Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 6
How to Handle Hindrances
Vance Havner once wrote Any housewife knows that the best way to remember the things she meant to do and forgot is to start praying. They will come to her mind to divert her from prayer.
I’m not a housewife, but I know that happens to me all the time. Almost every time I try to pray, my mind starts ticking off all the other things I need to be doing. The phone rings, the dog barks, somebody knocks on the door. Have you ever noticed that every time you try to do anything for the Lord, something tries to hinder you? It may be anger, or fear, or worry that hinders your service to the Lord, but It happens too regular to be accidental. I suggest to you that whether we know or not, those hindrances can be traced back to our old enemy, the devil. How do you handle these hindrances? How do you keep doing what you know the Lord wants you to do when the devil tries to distract you? This is what I want us to talk about tonight as we look at how a man named Nehemiah handled some hindrances the devil sent his way.
Nehemiah gives us 5 keys to handling hindrances when you’re trying to serve the Lord:
1. Don’t get involved in negotiation. (v.1-4)
One of the devil’s greatest strategies to hinder us from serving the Lord is negotiation. He negotiated with Eve.
I recently read the legend of a guitar player named Robert Johnson. He was a common laborer back during the 1930s who wanted to be a musician, but every time he played he was booed off stage. Johnson became a drifter, jumping trains to ride from town to town. Legend says that years later he came back home, got up to play the guitar, and shocked everybody by his amazing guitar playing. The story was that out on a dark, lonely night at a Mississippi crossroads, he met the devil, and offered his soul in exchange for the talent of playing guitar like nobody else.
You’ve probably read some of those stories about people who make a deal with the devil, and who usually end up with the short end of the stick. There are even some of those in the Bible.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Eve, let’s get together and think about this logically. Let’s talk it out: do you really think God is looking out for your best interests here? By the time the devil finishes his negotiations with Adam and Eve, they’ve lost it all.
In this chapter, Nehemiah is a man who is dedicated to serving the Lord, but the devil sends some of his servants to try and bring Nehemiah to the negotiating table.
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were all enemies of Israel, who were bent on finding anyway they could to hinder the work of God. Here they invite Nehemiah to sit down and talk with them at a small town called Ono. But Nehemiah knows that he will never get ahead by negotiating with these sly scoundrels. Four times they ask for a meeting; four times Nehemiah replies the same way: I’m too busy to come out and play with you guys. I’ve got more important things to do!
The devil loves to call you up and spend time talking. He wants to keep you on the line so he can subtly hinder you by planting seeds of doubt or discouragement in your mind and heart. He’s like a diabolical telemarketer. The longer he can keep you on the line, the better chance he can get to hinder you from faithfully serving the Lord.
You know the best way to stop this strategy? Give him a busy signal. Don’t answer when he calls. Ignore his temptations, and instead fill your mind and heart with the word of the Lord. There are times when you and I must stand strong in the Lord against the devil, but there are other times when the best strategy is to turn a deaf ear. Refuse to listen or entertain thoughts that hinder your relationship with Christ.
Martin Luther once said, Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.
Don’t ever allow yourself to begin to negotiate right and wrong with the devil, or it will always end up costing you everything. But here’s another key to handling hindrances:
2. Don’t give in to intimidation. (v. 5-9)