Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God for this day of life that He has given you and the opportunities to interact with, and enjoy, Him.
- Confess the sin of too often taking your life for granted and not always seeing the privilege it is to enjoy God.
Doctrine for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 42 – What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?
Answer – The sum of the Ten Commandments is to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Comment – What a privilege to love the Lord God with all our being. What a wonderful truth it is to be required by God to love others as ourselves.
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 9:3-15.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 9:3 – Hearing the Word.
Fasting and confession of sin were vital for the people, but there also had to be a hearing of the Word of the Lord. Every religious act that the people of God engage in must be directed and informed by the living Word of God. It was, of course important that the people should confess their sins, but confession must be followed by obedience and so it was necessary that the people should hear what it was that God required of them.
It would seem highly likely that the same pattern as seen in the previous chapter would have been followed: the public reading of the Word together with explanation or preaching. What is quite remarkable in this passage is the length of time that the people stood to hear the Word of the Lord, and in confession and worship.
We may safely assume that the time spent before the Lord was not spent in frivolous activity or in so-called worship that is designed to gratify the senses. What is in view here is a solemn gathering of people so keen to hear the Word of God that they were prepared to stand for hour after hour listening to its message – how different is today's professing Christian who can barely tolerate sitting in a comfortable seat for more than twenty minutes to hear the Word preached! Not only did they spend a long time listening to the Scriptures, but they also followed it up with a lengthy period of confession, prayer, and worship.
There was evidence of a brokenness of spirit before the Lord which led them to confession, eagerness to hear the Scriptures, and desire to worship the Lord in humility and reverence. This has been a mark of true revival throughout the centuries – when people are truly broken because of their sin it will inevitably lead to this seriousness and humility before God.
Ch 9:4-15 – Praise.
The confession and worship of the people was led by the Levites. It is not clear if this very long prayer was prayed by the Levites, or if, as tradition says, it was prayed by Ezra. What is important is the content of the prayer:
a. Praise for the glory of God. The prayer begins with an acknowledgement that God is highly exalted above all things, and that is the place that all adoration must begin.
b. Praise for the creation of God. It is always good to remember that everything around us came into being by the creative work and will of the sovereign God, especially in these days when the skill and ingenuity of man is so highly praised. Looking at the glory of God's creation gives us a reason to praise Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to trust Him.
c. Praise for God's electing love. The prayer looks back with thankfulness to the way that God chose Abraham, made a covenant with him, and made gracious promises to him. God's electing love should never be far from the prayers of God's people, for if He had not taken pity upon us and chosen us in Christ, we would be forever lost.
d. Praise for God's faithful deliverance and gracious provision. When the people were in distress, God delivered them from bondage, guided them through the wilderness, provided for them both spiritual and physical food. How much greater cause have we to praise God for deliverance from sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus, daily guidance by the Holy Spirit through the Word, and gracious provision for every need.
Praise is a very important element in our worship and in our prayers – it is when we are truly humbled before Him and recognise our total dependence upon Him that we really begin to appreciate and praise His unsurpassed goodness.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 31A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Thank God that He has given us examples in His Word of how we are to apply ourselves, first to the hearing of His Word, and then of how we are to respond to what we have heard. Pray that you and those whom you love would increasingly behave in a similar way.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC