“Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains, or compromises.” -A.W. Tozer
If I’m honest, I didn’t always love reading the Bible after coming to know the Lord. I had a lot to “catch up” on I guess you could say. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start.
But one thing I did know, I now had this new desire to WANT to learn, only because of the Holy Spirit now living inside of me. This is when I started digging into Bible studies, word studies, and commentaries to learn and study God’s Word.
It wasn’t merely enough just to read Christian books. I wanted more. I wanted more of Jesus. I wanted Him. This is where my love for His Word began. I couldn’t get enough of Him.
I want to look at some verses in Nehemiah to show how the people responded to God’s Word. It is so beautiful. If you have time, look up Nehemiah 8:1-12.
A new character enters the picture in the book of Nehemiah. His name is Ezra, which means helper. He begins reading the Book of the Law of Moses right in the middle of the street.
Nehemiah 8:2 tells us that all who could hear with understanding were there listening. This included men, women, teenagers, and children.
When Ezra opened up the book, the people stood up. This was a posture of reverence for the Word of God.
Verse 6 is so beautiful, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”
They first stood for God’s Word then God’s Word merely brought them to their knees; a beautiful response to the hearing of God’s Word.
While Ezra was reading Scripture, not everyone understood it at first. For some, this was a time of rediscovery of God’s Word. For others, this was the first time hearing God’s Word.
Verse 7 shows us that there were Levites in the crowd helping people make sense of God’s Word and explaining it in further detail to them. ALL the people wept when they heard the words of the Law.
Ezra tells them not to weep or mourn, do not be sorrowful for this day is holy to our Lord. The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10).
The people felt sad because they were now aware of their sin, but they could walk in joy because God was doing a great work. (Guzik)
Then they went away greatly rejoicing because they understood the words that were declared over them (v. 12).
I know personally when I am weeping after reading God’s Word it’s because I’ve seen how sinful I am and how merciful He is, bringing me to my knees.
These people were receptive and attentive to God’s Word. They wanted to hear it. Their lives were changed this day after hearing the Word. Only God’s Word was presented. So simple yet so complex.
I’m fearful that in our churches today we are looking for entertainment. When we come to church focused on looking to Jesus instead of looking to be entertained, we will then realize He is all the “entertainment” we will ever need.
The same is true in our daily lives. A life lived with Jesus is the most exciting life you’ll ever live. Each day is a new adventure with Him. Get in His Word. Dive deep into His Word.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This doesn’t say Scripture is given to make me feel good and happy. It’s for reproof, correction, and instruction.
If I’m honest, I don’t want to be corrected. But correction from God is sometimes what we need.
- How are we responding to correction from God’s Word?
- Are we bowing down in reverence to the Lord and falling to our knees, or are we putting up a wall of pride?
The author of the book, “Missional Motherhood”, gives a description of how we come to God’s Word:
We view it like a vending machine. We just come to it for a little snack, when we just need that “pick-me-up”. But what comes out of those vending machines? Junk.
Sure, it may fill you up for a little while, but after you’re constantly filling yourself up with junk, it doesn’t do your body any good.
We take a machete to God’s Word missing Him altogether. We’re missing Him because we cut up God’s Word to find what we want it to say about our current situation.
We shouldn’t revolve God’s truth around our lives. Our lives should revolve around God’s truth.
“I love that it was the simple opening of the Word that drew such a gathering and aroused such a dynamic response of worship. Oh, the simplicity. The Israelites weren’t looking to be entertained, checking their watches to see if it’d hit noon yet. They weren’t critiquing the song selection, examining the children’s program, or bummed that this week’s drama didn’t top the week before’s. I am not taking a shot at any of the many wonderfully different ways we do church. I’m just wondering how many of us would show up for only the reading of the Bible. Is God’s Word no longer enough?”-Kelly Minter
May we fall in love with God and His Word and let it consume us from the inside out.
The truth is: any moment spent in the presence of God is NEVER a waste!
If I’m honest, I have questions about praying. What is praying doing? Is it making a difference? Does it really matter if I pray? Maybe you’ve had these questions as well. Maybe you haven’t and I’m alone in this thought process. I’m in a season where it’s hard to get alone and pray as I homeschool my five-year-old and have a three-year-old, and quiet time is scarce, but yet I pray to the Lord all day. Maybe you can relate. “Lord, help me!” This is my daily, consistent prayer. Sometimes that’s really all I can get out. My mindset changed after the Holy Spirit revealed the answer to these questions. I want to share what He revealed, hoping His Words offer you as much encouragement on this topic as they did to me.
Look up Exodus 32-1:14 if you have time. If you don’t, I’ll give you a quick summation. Moses was up on the mountain with God for 40 days. The Israelites were growing impatient. They came up with their own idea of what they could worship and ran the idea by Aaron, second in command, who affirmed it. They took all their gold jewelry and made a golden calf out of it. This is what they worshipped. They even had a party, but not a fun one, one that actually mocked the Lord. God relays to Moses on the mountain what is taking place and tells him He is going to pour out His wrath on the Israelites. Even if you don’t know what the word wrath means, you don’t have to look it up to know that it just doesn’t sound too appealing. Enter Moses who pleads and intercedes on their behalf.
This is what I want to look at, Moses interceding on the behalf of the people. God so graciously allowed Moses to intercede on their behalf, which He has given Christians the same opportunity to intercede for others now. He withheld from pouring out His wrath. Now, did God change His mind? God’s character and His view on sin will never change. “But He can and does change how He responds to individuals or nations based upon prayer, repentance of the people, and compassion. (Amos 7:1-6; Jonah 3:9-10; Judges 2:18)” (Steve Gaines)
This may sound familiar. There was another Man who interceded on our behalf on the cross; Jesus. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (John 23:34). The difference: Jesus took the wrath upon himself. God’s wrath did eventually have to be poured out for all of mankind, and the One who knew no sin became a sin offering for us (2 Cor. 5:21). He consumed all the wrath, the wrath that we so deserve. But this was one prayer. ONE.
Moses’ prayer was prayed on behalf of the Israelites. What would have happened had Moses not interceded on their behalf? Better yet, what would have happened had Jesus not interceded on our behalf?
We are very much like the Israelites. We get tired of waiting, so we take things into our own hands and create our own idea, our own plan. We want a quick fix for right here and right now. But that doesn’t really work out too well does it? They made a mockery of the Lord while doing this, and so do we. When Jesus was on the cross, guess what the people were doing. They were mocking him. And yet, he still interceded on our behalf.
In a season where I questioned prayer, the Holy Spirit so graciously showed that ONE prayer made a difference. Don’t think your prayers are in vain, or empty words. You never know what your prayers could do for someone else. Who are you praying for? What are you praying for? Praying for others is hard work. Paul used the words laboring fervently, or wrestling to describe praying in Colossians 4:12. It’s not our words, but the drawing of the Holy Spirit to lead us to pray, and Jesus still interceding on our behalf in heaven (Romans 8:34).
“You will only live a life as bold as your prayers.” (Beth Moore)
Pray BOLD prayers! You have not because you ask not (James 4:2).