Summary: Nehemiah, we discover the power of determination in finishing what God begins in our lives… - As we saw in previous weeks, Nehemiah… unfinished walls… a parallel to our lives… Opposition… discourage the people… Opposition… pressures… Anyone Here feel pre
Intro: Determination is the single greatest attribute of success.
- 3 doctors who studied 6,000 marriages and 3,000 divorces and concluded “There may be nothing more important in marriage than determination” (Parrots p.49)
- Not to say determination on one partner’s part can save a marriage, but that determination is the key factor behind each and every necessary step forward.
- Determination in every area of life… leads to a great finish.
- Father explains to son ‘he couldn’t quit school. He tells him, “You remember Abraham Lincoln… General McArthur… Babe Ruth… Elmo McCringle…’ ‘Who’s Elmo McCringle?’ asks the son. The father said, That’s because Elmo quit’
- Proverbs 24:16 ‘A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.’
Nehemiah, we discover the power of determination in finishing what God begins in our lives…
- As we saw in previous weeks, Nehemiah… unfinished walls… a parallel to our lives… Opposition… discourage the people… Opposition… pressures… Anyone Here feel pressures? Challenges?
- Nehemiah reveals what’s involved in pressing on in the midst of pressure.
- Whatever God has begun in your life, you can finish…
- Part of the challenge lies in standing up to spiritual deception.
- That’s what Nehemiah faced. One round of opposition failed… walls going up… only gates remained… Enemy is more desperate and deliberate
1. DANGEROUS DISTRACTIONS
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates—Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:1-4)
- We find here a danger in the form of a distraction for their little get away was at least a days journey away from this Great and Godly calling.
Now, the word together suggests the idea of a compatible visit. The plain of Ono was located about twenty miles north of Jerusalem, and it was a beautiful, verdant valley. Sanballat and Geshem were saying, “You need to get away for a while. You’ve been laying bricks too long, Nehemiah. We’ve had our spats, a few little disagreements, but let’s get together. Come on up to Ono.” Nehemiah said, “Oh no!” to Ono. “I’m not coming up there. Not on your life.” Why Nehemiah’s negative response? “…they were planning to harm me” (v. 2). How did he know? I can’t explain how any leader in God’s marvelous family is gifted with a sixth sense from above. He gets to the edge of danger and something inside says, “I don’t dare get into that; there’s something wrong.” That doesn’t mean we should live the life of an isolationist; it does mean we should live a life of discernment. Discernment is a God-given quality a leader must possess. Discernment allows you to read between the lines. In this invitation, Nehemiah sensed trouble. He probably said to himself, “If I get up there in that place, I might be kidnapped. I could be murdered. I know for sure that as soon as I leave, the work here will suffer.” So what did he do?
HOLY SPIRIT can provide the discernment and direction we need to overcome dangerous distractions. I recall that just when I was faced with the challenges of navigating through a hard season of potentially leading this church… I got a call to consider a church in Santa Cruz… the very place I’d fallen in love with… and would run off to on vacations. Perhaps a fine call… but it wasn’t God’s call… or God’s best for me.
I think it is important to realize that the dangerous distractions of our lives are not always what we might think of…
- For instance… often think of earthly pleasures, but these aren’t dangerous in themselves
o The question is, do they compliment or compete for the greater good that God has called you to?
o One can enjoy golf… skiing… music… movies… and find no competition from allegiance/devotion… but another person may find they are a diversion, distraction, or obsession.
- In a similar way, we often think of our relationships with unrighteous people; but I think there’s a difference between unrighteous and undermining
o Many perceive our enemies as those who practice sins such as abortion or homosexuality. While I find the practice painfully wrong and destructive, no such relationship has led me away from Jesus.