Coming Together Around God's Word

2014 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference


In this 58-minute session from the 2014 TGC Women’s Conference, Nancy Guthrie walks women through Nehemiah 7-8 to describe the joy of the Lord and how it strengthens believers to live in freedom and obedience.  

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her home church, at conferences around the world, and through her study series titled Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. She also offers companionship and biblical insight for parents grieving the death of a child through retreats, videos, and books. 


What have you chased to find happiness? How did it disappoint you? How are happiness and joy different?
Log In to Continue

Nehemiah 8:1-8 (ESV)

Ezra Reads the Law

1And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.2So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month.3And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand.5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.6And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.7Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places.8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


We see in Nehemiah that the people wanted to hear from God through His Word, and sat submissive to it. Describe a time the Lord spoke to you through His Word—did you approach your time humble and hopeful to hear from Him, or was it unexpected? What did He reveal, and was it what you wanted to hear?
Log In to Continue

The Levites walked through the crowds explaining the text. Who or what resources have helped you better understand the Bible? How else could you grow in a right understanding of Scripture?
Log In to Continue

Nehemiah 8:9-12 (ESV)

This Day Is Holy

9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.10Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”11So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



The people were brought to tears as they saw the ways they had fallen short of the glory of God, but they left rejoicing having understood that sin was not the final word. Nancy said, “God doesn’t send us away in sorrow. Instead, we are invited to His table where we feast on His broken body and shed blood so we can rejoice. This joy gives us strength to believe our sins have been fully and finally dealt with in the sacrifice of Christ.”


Do shame and regret ever hold you back from rejoicing in the work of Christ? What do biblical feasts teach us about God?
Log In to Continue

Nehemiah 8:17-18 (ESV)

17And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing.18And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


After reading the Law and realizing it was not being fully followed, the people obeyed with joy. When have you experienced joy in obedience? What have you learned from saying “yes” to God?
Log In to Continue


Nancy said, “The joy that the Lord takes in writing our names in His book, as those who live securely in His city—the new Jerusalem—with Him forever, this strengthens us for living life. We can face anything, strengthened in the knowledge that our lives cannot be ruined, our names will not be blotted from His book.”  

How does the safety and security of your eternal home in the city of God give you strength to face today and every day until Jesus returns?
Log In to Continue

Do you struggle associating joy with God? Why or why not? What did you learn about His character and nature in this teaching?
Log In to Continue


Nancy concluded her teaching with these powerful words: “Why would we search for happiness anywhere other than the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God? Because there we will come under the security of His protection. There we will be counted among His people, finding our name written in His book. There we will hear His voice like never before and understand His Word like never before, and serve Him with glad obedience like never before, and there we will partake in His feast to our full and un-ending satisfaction.” 


To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here