Redirecting Our Families
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Redirecting Our Families

Nehemiah 9:38–10:39  (ID: 1745)

What makes a Christian family different? Alistair Begg explains that obedience to God’s law from the heart will redirect our families in a way that stands out from our culture. After Ezra read the Law, the people responded by promising to live in obedience to the Lord. They manifested their commitment to this promise with practical applications of obedience in the home. Alistair Begg reminds us that our commitments to God must impact every area of our life, including how we focus our families around God’s Word.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Nehemiah, Volume 3

God’s Glory in Our Goodness Nehemiah 9:38–13:30 Series ID: 11603

Encore 2010

Series ID: 25901

Parental Priorities

Series ID: 21801


Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament—Nehemiah chapter 10, where our focus this morning is on the truth which emerges from the thirtieth verse. And as something of a cross-reference, let me read in your hearing—you needn’t turn to it—these familiar words from Ephesians chapter 6:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.[1]

We have been now for some weeks in chapter 10 of Nehemiah. It’s not been my plan to do it this way. It has so happened. And we were joking at our staff meeting on Monday that it’s about probably since Eric Alexander was here, we haven’t had a message that ever concluded. He’s the only one that did it right. And I held him up as the great model, and then I can’t do what my teacher taught me. But anyway, here we are.

If we could take credit for it, we would say that we planned to arrive at this matter of the family so that it would coincide with Father’s Day, but we’re not smart enough to make that happen. But I was delighted, when I realized that we were left with the second point of last week’s study, to realize that today was Father’s Day. And therefore, there is something that is appropriate in the fact that we had begun to lay down these foundational statements: that when the Word of God is obeyed from the heart, first of all, it will realign the focus of those who obey it. And we said that in the realigning of focus, they had begun to think in terms of God’s purposes as opposed to their preferences, they had begun to think in terms of their responsibilities as opposed to their rights, and they had in turn begun to think of the long-term effect as opposed to short-term enjoyment.

Now, each of these things has to be earthed somewhere to become immediately apparent—though they can be simply clichés, little statements that sound right and are right, but we have got no way of knowing just what they mean until we put them in some concrete form and terms. And that’s why it is so vitally important that we realize that after their generic promise, which is contained in 10:29—“to obey carefully all the commands” and “regulations and decrees of the Lord our [God]”—that they then immediately earth it in relationship to the family.

“Well, what does this mean that you’re going to obey the commands of God? What does it mean,” says somebody, “that you plan to follow Christ and obey the Bible? What does it mean that you say that you are a believer?” our friends may ask. And, of course, they have every reason to assume that if it means nothing in our homes, it means nothing. If it is something that is lost, contained simply in the dimensions of corporate worship, then presumably it means very little.

Chuck Swindoll, expressing this truth succinctly, says,

Whatever else may be said about [the] home, it is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out. It is the place where life’s bills come due, the single most influential force in our earthly existence. No price tag can adequately reflect its value. No gauge can measure its ultimate influence … for good or ill. It is at home, among family members, that we come to terms with circumstances. It is here life makes up its mind.[2]

In other words, it is possible for us to put together a kind of external package, especially as it relates to worship and to religious expression, and for everybody nearest and dearest to us to know this: once you get him beyond that pulpit, or once you get him out of that pew, it means relatively little.

Now, to the degree that that could ever be true is indicative of the fact that we need to come to terms with the implications of what it means to obey God’s Word from the heart. And it will have an immediate impact upon family living. If you have a disobedient father who lives in isolation from and in abhorrence of the rule and law of God, it will have a detrimental effect within the home. And some of us this morning know that to our deep sadness, and it is a cause for great concern, and we find comfort only, on a morning like this, in recognizing that ultimately when we think in terms of fatherhood, we’re able to say, “Our Father [who] art in heaven, Hallowed be [your] name.”[3]

Now, if, then, parents are going to take seriously the issues of anchoring their faith within the framework of the home, then it will be expressed at least in these three ways: first of all, in the gathering of our families, then in the guiding of our families, and then in the giving of our families. We said last time that to obey God’s Word from the heart will realign our focus. Secondly, to obey God’s Word from the heart, we’re saying, it will redirect our families. Well, how?

The Gathering of Our Families

Well, first of all, it will determine where we gather, why we gather, and how we gather as families.

Turn back to what have proved to be pivotal verses in these studies, back to 8:2. “All the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book.” And “on the first day,” they gathered together an “assembly, which,” we’re told—2b—“was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.”[4] One of the impressive features of this whole record is the solidarity and unity of these families. Various names are mentioned, and they’re mentioned as being representative of the families that gathered around them and, on this case, gathered with them.

This, incidentally, is what underpins our philosophy of ministry here in relationship to families. We want to say always and carefully that the responsibility for the nurturing, training, and establishing of the faith of families falls to the parents primarily—that there is no Sunday school program, there is no youth group that will be able to take up and redress the balance of parents unprepared to give ourselves to the hard task involved in the challenge of establishing our children in these things.

It is incidental, apparently, but it is important that the group that gathered on this occasion comprised individuals “who were able to understand.” And this is why we have provided all this wonderful nursery accommodation out here and why, as we’re already planning for phase two, we hope to establish that even better than it is now and certainly with more space than there is now. And that is why we do not encourage people to bring infants into the congregation in this way: because they cannot understand. And those who gathered could understand. And therefore, it is an imposition on their tiny existence, it’s usually an imposition on the parent who has custody of the child, and it is almost inevitably an imposition on the people who are around them, who, with an ability to understand, are finding it hard to understand why it would be that these individuals would not take use of the opportunities for their child’s care. That’s why we do it. And we may not always say it as clearly and as nicely as that, but that’s why we do it.

Now, the whole issue—and you’ll find this if you come back to 10—the whole issue of gathering as families was not incidental. Because when you go back to 10:28, we’re told that “the rest of the people,” along with the various identifiable groups, gathered “together”—now notice this—“with their wives and all their sons and daughters”—here we go again—“who are able to understand.” This was a purposeful gathering.

And they were coming together not out of a sense of slavish observance, not out of a sense of a dull routine. And it’s possible to do that. You may have come to worship that way today. I feel sorry for you if you did.

“Oh dear, we’ve got to go. Oh, it’s time. We have to go.”

“Why do we have to go?”

“I don’t know why we have to go. We just have to go.”

“Oh, well, I suppose we should go.”

“Yes, why don’t we go.”

And you go. And you’re here. And there’s no heart in it. There’s no mind engaged in it. I don’t know why you would do it. I don’t know why you would pass all these wonderful golf courses to come here out of a sense of slavish obligation.

That is not why they gathered. They gathered because the Book of the Law was going to be read, and they said to one another, “We want to hear this book.” And then when they heard the Book, their hearts were stirred, and then they said to one another, “We want to do what the Book says.” And then it was said that they were going to read the Book again tomorrow, and they said, “Well, we’ll be back again tomorrow so that our hearts may be stirred afresh and our lives may be changed anew.”[5] Without that, the expectation level may be so low as to leave us with nothing other than the simple slavish, external observance of rules and regulations.

We’re told in chapter 8 that the joy of the people was very great. When the book was read, they wept. And after Nehemiah had wiped their tears for them, then they laughed, and then they ate, and then they went away and told people, and then they came back, and they wept, and they laughed, and they ate, and they told, and life went on. But they certainly weren’t sitting in rows just like nothing you have ever seen. There was a vibrancy about their participation in it all.

That, you see, is what makes preaching worship, not performance. Because involved in preaching is everybody—those who believe, who are praying, “Lord, speak to me, and speak to others”; the one who speaks, who is praying, “May it be your Word that is heard.” And it is imperative that we learn to gather our children together within this kind of framework.

Think it out. Every gathering that we as parents make optional for our children allows them to assume that it is a matter of indifference to us. Everything that we make optional for our children allows them to assume that it is a matter of indifference to us. Here we are already, in the early, warm days of the summer, and I see the people, I see myself in the rearview mirror, and I see others scurrying here, there, and everywhere—taking them here, picking them up, taking them there, picking them up, getting them there, bringing them back, putting them here. And the children say, “Why do we do all these things? Why are we going all these places?” Legitimate question. Half the time the answer is “’Cause you want to go, and I’m just the taxi driver.”

But there are other times when we’re saying, “We want you to participate in this. This will be good for you. You’re going to enjoy this. You’ll enjoy working here. It’s fun to clean the toilets. You’ll be surprised. You’ll be surprised how it will form your character.”

“I don’t want my character formed.”

“Be quiet! It’s going to be formed. Get moving. All right?”

And we declare by our instruction what is important to us.

Now, when it comes to Saturday night at ten o’clock, and the bellyaching starts about the plans for Sunday, then we show—whether by our hearts and our minds and our eyes and our interests—we show to our children whether we’re sincere about what’s about to take place on the Lord’s Day. And if all that we have as moms and dads is some kind slavish observance of an external framework, our children are quick to pick that up. And they will go along with it for a while. But the first chance they get, they’ll cut the umbilical cord, and they will be gone—unless we have been able, as Deuteronomy 6 says, to convey from our hearts to our children’s hearts just how important this is.[6]

As the World Cup began here in the last couple of days, and as I was watching already some of these games, I was recalling the fact that in the year that the World Cup came from Mexico, which was ’68 or ’72 or something, they came into Britain—the games—in the middle of the night—one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock in the morning. And my father used to set the alarm clock and wake me and make me tea, and we would watch these games together at two in the morning. Total craziness! And especially since my dad didn’t really like soccer that much. But for fifty-two games’ worth, we got up in the middle of the night, declaring it a priority. So we would get up in the middle of the night to watch twenty-two men kick a bag of wind around a field, but we won’t get up early in the morning to establish in the hearts and minds of our children the priority of the gathering of God’s people.

What is it that makes the Christian family distinctive? It is the fact that they gather within the framework of the instruction of God.

And when we gather together on the Lord’s Day evening and our children look into our eyes and say, “Not again,” we then declare where our hearts are and our priorities are. And you can stay home and play games with your children, but so can the pagans, so can the unbelievers. But only those whose hearts have been fashioned by faith will consider it a priority to establish the gathering of our families. Life goes by very, very quickly, does it not? And all of our yesterdays are over, and all of the days gone by are by, but today is the start of the rest of our lives. So, we will gather our families.

The Guiding of Our Families

Secondly, we will guide our families. If we’re going to take seriously the Word of God in our hearts, we will establish the guidance of our families—not simply on the basis of our own little personal preferences or our own little family values, because there are plenty, again, of plenty wonderful families who play games and spend time together, but they’re devoid of any knowledge of God. What is it that makes the Christian family distinctive? It is the fact that they gather within the framework of the instruction of God.

I’m not going to go back and reiterate the wonderful story of the reading of the Law in chapter 8 and then the discovery of the fact that they were supposed to build booths and have a wonderful celebration on their rooftops and in their court yards.[7] I’ve mentioned it to you before. It bears repetition. I move quickly by it. But when they all went and heard the Word of God proclaimed, they then went out from there, and the children heard, and the parents heard, and they heard that there was supposed to be the building of booths. So the children inevitably had the question in their minds, “Are we going to do it?”

Every time, you see, that I preach this stuff, I know that there are at least three children listening who are asking the question of me: “Okay, are we going to do it?” I’m not calling this congregation to a standard that doesn’t wrestle my own heart to the ground, that doesn’t challenge me—that doesn’t shake Sue and I to the very core of our being in the peculiar challenges of guiding our children. To give any impression that saying these things is representative, somehow, of a hundred percent success in the doing of them is to create an illusion in the minds of the listeners and is to create craziness in the mind of the speaker.

Children are inevitably going to ask, “Are we going to do it?”

And on that occasion, the father said, “Yes, we’re going to do it. We’re going to go and gather sticks.”

“I don’t want to gather sticks.”

“And we’re going to build little booths.”

“I don’t want to build a booth.”

“And furthermore, we’re going to build them on the roof. And after that, we’re going to sleep in them. So when the school bus comes, if you’re not up in time, your friends are going to see you coming out of this thing on the roof.”

See, the more and more and more that we are absorbed into the culture, the more that we endeavor to tell people that Christians are just the same as everybody else, the less we have the opportunity to bear the distinctions which mark the people of God.

And there needs to be on the part of parents what we find here in these chapters: the clear emphasis to establish biblical principles in the hearts and minds of our children. When the Jewish people established instruction for their kids, it was very, very clear. They didn’t leave anything to doubt. They wanted every one of their children to understand that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”[8] They wanted their children to know that the reason they were not left to their own devices was because they were immature and they were sinful.

The kid says, “Well, why can’t you just leave me at home? I’m seventeen, I have a driver’s license, and I’m smart. Don’t you trust me?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because of Psalm 51:5.”

“Oh, why do you keep bringing the Bible up?”

“’Cause it’s the only thing we can bring up.”

“What does Psalm 51:5 say?”

“Well, look it up for yourself.”

So they go and they look it up—go up in their room: “Psalm 51:5. Fifty-one? I dunno. Where’s Psalms? Before Proverbs? I don’t know. Oh! ‘Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.’ Was it 51:5?”

“Yeah!”

“Oh, I got it. All right. All right. Yep. Yep. I’m not sure I accept it, but I got it.”

Now, these things underpin their instruction. No foolish stuff, no silly stuff. Basic biblical, foundational principles to guide our children, to establish them. It is absolutely daunting. It is devastating. It is demanding. It some days is totally impossible. Without the help of God, I don’t know how you do this stuff.

Tim Hansel, writing in a little book that he put together, said that when he began to wrestle with this as a young father, he wrote himself a fact sheet. And here are the facts that he wrote on his sheet when he thought about the responsibility of guiding his children: “[Number] 1: [I am] a dad. Even on the mornings when I don’t feel like it, even when I know I blew it, even when I think I’d rather be doing something else—the central fact of my existence is that I am a husband and a father.” Fact.

Fact 2: The home is the single most important influence on my family. I can delegate my responsibilities at work, but I can[’t] delegate [the] hopes for my family. …

Fact 3: Because of its inherent difficulty and importance, fathering is the most dignified role I will ever play.

Fact 4: Being a parent is one of the greatest sources of joy we can ever know.

… 5: We all can improve.[9]

For there isn’t a father this morning, on Father’s Day, when they get the card or the little thing or whatever someone gave you, you don’t feel a bit of heel: “Oh, honey, why would you write that nice thing about me?” And you get in your car and you say, “If only I could be what it says in the card. If only I could live according to their approximation.” And I don’t mean meeting our children’s standards.

Fact 6: Everyone is unique.” You can’t be the father down the street. You can’t be the dad up the road. “Oh, my dad always takes me to the orchestra,” and you’re like, “Orchestras and funerals are not places I want to hang out.” So now you’re going to go and do all these things to try and be Mr. So-and-So three doors down. Meanwhile, he’s never been seen with a baseball in his hand for all of his life, and so it goes on. You’re unique. You just be yourself.

The seventh thing he wrote was,

It is difficult to be a good parent. … No magic potions[, no special] formulas. One of the great myths in our society is that we can be [great] parents without [the] real investment of [our] time and energy. The great truth is that there is no substitute for [the] investment of time and effort. … Once we[’ve] genuinely realized that being a quality father … is difficult, then the problem no longer matters. We can get on with what we have to do.[10]

The Giving of Our Families

And what we have to do is described here: enabling our families to gather; guiding our families; and thirdly and finally, getting prepared to give our families away. This, of course, is the great challenge and the daunting responsibility of parenting. It dawns on us all too late that what we’re doing here is we’re putting these children together in order that we might give them away. And since we’re going to have to give them away, we better make sure that we decide today, in the light of dawn, to whom we’re prepared to give them and to whom we’re unprepared to give them. And that’s what they said: “We’re going to obey carefully all the commands and regulations and decrees of the Lord our God.” What does that mean? Number one: “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or [to] take their daughters for our sons.”

“So you say you’re a Christian? What does it mean, Mr. X?”

“Well, what it has meant this week is that my daughter and I, we’ve been having some significant discussions about a boy who insists on phoning her, and he’s planned to come driving up our driveway a number of times.”

“Who’s that?”

“Mr. So-and-So’s son.”

“Oh!” says the guy. “What a nice guy he is, is he not?”

“Yeah, he is.”

“So you must be pleased that your daughter is dating him?”

“No, she’s not.”

“Oh, she’s not? Why not?”

“Well, he doesn’t share the faith that my daughter has or the faith that we embrace as a family.”

“Now, don’t you think you’re making a little bit much of that, sir? I mean, isn’t that going over the top a little bit?”

Now, I want to acknowledge again that here I sit with three children—fifteen, thirteen, and eleven. You sit, having completed a number of the courses, having run around the laps, many of you. Others are coming behind. I recognize that one day, the words I speak may stand up and laugh at me—that is, words of my affirmation that would be unfulfilled. But I want you to notice what the Bible says. It’s so straightforward you can miss it: “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to those who do not share our faith.” Who do the parents think they are? The parents! That’s who we are!

Now, the fact that we have democratized society and democratized the family unit to such a degree that we believe we’re all to sit around the kitchen table and vote on everything is merely a capitulation to the thought forms of our secular culture. But when we open our Bibles, it’s clearly not that! And the dad has a responsibility to look after these kids—along with the mom, but the dad bears the burden.

In the process of doing all of these various weddings at the moment—and they’re coming faster than baby dedications right now—I have been intrigued, and I have set myself the task of asking fathers, “Tell me about it in relationship to giving away your daughters.” “Well,” they said, “you know…” And then we’ve had these unbelievable stories.

And the chap told me a couple of weeks ago, out of state, he said, “You know, the first time this fellow came to my house, I invited him in, he sat down in our living room, and it was thirty minutes before he got out of the living room, and the perspiration was bursting out of the young guy. And he was only trying to take my daughter out on his first date with her, but I gave him the ninth degree,” he said. “Where are you going? Are you going alone? Are you going with another couple? Are you going in the car? Are you driving the car? And when will you be back? And where will you be then? And everything else.” The kid went out the door saying, “Who in the world? What’s the deal with your father?” The girl, I don’t know what she said. She maybe said, “Well, you know, he goes to this thing, and a guy stands up on a platform and reads from a book like Ezra, and then he finds these things out. And as soon as finds them out, we’re done! Every time he finds one out, we’re doing it in the house: ‘No, you’re not doing that!’ ‘Why not?’ ‘It’s in the Book.’ But he tells me it’s all for the best.” “Well,” says the boy, “you know what? He cares about you. I’ll give him that much. He cares about you.”

Speaking with a fellow yesterday in one of the two weddings, he said that he was trying his best to find a way to ask this man for the hand of his daughter in marriage, and he was annoyed with himself because he couldn’t put it together and find an introduction and begin to speak and everything else. And he was in the house, and he decided, “I’ll just go down the stairs, and I’ll just blurt it out to the guy.” And so he went down in the basement area, and the man’s back was offset to him, and he said, “Mr. X, I want to marry your daughter.” And the man turned around, and he was loading shells into a shotgun in the basement. I like that, you know—blanks, but shells nevertheless. Put ’em in, I say. Get the German Shepherds.

Those little boxes—you know, since I’ve been here, they have those little houses at the end of driveways, little wooden things? I finally worked out what they are. That’s the guard post put there by fathers when you get teenage daughters. You have a guy down there, a soldier that sits in that thing. ’Cause I’ve never seen anybody waiting for a school bus in it. And if you’ve got a couple of them left over, you send them up to my house, ’cause I’m going to put them right on the end for my girls. Some days I’ll be in it. Some days I’ll have a delegate in it; I’ll have a substitute. But someone will be in it. If you think that someone’s going to come walking up the driveway and take these girls into who knows where, you got rocks in your head. Every dad’s got to feel that way.

Did you see Steve Martin in Father of the Bride? Huh? She comes home, and she says, “I met a man.” And the mother goes all googly. And Martin’s face is a picture in poetry, you know. He’s like… Every father in the world says, “That’s right, Steve. Stay with it, man. That’s it.” There’s not a father in the world watched the scene, in the early hours of the morning, as Martin awakes, and he hears the basketball bouncing on the driveway outside and goes out and finds his daughter shooting hoops. You’re a father, you watch that with a dry eye, you got a problem.

The giving of our children away is the most significant thing that we are ever going to do with these children. We have constrained their educational choices. We have endeavored to lay out for them wise paths in which to walk. We have helped them in the choice of their clothes. We’ve helped them with their diet. We’ve established friendships for them. We’ve chosen recreational times for them. We’ve done all of these things. Why? Because we love them, and we want the best for them.

If the Word of God is going to take root in our lives, it’s going to affect the way we establish the giving of our children.

Well then, at the crunch, are we going to step back from it and just say, “Oh, hello, I’m very pleased to meet your bride”? It’s ’cause we’re chicken; that’s why. I think probably we need to allow our children the opportunity to ask the tough questions in our homes; encourage them to be talking openly about their likes and their aspirations, about friendships, not least of all with the opposite sex; engage them in conversation about what they think matters most; help them to see that character matters more than style, that character matters more than splash. Someone wrote,

We live in a day when “image” rates higher than character, [when] “style” counts … more than real accomplishment. We[’re] impressed with outward appearances. We[’re] easily distracted from unspectacular disciplines that lead to excellence. Life is skimmed from the surface. The [depth] remain[s] largely unexplored.[11]

We need to allow our children to ask their mom, “How in the world did you end up with Dad?” Or we need to be driving the car with our son and allow him the freedom to say, “You know what? I don’t know how you did it, but you did pretty good when you got Mom. Because after all, look at you.” We need to beware of a naivete which says it doesn’t matter who they’re mixing with; it doesn’t matter who they’re spending time with. I don’t know, but I think I’m going to have this discussion for the rest of my life, if I die prematurely, or until the day my children leave the home. It goes right along the same lines. I should have just kept the tape recording from my dad. Isn’t it amazing? It’s all the same stuff: “Well, it’s because I love you that I do this.” “Well, if you loved me, you wouldn’t do this.” Da-da-da-da-da. Same old junk.

Here’s the bottom line this morning, dads: if the Word of God is going to take root in our lives, it’s going to affect the way we establish the giving of our children. Therefore, we need to cherish them fondly, we need to sustain them spiritually, we need to treat them individually, and we need to make sure that they understand that we are Dad.

Let me conclude with a quote which I’ve carried since 1988. A young man in the New York area, I think it was, having come across a letter which was very apropos his own experience as he remembered his dad, took the letter that I’m about to read to you and took a separate letter which he had written, and he created a little makeshift mailbox out of a curtain rod and a little cardboard mailbox, and he drove the curtain rod into the graveside of his father, and he inserted the two letters in the box. And here are the letters.

The first letter came from a Brooklyn man, given to his son on his son’s seventeenth birthday. And it said,

Dear Son: As long as you live under this roof you will follow the rules. In our house we do not have a democracy. I did not campaign to be your father. You did not vote for me. We are father and son by the grace of God. I consider it a privilege, and I accept the responsibility. In accepting it, I have an obligation to perform the role of a father.

I am not your pal. The age difference makes such a relationship impossible. We can share many things, but you must remember that I am your father. This is 100 times more meaningful than being a pal.

You will do as I say as long as you live in this house. You are not to disobey me because whatever I ask you to do is motivated by love. This may be hard for you to understand at times, but the rule holds. You will understand perfectly when you have a son of your own.

Until then trust me.

Love,

Dad

And the boy put that letter and then his own note into this makeshift mailbox. His own note read,

Dad: This letter and these feelings have been with me for a long time. It did take having a son to realize how right you were. I now have two sons of my own, and I[’m] sounding more like you every day.

I wish we had more time together. I wish I had a chance to tell you how much I’ve learned.

Thank you for the time we did have.

You taught me well, Dad. I’m just sorry it took me so long. May God bless you.

Love,

David[12]

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “When I was fifteen, I thought my father was a fool. When I became twenty-five, I realized what a wise man he was.” It seems to me that if, fathers, we’re unprepared to be thought foolish and mean when our children are fifteen, we will not know the joy of them reaching twenty-five and thanking us for our faithfulness.

When we obey God’s Word from the heart, it realigns our focus. It redirects our families. And when we come together to study again next time, we will see that it reconstructs our finances. It just gets worse and worse.

Let’s pray together:

Our God and our Father, we thank you for your Word. We want to be like the people in Nehemiah’s day, who, when they heard it, accepted it, obeyed it, and applied it. We thank you this morning for happy memories. We give into your care this morning sad hearts, difficult circumstances, deep loss, great disappointment. May we find our confidence in you, our hope, our friendship, for you are “a father to the fatherless.”[13]

May the love of the Lord Jesus fill our hearts and homes. May the joy of the Lord Jesus establish us on the right path. May the peace of the Lord Jesus guard and keep us, today and forevermore. Amen.


[1] Ephesians 6:1–4 (NIV 1984).

[2] Charles. R. Swindoll, Home: Where Life Makes Up Its Mind (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1979), 5.

[3] Matthew 6:9 (KJV).

[4] Nehemiah 8:1–2 (NIV 1984).

[5] See Nehemiah 8:1–13.

[6] See Deuteronomy 6:6–7.

[7]See Nehemiah 8:14.

[8] Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10 (NIV 1984). See also Proverbs 1:7.

[9] Tim Hansel, What Kids Need Most in a Dad (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1989), 29–30.

[10] Hansel, 30.

[11] Larry Christenson, foreword to Paul Anderson, Building Christian Character (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1980), 7.

[12] Quoted in Ann Landers, “It’s Never Too Late to Tell Dad ‘Thanks,’” Chicago Tribune, June 19, 1988, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-06-19-8801080911-story.html.

[13] Psalm 68:5 (NIV 1984).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.