Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In your pursuit of God and His plan for your life, don’t be sidetracked by compromise, slander, sin, or the wrong company.

A man who bought a new hunting dog was eager to see how he would perform. So he took the dog out to track a bear. No sooner had they gotten into the woods than the dog picked up the trail. Suddenly, he stopped, sniffed the ground, and headed in a new direction. He had caught the scent of a deer that had crossed the bear’s path. A few moments later he halted again, this time smelling a rabbit that had crossed the path of the deer. And so on and on it went until finally the breathless hunter caught up with his dog, only to find him barking triumphantly down the hole of a field mouse. (Bible Illustrator)

Like that dog, it is easy for us to get sidetracked. We can go chasing off into so many different directions that we miss the important things in life. Please, don’t let that happen to you. In your pursuit of God, don’t be sidetracked by the “rabbit trails” that can lead you away from God. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah 6, where we see the “rabbit trails” that can get us off track like they almost did Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 6:1-2 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. (ESV)

Now, the plain of Ono was 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem, about halfway between their two cities. So Nehemiah’s enemies were suggesting a compromise. “Let’s meet halfway,” they said. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? After all, Why not meet halfway? Why not work out an agreement that’s suitable to both parties and live in peace with each other?

There’s only one problem: Nehemiah smells a rabbit, I mean a rat. They intended to do him harm. After all, why would they want him 25 miles away from Jerusalem, a whole day’s journey? And why would they want him in a place that borders hostile territory? Besides, Nehemiah would waste precious time getting there and back, which would delay completion of the wall. No. Nehemiah is not about to stop work on the wall or risk getting himself killed. So Nehemiah says…

Nehemiah 6:3-4 I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. (ESV)

Nehemiah stayed at the task God had given him to do and refused to be sidetracked by concessions that took him away from his primary mission. Nehemiah refused to compromise with the enemy, and that’s what we need to do. When the enemy comes calling…


Don’t get off on the rabbit trail of making concessions with the enemy. Don’t be diverted from your primary task by conceding with those who don’t share your core values.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting article about the evolution of the ever popular Monopoly game (2015). Early on, the famous board game was designed to provide a warning about the dangers of greed and big business. The initial version, known as the Landlord's Game, was invented in the early 1900s by Elizabeth Magie who wanted to teach players about the evils of monopolies and land ownership.

But over time, as the game spread through word of mouth and as people developed local versions of the game, the focus drifted from that original vision and purpose. Instead, the game started focusing on building (rather than preventing) huge monopolies and bankrupting your opponents. That's the game's version that Charles Darrow, and then later Parker Brothers, turned into the hyper-competitive game that we know today. (Andrew Innes, “Synthesis: What Board Games Can Teach Business,” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2015; www.PreachingToday. com)

A game which started out to warn people of huge monopolies ended up encouraging those very same monopolies. Such drifts happen all the time, and they can happen right here if we’re not careful.

Carey Hall was once a large Baptist church facility in Leicester, England. It was named after William Carey, one of its early and popular pastors, who left Leicester in 1793 to reach the Hindus in Burma and India. A year earlier, William Carey had founded the Baptist Missionary Society, and today is recognized as the father of the modern missionary movement. Through the work of the Baptist Missionary society, Carey started a great wave of foreign missionaries coming first from England and then from the United States.

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