Monday, 02 June 2008 06:41

True Devotion and Dedication To God [2]

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We are looking at Nehemiah 9&10, dealing with the subject of true godly devotion and dedication to God and what that looks like. Last time we saw that when a person is in the ways of the Lord in spirit and truth, it will show in the recognized need for repentance before God, and then we began looking at some evident marks or signs of repentance before God and renewed dedication to Him.

The first sign or mark of genuine godliness is humble submission under all of Gods Word, and a second mark is separation from the world and care in not allowing sinful ungodly relationships with unbelievers, especially also not in the bond of marriage. Nehemiah 10:30 states in covenant renewal the people said, We would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. Not to take these matters seriously is evidence of not being right with God and not living rightly before Him. Too many deceive themselves in thinking they can disregard Gods precepts and yet be Gods children, but it is not so.

Now we will look at some more marks of rededication to God, and then briefly notice yet from this Scripture passage some of the blessings of rededication to God.

What is a third key detail found in Nehemiah 9&10 in regards to living in thankful rededication to the Lord? You might be surprised what I will say next, but it comes to us right from Gods inspired Word, and that is our basis and authority in all true preaching and teaching. The third sign or mark of true godliness is the principle of keeping the Sabbath, or holding on to the Lords Day as a special day of worship and rest and refreshment in Gods ways. Chapter 10:31 tells us the people in covenant renewal testified, And if the people of the land bring ware [goods] or any victuals [produce] on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath day, or on the holy day.

All through history what marks Gods people zealous for God and good is also the keeping of one day a week holy, especially set apart for worship and rest and service before God. It has always been and always will be the thermometer of ones spiritual health, the honoring or dishonoring of the Lords Day. We live in times where the first day of the week as a day set aside for worship and rest is being much challenged not just by the world, but by many confessing Christians as well. But where there is a spirit of thankful rededication to the Lord, it shows itself in renewed conviction and devotion also in regards to the Lords Day. In Nehemiah 13 we will see later how there were those not zealous for Gods cause also among Gods people and how that showed in dishonoring the fourth commandment of God. It is strange how the one commandment of God that begins with the word remember to keep is the one especially that people say we can forget to keep. But Jesus came to fulfill the law of God, not to destroy it. From creation on, God determined that one day in seven be set apart in special devotion to Him to help us live the whole of our lives in view of Him and His Word.

Dear friend, if you confess to be a Christian, may I ask, Do you also, in godly devotion and dedication to God, honor the Lords Day and keep it holy? Do you show your true wholehearted commitment to God in also remembering to make use of Sundays as special feast days of worship and praise to God? Not to be careful in this is to make ourselves wiser than God and to weaken the cause and witness of the Christian church and message. Again, it is so tragic the way all too many confessing Christians dishonor the Lords Day and use it more for themselves and their own pleasures rather than in worship and praise to God and as a sacred day in His service. It is striking in Nehemiah 10:31 how the people combined with faithful Sabbath keeping also willingness to forego debts and to honor release of debts every seventh year. They aimed to live godly charitable lives of care and service to God and others. This godly perspective is related to honoring the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The fact is, nothing can so promote practical Christian living and godliness as faithfully keeping the Lords Day, and seeing it as a gift from God for our physical and spiritual and earthly and eternal wellbeing. Gods people know, as John testifies, His commandments are not grievous.

Related to this is a fourth detail of true devotion and dedication to God that our text surely brings out, and that is having the service of the Lord and His church as a top priority in life. In Nehemiah 10:32-39, what is emphasized is how the people pledged themselves to keep up and promote all the temple services, and the chapter ends in these summary words, and we will not forsake [neglect] the house of our God. Just in the last eight verses of chapter 10, you find the phrase the house of our God or house of the Lord at least nine times! When you are a healthy Christian and faithful covenant person, then a clear indication of that is you will not neglect the house of our God, but pray and give and promote the church and people of God in her worship, her fellowship, her needs, and her services and mission in word and deed. In a real sense Gods house and people and ministry become the preoccupation of all Gods true people, and that clearly comes to evidence in any and every time of thankful devotion and rededication to the Lord. If you love Christ, you will love His body, the church. If you are faithful to Him, it will show in you having a place and giving yourself in and with His people. Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a person being a Christian while not really belonging to any church and not faithfully participating in a church and being accountable to others in a local church. When you read chapter 10:32-39, it is striking the minute details that the people cared about concerning the house of God. True revival brings a submissive and sensitive spirit regarding the whole body of Christ and all her ministry.

