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Scary creatures are appearing in neighbor’s yards. Ghosts made out of white sheets inhabit one yard entirely. Oversize black cats and hairy tarantula’s occupy sidewalks with a look that dares one not to come any closer. Life- size dolls imitating real-life humans  erected to cause anyone near to fear being the next victim. Then, there are the “normal” evil characters such as witches, vampires, and monsters that impose fright no matter the time of year. And why??? Why is scaring people fun?! I really don’t get it. I really don’t like it. There is only one place all of this scary stuff could have originated – the devil himself.

It doesn’t have to be the time approaching Halloween or the day of Halloween for Satan to use his mastery of deception to try and scare the people of God away from their callings. One such example comes straight out of the book of Nehemiah. The Jews, God’s people, who bravely came back to Jerusalem after being in captivity to the Babylonians for 70 years, were given the job of rebuilding their homeland, their place of worship, their own homes, and the wall of protection around their city, Jerusalem. This task was more than the Jews could handle, so God ordained Nehemiah (also a Jew), who was serving as the cup-bearer to the king, to orchestrate and see the building process through especially in regards to the rebuilding of the wall (Nehemiah 2).  The men, women, and children were ridiculed day and night for their hard work by neighboring evil men. The opposition was fierce, exhausting, and relentless. The Jews’ strength was gone. So much so, they wanted to quit. Prayer to God kept them going (Nehemiah 4). Just when the wall was near completion, the enemies voiced their threats once again. A message was sent to Nehemiah, “‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.'”( Nehemiah 6:2). Nehemiah recognized immediately this was not a “peace treaty” request, but a scheme meant for harm. I wonder if it was the name of the plain that initially gave the threat away – “Ono”!? Their enemy never tired; the message was sent four times. On the fifth time another letter was included that was filled with lies. Nehemiah admonished the Jews by reporting the enemies “were trying to frighten us” hoping the work on the wall would cease (Nehemiah 6:9). Furthermore, another attempt to get Nehemiah from collaborating with the Jews occurred when Nehemiah went to visit a man shut in his home. The man warned Nehemiah that men are coming to kill him, so he wanted Nehemiah to go to the temple where only the Levites had the right to enter. Nehemiah discerned that this man was not of the Lord, but quite the opposite, “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). The Message translation of the same verse: “He had been hired to scare me off—trick me—a layman, into desecrating The Temple and ruining my good reputation so they could accuse me.” Nehemiah didn’t bite the bait. His knees may have buckled in his boots, but he kept fighting…kept praying…and kept rebuilding. The crazy, great thing – the wall was rebuilt in record time! In just 52 days the work was accomplished. The ridicule, the threats, the intended harm, the intimidation and the frightening words only hurried the people of God to fulfill their God given calling! And guess who ended up being afraid?? “When all our enemies heard about this (the rebuilt wall), all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16). Now that is what you call a healthy dose of fear!

Voices of ridicule, words that mock, and intimidating lies may be hurled your way. Know this my friend – You are doing the work of the Lord. Pray as Nehemiah did: “Now strengthen my hands”.  When all said and done, it will be your enemies who will be shaking in their boots!

Jennifer Johnson

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"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." -Revelations 1:5b-6

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