Lenten Devotion 03.14.2014

March 14 – Friday

Fasting Item(s): TV, Movies, DVD’s & Videos
Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 4:14 “Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid of the enemy!  Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!‘” NLT
Question: Are you despised for being a follower of Christ?
Devotion: Nehemiah is truly a hero in God’s Holy Word!  He took a Jewish nation that had been beaten down, humiliated and murdered and rebuilt a fortified city while in the face of open persecution.  Nehemiah said, “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” (NEH 4:6 NLT)  The neighboring enemies (Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashod) who thrived on putting down God’s chosen people plotted together to stop their work.  In fact, people in Judah and the neighboring Jews were discouraging the rebuilding as well.  I believe it’s expected that we be discouraged and persecuted by non-believers, but when reading the Scripture (NEH 4:10-12) I tend to see how it can happen inside the church as well.  God is very clear about who we are fighting against.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (EPH 6:12 NLT)  So when you have an argument against someone who is way different than you, it doesn’t mean that they are the enemy or that you are a victim, but rather that the battle that’s going on is a spiritual battle and that our spirits are intertwined with these forces of good and evil.  So what can we learn from Nehemiah in all of this?  We need to be unified in a common goal, rebuilding or more specifically, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Nehemiah led God’s people in the rebuilding of their city by having men posted to protect from the enemy, while at the same time having those that were rebuilding using one hand to build and the other to hold a shield as they worked.  Ephesians 6:13-18 says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  YOU WILL BE DESPISED FOR FOLLOWING JESUS CHRIST.  I can’t make it any clearer than that.  However, we have NOTHING TO FEAR.  The best way to dispel fear is to remember the Lord, who alone is to be feared (DEU 3:22).  Nehemiah didn’t attack the enemy.  He asked God to do it.  We need to remember to do the same.  We also need to be ready with the “Gospel of peace” and wait on God’s timing to vindicate His people from their oppressors.  Prayer and watchfulness blend faith and action, and also emphasize both the divine side and the human side.  Are you despised for being a follower of Christ?  If not, maybe that should be something to pray about and ask God to reveal why.  We all need help seeing what we need to improve in our actions and words, so don’t take this as a shaming or a discouragement, but rather as an encouragement to be more in line with what it means to be a follower of Christ.  John 13:35 (NLT) says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Let this be our goal and let God do the fighting as we faithfully follow His Commands, for the glory of Christ Jesus.

Prayer Focus: Kids and Parents pray for your friends and children in other con tries who may not know Jesus.
 
If you have been following the Lenten Fasting Calendar, please consider this additional resource to spend good family time with each other tonight to share faith lessons about God rather than waisting your time watching TV (today’s fasting item).  What would have happened if Nehemiah had TV to compete with?  Would the people have followed God?  Makes you think doesn’t it?
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