Nehemiah 1:1-3:14 ~ 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 ~ Psalm 31:19-24 ~ Proverbs 21:4
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Old Testament - Today we begin the book of Nehemiah!
Date: Fifth century B.C.
Content: The book of Nehemiah continues the story begun by Ezra and deals with life in the restored community. The major point of Ezra is the rededication of the Temple. The major point of Nehemiah is the rebuilding of the city walls of Jerusalem. The book begins by explaining the need Jerusalem had for protection that walls would give. This is followed by a discussion of how the walls were build in spite of numerous problems both in the community and outside of it. A national day of repentance was called for and the project was completed.
Theme: The main theme of this book is the sad fact that people are slow to learn the lessons God wants to teach them. The Israelites had been carried into captivity because of their sin, but now the very same problems rose again. The people were neglecting worship, prayer, and Bible study, not to mention the fact that they were treating each other unjustly. But God in his patience continued to send his messengers to them to offer salvation and pardon. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 8-9) More commentary on the book of Nehemiah is at this link: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=901
Below is an image from today's readings from Nehemiah chapter 1 verses 3 & 4 - ""Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been burned." When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven."
Today in Nehemiah chapter 2 verse 17 we read “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I am fascinated by the rebuilding of the Temple that we read about in Ezra and now the rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah. The thought of rebuilding is something that I think each of us needs to meditate upon at times. I believe that over time in our lives we unfortunately can tear things down. Things that need rebuilding. Perhaps we have torn down our faith in some way. Perhaps our love for God. Perhaps our connection to a church community. Perhaps our relationship with a family member. Perhaps our service to the poor. Is there an area of your life that is in need of rebuilding? Will you meditate upon your life and begin to rebuild in that area? Will you pray to God for strength in rebuilding in that area and will you allow his Spirit to lead you? I pray you will be encouraged by our readings this week in Nehemiah as you read about the Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. And I pray you will begin rebuilding the things in your life that have perhaps tumbled down over time!
New Testament - Today we read 1 Corinthians Chapter 7. This has been a very powerful chapter of the Bible for much of my spiritual journey. For a period of about 7 years I felt the call to "singleness" through this chapter through much prayer and reflection. I think the call to singleness for some of us may be just for a season, or it could be for many seasons. At the same time, just as valuable is the call to marriage and family life for many of us in this chapter as well. These are some powerful verses. Some say it is best just to consider these verses in "context" of the Corinthian church two thousand years ago. However, I do believe there is value in this chapter's verses for our lives as well. How does First Corinthians chapter 7 speak to you and your life today?
This chapter may be a great time to share with you a great book right called "Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity" by Lauren Winner. You may recall that Lauren wrote the book "Girl Meets God." Real Sex is a wonderful book! It's a very honest look at Lauren's shortcomings early in her Christian walk and how chastity ultimately blessed her immensely. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who might struggle with sex outside of marriage, lust, pornography, etc. I predict that this book will make the word "Chastity" hip and cool! Really...
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Sex and the Spiritual Christian" is at this link, "The Relationship Between Spirituality and Sexuality" is at this link, and "Spirituality and the Status Quo" is at this link.
Psalms - This is a wonderful look at God's goodness in Psalm 31 verse 19: "Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world." Do you believe that God's goodness is indeed great? Are you honoring God with your life and your actions and your thoughts each day? Do you believe that God is storing up blessings for you? Do you believe that God will bless you if you go to him for protection?
Proverbs - Proverbs 21 verse 4 couldn't be much more straightforward! "Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin." I actually needed a little help for what the word haughty really means. Here's what I found in the dictionary for haughty - disdainful: having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy; "some economists are disdainful of their colleagues in other social disciplines"; "haughty aristocrats"; "his lordly manners were offensive"; "walked with a prideful swagger"; "very sniffy about breaches of etiquette"; "his mother eyed my clothes with a supercilious air"; "shaggy supercilious camels"; "a more swaggering mood than usual"- W.L.Shirer Have you ever been haughty? Can you see how being haughty is a sin? I did a google image search on the word haughty, and this is one of the images it served up, which I thought was a bit amusing.... :) (I think this little guy is far more cute than haughty!)
