July 22

Nehemiah 1-3, Psalm 48

As an obstetrician I've been delivering babies for 30 years.  Through the years various trends have been fashionable to "improve the outcome".  Both the mothers and the physicians tend to elevate their roles feeling that they are completely responsible for the beautiful baby which results.  The trend now is eating organic, as though all the years previously those born must have been at a disadvantage for not having done so.  I like to quote them a study from the year 1944 in which the Nazis occupied the Netherlands and starved the population during the winter.  Over a 6 month period the pregnant women received 450 calories per day (piece of bread/ glass of milk essentially).  They were nutritionally deprived and lost on average 26 pounds over this time.  The outcome was the babies were only 1/2 pound less than average.  More strikingly, in a nation which uniformly tests after high school, there was no difference in intelligence from years prior or after this time.  I tell my patients that, God defends the defenseless.  I also tell them that in the creation of their child, God is the main character with both her (the mother) and me (the physician) assuming supporting roles.  This is not to make them feel unimportant, but to reassure many women who can't eat properly due to nausea and vomiting and find themselves losing weight and others who drive themselves crazy trying to find the perfect diet to get the perfect child, that their child is safe in His hands.

We see in the opening chapters of Nehemiah that he didn't rely on his ingenuity but continually sought the counsel, trusted and gave credit to God.  We read in Neh 1:11, after hearing about the condition of the walls of Jerusalem and in prayer  before God, "O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name;and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man."  When the opportunity arises to ask the king , during the conversation, he prays quickly to God to find the right words, "Then the king said to me, "What do you request?"  So I prayed to the God of heaven.  And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight , I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it." (Neh 2:4-5).  When laughed at and despised by the enemies of Judah, notice Nehemiah's answer in Neh 2:20, "So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."  It would have been easy to answer in pride glorifying himself, or mentioning his position with the king, but when he was cornered he chose to depend on and glorify God.

We, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, have such power within us, but how often do we pridefully rely on our own weaker power and ingenuity.  Jesus warned us in Matthew 10:18-20, "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."  Whether we don't fully trust or whether we are more concerned about being liked by others or what those in the world might do to us, unlike Nehemiah, for the most part Christianity remains silent in a world which insults our God daily.  What a force we could be and what revival could take place if we would take to heart Jesus' words and boldly reach out in confidence rather than weakly.  Paul cautioned Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster