Do Not Be Distracted
Nehemiah is a book on principles of leadership. Let us look at this leader in the kingdom of God and how he knew and understood that he could not come of this wall that God has called him to be on. He could not be removed from the work that God called him to because then the work that God had called him to would stop. People knew that if they could stop him, they would stop God’s work.
Nehemiah was a cup bearer for the King at that time in a foreign city and when he found out that the walls of Jerusalem were all destroyed, this burdened Nehemiah because he was Jewish. He got this report that the walls in Jerusalem were ruined. He knew that something had to be done. And he felt that this was what God wanted him to restore. And those stones were made into a wall in just 52 days.
Nehemiah identified the problem and he spent time in prayer. If God is going to call you to something big, you need to first spend time in prayer. He got key leaders on board, because you are not a leader unless you have followers. He meets with people to cast a vision for what was going to happen. And then he gets organized and he gets after that what God is calling him to do in chapters 1 – 5.
Do you know that leaders often face conflict? In chapter 5 Nehemiah had some internal conflict. Sometimes the people closest to you can cause conflict. And in Nehemiah 6 there is external conflict. Nehemiah had it all. And we can see when we read chapter 6, how we can stay grounded in doing what God has called us to do, while people are trying to get us away from God’s task for us.
Do you know that God has a great work for you and wants to use you? God wants to use you in the same way as Nehemiah. We have to understand that when we read Nehemiah. Before we read, we have to remember from the first 5 chapters that 1. God has a big task for you. In Nehemiah 6: 3, it says that He has an important work to do. Do you know that the God of the universe desires to work through you?
In Scripture, Christianity is the only religion where God desires to work through His people to accomplish His mission. He just doesn’t say, I’m going to make this happen and I’m going to make that happen. No. God uses His people to accomplish His mission. The disciples that Jesus chose were rejects, they were uneducated fishermen, and they were Galileans who were considered inferior.
So, no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter where you think you are headed, God has a big task for you. And God will supply you with all the needs to will have to be successful in doing what God has planned for you. He wants to work in your life and through your life to advance the kingdom of God. He has mighty plans to use you for the kingdom of God.
Nehemiah understood that. He had this courageous persistence that this wall is going to be completed. He believed that God can do incredible things. He was focused on his task the same way we need to be focused on our tasks. So read Nehemiah 6:1-17, “Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall,
and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”
The first thing that Nehemiah wants to tell us is, don’t be distracted, be intentional. Do you sometimes get a text message saying, hey let’s meet. And I’m thinking, yes we can, but what for? Nehemiah gets the message to meet in Ono. But he knows their intent, to do him harm. They wanted to distract him and take up his time. So he told them that he cannot come, that will stop God’s work.
Verse 4, Four times they send me the same proposal, and I answered them in the same manner.” People that are going to distract you don’t give up the first they are rejected. There is a saying that says, if the devil cannot make you bad, he makes you busy with unimportant things. If God wants you to do something, the devil keeps you busy so that it prevents you from doing God’s work.
Be intentional. Who is on social media like ‘Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok, Be real’ which is a new one. Did you know that across the world there are 4.62 billion social media users? And did you know that the average time those users spend on social media is 2 hours and 27 minutes a day? People always say to me they don’t have any time for God. Right here you have 2 hours every day.
There is a study done a few years back that says that for every text you respond to at work, it takes away 30 minutes of your work time. Don’t be distracted. Be focused. Your time is so much better spend for God than trying to get the approval of people or trying to live the life that other people are living. And it is not just social media. We have our jobs, family, aspirations, and that all take us away from God’s work.
What we see from Nehemiah is, don’t come off the wall. Stay focused on what God wants us to do. So what is your distraction that is keeping you from what God is calling you to do? He also says, ‘Don’t be discouraged, be inspired.’ Look at verses 5-9, “Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written:
“It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. 7 And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.”
Now when someone says that people are talking (it is reported) it usually is just one person. “8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. 9 For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” They want you to be discouraged.
God in the Bible asks us to be strong and courageous. Biblical courage is the ability to face danger, uncertainty, adversity and suffering with faith. God who says who He is and what He will do then, is true today as well. God will keep His promises to us no matter what. His opponents knew that discouragement will lead to doubt. And doubt would lead Nehemiah to stop doing what God wanted him to do.
