Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 6 – 7; Proverbs 31
(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Memorize – Proverbs 13:3)
“That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – (Nehemiah 6:2 – 3)
In our passage today we see Nehemiah busy doing what the Lord had called him to do: rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. He had a job to do, and he was intent on completing it. Now there were also people in the area that were intent on stopping Nehemiah from fulfilling the will of God; but Nehemiah did not let them distract him from completing his work. I love what Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” The work Nehemiah was doing was certainly great, because it was God that had asked him to do it.
I have a great work to do for the Lord as well; and so do you. God has something for all of us who are His children to do. We must not get distracted from completing the work that God has given us. I have observed through the years that distractions can come from a variety of sources. The wicked one is famous for distracting people away from the will of God. This was the case with Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshom from our text. They were wicked men who did not have Nehemiah’s best interests in mind. They were working against the will of God, but notice how they tried to disguise themselves as God’s servants, and as Nehemiah’s friends. As God’s children, we need to learn to be discerning about the true motivations of the people around us as they attempt to pull us away from the primary tasks that God has given us.
Another type of distraction comes from good people who often invite us to do “good things”; but even these good things become evil if they take us away from the best things. I am slowly learning how to graciously turn down many “good” invitations from caring people. I simply do not have enough time and energy to do all of the things that I might like to do, especially as they pull me away from the primary areas of my responsibility. As a pastor, I get invited to many birthday’s, picnics, graduations, dinners, weddings, conferences, barbecues, etc. I love to be with God’s people, but I simply cannot go to them all.
A third distraction is the distraction God brings your way. There are times that God will interrupt the daily routine in life in order for you to learn something; or maybe in order for you to accomplish something special for Him. Again, we must be very careful that these distractions are indeed from God. Recently, because of the tight budget at the church I have had to go back to a secular job, which requires me to work overnight 6 nights per week. This new job is certainly a hindrance that keeps me from doing all that I might like to do in the ministry; but I am convinced that God has lead me down this path, at least temporarily. My primary ministry is my family, and God has provided this job as a means for my family to be taken care of while still allowing me to serve as the pastor. However, because of this new constraint on my time, I am very limited to what I can do. My life consists basically of working, sleeping, prayer, Bible reading, studying and preparing for messages, and a little soul winning. That is all that I can do right now. I have had to learn to say no to many other things so that I can do these main things. My focus is still on serving God, but I have had to take some time away from that service in order to help the church financially, and in order to put food on my family’s table. God has taught me much in the short time that I have been working, and He has used me to be a light to a very dark workplace. I am not sure how long that God will have me do this, but I know that when it is over I will be a better servant of God because of the experience.
So to those of you who are part of the ministry here at Jersey Shore, and even to my extended family members, I must apologize for my absence at many of the “extra” events that I would normally have been a part of. Forgive me, it’s not that I do not want to be there, but I am very busy trying to do the main things.
Posted in Thoughts from Nehemiah by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.