Well, I hate to tell you this, but I'm not here today ready to give you the perfect list of how to have a plan that can and will work every time every day. Keep in mind I'm writing this because I know everyone can relate and everyone has this problem and it's frustrating. Saying this however... there is hope to make it better.
When you get the chance... READ Nehemiah Chapter 6. This chapter is about a conspiracy against Nehemiah and as we read this chapter we see how Nehemiah handles obstacles and distractions that come his way that have the potential to take him away from the work that God has him doing. As we look at Nehemiah, we can apply what we learn to our daily agendas or plans as well. This passage of Scripture was preached on this morning by our Pastor and the message impacted me and I felt lead to share some of it, along with my own thoughts, with you today.
Lesson one... God must be included in our plans, or better said, Our plans must be of God.
I know there have been days when I woke up and with all I had to do, I rushed into the day, headstrong and fired up and ready to tackle the day, then suddenly (mid morning) I realize nothing is going as planned and I'm not handling it very well. I'm frustrated, I'm discouraged and I feel like I'm being managed by the new stuff that has now changed my plans. Finally I realize that I didn't have my time with God today and I didn't even seek God's guidance or direction in my planning. Why is this important? Why is it important to make God the center of your plans for the day? Won't the new stuff still come? Won't we still have way too much to do with too little time to do it? Won't there be distractions and obstacles that still come up to take our focus off the list? The answer to each of these questions of course is YES. But with God as the center of our plans, we make plans according to His purpose. For our personal life and our work life. If God truly is at the heart of what we are doing then we can rest assured that we'll get it done and stay the course with God's strength, power and wisdom. I know in my own strength, I can't handle it! It's too much! But with God, anything is possible. I don't have to worry about it, I just need to allow God to work through me and execute.
Nehemiah was doing the work of God by rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. As he was building this wall he was distracted and even challenged to stop the work and come meet with his enemies to try and restore peace. It's not that peace wasn't a good thing to strive for, but Nehemiah would have to stop progress on the wall to go and meet with these men. So in verse 3 of Chapter 6 Nehemiah says... 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?
They sent this message to Nehemiah four times asking him to come to them, but he replied the same way each time. You see, Nehemiah knew he was doing a great work for God and to stop and go might have made sense and might have been a good result in resolving peace, but he didn't go for he felt that he was already doing exactly what God wanted him to do. This reminds each of us that our first priority is to know what God's will or work in our life is, if even for one day. If we don't know that our agenda or work is in accordance with God's plans, then we will fall for anything and everything and distractions like this might take our focus off the things we already have to do. If it is God's will for a changed agenda, with God you'll know it, without God you won't. We must go into our day and agenda with God's blessing and His Spirit's leading throughout the day, week, month and years.
Our Pastor spoke of three ways we can be distracted from what we are working on. (1) Opportunities, (2) Criticism, (3) Fear.
Opportunities... Just like the opportunity presented to Nehemiah, it looked good, might have been good, but it would have taken him off of what God already had him doing. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, is the opportunity before me really the best thing and is it in accordance to what God wants me to do?
Criticism... Often when we do God's work, we're criticized. And if we are not careful then when others criticize us we may stop the work to avoid confrontation thinking we might be keeping the peace when in reality all we did was stop the work of God. We can not allow criticism to stop our progress when we know God's in our plans and we are following through with what we feel God would have us do.
Look at Nehemiah again... Chapter 6:5-9, After receiving Nehemiah's messages that he would not stop the work of rebuilding the wall, then his enemies started criticizing him, they told untruths, they said that he was building the wall to make his own kingdom. They said he had appointed prophets proclaiming him as king at Jerusalem. They threatened to report this to a king in Judah unless he would come and consult with them. In verse 8 Nehemiah responded saying... "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. (9) For they are all 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.
Nehemiah didn't stop the work... He would not come down off that wall. He simply responded that what you say is not true, your making it up, and think whatever you want, the work will continue, and he then asks for God to strengthen him in his work. You see, as opportunities and criticism come your way, ask God for His strength to help you see what to do, and also the the ability to accomplish the work.
