Fighting Through Discouragement

December 8, 2019

David Sorn

Whenever you attempt something great for God, you can absolutely expect discouragement along the way. Learn how to fight through it!

Fighting Through Discouragement

December 8, 2019

David Sorn

Whenever you attempt something great for God, you can absolutely expect discouragement along the way. Learn how to fight through it!

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Nehemiah 4:1-23


You may have heard that “nothing worth fighting for comes easy.”

That’s almost always true.

Think of the Civil Rights movement in America

Or the space race of the 1960’s

Or the fact that Edison failed about 1,000 times before he invented a light bulb that actually worked.

Or the hard work and well-documented failures of Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs…the list goes on.

One of THE main things that all of these people had in common is that they had to FIGHT through Discouragement…before they got to something great.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about how God is moving mightily in this church, and how we’re going to run out of space here in the future.

And thus, so we can continue to reach and disciple people for Christ…. we’re going to build a building on our land on Lexington & 125th in Blaine.

However, as we’ve been working on this process for 5 years, it hasn’t been easy.

It’s had its own ups and downs and discouragements along the way.

Like the exponential rise of construction costs we were hit with in the last 12 months.

So the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about how in order to secure our loan to start construction in March (just 3.5 months from now), we need to raise $210,000 in pledges over the next 15 months.

From people making first time pledges for 15 months

Or from those of you who have already pledged, extending your pledge for 3 months

And this is in above and beyond what people may already be giving to the General Fund

In other words, we don’t want anyone taking away from their General Fund giving…or we can’t pay the rent here next week…

And…Today is our Commitment Sunday.

Toward the end of this service, we’ll be asking you all to hand in your Commitment Cards for Harvest

If you haven’t filled yours out already or if you never received one, there is one under your chair if you’d like to take a look at it…or fill it out if you already know what you’re going to do.

As we are talking about building for God, we’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah in the Bible, as Nehemiah also built something for God

(Page 385)

(Renovation App)

The story of Nehemiah takes place about 400 years or so before Jesus.

Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the King of Persia, but when he finds out that the city of Jerusalem is in a sad state, and the walls are still knocked down…

Nehemiah cries tears for his city, but the Gracious hand of God is upon Him, and the King lets him go back to rebuild the wall.

Everyone in Jerusalem comes together and they begin rebuilding the wall.

And everyone is very encouraged…until…people begin to discourage them…which, happens in chapter 4, here we go!


(Nehemiah 4:1-3) – NIV

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 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?”

3 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!”

The building has begun, but so has the criticism.

Sanballat and Tobiah, who are both leaders of some of the surrounding regions, begin to ridicule the work.

And their discouragements, right at the beginning of this project, are not unlike many of the discouragements we all face when we try and do great things for God.

In fact, I encourage you to take notes today…because there are a lot of parallels

The first 2 discouragements come from Sanballat…

He says that the Jews could never rebuild because they’re feeble…too weak.


You’re too feeble!

“You’re too feeble…you’ll give up…you’ll never stick with it”

It’s easy to give up when the project feels daunting in size and in duration.

This project for our church felt absolutely daunting 5 years ago, when we said, “We’re going to raise money for land (somewhere?!), and then buy it, and then raise money for a building, and then build it…SIX YEARS from now.

That was a big vision.

And we all know entrepreneurs, businesses, even churches, that have a big idea for far into the future…but lose the strength to carry it all the way through…and they don’t stick to their vision.

But God kept us focused.


You’re too feeble!

The work is too hard for you

Where the first discouragement may be about their inability to stick with it, this 2nd discouragement is saying, “You don’t even have the ability to pull something like this off!”

When we announced this project in October 2014, we were only averaging 265 people at the time.

The idea of building a building with almost 500 seats…for 1,000 people at 2 services…seemed a little big.

Plus our average age back then was only about 29 or 30.

There were a few eyebrows raised…like, “really, can we do something this large?”

We’ve raised money a number of times over the last 5 years, and 100% of the time, we’ve hit our goal.

Which is the gracious hand of God.

But none of the results have blown me away more than first one…in 2014, when we raised money for land.

Precisely because, even I was thinking, “yeah, but maybe this is too hard for us”

And in all honesty, it probably was, but it wasn’t too hard for God!


