Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6 – Setbacks + ambushes

“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.”  (Nehemiah 4:14 HCSB)

After 70 long years of exile, God’s softened the king of Persia’s heart to allow the Jews to finally return home and rebuild Jerusalem. The king appointed Nehemiah, his lowly cupbearer, to become governor of Judah and sent him with timber and a letter decreeing his approval of what the Jews were going to do. But the surrounding nations were enraged at the Jews and were determined to block Jerusalem and the temple from ever being rebuilt. It was a dangerous mission as Nehemiah and his small band of men struggled to rebuild the rubble of their beloved city with tools in one hand and a sword in the other.  

It could be easy to wonder why God let this happen — was returning to Jerusalem a mistake?  Did God really want them to go back? They had prayed so long for this moment, so why were these enemy nations trying to pick them off like flies every time they worked on rebuilding their walls? Hadn’t they suffered enough in exile? A million doubts and thoughts could have raced through their minds as they tried to scrape together the broken pieces of Jerusalem. A million raging emotions from joy to horror to grief or even apathy could have taken over them at that vulnerable time. But God gave Nehemiah His Spirit of victory. “Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord,” he exhorted them. He reminded them who it was they were fighting for, “your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.”  

It sounds like a line straight out of a movie, but it rings true for us today. We have enemies who try to pick us off like flies, just like Nehemiah’s. Though we determine to overcome in an area of our life, an obstacle or setback throws us for a loop before we know it. Why live by faith, sacrificing our own wills to submit to God if we keep getting hit? But those with faith stand back up with the tools to build their dream in one hand and a sword in the other to fend off the attackers. We fight and struggle in faith knowing that our victory affects the lives of everyone around us. The weakening of demonic principalities as we fight for God’s promises will even affect our country. It was a fight when the Israelites first entered the promised land with Moses, and it was going to be another fight once again. But it was God’s way in God’s time with God’s people.  

You may be leaving a dry period behind in your relationship with God, knowing that you have a fight ahead to rebuild. The devil is still lurking in the shadows, looking for chances to shoot you down. Don’t worry, you’re not the first one to go through this. God will give you the same victory if you adopt Nehemiah’s attitude. He is awesome and great. This fight is about more than just you. Don’t waver, and you will see God answer in a big way. In 52 days the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, God frustrated their attackers, and the exiles returned to repopulate the city and the country. Don’t doubt that God is still with you when you encounter setbacks. Just remember who your God is, and who it is you fight for! 

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