Nehemiah, Ch. 1, tells us that when he received word from his brother that the walls of the city of Jerusalem still lay in ruins after almost 150 years, it knocked him off his feet and left him in tears. 1:4, When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. That deep, heartfelt pain that Nehemiah experienced, his “holy discontent,” would become what one commentator describes as “the labor pains from a movement of God was born.” The Book of Nehemiah is his personal journal of how that movement happened. Along the way he gives us an inside look at the keys to his great success as a leader; the first being that godly leaders deeply care about the same things that God cares about. God then takes that holy discontent- that powerful spiritual congruence of God’s deep concerns with our own- and infuses it with the power of His Holy Spirit. The result is an unstoppable force! In Nehemiah’s case, it was a movement of God that ultimately resulted in rebuilding the walls of the entire city of Jerusalem in just 52 days!
Is there any kind of “holy discontent” that is stirring in your heart? Especially with regard to your city or town? I live in Tulsa, OK, which has been in the national news in recent days regarding the shooting by police of an unarmed black man; raising all kinds of emotions and reactions from the part of the city in which he lived. It’s very easy to live a sort of shrink-wrapped life in the part of the city where I live, essentially insulated from the needs of the rest of the city. And when we see such emotions and reactions we often just don’t understand and we wonder where they’re coming from and why. And THAT stirs up our emotions. And before we know it, if we are not very careful, we can find ourselves being quick to judge and end up living with deep seeded divisions and hostility.
That kind of division and hostility has one source… and that’s the Devil himself. Satan specializes in hostile disunity and divisiveness. In other words, it’s not just a social issue, it’s a spiritual issue… it’s spiritual warfare. But, as Christ-followers, we are not left defenseless or weaponless in this spiritual warfare in which we are engaged! Ephesians 6: 10-18; Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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.13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation… (Notice, it’s all been defensive armor so far, but now he speaks to the two offensive weapons we have in Christ.) …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 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 Lord’s people.
Our primary weapons of spiritual warfare are what? The Word of God- the Bible- and… prayer! This is a second key to Nehemiah’s success as a leader; he was a man of prayer. And, in Chapter 1:5-11, Nehemiah demonstrates what powerful warfare prayer involves. We will look at those elements next posting.