An Encounter with the Book

Yesterday, over turkey and dressing, we got to talking about reading Scripture. I'm pretty sure that one has nothing to do with the other but the latter certainly had to do with my post yesterday on how few people actually bring their Bibles to church. One of my friends showed me his ipod? Cell phone? Blackberry? Whatever it is, my friend can access any passage of Scripture on it. When the Scripture is being read during the service or as the pastor preaches, he follows the reading on his "whatever."

Modern technology gives a new meaning to carrying your Bible to church, doesn't it? The point is, whatever form it takes, it's important to bring your Bible with you to God's house.

This theme of reading the Bible will not go away. I had to chuckle to myself this morning as I read the devotional reading assigned for today. The people have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate their return and the rebuilding of the city walls. Ezra brings out the Word of God and: "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. . .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. The Levites. . .instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read" –Nehemiah 8:2, 3, 5-8, NIV.

Notice how long they read and listened. Observe their attitude and posture. Admire their worship. Learn from their method. And most of all look at their response to the reading of God's Word. Nehemiah had to tell them to be joyful because: ". . .all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law" –Nehemiah 8:9, NIV.

As we read through the following chapter we realize that these Jews continued this practice of reading and listening for much more than just a few hours. They were so enthralled by the Word of God and its meaning, so caught up in the glory of the Lord that later they: "gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. . .they stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day, and spent another fourth in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God" –Nehemiah 9:1-3, NIV.

This was revival, Old Testament style. It's what happens when people are exposed to God's Word.

This afternoon I met with several ladies who participate in a weekly study at the church. They are currently looking at ways to study the Bible. This afternoon we practiced doing a book study, using the book of 1 Thessalonians as our example. What thrilled my soul was their reaction. As we read the whole book, then began to take it apart chapter by chapter, the ladies got excited about what they were seeing that they had never seen before. The Word of God was having an impact on them.

It always does.

And because the Word of God is so powerful we will continually face the temptation to substitute other things for it, or to neglect it. Satan knows what happens when we get "up-close-and-personally" with the Scriptures.

Carrying our Bibles to church might not have a huge impact on us, but opening the pages of Scripture (or looking up the passage on our "whatever") could change our lives. The people of Nehemiah's day discovered that truth, and so did a few ladies this afternoon.

Letting God's Word speak makes a difference. It always does.

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