You’re too feeble!

The work is too hard for you

Your work won’t be good enough

In the 3rd discouragement, Tobiah gets in on the criticism and says, “Even if a fox walked on your wall, your work is so poor, that the wall would crumble!”

This is how discouragement works…it lies.

In fact, archeology has revealed that Nehemiah’s walls were NINE feet THICK!

No fox (or 100 foxes for that matter) are going to knock that wall over!

But when you let discouragement in, it takes you away from logic, and also from God wants to do in you!

And I wanted to put these on the screen, not just to talk of our own situation, but to the many of you out here that are attempting great things for God in your own life.

As I know many of you are.

There are people in this church that are starting non-profits, and outreach ministries to students, finding ways to feed the homeless…

And I want to tell you, the amazing risk-takers and faith-leapers of our church, that the enemy will try and discourage you with these same things!

He’ll say:

“You’re too feeble for this! You’ll give up!”

“The work is too hard for you!”

“Besides, your work won’t even be good enough!”

And I believe the Word of God gives us answers for what to do when we’re discouraged.

The first thing Nehemiah is going to do (in the next few verses) is pray.

When discouragements come, we HAVE to turn to God in prayer, or the discouragements will overwhelm us!


You’re too feeble!

The work is too hard for you

Your work won’t be good enough


Turn to God in prayer!

Otherwise the discouraging voices will drown out his voice calling you forward!

So here’s Nehemiah’s prayer…and he prays with a passion to drown out discouragement that is a bit scary to us as modern people J

(Nehemiah 4:4-6) – NIV

4 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. 5 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.

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


So the people begin to work again (with all of their heart, we’re told).

And now the wall has reached half of its height.

But you’ll see, that one of THE main themes of this chapter is the cycle of discouragement, deepening of faith, discouragement, deepen your faith, discouragement, deepen your faith.

By the way, if you want to do something great for God, that’s what it’s going to look like!

So they build with all of their heart again, and then this happens:

(Nehemiah 4:7-9) – NIV

7 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. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

So just after we’re told that they were encouraged in prayer, and worked with all their heart…now we’re back to discouragement again in verses 7-8

Look at verse 7:

Sanballat is from the North in Samaria, the Ammonites are in the East, the Arabs are in the South, and the Ashdodites are from the West.

There are enemies on literally every side of them saying, “We are going to stop you!!”

Right back to discouragement.

But once again, Nehemiah has an answer for them.

Look at verse 9.

It says that they “pray…and post a guard”

This balance of spiritual and practical is so essential in Nehemiah’s whole project.

And this is another key to responding to discouragement


You’re too feeble!

The work is too hard for you

Your work won’t be good enough


Turn to God in prayer!

Get earthly help too!

When you’re trying to do something great, but you get discouraged, you need people, friends, standing guard with you…supporting you!


And as they pray and post a guard…they begin to feel encouraged again in verse 9.

And that lasts all the way from verse 9 until verse…10. J

I really want you to see this theme in this chapter.

If you’re trying to do something significant, you have to expect this cycle of discouragement and encouragement.

Watch how the discouragement really builds even though they are already HALFWAY through!

(Nehemiah 5:10-12) – NIV

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.”

Just when they were feeling encouraged again…BAM…major discouragement.

And at the halfway point, it’s a different kind of than it was at the beginning.

And again, if you’re trying to do something significant for God…this will happen to you.

Actually, the halfway point is a really common place for discouragement to happen

At the halfway point, you’ve done enough work to be really tired, yet there’s still enough work to do…that you can feel like you’ll never finish.

The 2 discouragements of verse 10 are often a combo-punch-of-discouragement when you’re halfway through…

I’ll even put them up together


Our strength is giving out

There’s still too much to do

I think about this sometimes as I think of our own 6-year process towards this building.

It’s exhausting.

At one of the Q&A’s this week, someone asked me, “What are you going to do when you get into the building?”

And I said, “Take a nap”

This has been a lot of work, for a lot of people.

And there’s still more to do!

There’s still more to do financially.

That’s why we’re here today.

And it can feel overwhelming at times.

Like, here we are again…talking about more money.

We’ve been doing this since 2014.

