Summary: We must have courage to keep steady.
Th: Brave Hearts
Pr: WE MUST HAVE COURAGE TO KEEP STEADY.
?: What will keep us from doing so?
TS: We will find in our study of Nehemiah 6:1-19 four
distractions that keep us from completing our holy ambition.
The _____ distraction is…
I. INSINCERITY (1-4)
II. INACCURACY (5-9)
III. INTIMIDATION (10-14)
IV. INFILTRATION (17-19)
RMBC 23 Feb 03 AM
Do you ever get distracted?
Master Sergeant Patrick Hathaway’s squad leader decided to try to break the base record of 424 push-ups. With their Physical-Training Instructor standing over him, he knocked out 100 quick ones before he settled into a steady rhythm. We were sure he’d break the record, but at 390 he paused at the top and began to shake his head from side to side before slowly continuing. After finishing his 402nd push-up, he paused again, shook his head, coughed, then collapsed. As we walked back to our barracks, our instructor cracked a rare smile. “You gotta give that guy credit,” he said. “If he had just been able to shake that wasp away from his face instead of inhaling it, he’d have broken the record for sure.”
Today, our subject is distractions.
Let’s first remember our…
1. Context: God has called on Nehemiah to make a difference.
When Nehemiah was confronted with the conditions in Jerusalem, he understood that God was calling on him to bring the necessary change.
Courageously, he asks the king permission to go to Jerusalem to build the wall, knowing that to do so was also asking the king to change his former edict of keeping the walls down.
Because of his good standing with the king, his request was granted and Nehemiah made the two-month 1000-mile journey.
The building of the wall did begin, but it has not been easy.
2. When God gives us a holy ambition, we will encounter interference from without and within.
God has given Nehemiah a holy task and a holy desire to accomplish something great for Him.
But with this holy ambition has come hostility.
The surrounding governors, officials and businessmen have been determined to stop him.
Unsuccessfully, they have sought to instill fear in the people and in Nehemiah, but ultimately it has proved unfruitful.
What has also interfered, though, is sin inside the city walls.
Nehemiah discovers that the rich were oppressing the poor.
Because it was obvious that Nehemiah was not in this project for personal gain, the leaders backed down and confessed their sin.
Nehemiah has already demonstrated to us the importance of keeping one’s focus.
In keeping with this theme, we will give consideration of how one keeps that focus.
How does the leader keep a steady hand?
3. We will find in our study of Nehemiah 6:1-19 four distractions that keep us from completing our holy ambition.
I. The first distraction is INSINCERITY (1-4).
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. And 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.
1. We must be discerning about those that suddenly act like friends.
We see that Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem have changed tactics.
Now that the wall is almost finished, they have resorted to friendliness and persuasion.
Though we are not told directly, it could be they said things like…
“Come and meet us, so we can celebrate together.”
“Let’s meet together to discuss subjects that will be of profit to us all.”
Nehemiah sees it, though, for what it is.
They were trying to lure him away from Jerusalem.
They were attempting to get him away from his colleagues and closer to enemy territory.
But you have to admire him.
He says, “Oh, no!” to Ono.
And he explains why he will not come.
“I am doing a great work!”
“I have a great calling!”
“God has given me this project.”
Nehemiah keeps his focus and remembers his priorities.
2. We need to understand that to come down is a step down.
ILL Notebook: Calling (missionary in China)
In the first half of the 20th century, there was a missionary in China who did a great job as a linguist and a diplomat in his work for the Lord. His abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies in China tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned them down. He told them that God had sent him to China as a missionary and that was what he was going to do. 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 salary that had originally been proposed. Finally he said to them, “It is not your salary that is too little. It’s the job that’s too small!”