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October 13, 2021 4:00 am
The we are sometimes tempted to think that the men and women of the Bible possess superhuman quality, but the fact is, they were ordinary people just like you and me.
So where do the simple cupbearer get the courage to face and out of the ordinary challenge.
Find out now as Alister Ben continues in the book of Nehemiah today on Truth for Life.
I don't think you can understand.
Chapter 2 except for the fact that in the experience of prayer he was fashioning and forming certain convictions and practical factors that would be necessary if the sense of prayerful dependence upon God was going to be turned in to reality amongst those with whom he was going to minister. I don't want to take time to go through the prayer. I simply want you to note that if ever you want to preach through it.
I think it falls nicely into the little laugh acrostic acts, you know, which we often use with our young people and we develop your praying should involve some adoration. It should begin with God. That's what you have in verse five, oh Lord, the great and awesome God of heaven who keeps his love, and so on. It should involve confession is exactly what it has. We we acknowledge he says that we have acted very wickedly toward you.
There seven, the Israelites have committed sin, and I myself of committed sin. It involves Thanksgiving in verses eight through 10 zero harasses God's promises in that it involves supplication specific, reverent and clear give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this matter. There will be no doubt if we had been in the company of Jeremiah exactly what was going on. If we had observed him receive the news and we had seen as heartbroken if we had been around him in those intervening days we would've found him a man almost with an otherworldly dimension to his expedient and if we had the privilege of sitting on learning how to pray with him. We would have been made, clearly aware of the fact that he was not tied up in any kind of theological knots about being absolutely specific in approaching God grant your servant success today so we don't believe in succession.
Success is a dirty word. No success is not a dirty word. Success that is self focused and bound man sends her his futility, but a kind of success about which he was concerned was a success that would redound to the glory of God. It wasn't a success that would attach significance to the person of now my that's where we don't want to be breathing for six. It is important that the work of God succeeds as it will reaction counter reaction number three into action into action in a God centered perspective that was going to manifest itself in a quite striking way by him being bold in his initiative taken chapter 2 begins one day in April. Four months later he been biding his time waiting the right moment when the door opened of opportunity that he would be ready to enter an open, it did there in verse one. Taking his wine in the normal routine.
Here's your wine came but he had been sad in his presence before and so the king said, why does your face look so sad when you're not ill, very perceptive course. The king needed to be perceptive as well because any indication like this on the part of his cupbearer would tip him the nod that maybe was going down with and so you would learn to read your eyes and you would want a very happy cupbearer on on every occasion that he was bearing your cup in any possibility of them looking squeamish. Maybe on account of the fact that your enemies and got to him and maybe he was seeking to cover up something that was deep down insight. Roger face look so sad when you're not ill. This can be nothing but sadness of heart and I love the final phrase in verse two. I love how realistic and honest it is.
I was very much afraid I was very much afraid. I bet this is maybe one of the most encouraging line so far in the story of now mired to me because usually as I read the story of now my eye immediately have an in almost deified terms. You know this guy is awesome. He was praying and fasting for hundred 20 days of never done that in my life. He was concerned about all these things I don't even approximate that I don't know I'm so far removed from now my but when he says I was very much afraid there's an immediate point of identification I said all I'm beginning to like this chat. I can identify.
I was very much afraid. I remember just thinking obliquely about this in terms of people who are our heroes in our models. Eric Alexander has been a mentor and a friend over many years in Glasgow and I remember him speaking at a conference similar to this in the borders of Scotland and in a question-and-answer session, I said to Mr. Alexander, can you tell me how you spend your morning hours. You see, I thought that he was going to say that he got up around 4 o'clock and he prayed for two hours and then he you know you need to got a map of the world and he prayed for another hour and so on and I'm man was I encouraged when he told me he said well you said you know I set my alarm I can remember the time, but it was was favorable for favorable for sleeping. He said, and I set my alarm I get up and I have a shower and I and I drive my children to school and I come back home and grade it makes me a couple coffee.
I grab the mail. I read that I have a quick look at the Glasgow Herald and then a II get going on my study hall. I said that I like this man, this is this is good because you see, we often imagine it and I don't mean that in any sense to denigrate Eric. I'm I'm saying it to acknowledge the rightness so that they fit the spiritual ordinariness of it.
If you like because that's when we live our lives. I mean we live our lives in humdrum days and we must explode. For those under our care.
The mythology of some drama that attends us because it doesn't. Now my as ordinariness comes out here is any good leaders ordinary business months.
I was very much afraid the Pharisee and is is saying all I don't think I would've been afraid not. If I'd been praying for hundred and 20 days I would've been bold.
I would've been afraid well find you just going by yourself. The rest of you can stay over here with me in the in the afraid What you want he sets what you want can imagine is been for three or four months waiting for the day when the guy would ask this question what you want and it's now or never. Reaction overwhelmed counteraction prayer into action. Well, thank you for asking, and recognizing God's hand in it all and praying to the God of heaven. Verse five he answers the king noticed his intense practicality, wonderful in verse seven. If he could have some letters of safe conduct and you can probably see the king's eyes in this you know going. It's not a problem, and so he advances a little further goes on a bit of our all and by the way, about a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, because you know we got some construction to be nice to have some would and he's gauging the king's eyes that he knows well and he says and that be nice to have safe passage and so they throw in the officers in the cavalry and now Myers discovering that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we can ask or even imagine. It was a pipe dream that he would get to go back. He would be lucky is and where providentially overruled is aware if he had simply been able to make the journey on his own but here is advancing and putting together all the bits and the pieces as his paws and asked the question if, in establishing a vision of doing God's work in God's way. It seems to me there's a great danger that is represented in the circles in which many of us move is the classic danger of the pendulum swing most of the things that we have observed that have to do with methodology and strategy and vision setting and planning have a marriage I would've a theological seedbed with which many of us do not find ourselves immediately in harmony. But instead of recognizing that there is an essential place to thinking, not only biblically but strategically we allow the pendulum to swing way out on the other end and we give up ground to the pragmatists embracing assertive on our theological posture. I don't think that's the way of Scripture, I certainly don't believe that we have now my now my is an absolutely no doubt about who does what he would've understood first Corinthians 3. It is God who gives the task.
It is God who gives the growth and it is God who gets the glory. But I did not prevent the apostles from thinking strategically about the way in which they reached the city for Christ. Nor should it us and indeed we who would want to come from a very biblical foundation need to take seriously the responsibility of establishing models in our day to which other young men and women can come in observation and then can implement in following our example, if there's going to be the establishing a vision then.
First, it has to be planted in our hearts by God spirit and through his word. The ultimate vision for us if you like his revelations and chapters 7 and after this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count on every nation tried people in language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb that is the ultimate vision. That's the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed. This is what we look forward to and everything else is ultimately subservient to that amazing day when God will gather to himself those who are his own and we live along the continuum of God's unfolding plan, God put this and now my ass heart. It wasn't dream.it was prayed down.
He didn't go in his room and just think for a while.
He actually was in touch with God. He was in touch with his community and then he was prepared to establish for those who were around them as we will see the parameters in which he could do God's work.
I went to Jerusalem. Verse 11 and after staying there three days, I set out during the night with a few men I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem and we don't need to be in any doubt about what God puts in the hearts of his servants to do in our day. It's all given to us here in the apostolic precept, and in the apostolic pattern we know what we are to do, where to edify the saints so that they might do the works of ministry. We are in his words of Paul to Timothy in two Timothy 45 we are to keep our heads in all situations where to endure hardship. We are to do the work of an evangelist, and where to discharge all the duties of our ministry starts not as if we have to cast around to find out what it is that supposed to be in the heart of a pastor within the heart of the pastor is going to be the intense longing for God and his glory for the sheep under his care for those as yet who have not been added to the fold. As with Jesus in John 17. There are other sheep who are not yet added to this group, I don't. God I pray for them to what's in your heart. And these days, what are we doing keeping the doors open, doing church fulfilling established routines. Is there anything of vision that our elders catch from us is in any sense of forging a trail. I think where it's lacking in my life. It lacks first because I don't react properly who we which of us will we for the state of the contemporary church's easy to stand up and point fingers and say this person and this and that that but in the private place to drive to worship on Sunday evenings after building after building after building total darkness not only in the place.
Not a soul on the property, not a car in the car you want to break our hearts and then the counteraction will when you rend the heavens and come down when you do in our day what you've done in another day. Would you, as it were back on horseback through these fair towns and cities as in the great awakening will you fashion in our churches, young boys brought up within the framework of godly instruction and stared in their hearts in ways they can fully understand so that they might rise up in their day without fire in the valleys concerning God and his glory, and a desire to preach the Bible and all of its fullness will you surprises in God. If all that we do in our generation is keep our feet in the door for another generation to come will you make is prepared to live just with that so that we see no dramatic fulfillment of the vision. If we see nothing if we are nothing other than faithful to that which is made known to us that we would keep our heads when others are losing theirs that we would endure hardship when people are bailing out and taking soft options that we would be serious about the responsibility of evangelism and that we would discharge all the duties of our ministries and all in the conviction that I can, but God can see many of us are suffering from the illusion that we can, and it's only when we face the fact that we can then that we can's that delicious paradox is that the man with a withered hand could not stretch it out. Jesus asked him to do what he couldn't do any did because his word is not only a life giving word. It is a life changing word just the final bizarre illustration first time I saw an American football game was at an Air Force Base in Hartford Sharon England in a place called bushy.
I went there with this girl that I really liked a lot and she's at home looking after my children just now and I had not a clue in my mind what was happening in front of me in this very dramatic experience of American football. I wasn't opposed to it in any way. I just couldn't fathom it and she was absolutely no help to me at all, at least in terms of understanding what was going on, but the one indelibly fastened recollection that I have is of the cheerleaders we had not been introduced to some of these American extravaganzas that was only to be found on on on Air Force Base's but as the game proceeded the particular team that we were there to support, which I think was the American school of London or something like that they were being annihilated. The scoreboard did not have sufficient spaces on it, to deal with the hiding they were sustaining but this is it the cheerleaders proceeded with the one dramatic refrain when like this. And these things went. You can do it you can do it you can you can you can do it you can do it you can out problem was they couldn't no matter how drastically we are and no matter how loud that you are a guy went acted.
No matter how that big fat guy bang that drunk they could not one moment reversed.
The sad tale of what was happening on the field and here we sit in terms of the work of God. It seems that were sustaining a significant defeat.
So what we do we take the methods of the world. We take the wisdom of the world would bring in the cheerleaders stand on the sidelines and make us feel better to blur the reality of what's going on you can do it you can do it. No, you can't know. Then at that moment of self-awareness far as us leaders as pastors and churches that moment the door of opportunity swings white because what did Jesus say apart from me you can do and say that our need was partial said that our need was total to the degree that I believe that my neatest partial I will not react is now my reacted. I will not counter responders. He responded, and I will not be able to go into action is even into action. We convinced that we can do nothing from Christ been listening to Alistair Begggett on Truth for Life.
Alastair will return in just a minute to close with prayer so please keep listening our message today as part of a series titled the pastor's study. If you're in pastoral ministry. Whether you're leading a congregation working in youth ministry or serving in church leadership. Our team is compiled a list of some of our favorite books, articles, and sermons that we think you'll enjoy this Truth for Life.org/pastor or look for the list on our mobile app also were excited to announce that registration is now open for basics 2022.
Basics is an annual conference that Alastair hosts for pastors and church leaders.
If you're in pastoral ministry. Mark your calendar for May 2 through the fourth of 2022. Alastair will be joined by special guests, Tony, Marita and John Woodhouse registration is now open online at basics conference.org strengthening the local church and encouraging pastors through the clear relevant teaching of God's word is what we're all about the Truth for Life infect teaching the Bible is our mission. We know that it's true. God's word that unbelievers are converted and believers grow in their faith.
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Would love for you to join us in this mission you could do that by supporting Truth for Life. But when you give today will say thanks by inviting you to request a book about the importance of church membership, its title devoted to God's church and it explains why being part of a church isn't optional. It's actually vital for every believer requester firstname.lastname@example.org/donate or call 888-588-7884. Now let's join with Alastair in prayer about our father, we thank you that were not left to our own devices. When we think about doing your work in your way. Thank you that the pages of Scripture are literate with wonderful examples of those upon whose life you set your hand thank you for that lovely phrase that recurs again and again and I told him said now my of the hand of God, which rested on me to pray that we might know that experience again in these days of your hand upon us for good help those of us who are down hearted to be picked up by the genuine concerns of others.
Some of us who need encouragement and answers to our questions. May these days surprises with the evidences of your grace.
We pray to the glory of your great name through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ about the pain all heard the expression of thought that counts.
God plants a vision thoughts must be followed by action.
How can a leader make that happen fund up tomorrow.
The Bible teaching of Alastair Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life for the learning is prolific