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Nehemiah

The task of building the wall (God's work) had been finished, the priests were set up in the temple, Jerusalem was populated (to a degree), and the people had renewed their covenant with God, and promised to be faithful.

Sounds Good? What happened next?

Here we go again :( Over time the people turned away from God. It may not have been an act of "commission" for most, but an act of "omission" by not objecting to the violations of the covenants by some. They were silent and/or said or did nothing to rectify the situation.

1)Violated separation of Gentiles ( Ammonite or Moabite) from the temple.
2) Violated keeping the Sabbath Holy.
3) Violated (lo and behold) the command that there be no intermarriage with the Canannites - an age old problem.

Nehemiah came in and rectified all the above, purified the needed elements and people, and set things back on the right path.

May there always be a Nehemiah amongst God's people so that when assemblies stray and the brethren are silent, we can be called back to walk in the path of Christ. Not that we can be actually righteous, but being declared righteous through our faith in Christ, we can strive to be on that path.

Even if sometimes it takes an outsider (but a Godly person/leader) to get us re-directed. I believe that while Satan never quits in his attacks on the "body of Christ", that even more so - God Provides. Here it was in the person of Nehemiah? Has there been a Nehemiah in your life?

1Cor11:1-16

AUTHORITY, YIELDING, AND.....HEAD-COVERINGS?

Paul has talked about the Corinthians questioning his apostolic authority, and the need to yield in love to one another - now more on the same, but with verses concerning head-covers(???).

It is amazing, as I looked around how many respected pastors and churches sidestep these verses, if not ignoring them altogether.
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BACKGROUND

Remember the state of the Corinthians. They are not "mature" Christians. There are a lot of decisions made based on man's wisdom and rationalizing around their existing culture. Eating meat of idols, sexual immorality, forming cliques over a man's style of preaching, testing Christ, and grumbling - wanting things their own way.

In addition, divorce is common for both men and women, and some women have gone to extremes in blurring the gender lines. In Rome and Corinth family life has deteriorated because of some or all of the above.

As Christians they can be likened to the Jews of the Exodus in that they rebel against God, and this has manifested itself in even rebelling against Paul, their spiritual father (as founder of the Corinthian Church).
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Authority - Yielding

First let us remember:
Gal 3:28
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." NIV

We are equal in Christ. Contrasting this with world culture at the time, and other religions and cultures down through the ages, in most the women does not fare very well.

Throughout the Old Testament heroes and heroines, Jewish Nation, and Christians - God works through separation and distinction.

God is also a God of Authority, and roles are designated. Christ to God, man to Christ, and woman to man. Man is not to lord it over woman, think he has the role because he is smarter, stronger, harder working etc. - he has the role because God assigned it that way. The dynamics of the marriage is not one of an ogre ordering around his wife, but the man is to love the woman as Christ loves the Church, and the wife is to respect the husband for the role he has in marriage.

In this context for the husband to be a "true" head of the household - he must be a servant. Doing what is best for the family out of love.
http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume3/leader.htm
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Corinthian Church

The church suffers from a blurring of the concept of separation and distinction of gender. Just as importantly there is a loss of authoritative structure in the family and the church.

Paul is trying to get back to basics. Within the context of the Corinthian culture Paul is calling for men to look like men and women like women. Within the authoritative structure as set up by God from the beginning, Paul is calling for husbands and wives to look and act like the husband and wives that God has ordained since Genesis. Head coverings were a part of this "look".
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Head-covering were important in the context of the culture at the time. What does it mean for us today? What is the lesson?

You can't just say it is cultural, as Paul brings in the authoritative structure of man and woman from Genesis and "because of angels" as definative reasons to wear "head covers". Neither of these have to do with the Corinthian culture of the time.

I think the angels are watching as God's plan unfolds (Eph 3), and they look upon us -
1Peter1:12b "...Even angels long to look into these things." NIV
With an air of expectation.

What expectation?

I think it is to see: if this rebellious mankind that has now been saved by God dying for their sins, and who has been endowed with a regenerated heart and spirit will now submit to God's authority.

In verse 10 "sign of authority" may not be correct. I believe it is equally correct to translate the phrase:

"woman ought to have authority on her head."

If that is true:

The angels are not looking for a scarf, hat or shawl on a woman's head - they are looking at the "attitude" of the worshipper. Are they worshipping in submissiveness and yielding out of love to their partner and in turn Christ? In Corinth that would be represented by head covers, but one can be compliant to cultural conventions, and still be rebellious inside. No, I think the angels are looking at our attitude.

Is the women respecting the authority structure God layed out in Genesis? I think if you look at it this way - the Corinthian Culture demanded the head-coverings, but not so in today's culture (in most countries).
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Paul bottom lines it with this command, and this is where I differ from Bob Deffingbaugh:

"Judge for yourselves":

Bob feels like Paul is stating this with the expectation of the answers to questions agreeing with Paul. And that would be true in the Corinthian times.

The Greek verb structure is that this is a command to make a completed decision by the Christian.

Judge is "krino" which is not through discernment or judging like a court case - but equivalent to the judgement of God. Complete and authoritative. Not only regarding head coverings, but hair length for men and women.

So for today's Christian the decision is left to us - not as a non-essential to convice in ones own mind - but with absolute authority based on our prayerful judgment.

While head-coverings or hair length may not be mandated, I think what should be respected and submitted to is the - authority structure of God. Also the separate and distinct nature of the sexes should be clear between men and women.
======================================================
Yikes - this was way long :( - sorry . I also am at a loss for how this applies to single women? Both in Corinthian times and today.

Nehemiah 12:27-13:31
Several things struck me in this reading the first was in verses 44 and 45 of the twelfth chapter.

And on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard from far away. On that day men were appointed over the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits, and tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions prescribed by the law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah took delight in the priests and Levites who were ministering. (Nehemiah 12:43-44 NET.)

Do we ever take delight in rejoicing over the things God has blessed us with? Do we take delight in the ministers God has called to serve us, His gifts to the Body of Christ that are placed into service to build us up? Usually when something is being built for the glory of God, there can be a little bit of murmuring and complaining, “If I was in charge…” and other derogatory comments along that line. Do we honor the men of God who serve us, or do we complain and give details on how we would function differently if we were in charge?

The second thing that caught my interest was that “bad” penny Tobiah, he just keeps popping up. After having done all he could to discourage the building of the wall, moving from threats and intimidation to murder plots, he has the nerve and audacity to move into a room in the Temple after it was built. How does this translate into our world? Do we try to thwart the plans of God using every trick in the book? Then when the feat is accomplished, and it will be because God can not be stopped, do we then “move in” on the finished product and try to take over? And has anyone ever did that to you when you were being led by God to accomplish His work in your community? Nehemiah threw the scoundrel out. Have we thrown out our Tobiahs or do we let them move in and occupy the best room in the “house”?


I Corinthians 11:1-16

Mike’s admonishment for us to take into consideration the cultural of the day is very wise. Too often, we fail to learn about the world, cultural and customs, the writers of the Books of the Bible lived in. Paul wrote a letter to a particular church, Corinth, in a particular time for a specific purpose, and we must keep that in mine when we read. The patterns and principals may be applied to our lives but his comments regarding social and cultural practices of the day must be seriously considered and his purpose for rebuke understood.

If anyone of us were to find in our attics, draws, or storage trunks a letter written to an aunt or uncle long gone, we cannot act like the letter was directed to us, although Paul expected this letter would be read by other churches we must consider the initial audience.

Although Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, he being a Jew would cover his head when he entered the synagogue or The Temple with a prayer shawl and the women would cover their heads too.

Psalm 35:1-16

David gives an example, himself, of how to handle persecution from those we know intimately and those who are strangers. Persecution will come, false accusations will be hurled but God is our “daysman,” He will protect us, defend us and be our advocate, so we should praise God even when we don’t feel like it. That is why David talks about a “sacrifice of praise” because we do it even when we do not “feel like it” and when we foresee no benefit to ourselves.

Proverbs 21:17-18
Hmmm, this Proverb, the 17th verse in particular, sent me running to my concordance, Mr. Strong. In the King James this verse reads,

He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

The Hebrew word translated poor has also been translated as want (Judges 18:10; 19:19-20), and need (Deut 15:8) Thee Hebrew word appears 18 times in the Old Testament and only one time in that eighteen is it translated poverty (Prov. 11:24).


