Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11- The King's Cup Bearer

August 11, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Nehemiah 1:1-3:14; 1 Corinthians 7:1-24;
Psalm 31:19-24; Proverbs 21:4

Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

Back in the days of kings it was common for enemies to attempt to kill the king by poisoning.  In order to prevent the death of the king, the royal court would appoint a cup bearer to the king.  This man would be responsible for taking a sip of any drink that was brought to the king. If the cup bearer survived, the king was allowed to drink the wine, water, or whatever was being served.  You might imagine that the cup bearer had to be a brave individual who was extremely loyal.  The cup bearer was often a trusted adviser to the king.  Today we read the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia.  As a layman, his responsibilities were to this earthly king, but we will see that Nehemiah was also a loyal subject of the King of Heaven.

As this memoir begins, Nehemiah has learned from his brother that the Jews who have left captivity and gone back to Jerusalem are in a great deal of trouble and disgrace because the walls of Jerusalem were torn down and the gates burned. Nehemiah takes this news hard. He is overcome with emotion and sits down to weep. His depression over the matter turns into days of fasting and weeping. As he begins to pray to God about the situation, he petitions God to look down upon him and listen!  He confesses the sins of his people and reminds God about His promise to the Israelites.  Nehemiah asks God to have the King Artaxerxes look with favor upon him as he goes to make a request of him.

As Nehemiah approaches the king, he is nervous and anxious.  This is not natural for Nehemiah who was a cheerful and pleasant fellow.  The king inquires as to why Nehemiah looks so unhappy.  Nehemiah tells the king about his sorrow over the condition of Jerusalem, which is the home of his ancestors. The king asks how he can help Nehemiah.  With a quick arrow prayer to God, Nehemiah asks for a leave of absence to go rebuild the walls of the city.  The king agrees and they set a date for his departure.  Because God is with Nehemiah, the king also agrees to give safe passage, letters of introduction, and letters to obtain the proper materials to rebuild.

As Nehemiah arrives, there are a couple of men who are not pleased that he is there.  They will become his enemies in this project. No good work is without its enemies! Nehemiah takes three days to observe the situation and inspect the rubble.  Finally, he approaches the city leaders about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  They are pleased and Nehemiah receives their approval.

Notice how Nehemiah has handled his problem:

  • First, he is willing to be sad, rather than mad about the situation. This shows a soft heart.
  • Next, he takes his problem to God in prayer.
  • He goes through the appropriate channels to receive permission to leave his post.
  • He assesses the situation when he gets to Jerusalem before making any decisions. He is measured and patient.
  • He respects authority and approaches the local leaders to receive their support and approval.
  • He does not let negative people and enemies stop him because he knows that the work is God's will and has His gracious hand upon the work.

While Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem try to discourage the work, Nehemiah forges ahead.  The various gates and portions of the wall are rebuilt by the Israelites.  Nehemiah is faithful to list the clans/families who do the work of rebuilding.

Are you part of the good work of God?  Nehemiah was a layman, not a priest or Levite and yet, God called him to lead a great work for God.  What is God calling you to do?  Do you act upon your convictions?

How can you apply some of the wise ways of Nehemiah in your life?

1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Today Paul goes from dealing with the unacceptable nature of sexual immorality to the provision of marriage.  Satisfying one's sexual desires is to be accomplished through marriage.  Paul describes the authority over one's body as given over to the spouse.  Regular sexual relations prevent self-control issues with regard to sex outside of marriage.

Paul describes some people as having the gift of singleness.  If a person is burning with lust, they do not have the gift of singleness and should get married.  Married people are to remain married and not leave each other. This applies to Christians who become Christians, even when their spouse remains unsaved. If the unsaved married partner wants to leave, they are to be allowed to go. Paul distinguishes that a saved partner in marriage may influence the other spouse to become saved, but there is no guarantee.

Paul encourages believers to remain in what ever state they were in when they became saved.  Examples given are circumcision, slavery, and marriage.  The message is that Christians are not to change everything in their life just because they have been saved.  They are to be holy in the situation where they find themselves. Paul is not condoning slavery here. He is a man of his times and he is giving advice for how to respond as a person of faith in whatever situation you find yourself in.

Does this advice help you in your life situations?  Marriage is a means of preventing sexual sin.  If you are married, do you value this aspect of the institution of marriage?

Psalm 31:19-24

Nehemiah could have easily prayed this psalm to God.

Proverbs 21:4

"Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin."  So true.

What did you see today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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