Yep, we have.

But don’t get discouraged.

Don’t give up now or check out now.

We’re not 6 years away anymore.

We’re just 3.5 months away from putting a shovel in the ground.

God is going to do this.

Keep the faith.

I’ve been joking with you all for a year or two now, that I’ve been so looking forward to breaking ground on that land, that I’m going to buy myself a golden shovel.

Well two weeks ago, a woman in our church handed me…a golden shovel. (SHOW THE GOLDEN SHOVEL)

With a note, and here’s what she wrote in the note:

“I actually purchased (this shovel) a while back…on the Sunday that we were all invited to spend a month in prayer for the appraisal. I purchased it with confidence (faith)that God would continue to provide. We believe that God is moving in Renovation Church, and that He will continue to move!”

And I love that.

And to me, this is a symbol.

It’s a symbol of faith.

Faith that we believe that the Gracious Hand of God is on this project.

Through all of the ups and downs…and even the discouragements.

I don’t know, with exact certainty, what will happen today when our financial folks count these pledges.

Will we hit $210,000?

I can’t tell you with certainty.

But in my spirit…I KNOW that God is going to get us there…to this building…somehow or someway.

He’s been moving for 5 years, and no amount of discouragement will stop that.

I trust in His gracious hand.

In fact, we should be encouraged, even if our enemy satan, tells us otherwise


Our strength is giving out

There’s still too much to do

Attacks from the enemy

And there’s major discouragement for the Jews in verses 11-12

It’s not just that there’s SO much more work to do, it’s that rumors are flying that the enemy is going to surround them, attack them, and kill them.

And I want you to know, that as you do great things for God….and even as you simply join with us in this project…the enemy may attack you.

He may discourage you…even in your pledge.

You may get halfway through these next 15 months, and life may get hard.

Maybe you have a job change

Maybe your health becomes difficult

None of us truly know what our finances will look like a year from now.

In a sense, pledging is the easy part…

But commitment…sticking with it…even as the enemy discourages us…

That’s the hard part.

Let’s keep reading

(Nehemiah 4:13-18a) – NIV

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.”

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.

And the chapter concludes with Nehemiah saying that they carried their weapons with them, everywhere they went.

I have always loved the imagery of this passage.

Picture it.

Half the people are working on building the wall…while wearing a sword

And the other half of the people are carrying the stones with one hand, and the sword in the other.

I love that image.

This is how we battle.

This is how we keep going…even when we feel discouraged.

We keep going, we keep building the Kingdom of God with one hand.

And we fight the enemy of discouragement with the other.

And in Scripture…we fight with…PRAYER…and the Word of God (this is actually a major theme in the second half of the book of Nehemiah)


Our strength is giving out

There’s still too much to do

Attacks from the enemy


1. With the Word of God

When the enemy is telling you that you’ll never finish the work…

Don’t just saturate your ears in “the lies of discouragement”…go to the Word of God for truth.

You have to fill your Mind with God’s Word!

Or discouragement will drown you

There’s also another important way to respond to discouragement halfway through:

We can see this in what Nehemiah says verse 14:

(Nehemiah 4:14b) – NIV

“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.”

We fight for the people around us.


Our strength is giving out

There’s still too much to do

Attacks from the enemy


1. With the Word of God

2. By remembering what you’re fighting for!

When you get halfway through…and you’re tired, and discouraged, and your eyes are looking down…

…you can become liable to forgetting what, and who you started this for in the first place.

This week, I got pretty tired.

I went to all 9 of our House Groups in 5 days.

And as I got about halfway through, and was feeling worn out…

I looked out at one of our groups, and I noticed a number of faces, shining with joy (even more than usual) at what we were talking about.

And then it hit me…that person I’m looking at…came to Christ at our church!

And I looked over at another…and that person!

And that person!

In fact, at that particular house group, there were SEVEN people sitting in those rows …who had accepted Christ at our church just in the past several years.

And for them, this is real.

This is soooo much more than numbers.

This is fighting for your families, for your sons, daughters…and neighbors!

We say here often, that we will sacrifice for this, because we’re not talking about numbers, but real people.

The other day on social media, I saw one of the many people who accepted Christ at our church post a picture of our Harvest booklet.

