Monday, July 19, 2004


Nehemiah was a praying sort of fellow. The first 2 chapters of the book of Nehemiah record him praying at seemingly every turn. In response to the need of his brothers, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed (Neh 1:4.) It strikes me that before he even knew how God would have him respond, Nehemiah sacrificed a great deal of his own earthly comfort. Meaning - before any sacrifice of outward service, he gave up much just for the opportunity to hear from God about how he should procede.

Now this strikes me because I often feel quite useless in serving those around me. Though I may know the needs that people have, I rarely seem to know how to meet them. I guess Nehemiah didn't either... but the difference between me and him is that he was willing to fast and pray for several DAYS in order to find out.

I realize how shallow my service is... I do it if it is obvious and easy, but not if it requires much work (or discomfort.)

What also stands out in the first few chapters of Nehemiah is his boldness in approaching the king (2:3-8.) Of course, as he does throughout this passage, he prayed before he did it. But I read that and I think, "where does this boldness come from?" I never seem to have it, and if I do, I usually talk myself out of it.

Jedidiah Blake was back to preach at church yesterday. (Anyone who has the opportunity to hear him should take it. The breadth and depth of his teaching are like nothing I have ever heard before.) One of the topics he taught about was Abraham's boldness in asking God to spare the righteous people of Sodom (Gen 18:16-33.) His explanation of Abraham's boldness was that Abraham was intimate with God: knowing his place, but also knowing God so well as to know what He would desire.

It sounded a lot like Nehemiah, to me.

And so, Jedidiah made the, then obvious, connection by saying that those who are most effective in their service and most bold in their actions are those who are wholly consecrated to God.

I don't know what being wholly consecrated to God would be like, because I have never been that. I DO know that if I was, my life would look totally different, and my ministry would be more effective.

I got so much more out of Jedidiah's message yesterday... the need for more willing intercessors, the correlation between abundant blessing and increasing godlessness, the humility that comes from intimacy with God, and a bunch more. I wish I could share it all here. But, suffice to say that I walked away encouraged that there is much more of God to be had in my life and much more that He desires to do with me if I will let Him.



Blogger Jedidiah's blog said...

Dear Sister,

I read your blog today and wanted to thank you for your kind words and ask that you pray for me. I now pastor in Hawaii. I posted a sermon that I preached recently.



The following sermon was prepared from exegetical notes from John Gill and other exegetes, sometimes using the authors' words verbiatim.

The Goodness of God: An Incentive to Holy Communion (Psalm 73)

The psalmist, observing the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous, was tempted to think that serving God was vain, until he went into the house of God where he understood the goodness of God toward His covenant children, perceived the final doom of the impenitent, and acknowledged his folly.

I. The Declaration: God is good to His covenant children (v. 1).

II. The Demonstration: We are constantly under God’s eye, and He holds us in the midst of danger, guides us in the midst of doubt, and afterwards takes us to glory (vv. 23-24).

III. The Revelation: God reveals his goodness to us as we worship Him privately and corporately (v. 17-24).

IV. The Exaltation: The goodness of God should stir us up to communion. We should desire God, making Him our chief delight (vv. 25- 28).


I. The Declaration: God is good to His covenant children (v. 1).

This psalm begins with a joyful declaration (v. 1) which reminds us of Psalm 106:1:
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness (His steadfast love, His covenant faithfulness) is everlasting.
It ends on a note of praise for God’s goodness (vv. 25-28). Psalm 34:8 echoes similar sentiments:
Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
God is good to Israel:
 In choosing them to be His people above all people on earth
 In bringing them into a good land
 In giving them His word, His statutes, and ordinances
God is good to His new Israel:
 In choosing us from the mass of humanity, calling us, and redeeming us by His special grace.
God is also good to all mankind:
 He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things (Acts 17:250.
 He sends His rain on the just and on the unjust.
But in this particular psalm, how does God demonstrate His goodness to His covenant children?

II. The Demonstration: I am continually with God (v. 23).

Upon the heart of God, in His hands, under His eye, under His wings of protection and care, not suffered to apostatize, to forsake his worship and service, nor to totally lose our love and affection for Him.
In New Testament theology, we would say that, though we suffer the trial of our faith and may grow weary in well-doing, we still remain in union with our great God and Savior – a teaching that is emphasized over 200 times in the New Testament.
1) He holds us in the midst of danger (v. 23):
We are not to assume that there is ever a time that God does not hold us. But in God’s goodness, in His wonderful grace, He manifests His presence to us especially at times of great danger when we may be tempted to give up, to lose heart:
When I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me (Psalm 23:4).
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me…But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me (2 Timothy 4:16, 17).
“You took hold of my right hand,” the psalmist declares. He was in danger of falling (v. 2):
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped.
The psalmist speaks of being afflicted daily (v. 14):
For I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning.
Even though he maintained his integrity (v. 13).
I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence.
As the psalmist looked around him, the prosperity (v. 30), the pride (v. 6), and the presumption (vv. 8-9) of the wicked troubled him and he became envious (v. 3). Proverbs 14:30 reminds us:
A sound heart is like life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.
“Rottenness to the bones” is an expression which describes a painful and incurable malady. The psalmist, experiencing daily affliction, and seeing the prosperity of the wicked was in danger of defection (v. 13). There was nothing to serving God!
In the midst of this terrible siege, the psalmist was reminded of God’s continual presence (v. 23); he was reminded that, almost stumbling, God took him by the right hand (v. 23).
 With flesh and heart failing (v. 26), God took him by the right hand.
 Overwhelmed by trouble, God took him by the right hand (v. 14).
 Tempted to turn back (v. 13), God took him by the right hand.
 God took hold of his right hand.
The idea being emphasized is that of rescue and covenant fellowship (Isaiah 41:11-13; 42:6).

