The fruit of my morning Bible time continues and please, let me just offer a quick prayer of thanksgiving to God because His Word is opening up to me in ways it never has before. And let me follow that prayer of thanksgiving with a prayer of petition, “Please Lord, continue opening the ears and eyes of my heart to Your Word.” This morning I read in the Book of Ezra and there was a particular passage that stood out to me. In chapter 7 verses 9-10, “He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year, and he arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the LORD and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.” (NLT) In that verse, we see that Ezra had determined to study, obey, and teach the Law of God. As we look at each of those, we’ll also compare that verse in other translations.
1. The first thing Ezra did was to determine what he was going to do.
To “determine” is to decide, to choose, to resolve.
Other translations relate this verse as:
•set his heart
•had given his mind to
•had devoted his life
•prepared his heart to seek
•had worked hard to know
What are we determined to do? What have we set our hearts on, given our minds to, devoted our lives to, worked hard for, and prepared our hearts for? Can we answer “learning about and growing in closer friendship with God” to any one those? What choices are we making? And we all know, if we don’t make a clear and determined choice, the world and its distractions will make a choice for us–what we do, listen to, see and how we live.
What have we set our hearts on?
2. Ezra determined to study the Law of God
“Study” in the noun form can mean “learning or analysis.” In the verb form, it can mean “contemplate, learn or examine.” How often do we analyze a bill, a new phone contract, or the purchase of a new car? How often do we take the time to learn all the features of our new television or camera? And how often do we examine the ingredients in our food, our neighbors or the new family at church? Now compare that time to the time we take to learn of God and His ways for us, to examine His Word in relation to our lives.
What have we determined to study?
3. Ezra determined to obey the Law of God
One translation states “practicing it.” Friends at The Littlest Way know we are a soccer family and I spend countless numbers of hours in the car while my children are at soccer practice. I’m also a piano mom which means I spend hours listening to children practice the piano. And in its simpliest form, if they did not practice, they could not do or be a soccer player or piano player. And in its simpliest form if we are not practicing our faith we cannot be Christ followers. In Philippians 4:9 the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
What are we practicing?
4. Ezra determined to teach the Law of God
The things Ezra was learning about the Law of God was just too good to keep to Himself. Psalm 19:7 states, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;” This world could surely use a healthy dose of something to revive its soul. I wonder the changes that would take place in the hearts and minds of a person if they determined to pick up their Bible before their phone. To listen to the Word of God before a reality show or sitcom. I’m not saying those things are evil in themselves, but when placed before the Laws of God, well, dis-order or lack of order is the result.
This determined life doesn’t have to be hard and burdensome and we don’t have to become that “Crazy Christian.” We can simply determine to pick up our Bible or download it on our phone and choose it first instead of not at all. This is simple, but not always easy. I understand we are not cloistered monks or nuns and we do have to move and operate in this world, but let’s do it with a determination, a heart set on the things of God above the things of this world.
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