"State of Emergency" (Nehemiah 1:1-3)
Look in your neighborhood. Look at its history, culture, relationships, style. What do you see? If you live in an urban area, you might see high-rise offices, blight, crime and housing thats more likely to have a balcony than a back yard. If you live in the suburbs, you are likely to see single-family homes with big backyards, single story office buildings, more white collar crime than blue-collar, and less of what some term urban decay.
Whatever the case may be, chances are you dont see the decline of spirituality in your city. You most likely dont see the spiritual walls of protection torn down. Look around. Sex is more easily accessible than ever, television brings violence, even the theme song to Family Guy makes the observation it seems today, that all you see, is violence in movies, and sex on T.V. But where are those good old fashioned values.on which we used to rely?! Look around. Fathers are against sons, mothers against daughters, and a man is at variance with his own house. Look around. Every neighborhood has a bar. Look around. Chances are you dont see the young lady entrapping young men and bringing them to their destruction by way of her bed. Look around. Chances are you dont see the pastors cheating on their wives with the church secretary. Look around. We have only touched the surface of the spiritual decline evidenced in our cities.
If we look at the text we find an ordinary man. He is a government employee, single, and a person of great influence. His name? Nehemiah. Nehemiah was at work, serving in the Palace at Shushan which was the winter residence of the king of Persia, who at the time was Artaxerxes I. When his brother comes to visit, he inquires of him about the state of his hometown, Jerusalem. He is only greeted with bad news. It seems that foreign enemy has burned down the gates, and torn down the walls. Not only that, but it seems like, the people that returned with Ezra were oppressed and afflicted. Jerusalem was in a state of emergency.
Look around. What has crept up in your life? What has attacked your city? your neighborhood? Your interpersonal connected network of relationships? Your circle of friends? Your family, Your life. You see walls were important to cities in those days because they offered safety from bandits and raids. They symbolized strength and peace. They delineated the boundary of the domain of the ruler of that city. Inside of a city wall were homes, shops, families, community, neighborhoods. There was structure and protection. When these walls were torn down boundaries were less clear, enemies could attack at will and defenses were weakened. and the place whos name literally means praise, became a place of great trouble and affliction as over 5,000 residents were in distress.
Your life can sometimes feel like Jerusalem. Everything in your life was going fine until one day you found your self shattered and in shambles. Today I encourage you to take inventory of your life. What sins have crept in? What habits have formed? what has weighed you down? Now look at your neighborhood, your city, your region. Is it suffering from the same decline? Have you taken on the characteristics of Jerusalem? Considered a disgrace and a reproach because of the state you are in? What about in Gods eyes?
Be aware of your state: If you dont know ask. The psalmist cried out to God: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me. (Psalms 139:23-24a KJV)
Take inventory of your life: Read your bible. Hebrews says the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The bible gives us a number of inventory lists located: Matthew 15:19-20; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 12:9-21; Romans 13:8-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 4:25-31; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:27
As I close. There are difficult days ahead. It is imperative before you take on any task that you must first evaluate the situation. Where are you on the pathway of peace, the roadway of righteousness, and the highway of holiness? Have you passed through the gateway of glory? Have you received the key to knowledge? Have you drank from the wellspring of wisdom? Have you opened the the doorway of deliverance?Where are you? What is the state of your life. We are in a State of Emergency.