When some people face obstacles or discouragement, they become quitters. God wants us to be over comers.

Ezra 4:1-2 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord…they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

The people of Samaria were brought from many places by the king of Assyria. When lions killed some, they said it was because the people didn’t fear the God of the land. The king sent a priest of the Jews back to teach the people about God, but they continued to serve their own gods. They said they feared God but they served their idols.

II Kings 17:24-34…king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria…at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions…they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. …king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them…dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God…Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria …dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places…men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech…So they feared the Lord, and made…lowest of them priests…which sacrificed for them in …high places. They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day…they fear not the Lord, neither do…the law and commandment which the Lord commanded…

These people said they wanted to help build the house of God, but the Jews said they couldn’t because they didn’t have anything to do with them. They weren’t serving God. People who aren’t saved (sinners) can’t build the Church of God.

Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief…of Israel, said…Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord…as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Throughout history the devil has tried to infiltrate (become a part to influence and cause harm) and change the Church of God by worldliness and false teachings. You can’t leave yourself open to false doctrine or it will infiltrate you. In the 1960’s there was a preacher of the Church of God that decided to study with someone from the Church of Christ. He thought he could teach him the truth to bring him the Church of God. He was deceived to believe in one cleansing work of grace, which is contrary to scripture. In Acts 19:1-7 some who were saved (cleansed of committed sin) hadn’t heard of the Holy Ghost (sanctifies and cleanses the nature to sin), but gladly received him when Paul prayed for them. It was a second definite work.

A Samaritan woman met Jesus at a well and couldn’t figure out why he’d ask her for a drink. Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. They were polluted by idol worship. Jesus said he could give her living water and he was the Messiah.

John 4:9-26 Then saith the woman…How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? …Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered…If thou knewest the gift of God, and who…saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water…Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith…give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith…call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered…I have no husband. Jesus said…Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband…The woman saith…I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith…Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But…now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…God is a Spirit…woman saith…I know that Messias cometh…called Christ, when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith…I that speak unto thee am he.

The woman went and told others that Jesus told her everything she’d done and they went to see Jesus. If Jesus hadn’t stopped at the well, the woman and others wouldn’t have been saved. Jesus knew she was going to be there.

John 4:29-30 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they…came unto him.

Satan has power, signs, and lying wonders to deceive those who won’t accept or love the truth. If a person is deceived, they believe a lie and don’t know it. Some people think you can serve God any way you want as long as you’re sincere and they can’t backslide. This isn’t true according to God’s word. The truth is vitally important. We need to be sure we don’t believe lies.

II Thessalonians 2:9-11 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

The people of the land troubled the Jews by stealing their supplies and discouraging them.

Ezra 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,

Discouragement makes us feel without strength or courage to face the trial or difficulty. Everyone gets discouraged but God will make a way of escape (I Corinthians 10:13) in the temptation so we can bear it. Discouragement is a recurring event but it is also a choice, whether we’ll believe in God’s promise to help or not. Discouragement is highly contagious.

Deuteronomy 1:27-32 And ye murmured…Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled…moreover we have seen…Anakims there. Then I said…Dread not, neither be afraid…The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt…bare thee, as a man…his son…until ye came into this place. Yet…ye did not believe the Lord…

It’s our responsibility to encourage the discouraged. If you stay discouraged, it leads to compromise. You stop looking to Jesus and start looking other ways. A discouraged person faints in their mind and starts withdrawing by staying home, then quits because they think it’s too hard to serve God. One of the best ways to overcome discouragement is to find someone who needs help (getting out of yourself). Haggai told the people to go get wood to build the church. God encouraged them when they did. The real reason we’re discouraged is unmet expectations – we didn’t get what we wanted. C.W. Naylor was paralyzed by an accident and wanted to be healed. God’s plan was to inspire him to write encouraging songs, like “God’s Way Is Best.”

A letter from the Jews’ enemies to king in the beginning of Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus, Esther’s husband) reign stopped the work.

Ezra 4:6-7 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes…the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.

After Haggai encouraged the Jews to build again, they had confidence when asked who told them to build the temple.

Ezra 5:3-11 At the same time…Tatnai, governor…Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said…Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?…But the eye of their God was upon…the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius…They sent a letter…thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. Be it known…we went into…Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded…this work goeth fast…Then asked…Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?…they returned…We are the servants of the God of heaven…and build the house…

The king ordered their enemies to let the Jews build and that the governor’s money be given for building the temple.

Ezra 6:7-8 Let the work of this house of God alone…of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given…not hindered.

The king asked the Jews to pray for the his life and his sons.

Ezra 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices…unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Encouraged by Haggai, the Jews were confident to build the temple in 4 years and finished the wall in 51 days.

Ezra 6:14-15…the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah… And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God…according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. And this house was finished…in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

 

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)