Tommy Gamble - Rochedale, Queensland Convention - December 2006

Hymn 46

We have heard a lot about God’s hand and His hand guiding. It brought to my mind the words of a hymn that says, “His hand will guide and keep me true, till I have safely reached the goal.” I have read about some men in the Bible, and that seemed to be all their concern, and they sought the guidance of God day by day. The Lord said to Moses to depart and go up hence and the people that you brought up out of the land of Egypt. Moses was very concerned and he talked with God that day, “You have told me to go up, but you haven’t told me who will go with me.” God said, “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Moses said, “If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.” Moses desired God’s presence.

It says in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighted in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord shall uphold him with His hand.” It is nice to me to think about God’s hand guiding and we all need that as we go out from here. Day by day we need to seek God for direction, and to bring God into our plans. In the book of James we read of some people who were making plans and God wasn’t in those plans. James 4:13, “Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain, whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeared for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Here were some people making their own plans, and they were planning to stay, and making no plans to go. They were making plans to stay here, and no plans to go. These days we have been hearing a lot about making ready for that day. These people were making plans for a year ahead, and they didn’t know what would be on the morrow. It says here, “If the Lord will, we will continue to do such a thing.” The Lord’s will didn’t seem to come into their plans.

When God spoke to Saul of Tarsus, he said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” I am sure that must have been the first time he prayed those words. If we are sincere and take it to the Lord and ask Him what to do, He will hear us. These people in James were planning and boasting and rejoicing in their boasting. It was a great warning to me to read about these people making so many plans and God not being in their plans.

Psalm 37, written by David, he said, “I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” That gives hope for the young and hope for the old. We are glad there is provision for every age. The testimony God gave of David, “I have David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will perform all My will.” There were times when David failed, and the time when he should have been out fighting the battle of Jerusalem and he didn’t go and he gave occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. As a result of that David was saying in Psalm 51, asking God to “restore unto me the joy of salvation and renew a right spirit within me.” He realized if God took His holy spirit from him, what would happen. David said, “For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” There is a way to do things right. We are glad that God is ready to forgive, and if you and I are ready to finish what we have been doing, and go to God in this condition, God is ready to forgive.

David said the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. We need to keep in the place everyday where our steps can be ordered. Psalm 119 was written by Ezra, and that was what he was asking God to do. When I thought of David in Psalm 5, and how he began his days, “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” It is very important how we begin each day. “Begin the day with God, kneel down to Him in prayer.” Here he was, King David. He would be a busy man as king, but not too busy to begin his days right. “Give ear to me, O Lord, and consider my meditations. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto Thee will I pray. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee.” Here is a great guide for the morning. Another rendering says, “In the morning will I make requests known unto Thee, and wait in expectation.” There is no point in praying if we don’t wait. Isaiah 40 tells us, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” We need to wait upon the Lord so that our strength can be renewed. We can come before the Lord and have many things to say, but the important side is to wait.

Psalm 40, David said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” The Children of Israel got into such a terrible condition because they waited not for His counsel, and they limited the Holy One of Israel. We need to do the little that we can do, and then God can help us, and it is wonderful what God can do with a little help from you. David proved it was a good thing to wait upon the Lord. Read Psalm 106:7-8 and you will read what happened when they didn’t wait on the Lord. They joined themselves to idol worship - Numbers 25 - they bowed down to the Moabites’ idols.

One time when I was on the bus going to work, there was a man that I knew - Sam. This day he had a lovely black eye. I asked him what happened, and he said, “I was talking when I should have been listening.” That is like us sometimes when we go before God. We have too much to say and don’t listen.

David had his failures, and God knows we all have failures, but it takes a good man to rise and go again. In the days of Nehemiah, the wall was broken down, and the gates were burnt down. When Nehemiah heard that, he spent certain days praying and he went to Jerusalem and in the night he went up upon the wall and he viewed what had happened. He spoke to those people and told them what God had put into his heart to do. They said, “Let us rise up and go.” There is lots in our lives we have to rise up above. The prodigal son said, “I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son...'” We need to rise above our failures. It tells us in Hebrews about coming boldly unto the throne of grace that we might find mercy and grace in the time of need. We need to take courage and get above our failures and go before God. David was a man who rose above his failures and he began his days in a good way. “My voice Thou shalt hear in the morning, O Lord, in the morning I shalt direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” It is good to look up to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. “Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Our prayers are like the incense - as a sweet savour. Prayer moves the loving heart of God to grant these favours from on high. When we lift up our hands, it would be like pleading to God. The morning and evening sacrifice was to be a continual burnt offering throughout their generations. That would be like sacrificed time. These are very important sacrifices, the evening and morning sacrifice. The evening sacrifice was to be offered between the time when we stop work and go to bed. There is no substitute for sacrifice.

Exodus 30 we read about the altar of incense, which is like prayer. Thinking about our prayers going up to God - going up as incense. The golden vials in Revelation were used for pouring out the drink offering. That was like Hannah’s prayer. She poured out her soul before the Lord and she took that to the Lord in prayer. It is good if we can pour out our hearts to God, and He understands. When we pour out our soul before Him, it is nice that we can go before him. God understands and God will grant the help.

Ezra in Psalm 119 mentioned, “Order my steps in Thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” That was a nice request. He mentioned so much is this Psalm about God’s word as a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path. Those people, when they came up from Babylon, in Ezra 8, to Jerusalem, they came up to a river and they stopped there by the river and Ezra viewed the people and he found none of the children of Levi, and he stopped there and put that right. They were journeying without a ministry. What I like about this little picture - it says he proclaimed a fast for 4 days - four days afflicting their souls. In Psalm 119, Ezra mentioned about being afflicted. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray.” It is good for me when I have been afflicted. It is good for you and me when we get troubled. He said, “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgment is right and Thou, in Thy faithfulness, hath afflicted me.” We never want to feel that God has been too hard, because He has corrected you and me.

David said in the 122nd Psalm, he was glad for the privilege to go up into the house of the Lord. There are set thrones of judgment in the house of the Lord. These days as we have met together, there have been set thrones of judgment. Correction is not so pleasant, but Jeremiah was asking God to correct him, “not in Thine anger, unless I come to nothing.” Ezra said that it was good for him when he was afflicted. By the river they were afflicting their souls - in other words they were praying that God would show unto them the right way. You and I have no question about God’s way being the right way. The longer I live, I get to understand that my way is wrong and God’s way is right. Psalm 107, the people cried unto the Lord in their distresses and God heard those cries and He led them forth by the right way. When God is leading, He leads us forth by the right way. Those people were at the river and they were seeking the right way for themselves and their little ones.

We were told at convention in Western Australia, “How will your children remember you? Will they remember you as being faithful in your place as serving God, or if they remember you neglecting the most important things in life?” I remember my grandmother when I was a child, and remember her praying and at that time I couldn’t understand what she was doing. I remember my mother praying, but I didn’t remember my father every praying, because he never served God. I remember my grandmother and mother praying and that left an impression on my heart. Ezra was praying for the right way for themselves and for their children and their little ones and their substance. That is a very good thing to do. It is good to keep on praying for your relations, because if you don’t pray for them, who will?

There is a nice picture here in this 8th chapter of Ezra. They were journeying up to Jerusalem and they were carrying some very precious things with them. They were carrying silver and gold, and there was an enemy that lay in wait by the way. We don’t need to forget that. The enemy will be waiting for us when we leave here. Ezra realized the enemy was waiting for them. David said, “By the Words of Thy lips, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” That is how Jesus overcame on the mountain of temptation. He overcame by the Word. The enemy lies in wait by the way and he wants to rob, steal, and destroy. We need to do what Ezra did - to be protected by God. Praying and asking God what to do.

They were carrying precious things up to Jerusalem. God has put some precious things in your life and my life. Paul mentions to Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” It is easy to neglect these important things. In Hebrews 2, it says, “How shall you escape if ye neglect so great a salvation?” It is the easiest thing in the world to neglect these things. Remember, nothing matters but salvation, in this world or that to come. That is what God is concerned about, the salvation of your soul. Peter said, “You are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ.” Peter didn’t want those people to get it the wrong way. God is concerned about the salvation of our souls, and He gives us something very precious within - the Spirit of Christ and that needs to be renewed day by day. When those men were journeying up to Jerusalem, the enemy of their soul wanted to get those things. Ezra said, “The good hand of God is upon us, and He will deliver us from the enemy that waited by the way,” and they got safely to Jerusalem. If we keep on praying, God will deliver us from the enemy that is in the way and we will get to our Heavenly home. When I was working in another country, the thought was in my mind:  it will be nice to go home one day and see the folks at home. In the spiritual sense, it was good to think about going home, and we are journeying towards the Heavenly home. If we give God the chance, He will deliver us from the enemy. Keep praying and attending to the most important things, and we will be rewarded for it.