Monday, January 9, 2012

Keeping the main thing, the main thing

One of the sad realities of our time is the loss of confidence in preaching and teaching Scripture. Not just on the part of those who hear, but also for those called to deliver God’s word.

Why is this so? Preaching and teaching Scripture are diminished and muted by the narrative of our own feelings and opinions. What we think or what our favorite authors think is more important than what God says.

Nehemiah 8:1-3 is a refreshing reminder of the importance of Scripture for God's people.

Nehemiah's project was to rebuild the wall and he was successful. After almost 6 months of hard, vigilant labor, the walls of Jerusalem were in place. The people had security.

But something was missing. They also need to rebuild their spiritual walls. This is where Ezra comes in.

Having new walls is nice; but having a new heart is more important.

Nehemiah restored the physical walls; Ezra would restore spiritual walls. Nehemiah brought the people back to the land; Ezra would now bring the people back to God.

How did he do it? He used the Words of God. Are you sure? What about music? What about programs? These things have their place. But they are not central, or even essential.

Here's what Ezra the priest did (See Nehemiah 8: 1-3, 8:

1. He gathered the people as one
2. He brought the book of the Law of Moses, the word of God before the assembly.
3. Everyone, men and women, gathered to hear God's word
4. They took the time to engage with Scripture: from early morning to the middle of the day (not very Presbyterian if you ask me!)
5. People gave their attention to the Word of God
6. After reading from God's word, the sense, or the interpretation was given, so that people could understand and apply what was read.
7. The response was moving: all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 

God’s word, changing lives, restoring spiritual brokenness, and building up God’s people.

Oh that God's word would be as powerful in our midst today as it was in Ezra’s day. 

Question: Can you remember a time when God’s word touched your life?