh to face through 10 plagues. Then, when he finally left Egypt leading the Hebrew people, he came to the Red Sea and found no way across. To make matteres worse he had the Egyptian army closing in from behind. To top it all off, he had his own people questioning why he led them out into this situation.

Later, he had to face the Amalekites in the Valley of Rephidim. It looked for a while like a diaster was going to occur.

Add to this, that his own people turned on him while he was on the mountian getting the Ten Commandments from the Lord. The people, under the leadership of Aaron, make a golden calf to worship.

Moses faced many other issues, but he learned to climb up the ladder of faithfulness clinging to the rocks and bumps that Satan put in his way. If you are afraid of the hard places in Christian living, you will never grow or serve properly.

Think about Jesus. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. He was despised and rejected of men. He took nothing and a made a world out of it. He hung the world He made on nothing. Then, he became a man and stepped into the world He had hung on nothing. Once here, He was ridiculed, hunted down, lied about, and finally crucified by the very people He loved. He rose from the dead, victorious over death and the grave. Today millions worship Him around the world. Church spires reach heavenward on every continent. Jesus did not build His Church on a smooth pathway. He climbed up on the stones and bumps to build it. Remember this, you are no better than your Lord. Do not disdain the obstacles in the path of your journey with God.

To be obedient to God puts you in direct opposition to the devil. To be in the will of God puts you in direct opposition to this world's program of self-interest and self-fulfillment. So, let’s be sure we understand this. Obedience to God will always lead to some obstacles along the path which the world and devil place there to discourage you and trip you up. That is exactly what happened to Nehemiah.

Look at 2 Timothy 3:12 …

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Jesus warned us about this. Look at Luke 10:3 …

He said, "Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."

II. Opportunities in the Path of Obstacles

At times we will be discouraged.

  1. Job said at one point that he wished he had never been born.
  2. Jeremiah once cried out saying that he would never preach another sermon. Of course the message inside him was like a fire in his bones and he could not keep silent. But the mere fact that he wanted to quit tells us something about the danger of trusting one's emotions.
  3. David saw a dove fly from his palace parapet one evening and said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove that I might fly away to yonder wilderness and be alone." He had a desire to fly away from his responsibilities.
  4. Elijah was one of God's choice servants, but he went through a depression and discouragement so deep that he ran away, wished to die, and hid in a cave.

A young woman came home and told her mother that she had met the perfect young man. Her mother laughed at her statement and the girl became angry. Sometime later that girl married that man and six weeks into her marriage she knew exactly why her mother had laughed at her statement.

Listen to me, child of God, no situation is perfect. Even the best of circumstances are fraught with hills to climb and valleys to cross. The Christian servant must be aware of this. What caused the young woman to first think that her suitor was perfect? Immaturity! But time and experience taught her a thing or two.

I have watched many immature Christians expect everything to be perfect in marriage, work or , yes, even in church. Soon they learn that life is not made up of perfection. We live in an imperfect world among imperfect people. Since Adam fell from grace in the Garden of Eden, we have been dealing with the thorns and thistles of this world. But there is some good news for the believer. There is something we can do about the obstacles. There are three things which Nehemiah did that saved the day. Paul did the very same thing in His ministry. Here are three divine principles for overcoming obstacles on your way to see God's will completed in your life, your family, or your church.

A. Pray Victoriously

Note the prayers of Nehemiah in chapters 4, 5 and 6.

Look at Nehemiah 4:4-5. It is dangerous to get in the way of a man who prays like Nehemiah. His prayer is not one of hatred. His prayer is one cemented in the reality that God has ordained a work and it is his job to see it done.

Look at Nehemiah 4:9. When the enemy threatened, Nehemiah prayed again and posted a guard. He knew that a guard alone was not enough. He knew that prayer alone is not enough. He prayed as if everything depended on God and worked as if everything depended on himself. This means that we ask God for direction, protection and help, but we do not shirk our own responsibilities.

Look at Nehemiah 6:9. Nehemiah knew the threats against him and the people of God were real. He does not ask God why these things are happening. He does not complain to God about these things happening. He prays for strong hands to do the work. Friends, a bowed head, a committed heart and willing hands are impossible for the enemy to defeat.

There are other prayers in these 3 chapters, but you should get the point from the ones I have referred to. Nehemiah was making it perfectly clear that he was dependent on God but willing to give all he had to see God's will done.

B. Think Victoriously

Nehemiah prayed right because he thought right. Nehemiah would not accept negative thinking. To overcome the outward and inward enemies, he had to think as well as pray. To overthrow the physical, emotional, and spiritual depression that was setting in, Nehemiah had to think properly and convey those thoughts to others. Friends, your words reveal your heart. Speak positively and you  speak from a positive heart. Speak negatively, and you speak from a negative heart. Nehemiah kept speaking victory!

Look at 4:14. Nehemiah spoke words of victory to a discouraged people. He was looking at the same thing they were seeing, but he saw it differently. Interesting, isn't it? Two people can look at the same situation, while one sees defeat the other sees victory. Leadership demands that you know the will of God, believing that no enemy can defeat you, and that when you are linked with God you are attached to His love, His will, and His power.

Look again at 4:19 and 20. The people were still seeing danger. Nehemiah saw answers and he saw God filling the gap!

Look at 6:3. Nehemiah refused to be sidetracked with anything that could possibly take him away  from God's perfect will. He was thinking with faith and focus. That is the key: Faith and Focus. Focus looks to God and His will; faith holds on to the vision and works faithfully.

C. Act Victoriously

Nehemiah prays right, thinks right and then he does what is right. In chapter 5 we have a perfect example. Some of the people who came out of exile find that the land they used to own has  been taken over by others. Now they find themselves working on a wall for the city, but they are tired and hungry, and they have no home. When Nehemiah hears about this, he steps and makes the leaders correct the situation.

Friends, we must not only pray right and think right, we have to act right as well. We must do the things which lead to victory.

In three weeks we are going to have a great commitment day at The Church That Loves. We are going to make financial commitments to the Arise and Build program. I want to ask you to do three things:

1. Pray Victoriously

2. Think Victoriously

3. Act Victoriously.

Pray and ask God what He would have you do. Think with faith! Then, Act victoriously. Do the right thing. That is what brought victory in Nehemiah's day, and it always has brought victory to the people of God.

Paul shared these same principles in Philippians 4:4-13. From prison he wrote to the Church at Philippi and told them to Pray Right, Think Right and Do Right!

III. Omnipotence in the Path of Opportunity

When God's people accepted the obstacles as part of the opportunity that God had placed before them, God showed up in full power! Look carefully what Nehemiah said about the completion of the wall. Nehemiah 6:15-16 …

"So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God."

The enemies hearts sunk into depressions when they heard that the wall had been completed. The enemies were not defeated because the wall was completed; they were defeated because they perceived that the Lord made it happen. How could the enemy withstand the omnipotence of the Lord? God's power is residing in His will. When a people accept His will and refuse to allow any enemy to stop them in completing it, God will unveil His omnipotence in their presence!

Nehemiah 4:14 records the attitude of Nehemiah. He says, "Remember the Lord."

A. Remember What He Has Promised
B. Remember What He Has Provided

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are engaged in spiritual warfare with unseen wicked forces. To overcome our enemy in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must remain resolute in our confidence in God and determine never to accept defeat.


A story from the Korean War illustrates this attitude. As enemy forces advanced, Baker Company was cut off from the rest of their unit. For several hours no word was heard, even though headquarters repeatedly tried to communicate with the missing troops. Finally, a faint signal was received. Straining to hear, the corpsman asked, "Baker Company, do you read me?"

"This is Baker Company," came the reply. "What is your situation?" asked the corpsman.

"The enemy is to the east of us, the enemy is to the north of us, the enemy is to the west of us, the enemy is to the south of us." Then after a brief pause, the sergeant from Baker Company said with determination, "The enemy is not going to get away from us now!"

Although surrounded and outnumbered, he was thinking of victory, not defeat. That is what we must do, and what we will do, if we pray as we should and act as we should.