Saying No to Neglect — Part One
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Saying No to Neglect — Part One

Nehemiah 9:38–10:39  (ID: 1742)

In order to move forward in doing God’s work, Nehemiah led the Israelites in reflecting on God’s past faithfulness. When they heard the Law, the people praised God for His provision and goodness and declared their direction for the future. Alistair Begg reminds us that these were ordinary people who submitted their lives to God’s Word and were used by God in extraordinary ways. Likewise, our Christian walk will influence our generation when we obey God’s Word daily in the normal routines of life.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Nehemiah, Volume 3

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

Sermon Transcript: Print

Now I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to Nehemiah and to chapter 10. Our task this morning is to begin to look into this tenth chapter of Nehemiah.

Before we do, let’s pause for a moment of prayer:

Our great God and Father, we pray that you will do this mysterious thing when you take the voice of a mere man and you use it to speak through and to bring your Word to bear upon all of our lives. There’s no one individual could somehow comprehensively understand or grasp a group of this magnitude or be able to apply the Bible with enough emphasis to touch every life. But we know that the Holy Spirit “is able to do exceeding[ly] abundantly [beyond] all that we [can] ask” [1] or even imagine. And we humbly ask, Holy Spirit, that you will do that now so that Jesus may be glorified, our lives may be touched and transformed. For we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

In the Hebrew Bible, chapter 10 of Nehemiah actually begins with 9:38, and that most appropriately, because you will see that the sense of it all is directly related to a whole new beginning in 9:38, where the people of God enter into what is referred to here as “a binding agreement.” And the content of chapter 10 is aptly summarized between 9:38 and 10:39, which has the concluding statement “We will not neglect the house of our God.”

If you imagine for a moment that a father says to his children, “Here it is kids: we will not neglect the house of our God,” and the children say, “Exactly what do you mean by that?” then he will go back, he’ll start at 9:38, and he’ll run all the way through to 10:39. Because in a sense, what we have here is an outworking of this covenant on the one hand and this explanation on the other.

I’d like to begin by noticing the opening phrase of verse 38, which you will see simply reads, “In view of all this…” This is a reference to all that has been rehearsed in chapter 9. That’s why it’s so very important to read the Bible carefully, so that we might understand that verse 38 is not hanging out on its own, but it is directly related to what has preceded it. And what has gone before is largely a substantial chunk of the history of ancient Israel—one of the longest prayers in the Old Testament, containing for us a great panoramic survey of what God had done for and through his people to this point in their historical pilgrimage.

We said on each of the occasions that we studied together that a knowledge of this kind of biblical history gives us a framework within which to understand ourselves—who we are, why we exist, who God is, how we relate to God, how God relates to the universe, and how we relate both to God and to the universe. The technical term for that is theology. That’s really all it is. Who am I? How did I get here? How do I relate to God and to the universe? And a knowledge of biblical history allows us to view these questions accurately.

And so these people were thinking about all of their tomorrows in light of all of their yesterdays. Very, very important. It’s something that’s been coming to me forcibly in recent days. I don’t know why it is, but you will note that it is almost a recurring emphasis. I’ve written concerning it, I’ve spoken concerning it, and here I am, saying it again—namely, that we can never as individuals, families, churches, societies, nations, go forward effectively until such times as we have learned to look back properly. It is in learning to view history with accuracy that we can then proceed to view the future with prospect.

As a child growing up, in my early teens, one of the programs on British television was simply entitled All Our Yesterdays. And I don’t remember much concerning it, except it had a very somber musical theme with which it began, and it often ushered in pictures that had been taken from one of the two world wars. Why in the world would the BBC take time to produce and market this program that was so clearly locked in the past? Well, I can’t speak to the producer’s motivations, but it would seem to me that part of the effect of that program was to give us gratitude for those who gave their lives in order that we might be free, which was an important factor; and secondly, that we might learn lessons from the mistakes of our past as a nation so as to prevent making them all over again in the future.

