Bring Out the Book

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God's Word has the power to renew and reform

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Intro

What happens when we gather together
Since there has been a loss for authority
A new year but business as usual?
Began in
And with a loss of authority comes rebellion
Our time to gather together can be routine
Because of the loss of authority we continue to slowly decline in our morality and ethical behavior
Which has led to some great things but also has led to some not so great things
ILL: American Revolution vs. Civil War
Because of the loss of authority we continue to slowly decline in our morality and ethical behavior
In the post modern era following WW2 the census of our country began in this downward spiral from respecting authority to denouncing authority
In the
Never has then been more true than when it comes to the Word of God and the Truth of who God is
Somewhere along the way we have had a loss for the authority of the Word of God
Even as believers in Jesus Christ we can begin to believe the lie that this book is nothing more than mere suggestions for living instead of words to live by
And as people who desire to look more like Christ in 2018 our lives need to be shaped by this book!
Last Week: My Prayer for Us in 2018
Strive to reach the potential God has for you and you’ll make the most of your time
Begin to mature and lead others as you follow Christ more closely
Strive to be more generous with your resources (time, talent and money)
Grow more in the Word of God
And all of these can happen if we learn to grow in our knowledge of the Word of God
Because it is through God’s Word that true transformation begins to take place in our lives
It is the daily saturation of the Word of God that replaces the “old way” of thinking and Draws our attention to God’s way of thinking
One of the places that we can see this take place is in the OT book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah is a man broken over the fact that his people and his hometown have been laid waste and is in ruins
His people are enslaved
He is cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, King of Persia
And he is given permission to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
Facing all kinds of oppositions and difficulties, he completes the task in just 52 days
When the walls are complete, he gathers the people together and that’s where I want to pick up
Because what happens to the people of Jerusalem is what I pray happens to us
There is a revival and a reformation of God’s people upon really hearing the word of the Lord
Look with me at the passage.
And as you look with me I’m going to ask you to stand for the reading of God’s word.
This is not something that we ordinarily do and I’ll explain in a moment why I want you to stand with me.

Nehemiah 8:1–12 ESV
1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
You can be seated.
Two little old ladies were walking out of church one Sunday. One said, “My, that preacher certainly preaches for a long time!” Her friend replied, “No, he really doesn’t preach a long time, it just seems like a long time!” (J. Vernon McGee, Ezra, Nehemiah, & Esther [Thru the Bible Books], pp. 139-140.)
I wonder what they would have thought about a service that had about six hours of Bible reading and preaching at the people’s request, during which the people stood the whole time!
And not only that, they came back the next day for more!
That's what is truly remarkable about the situation that we just read about in .
It would be accurate to call it a revival or a time of unusual spiritual renewal.
But at the center of this revival, was the exposition of Scripture.
In fact, Derek Kidner states, “This day was to prove a turning-point. From now on, the Jews would be predominantly ‘a people of the book’”
Nothing like this had ever been seen for two hundred years.
Nothing like this had ever been seen for two hundred years. Not since the days of Josiah, when the scribe Shaphan read from the scroll that they had discovered — perhaps the book of Deuteronomy. Not since then, two hundred years in Nehemiah's past, had Israel ever known a day like this. This is a day of revival. This is a day of reformation. This is a day when God steps in. You cannot explain what takes place here by the standards and measurements of men. This has nothing to do with Nehemiah; it has nothing to do with Ezra. It has nothing to do with the Levites. It has everything to do with God. God has come down. God has come down in blessing. God has poured out His Spirit upon His people.
Not since the days of Josiah, (200 years before)when the scribe Shaphan read from the scroll that they had discovered and Josiah was overcome with grief and remorse over the sin of God’s people.
Since that time, Israel had never known a day like this.
This is a day of revival.
This is a day of reformation.
This is a day when God steps in.
And to us this doesn’t mean much but this is the moment that changed the lives of the men and women who were there that day and they heard the Word of the Lord proclaimed
And they were never the same
I want that - I’m envious
I want revival, I want the fire of God’s Holy Spirit to come on us and to radically change us?
Do you? Or does that concern/scare you?
I want all that God has for us
But there is human responsibility
There are things that you and I must do if we’re going to see this kind of spiritual renewal/reformation in our lives
Things that we learn here from our passage

Approach God’s Word Expectantly - vs.1

If you notice there it says “the people gathered as one man”
Now if you read back through chapter 7 you would see that there are roughly 50,000 people gathered here
How do you get 50,000 people unified? Even with 10 people you’d get ten different opinions!
The people of God had been united - one heart and one mind
They had just spent the past 2 months side by side rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem
They had to watch each others backs and they were working towards the same purpose and the same goal
This is a great picture of what God’s church looks like
And so as they gathered they said “bring the Book of the Law of Moses”
They didn’t have the luxury like we do with a bible for every occasion - 5 on my desk
More than likely they couldn’t even read
The Scriptures were handwritten and usually only one copy per city and so the people would have to go and have the Scriptures read to them
But they called for the Book (Scroll) to re read to them
And what takes place is that they are pierced by the word of the Lord
That’s because the Word of God is like what says:
That’s because the Word of God is like what says:
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And so the reading of God’s word pierced their souls because they were finally ready to receive the word
They had come expecting to hear from the Lord and man, did they!
Could it be that we haven’t been pierced by the Word of the Lord is because we haven’t come prepared to hear from the Lord?
I’m thankful for everyone of you here but if you came here this morning to here what I have to say then I’m sorry because I’ve got nothing to say.
No our aim is not to hear from whoever stands on this platform but to hear what the God of the universe says from this book
We need to come expectantly to hear from the very Word of God

Every time revival, renewal and reformation has taken place it’s been because the Word of God has taken hold of people’s lives

Think about what happened in Acts at the day of pentecost, Peter gets up and preaches the Word of God and the Lord let’s His Spirit loose and thousands commit their lives to following Christ
Scripture says that those that heard that day were “cut to the heart”
In the 1500’s Martin Luther reading the book of Romans and is convicted over how twisted and distorted the church has become and he starts a reformation that turns the world upside down
Jonathon Edwards, George Whitfield, the Wesley Brothers all men who were pierced or cut to the heart and the Great Awakening took place where thousands of people got their lives right with the Lord
We’re long overdue for a reformation of our lives
And it can only happen by us reading the Word of God and expecting it to change our lives!

Read and Listen to God’s Word Attentively -vs. 2-3

Having ears that work does not guarantee that we really hear.
Although God made us with two ears that we cannot close and one mouth that we can (which ought to teach us something!), we sometimes close off our minds so that we do not really hear what is being said, even though we did hear the sounds of the words.
I have this problem all the time.
Valerie will be talking to me and I will appear to be listening but sometimes my mind is a million miles away, focused on other things or responsibilites
In the same way, it is possible to hear the Bible read or preached and not hear a thing. Your mind was elsewhere.
That’s why Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (, ).
He said, “Take care how you listen, for whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” ().
If the Bible contains the very words that God Himself is saying to us, then it certainly benefits us to listen attentively to what He is saying!
If the Bible contains the very words that God Himself is saying to us, then it certainly benefits us to listen attentively to what He is saying!
And so the text was read to all who were there that day
And I think it’s important to note that it says the “Law was brought before the assembly, men and women and all who could understand what they heard.”
We need to understand that there is importance in the reading of God’s Word for all ages as well as incorporating all ages in our times of assembling
I’m not against Children’s church but I am against playtime and occupying because of what happens as they get older
The people in our text were both attentive and reverent when God’s Word was read to them.
Verse 3 mentions their attentiveness -
The word attentive here means “ eager to learn”
And this eagerness led to their focus - they weren’t distracted
Attentiveness stems from their reverence.
They stood up as if to greet a royal visitor, and then they bowed down in worship. They were not worshiping the actual scroll that Ezra held in his hand, but rather the God who had given the words of that scroll to Moses and through Moses to them.

If we maintain our reverence for God and that fact that He is speaking to us through His Word, we will pay attention to what He says.

f we maintain our reverence for God and that fact that He is speaking to us through His Word, we will pay attention to what He says. If we forget that this is the Word of the living God to us, our minds will wander to other things. I realize that preachers can sometimes be boring. But if I lose your attention, direct your mind to the text of Scripture and ask the Lord to open it to your heart.
If we forget that this is the Word of the living God to us, our minds will wander to other things.
Have you ever been on a plane? The flight attendant is doing their production with the seatbelts and the oxygen masks and what is everyone else usually doing?
I realize that preachers can sometimes be boring.
But if I lose your attention, direct your mind to the text of Scripture and ask the Lord to open it to your heart.
Let me encourage you to listen attentively to the reading and preaching of the Bible.
Honor the Lord by your close attention to His Word.
Listen closely for the sake of your own soul.
Spiritual renewal cannot take place without listening attentively

Respond to His Word Appropriately- vs.4-12

It helps me know if I’m communicating clearly
It is spiritually dangerous to study the Word without the goal of obedient response.
But most
Knowledge apart from obedience leads to pride ().
Our aim, as Calvin put it, should always be to transform our lives by Scripture.
And the people there that day were made aware of their sin - like Nathan made David aware of his sin.
They were made aware of their sin, like Nathan made David aware of his sin. • They understood God’s Law, They were struck with the realization that The brokenness of the wall was due to their sin.
The Word of God was read and they understood God’s Law,
They grasped what really pleased God and what didn’t
They were struck with the realization that their Babylonian captivity was due to their rebellion towards God
The brokenness of the wall was due to their sin.

The Word brings conviction and we shouldn’t resist the conviction of God’s Spirit

• • •
That’s the power of the gospel - it really is good news because there is really bad news for us apart from God
The people wept when they heard and understood God’s Word (8:9), because they realized how much they had sinned against God.
My friends, let the Word convict you of sin... But don’t stop there...
The more the light of God’s holy Word shines into our hearts, the more we will see areas where we do not conform to His righteousness.
We will see this in more detail in chapter 9. But the fact is, the more the light of God’s holy Word shines into our hearts, the more we will see areas where we do not conform to His righteousness. Spiritual renewal always involves repentance.My friends, let the Word convict you of sin... But don’t stop there...
Spiritual renewal always involves repentance.
My friends, let the Word convict you of sin... But don’t stop there...
Let the Word lead you to joy...
Let the Word lead you to joy...
There was sorrow because of sin, but also joy. Why?
The realization that God was not casting them off but was showing them mercy - They were no longer in Babylon!
B. Sorrow gave way to joy There was sorrow because of sin, but also joy. Why? (1) The realization that God was not casting them off. He was merciful. (9:17, 19, 27, 31)
They had grief as they looked back; but gladness at the thought of the future —
It had dawned on them that God wasn’t finished with them.
They had grief as they looked back; but gladness at the thought of the future — for in
He had restored the city, repopulated it, sent teachers to teach the Word to them.
this moment, they were experiencing that God wasn’t finished with them. He had
restored the city, repopulated it, sent teachers to teach the Word to them.
He was giving them another chance
The same principle applies today:
We need to be grieved over sin; but rejoice in God’s forgiveness, the assurance of his love, and hope in the future.
assurance of his love, and hope in the future. That’s the gospel!
That’s the gospel!

The God who convicts us of sin is the same God who saves sinners, who trusts in Christ alone for salvation.

The God who convicts us of sin is the same God who saves sinners, who trusts in
Christ alone for salvation.
God never wounds us to hurt us, but only to heal.
The joy of knowing that He has forgiven all of our sins and that we are His people should fill our hearts.
From the Scriptures they learn who God is specifically, what He does, what He says
and what He gives.

Conclusion

Chuck Swindoll tells of a time when he spoke at a family conference. He noticed a young couple with several small children. Although they looked and sounded like a Christian family, it was evident to him that they were very miserable. He knew that divorce was on the back burner of their minds.
He noticed a young couple with several small children.
Although they looked and sounded like a Christian family, it was evident to him that they were very miserable. He knew that divorce was on the back burner of their minds.
But as the week progressed, he saw that couple change as they listened to the teaching of God’s Word. The husband hung on every word. The wife had her Bible open and followed the messages closely.
They are told to not be sad in self-absorption but to feast in joyous generosity.
At the end of the week, this couple came up to Swindoll and his wife and said, “We want you to know that this week has been a 180-degree turnaround experience for us. When we came, we were ready to separate. We’re going back stronger than we have ever been in our marriage.”
But that joyous news was dampened by another family’s response. Chuck continues,
At the same conference with the same speakers, the same truths, the same surroundings, the same schedule, another father was turned off.
He wasn’t open. He attended the first few sessions, but by and by the guilt became so great and the conviction so deep that he went home. He had stayed awake the entire night before and reached the decision to leave and not come back. His family left hurting—perhaps even more than when they came.
What was the difference?
Swindoll says, “attitude.” The couple who benefited had teachable hearts. The other man did not.
Some people come to church with reverence for God and His Word, saying, “God, teach me! I want to know You more!”
They come expectantly. They listen attentively and They are ready to respond to the Word. They profit from the teaching.
Others come to the same service with sin in their hearts that they don’t want to deal with.
They are turned off by the very same message that helps others to grow.
If you want spiritual renewal, check your heart.
Are you here expecting to hear from God Himself?
Are you in tune to what He’s saying to you?
Are you willing to respond to His word to you?
I pray that by His grace in 2018, we will!
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