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Devotions by Ray Stedman for August 18 -Where To Begin

Topic:Where To Begin
READ THE SCRIPTURE: NEHEMIAH 9:1-15

Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
Nehemiah 9:5b

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

This prayer in the book of Nehemiah is a great model that will teach us much for our own prayer life. It begins with a great section of praise. First, God is praised as the Creator and Maker of everything. Beginning with the life He gave you is a great place to start when you are praising God. It seems strange to me that people who are dependent every moment on God to give them life allow themselves so easily to forget that fact. God sustains us moment by moment. We ought to be grateful for that. Let us never forget that our very breath comes from Him.

The next section praises God as the caller and chooser of people. He is the one who gives undeserved blessings to those He chooses. God is the keeper of promises. Not one of us would be here today if it were not for that merciful, sovereign call of God. Jesus said, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (John 6:44). We are here today because the Spirit of God in wondrous grace has drawn us to Himself.

Then the people praise God as the deliverer from sin and its enslavement. They retell the history of this nation, beginning with the call of Abraham and their deliverance from Egypt. Some of us have forgotten the lessons God has taught us and have returned to the same sins, plunging ourselves once more into rebellion and slavery. Let us never forget that we have been wonderfully, even miraculously, delivered by the great hand of God.

Praise for God as the great provider of wisdom and the necessities of life follows. Here is God’s providential care of His own. He taught this people how to live in the midst of great wickedness. He knew he was sending them into a land inhabited by tribes who were morally degraded to a degree that is appalling to us today. They offered their children to the god Molech by throwing them alive into a furnace of fire. It was among these people that the Israelites had to live. Yet God taught them how to avoid defilement from those things. He taught them how to be friends with these people but not be destroyed by their immorality. It is exactly the situation we are called to live in today. God has given us this wonderful book that teaches us the rules of life, health, salvation, and deliverance and the inner strength that can resist the temptations that abound all around us. To neglect it is folly.

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God also supplied their needs. He gave them bread to eat when there was none. He gave them water from the rock in the middle of the desert. That is not only an account of meeting physical needs, but it describes the meeting of spiritual needs as well. The New Testament tells us these are pictures of Christ: He is the bread of life; He is the water of life. As the Israelites learned the meaning of these symbols, they began to understand that there was One coming who would fully meet the need of the human heart.

Father, I praise and worship You as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, as the One who has chosen me and drawn me to Yourself and the One who provides all that I need.

Life Application
As we understand God’s attributes we are better able to know and worship Him. Are our hearts tuned to praise God as the One from whom all blessings flow?

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