Spiritual Rants: “Blasted Again” August 13 Daily Bible Readings in a year: Nehemiah 5:14-7:72 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Psalm 33:1-11 Proverbs 21:8-10

Old Testament:  Nehemiah 5:14-7:72

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Nehemiah 5:14-7:72  Blasted Again

Nehemiah was governor over Judah for twelve years and accepted no salary.  I don’t know how he did this.  It reminds me of the Steve Martin joke:  How to be a millionaire. “OK, first . . .  get a million dollars!”  He must have been rich to begin with.  He not only didn’t take a salary but none of his aides did either!  And he fed 150 Jews and officials that he fed every day.  That’s a lot of krepla and knishes!  Nehemiah probably was pretty well off given that he was the right-hand man to the king of Persia before coming to Jerusalem.  It was his right to receive money to provide for himself and his advisors.  However, I learned early on that God does provide.  He does not promise to provide more than necessities (Matt. 6:25-33).  So that is the best way to budget though I’ve found He does take care of a lot more than that.   There is a kind of dummie insurance that also comes with the plan.  As Father, He does not allow me to buy a lot of things that I shouldn’t have anyway.  Often, I realize that it is easier to find His will.  If I don’t have money for stuff, I can’t do it or buy it.  If I was rich, I’m sure I’d be out of His will more often.  Nehemiah didn’t know John 14:21 (“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”) because it hadn’t been written yet but he would have understood it.  In verse 19, Nehemiah asked for a blessing for sacrificing for his people.

In chapter six, Nehemiah’s old nemesis, Sandblaster, raises his ugly head again.  Sandy asked to meet Nehemiah out on the plains.  This was just not a plain request.  He was planning to off Nehemiah and Nehemiah knew it.  Nehemiah replied, “I’m kinda busy right now” (v. 3).  They asked three more times (v. 4).  Then Sandy tried a fifth time, adding that the word was out that Nehemiah’s prophets were putting out the word that he wanted to be king.  Nehemiah replied, “Yeah, right” (v. 8, “you are inventing them in your own mind”).  Nehemiah was on to them, that they were just trying to intimidate him (v. 9).  By the way, Satan does the same thing to us now.  All he can do is bluff.  That is why we are told to just stand against him which is the same thing Nehemiah did with Sandblaster (cf. James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).

Shemaiah was a bogus prophet.  He tried to lure Nehemiah into the Temple to get him to look weak before the people.  Shemaiah told him he’d be killed if he hid in the protection of the holy House.  Nehemiah said he couldn’t flee in the face of death.  As he said this, it dawned on him that Shemaiah was a false prophet (v. 12).  He asked God to put an end to Sandblaster and his buds and to protect him.

The wall was finished in only 52 days.  It was a witness to all of Nehemiah’s enemies that God was the exiles in their work.  It was deflating to them and discouraging (v. 16).   There was a leak in the governor’s quarters so the enemies were getting some inside information (v. 17).  They were relatives of Tobiah.   They were also speaking well of Tobiah to Nehemiah PR since they were related to him (v. 18-19).  Sometimes blood is thicker than spirit.

On the other hand, Nehemiah set his own brother, Hanani, in charge of the newly refurbished wall (Neh. 7: 1).  Hanani “feared God more than many” (v. 2).  A trusted brother who loves the Lord is a good thing to have!  Oswald Chambers said, “when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”  Hanani was a man who feared God and could be trusted with the gates.  After all, what good are rebuilt gates if the gatekeepers could be bribed to let in the enemy?

I love the phrase in Neh. 7:5, “God put it into my heart.”  In my blog on Romans 8 I discuss the value of listening to the Lord or being “sensitive to the Spirit” (Get The “Led” Out).  What if Nehemiah hadn’t listened to the Lord?  God knew who He had in Nehemiah and knew he would listen.  The result was another return to the Word of God which McGee says is necessary in any revival.  We will see how important the Word is in chapter 8 when Ezra read the Scriptures aloud for four or five hours (NIV Study Bible) to the people.

The genealogy in Neh. 7:6-72 is essentially the same as the one in Ezra 2.  McGee says the the list is duplicated to show God’s high regard for these particular pioneers.  It could have been reiterated in Nehemiah as the basis for the ones chosen to repopulate Jerusalem (Neh. 11:1).

New Testament:  1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

1 Corinthians 8:1-13    To Eat Or Not To Eat, That Is The Question

Paul tackles another issue that was probably addressed to him in a letter.  Remember the famous council we covered in Acts 15 (see Seventh Time Is The Charm)?  The purpose of that council was to determine what rules, if any, to impose on the new Gentile converts.  Paul expounds on this again here.

Paul sets out his thesis in the first verse.  He says that knowledge can never be attained.  Knowledge is never-ending for us (v. 1 -2; cf. Eccles. 12:12).  As he does in chapter 13, he advances love past knowledge.  The RSV is poetic, “if anyone imagines he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know” (v. 2).  A relationship with God is based on love, the person who loves God is known by Him (v. 3).

Paul says there really are no such things as idols or gods because there is Only One God.  When Paul is referring to “gods” and “lords,” he may be referring to demons (v. 5, cf. 10:20).  Christians certainly do not worship them.

Some Christians, however, have not reached the maturity level of understanding that food that has been offered to idols is not tainted.  The reason is that the idols are not real anyway (see above).   Food does not affect us spiritually (v. 8) but some people do not understand that.  If a person is tempted to eat food offered to idols by the example of those who are more mature, they might end up sinning.  We can understand this a little better by borrowing from  what Paul says in Rom. 14:23.  Everything we do must be done in faith and if  it isn’t done in faith, it is sin.

Paul is saying that the person who believes he can do anything is correct but he is also saying to be sensitive to other Christian brothers and sisters who may not have that understanding.  To eat food dedicated to idols in front of brothers or sisters could be sinning against Christ Himself.  Love dictates behavior.  If eating a certain food would cause someone he loves to sin, then Paul would never eat that food again.  That is true love and what we really need to know.

 


Psalm 33:1-11   Ten Reasons To Praise The Lord    A Hymn Of Praise by David


Proverbs 21:8-10  H-E Double Sticks

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

 

Do crooked people realize that they are crooked?  Maybe not.  Jeremiah says that “the heart is more deceitful  . . .  who can understand it?” (v. 8a, Jer. 17:9).  But God still holds them responsible (cf. Heb. 9:27).  There are some who are seeking the light though (v. 8b, cf. John 3:21).

If you mated up with a woman who oppresses you, maybe you can wall up an area on the roof somewhere you can’t be found (v. 9).  Better to have found a Proverbs 31 woman.  Check out that chapter when we get to it at the end.  Actually, though there is a description of a great woman, it could also describe a guy, too.

Either way, guys or girls should only pair themselves with equally mature believers.  Scripture exhorts us to link only with those who are totally committed to the Lord (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-17, see The Yoke Is On You).

Have you ever noticed that you sometimes can’t do anything right with some people?  Have you ever heard of the expression, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  It’s about the people in verse 10.  Some people are just mean.  Perhaps that is why C.S. Lewis believes there are just two kinds of people.  Those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and others to whom God says, “Thy will done.”  (Hint: They end up in H-E double sticks.)

 

Choose Life: “Heart Issues”  Scripture:  Nehemiah 7:5

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Nehemiah 7:5, “ . . . my God put it into my heart . . .”

God put a thought into Nehemiah’s heart.  (In my blog on Romans 8 I discuss the value of listening to the Lord or being “sensitive to the Spirit” (see blog Get The “Led” Out).  Nehemiah maintained a close relationship with God and God had put things in his heart before (cf. Neh. 2:12).  We need to have an ear out at all times to God in case He has something special to communicate to us.  But here a couple things to keep in mind . .

1) God will never say anything to you that is contrary to His Word.  Therefore, He usually only speaks in special ways to those who know His Word and are continually learning from it.

2)  God has sent the Spirit to us to help us understand the Word so normally God speaks to us through His Word.  The doctrine of the Holy Spirit helping us understand the Bible is called “illumination” (cf. 1 Cor. 2:12; 1 John 2:27).

3)  It is usually not good to tell people that God told you something until after it has proven true.  If whatever you thought God had told you doesn’t come about, whose fault is that?  Hint:  It’s not God’s.  So better to keep private guidance private.

It is exciting to have a personal relationship with the Lord.  The Lord can put hopes, dreams, and understandings in your heart.  He did it with Nehemiah.  What has He put in your heart?

 

If He has put something on your heart, you may have been choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

 

Fun Application: 

Consider making a list of some of the special things God has told you.  There may not be a lot of them.  But the ones He has given you are important and you should cherish them.

 

The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible reading plan for the day.  There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength.

For more on today’s reading, check out Blasted Again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.