I love reading Nehemiah 8, and picturing all of the people gathered to listen to the Word of God. I find myself sometimes grieving over what I see around me. There are so many people who are not looking to hear God’s Word. Rather than attending church with ears to hear the Word, people often have ears closed. Many times I see people scrolling along on their phones or I see people with roaming eyes. I have even heard people having full on conversations during the message.
As Ezra read the Word of God to the people who assembled, they stood around hoping to understand. They continued to listen as “he read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” They “listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” When they heard what God’s Word said, they “lifted their hands,” and they “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces on the ground.” The passion, the desire, the love for God’s Word is simply beautiful. I have seen this before. I have felt this many times. It is my prayer that you have this constant passion, this ever-present desire, this unending thirst for God’s Word.
We are so very blessed to have God’s Word within reach. There was a time when there were only scrolls, and not many were accessible to all. People would gather to hear. We now have shelves with various translations. What a difference!?! But the passion they had for the Word when it was not so accessible often times seems to be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. Have you wept over God’s Word? Have you sought it out with great desire? Have you clung to His Word? Have you found yourself spending the day meditating and chewing on His Truth? Today, ask the Spirit to light a fire in you so you regain passion for His Word.
“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” -Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6 [NIV]
Recently I shared a message on passionate patience. I was reading about the church in Philadelphia and I came across this verse. The people kept God’s command to endure patiently. There are many times in this phrase “endure patiently” or “passionate patience” or “enduring patience” is mentioned in the Bible. John, Luke, Peter, and Paul all use the same word to mean this phrase.
We each can have passionate patience. Hebrews 12 tells us to remove the hindrances around us and fix our eyes on Jesus. The only way you can endure—the only way you can persevere is to keep yourself on the path Jesus has for your life by keeping your eyes fixed on Him.
The world will continue to tell you otherwise. The world will continue to try to pull you in different directions. I pray you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. May you press forward in the race He has for you, not swerving or slowing down for the roadblocks of the world.
“Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.” – Revelation 3:10 [MSG]
I love reading Nehemiah. It is so awesome to read of the restoration and to see the people returning to God. I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I read about Ezra bringing forth the Law. The Bible says he read it aloud from daybreak until noon. Can you imagine that being done today? Some people shift in their seats when the pastor’s sermon goes over a half hour.
These people were so eager to hear the Word. The people “were all ears” it says. All ears. That’s amazing. I love it. Sadly it’s not something we hear of often today. The only people I see like this are those who struggle to get their hands on a Bible. In places like Kenya, they have a lack of Bibles so families or even an entire church share one Bible and pass it around. And they cannot wait to get their turn at reading God’s Word. They want to hear it that badly.
Today, I am praying for each one of you. I am praying that you will want to hear God’s Word with such intensity, that you would want to be “all ears” for His Word. If you have such a passion for God and His Word, it will overflow out to everything around you. That my friend is a beautiful thing. May we all be all ears.
“So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.”
– Nehemiah 8:2-3 [MSG]
It is great to be passionate and focused on something. It is good to work hard at whatever you do as if working for the Lord (Colossians 3:17). But as Todd Adkins says, it “doesn’t matter how hard you work if you’re working on the wrong things.” The question is—are you working on the wrong things?
To answer that question, we need to have an understanding of God’s will. We need to understand our purpose in life. We also need to have a good understanding of God’s Word. So how do we understand God’s will and word and our purpose? We need to look to Him who has the answers. I cannot tell you your purpose—only God can direct your path. I cannot tell you God’s will for your life—only God through the Holy Spirit can provide the enlightenment you need. I can help you understand some Bible passages—only you can take them as your own and do something with it.
Sometimes working at the wrong things means SIN, that horrible three-letter word. It might sound bad that some people work so hard at sinning, but when you get caught lying to someone, you will find yourself lying to more and more people in an attempt to not let the first lie get uncovered. That is working hard at the wrong things. An affair, a lie, a theft—can all lead us down a road we should never travel. Today, examine your current situation. Focus on Him- His will, His word, and His purpose for your life. Keep the passion on working for the Lord, not working on the wrong things.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” – Jeremiah 2:13 [NIV]
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” – Colossians 3:23 [HCSB]
As I was doing my grocery shopping, I walked pass a young man stocking shelves. One of his co-workers passed by and asked, “You’re still doing that?” The response of the young man was one I’ve heard time and time again—“I’m here for eight hours either way.”
Yes, he will be there for eight hours. He will get paid the same no matter how much effort he puts forth with stocking the shelves. But this thought that it does not matter—that I do not need put forth a good effort—is something very negative and it greatly impacts our society.
We are told to do everything as if it was for the Lord. Today look at the effort you put forth, the attitude you have at your workplace, in your home, at church, in your relationship with God, etc. Do you give God your best effort or are you going through the motions till the time is up? Does it really matter? How would an onlooker see you stocking shelves—with joy serving the Lord or just passing time?
When Abraham sent his servant to seek out a wife for his son Isaac, the servant, a loyal man who relied on God throughout the mission, was met by Rebekah. The servant of Abraham prayed for God’s guidance with selecting a wife for Isaac, and included some signs to point to the woman who should be taken back to be Isaac’s wife. The signs pointed to Rebekah.
Now while reading Genesis 24, we see Rebekah providing a great example of one who is devoted.
- Energetic – When she was providing the servant & his camels with water, Rebekah “ran back to the well” (v. 20). She was full of energy as she aimed to serve this man—passionate to help another.
- Eager to serve – When it was time to provide water, she was ready to serve. She even offered the servant a place to stay for the night (v. 25). When it was time to set out to return to Isaac, she was ready.
- Embracing the call – When asked if she would go, she embraced this calling upon her life (v. 58)
- Exceeded expectations – The servant of Abraham prayed for particular signs to point to the woman who would be the wife of Isaac. Rebekah went beyond meeting those signs requested by the servant. Not only did she let down her jar and water the camels, but she went to the point that they “had enough to drink” (v. 19) to be satisfied. She also offered the servant a place to stay for the evening, as well as a food and shelter for the camels (v. 25).
When we look at God’s calling for our lives, are we energetic? Are we eager? Are we embracing the calling? Today, consider what God has called you to do in life. Think about these four areas. Do you still have passion for God’s calling? When we are energetic, eager, and embracing what God has called us to do, He will use us to serve His Kingdom—and we will exceed expectations as His vessels. When we allow ourselves to be His vessel, when it is all about Him, when the passion is there, we, like Rebekah, will be passionately seeking to serve the Lord with joy, ready for whatever He puts before us.