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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 5:6-19 (June 6, 2024)

June 6, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 5:6-19

Grace and Peace to you on this very warm Thursday morning.

Today I am going to jump right into the study, because I have a late morning Echo Cardiogram.

Today's reading from Nehemiah, tells us a great deal about who this man really is. Not only has he come to call for the rebuilding of the wall and gate, but he has also shown by his leadership that sacrifice is what is really necessary if the restoration project in Jerusalem is going to succeed. That includes Nehemiah's own sacrifice. He leads not only in words, but also by example.

The first crisis was to get the people who were lending money and goods to the builders to relent from charging any interest for their help. The world doesn't take long to break into the lives of even very faithful people, and to cause them to slip in the ways in which they would normally remain faithful.  This entire passage fits well together from top to bottom. The commitment of the lenders to stop their money-making ways at the expense of their Judahite brothers and sisters happens only because of what we discover is going on every day as Nehemiah sets up a massive meal un. taking and feeding of the 150 or more men and women who are working on the wall and the gate. Multiple animals are used for that evening meal, with plenty of other food as well, including wine, which was the preferred drink to water, because of health issues which consuming water often caused at this time in history. Because of Nehemiah's generosity and commitment to the project which he has encouraged to get done, others too, when reminded by Nehemiah's example and by his stern words about what will make for the success of the rebuilding, take up the challenge. How much are we like this in the church? If our clergy leader is unwilling to answer the call for increased giving, or for some special project which others might spurn, then the people of a parish usually find themselves responding less positively to the appeal. However, if the leadership is up front about their commitment, just like Nehemiah, then the congregation is much more likely to make mutual sacrifices and greater commitment to what is being asked for. The fact that Nehemiah is willing and ready to speak up to the injustice and lack of faith of those who are charging interest and taking property as payment and or collateral, is also a really good example for us as members of the one true church of Jesus Christ. As I said before, it is pretty easy to get on a wrong path, thinking that path to be what would please God the most. In our own nation we have a great problem with Christian Nationalism, and the drive of people and congregations involved in it to think that power and money are the resources that will please God, and in those churches, people even believe in the destruction of those who do not agree with them.  I am so glad to be a part of a thinking, confessing, and Christ centered church, where our great guide is not  power and wealth, rather it is Christ's guidance to Love God above all things, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, which is really the fullness of the 10 commandments, and to do so out of thanksgiving for the salvation we have received from our Savior.  Regrettably, churches, where Christian Nationalism is the lie of their lives, have lost their way in their service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so like Nehemiah, we must be willing to confront it as unchristian. I guess you know now how I really feel about this crisis for Christians in our nation today.  We can never assume that just because the church is involved that it is right. We have to use the gift of discernment to be certain about the work of the Gospel that we do in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Keep me in your prayers today please, as I go through this process at the doctor's office. God bless you all.

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim

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