Now, certainly the people of God, as described here in these verses, had a proper view of history. Instead of seeing life as a series of disjointed and unrelated activities with significance for only the moment in which they were living, they viewed all that was taking place in the light of the fact that there was a God who existed—was a living God, a personal God—and he was unfolding his plan and his purpose for all of history.

We can never go forward effectively until such times as we have learned to look back properly.

Now, that may seem like a fairly superficial, inconsequential distinction upon first consideration. But a moment’s thought will let us understand that it is not that at all. Indeed, it is of deep significance. The way in which we view our lives today is largely ordered by the way we view our past. And so many of our contemporaries who live with a godless worldview have been brought up to believe that life is simply a series of disjointed and unrelated activities that have no immediate significance beyond the happening for the instant now. Simply existentialism: all that matters is now, and it’s gone.

Now, we said in a recent message that it was important for us to seize the day, borrowing the phrase carpe diem, at least in most recent recollection, from Dead Poet’s Society, which we identified as being a classic expression of existentialism. Well then, how could a Christian use that kind of terminology and still maintain a correct worldview? Well, I suggest to you that it is only in light of the fact that God orders the affairs of time and is in charge of our past and our present and our future that we can realistically and in any sense encourage one another to seize the day. We do not seize the day out of a sense of despair with our past or fear for our future but rather in light of a God who orders it all. Now, there’s all the difference in the world between that and the kind of approach to life which many people are growing up believing: that nothing matters beyond the moment.

Now, this is not something new. It’s gone on throughout the history of man. It’s expressed so many times in the emptiness of songs, and sometimes in the most unlikely songs. For example—and I quote this with frequency, for which I apologize, but it is so apropos—the song by Kris Kristofferson, where he sings,

Yesterday is dead and gone,
And tomorrow’s out of sight. …

All I’m taking is your time;
Help me make it through the night.[2]

And that is the expression of this kind of momentary notion that all that matters is whatever I get now. It is divorced from yesterday, and it is divorced from tomorrow. What I did before I became president of the United States is irrelevant to what I do as president of the United States. It’s all from this philosophical base, you see? All that matters is now.

That is not true! Yesterday matters, and tomorrow is significant, and because of that, now becomes significant. But to divorce now from yesterday and tomorrow is to introduce us to the ultimate emptiness—which is why so many who have embraced existentialism have ended their lives by suicide, because they know that nothing matters beyond the moment. And it is a dreadful sadness and a horrible tyranny. And I for the best of me cannot understand how men, apart from the blindness created by the Evil One, can get up on the morning and go out to their business having that as the underpinning of their lives.

Kristofferson wasn’t interested in yesterday or tomorrow; he was only interested in tonight, and he was taking a lot more than the girl’s time. But since yesterday was dead and tomorrow wasn’t coming, tonight is all that matters. You can get away with a lot with that philosophy. But it is unbiblical.

And in direct contrast, not only here in Nehemiah chapter 10 but throughout the whole of Scripture, we have a biblical view. For example, let’s take the apostle Paul’s perspective in Philippians 3:14. He says, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward[s] what is ahead, I press on toward[s] the goal.”[3] Now, this is a verse that confuses people with great frequency. Paul says he forgets what is behind. “So,” asks someone the question, “is there nothing to be gained from reflection? I mean, is he saying that he just never thinks about the past because somehow he has blanked it from his mind, it is irrelevant?” No, what he is saying is this: he does not look back on past events in such a way as to impede his present progress. There is a way of looking back which prevents forward movement. Paul says, “I don’t do that.”