Fear... Fear is Satan's best tactic you know. If Satan can make us afraid, then most likely we will stop. Fear paralyzes us so that we can't think, move or execute. We become afraid when we don't understand everything, when we can't possibly see how the work can get done. We become afraid of conflict and so we avoid it and stop the work of God in our life, whether it's at home, work or church, fear is something that stops the work of God. Fear is not from God... it's from Satan. So when you are afraid, think for a minute as to why? What is it that is making me afraid? Example... If you felt the Holy Spirits leading you to witness to someone, but then suddenly you become afraid, maybe there are people around now that weren't there before, maybe you're not sure what to say and you are afraid you'll fail. Just remember that the fear you are feeling is not from God... It's Satan trying to stop you from doing God's work. How do we know? God of course would want you to witness. Satan of course would not want you to witness. Satan would try to stop you from witnessing, but we know that God of course would equip you to witness. So when faced with fear, ask God to reveal to you what to do. Fear is Satan's best form of distraction.
- We have to know what God has planned for us, the big stuff and the little small details of our daily routines. Be sensitive to His leading and make His agenda our agenda for the day. You know He wants you to be successful at work, at home and in church so be sure that you meet with God when planning any area of your life, and you will be in step with His leading and have His Strength to accomplish the work.
- Press on... Watch out for opportunities that take you away from what God already has you doing. Be aware that criticism could be Satan's way of diverting you or stopping you from continuing on with the work that God has you doing. Do not be afraid. Be bold in the Lord and press on.
My Testimony... Criticism and fear are the two things that distract me the most. I love my church, I love my Pastor, and I believe that God is blessing us and taking us to new places we've never been as a church. In years past I've served as a deacon in our church, but because of past experiences years ago, I have fear inside of me. I'm afraid to the point that the last two times I've been asked to serve as deacon in our church I have declined because of this fear. The sad thing thing is that I know that God would have wanted different from me. Too often people complain about issues in church that have no relevance to furthering God's Kingdom and sometimes people use the deacons as their sounding board. As a deacon, it gets very old real quick. Church should be a place of worship and fellowship, not whining or complaining. I'm happy to report that through all these trials over the years, we have grown and matured some in Christ. Issues that used to divide us somehow seem less important now. We've seen that style of worship is not such a big issue anymore, what we wear or how we dress is not such a big issue anymore. Music and differences between traditional and contemporary used to divide us, but now are not issues anymore as we sing both every Sunday in our services. These things really matter not. What matters... is are we as God's people living for Him? Do people see God's love in us while we're at work, at the store, at the doctor, or anywhere? Are we unified as a body of believers? Are we telling people about Jesus so they can have the opportunity to have eternal life?
Because of our wonderful Pastor and his leadership and our wonderful youth Pastor and his leadership, I again feel alive in Christ. My fear is subsiding as I see evidence of love and courage in their leadership. We are focusing on Christ and His plan for our church. It's exciting and refreshing! Are we changing... you bet! Is everyone happy (I'll say, most are) But one thing is for certain... We will not come off this wall. We've done that too often in the past. First sign of criticism and we back down, when we get afraid we quit. And sadly this happens everyday in each of our churches. It's time we make our plans with God's agenda, it's time we support our Pastors and when we do, it's time we follow through for a change. Pray for me as I seek God's direction in my life. Too often I run, too often I'm afraid. I don't trust God enough and I'm ashamed of it. I write devotions to encourage others because I know what I feel and experience and I know I'm not alone. Maybe someday in the future God will give me the strength and courage to say yes when asked to serve rather than give into my fears and my negative past experiences. Thank you Brother Tim for your message this morning.
You are invited to come to Northside Baptist Church. If you want a fresh new experience in worship and you want to experience God's love, His music, and Hear His word preached, then Northside is for you. Paster Tim is a great man of God and He has a passion for the people that God has charged him to Equip for the ministry. He's a strong leader and a great preacher. Come worship with us and may God's blessings be upon you.