Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 16: Nehemiah 11 – 12:26; Psalm 34:11-22; Proverbs 21:14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:2


            Nehemiah: The leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem and they cast lots to have 1/10 of the people move to Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem are then listed by family names and ministries. Then the villages outside of Jerusalem are listed. Some Levites were assigned to Benjamin.
            A more detailed list of the priest and Levites who came with Zerubbabel, those in the days of Joiakim, Eliashib, and Nehemiah while governor are also listed.
            Psalm: This section of the Psalm is instructions about learning to fear the Lord. If we love life and want to do good, then there are many admonitions in this Psalm. There are also warnings about what happens to wicked people in contrast to the way the Lord takes care of those who are righteous. Of particular interest are his help for the afflicted.
            Proverbs: Secret gifts calms anger and the same kind of bribes avert wrath. Righteous people enjoy justice but terrifies evildoers. Diverting from good sense results in death.
            1 Corinthians: We need to stay away from all forms of idolatry. We have the cup and bread that we bless and eat as a way of showing our participation in the blood and body of Christ. The people of Israel ate of the food sacrificed on the altar and so participated in it. In the same way, food offered to idols is food offered to demons and those that eat it are participating with the demons. We should not participate with both Christ and demons because that would provoke the Lord to jealousy and he is stronger than us.
            Though all things ae lawful, they may not be helpful or build us up. So, we should be aware of others’ good not just our own. Eat meat sold in the market or served as a guest of an unbeliever, but don’t question it because everything is the Lord’s. If someone says it was sacrificed to idols then don’t eat it so as not to offend his conscience. But remember that it is ok for you to eat it if you are thankful for it and your conscience is not bothered.
            Whatever we do, we are to do it for God’s glory but we don’t want to cause offence to Jews or Gentiles. In these kinds of things Paul tries to please them so that they may be saved.
            We should imitate Paul because he imitates Christ.
            Paul commends the Corinthians because they remember him in what he taught and the traditions he gave them.

What Stood Out

            Nehemiah: “And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem” (Neh 11:2).  
            Psalm: “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14).
            Proverbs: “A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath” (Prov 21:14).
            1 Corinthians: “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons” (1 Cor 10:20).


            Nehemiah: In different times of our lives, we are called upon to sacrifice things for the good of the country, church, community, or others in general. Because Jerusalem was so sparsely populated, one out of every ten families was selected to move to Jerusalem. This is a good reminder that in time of trouble or any kind of unrest, we should be willing to make sacrifices. My parent’s generation made huge sacrifices during WWII. Some went to war while those at home rationed supplies and resources. This concept of giving for the good of the country, community, or others appears to be lacking in our country at this time. Jesus said that the ones who would be great in his kingdom should learn to be servants (Matt 20:26), not protesters demanding their rights. The people who stayed behind blessed those who were willing to move to Jerusalem. We should be blessing those who serve and do likewise.
            Psalm: In this Psalm, David provides instruction on how to fear the Lord and live a good life. It seems simple but is hard for most to put into practice. The first is getting control of what we say. Think how much better the world would be if everyone spoke the truth without any deceit and kept from speaking evil. James expands on how hard this is in James 3:1-12.
            The second instruction is to then have our actions match our speech. If we don’t speak evil, then we should not do evil either. We replace it with doing good. This results in seeking peace and not just looking for it but pursuing it. We can’t just talk about peace but need to do something about that in personal ways. That means avoiding situations that break the law or create chaos just to make a point that evil is wrong. It means personally being kind to those are not kind. Jesus put it this way, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). As I said, it isn’t easy.
            Proverbs: Bribes are a way of life in many parts of the world. I was told that one over-night delivery company did better than others in South America because their agents knew who to bribe. The Bible has many condemnations of bribery and one of God’s attributes is that he is impartial and doesn’t take bribes. Proverbs 21:14 is in no way condoning bribes, it is simply stating a fact of fallen human nature. Some people get angry when there is no secret gift or bribe given to them. Proverbs listed one after another don’t always have a connection but the two following ones can apply to bribery. A righteous person will be glad when bribery is found out and justice is executed. The ones who give and accept bribes will be terrified when they are discovered and depending on the justice system, they just might end up dead. We should also abhor bribery and rejoice when it is exposed and stopped.
            1 Corinthians: Paul makes it clear that demons are behind idols. They exert power to captivate people in idol worship. The more people sacrifice to idols, the stronger the demonic influence. We get updates from the Jesus Project which shows the Jesus Movie all over the world. They often document the power that witch doctors and shamans have over the people who worship their idols. However, they also document the power prayer has and the Gospel of Luke as presented in the Jesus Movie to bring salvation and break the demonic stronghold. Even though we know that we have power to resist demons because of the blood of Jesus, we need to be careful. Paul just reminded the Corinthians and us that we need to take heed lest we fall. Therefore, we should be careful about “innocently” reading our horoscopes, using ouija boards, or anything that resembles occult practices specified in the Old Testament. Paul is very clear, we can’t partake of these things and Jesus at the same time. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24 KJV).
            Make no mistake about it, demons want to be our masters. While most theologians will agree that a Christian can’t be possessed by a demon, that doesn’t mean that a Christian can’t be so involved with them that are influenced by them more than by the Lord. Paul says staying angry and not getting rid of it gives a foothold or opportunity to the devil (Eph 4:27). He is talking to Christians!


             I don’t want to be one who doesn’t just recognize what is wrong with our country but one who will serve to help it. I don’t want to post antagonizing comments one way or another, but I want to teach about being a servant before being a protester. I also want to share the gospel because that is the best way to make changes.

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