For example, if Paul the apostle thought very long about what it was like for him to be Saul in his preconverted days, there was enough in that segment of his life to paralyze him and to discourage him. If he looked around in writing his letters to the churches and in seeking to encourage others to faith and obedience in Christ, there were enough disappointments and temptations in the most recent history of his life to depress him. If he was tempted to look back on some of his great triumphs and successes, then it may produce slackness and self-satisfaction in his life and thereby debilitate him. And so he says, “I do not look back in such a way as to bring within my mind discouragement, depression, and debilitation. But I look back in order not that my progress would be impeded but in order that I may have a springboard from which to press on to the goal that is ahead.” And so again I say to you: we will never go forward effectively until we learn to view the past properly.

Some of you seated here this morning, if you are absolutely honest before God, are finding great difficulty in living in the now because you have never learned and never have dealt with your past. And until the past is brought into the light of the provision of Christ on the cross and the insight of the Word of God, the present will remain a fearful tyranny. You see, it’s important that we learn to glance back but not stare too long.

Driving tests in the United Kingdom are exceptionally rigorous—very, very difficult to pass. I know, because as a seventeen-year-old, they failed me for the first time for emerging from a junction “without due care and attention.” That phrase is indelibly written on my mind, because I thought that I had a lot of time to get out before the bus that was coming along the road was coming down the road. The man who tested me thought that it was marginal, and so he figured it would be good for me to have it written down: “emerging without due care and attention.”

But one of the things they’ll fail you for is failing to look in your rearview mirror with frequency. Okay? So the man who conducts your test sits beside you in the car and watches your eyes and watches to see how often you look in your rearview mirror. And this is scientific! I mean, he’s got a certain number of looks in the rearview mirror within a thirty-second period. I mean, you just can’t look there once every minute or so. You’ve got to be looking up and down like your head was on a string or something. And you look forward, you look up, like this. So I’ve got that down to a fine art. I mean, it’s almost like a disease now. You sit in your car: you’ve got a thing on your back shelf that does this and you on the front shelf that does this. But very, very important. Because to take a glance back with frequency gives you perspective. To lock your gaze on your rearview mirror brings life into jeopardy. So a glance, a frequent glance, is important, but to be locked in the rearview mirror is death.

Anyone here this morning, and you’ve got your gaze just locked on that rearview mirror? You replay the video of your life so many times it makes you weep. You’ve got a few scenes, and you run them, and you rerun them, and you rerun them so badly that your forward progress is impeded. I can say on the authority of God’s Word this morning, he does not want you to do that. And, indeed, you need not do that.

Well, that’s the framework of all of this. As they looked back, they were able to proclaim, in 9:33, this wonderful summary statement of God’s goodness: “In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.” It’s a great statement there that all who follow in the path of faith can make. You can look back on a week that has gone and get down on your knees and say, “Father, in all that has happened to me, you have been just, you have acted faithfully, even when I did wrong.” ’Cause that’s the kind of God that he is. And it was this reflection upon his provision in the past that led to their declaration here in verse 38. And it was the declaration in verse 38 which was to establish their direction in the time that followed.

Now, in the first twenty-nine verses we have a list of people. In the first twenty-seven verses they are mentioned by name. The sealing of this document, you will notice, was marked by unanimity in view of all this. Verse 38: “We are making a binding agreement, and we’re all affixing our seals to it.” And then we discover that first up—first to the plate, if you like—was Nehemiah. And then, in verses 2–8, he was followed by twenty-one who had priestly names; in verses 9–13, followed by another seventeen, who were Levite family representatives; and then, from verse 14–27, a long list of the names of the various chiefs and leaders of the people.

There’s a biblical principle here—that is, that leadership must lead. You know you’re a leader if anyone’s following you. That’s the most simple definition of leadership I know. If you’re up front and you look behind, there’s somebody there, you know you’re a leader. Whether you’re leading well or poorly, as long as there’s someone behind, you know you’re leading. If you’re trailing behind, you know you’re a follower. And so Nehemiah led. He said, “This is what we’re going to do, and I’ll go first.”

Last Sunday morning, when they took the offering at Providence Baptist Church, they had the offering plate at the very front of the church, and the first person to put in his offering was the pastor, followed by the assistant pastor, followed by all the deacons, and then everybody came up the side aisles, row upon row upon row, proceeded across the front of the church, placed their offering in, and back down the center aisle, and went to their seats. It was profoundly significant, very moving, and it was very clear that leadership was leading. Nobody knew what another was putting in. Nobody needed to know. God knew. But everyone who participated was significant. And every name here in this list is significant.

Those of you who like to walk through graveyards will know that’s true. Those of you who are scared to walk through graveyards won’t know what I’m talking about. But if you do walk through graveyards—and I don’t do it as a matter of frequency, but often when I travel, I do. I’ve got a couple of quirky things I like to do. I like to go to law courts and sit in and watch the guys trying cases, and I like to go to old bookstores, and I like to walk through graveyards that are underneath cathedrals. And as I walk through and you look at these names, you haven’t a clue who these people are, you know? “Interred beneath this kirkyard stane lies stingy Jimmy Wyatt, who died one morning just at ten and saved a dinner by it.” You’ve no idea who the people are. And frankly, unless they’re famous, they don’t mean a thing to you. I mean, they literally mean nothing to you. It’d be a strange thing if you went from gravestone to gravestone bursting into tears at every grave. People would say, “How do you know everybody in here?” You say, “Well, I don’t. It’s just something that happens to me.” It would be bizarre! But they’re all with significance to someone, and they all have an appointment with God. Every name will stand before their Maker.

And every name listed here in chapter 10 is significant. Otherwise, the Holy Spirit would not have left us with the list. That is not to say that we’re able to unearth the significance of every name. It is simply to notice that lists and names are important. They are recorded here to their honor. They are recorded here for our recollection, in the same way that we may stand before a memorial of those who have given their lives in the war, and all that we see is a long list of names. And then we may look over and see a lady with her shoulders shaking as she trembles, and it is clear that she looked on the name of a son or on a daughter or on a spouse. To us it’s just a name. To her it’s a life. It is a memory. It is an unfinished future.

And God records this list of names here for us so that we might learn that lists are important, so that we might learn that history is important, so that we might learn that although people say, “Why would we have to keep membership lists?” that those very lists are important. Without those records being kept, there would be no lists for Nehemiah to write down in chapter 10.

You see how much the spirit of the age has filled our minds? We live for the moment, for the instantaneous. But all these records matter. It will matter to me that my name was recorded on some lists. It is a matter of sadness to me that my name has been recorded on other lists—but never recorded without significance.

The hymn writer Walsham How says,

For all the saints
Who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith
Before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus,
Be forever blessed.

And so, in the Who’s Who of Scriptural history, a great deal is told.

All of these people had wives. We assume they all had children. Many of them had grandchildren. And one day in heaven, we’ll get a chance to talk to them—Hodiah and Bani and Beninu and, in verse 15, the one I love, Bunni. I called him “Boo-ni” when I read it. I thought I’d dress it up a little. But I have a sneaking suspicion that his friends called him “Bunny”: “Hey, Bunny, can you lend me a dime?” These people were just normal, regular people. That’s what I’m trying to get across to you. They’re just normal. Their name’s on a list here, but they lived, they moved, they breathed, they put their socks on, they went to work every day—ordinary people that God used for extraordinary purposes. Otherwise, what hope do most of us have? If we’re waiting to become extraordinary in order to be useful, we’re going to wait a long time.

Now, that’s who’s involved. What’s involved goes for the rest of the chapter, and I just want to break into it for a moment with you. In verses 28 and 29, we essentially have a commentary on the statement at 9:38. You will notice how comprehensive the list of people is that is making their appendages to this document. They are adding their own signatories to it. And you will see that it comprises the “priests” and the “Levites” and the “gatekeepers” and “singers” and “servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters” and all “who are able to understand.”

This, again, is a recurring emphasis in recent days: “sons and daughters” and all “who are able to understand.” Turn back for a moment to chapter 8. And at verse 2, you remember, they had the reading of the Law, and they all assembled in the square “as one man.”[5] They called for Ezra to bring out the Book, and verse 2 says that “on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly.” Who was in the assembly? Well, it “was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.”

You see, children cannot make discoveries in a vacuum. If the children were not present in chapter 8 for the preaching, they would not be present in chapter 10 for the signing. And if we think that somehow we can bring our children through some kind of spiritual vacuum and have them emerge at the age of understanding, whatever that might be, as solid, stalwart members of the faith, I believe we’re skating on thin ice. The laborious task that is involved in moving them from 8 through 10 is not the task of a Sunday school. It’s not ultimately the task of a church. It’s certainly not the task of a day school. It is the task of parental responsibility. And it is a solemn, sobering challenge.

Because, you see, the law of God was given to a people who were wise and understanding. It was given to people who from childhood not only knew the words of the law but also understood how they apply. You see, there’s all the difference in the world between knowing mathematical equations and knowing how to use them. I can learn those things off by heart, but I haven’t a clue what you do with them. We can learn the Bible, as it were, have input in our heads—facts, facts, facts—but without application, we are those who hear the Word and don’t do it; we are men looking in a mirror, seeing our faces, knowing there’s a need of correction but never correcting anything.[6]

And so the children are going to ask questions of us. Exodus 12: “When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you[, Mom]?’ then tell them.”[7] You see, the point is, if it doesn’t mean anything to you, Mom, you’ve got nothing to answer. They don’t want an explanation about the significance of the symbolic metaphors in the Communion service. They want to know how it was that you started to do this. They want to know how it was that you discovered you were a sinner and in need of a Savior. They want to know how it is that Jesus keeps you along the path of life. They’re asking you not “What does Communion mean?” but “What does Communion mean to you?” They want to know the significance of baptism: “What does baptism mean to you, Dad?”—which is, of course, a tough question for a father to answer who remains unbaptized following a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

See, we’re only able to answer out of the wellspring of experience and out of that breadth of understanding. We’re not mindless about our faith. Mindlessness is paganism. The thing that marked the pagans as opposed to the people of God was that they can’t understand. That’s what the prophet says of them again and again. Isaiah 44: these people “cannot understand.”[8] But Christianity, biblical Christianity, is about a book that needs to be understood, having been read. It is about an historical figure in history. It’s not about simply sitting down on your porch and gazing into the blue yonder and having some kind of feeling. Paganism has got plenty of alternatives down that road. This demands thought. It demands serious thought.

Your mind must control your feelings. Otherwise, your feelings will manipulate your mind.

And the people of God, in the history of his dealings with them, were destroyed at various points, and the reason on every occasion was because they either didn’t know what they should know, or, having come to know it, they had neglected it. Hence Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed [for] lack of knowledge.” “Destroyed [for] lack of knowledge,” not destroyed for lack of feelings.

I’m not too concerned this morning how you feel, ultimately. I can tell many of you feel sleepy in the heat of this room. That is obvious to me as I look at you. So if I focus on that too much, that’s a major source of discouragement. But I am not particularly concerned about how you feel as much as what you know. Not because how you feel is irrelevant; it’s very, very important. But your mind must control your feelings. Otherwise, your feelings will manipulate your mind. And you know how much you’re able to justify on the basis of how you feel: “Oh, I don’t feel that three of the apple pies from McDonald’s will do me any harm.” Oh, you don’t feel that way at all? “No! No, I don’t feel that at all. I don’t feel it would be a problem.” Well, you’ll feel it once you eat ’em! Because unless you take what you know and apply it to how you feel, then you’re in deep difficulty. Take it from me, the voice of experience. I know about these things. I know about those apple pies. There are fifteen grams of fat in one of those apple pies. Three of them is forty-five grams. Forty grams would be a good day. So one decaffeinated coffee and three apple pies and you can be flat on your back any afternoon you want.

They were destroyed not because of a lack of feeling right; they were destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. That’s why I labor—we labor—to teach you the Bible. You know me well enough by now, after all these years, to know that I can stand up here and entertain you. I’ve got more jokes than you’ve ever heard. I can preach off the back of an envelope—three points, two funny illustrations, and a couple of ideas—and become a hero. But it would be to prostitute what God has called me to do. He didn’t call me to stand up here so you’d all feel good about what happened. He told me that I’m going to stand before him on the day of judgment and give an answer for my faithfulness to the responsibility of teaching the Bible to you. That’s serious.

And so the people were serious. They were so serious about these things that they responded to this “with a curse and [with] an oath.” They said, “Let it all fall on us if we don’t do what we’re saying.” They were submissive in relationship to their responsibilities. Back in verse 29, they said that they were going “to obey carefully all the commands” and all the “regulations” and all the “decrees of the Lord our [God].” And also, we’re told in verse 28 that they were “separated,” separating “themselves from the neighboring [people] for the sake of the Law of [their] God.”

You see, those who resolve to obey all the commands of God must learn to live within the demands that those commands then bring. So the father goes home, and for some reason, he has children within his care who, because of the influence of the world around them, are not walking with him. They didn’t come to the ceremony. They were amongst the sons and the daughters who were able to understand, but they said they were not coming and they were not signing because they were not into it. A familiar story.

And he came home, and at the evening meal, as he sat with the gathered family, he said to them, “Today I signed my name, by curse and oath, to the fact that we as a family will obey all the commands and regulations of the Law of God as of today, like never before.”

And so the children began to ask, “Well, what does this mean, Dad?”

And he said, “Well, it’s going to have an impact in three main areas.” (And we’ll come to these in subsequent weeks.) “It’ll have an impact on your love life. It’ll have an impact on your time. It’ll have an impact on your money.”

“Oh,” said one of the daughters, who was getting ready to go out on a date. “What do you mean it’ll have an impact on our love life?”

“Well,” he says, “let me tell you. This was my promise: ‘I promise not to give my daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or to take their daughters for our sons.’”

“Dad, you can’t be serious? You know you like this boy.”


“Are you telling me that I can’t marry him?”

“That’s what I’m telling you.”


Now, many of you have been there. Some of you are there. And some of us are about to be there. Some of us are about to go through the great Fiddler on the Roof experience—which is so much in my mind, having just been to see it—where his daughters keep coming to him, and that dilemma is set up again and again. She says, “And I have now found the man that I want to marry.” And he first of all goes hysterical—you know, “This is ridiculous!” And then he sings out that great juxtaposition: “O God, you know that she shouldn’t be doing this. But O God, I see her eyes. O Lord, I know that we are to be different in this world. But oh, what shall I do with my girl?”[9] The sad thing is, in Fiddler on the Roof, he capitulates on every single occasion. He hasn’t got the guts to make his daughter, to allow his daughter to cry tonight to prevent his daughter from crying all the other nights.

Does this have any impact on the twentieth century? You bet your life it does! You go home and read 2 Corinthians chapter 6, and listen there as Paul says, “Do not be [unequally] yoked … with unbelievers.”[10] We read it earlier. The picture is clear. Deuteronomy 22 says you’re not to put an oxen and a donkey in the same yoke.[11] Leviticus 19 says you’re not to crossbreed the animals.[12] This is not a racial statement; this is a religious statement. This is not about races; this is about religious purity. You cannot, he says, do this without absorbing and thereby diluting the very people of God. That was true of the nation of Israel, and it is true today of the church. And 2 Corinthians 6 is a classic reminder to us that the ultimate division between people is not a division of resources or a division of color or a division of any other notion as much as it is a division between a believer and an unbeliever.