The word-translated poverty in these two verses is not the same word,

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man. (Proverbs 24:33-34 KJV)

It is from another Hebrew word. The word “want” is the same Hebrew word translated “poor” in Proverbs 21:17.

I think there is a big difference between being poor and being in poverty but I’m not sure. I believe this calls me to do more studying.. [Deuteronomy 15:8; Judges 18:10; 19:19-20; Psalm 34:9; Proverbs 6:11; 11:24; 14:23; 21:5; 21:17; 22:16; 24:34; 28:27]

11I immediately confronted the leaders and demanded, "Why has the Temple of God been neglected?"

See here, Nehemiah's passion for the Temple of God. He considers as if God was neglected by people, if Temple of God was neglected.
Do we neglect Temple of God, the church? Do we serve the church as if we are serving the Lord or serving a select few like our pastor or friends there?

Following this verse we have, Nehemiah praying to God,


14Remember this good deed, O my God, and do not forget all that I have faithfully done for the Temple of my God.

This Word of God, reminds me, that whatever we do to the church of God faithfully will never be forgotten.It is said as 'GOOD DEED'.

I heard a quote which I paraphrase here, 'Whatever we do for the King of Kings alone lasts for eternity!'

Moving to Corinthians,
Mike's emphasis on the context, was really true. God's word has to be studied exhaustively to arrive at the meaning. Some people take every word and turn into religion and make it a list of rules, dos and donts. Typically, like the Pharisees, who prayed, but in front of people to be seen by people, eventually missing the heart of the deed. A very good reminder Mike!

Psalms 35
12They repay me with evil for the good I do.I am sick with despair.
13Yet when they were ill,
I grieved for them.I even fasted and prayed for them,
but my prayers returned unanswered.
14I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,as if I were grieving for my own mother.

Verse 13, David's habit of fasting and praying as if his enemies were his friends or family n grieving as if for his own mother. Great example to emulate. Dont you agree?

Simple truth: If you love wine n luxury, You cant be rich; If you love pleasure, You ll be poor.

Lord, Allow these truths to transform my heart!

I Corinthians 11

I like the comment: Paul is basically saying in this chapter that we need to be sensitive to the culture we are in. Meaning, in 1st century Corinth men with long hair typically were prostitutes in pagan temples, so Paul says in this chapter it's a disgrace for a man to have long hair. Which it was in the culture and time of Corinth when this was written. Same thing with women with short hair at this culture and time in Corinth - it was a sign of prostitution. So, Paul says keep it long.

Also, I like this comment:

Consider context. I would say that generally speaking, we need to consider context - context of one verse to the verse before and after. Context to the chapter. Context to the book. Context to the Bible. And context to the time and place that a particular book was written.

I especially like this comment:

HOWEVER, DON'T LET CONTEXT MISLEAD YOU INTO THINKING THAT THE BIBLE IS NOT GOD'S HOLY WORD - THAT THE BIBLE IS NOT TRUTH. FOR IT IS BOTH. THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD. THE BIBLE IS TRUTH.

And Paul's words in today's chapter essentially get at the Truth that believers should look and behave in ways that are honorable within their own culture - so that they (and we) will be believable witnesses for Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 11
3
But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the Head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the Head of Christ is God.

Jesus said that to be the greatest, and to properly lead, we cannot do so without being a servant. Yes, we men must follow and lead as Jesus leads us… and as Jesus (in His role) is led by the Father.

Notice… this is about ROLES… NOT about “worth” or “being better” or “being less” based on gender.

For the “Head of Christ is God”. Jehovah’s Witnesses and others claim that verses like this PROVE that Jesus is NOT God, but “a god” or simply an unusually inspired man.

So, how is it true that the “Head of Christ is God”? Because Jesus was totally committed, as the Perfect Man (also being fully GOD), to obeying the Father:

John 5

19
So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn].

30
I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord--but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.

========
Again, Muslims and others claim that these verses “prove” that Jesus own self-awareness was that He never saw Himself as God.

Yet… that is clearly not true.

Jesus was FULLY DEPENDENT ON THE FATHER… just as WE must be! Why? For He was not only fully God… but REALLY AND FULLY human !

John 15

9
I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [[a]continue in His love with Me].

10
If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father's commandments and live on in His love.

Yet, Jesus IS GOD… and this is talking about roles.

Jesus’ role was to obey the Father.. IN OUR PLACE… so we CAN come to the Father !

Our role as men is to obey Jesus in a way that BUILDS UP and ESTABLISHES others in righteousness.

As a man who has been raised in American culture, I can definitely say that the roles of men and women have been blurred and confused by the devil through a myriad of ways.

And... strong, yet gentle, leadership of men has been missing.

NOT at the work place.
BUT at home... and in the Christian life.

Quite a high calling to fulfill. Boy.. I and other men really NEED THE PRAYERS OF GODLY WOMEN… to be able to fulfill this !

Vance

I would like to add MY thoughts to Mike’s statement, “I know it can seem a bit tricky to figure out when the Bible should be taken literally word for word and when we need to consider context.” I believe that the teachings of the Bible should be and must be taken literally but not the cultural norms of the times in which they were taught. Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

In the teaching regarding giving to support the church – we are expected today to support our churches and ministers. That is the lesson the Scripture gives us! However can you imagine what it would be like to arrive at your church on a Sunday morning to find dead livestock heaped up at the door and the grounds filled with corn and soybeans, etc.? If we took every word of the Bible literally then that is exactly what the farmers would be expected to do. We have to understand the cultural norms of that day in order to apply the lesson to the cultural norms of our day.

Another example is proper attire in church. As Mike pointed out, in those days in Corinth pagan prostitutes served in pagan churches and they were identified by their hair length. In today’s culture a man would not consider a woman standing on a street corner dressed in a conservative manner as a potential “pick up” but a woman dressed in spike heels, lots of makeup, fish-net hose, short skirt and dipping top might be propositioned. That attire would certainly not represent the attire of a Christian lady ready to enter the doors of church. The lesson the Scripture is giving us is not to one of physical appearance per se but as Christians we are not to act in such a manner that our actions or attire can be construed as unchristian by our cultural norms.

We do have to be very careful that Christians not sanction today’s cultural norms – such as couples living together outside of marriage – as acceptable just because everyone is doing it. The Scripture sanctions marriage, not just living together, and cultural norms must not override the basic teachings or lessons presented to us in the Scripture.

God Bless!
Pat

Nehemiah 13 (NKJV)
11
So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place.
12
Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.

NOTE:
Whether all believers see the “tithe” as for the NT or not, consider this: Jesus and the Father are one. When the Father did something, throughout eternity Jesus was—and is—
in total agreement and acting along with His Father. This was not just while on earth as fully human and fully God.

Jesus told the Pharisees they should tithe, but not forget mercy while they are tithing. All Jesus was saying was that it is shallow to obey God’s Word outwardly if the heart is not in the right place.

Matthew 23 (JB Phillips version)
23:23-24 - "Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you utter frauds! For you pay your tithe on mint and aniseed and cummin, and neglect the things which carry far more weight in the Law - justice, mercy and good faith.”

“These are the things you should have observed - without neglecting the others. You call yourselves leaders, and yet you can't see an inch before your noses, for you filter out the mosquito and swallow the camel.”

23:25-26 - "What miserable frauds you are, you scribes and Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, while the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence. Can't you see, Pharisee? First wash the inside of a cup, and then you can clean the outside.”
~~~

Even if one does not believe in tithing for the NT, we need to giving regularly and sacrificially to the local body of believers. Giving—like everything else in our lives—is to be patterned after Christ Himself. He is an expression of God’s grace, and He gave Himself sacrificially.

Giving is a grace, and we are always to give sacrificially as God gave Jesus.

How does one work through the reality that we are to obey like Jesus and give sacrificially along with we are to give willingly as our heart prompt us?

The answer is that Christ is our Supreme Pattern also in this. He gave willingly—and in doing so He gave sacrificially. There is never to be a separation between the two.

I have noticed among the people I know who do not believe in tithing that they do not give regularly and do not give sacrificially as an act of worship. They only give when it is convenient.

I am sure the Holy Spirit is asking to us the same question He asked through Nehemiah: “Why is the house of God forsaken?”

2 Corinthians 9 (NKJV)
7
But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Again, I am sure the Holy Spirit is still asking the question to us today that He was asking through Nehamiah: “Why is the house of God forsaken?”

If I meet someone who is truly giving sacrificially and regularly who does not believe in tithing, I will be happy to eagerly shake their hand and tell them how much I respect and admire them for their regular obedience to the Lord.

