I once heard a story about our enemy, the Devil, who went to a yard sale. As he walked around he saw fear, doubt, worry, hate, discouragement and all manner of tools that could be used against us, his enemy- the Christian. After a few minutes he picked up the tool of discouragement and took it to the man who was running the yard sale. The man looked at the Devil and asked him if he was sure that was all he needed; did he not see the tools for fear, doubt, and worry? The Devil replied, “This is the only tool I need. Because, if you throw a little discouragement into the life of a believer then fear, doubt, depression and all manner of other harms will befall them. So all I need is a little discouragement.”
This new path that I am on has been very difficult these past few days. Things have just not been going as smoothly as I would have hoped, especially in the technology department. You would think with all that is out there for us today in regards to technology that things would move a little quicker, but they don’t. One thing after another has been slowing me up and it has been causing me to become discouraged. I have become frustrated and gotten twisted up in my thoughts and had some outbursts of anger, all because a little discouragement got thrown into my day. As I prayed this morning I heard the Lord tell me that I had need of diligence.
These words were exactly what I needed to hear to get my feet back on the path that I am on and my focus back on the journey ahead. I do have need of diligence. The best way to fight discouragement is to become diligent. Diligence is the constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; it is persistent in what it sets out to do. Consistent, persistent and earnest effort to keep my feet on the path before me and my focus on the journey ahead, will keep discouragement at bay.
Nehemiah and the children of Israel who were rebuilding Jerusalem were diligent people. They set their minds to building the wall and even as the enemy came and tried to discourage them, they stuck to the plan and focused on the goal.
“Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?’ Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him and he said, ‘Yes, what are they building- if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!’
Nehemiah 4:1-3 (ESV)
Nehemiah 4:1-3 (ESV)
Here we see Sanballat and Tobiah the Ammonite tossing out negative, discouraging comments to the people of Israel. The English Standard version describes it as jeering. In my head I hear it, the jeering of the enemy making me question and doubt every move I am making for this business. Laughing at me when I fall down, trying to make me discouraged so I will take my eyes off the journey and just give up. The enemy fights the hardest against us when God is strongest in us.
“Hear O God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from Your sight, for they have provoked You to anger in the presence of the builders.” Nehemiah 4:4-5 (ESV)
We are going to encounter those negative thinkers, those discouragers on our journey. They may be co-workers, friends, and perhaps even our family, but we must keep our hands to the plow and not look back. Don’t let the enemy use discouragement to knock you down. When the discouragement starts to creep in through the cracks pray, pray for diligence. Pray for God to put the voices to rest and turn those who want to discourage you from you ask Him to turn their taunts back on them. Remember, the enemy is going to fight the hard against us, but our God is greater than anything he can throw at us.
“So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
Nehemiah tells us that the people had a mind to work. The people were determined and diligent to do the work that was before them. Because of their diligence they were able to silence the discouragers, and because of their diligence the walls were halfway done. They were able to finish the task today because they were determined to be diligent for today. Just be faithful and diligent for the work that we can do today. Tomorrow never comes, so there is no sense in worrying about it right now. Just set your mind to do the task that is in front of you right now, that part of your wall that God has asked you to build.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 (NKJV)
Proverbs 4:23-27 (NKJV)
Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t let anyone discourage you. But, there is another way we can become discouraged and for me, this seems to be the area that the enemy uses his tool the most. Distractions- they get me every time. I set my mind to the work, I put my hands to the tasks and the next thing I know I am distracted and the work before me gets pushed to the side. Then, when I get my focus back, I become discouraged because of the mountain of work I now have to catch up on. Distractions are a form or discouragement and if we are to stay diligent on our paths then distractions must go.
“But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” Nehemiah 4:7-9
Since the first form of discouragement didn’t work, the next one, distractions almost brings the work to a halt. They plotted and they tried to create confusion but Nehemiah prayed and set a guard. Distractions must be fought, they must be battled, we cannot let them come in and create confusion while we are on this journey. Distractions will lead us astray and that will cause us to become discouraged. We must stay in prayer and seek God to set a guard over us, to keep us from turning our eyes from the tasks before us. Even as I am writing this many distractions are coming against me, but God is with me, He has set a guard around me.
“In Judah it was said, ‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.’ And our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.’ At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, ‘You must return to us.’ So in the lowest parts of the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.’” Nehemiah 4:10-14 (ESV)
The people are telling Nehemiah about the distractions coming from their enemies. They have identified them and recognize them for what they are. What does Nehemiah do that we can also do to help us fight our distractions? He prepared them for battle. He reminded them of the path that God had set them on, and the promise that God had given them to bring it to completion. He reminded them of the why, and the who, and the reason for all the work. He reminded them of the goal that God had given them. He turned their focus back to the promise of God. When distractions come, we are going to have to fight. We are going to have to pray, and set a guard around our work, our home, and our paths. We are going to have to fight.
“When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.” Nehemiah 4:15-17 (ESV)
Work with one hand and fight with the other. Keep your eyes pointed on the wall before you and don’t look to your right or to your left. What is our sword? What is our weapon? Our sword is the word of God and His promise to us. It is His provision to us for this path, His constant support when no one else seems to be on our side. He is our weapon, our sword to help strengthen us and give us diligence when all we want to do is give up. Don’t let that person or thing or other project distract you and eventually discourage you. Just keep your eyes before you, your hands upon the task in front of you and your heart surrendered to your God in diligent faith.
“And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.’ So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.’ So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes, each kept his weapon at his right hand.”
Nehemiah 4:19-23 (ESV)
Nehemiah 4:19-23 (ESV)
Gather your troops for battle. Don’t try to fight this battle of discouragement alone. Get a team of people who want to see you succeed commit to pray with you and for you, and give them your prayers. When the discouragement and the distractions come, sound your trumpet and let God fight for you and let the people that are with you fight beside you as well. This battle of distractions and discouragement are of a spiritual nature, do not think you can win this battle in the flesh. Gather your troops and arm your prayer warriors with swords and bows on your behalf. We cannot do this alone. We have to have help.
The enemy wants to discourage you and he will try to do it through the negative comments of others, the jeering looks and laughing thoughts that come against you. But he will also try to discourage you through the distractions of everyday life. Identify the distractions he is trying to use and set a guard around your life. Put those distractions down and fill in the cracks on your wall. Don’t let the enemy get through the cracks, but sound the trumpet and call your warriors and troops to your side. The diligence we need to stay on the path God has placed us on will come when we set our minds to the work before us. Do today what needs to be done with persistence and a passion that only God can give you. Be faithful to do the work today and soon what was once nothing more than a pile of rocks will be half a wall, and eventually it will be a great city. Amen?
May God grant us diligence to fight the battles of distractions and discouragement and help us to complete the tasks He has for us today. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.