2) He guides us in the midst of doubt (v. 24).

Psalm 48:14 says, “For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.” The psalmist acknowledges his doubts concerning holy living (v. 13). He thinks about the grief and discouragement to the body if he scandalized God’s name (v. 15-16). We must learn to bridle our tongues if we would ever learn true sanctification. He doubts God’s goodness and His righteous government.
In this dread state of doubt and despair, the psalmist acknowledges that God guides us in the midst of doubt. Perhaps the psalmist is teaching us that God does all things according to the counsel of His will in providence and grace. Or perhaps the writer is teaching us that God, with His infallible Word, the Scriptures of truth which contains the will of God, by this revealed Word, which is wise and prudent, wholesome, and enlightening, God gives us directions for holy communion. By His Spirit, the Lord guides us in the ways of peace, truth, righteousness, and holiness, through this world and afterward to heavenly glory.

3) And afterwards, He takes us to glory (v. 24).

In verse 17, the psalmist says that, after going into the house of God, he perceived the afterward of the wicked. In verse 24, he says that he will inherit glory afterward. But after what?
 After God has led us and guided us by His counsel through this wilderness.
 After all the afflictions and temptations in this weary world.
 After we have passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
 After death itself.
 After doubts and fears, storms and shadows
 After crosses and losses
 After betrayals and defections.
 After sorrows and griefs.
God shall receive us to glory; He shall take us up (Gen. 5:24)
 Into a glorious place, a house not made with hands
 Into a city whose builder and maker is God
 Into a glorious kingdom
 Into the glorious company of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
 Into the everlasting fellowship of angels and glorified saints
 Into everlasting joy and happiness
 A glory enjoyed both in body and soul to all eternity
 Oh the crowning joy of God’s prosopon!
“For God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me. Selah (Psalm 49:15).

The Revelation: God reveals His goodness to us as we worship Him privately and corporately (vv. 17-24).

 As the psalmist turns to God in worship, his perspective changes. Formerly, he was envious (v. 13), embittered (v. 21), brutish (v. 22).
 Formerly, his focus was on others in a bad way (they, they, they; vv. 5, 8, 9, 11).
 Formerly, his focus was on himself (I, I, I; vv. 13-17 - self-pity and self-centeredness).
 Now, he comes into the sanctuary (v. 17), where the Word was read and explained, where prayer was made, where fellowship was maintained with the saints, and communion with God was enjoyed.
 Though beset with temptation, the psalmist did not neglect public worship, did not give up the house of God.
His spirit revived when he went into the house of God, where he was stimulated to holy affection. Corporate prayer, the ministry of listening, mutual edification, corporate worship fortify the soul against the enemies attacks.

Chastened, the psalmist acknowledges his sin (vv. 21, 22).
Enlightened, he understands the end of the wicked:
 Eschatological terrors
 Sudden destruction
 Final accounting (vv. 18-20, 27).
 Personal rejection
 Everlasting shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2).
God’s presence, first convicting, afterwards becomes the psalmist’s delight (vv. 21, 22).

Exaltation: The goodness of God should stir us up to holy communion. We should desire God, making Him our chief delight (vv. 25-28).

Derek Kidner summarizes the psalmist’s situation: “Grasped, guided, glorified.” God holds us, guides us, receives us. With this assurance of God’s work on his behalf, even though his situation is bleak, the psalmist bursts out in praise (vv. 25-28). The wicked and their attitude to heaven and earth (v. 9) are contrasted with the saints and their attitude. The psalmist’s sense of standing in the presence of God changes his outlook on life, transforms his perspective. Note vv. 22 and 23 – “before You, with You.” Coram Deo. Negotium cum Deo.
 We have become intoxicated with ourselves. We need to recapture a sense of the majesty of God.
 In heaven – God the Father, God of covenant, God the Son, Redeemer, Mediator, Savior, Head, Advocate, Intercessor, God the Spirit, Sanctifier, Comforter, .
 The sole object of our devotion, trust, and confidence.
 The love of God, the grace of Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit
Flesh and heart may fail through inward trials, by reason of indwelling sin, temptations, and desertions; the body may be emaciated by sickness and disease.
But God is the strength of our heart. When overwhelmed with distress, when hope is weak, when afflictions are many, the Lord supports and sustains us and at the moment of death shows us that the sting of death is taken away and its curse removed; that our souls are going to be with our great God and Savior.; that our bodies will rise again glorious and incorruptible. God is our portion forever, both in life and in death.
We should desire Him, draw near to Him in holy communion.

Sun Apr 05, 03:57:00 AM  

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