Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17- You Do What You Can

August 17, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Nehemiah 12:27-13:31; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16;
Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 21:17-18

Nehemiah 12:27-13:31

Have you ever tried to make a difference in a situation, but no matter what you did, the situation seemed to revert back to its original form?  Let's say you have two friends who always fight.  You speak to each of them and they seem to work out their differences for a while.  Eventually, they get back into the same old pattern of gossiping about each other and creating conflict.  Today, Nehemiah ends this book by realizing that the Israelite remnant has fallen back into the same old sins.  He asks God to remember his attempts to get the people to follow God and repent of their sins.

As our reading begins, two large choirs are employed to sing at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.  There are trumpets and music and loud celebrating.  The Word of God is read aloud. Many sacrifices are offered and things are going great.  Nehemiah had gone back to act as cup bearer to King Artaxerxes and while he was gone the Israelites fall into breaking the laws again.  They have mixed with the Moabites and Ammonites and let them into the assembly. There is favoritism among the priesthood.  The Levites are no longer getting a stipend from the people and so the singers have been dismissed and worship has suffered. People are working on the Sabbath. And finally, they have married foreigners once again.  How quickly the mighty have fallen!  Nehemiah goes about correcting the situation and repeating the cycle of repentance and reformation.  He asks God to remember his actions.

What can we learn from this?  The Israelites are a picture of us!  We are the people who continually return to sin.  This confirms in our hearts and minds that we are in need of a Savior.  Remember the Apostle Paul's writing to the Romans in Romans 7:24, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"  Then, in Romans 8:2, "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."

What we see in the ancient Israelites and in ourselves prior to being saved is the law of sin and death.  It is a cycle that cannot be defeated in the flesh.  It is through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross that this cycle is defeated. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are able to begin to experience sanctification and freedom from the cycle of sin and death.  Praise God!

Have you realized that need to rely on Jesus to break the sin cycle?  How are you acting upon this truth?

1 Corinthians 11:1-6

Today, Paul deals with a situation that is unique to the Corinthian church.  We have seen that this is an immature group that is given to immorality on a variety of levels. Paul is now having to deal with how the Corinthians are presenting themselves in worship.  The rabbis of that day have incorrectly started a practice of having the men cover their heads in worship, just as Moses covered his face with a veil after seeing God on the mountain (Exodus 34:34).  As they pray and prophesy, they are covering their heads and faces.  Paul argues that because man is made in the image of God, covering this image in worship actually dishonors Christ.

On the other hand, the women in Corinth are coming to worship with their heads uncovered, which happens to be a local practice of the prostitutes.  Also, the pagan temple prostitutes would often shave their heads.  Paul is encouraging the women to cover their heads as they pray and prophesy in order to distinguish themselves from the local prostitutes.  This will honor their husbands, as they display modesty in their worship.  Please note that women are publicly praying and prophesying in the worship services.  Paul does not suggest that they stop praying and prophesying, only that they cover their heads as they do these activities. The fact that women are participating in worship in this way should silence the people in our day who suggest that women are never to speak in worship services.  This is not confirmed in Scripture.

Paul describes the relationship between men and women as being intertwined.  Here is what he concludes,
"But in relationships among the Lord's people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women.  For although the first woman came from man, all men have been born from women ever since, and everything comes from God."  1 Cor. 11:11-12
Paul is encouraging believers to be respectful of one another.  He also mentions that this is the common custom among other Christian churches at this time.

What can we learn from this?  We are to honor God in our bodies.  We should honor one another in our relationships.  Women can pray and prophesy in church.

Do you think about your appearance and how it might affect others?

Psalm 35:1-16

Here is a psalm about having enemies.  Pray this in your times of hardship.

Proverbs 21:17-18

If you seek pleasure constantly, it will not bring you wealth.  Wine and luxury are not the way to riches.  Many in our day have overdrawn bank accounts, as they drink their wine coolers.

What did you learn today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

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