Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. 2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, 3 so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” 4 Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.
Last time we discovered that the way to deal with distractions is to know God’s Will, and the way we know His will is to be in His Word. Because Nehemiah knew what God had called him to, he was able to discern not only the distraction but also the danger and stay focused on the mission. So, let’s talk about God’s mission when it comes to several major areas in our lives where if we are not careful we can become dangerously distracted.
Marriage– What is God’s mission? To mirror and reflect His attributes to a watching world, His faithfulness, forgiveness and love. But many of us have made the mission our happiness not His holiness, we have made it about me not we. Instead of focusing on faithfulness many of us focus on fulfilling the flesh, we make it about a feel good instead of God. Now when it comes to marriage there are lots of distractions some of which can be deadly. Let me share a personal story with you. A few years ago, my wife Angel and I went on a date to a Denver Bronco football game. As we were walking into the stadium Angel said: Head down which is our code for a heads up that there was something sexually inappropriate ahead. So, I just focused on the jersey in front of me, and I never saw the lady pole dancing in the parking lot or the other women handing out invitations to a night club that my wife later told me about. God used that moment to remind me of the importance of faithfulness. What would the world have witnessed if I had let lust rule my heart instead of love? What would my bride have seen and felt? Men our eyes are the gateway to our hearts, some of you have strong walls but there are no doors on your gates and the city is wide open for attack. The Devil will distract and invite us in our areas of weakness, He will exploit your vulnerabilities. But God has provided protection from looking and then lusting, it’s called pivoting and peripheral vision. In order to feed the flesh, we have to focus, so when we pivot our eyes away the problem ends up in our peripheral vision. The problem is most of us are pivoting toward lust instead of looking away. Men are you pivoting toward purity or the perverse? Now ladies before you get mad at your man let me help you understand something here. Every strength has a backside weakness, and one of your husbands’ strengths is also his weakness, it’s the gate to his heart his eyes. Just like a physical gate, it can let good things and bad things into the city. The gate is the weakest part of the wall its where we are most susceptible to attack. That is why when they built castles in medieval times, they employed many ingenious devices to fortify and protect the gateway into the castle. Moates, draw bridges, extensions jutted out past the gate so they could pour boiling oil on the attackers, and focus fire power from arrows. Now as a team committed to Christ Angel compensated for my weakness. First by warning me, second by walking beside me, stepping in between the danger. I didn’t go looking for them, just as Nehemiah didn’t go looking, the distractions came looking for him.
Parenting– Gods plan for parenting is for us to raise our kids to go from being 100% dependent on us to 100% dependent on Him. But many of us are distracted from mission, we are raising our kids to be dependent on us because it feels good or we are raising them to be dependent on self and not the Savior.
Our walk– Our walk is about our worship and our witness to a watching world. The problem is many of us are using our walk to worship self not the Savior. Is your goal to bring glory to God or is it about grabbing the glory for self?
Nehemiah was able to detect the distraction because it didn’t fit with God’s plan and I love the reason Nehemiah gives for declining, “I am carrying on a great project, and I cannot go down.”There is a story told about a missionary in China whose abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them that God had sent him to China as a missionary. 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 financial package. Finally, he said to them, “It’s not your salary that’s too little. It’s the job that’s too small!” How many of us have that kind of perspective when it comes to God’s work? Your marriage matters, you are carrying on a great project, one that will have generational consequences and impact. Your parenting is a great project, don’t minimize the mission. Your walk, your worship, your witness is a great project. Sometimes distractions come disguised as harmless options or they may even be good things, they are just not God’s things. Satan wants to sidetrack us, to distract and deceive us. The first tactic is flattery, flattery is an appeal to the flesh and causes many of us to fall. Nehemiah sees through their scheme by refusing their invitation four different times. You, too, may experience continuing pressure to change your mind and go along with something that is wrong. Some of us give in to repeated pressure. We might decline the first invitation but find our defenses weakened as the enticements continue. But Nehemiah persists in his refusal because he knows what his priorities are. Are you focused on the mission or have you become distracted? If you find yourself distracted and sidetracked take some time to focus on the Father and His call for your life.