This morning I was reading in Nehemiah. Great book! What a man of prayer and discernment. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to grasp the environment Nehemiah went into when he went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Such a hostile and threatening environment is rare here in the U.S. When I take my family to a restaurant, I don’t worry about persecution to me or them when we pray and thank the Lord for the food. When I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living, I am not intimidated to say that I work at a Christian camp that seeks to share Jesus Christ with those that come here.
But that was not the world Nehemiah entered into. It was physically and spiritually hostile to those who called on the Lord as their God. The Pagan nations around them did not want them to reestablish worship to God. And so, they tried to stop the work. Chapter 4 verse 8 in the NASB says,
“All of them conspired together to com and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.”
Verse 9 is great
“But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.”
They heard the enemy was coming, so they prayed and prepared. It goes on to say that not only did they have someone standing guard continually day and night, but the workers also kept their swords strapped to them and did not go anywhere unarmed.
Thinking about this today, I realized that although I am not in a physical battle with anyone, I am in a constant spiritual battle. And, unfortunately, most days I would say that I am not prepared. Sure, I get my reading done, but I am not sure I always expect warfare of some sort. We are told repeatedly in scripture to be on guard. I think that I too often let my guard down, spiritually speaking. I am not guarding my heart and my mind – I don’t take every thought captive. I day-dream about stuff I don’t need and things that are not eternal – although wakeboarding is fun it is not eternal.
I need to be more like Nehemiah and those who built the wall. I need to strap on the sword of the spirit as I do the work the Lord puts before me each day. I just recently finished Ezra, and chapter 7 verse 10 tells us about Ezra,
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
He made up his mind to study the word and to do the word (sound like James 1:22 to anyone else?). This is how I should be ready for my day. Study, pray, prepare.
I should realize that this life is a battle – a spiritually brutal battle, or at least it can be. There’s no vacation from battle, no halftime or timeout, no weekend. IT’S WAR. I’ve chosen sides and in doing so, that puts me in the fight. I’m thankful to be on the Lord’s side. It takes hard circumstances sometimes to make us be more diligent in our daily preparations and more aware of our surroundings. People everywhere need the love of Jesus Christ. Christians need it for growth. Nonbelievers need it for salvation. This is how we fight – by living out the love of our Savior, by humbly obeying our Creator, by intentionally setting our minds on the things above, by filling our minds with the Lord Jesus and not with ourselves, by serving each other in love. This is HARD to do all the time. But I imagine if one of Nehemiah’s crew had slipped up on guard duty, the enemy would’ve taken advantage. Our enemy, who wants to make us ineffective, is ready to go all the time.
In order to be ready for this battle, I must strap on my sword and take it with me everywhere – to work, to Wal-Mart, to church, to the gas station, to Sonic, to my families’ homes, on the internet, at home – everywhere. I cannot do this without the Lord and His word. I need to realize what is going on. I need to be ready for a fight.