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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
God’s concern for the poor is revealed in almost every book of the Bible. Here, Nehemiah insisted that fairness to the poor and oppressed was central to following God. The way we help those in need ought to mirror God’s love and concern. Make it a practice to help those in need around you. (NLT)
Nehemiah 5:1-12 – About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more money just so we can buy the food we need to survive.” Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.” And others said, “We have already borrowed to the limit on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. We belong to the same family, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking about the situation, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
At the meeting I said to them, “The rest of us are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of loans. You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. Repay the interest you charged on their money, grain, wine, and olive oil.”
Then they replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised.
Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. – James 2:17 (NRSV)
Lin Daniels’ (Massachusetts) story is titled “COMPASSION IN ACTION;” here is a portion of Lin’s story:
“When I was in eighth grade, I witnessed an act of compassion I will never forget. A boy using crutches fell in the entrance to our school. I watched with dismay and did not know what to do. Meanwhile, Diana, another student, asked him if he needed help. When he responded yes, she came to his aid. She allowed her feeling of compassion to become an act of compassion.
“. . . As God’s servants we too are called to respond with mercy and to put God’s love into action.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – I am a hearer of God’s word; I can also be a doer. (See Jas. 1:22) [below].
Prayer: Dear God of compassion, help us to go beyond just feeling and become doers of your word and work. Amen.
It is important to listen to what God’s Word says, but it is much more important to obey it and to do what it says. We can measure the effectiveness of our Bible study time by the effect it has on our behavior and attitudes. Do you put into action what you have studied? (NLT)
James 1:22 – And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself.
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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