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A man said he had listened to 3,000 sermons and could not recall even one. He said ministers ought to do something else. One minister replied, “I have eaten 32,000 meals of my wife’s cooking, and I cannot recall the menu of a single meal. But without them, I would have starved to death.” The minister knew that hearing God’s word repeatedly could have an overall effect that no single sermon might have. That’s why it pays to keep listening to God’s word. When ancient Israel was back in their land after 70 years of exile, they had a hunger to hear God’s word. Soon after erecting the city wall, they gathered to hear Ezra read God’s word. As they listened, their past failures caused them to weep. While grief over failures was fitting, the leaders wanted them to accept God’s forgiveness and experience the joy for what He had now done for them. They urged the people to rejoice because God had restored them to their land. Instead of grieving over the past, they needed now to look to the future. Nehemiah told them, “Don’t be dejected, and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” One of the primary benefits of hearing God’s word is that we can leave worship better informed and inspired to face the future with confidence.

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