~~~

Nehemiah 13 (NKJV)
30
Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan.

NOTE:
May we do the same. I am far from reaching this goal right now. But, Christ gives us grace each day. We can take a little baby step to God in really changing our lives through God’s grace and prayer—this little step contains a huge amount of faith and love in the Lord.

And it is not forgotten or despised by God. God, in fact, rejoices in it, as in James 4 (NKJV):
8
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Also, one person cannot build a wall of protection against the enemy for the Body of Christ. The church needs to be protected from what is pagan and from spiritual attacks.

We all need each other for this--as Nehemiah needed help in building the phyical wall for the protection of Jerusalem and the Temple.

WE REALLY DO NEED EATH OTHER, and we need to be committed to our local fellowship in building it up through regular prayer and participation as we use the gifts God has given us.
~~~

I Corinthians 11 (NKJV)
1
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
3
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

NOTE:
We are called to imitate and be like Christ Who—in His role as the Son of God—was in submission to the Father. Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit are all equal in worth and being—they are all fully God.

However, each has a unique role; in that role, Christ is in submission to the Father and the head of Christ is God the Father.

John 5 (JB Phillips version)
5:19-20- Jesus said to them, "I assure you that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. What the Son does is always modelled on what the Father does, for the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does himself, Yes, and he will show him even greater things than these to fill you with wonder.

5:30
"By myself I can do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is true because I do not live to please myself but to do the will of the Father who sent me.”

May we always truly spend time with the Lord Jesus—away from TV or whatever it is that distracts us. May we truly “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us” and may we truly “fix our eyes of Jesus Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame”. (Hebrews 12)

Psalm 35 (NKJV)
1
Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me.
2
Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help.
3
Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
4
Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life; let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt.
5
Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the LORD [Or Angel of the LORD] chase them.
6
Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of the LORD [Or Angel of the LORD] pursue them.

NOTE:
As I spend quality time regularly with God in praise and worship, God will honor the prayer of the Holy Spirit to God on my behalf: Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

He will do the same for all Who come to Him for He is no respecter of persons, and His grace is available to all. HIS GRACE IS IN HIMSELF—as we spend time with Him, we are able to partake more and more of His wonderful and amazing grace!

Romans 10 (NKJV)
11
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” [Isaiah 28:16]
12
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” [Joel 2:32]

As God is good, so the devil and his schemes are fully bad.

They are in no way whatsoever equals—the devil is a loser angel and is nothing compared to the true and living God Who is the Sustainer and Creator all things. He is our Wonderful Savior!

As we spend time with the Lord in His Presence partaking of His Goodness and Grace, then the Holy Spirit will be able to reveal and release the Lord Jesus to us—He is the “Angel of the Lord” in the OT.

From Psalm 35—
note the prayer of the Holy Spirit for protection from the regular attacks of our enemy the devil. Also note God’s provision for us as we spend time in prayer:
5
Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the LORD [Or Angel of the LORD] chase them.
6
Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of the LORD [Or Angel of the LORD] pursue them.
~~~

God desires to be my all in all, and He desires to be our all in all. If we spend quality and regular time in praise, worship, and drawing from Scripture as God teaches us, we can know God in intimacy.

What an amazing privilege and honor! God Himself is the basis of true prosperity—which is spiritual.

No matter what we have in material goods—little of a lot—we are nothing without God, and without Jesus!

John 15 (NKJV)
5
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

GRACE AND PEACE to you in Jesus’ Name.

Vance

Wow, talk of haircuts stirred a lot of people. I wonder what Paul would say to Americans today...pull up your pants so you don't emulate gangsters comes to my mind. Dr. Maurice Lednecky was President of Central Bible College when I attended in 1999-2001. He cautioned Bible school students to avoid going so far to reach today's generation that Christians embraced clothing, appearance & music that represented evil. Happy day.

In total agreement with the context thing, and people also get upset about the part when it talks that women aren't allowed to talk or speak. But again, we have to recognize that this book was a letter and it was written to a specific church to settle a specific problem. Paul wasnt writing it to say that women are inferior. And amen again to you when you said the Bible is the Word of God and the Truth, for John 17:17 says, "save us by the truth, Your Word is truth."

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