A Determined Heart

“Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

This verse first jumped out at me while in college. I underlined it in my devotional reading (A habit I still employ) and used it to teach children’s church (I still apply my  sermons to children- and to immature adults). It has been meaningful to me and perhaps you will find it to be that for you.

Note that Ezra “determined in his heart” to do three things. That is, these are the commitments that Ezra made and actions he vowed to take. Perhaps you might make the same determination in  your heart.

First, Ezra determined to study the law of the Lord. He wanted to know and understand God’s word. I urge you to do the same. Biblical illiteracy is so high that a little bible knowledge makes one seem like a scholar. But don’t stop with just a little knowledge. Determine to know the bible well. Here’s how you might do that.

Read the bible for yourself. Read all the New Testament through at least three times. (You won’t finish tonight or even next week. Think long-term.) Then read the entire Old Testament. Underline things that speak to your heart. Pay attention during sermons. Take notes. Jot things down. (You will need to stay awake. Coffee might help.) Get in a small group bible study. (Our church LIFE groups are awesome for bible study and fellowship. And they might provide some donuts and coffee on occasion.)

Second, Ezra determined to obey God’s word. He didn’t just learn the bible so he could play bible trivia better. He learned it to live it. Maybe you don’t know all God wants you to do with your life. Okay. Start by obeying what you know he wants you to do right now. Do what God tells you to do. Here’s how you might do that.

When reading the bible or attending a small group or listening to a sermon (You are really going to have to stay awake during the sermons to do this!) ask yourself how it applies to your life. Look for what you are to do or correct or change. Listen carefully for ways that you can put the truth of God’s word into action in your life. Then, obey God. Do what he wants, avoid what he doesn’t want and obey his directives in both actions and attitudes.

Third, