Reading the book of Ezra recently I was struck by the expression found several times in the story of Ezra’s return from captivity to the city of Jerusalem. Writing about his success in obtaining help from the Persia king to return to his hometown and help rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians years before, over and over he used this phrase to describe that success:
“the gracious hand of the LORD was on him.”
Wondering why the LORD was so gracious to Ezra, I found the answer in chapter seven where the writer of the book declares:
“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.”
Many televisions evangelists today tell us if we just have enough faith, God will give us great success. But I think Ezra had the right idea. It is not in “my” faith that I manipulate God to give what I want. His blessings come with the three things Ezra practiced.
Study the Word of God
Reading the Bible on a consistent basis is a great thing to help a Christian in their daily walk with God. During those devotional times as we meditate on a portion of Scripture we can gain encouragement and strength to meet whatever the day may bring.
However, if we only read the Bible, we miss the chance to really grow in our knowledge and complete understanding of God’s Word. Note that in his letter to Timothy Paul said to study not read. We sometimes resist during that because to really study God’s Word requires time and effort. But it is in really digging deeper into God’s Word that we not only grow, but we will be protected against the false teaching that is so prevalent today.
Obey the Word of God
It is not enough to study or to hear the Word of God. The blessing comes when we obey it. Many times I think we are guilty of just ignoring those scriptures that require something of us we don’t want to give. My pastor husband used to say:
“Pick and choose, and you will lose.”
Teach the Word of God
Here’s where I lose some of you. You think, “I can’t teach God’s Word. That is for people who have degrees in Biblical Studies or are ordained ministers in their church.” Granted, many of us are qualified to lead in-depth Bible studies, but we all can share with others what we have learned from our own study.
Whether you realize it or not, you are teaching others. Your children, your coworkers, your neighbors are often taught about God by the way you live. As the verse in Colossians indicates, if we let the word of God dwell in us (by studying it and applying it) we will be teaching others.
This was also the instruction given by God Himself to Joshua when he was appointed to lead the Israelites after the death of Moses.
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.
Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”