Worship God: First Corinthians Chapter 7 seems an appropriate point to share with you this phenomenal song by Rebecca St. James that she wrote for her future husband called "Wait for Me":
Are you waiting on God's timing in your life? Click here to Wait for Him!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Real Sex by Lauren Winner is the best book on sex and purity out there. And Lauren Winner is a GREAT writer. Also highly recommended is her book Mudhouse Sabbath which discusses how Jewish tradition (which she grew up in) can positively impact Christianity. Good, good stuff. I am a big fan.
Posted by: MG | August 10, 2007 at 02:02 PM
I can endorse the "Real Sex" book too - I have read it also.
The world is getting more & more perverse/sick in regard to sex & those of us who are in the "world" but not of it - seek to understand why we must be pure & chaste, for such a time as this.
Posted by: Jan | August 10, 2007 at 02:03 PM
1)Why was Nehemiah so concerned about the wall?
The Jews had gone back to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem and restore the nation. It had been around 90 years and the walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt.
Walls around a city were needed for protection from enemies. Symbolically "destroyed walls" inicated a city in defeat and desolation.
Do the "walls" in our life need to be rebuilt?????through the Word, prayer and worship??????
Nehemiah prayed at outset by: Praising God, Confession of Sin, Claims on God's promises to Israel, and Requesting God's help.
I pray often that I do as Nehemiah did before the king, pause and pray a quick silent prayer before speaking to someone on an important issue.
3)Nehemiah surveyed the problem, made a plan, obtained commitment, and implemented the plan.
Opposed by Samarian, Ammonite (descendant of Lot), and an Arab. Three must have had some power, but they were rebuffed as in effect being non-Jews - it was none of their business. If it was God's Will, it would be done.
4) Why list the rebuilders of the wall?
-Attests to historical nature of record
-Shows it was done in an organized manner
-Gives appreciation for magnitude of job
-Gives recognition and appreciation to the laborers
Who knows perhaps someday archaelogoists will uncover ruins with some of these names inscribed?????
Posted by: John | August 10, 2007 at 02:04 PM
You know my history of reading through the bible and the length of time I have been doing it. Every time I’ve gone through the year and begin a new, the sphere of influence the Words of the Book has on me grows narrower and narrower. When I first began, I did a lot of looking at the text and pointing my fingers more toward “other folk” and little of pointing my fingers at “me.” Where is this going? It is headed toward “sex.” Specifically, sexual immorality and what it does to us.
Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God's temple (His sanctuary), and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? If anyone does hurt to God's temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are. (1Co 3:16-17 AMP)
We have read and will continue to read for a couple of days, Ezra and Nehemiah. Both deal with the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem and then the rebuilding of the walls around the city that protect both the city and Temple. If we are the Temple of God, as the Apostle Paul has stated, the Ezra and Nehemiah—in fact the entire Old Testament, then we are the Temple in Jerusalem that has been burned and rebuilt. If we study the principals and events as “spiritual” blueprints, we will have all the tools, blueprints and necessary expertise to rebuild our broken lives and guard our temple, which is the heart.
Sexual immorality and unrestrained sex physically tears down our Temple, the heart. It is akin to someone taking down a brick structure one brick at a time.
Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.
(Pro 4:23 AMP)
Standing amazed how these books, written hindered of years apart always dovetail into each other, grace and peace,
P.S. Love the monkey
Posted by: R | August 10, 2007 at 02:04 PM
Nehemiah shows us that we must always be on guard because the enemies of God, thus our enemies, doggedly follow our footsteps when we are on assignment from God. Since we are always to be busy accomplishing our purpose, the enemy never ever gives up.
So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. (Rom 7:21 NET.)
Building up defenses to keep out the enemy takes team work, The example of cooperation is clearly seen in the way each family takes responsibility and works on the wall that is front of their place of residence.
