Thursday, August 28, 2014

True Stories Wanted

God's peace to all of you.

I'm studying in advance of this Sunday, August 31 --

As a part of our "ReBuild" series I'm planning a message that I've titled "NOT A DISTRACTION: Remembering the poor and oppressed." The title comes from the fact that many times, as literal or figurative building projects go on, that some would say that the complaints and needs of those who are in the worst conditions should be ignored or at least shuttled to the side so the "building" can go on. Or, if they don't say that, that's what is done.

Nehemiah chapter 5 gives a positive, good example of how such needs should be handled.  The books namesake listens to the complaints of the poor and oppressed. He doesn't ignore them. He allows the cries of the poor to affect him, he then "takes counsel with himself" (which I'm sure included prayer and reflection on the Word of God). He then confronts the leaders and officials of the people because they have been benefiting from a [mini] economic system that is said to have caused the common folks of Jerusalem to beg, go into debt and sell their children into slavery--to simply survive. 

In the case of the nobles and elders that Nehemiah confronts, they react in a very good way. "They were silent and could not find words to say." Nehemiah then instructs them further and warns them about what will happen if they do not listen--and they change their ways, returning their mortgaged lands and the children who had been sold into slavery.

(Nehemiah also sets a good example, not using his privileged position to enrich himself but instead using all he has to bless those who are in need.)

What poignant story or stories are you aware of that would drive home the point that this is not just ancient history but something that goes on today? The stories could be either negative examples (stories of exploitation) or positive ones (stories of those who confront the self-centered powers and/or set good examples in the face of need).

FYI - The early church, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed these issues in Acts 2, 4 and 6... and in other ways as well.

Thank you.

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