Summary: The first myth is that the Bible is too confusing to read. In verses 1-8, we’ll see that the Bible, instead of being confusing, is actually a book that you and I can comprehend ­ You can understand it!

Steps to Spiritual Renewal

I received an email this week from Janelle Becker, one of our missionaries serving in the Philippines. She’s been there for about 10 weeks and is learning the language and beginning to understand the culture. In her email, she forwarded what her co-worker wrote about a shared experience in a recent church service:

“I heard my pastor announce that we were going to take up an offering to purchase some “sin” for another developing church. The pastor made this compelling announcement: “Their church building is nearly finished, and they are in desperate need of more “sin.” If you would like to make a donation toward the purchase of more “sin” or if you would just like to go out and buy “sin” to give them yourself, let us know as soon as possible. If you aren’t going to be here next Sunday and would like to leave your donation for “sin” with us, that would be fine. I know the Lord will bless you for your generous gift toward this project!”

Janelle’s friend Marilee continues: “At that point I was nearly unable to contain myself! I leaned over and whispered to my friend [who I think was Janelle], ‘So, you can actually go out and purchase “sin” here in the Philippines? What a shame they don’t have enough “sin” in their church already!”

Later on, they figured out what was going on: “The Cebuano word for “tin” is “sin”! They were in fact, needing more tin to complete the roof of the new church building. Could it be said, then, that they were in sin over their heads?”

My guess is that most of us have plenty of sin to deal with in our lives ­ we certainly don’t need to purchase any more! What Janelle is experiencing in another culture is very common. Due to the difficulty in understanding a new language, she’s faced with some misconceptions.

Just as there are many misconceptions when trying to learn a new language, so too, many of us have some misconceptions about the Bible. Here are three that come to mind:

• It’s too confusing to read

• It’s too boring to study

• It’s impossible to apply

These myths are demolished in Nehemiah 8. In the first half of the book, in chapters 1-6, the focus is on reconstruction.

Chapter 1 Knowing How to Pray

Chapter 2 How to Tackle a Tough Job

Chapter 3 Working Well With Others

Chapter 4 Defeating Discouragement

Chapter 5 How to Stop Strife

Chapter 6 Dealing With Distractions

The emphasis shifts in chapter 7, as the focal point becomes reinstruction in the rest of the book. We move from rebuilding the city, to rebuilding the people.

I want to use these myths, or misconceptions, as an outline this morning. The first myth is that the Bible is too confusing to read. In verses 1-8, we’ll see that the Bible, instead of being confusing, is actually a book that you and I can comprehend ­ You can understand it!

The second myth is that the Bible is too dry and boring to study. What we’ll discover in verses 9-12 is that the Bible is anything but dull ­ You can rejoice in it!

The third misconception is that the Bible is impossible to apply. What relevance does a book this old have to do with my world today? Verses 13-18 show us that there are many ways we can apply its truths ­ You can obey it!

You Can Understand It

Take a look at verse 1: “When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.”

The Bible is not a “magic book” that changes us just because we read it ­ God’s Word must be understood before it can enter the heart and release its life-changing power. The word, “understanding” is used six times in this chapter, which shows that the Bible is not meant to be confusing, but to be understood.

Ezra was the ideal man to conduct this outdoor Bible conference. He had come to Jerusalem 14 years before Nehemiah and was a priest, scholar, and teacher of the Law. Ezra 7:10 gives us some insight into what kind of man he was: “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” He was committed to personal study of the Word, he looked for ways to apply the Bible to his life, and then he taught it to others. This is one of my favorite verses ­ I consider it a personal challenge because I want to do the same. I’m committed to study and personal application so that I can teach the Word accurately and with integrity.

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