Pastor’s Desk November 4th

Scripture Passage:  “For Ezra had prepared in his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statues and judgments.”   Ezra 7:10
Dear Friends,
     I believe God always has men and women in place to lead his people back to Him.  In the dark time of Babylonian captivity Ezra and Nehemiah found favor with the King of Persia, Artaxerxes. The king gave Nehemiah permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls.  He even funded the project.  Ezra was commissioned by the king to return to Jerusalem and restore order among the people of the new community.  The king gave Ezra civil as well as religious authority.  He also provided the funds to furnish the temple, which had been rebuilt by the returned captives.  Ezra was a talented scribe and priest who was an expert in the first five books of the Bible. Most scholars believe he probably had a photogenic mind and had the entire Pentateuch memorized. Ezra had prepared himself and purposed in his heart to accomplish three directives as he lived out his daily life.  1.  To seek, know, and understand the Law of God.  2.  To be obedient to the law and each of its precepts.  In our language he wanted to be a doer of the law and not just a hearer.  3.  He wanted to be a good steward of the talent God had given him and teach others in Israel God’s statues and judgments.  All this he committed to perform “according to the good hand of his God upon him.”  Ezra 7:9    Let us look at these three directives and see how they should be our goals as well.
     Ezra’s understanding of the law of God did not come to him by osmosis.  He intentionally, systematically, and laboriously studied the Word of God and hid it in his heart.  If the Word of God is precious to us, then we will carefully study it for instruction, reproof and encouragement.  Many people say to me,” I can’t understand the Bible when I read it,”   or “It doesn’t seem to relate to my everyday life experiences.”  If an unbeliever says these things, I understand a little bit because oil and water do not mix.  If a believer says these things, it is an indication the person is not spiritually mature or are in the infancy stage of their walk with the Lord.  The one thing I am certain of is that if we do pick up the Bible and read it, we will never understand it.  The more we read, attend Sunday school, Discipleship classes, and Worship services, the more the Scriptures make sense to us and impact our daily walk.  I have found for every question I have or situation I face, the Holy Scripture has an answer or example of how I should handle the situation.  If I go intentionally looking for the answer I always find it.  For everything Ezra read from the law, he personally looked for the way it related to his life and family.  He wanted to know how the law could impact the nation and restore it to its former glory and relationship with God.  Ezra prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord.  Do you?
    Ezra purposed in his heart to do what the book said.  This is going to come as a shock to you, but I do not always like what the Bible says.  It is truth, and I know it is truth, but my human nature wants to do something entirely different.  I heard a story of a woman that kept a pair of scissors near her Bible at all times.  Someone asked her what the purpose for the scissors was.  She said she just cut out the parts she did not like or agree with.  Many people today like the part in the Bible that says thou shall not judge, but they ignore the part that says thou shall not commit adultery.  They emphasize the love of God, but see no reason to talk about the judgment of God.  They see Heaven as a reality, but Hell as a fantasy.  Ezra saw what the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence saw in the 70’s and 80’s.  You have to take all of the Word of God or none of it.  All of the Word of God is God breathed or none of it is at all.  Ezra purposed to do what the word of God said whether he liked it or not.  He did not just talk about the Word and what he had been studying, he lived it out.  Do you?
     Finally, Ezra purposed in his heart to teach the Word of God to others.  Paul advised young Timothy to do the same thing.  “And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  (II Timothy 2:2)  We have a responsibility to teach others what we have learned.  We are to share stories of our successes and failures and what we learned from them.  It is of the utmost importance that we share what God has revealed to us through Scripture so the learning process can continue.  I have sat under great men and women of God who have PhD’s.  They have invested in me and I have garnered much from their vast knowledge. I have also sat at the feet of those who could barely read and write, but their life experiences and the way they related them to accounts in the Bible have also benefited me. They are all equally important in my life and learning process.  Ezra purposed in his heart to share with others, what God had shared with him.  Do you?
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny