Spiritual Rants: “Watergate Crisis” August 14 Daily Bible Readings in a year: Nehemiah 7:73-9:21 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 Psalm 33:12-22 Proverbs 21:11-12

Old Testament:  Nehemiah 7:73 -9:21

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Nehemiah 7:73-9:21 Watergate Crisis

The people asked Ezra to read the Word to them.  Isn’t that interesting?  God was working in the people and they asked Ezra to bring them the Word.  After that, the reaction was a crisis of faith.  A revival broke out!

They assembled at the Water gate.  (Check my blog on the meaning of all the gates around Jerusalem:  A Gated Community).  The Water gate was the gate where the water was brought into the city.  It also symbolizes the “water of the Word” (cf. Eph. 5:26).  Ezra read the Word that had been found and no doubt explained a lot of it for four to five hours (v. 3, “from morning until midday,” cf. NIV Study Bible).  All the people who could understand were there (v. 3).  All the people stood all this time (v.5).  That is respect for the Word!  (Most people walk out of my sermons after about 45 minutes of sitting.)

This was some gigantic Bible Study! Thirteen Bible teachers are expressly mentioned as teaching the people in their own language and explaining things to them (Neh. 8:7-8).  The Hebrew language had apparently gone through changes through the years and had to be “translated.”  This might be analogous to trying to understand Shakepeare without a guide.  Today we have many translations and hopefully a few Bible teachers that understand Greek and Hebrew.

Revival had broken out and as J. Vernon McGee points out, it all started with the Word.  Then there was social action!  Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites told them that the Lord was pleased with them.  They wept after hearing the Word but the leaders told them to go and eat and not to be sad.  After hearing the Word, they could tell how sinful they had been in not following it.  But their leaders said, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v. 10).

The Feast of Booths looks forward to the final coming of Christ in the Millennium.  Peter may not have been mad at the Transfiguration when he wanted to make booths for everyone.  After the reading of the law, the people realized they were supposed to be celebrating this feast at this time of the year, mid-September.  Verse 17 says it was the first celebration of its type since Joshua “and there was rejoicing.”  There is rejoicing when God’s will is done.  Ezra read from the law all during the seven day feast (v. 18).  It was one of the first Bible conferences.  I love when we have those.  Ut, oh.  Does anyone have those anymore?

On the twenty-fourth of that same month, the people came together in sackcloth and dirt on them, fasting.  They collectively confessed their sins.  Some of the same Levites who had taught them and some others called for all the people to worship the Lord.  They did and the prayer resembled the psalms of confession in Psalm 78 and 105–106.

Notice verse 21 that in all the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness “ . . . forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.”  God will provide like that for us today if we trust Him in faith (Matt. 6:33).

New Testament:  1 Corinthians 9:1 -18

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1 Corinthians 9:1-18  Horse Feed

It’s funny how so many deacons/elders in the church, who don’t know much about the Bible, know that Paul was a tentmaker and earned his own living without needing support (Acts 18:3).  Interesting that they would know that but not realize that the same man wrote “If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (v. 11).  The rest of the chapter is pretty much an entire chapter on why pastors should be paid.  Paul said that he didn’t take a salary so he wouldn’t be a burden on them (cf. 2 Cor. 11:9).  Verse 14 is very forthright about paying pastors, ” . . .  the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”  They should be paid.  In Nehemiah 13: 10, the entire Levitical system, we are told, had broken down because the pastors, the Levites, had not been paid.  So they had to go back to farming to take care of themselves and their families.  How sad.  And, yet, today, if a pastor does not “shepherd” a mega-church, can he make a living teaching the Word?

Of course, a true pastor knows and Paul understood that a Christian’s true reward would be in Heaven and at the bema seat (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15;  2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10).

I have already written on the church prayer, “Lord, you keep Him humble and we’ll keep him poor.”  McGee tells the story of preacher who had a nice horse but he, the preacher, was on the slim side.  One of his congregants asked him why his horse was so healthy but that he himself was skinny.  The preacher told him, “that’s because I feed the horse and you feed me.”

 


Psalm 33:12-22   Seven More Reasons To Praise The Lord    A Hymn Of Praise by David


Proverbs 21:11-12   Scuff On You

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I guess there are no “scoffers” being punished these days.  If they were, “naive” and “the wise” would have been smartened up (v. 11).  Maybe there are too many scoffers these days.  Our day is a day of mockers (cf. Jude 18, “A Unicorn With A Brain” and “A Mod And A Rocker“).

The NIV makes a little more sense of verse 12, “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.”  It is God Who takes vengeance (cf. Rom. 12:19; Lev. 19:18; Deut. 32:25).  But definitely avoid the inhabitations of those who hate God.

When I was a kid, we used to issue a “kid curse” when others seemed to have talionic justice issued on them (see A Cush On You, No Escape).  It was “scuff on you.”

 

Choose Life: Scripture: Nehemiah 8:3; 9:2-3, 1 Corinthians 9:14  NASB    “Where Are Christians Today?”

“He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law . . . The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.   Nehemiah 8:3; 9:2-3

 

Most Christians today seem to want to be entertained.  Give them a rock group on Sunday morning and something akin to a movie or a Broadway show and they’ll be happy.  Too much Bible and Bible truth and you can clean a place out in a flash.  Of course, Jesus knew about that.  He had a gigantic crowd following Him and He dispersed them in a nanosecond.  He started talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Poof!  Everyone was gone (cf. John 6:60-66).

In the day of Nehemiah, the people stood for a quarter of a day to hear the Bible read.  Doing the math, that’s six hours!  Then for another six hours “they confessed [their sins] and worshipped”!  I’ll bet they weren’t singing “off the wall,” radio songs, either!

They had so poorly supported their ministers that the Levites (the ministers, not just Levis-wearers) had to go back and farm to make a living (cf. Neh. 13:10).  Today the mega-churches, with their gigantic programs and shows, have crowded out the smaller churches that more personally serve their constituents.  The common denominator has been lowered to “believing in Jesus” and enjoying life.  Oh, yeah, and community: small “sharing” groups.  Where is the Bible in the mix?

There was talk of writing “Ichabod” (“the glory has departed,” cf. 1 Sam. 4:21) over the doors of the seminary I attended . . .  that was thirty years ago!   One of my professors back in those days told me that people were jumping from church to church when there was something they didn’t like about their current church.  We live in an age where people make up their own religions and expect the church to entertain but not interfere.  That may be why all of the churches are essentially identical.  Perhaps, we should write “Ichabod” over the doors of our churches.

Where are the real Christians today?  Are you a real Christian?

 

If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application: 

Investigate what you believe.  Write down the main things you believe about the Bible and Christianity.  Where did those things come from?  Do you just like them? Were you taught by a pastor and just accept them?  (He won’t be standing next to you at the judgment for Christians, see blog Bema Me Up, Scotty!).

Part of being spiritual is reading the Bible.  In fact, that’s most of being spiritual!  Are you reading daily?  This blog might be a good starting point for you.  That’s its purpose.  The search feature is not perfect but you can use it to find Scriptures you might be studying.  You can also find out the annual reading that contains the Scripture you may want to study.  You can find it here One Year Bible Online.

 

 

The purpose of the Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) 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 my One Year Bible blog:   Watergate Crisis

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