Nehemiah was an Israelite. His city had been destroyed. The King of Babylon gave him permission to return to Jerusalem and work on rebuilding his city. He went and organized a work crew of like-minded men who also wanted to rebuild.
But not everyone wanted Jerusalem rebuilt and Nehemiah and his friends soon found themselves taunted by the enemies of the great work they were trying to accomplish. The opposition was serious and as it became incessant, eventually, the rebuilders had to work with swords strapped to their hips to keep their enemies at bay.
Four times people came to Nehemiah trying to get him to leave his work to “resolve the conflict,” but Nehemiah knew that was only a ploy to harm him and stop the work. Each time they came, Nehemiah’s reply was, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” Nehemiah did not allow them to distract him from doing the work he felt called to do. Thanks to Nehemiah’s determination, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in only 52 days.
Like Nehemiah, there is much good we can do in our lives when we have our priorities set and are diligent in seeking to do the Lord’s will. Satan also knows this and is determined to distract us with lesser things. Unlike us, he does not have a veil over his memory. He knows who we are. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows our potential and what we have the capacity to accomplish, if we remain focused. He would love nothing more than for us to become distracted and not accomplish our purposes here on earth.
What are some of the areas that Satan targets in our lives?
- Our time: No matter who we are or where we live, we each have the same amount of time in the day. We get to choose what we do with that time. We can use it productively or we can waste it. I have found that if I am not intentional with that time, it is so easy to get distracted with things that are not productive and serve no useful purpose. There are a million distractions that Satan has inspired to draw our time away from what the Lord would have us do. I know I have to regularly assess my time and how I want to invest it to prove to God that I am grateful for the life He has given me and that I am trying to accomplish the things He sent me to earth to do. Using time wisely and intentionally is one of the great works of life.
- Our family: I believe God sent us to earth in families because that was the best environment for us to learn how to have patience, love well, show loyalty, practice forgiveness, and develop so many other characteristics we need to learn to become more like Him. We can easily become distracted from these lessons by allowing selfishness and resentment to get in the way. Spending time developing our family relationships and seeking to better them is one of the great works of life.
- Our relationship with God: God has given us so many tools for this purpose. He has given us scriptures to learn about Him. He has given us prayer to communicate with Him. He has given us the Holy Ghost to help us better hear and understand His will for us personally. He has given us a church and teachers to help us learn of Him. He has given us prophets to give us His current direction. He has given us covenants and ordinances to help us draw closer to Him. Satan loves when we don’t use these tools and allow distance to grow between us and the Lord. There is no greater work than seeking to develop a stronger relationship with God.
- Our understanding of who we are: It seems that this is becoming a bigger and bigger distraction. There are so many things we can identify as or label ourselves with and yet the most important identifier we have is that we are children of God. If we remember who we truly are, our confidence to develop and become all we are capable of grows. We know where to turn for help and strength. What the world thinks of us begins to diminish. And it becomes easier to be about our Father’s business. Remembering who we are and looking to see the Lord’s hand in our lives is a great work to be focused on.
There are many other ways that Satan seeks to distract us. We each have our own unique challenges and temptations that he targets. It is essential to take time to evaluate what great works we are trying to accomplish, as well as seeking to recognize where we are strong and where we are falling short. We will always have help from heaven as we are intentional in this process. There is nothing more important than telling Satan with our actions what Nehemiah told those intent on distracting him, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.”
Family Discussion: What are some things that have become distractions to you individually or as a family? What are some of the great works you are currently focused on? Are there goals for other great works can you set personally or together?
The Primary Manual for Come Follow Me is perfect for families with young children!
July Week 1 Lesson: July 18–24. Ezra 1; 3–7; Nehemiah 2; 4–6; 8: “I Am Doing a Great Work” (churchofjesuschrist.org)
Click below for FREE DOWNLOADABLE coloring pages from Rising Moon Adventures that I created to go with the above lesson and the story of Nehemiah:
Primary Insights for Come Follow Me videos –
(46) Rising Moon Adventures Scripture Story Time – YouTube
Song 1: Nehemiah’s Prayer by Michael Maher
Song 2: A Great Work: 2021 Youth Theme Song with Nik Day