Nehemiah 9:22-10:39; 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13; Psalms 34:1-10; Proverbs 21:13
Today is the 15th day of August. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s great to be here with you today. Man…15th day of August….we’re like in the middle of the month already. It was…like… just the middle of June. I mean…for that matter…it was just the middle of January. Isn’t that weird, how time works? Because in some ways it’s like very compressed and in another ways it’s very, very elongated in our minds, the way we look back. And there’s like…there’s no spiritual metaphor. I’m just thinking out loud. I probably should have had a couple extra sips of that steamy coffee to my left before turning the mic on but here we are and off we go. We’re reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week. Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 22 through 10 verse 39. And there’s this massive…kind of…rededication and reformation happening in Jerusalem since Nehemiah’s return. So, Ezra and Nehemiah are both in Jerusalem - Ezra handling the temple, Nehemiah handling the wall. And the people are rededicating themselves to God. So, we’re in the middle of a prayer and we’ll conclude that prayer that we began yesterday, today.
OK. So, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians today talks about how he’s free. He’s not anybody’s slave but he has willingly made himself a slave of the people. And that’s in the context of what he was saying yesterday, which is, people who work for God should be able to work for God and meet their needs in the world, financially, and otherwise, to care for themselves from that work. Because the insinuation going around was that, if you’re working for God…I mean…He will care for your needs, you shouldn’t get paid. And a lot of people live that way in ministry. They’ll work all day and preach all night and wear themselves down until there’s nothing left but complete burnout. And Paul’s saying that’s not good, that’s not right. People should be able to make their living doing what it is that they pour their lives into, especially if they’re working for God because that’s not an easy job at all. And Paul said, I haven’t done that. I should be able to and I could but I haven’t done that at this point, even though I am free. So, Paul is saying…like…I could walk away from this tomorrow if I wanted to. I could go…you know…like I’m a trained person…I could go find something a little more stable and settle into a life but I’m not doing that. Even though I’m free to walk away, I’m not doing that. I’ve made myself a slave to everyone because what I’m here to do is tell people about the Lord, to share light and good news in the world. And, so, Paul discusses how, when he’s in Jewish company, he becomes like a Jew because he understands that like completely. And, so, for those practicing the mosaic law, he knows how to enter into that culture, which is all throughout so much of his writing. But the people who don’t know anything about the law or don’t obey the or don’t think anything about it, he understands that too. He understands how to move in and out of that culture too. To weak people, he becomes weak so that he can minister to the week. Paul ends up saying, I become all things to all people so that by every way I can possibly think of I can share this message. And I do this because of the gospel. Because what’s more important to me is that I am a partner in the gospel and its benefits than any other benefits. And that’s a beautiful posture of heart that is worth really looking at as compared to our own lives. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean anything as to change other than the posture of heart. Because what our heart is aimed at, that’s where we’re going. So, Paul moves into…like… some sports analogy that just helps us to understand Paul’s understanding of the Hellenistic culture that was surrounding the Jewish culture, that was all around the Jewish culture of Paul’s time because it so heavily influenced the Roman culture. And, so, he talks about athletes who are in competition to win a prize. So, a runner doesn’t just run anywhere. A runner has to discipline himself completely or herself completely in order to focus, utterly, on shaving milliseconds off their time to win the prize. They don’t just stand at the starting line then run anywhere. They know how to win and they have come to win. They have not come to come in last. Or a boxer doesn’t get into the ring and get this snot beat out of them while they simply flail at the air not even understanding what the whole thing is about. So, Paul’s saying…like…I’ve come to do my very, very best and I have disciplined myself in order to become very, very good at what I do. And what I’m called to do is not to walk away from all of this and find a cush life for myself. What I’ve come to do is to enter into whatever situation I’m in, relate to those people where they are, understand their story, and bring light and good news into it. I’m a slave of the people and I haven’t joined up to come in the last place. I’m disciplined about this. And then Paul kind of takes a turn and moves into some of the darker stories of the Hebrew story when they were in the wilderness. And at first it seems like, what has that got to do with what you were just saying? But he unpacks what he’s saying. And that is essentially, that there’s been an ebb and flow in the story and when people are utterly and completely devoted and committed, God is beyond present and all powerful in the story. And then when they choose another God or allow their heart to be seduced in some way it all falls apart. And this falling apart, this falling away happens because they were seduced away, they fell into temptation and slowly slid away. And, so, Paul reveals that was talking about as he disciplines himself and as he stays true so that he will not be disqualified in his message, that there’s plenty of reasons to quit and there’s plenty of seductions to pull him away as there are for all of us. So, he’s ultimately talking about this - no temptation is overtaking you except what is common to humanity, what everybody faces. And God is faithful and He won’t allow that to go beyond what you can handle. But in it all there will always be a way to escape. So, Paul is ultimately talking about the way that he looks at the world and the way that he looks at what he’s called to do in ministry - basically where his heart is in all of this. And that he feels…like… people that are doing his job, people who are caring for God’s people have every right to be sustained in that work and by that work and to care for their needs. But, although he’s been accused of exploiting that, it’s not true. He hasn’t done that at all. Because he sees himself as a slave to the people that he’s trying to reach and he’s learned. Not only is the educated but he’s learned how to adapt and how to enter in and out of different stories and even cultural nuances to relate to the people that he’s trying to talk to. Because if he can understand where they’re coming from he can better understand how to bring light and good news. And this is a discipline. It’s a discipline like training for athletic competition at a high level in a stadium. It takes that kind of discipline. And he’s not doing what he is doing to lose. He’s not doing what he’s doing to just get at the starting line and have no idea where he’s going and just run off. Or he’s not getting in the ring to box not even understanding what the objective is. He’s training to win. And part of that training, part of that discipline, a key component to that discipline is understanding the story - the ebb and flow of humanity. Understanding that seductions are everywhere. And that…seduction… immediately has a sexual connotation but it’s not…I mean…anything that pulls you off course in any direction that you start giving your heart to is going to seduce you and become your master. And now you won’t be thinking about discipline or training or an objective anymore. And he’s learned that everybody goes through this, everybody. It’s common to humanity. To put it in Paul’s words. But while we’re training, while our posture of heart is continually being readjusted, as we’re learning self-control and discipline in our call and calling, part of that is vigilance over our own heart and a very careful observation of the things that are pulling at our heart and inviting us in other directions.
Father, oh how we need that today. Oh, how we need this to sink into our lives and hearts and become a part of who we are. So, we ask Your Holy Spirit to help us understand vigilance, self-control, discipline for a reason - that we are running a race and we want to know where we’re going and we want to do well. So, come, Holy Spirit, into that. We ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayers and Praise Reports:
Hello everybody. This is Miguel from California. I’m calling in because I’ve been chewing on something for a little while now about praying for churches, praying for our individual church bodies. And I’ve been thinking about it and praying about it. I think today’s reading…today is August 11th. Today’s reading in Nehemiah…ah…just this…ah…burden for the church that Nehemiah had…the burden for glory of the temple…ah…that’s something that really affirmed for me…this burden that I have praying for churches…and you know…this community…is spread out all of the world…and so many different churches. I want to pray for our churches. And, so, the way I want to do that is…I’m actually going to put a post on DAB Friends Facebook page just inviting you guys just to bring up your church your church, name your church, maybe even your pastor or something specific to be praying for in your church, that we would be a people that go after the glory of the Lord in our churches. That we break out of church culture and be the body of Christ that moves, that lives, that we be a vibrant, lit up church for the glory of God. So, that’s the prayer. I’ve taken this on of the challenge and I ask you pray for me in this too as I take this on. And may Jesus get all the glory here. So, thanks guys. Have a wonderful day.
Hey Daily Audio Bible family. This is Bradley from Kentucky. I‘m calling to ask for your prayers because I just lost my father tonight after a long illness. And none of us were really prepared. So, I ask that you pray for my mother for comfort and guidance. I thank you all very much.
Hey family. This is Malisa. Hey Brian, hey Jill. Brian your teachings have been on point my brother. We love you so much. Asia, I have been praying for you. I love you. You were one of the first voices I heard when I started listening…I think…six years ago…you…Daniel J. junior…and Natasha. I love you so much. I’m praying for you my sister. God is able. And Daniel J. junior, I’, praying for your dad. Jake O., who’s dad committed suicide, your call brought me to tears and I fervently prayed for you last night. And Sharron, I’m praying for you. And…it was Lawrence…Lawrence…I heard your call too. I love you all. I don’t get to call in all the time but I am praying in the background. You all keep us lifted up. Gabby started school and she’s getting off the bus with a smile on her face. So, I hope all is well. You all keep her lifted up. I love you all so much. Bye-bye.
Good morning my Precious Daily Audio Bible family. This is Pat. I’m a longtime listener and this is only the second time that I’ve called in. It’s been truly my privilege to pray for the prayer requests that are called in daily. If I miss one day of listening to the Daily Audio Bible I feel like my left arm has been cut off. So, this morning, Daily Audio Bible family, I have a prayer request. My daughter, Christie, has been diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She is a mother of three - a 14 year old, a 12 year old, and a 1 year old. She will start chemo next week, Thursday. I would covet your prayers for her as she walks through this journey for the next 18 weeks and beyond after the chemo is finished. I love you all and so appreciate everyone behind the scenes of Daily Audio Bible. I know that it takes a village to put something like this on and I so appreciate Brian and Jill and their family. Thank you and God bless. Bye-bye.