Summary: Don’t be distracted, practice ’planned neglect’ and give priority to God. Don’t be worried about reputation, watch your character. Don’t fear men, fear God and do His will.
Let’s read Neh 6:1-16
The devil is relentless when it comes to the destroying God’s work.
• Remember this, he never gives up. After one great event or a successful ministry, don’t let your guard down. It is not the end.
• We need to be as watchful after the victory as before the battle. For after one hurdle, we can expect to see another. After solving one problem, we will find another coming up. The fight goes on.
First it was ridicule, then come threats of violence, and then internal strife and now in Chapter 6, the enemy moved up a notch.
• At first they were coming against the work, and then against the people. Next the evil One caused strife within the wall, between the rich and poor.
• And now he is going to come at Nehemiah personally. You hit the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. You destroy the leader and the ministry collapse.
The Christian life is a battle from beginning to end. We need to be on our guard all the time, to watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptation.
• The devil tempted Jesus right at the beginning of His ministry. Luke 4:13 says “when the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” It is not the end; he is just waiting to strike again, another time.
The enemies did not give up. (1) They tried to DISTRACT him.
• …And lure him away from the work, which was almost completed, except for the doors in the gates.
• They say, “Let’s talk and work something out. Let’s meet at the plain of Ono” which is 30-40km away from Jerusalem.
• Four times they dangled the bait before his eyes, but each time Nehemiah refused to give in. He knew it was a scheme to harm him.
Nehemiah chose to keep to God’s agenda for him.
• He says in verse 3: “I am carrying on a great project, and I cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” I am doing a great work that should not be stopped!
• If we have such a conviction, we would be able stick with what God wants us to do, no matter what.
It’s a challenge to keep to God’s agenda; we are confronted by many distractions.
Distractions will come, disguised as harmless options or even good things.
• We will be tempted to go along with what everyone else is doing, rather than what God wants us to do.
• Even a simple thing like turning the computer on and checking emails can become a distraction. Even reading Facebook can become an addiction. Or playing with the iPhone.
In her book, “A Practical Guide to Prayer,” Dorothy Haskins shares a tip that she learnt, from a noted concert violinist, about the secret of her mastery of the instrument.
This is what she said, “There are many things that used to demand my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished my work, I turned to my violin practice. That system prevented me from accomplishing what I should on the violin. So I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. And that program of planned neglect is the secret to my success.”
Haskins says we need to prioritize and do what is important. We need ‘planned neglect’. Learn to drop that which is not important. To know where our priorities are and stick with them.
• Nehemiah ignored what these people were suggesting. It was deliberate.
• If we don’t practice some “planned neglect” of some things, even good things, we will be distracted from God’s best.
Remember, God has called us to a great task! It is worth all our time and energy!
There was a missionary in China whose talents and abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them that God had sent him to China as a missionary.
He thought that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down too, but again they came back, doubling the financial package.
Finally he said to them, “It’s not your salary that’s too little. It’s the job that’s too small!”
We have all been called to a great task – one that we want to prioritize.
• God can make a difference in our world THROUGH us IF we stick to God’s calling and His purpose for our lives.