Responding to the Word 6-20

  • If you would stand with me as I read…
  • While it is much easier said than done, there is a simple process for responding to the Word of God.  1, 2, 3
    • 1 – Respect
    • 2 – Conviction & Repentance
    • 3 – Obey
    • Respect is seen in the reverence and worship the people gave the Word.  Vs 5 and 6…stood, hands uplifted, Amen, worshipped with faces to the ground.
    • This is the foundation for the rest of our response.  Without this respect, there will not be conviction and there will not be obedience.
    • The Word does not need to EARN our respect.  Why?  It was created and inspired by God.  It is all God-breathed.  It inherently deserves our respect.
      • Sidenote – humanity
    • The Israelites could have shown indifference or stubbornness to the Word.  Especially after 70 years in exile!!  But there was no doubt of the Words rightness, of it’s legitimacy, no reluctance to submit, no desire to ignore…
    • So what does respecting the Word look like today?
    • Picture this – a young man and his boss are golfing.  As a funeral procession goes past, the young man takes off his hat and stands silently with his eyes downcast.  He doesn’t move until the procession is out of sight.  The man’s boss approves, “You don’t often see respect like that among young folk these days.”  The young man replies, “Well, I thought it was only right…after all, we’d been married for 10 years.”
    • THIS is not the type of respect God’s Word deserves.  It isn’t just about a moment of silence and moving on as if nothing happened.  It isn’t just showing up to hear the preacher once a week…
    • It’s about making the Word a priority in your life.  I need you to hear me – you NEED to be in the Word on a daily basis.  As I say this, I personally know the difficulty that can be….   And when I do make the time, I’m still not giving the Word the proper respect.  I squeeze it in and get through it as fast as I can.  No focus, just checking off the box…
    • If you have to – make baby steps.  Carve out 5 minutes a day.  Turn off the radio, hide in the bathroom….  Make sure your heart is right, clear your mind…
    • The more we are in the Word, the more we desire it.  The more we understand, the more we crave.  His word is living and active.  He will NEVER stop teaching us!!
    • Vs. 9 – all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.  Why?  Because they realized they had fallen short.
    • The Word SHOULD affect us.  If it isn’t, our hearts are hardened.
    • Conviction isn’t comfortable but it is beautiful.  It is a good thing!  Conviction means that Christ is  calling us out of the flesh, calling us to be more like Him…
    • There are 2 important things to note here:
      • First, conviction without repentance is pointless.  What do I mean?
      • It isn’t about when you cry, it’s about when you change.
      • So, in other words, conviction without change is pointless….like a white crayon or a 2020 planner or Donald Trump’s social media advisor, or most politician’s campaign promises.  Pointless….
      • Second, you can not stay stuck in mourning over your sin.  Like Nehemiah told the Israelites, the joy of the Lord is your strength!  Because of Him, we can overcome, because of Him we are washed as white as snow.  Because of Him we are able to do as the Word says…
      • But before I get to obedience, I want to challenge you to pay attention to that check in your spirit or that twinge in your heart.  Stop feeling bad about what you are doing or not doing and take the steps to change it!  Ask for help, create a boundary…..
  • Obedience
    • Like I noted a few moments ago – we are able to obey BECAUSE of Him.  When we rely upon Him, when we believe in His Word….
    • Serving Him with joy will help you accomplish what you need to do and to withstand the enemy.
    • Do not just hear the word, you need to DO WHAT IT SAYS!
    • As soon as the people realized they weren’t doing as the word said, they went and DID it!  (vs. 14-16)
    • But notice this: they were celebrating the festival!  They just weren’t participating fully!  Ritual means nothing if you are not all in!  This means that coming to church on Sunday, putting money in the offering boxes, praying from time to time means nothing if you at not all in! 
    • It is amazing what we will do, the lengths we will go to in order to avoid being all in. We can check all the boxes but if our heart isn’t in it, none of it matters.
    • It is also important to note that obedience isn’t just following a list of don’ts….
      • It’s very easy to get stuck here
    • James 4:17 says it is sin to know the good and to not do it!
      • Not taking care of the orphan and widow, not handling conflict Biblically, not fulfilling the Great commission…
    • We cannot do this on our own.  It isn’t about accomplishing one more thing, it is about letting go and allowing the Spirit to enable you!  The joy of the Lord is your strength!
    • So…what are you doing that you shouldn’t be?  OR what are you not doing that you should be?  If we truly love Him, if we want to show Him that love, we will do what He says.  Take the next step!  Let go and let God lead!
    • Adam Clarke ended his commentary on this chapter with this quote: “Art thou a Christian minister?  Does thou feed the flock of God?  Let they conduct, they conscience, and the fruits of they ministry answer for thee.”

Discussion Guide

1. What does respecting the Word look like to you?
2. Is the Word a priority in your life?
3. How often have you made time to spend in the Word of God recently?
4. What have you been convicted of lately?
5. What are you doing to address that? What changes are you making?
6. What changes do you need to make in order to rely on Him?
7. What changes do you need to make to be obedient to His Word?
8. Read and discuss: Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 1:18, James 1:22, James 4:17


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