For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7(NLT)
We are exploring fear this week, following a week of fearful events in France and Mali. Today we begin to see how Nehemiah handled the fear factor.
As a Jew born in Babylonian captivity Nehemiah had received permission from King Artaxerxes to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. When he got there he found strong, political types posturing to undermine everything he did. Their chief weapons were threatening intimidation…they were fear-mongers!
You have to Expect Fear
Problems never seem to come at a good time. And often you're in the middle of trying to fix one problem when another problem comes. When we are in a weakened condition because of the struggle enemies will try to make things even worse in hopes that we will give up.
It’s important to remember that our wrestling match in life is not with the bills, our health, the weather, or some English teacher that got up on the wrong side of the bed, but rather our battles are against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Our fears do not come from facing the everyday cares of life – they come because there is a larger struggle going on in this fallen world.
You can expect a struggle with fear because Satan’s main goal is to keep folks away from a relationship with our loving God. He wants to keep you out of heaven.
Now, if he has already failed at that because you’ve given your life to Jesus, and He has saved you…Satan’s next priority is to keep you from living a full life, a productive life. In short, the devil wants to steal eternal life and the joy of abundant living here on earth.
Expect fear to cross your pathway! And, when it shows up…
You have to Expose Fear
Fear is contagious. In Nehemiah’s case the job of rebuilding the walls seemed [and was] next to impossible. The grumbling started when the long hours and hard work began to overwhelm some of the weaker builders. That played right into the hand of the enemy. They threatened constantly. They began rumors; trash talkin’ was born!
Dale Earnhardt was called “The Intimidator”. With due apologies to race fans, Earnhardt isn’t even close…Satan is the original intimidator.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. 1 Peter 5.8, 9a(NLT)
Nehemiah dealt with the rumor mill in two ways.
First, he prayed. This is always priority and step #1 for a Christian who is serving his or her Lord.
In addition, Nehemiah gathered the people together for encouragement. This exposes fear for what it is…unbelief that must be stopped.
In your life there are fears that can cause you to come unglued. That will not happen if you enlist your Christian family to pray. One of the reasons you are encouraged to attend church often and to be involved in whatever happens there, is not to wear you out – it is to build you up!
The terror events of the past several years are of the same source that Nehemiah faced - evil opposition to Godly mission. Names, faces and dates change; Satan’s tactics haven’t changed since the Garden of Eden.
If there are fear-provoking thoughts or circumstances going on in your life take time to pray and ask others to pray with you; that exposes fear for what it is – threat! And, as Vance Havner used to say, when creepy crawly things are exposed to the light of day in prayer – they scatter like the bugs they are.