Are you showing this kind of spirit? Is it evident in your families too that you have great love and zeal for Gods house and church as represented also in a local faithful Christian congregation in your community? Hebrews 13:17 exhorts Christians to be so living the Christian life and participating in the church that the appointed leaders may do their work with joy and not with grief. Does your life and way, especially also as church member, bring joy or grief to others in the church and even before God Himself? Or are you maybe not a church attendee and member at all? When there is true devotion to God, it shows in also seeking to reflect what the psalmist of Psalm 122 testifies as related in song: For sake of friends and kindred dear, My hearts desire is Zions peace, And for the house of God the Lord, My loving care shall never cease. Is the same your testimony as well, can you honestly say, before God and your family?

This brings us yet to the fifth detail that marks covenant renewal and godly living the summary point really. We learn from Nehemiah 9 & 10 what marks true godliness before God and others is, above all, being Saviour focused. Gods true people, zealous for Him and His cause, are a Saviour focused people. This is what is behind also the renewed dedication in our text passage and the submission to Scripture, separation from the world and Sabbath keeping, and seeking the welfare of Gods house and ministry, namely, that the focus ever be on the promised Redeemer! When it is well with your soul, then you look always to the promised Messiah Who has come, Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners. And in all your needs for body and soul you aim ever to trust Him and to live to His praise, seeking to make Him known as the one and only Saviour of sinners, so gracious and glorious indeed! The whole book and ministry of Nehemiah is a Saviour focused book. It is all in preparation and anticipation of His coming one day, which we know took place in the fullness of time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Are you a Saviour focused person? Are you living looking ever to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, awaiting still, not now His first coming, but His second and final coming, when Jesus also will come as Judge of all and bring about His eternal kingdom? All His people then will enter into the realm of eternal glory and all unbelievers and scoffers and the unconverted will then perish forever in their sins. The people in Nehemiahs time that committed themselves in true covenant renewal and dedication to the Lord God were surely not left ashamed, while all who would not do so are left forever ashamed.

Here we come to the gospel truth about the benefits or blessings of seeking and serving the Lord in a true and genuine way. The benefits and blessings are then, you may know, God is with you to lead you in the way everlasting and to keep you and bless you in all your life here and now to His praise. What purposeful and fruitful lives we may live, following Gods paths, whereas following the ways of this world and sin leads to death and destruction, emptiness and despair, and to hell eventually. This time in the history of Israel under Nehemiah and Ezra was a blessed time. The people were filled with joy and had pleasure in the way of the Lord, whereas the way of transgressors is hard and disappointing and hopeless even. Our next message will be on the celebration with the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem. We read in chapter 12:43 about that day, not only that the singers sang loud but they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the wives also and the children also rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. In Gods ways, following close after Him, you gain joy and you spread joy and you have the sure hope of eternal joy unbelievable, indeed, at His right hand pleasures forevermore says Psalm 16:11. She [Wisdoms ways] is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. [Proverbs 3:18]

Dear friend, will you show true godliness and devotion as shown by the people of God here? In our Scripture passage we are told about those who signed the renewed pledge to seek and serve the Lord in spirit and truth. There are altogether 84 names listed in chapter 10 of those who signed, first Nehemiah, then 22 priests, 17 Levites, and 44 others who were called leaders or heads of homes but besides these there were many others who joined with their brethren.every one having knowledge, and having understanding. Im asking now, in Jesus Name, will you too today in spirit sign a pledge of living in true faith and covenant renewal before the Lord God? Isnt it the need of the hourpeople living by Gods saving grace, in the way of true repentance, and genuine faith, and holy obedience before the one true God? Amen.

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