Be filled with the Spirit.
Nehemiah expected problems. He understood that things tend to go downward, not upward, so he expected things in Jerusalem to deteriorate. That leads to a second principle: he exposed problems. He was willing to lay aside his rose-colored glasses and look at the situation as it really was, and he immediately saw four problems. The first problem was unwise alliances. While Nehemiah was away in Persia, the Israelites had formed some very unwise partnerships. Look at Nehemiah 13:4-5: “Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah, had prepared a large room for him, where formerly they put the grain offerings, the frankincense, the utensils and the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, the singers and the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.” Remember Tobiah? He was one of the avowed enemies of Israel. He and his buddy Sanballat were the ones who tried to stop the rebuilding of the wall. Tobiah was an Ammonite, and God had said, in effect, “You shall never allow an Ammonite to come within the wall of the city” (Deuteronomy 23:3). Why? Because they were bent on destroying Israel. Not only had Tobiah been allowed to come within the wall of the city–he had been invited into the temple. In the temple there were rooms that were set aside to collect the tithes and offerings of the people. But the people had quit giving as they should, so the rooms were empty. And Eliashib came in one day and said, “Let’s put these rooms to use. Let’s put Tobiah in one of these rooms.”
Here is an important principle: any area of life that is not filled by the Spirit of God will be filled by the enemy of God. Think of your life like a temple with various rooms in it. One room is labeled “friendships.” One is labeled “career.” One is labeled “money.” One is labeled “habits.” You have all of these different rooms in your life. Any room that is not being filled by the Spirit of God is open to being filled by the enemy of God. You see, nature abhors a vacuum. Someone is going to fill that area of your life. That is why Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” That word “filled” here literally means “controlled by.” One of the most dangerous things you can do is allow some area of your life not to be controlled by the Spirit of God. If you do not allow God to control it, the enemy of God is going to control it.
Dwight L. Moody talked about the challenge of trying to live in the world without being controlled by the world. He compared it to a ship sailing on the sea. “The place for a ship is in the sea,” he said, “but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.” As Christians, we are to live in this world, but we have to be careful not to allow the world to seep into us or it will take us down spiritually. Any part of our life not filled by the Spirit of God will be filled by the enemy of God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Eating Problems For Breakfast” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Dwight L. Moody, as quoted in J. I. Packer, “Hot Tub Religion” (1987; repr., Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 85.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org