“Finishing Strong”
By Pastor Andrew Malak

Nehemiah 6:15-19 HCSB

The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.

When we walk through life, we want to finish strong. It's not as important how we start but how we finish. We've all been designed to do something that's world changing. We are destined to accomplish these things, and we will, as long as we don't quit and we keep going.

In Nehemiah 13:4-5, we see that the Israelites were doing a good work, but on the inside there was turmoil. God didn't just want them to rebuild the wall; he wanted to reestablish his people.  

Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil prescribed for the Levites, musicians and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests. (Nehemiah 13:4-5)

1) To finish strong it starts with the heart.

In Nehemiah 13:4-5 the Israelites gave their enemy space in the temple, in the heart of the city. We create space in our heart for fear, doubt, and insecurity because we've gotten to a point where it's easier to let them stay and just create space for them than to keep fighting. We create room for things that we don't even want in our heart, and it starts to crumble everything we're building for God. What God wants to do through us requires a heart that's fully sold out for him.

2) What starts in the heart leads to your choices.

Nehemiah dealt with three different things the Israelites were doing because of allowing their enemy, Tobiah, into the temple, the heart of their city.

First, they stopped investing in the thing that got them there. To build a wall in 52 days, they were giving of their time, their finances, and their talents. So often we stop investing when we think things aren't getting better in our lives. We stop investing in the place that got us to where we are now. Sometimes, when things in our life seem to be going well, we stop going to church. If you get the promotion, but you stop doing the things that got you the promotion, then you will fail.

Secondly, they began to compromise. For example, they stopped honoring the Sabbath. We start to compromise on the things that we know God called us to do. Little compromises end up becoming big compromises. God has called us to do the things he's called us to do because he has our best interests at heart.

Third, they started to chase things that were never meant for them. When something's broken in our hearts, we think someone else's journey will fix what's broken inside. We were never meant to finish someone else's race, only our own. If we have the enemy in our heart, we will only find momentary satisfaction in things we were never meant to chase.

3) It starts with your heart, leads to your choices and determines your finish. Sometimes we get stuck because it's too painful to deal with what's in our heart. We settle in a place of brokenness or hurt because we don't want to go through pain again. If we want to finish strong, we can't ignore what's in our heart.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Israel may have given their heart to their enemy, but it didn't stop Jesus from loving them. Grace is not about covering up the broken places, but about healing them. Jesus wants to replace your anxiety with his peace, your hurt with his joy. Let’s allow Jesus to heal the broken places in our heart, kick out the enemy and bring his presence and his goodness into our hearts and into our lives. When we kick the enemy out of our hearts and replace those spaces with good things, then we become empowered to do what God has called us to do and to finish strong.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. What have you allowed space for in your heart?

  2. What areas do you see compromises or a cease to invest in certain parts of your life?

  3. What direction is your heart leading you in, as evidenced by your choices?

  4. Can you identify any broken places in your heart where you have allowed the enemy to take residence?

  5. What do you need to remove from your heart, and what do you want to replace it with?