This blog does not officially begin until January 1, 2015. However, I thought I would periodically recycle some old devotions here until that time. Enjoy.
Ezra 7:6 – this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
Ezra 7:9-10 – He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.  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.
You may not know much about Ezra, though you’ve probably heard of him. He has a book of the Old Testament named after him. For me, he exemplifies much of what I believe my own purpose is as a pastor. More than that, however, I believe he’s a model for all Christians.
Ezra was a descendent of Moses’ brother, Aaron, the chief priest. Ezra was a teacher, we’re told, who was well versed in the Law of Moses (Ezra 7:6). The end of verse 9 tells us that the hand of God was on Ezra. Why? Because, according to verse 10, Ezra “devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord as well as to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”
In other words, Ezra passionately STUDIED God’s Word, LIVED God’s Word, and TAUGHT God’s Word to others.
A pastor, or any Christian for that matter, must first STUDY God’s Word. This is obvious. This is where the pump is primed and fresh water is poured into the soul. This is where the renewing of the mind takes place so that it will become fertile ground for transformation later.
This leads to the next point – LIVING God’s Word. If you don’t believe the teachings of God’s Word and are not practicing it’s laws and principles each day, then one might ask why you are studying it in the first place. The Word of God makes us wise for salvation, teaches us, rebukes us, corrects us, trains us in righteousness so that we may become thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). We don’t study it to win Bible trivia contests or to impress our congregations. We study it so that we might become more and more like Christ.
But Ezra did more than study it and live it – He TAUGHT it. He passed along his knowledge to others. He added value to their lives from what he learned. And it’s the fact that he did faithfully study it and live it (or practice it) that brought credibility and integrity to his teaching. You see, the goal of any disciple of Jesus Christ is to reproduce himself in the lives of others. This is accomplished through learning what it means to be a disciple of Christ, faithfully living that calling out each day, and then passing it along to others. It’s what I call “pouring your life into another person.” Jesus put it this way in the gospel of John,
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
In a sense, we die to ourselves as we diligently study God’s Word, conform ourselves to it’s standards, and pass it along to others – even at personal cost. But any sacrifice offered is more than worth it because, as Jesus put it, it produces many seeds.
How do we pass along God’s Word to others? This can be done in a variety of ways. You can teach others God’s Word from the pulpit, in a classroom, in a hospital room, in a counseling session, over lunch with a friend, around the family table at breakfast or dinner, or written correspondence. The list could go on and on.
Finally, I love how Ezra did all of this. The text says he devoted himself to it. He gave his life to it. He was committed to God’s Word in all of its life-transforming fullness. And because he was so devoted, we learn that God’s hand was on him. God has appointed his Word as a primary means of grace (as it works with his Spirit) whereby we are enabled to intimately know God and his Son Jesus Christ, know about the character, attributes, and works of God, learn how to love and serve God, discover how to become more Christlike in our daily lives, as well as how to spend eternity with him.
God’s Word: Know It – Live It – Teach It To Others.
Not a bad purpose statement for all of us. I want to be like Ezra. How about you?
Grace and Truth,