I was intrigued, so I immediately read her post.

She had taken a picture of the page that says “More Chairs = More Changed Lives”

And here’s what she wrote:

“I am grateful for a chair. Let me explain. On September 13, 2015, I walked into an ordinary elementary school in Blaine MN and had my life changed for eternity. On that particular morning the school was transformed into a church, just as it had been for many Sundays prior and would be for many more to come. Because there was a chair waiting for me, I was able to be present for the day that I became ALIVE. You see that was the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Now Renovation Church is running out of chairs. I want you to pause and think about what that means. To me it means life and death.”

Real people, real lives changed.

I don’t care how hard this is…

I don’t care what kind of discouragement the enemy throws at us…

We need to this.

We are going to do this!

I would even say, “We HAVE to do this…now”

I got asked this week at one of the Q&A’s…”What would we do if we were $50,000 short of the $210,000?”

And I said, “We’d have to delay the project by at least a year.

But the trouble would be, inflation would continue, and in the next 12 months, the whole project would just get $150,000 more expensive.

So if we don’t do this now, instead of being just $50,000 short, we’ll actually be $200,000 short by next year.

We need to do this now.

And God can do it through us…if we let Him!

It’s worth it


(Put up Commitment Sunday slide)

And so…we come to the time where we will make our pledges, our commitments for the Harvest Project

Under your chair right now, is a Commitment Card, would you go ahead and pick that up.

Let me mention a few details on it:

What you are doing here is essentially making a pledge of what you intend to give

You’re not actually giving right now…and there’s no need to write checks or anything of that sort.

And this is a declaration of your intentions.

It’s not a legal contract…

It’s a pledge.

There are 3 sections to the card.

If you’re turning one in today, everyone needs to fill out the 1st section with your information.

The 2nd section is for those of you who are making a Harvest Pledge for the first time…for 15 months.

OR, it could also be for those of you that have already pledged but you simply want to up your pledge for the remaining 15 months.

I’m so in awe of this, but there were a number of you that talked to me this week as I visited groups and said you were going to do that.

If so, put in what your giving will be (in that 2nd section) for those 15 months…and we’ll figure out the difference.

If you fill out the 2nd section, you don’t need to fill out the 3rd section.

The 3rd section is only for those of you that have already pledged in the past, and you will simply be extending your pledge for those 3 extra months (Dec. 2020, Jan 21, and Feb 21)

If that’s you, you don’t need to fill out the 2nd section at all…just this 3rd section

I know there are also some of you who have said, “Hey, for those final 3 months, we’re going to do even more than we have been doing up until then”

If you are increasing the amount you’re giving for those final 3 months …

…again, just put in the new amount, and we’ll figure out the difference.

I know that many of you will want to know what the total number is today.

However, we know that many of our people who weren’t able to make it here today are still mailing their card in or pledging online or through or app.

And we want to give people some time, especially with Christmas coming and end-of-the-year-giving.

So, we will be announcing the total on January 5th, which we are calling “Celebration Sunday”

(Put up Celebration Sunday Slide)

We’re going to celebrate God’s hand…no matter what happens!

At this point, I’m going to call the band back on stage to lead us in worship.

And we’re actually going to do something we don’t do a whole lot, but I think it’s important we do this.

What you’re doing this morning…is not just making a pledge.

This is an important act of worship.

So what we would like you to do is this:

Anytime during this last song, I want you to get up, and take your commitment card and bring it to the front.

You can then place it in the basket on one of the stools.

This isn’t just a pledge.

You’re offering this to God.

Saying, “God, I’m going to sacrifice for you…for your people…for the lost”

I know SO many of you in this room are making amazing sacrifices for this…

And I want you to know that this is a powerful act of worship.

So at any time during this last song, get up and bring your commitment card to the front.

If you’re married, or your family is in here…do it together as a family.

If you’d like, or you want, you can even pray together first before you bring it up.

And let me just say, as the leader of this church, on behalf of all our leaders…we are so grateful for you.

We are nothing without you.

Together, we are Renovation Church.

And someday…(even if it’s not until you’re in heaven) someday…someone will put their arms around you…and thank you for what you did for them.

Let me pray…and then let’s worship.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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