And Nehemiah knew that. Don’t be indecisive on God’s call on your life to lead people to live the Jesus life. Nehemiah also says, don’t be intimidated, be daring. Be bold in your faith. Look at verses 10-14, “Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple,”
“And let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.” Think about this threat on his life, would that distract him? “11 And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all,”
But that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.” 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. 14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.”
There are going to be people that want to stop you from the things that God is calling you to do. Sometimes that is trough physical altercations. But many times it is emotional. Someone might say, hey if you continue to live that Jesus life, you are going to lose some of your friends. If you proclaim that in your job, that will surely be the end of you being able to climb the corporate ladder.
When we do not do what God has called us to do, we actually sin. There are sins of omission and there are sins of commission. Sins of commission are easy to understand, so what do we not do, murder, steal, etc. but sins of omission are things you don’t do that you should do. God says love your neighbor, so when you do not love your neighbor, you are sinning. God says make disciples and you don’t do that, you sin.
Nehemiah knew this, God’s call for him was to stay on that wall. If I come off this wall, I’m not doing God’s call and I sin. Be bold, be strong and courageous. The devil always wants us to do something that distracts from God’s call. Do you understand the significance of what God is calling you to do? He has a big task for us. We are a part of the people chosen to advance the kingdom of God.
But you need to know that God is bigger than your task. Look at Nehemiah 6:15-16, “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.”
When God does bigger things than expected, everyone else then sees the work that God is doing, and all of a sudden they lose confidence and are intimidated. But notice, God didn’t just do the task, but He used Nehemiah to accomplish the task. Do you know that God can do more in 52 seconds than you can do in 52 days or 52 years? You need to understand that when you work for God.
So for us God is calling us to tell others to live the Jesus life. He is calling us to live the 5% life, spending 1% of your time with God every day reading and praying, it is about 15 minutes. 1% of your week should be spent in gather time, being with other believers, that is about an hour and a half. 1% of your month in group time with other people that will help you as a believer, which is about six or seven hours.
Then there is 1% in grow time in a quarter that you need to spend to grow spiritually, by studying how God wires us and wants to use us. Then there is this go time in the last 1% per year that is serving your time in mission, locally, nationally or internationally. That is about a month or so. I don’t know what is on your schedule but I know this. You need to live your 5% life as a follower of Jesus.
He also wants us to be catalysts for multiplication wherever you are. God calls us to be disciple makers to be friends with and to get to know those people that do not know Christ. How many of your friends are non-believers right now? How many folks are you praying for right now? How many times are you asking God for an opportunity to connect to someone about Christ?
God wants everybody to be involved in what God is already doing in the lives of non-believers. For some reason God allows us to take part in this great task of the Great Commission to make people disciples in the kingdom of God. As you are thinking about how you can follow God even though you experience some distractions and your enemy is relentless, know that God is able!
When you make that decision to do what God is calling you to do, your life is not going to become easier, it more likely is going to get harder. Look at the last three verses here, “17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah,”
And his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.” The wall was completed, but the enemy is not going to stop trying to discourage what Nehemiah did. Your enemy who are filled with the devil are not going to stop attacking you.
Do not give your enemy any ground to discourage and intimidate you from the work that God has given you. Because the fastest way to stop a great work is to stop a leader. God wants you to be a leader. So you must be ready to continue God’s work even if the enemy puts out false information to stop you. Do you know that you will never do God’s work until you understand the following?
God accomplished for every believer salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. It was very hard, He asked the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, if this cup can pass. But not my will but your will be done. The equivalence is, I’m not coming of this wall for Nehemiah. And for you it is: I will not stop doing what God has called me to do. Because if I stop, how will these unbelievers come to God?
Jesus was attacked by Satan, but He was very intentional. Jesus was never discouraged, but He inspired other people to be bold. So much so that His followers died in bold ways. Peter was crucified upside down. Men were martyred because of their faith in Christ. The Pharisees and Sadducees tried to intimidate Him, up until the point of His death. And He was killed but rose on the third day.
And if we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin, for putting Him there, He is faithful to forgive. He was faithful to forgive then and He is faithful to forgive now and He will be faithful to forgive in the future. And if we ask Him to lead our life, we will have the right relationship with Him forever in heaven. What He is calling you to do is to stay strong and to do what He has called you to do, Amen?