Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God for the fact that 'His way' for our lives is righteous and true, and that He has not left us in ignorance regarding it but has revealed it to us.
- Confess the sin of being content with where you are in your life, and pray that God would give you an increasing desire to pursue the knowledge that will enable you to live as He wants.
Doctrine for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 40 – What rule did God at first reveal to man for his obedience?
Answer – The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – Man is to live his life according to the law. Those laws have been established by God and as such are moral, i.e., concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour as defined by God, who is wise and knows all things. It is in our best interest to obey them even if, on occasion, we have to break the laws of man to do so.
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.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you read God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 8:9-18.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 8:9-12 – Joy in Forgiveness.
There was an immediate response to the clear teaching of the Word of God. The same kind of response that will always be present to a greater or lesser degree when the Word is faithfully proclaimed:
a. There was conviction of sin – the people wept. When the Word of God had shown them the holy God and the perfect standard that He sets, and had then revealed to them how sinful they were and how far short they fell of the divine standard, it is no wonder they wept. It is one of the purposes of the Scripture and the preaching of the Word to bring men and women to a knowledge of their own sin.
b. The conviction of sin, however, is only the first step. Nehemiah urged the people not to mourn or weep, not because he wanted them to cover over their sin or still an awakened conscience, but because he realized that in the same Scripture that had convicted them there was the sure word of salvation and forgiveness. Their eyes were turned away from their sin, sorrow, and weakness to the Lord who would forgive, strengthen, and bring them joy, 'the joy of the Lord is your strength'.
c. The experience of the joy of the Lord was going to have an impact on their own daily lives. There were two important things they were going to do:
i. They were going to enjoy a feast, just as the believer does when he feasts on the Word and enjoys fellowship with his fellow believers.
ii. They were going to share with those who had nothing, just as the believer is to do as he tells others about the Lord Jesus Christ.
And all this was 'because they understood the words which had been made known to them', v12.
Ch 8:13-18 – Obedience.
Although the people had listened to the Word of God and seemed willing to obey its teaching, that was not sufficient for the leaders of the people. Verse 13 shows the heads of families, priests, and Levites gathering together in the house of Ezra to seek to have greater knowledge and insight into the truth of the Word. They did not meet to study the Scripture as an intellectual exercise, but it was the production of a humble and genuine desire to know God's will and to do it.
There is then demonstrated an attitude that should characterize every child of God. When they understood what had been commanded, they immediately set out to do it. As far as their own experience was concerned, there was no tradition that the feast of Tabernacles should be kept – it had not been observed since the days of Joshua – but they did not rely on tradition but on the Word of the Lord.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a particularly appropriate thing for them to celebrate, for it reminded them of how God had provided for His people during the wilderness wanderings, and they themselves had seen much of God's provision and protection during the building process.
It is important to note that when the people followed the instructions of the Book of the Law to the letter, it brought them great joy, v17. They were not just going through the motions or seeking to cut corners to make the celebration of the feast less onerous – they went out to the hills to gather the branches, they built the booths according to what had been written, they lived in the booths for the entire length of the festival, and they gladly listened to the reading of the Word daily.
So many people think that the path to happiness and joy is to be able to do their own thing, but here the Scripture reminds us that real gladness and freedom come through the path of obedience.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 31A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God that His word does seriously impact our lives. Pray that it would convict you of sin and lead you into an ever-increasing understanding of, and desire to obey, His Law. The pathway to joy.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC