January 20, 2014

Be Alert

Nehemiah 6:1-14

He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
—Nehemiah 6:13


In school, a friend tried to convince me to do something wrong against a person he did not like. I refused. So he asked someone else, who agreed to his shady suggestion.

Some people will go to great lengths to discredit or tarnish another person’s reputation. How can a person stay alert to such schemes?

Nehemiah knew when people were trying to trick him. His enemies tried again and again to stop the work of rebuilding God’s city. They even sent Nehemiah a false message about a rumor of revolt against the king, hoping he would fall for it. But Nehemiah was aware of their plot and wouldn’t take the bait. So the enemies tried a different tactic. They hired a prophet to try to trick him. But he prayed that the Lord would strengthen his hands and sharpen his mind, and he was able to resist. He said, “I realized that God had not sent [this prophet], but that … he had been hired to intimidate me.”

Jesus taught his disciples that he would be sending them out like sheep among wolves. He warned them to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”; he said, “Be on your guard” (Matthew 10:16-17). We also are called to be on high alert with people who wish to deter us from keeping our focus on serving God.

Jesus, protect us from playing into schemes of the devil and those who would harm us. Keep our hearts and minds on guard against temptations and tricks. May we please you alone. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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