Nehemiah 8:4-8

Opening Prayer Thoughts
Praise and confession.
- Praise God for the blessing of gathering on the Lord's Day to sing His songs, read His Word, speak with Him in prayer, and hear His word preached. Psalm 122.
- Confess the need to know our own hearts, that we might reject temptation.

Doctrine for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 39 – What is the duty which God requires of man?
Answer – The duty which God requires of man is obedience to his revealed will.
This is taken from where you will find proof texts.
 – God gives us His Word for a reason, that we might know Him and what He requires of us. Our duty in life is to obey Him
Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind. 
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you read God's Word.
Please read Nehemiah 8:4-8.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 8:4-8 – Explaining the Word.
We have seen how the people respected the Word of God when they stood up when Ezra opened the book, but their response demonstrated more than just respect for a relic! When Ezra prayed and blessed the Lord, the people responded by thanking the Lord, by praying and by worshipping. When God does a work for His people and in His people, the right and proper way to demonstrate it is through thanksgiving, praying and worshiping the Lord.
                For a people whose heart was being prepared by the Lord, it was of the greatest importance that they should have a clear understanding of what it was that the Lord required of them. It was not sufficient that the law should be read in the people's hearing, it must also be expounded and explained so that they would have a clear understanding of its meaning.
                Whilst it is important that God's people read the Word of God for themselves, God has graciously provided teachers for His church so that they might dedicate themselves to instruct the people of God in the truths of God. One of the most important gifts that God has given to His church is the provision of those who would teach and preach His Word (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:9-16), so that men and women would come to faith, and that God's people would grow in grace and in knowledge of the Lord.
                How sad it is that in some churches the exposition of the Scriptures has been relegated to a very minor place in favour of so-called praise songs, drama, and personal experiences. Ezra and Nehemiah knew better! They understood that if the people in Jerusalem were going to withstand all that would come upon them, they needed to be taught, sustained, and strengthened by the living Word of the sovereign God.              
Ch 8:4-8 – Understanding the Word.
Verses 7 and 8 contain very useful instructions for both those who preach and for those who listen: Those who read the Word to the people did so clearly so that the people could understand what was read and then explained it simply so that people would understand its meaning for them. In his commentary on Nehemiah, David Guzik makes the following comment, 'When I stand to teach God's people, there are some things that I always need to remember: If you leave knowing five helpful hints to a better life, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed. If you leave having been amused by humour, entertained by anecdotes, or captivated by dramatic stories, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed. If you leave motivated to action, or praying a prayer, but it is not based on a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed. If you leave admiring me, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed – and will be accountable before God for my failure.' This is the goal for every preacher and should be what every member of a congregation of God's people is looking for and expecting from those who minister the Word in their hearing. The Levites helped the people to understand, and that is just as important now as it was in the time of Nehemiah:
                a. The things of God are spiritually discerned, and God uses spiritual teachers to guide us.
                b. Many things in the Scriptures are foreign to us, and we need gifted teachers to help us understand them better.
                c. We often need things broken down into small pieces so that we can
understand them.
                If we leave worship without having a better understanding of the Word, we need to ask if the problem lies with the preacher for not explaining it clearly or with us for not giving sufficient attention to it.

Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 31A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.

Thank God
Thank God for the privilege of hearing His Word preached, and pray for the Lord's help to listen to and be searched by it, especially when you don't like what you are hearing.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC