July 23

Nehemiah 4-6, Psalm 49

Approximately 10 years ago when the fight over Obamacare loomed, one of the younger physicians that was training to become a specialist told me of an encounter with a Pennsylvania U.S. Senator.  He had made repeated requests for a meeting with passionate views on the subject.  He finally was given a meeting.  Upon entering the room, with just the two of them present, after exchanging introductions, the young physician was next asked what he had for him.  Not knowing what he meant, after another few words it became obvious that the senator was requesting money to sway his vote.  When the young physician stated he brought no money with him, he was shown the door.  Though some in our Congress have held previous jobs, many are lifelong politicians.  The current annual salary for the average member in Congress is $174,000.  The estimated net worth of Congress is 7 billion dollars, with the typical member having a net worth over 1 million dollars.  These men and women are called public servants.  We, the people get heated on either side of the political aisle, but much of the problem lies in the greed of the system.  Pastors are servants and shepherds, most who take their calling very seriously and serve with a pure heart.  Yet many in the prosperity gospel movement have fleeced their flock, with the likes of Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland all with net worths of 40 million dollars or more.  

Nehemiah faced many problems both externally and internally in building the wall around Jerusalem.  The people were faithfully following the call by God through Nehemiah to keep up the dedicated work to complete the project, but many of the nobles and rulers were using it as an opportunity to make money.  In chapter 5 we read in the opening verses that due to the famine in the land those in charge were lending money at exorbitant interest which resulted in the confiscation of houses, vineyards and even the selling into slavery of their Jewish brothers and sisters.  We read Nehemiah's response in Neh. 5:6-8, "And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.  After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, "Each of you is exacting usury from his brother."  So I called a great assembly against them.  And I said to them, "According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations.  Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren?  Or should they be sold to us?"  Then they were silenced and found nothing to say."  Nehemiah was not guilty of this practice, serving as an example of one with a true servant's heart.  The result was the rulers and nobles restored to the people what they had taken in greed.

We, who belong to Christ, are all commanded to have a servant's mentality.  This is true in every aspect of our life from our families, our workplace, our churches and our neighborhoods. Jesus modeled this behavior better than any.  In John 13 in the beautiful example when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, he concludes with, "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him." (John 13:15-16).  We read of the servant mentality and humility of Jesus further in Philippians 2:5-8, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."  So Paul in Philippians 2:4 exhorts us, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."   Each of us have our own sphere of influence.  We can use our position either for the good or bad of others.  If we adopt the heart of our Savior, that of a servant, amazing things could be done in the name of God.  Opportunities abound, are we keeping our eyes open and seeing them.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster