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God's Word Our Story | More From Nehemiah

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The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference

From Saturday June 28

HIghlights from Paige Benton Brown "Fearing God in a Fallen World" (Nehemiah 5-6)

"Twas grace that taught my heart to fear..." It is foundational–the awe, reverence, worship, demanded by God by his power and position and glory; fear is the only proper response to the biblical doctrine of God. It is the beginning of wisdom–a perpetual posture, not an occasional exercise."

We can give the right answers but they'll always be in the wrong place if fear of the Lord is absent from the foundation. Fear of the Lord causes us to submit to God's authority not because we are afraid of Him with a servile fear (dread and terror) but because we love Him with a filial fear (the love and adoration of a child for a father he so dearly wants to please). Nehemiah was motivated by fear of the Lord to take care of the people–his brothers, his family–who could not take care of themselves. He didn't advertise his actions; he only cared what the Lord thought. We too should serve unassumingly, not out of a desire to advertise our good works. When we move past generosity to sacrifice for God's people whom we love without any expectation of acknowledgement this shows our dependence on the Lord rather than the people. Our heart, Jesus said, is where our treasure is. What does your heart look like? What is driving your...ambitions? Grace replaces the need for people pleasing and orients our heart towards submitting to the Lord. We rest in that grace, are strengthened by grace made possible by the cross.

"The gospel writers strain for language to express Jesus's experience in Gethsemane. "Fearful" is not nearly strong enough. Unparalleled distress. Depth of sorrow that is death itself; agony so great, capillaries burst; all rational, realistic fear. The only occasion Jesus is said to have fallen prostrate on his face; as he covers his eyes, all he sees is Hell itself; complete abandonment by the Father as he becomes the very sin that God hates. And yet for all of the stress and agony; the dominant point of every account is always Jesus' resolution to embrace the Father's will. He willingly gave his life. Trusted the Father with all his heart, even when his heart was broken...He bore all of that for us."

Highlights from Nancy Guthrie "Coming Together Around God's Word" (Nehemiah 7-8)

"The joy of the Lord is my strength. As many times as I sang that song as a child growing up in church, I’m not sure I ever really understood what it meant. Did you sing this song as a child? Did you think, like I did, that it was all about...happiness?"

So many things can steal our joy. We tend to focus on "if onlys" placing too much importance on wordly happenings that will create in us a happiness when the highest joy for believers was and is to be at home in God’s city, name written in the book, giving the Lord great joy and us strength. We stand in Him and our strength found in His great joy is renewed.

"O that God might raise up women...hungry to hear God’s voice break through the busyness of raising children, the ding of another e-mail message arriving, the draw of popular bloggers—willing to let God set the agenda, open to what he has to say even if it doesn’t sit well with us; invested in growing in a right understanding of His Word, convinced that what he says is the surest truth, the most solid foundation, the most nourishing food, certain that his promises are our surest expectation and that obeying his commands will generate our deepest joys."

Oh Lord light a fire in us for your Word. That our hearts would clamor for the Book! That our souls would shout, "BRING OUT THE BOOK!" That we would purposefully, attentively, thoughtfully, prayerfully consume the Word. That our posture would reflect our desire to learn and listen to you speak Lord. Let us feel responsive to the Word, let it penetrate. Let us truly see our spiritual condition and existing weaknesses. Let us seek joy, the true joy that that bubbles up from within and is only found at the foot of the cross, rather than the sort of generic happiness the world is peddling. Let us stand tall on the rock as children of the promise, knowing your great grace will have the final word.

"The joy of the Lord is this word of grace toward sinners, which you and I can understand even better than they did on that day because we live on this side of the cross."