Bible Study for August 19: Prioritize 

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Nehemiah 6:1-3,15-16; 8:1-3,5-8
Harris Malcom, state missionary
Middle Georgia Region

Distractions come from all kinds of sources and directions. The enemy wants to stop God’s work any way possible. It could be settling for what is good above what is God. Sometimes it is by getting us to listen to gossip rather than God. It could even be seeking our glory above His. 

We must stay focused on the work that God has called us to. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).  

In the midst of finishing the wall Sanballat and Geshem tried to lure Nehemiah away from the work God had called him to do. Four times they sent letters and then Sanballat sent his personal servant with a note. Nehemiah was a man of God. He was committed to God and knew that all this was about was to discourage and deter them from the work that God had called them to do. This group went as far as hiring someone from the “inside” to create further distraction.   

Fortunately, Nehemiah’s maturity and commitment to God’s call allowed him to recognize that “they were planning to harm” him. 

He would not let himself be distracted. He was working for God and by God’s power the wall was finished in record time.  

Nehemiah said, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” That’s right! We cannot stop God’s work. We are to continue fighting the good fight of faith. We are to endure to the end. We are to keep our eyes on the prize.  

The names have changed today, but the distractions can be very similar. The goal of the enemy is to keep us busy doing good things while keeping us from getting around to God things. 

I have been through a couple of building programs. They are full of distractions and change. I have been involved in an onsite building program where every new sound was a distraction. I can remember driving to a nearby parking lot one day just to study amid the distraction. 

Then comes the completion and the occupying of the building. It only takes months to complete a building for the people of God. It takes much longer to build up the people of God. That is a lifelong challenge. It takes daily discipline and daily dying to self. 

Amid all the distractions and in spite of them when the wall was finished they gathered together as the people of God to celebrate. They “gathered as one man” in this open air meeting. There was preaching and singing and worship. They gathered around the Word of God and Ezra read and preached the Word of God. When the Word of God was read and preached God gave them understanding. 

To stay focused on the work of God we must prioritize the Word of God. The Bible says, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God.” The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” 

They showed up to hear the word of God and they stood up to hear the word of God. They gave their attendance and attention to God. Time did not seem to be a factor for they stood and stayed and listened from early morning to midday. They even wept upon hearing the Word, because for some of them it was the first time. 

Today we show up to comfort-controlled buildings and sit in cushioned pews. We can study the Bible with our peers and fellowship with our friends. Churches seem to be accommodating to our every need. Yet, we have God on the clock. Worship is just another thing to check off on the weekend. God forbid that the sermon is too long, the music too loud, and someone is in our seat. 

When was the last time you wept upon hearing the Word of God? Probably quite a while. We have become gospel-hardened and church-spoiled. We are consumer-driven and as such prefer to “have it our way.” 

In our Bible study groups and from our pulpits may we give the Word of God an exalted place. Let’s stay focused in the work of God and be grounded in the Word of God. To do so takes showing up and standing firm. 

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