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Purpose in Life
Nehemiah was called to a great work, but he kept his own counsel and waited for the time to declare the purpose that lay in his heart like a glowing seed in good soil.
I. The Secret of Strength; As you start out upon life's cross-roads be sure that your heart's purpose is prompted by the Lord.
How can we tell whether the secret purpose hidden away in our heart's deepest desire is implanted by God?
1. Look at the purpose in your heart, the one thing which, if you could, you would supremely desire to do. Can you pray about it? If He put the purpose in your heart you will not find it hard or unnatural to seek His blessing upon it.
2. If our heart's purpose were accomplished, would it be for the good of others as well as ourselves? That is a sensible test. Any success that injures our fellows is not in accord with the mind of Christ.
3. Would the accomplishment of our purpose be for God's glory? Nehemiah was satisfied that his aim was a seed of the Divine planting.
II. Some Results of Knowing that our Heart's Purpose was Implanted by God; It will create steadfastness as we realize that our undertaking is part of the Divine will. Nehemiah's faith gave him the grace to endure. The difficulties of his task might well have excused a strong man in turning back. The barriers to our achievement may be many and high, but we shall overcome, we shall endure as seeing the invisible.
III. A Part in a Divine Drama. We may be among the majority of featureless persons who make no impression. If we are not called to do great things, we can do little things in the spirit of greatness. Our lives cannot be failures if we are working out the Divine purpose. Perhaps this alone will deliver us from the increasing irritation over life's littleness. We are common clay, but God is the potter, and He chose us for the purpose He has in view. We may be as gold cups with elaborate ornament, or as plain clay mugs; but if we are used by the Pierced Hand to carry water to thirsty lips we shall have an equal honour.
J. C. Carlile, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXII. 1907, p. 3.
References. II. 13-15. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. ii. p. 308. II. 14. G. F. De Teissier, Plain Preaching to Poor People (9th Series), p. 73. II. 17. S. Baring-Gould, Sermon-Sketches, p. 42. Eugene Bersier, Twelve Sermons, p. 83. II. 20. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. 1900, p. 339. III. 10, 30. H. C. G. Moule, World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 225. III. 15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 790. III. 20. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. ii. p. 580. III. 28. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, p. 343. A. Soutar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxvii. 1890, p. 170. J. Wallace, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 379. III. 28-30. J. W. Burgon, Nehemiah, A Pattern to Builders, Sermons, 1842-79. IV. 1-23. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2254. IV. 2. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 78. IV. 8. F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 198. IV. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2254. IV. 9-21. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, p. 354. IV. 10. Ibid. vol. xx. No. 1156. IV. 10, 11, 19, 20. W. C. Magee, The Gospel and the Age, p. 89. IV. 14. T. E. Ruth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiii. p. 217.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Nehemiah 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany