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The Joy of Obedience

(Nehemiah 8:1-18)

Lesson 13 -- second quarter 2008
May 25, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

I wonder how they listened

Can you imagine such an event as this passage describes? All the people in a certain locality agree to meet in a certain place because they want to know God's ways. Having thus agreed, they send word to one of their leaders that he should bring God's Book with him so he can read it and explain it to them. Imagine that!

I wonder why and how they listened to God's law. Well, actually, I don't wonder. The passage is quite clear in making me understand that these people wanted to hear God's law because each individual wanted to know it. I also get the distinct impression that they listened with attentive ears and open hearts, ready to get on with the obedience part.

How do you listen to the reading and exposition of God's Word? I must admit that sometimes I don't listen at all -- my mind is too distracted and preoccupied with other thoughts. Sometimes I listen for any entertainment value I might derive -- good oratory, humor, illustrations, new information. At times I listen for the message I hope someone else will get -- their values and attitudes need such amending, you know. Other times I listen for flaws -- the speaker previously displeased me so I hope to detect more kindling for my own flaming attitudes and feelings. Before you think I'm too far gone, I assure you that there are times when I listen because I want to know God's ways and do them -- my mind is focused and receptive, not needing entertainment, not looking for fault, not mining applications for others.

May the Lord work in our hearts an awareness of our own need. And then may He teach us to listen, learn, and live as we ought.

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1).

"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is" (Psalm 63:1).

Make them to understand!

Someday you will likely be assigned a devotional or a topic for some sort of public gathering. Part of your presentation surely will require you to "read in the book of the law of God." Not only is that reading good, it is essential and foundational. But don't settle for reading only!

Before your presentation, get well acquainted with the passage(s) you aim to read from God's Word. Know how you are going to read aloud so that people are sure to understand both the words and their message. Part of that includes knowing where to pause, what words to emphasize, and how to change your voice tone, inflection, and volume in the course of your reading. Your public reading of this precious Word must be distinct.

Before your presentation, also learn at least some of the sense of what you will be reading. You see, your assignment isn't just to be a public reader. (It is not enough to say that God's Word speaks for itself.) You have a God-given responsibility to give the sense and cause the listener "to understand the reading"! So go to God and plead with Him for His message, asking Him to apply it to your heart first. Then get up there and read . . . and give the message from your heart!

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