Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God that He knows everything about everything, past, present, and future. Praise God that we can ask Him for wisdom to understand what he is doing in difficult times in our lives (James 1:5). Pray for patience in our waiting for His response.
- Confess the sin of seeking to lean on one’s own understanding too much.
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 37 – What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
Answer – The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, rest in their graves until the resurrection.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – Note, our souls are immortal, they do not die and what a glorious reality it is that the souls of believers are, at the instant of death, made perfect and immediately pass to be with God. The resurrection of the body is another wonderful reality explained in 1 Corinthians 15.
Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
Philippians 4:6,7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you read God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 7:1-73.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 7:1-5 – Assessing the Situation.
The impression may be given in the first few chapters of the book that the major problem with Jerusalem was that the walls were broken down. That was a major problem, to be sure, but there was another difficulty that was, perhaps, more difficult to resolve. Although the city was large and spacious, there were not many people and many of them did not have adequate housing. No doubt Nehemiah gave considerable thought to this problem, but it was God who gave him the answer. The Scripture is very clear that when we lack wisdom, we are to ask God (James 1:5), even when the problem does not seem to be a specifically 'spiritual' one.
Just as when he was faced with the problem of the broken-down walls, Nehemiah wanted to know exactly what the true situation was. With the problem of the walls, Nehemiah did a survey (2:11-16) now; in order to deal with the situation of the sparse population he wanted to know exactly how many people he had, and precisely who they were, and what resources were available, and so he determined to take a comprehensive census.
In the providence of God, he came across the census taken by Ezra, and the list in chapter 7 of Nehemiah is essentially the same as that in Ezra 2:1-70. What minor differences there are in names and numbers may well be accounted for by errors in transcribing and transmission.
The lessons for the people of God are very plain to be seen:
a. There is no situation that is too mundane to be taken to God in prayer to seek his wisdom.
b. God expects people to use the faculties that He has given them.
c. There needs to be a realistic assessment of a situation before a proper plan of action can be put into place.
d. In the work of God, every individual and family are important.
Ch 7:6-73 - The Covenant People.
It sometimes appears that the lists of names that appear from time to time in the pages of the Bible are not very significant or profitable for the people of God today. It must never be forgotten, however, that they are there because it pleased God to have them revealed to us and so there must be lessons that can be learned from them.
The list of names recorded in chapter 7 are said to be those who 'came up from the captivity', those who 'returned to Jerusalem and Judah', v. 6. When it is remembered that only about 2% of the exiles returned, it is understandable that those who had had the vision and the courage to return to the city of God should have been considered worthy to have their names recorded in the Word of God, 'those that honour me I will honour' (1 Samuel 2:30). It is also significant that it was not just individuals that are named, but families or heads of families. In God's economy, the family relationship is of great importance – it is one of the ways in which God builds His church as parents teach their children the things of God. The commitment of the returning families is also seen in the contributions that were made so that the work of the Lord could advance.
Perhaps one other reason for carrying out the census was to ensure that only pure Jews, especially amongst the priests, vs 63ff, should be included in the work of the Lord. Nehemiah had already had to prevent intruders taking part in the work (2:20), and even some that were amongst the people were dealing with the enemy, and so it was important to try to preserve the integrity and purity of the list of those who had citizenship in the city of God. It is no less important that we seek to ensure that our names are written in the 'Lamb's book of life'.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 102A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God for the privilege of using the gifts He has given us to work for the extension of His Kingdom and the Glory of His Name.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC