Thursday, May 31, 2007

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Sesion #7


Read nehemiah 8

Patrick Harriston

"A Foundatin for Spiritual Revival"

For decades the walls of Jerusalme were rubble, and the people were in exile. But, now God had sent Nehemiah to restore the city, rebuild the walls, and now we come to the restoration of the people.

There is probably no other passage that sets out the foundations of true, biblical, heaven sent revival.

1. A passion for the word of god
2. Submission to the word of god
3. Transformation by the word of god

Passion for the word of God
The people gathered together and they asked Ezra to bring the law god had given. They wanted the word of god. The sense is that they directed or appointed Ezra to bring the book. We need that sort of passion in today's church.

The principle here is that true revival alwasys starts with a desire to hear the word of god. This is true throughout history. True in time of king Josaiah and in time of Luther.

Nehemiah did not coerce people to this. He did not command it. The people wanted it.

How do we account for this? The only answer is that is had to be a powerful work of God upon the hearts of his people. We naturally do not have this sort of passion for the word of God. Psalm 80:3, 7, 19 calls three times for God to turn his people to himself.

True revival stems from the work of God. That he stirs in them a yearning and desire for His word.

Remember at this time they were living in time of much improved political stability. The walls were rebuilt. Yet, there was still a sense that something was missing. They sensed that something was not right. Tells us we can have an abundance of material comfort, but unless God and word are in first place things are not right. For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

So the people went to Ezra. In doing so they went to the right person. When people want to hear the word they will look for the right man for the job. Notice they did not go to Nehemiah. Probably because Nehemiah was not the right man to do that. It was not his gift. People called for Ezra because he was best qualifited. (See Ezra 7:6, 10).

There were four outstanding characteristics of Ezra. As preachers we need these same qualities.
1. Scripturally proficient.
He was a scribe. The scriptures were his lifeblood. Teachers of God's words are to be scripturally proficient. We must be first and foremost men of the book.
2. Supernatually empowered.
The hand of the Lord was upon him. Signifies the power and enabling given to Ezra. It is possible to be skilled in scripture, but be woefully deficient in power. Power comes first and foremost from power of God in our lives. Zech. 4:6; 1 Thes. 1:5. We must seek God for his power in our preaching because on our own we are powerless. It is what makes power trembling preachers men of powerful preaching. It gives us conviction, earnestness and passion. We need the hand of God to take control of our disposition so our approach can be balanced.
3. Spiritually fervent.
Ezra was a man of deep piety. He knew God frist hand. Unless we know the God we speak about we cannot be the preachers we must be.
4. He was painstakingly dillegent.
He set his heart to study, practice and teach the word of God. Setting his hearts speaks of his enjoyment and love of the word of God. Danger of not having any enjoyment, delight of proclaiming word. Setting his heart speaks of his engagement with what he is doing. Setting his hearts speaks of his determination in what he was doing. This was oriented toward examining God's word. We would whould preach must of necessity be earnestly oriented toward the word. He also endeavored to live the word. We need to take heed to doctrine and our living it out. He also set his heart on expouding the word of God. Notice the order. It is important. First things must be done first. Some times we feel such dryness because we get caught up in professionally exegeting the text without having it work in us and see its personal application and living it out. Nothing commends the word of God as much as a life that exemplifies its truths.

The people had a passion for God's word. They were not asking for some message that was current and contemporary. They asked for the age old body of writings that were the divine word of God given to Moses. All that God wants us to know this side of eternity He has given us in the Bible. In end times people will seek after what they want to hear. There is a great push to follow contemporary trends. But, if it's new it's not true, and if it's true it's not new. We need God's book. People were devoted to the Word. They stood in the mid day sun for perhaps as much as six hours. How would that go over today? These people were not turned off by the length of sermon. The stood and delighted in it. When a people has a passon for God's word they will demand it, have a passion for it, and will delight in it. This was not a passing thing. There was a second day and they came back to Ezra that they might gain further understanding of the word of God. They read from the word daily. They delighted in the word and congregated together to hear it. Nothing more effectivly unites God's people when they find their rallying point under the word of God. Staying at home listening to tapes or televangelist is not a substitute for gathering with the people of God. There is a distinct blessing for the gathered people of God. Not only that they concentrated on the word. They were attentive. Their ears were to the book of the Lord. Minds were engaged and focused. Their focus was just right. It was more on the word than on the man of God. It was the message not the messenger they were focused on. They wanted to hear what God is saying in his word. That is how we are to gather, to hear God speaking not the man. To the extent we expect God to speak to us through the word that we will be attentive to it. And, they grasped it intellectually. This comprehension was mentioned several times. Notice the goal is not to feel good, but to understand the word of God. How different this is from what we find so often today. Think of Phillip and the Etheopian eunich--do you understand what you are reading. Understanding of the word is vital. When it is understood it will ultimatly bring joy.

Do we have the passion, the delight for God's word. There are times when we do not have a heart felt passion for the word of God. Maybe only intellectual delight without the heart being gripped by it. Is it a drugery or a delight? The call is to desire the pure milk of the word like a baby desires milk (1 Peter). Why so often do we lack this?

Many things clutter it out:
1) Worldly anxieties and cares. Need to pray God will turn our eyes away from vanity.
2) Unconfessed sins. Sin is like wax in the ears when it comes to God's word.

Basis of revival is a return a passion for the word of God. May God help us in this regard for his name sake.


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