Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God that His forgiveness of your sin is real. Praise God that, in Christ, we are forgiven for our sin because of the abounding love of God to us His people. Psalm 86:5.
- Think about a sin in your life and confess it, knowing that, as you do, God will forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.
Doctrine for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 43 – What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?
Answer – The preface to the Ten Commandments is: I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – The preface to the Ten Commandments is very important because it gives their context. The Ten Commandments are not a list of 'do nots' to restrict life; they are a statement of promises given to a liberated people.
Verses to memorize.
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 9:16-38.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 9:16-31 – Two Different Responses.
Having praised God for all his great goodness and mercy, the prayer then acknowledged the terrible response of their forefathers. God had been so good to Israel, but they had reacted so badly to it. They acted proudly. God's goodness should have led them to repentance and humility, but it had the opposite effect. They refused to obey. It is astonishing that, after the miraculous deliverance the people had experienced and the way that God had provided for them, they then refused to do what God required of them. They did not remember. It is so easy to receive benefits and quickly forget all about them.
Such ingratitude, pride, disobedience, and forgetfulness could have brought about severe punishment, but the response of God to such behaviour was quite different. In spite of their rebellion and disobedience God was always willing to forgive. What a great comfort that is for the saint of God to know that even when we sin and disobey, our God is always ready to pardon. Even when they sank into open idolatry God did not forsake His people – He still guided them and provided for them; such is the grace of a God towards His own chosen people. Alan Redpath comments: 'God's mercy with a sinner is only equaled and perhaps outmatched by His patience with the saints, with you and me'. In spite of constant rebellion, God's patience never failed.
One of the saddest aspects of the history of Israel is seen in the constant cycle of blessing followed by complacency and disobedience, followed by punishment, followed by repentance and a crying out to God for deliverance. The problem was that no sooner had God delivered them, than they rebelled again. The greatest wonder of all is the statement in v. 31, 'Nevertheless, in your great compassion you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and compassionate God'.
Ch 9:32-38 – Right and Wrong.
There finally came to the people an understanding of the situation. They had gone over the history of the people in their prayer and had rehearsed before God the sad cycle of blessing, rebellion, punishment and deliverance; now they finally came to the point where they were prepared to acknowledge that God was right, and they were wrong!
The statement that is made in verse 33 is the kind of confession that every child of God needs to make, especially when things have not gone well for him; 'You are just in all that has come upon us; for you have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly'. Sadly, Christian people often adopt the attitude of the world by blaming others or circumstances when things do not please them or when their personal situation becomes difficult. The cries of 'it's not fair' or 'I don't deserve this' should never be heard on the lips of professing Christians for that only demonstrates that we neither know God nor ourselves. Things can only be seen in their proper perspective when the Christian recognises and acknowledges who God is, verse 32, and that He always acts faithfully in relation to his people. At the same time, there must be recognition that, because of our sinful nature, we so often act wickedly and deserve the discipline of the Lord in whatever form that might take.
When there is that recognition, the Christian is in a position, as were they when inhabitants of Jerusalem, to set out before God the situation that is being faced and to cry out to Him for deliverance. This the people of the city did as they covenanted with God and made that commitment solemnly binding as they signed their names to a written document pledging themselves to obey the law and to serve God faithfully.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 31A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God for the warnings He gives us in His Word of the consequences that follow our disobedience of Him. Thank God for the mercy He shows us when we disobey and repent.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC