The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Columns

May 31, 2014

INSTANT MESSAGE: Preach the Word clearly

Nehemiah 8: 5-8 (NIV): 5 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. 6 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. 7 The Levites--Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah--instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 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.

This happened in about 450 BC. The Jews had been taken captive in 605 BC by Babylon. But Persia defeated Babylon in 539 BC and King Cyrus had released the Jews to go home to Jerusalem. There they rebuilt the temple in about 25 years and rebuilt the wall around the city in an amazing 52 days.

Now, Nehemiah comes, and he and the priest, Ezra, assemble the people and read God's Word to them. The chapter says Ezra read from early morning until noon and the people stood and listened attentively, saying "Amen", and then bowing before God in respect.

Ezra is using "expository preaching". He read the scripture, then exposed its meaning. This is the kind of preaching we need today.

We need preachers to read God's Word and make it clear. Preachers need to emphasize the Bible and not their opinions. Preachers need to emphasize what God's Word says and not spend their time in the pulpit telling personal stories.

Stories are good for illustration, but our stories must support the truth of the scripture – and not the other way around.

The power for revival and repentance is found in God's Word. Churches must stick to it and teach it. We have too many Christians who do not know the scripture. We, as a church, must teach the word.

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Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.

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