I Corinthians 7:1-24
Ridiculed, laughed at, called a freak or crazy, those are a few of the things done to and names people call you when they find out you are celibate. And that comes from the ranks of “so called” Believers in the church. I have been celibate since 1985 and have experienced it all. When asked why I’m not having sex I reply, “Because I’m not married.” And I’m not going to run around looking for a mate so that I can legally have sex. The pressure one finds in the church to marry is unrelenting. But I have found that the people usually pushing marriage are the ones whose marriages are shipped wreck and they are living in chaos and confusion at home. The people whose marriages are founded on mutual respect and submission are not the ones pushing the single folks to marry. I wonder why? (Rhetorical Question). Could it be that those with stable marriages understand the work necessary for a godly marriage and know that no one should enter it before their time.
Living in singleness has taught me a lot about myself. I’m not quick to turn to friends when problems arise in my life, I tend to have interesting conversations with God when troubles come. Living in singleness allows me to focus on reading and studying the Word of God. I don’t have to check my schedule with anyone else but God.
Someone once told me, “Until you learn how to submit completely to God, you will never learn how to submit to a husband or wife.” Mike, I believe singleness, without sex, truly trains us to be a godly spouse. Well I guess I can say that because I’m single, as the married folks bristle. Singleness has taught me how to alone without being lonely. Singleness has also taught me that my value is not based on the number of places I can get myself invited to or asked out but my value is found in God who created me.
And you know what. If you have a self-control problem in the area of sex when you are single, you will still have it when you are married. The problem is NOT THE NEED for a legal sexual outlet, the problem is in the driving force propelling one to fulfill a God given need unlawfully. Rapist and predators, male and female, are not out for sexual gratification, though society likes to label it as such, they are out for power and control. It’s been a problem ever sense that garden thing with Adam and Eve.
Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men! In the secret place of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues. (Psa 31:19-20 AMP)
These two verses certainly are confirmed in our reading of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. If only I could and would take no thought of the words and slander whispered by others, then my life would be free of unnecessary stress. The enemies of God and Judah tried unsuccessfully to stop the rebuilding of the Temple and the protective wall around Jerusalem. Our enemies may delay the work, and delay is not permanent and it does not mean the work has stopped for they can never stop God from carrying out His will.
The work and will of God cannot even be stopped by those God calls His own and who become mired in their own sin. God always has a remnant (I Kings 19:18) even when we don’t see them and think we are the only one loyal to God.
The Jewish Publication Society and the New English Bible (JPS & NET) translate this passage much clearer, I believe.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart the agricultural product of the wicked is sin. (NET.)
A haughty look, and a proud heart - the tillage of the wicked is sin. (JPS)
These two translations give me a deeper understanding of this verse. The fruit of wickedness are haughty eyes, pride and evil actions, which are all sin. The translations point to the core or seed of the fruit so we are not just content to mow the weeds and forget to remove the root.
Posted by: R | August 10, 2007 at 02:05 PM
Thank you for your challenge. It is SO easy to be lazy and not be vigilant as warriors in the Spirit and build things up. Proper seed sowing, cultivating, and harvesting all require consistent, joyful effort!
"God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that He will reap." (Galatians 6:7)
And the parables of the sower in Matthew, Mark, and Luke show that the seed of God's word will ONLY grow, mature and reveal its FULL GLORY...
where there is GOOD soil.
So, we must continuously cultivate our hearts to properly receive the Word of God. Then, as we meditate on His Word and ACT on His Word, it grows "thirty, sixty, or hundredfold."
Nehemiah's life is like that. What a warrior! What good soil he cultivated in his heart through the help of the Spirit so that:
a. he was so tender that he wept and fasted for many days
b. he was able to persevere without getting distracted by "weeds, etc", and he kept on until God's task for him was done!
THANK YOU for the excellent book called "Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity" by Lauren Winner. I am looking forward to growing in this area of my life.
Finally, a friend of mine and I were discussing God's Word this morning. You can pray for him. He has sickle cell anemia, and he is in the hospital. I really respect his love for the Lord.
