Quiet Time Coaching Episode 493 | New Thing Series — Part 48 | “Nehemiah’s Focus” | Malcolm Cox

A new thing! I’m Malcolm Cox. Welcome to your daily devotional podcast anchored in Isaiah 43:19: ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’

We are currently looking at God doing a new thing in the life of Nehemiah. Today we explore Nehemiah’s focus.

“Now when it was reported to…our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it…Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. So 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 to come down to you?” They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.
In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem also says it—that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and according to this report you wish to become their king. You have also set up prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore, and let us confer together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind” —for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
One day when I went into the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah son of Mehetabel…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, tonight they are coming to kill you.” But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him at all, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this purpose, to intimidate me and make me sin by acting in this way, and so they could give me a bad name, in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. (Selections from Nehemiah 6:1-19 NRSV)

To quote from Fabian’s notes on Nehemiah, “He stayed focused on the goal during times of opposition and distractions, while adapting his approach to the environment and circumstances.”

Nehemiah’s Focus

  • Nehemiah encountered opposition who aimed to distract him from the work God had given him
  • Their attempts were persistent
  • They attempted to sow fear in his heart about what other people might be thinking about him
  • They made up stories about him
  • He prayed to be strong
  • He refused to be distracted or to weaken in his purpose

For Reflection
“Jesus was constantly criticised by others, but he never criticised in return. He didn’t get angry or discouraged because of what the Pharisees, scribes, or nonbelievers said about him. Jesus did what we’re taught as children to do—treat others the way you want to be treated. Negative criticism is a distraction from God’s purpose for your life.” Lucado, Max; Gets Us, He. He Gets Us: Experiencing the confounding love, forgiveness, and relevance of Jesus (p. 90). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Discussing the challenge of distractions, J. Tyrone Marcus writes, “It could be a desire for excess rest, relaxation, and leisure. It could be saying yes to good things when you should have been saying no in order to invest in the best things. It could be the emotional hills and valleys that inevitably present themselves as life progresses. It may even be the occasional allure of returning to the company of people from your past, because you miss the “fun,” dangerous as it was to your well-being. The issue, though, is not the distractions. It’s our response to them.” Marcus, J. Tyrone. Unbeatable: Seven Pillars of Personal Excellence (p. 45). N/A. Kindle Edition.

Why not ask God today to make you aware of distractions drawing you away from your best efforts to honour God and build his kingdom?

I hope you find your heart, your life, your congregation and your world inspired by God doing a new thing. Until tomorrow, take care, and God bless.

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“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License