There is nothing more incongruous than heaven and hell sleeping in the same bed. And that’s exactly what happens when somebody marries an unbeliever. Sounds kind of blunt, doesn’t it? Sounds a little devastating, a little directive, a little difficult to shimmy out of. It’s supposed to be. Why? To deprive us? To delight us! The only ultimate yokefellows in marriage are those who have individually been yoked to Jesus Christ and then are yoked with one another.

You don’t have to be an old person to make these kind of commitments today. You can be a girl of eleven or twelve years old, sitting to me, listening. You take your Bible out, if you wish—or a little piece of paper, or something where you have that secret box in your house, and you write in your diary—and you go home today, and you write in your diary, “With God’s help, I promise today that I will only marry a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has trusted in him for his salvation.” You go home, write that in your diary. You do that! You’re a boy? Go ahead and do it. I challenge you! “Oh, but goodness, have you seen some of these girls?” Yes, I’ve seen ’em all! Write it in your diary. God is no man’s debtor. He is no man’s debtor. There is “no good thing” that the Lord will “withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”[13] Do it! I challenge you.

And the other two things: about time and about money. You’re never too young to say, “And I commit my Sundays to the Lord Jesus.” You’re never too young to make that commitment. You can make a commitment today that will set you free one day in seven from ever doing any study at college and university. You can do it right now, today. I’ll tell you how. Just write it down and make a commitment: “I will never study for my exams on the Lord’s Day, because I want to honor him with the firstfruits of all that I am on his day.” Do it today, and I will introduce you to one of the greatest journeys of your life. And when it comes to your money, you’re never too young to say, “And of the money that God gives me, from my babysitting or whatever else it is, I will give to the Lord Jesus a portion of that which he has given to me.” You’re never too young to make those kind of commitments.

One final illustration, I’m done. In Scotland, before you take your driver’s test and they teach you, one of the things they teach you is m-s-m, which stands for “mirror, signal, maneuver.” In other words, you look first in the mirror, then you make the signal, and then you make the maneuver. Now, you know just how unusual that is by driving on 271, right? It’s always easy to see it in others as they make the maneuver, they hear the sound of the horn, and then they look in the mirror: “Oh! Oh! And here I thought I was driving on 271 all by myself! Where did that guy come from? Jerk!” No. Mirror, signal, maneuver.

I want to challenge you as I close this morning: take a look in the mirror of your life. Where are you? Do you need to make a signal? Signal to the Lord: “Lord Jesus, today, twenty-ninth of May, I’m signing my name to you today—signing my life, my family, my relationships, my all to you.” It’s one thing to feel that, think it, another to do it. So we look in the mirror; we give the signal; we make the maneuver. Doesn’t matter if anybody sees, just that God knows our hearts. Our wives and our kids, our moms and our dads, our friends will find out when they see us on the highway.

May God grant us grace to respond to his Word.

Let’s pray:

Father, I pray that you will take your Word and write it in our hearts as individuals and families, as a church. We bless and praise you for your goodness and faithfulness to us in the past. May we learn, from looking back, to live now and to look forward expectantly. Help us not to walk out from here if we have matters to settle.

And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, world without end. Amen.

[1] Ephesians 3:20 (KJV).

[2] Kris Kristofferson, “Help Me Make It through the Night” (1970). Stanzas reordered.

[3] Philippians 3:13–14 (NIV 1984).

[4] William Walsham How, “For All the Saints” (1864).

[5] Nehemiah 8:1 (NIV 1984).

[6] See James 1:22–24.

[7] Exodus 12:26–27 (NIV 1984).

[8] Isaiah 44:18 (NIV 1984).

[9] Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Norman Jewison (Beverly Hills, CA: United Artists, 1971). Paraphrased.

[10] 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV 1984).

[11] See Deuteronomy 22:10.

[12] See Leviticus 19:19.

[13] Psalm 84:11 (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.