As we were talking about the Lord, this occurred to me:
What God says, He means. Even though there may be many interpretations, there is a meaning to a verse that God meant... and truth does not change.
in another way, as I reflected on it, I pictured a diamond.
Let's use a diamond to illustrate God's meaning for a verse.
Also, let's use other stones a man's interpretation: ruby, etc.
So, a verse says what God means, and it is a diamond (not a ruby or some other stone).
Yet, each diamond has many facets. So, you can say that each true truth from God also has many facets.
God's Word is inexhaustible! We could spend a lifetime and not fully get it all!
DO I REALLY SEE THE GLORY AND BEAUTY OF GOD'S WORD every day?
I need to pursure the Lord like Nehemiah... to see this more and more.
Posted by: Vance | August 10, 2007 at 02:05 PM
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan [Or Susa] the citadel
According to www.hebrew4christians.com (a Messianic Jewish website), the Hebrew name for Nehemiah is “Nechemyah”. Also, according to the same source, Nechemyah means “consolation of God”.
I thought this was very interesting, as Nehemiah did, in fact, provide God’s consolation, encouragement, and wisdom to help the people of Israel fulfill God’s Word. They were so discouraged because of their sins.
Yet, at the right time, God sent His consolation, encouragement, and wisdom through Nehemiah.
I am also sure that the loving Father also encouraged and strengthened any one of the Israelites personally who loved and worshipped Him as the true and living God Who He is.
So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, [That is, the Euphrates River] that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah,
and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, [Literally house] for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.
How did God use Nehemiah to be His instrument of consolation, encouragement, and strengthening?
Through prayer—quality time spent alone with the Lord God and during the day while Nehemiah worked
Through careful prayer and thinking, God gave Nehemiah a clear plan
God turned the very trial, tragedy, and sorrow as doorway to enter the Father’s certain, guaranteed hope and goodness
I think of Hosea 2 (NKJV)
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
“And it shall be, in that day,” says the LORD, “ That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ [Hebrew Ishi]
and no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ [Hebrew Baali]
** God did not want to be referenced at all by the false god "Baal". He wanted to be their unique Father.
He wants to be our real, genuine Father as the true and living God as well.
I like the way the verse in Hosea fits right into Nehemiah’s life and into ours. The Valley of Achor is from Joshua chapter 7.
This is the account when God had Joshua stone and judge Achan for stealing items that God had cursed which belonged to the Canaanite nations who were to be judged.
The Valley of Achor is the very place where God judged Achan and his family.
Joshua 7 (NKJV)
Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor.
And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
YET, note in Hosea, God is going to turn that very place of tragedy, sorrow, and shame into the doorway of certain, guaranteed hope realizing God’s goodness and His will!
Our prayers for others, even when prayer “doesn’t seem to be doing anything” (as human eyes see)—our repentance, our faith, our faithfulness in seeking, knowing, and loving the Lord DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
God can give us, as well, a clear plan as we wait on Him and rely on the true and real personal relationship with the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
God bless you today. God will work all things together for good…to those who are called to HIS PURPOSE and HIS GLORY.
We need to give our desires--and all of who we are--regulary to the Lord.
May our desires be a vehicle through which the Lord can minister His goodness, holiness, and beauty.
His goodness, holiness, and beauty can minister to US... as well as to others around us.
May we pray regularly for the nations, out of our real, genuine personal relationship with the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Posted by: Vance Brown | August 11, 2006 at 08:18 AM
May we NEVER forget, and may we MAKE SURE to always praise God.
May we always REFLECT on His Goodness, so we CAN REFLECT AND MIRROR His Goodness!
2 Peter 1 (NKJV)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by GLORY and VIRTUE
Glory, GREEK - DOXA
Splendor, radiance, majesty, absolute pefection
Virtue, GREEK - ARETE
Moral excellence, purity, miracle power
Virtue can also mean "miracle power", as in Mark 5 (KJV)
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, who touched my clothes?
This makes me then think of these wonderful verses from Psalm 27 (NKJV):
One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life, to behold the beauty [OR DELIGHTFULNESS] of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
Posted by: Vance | August 10, 2007 at 02:06 PM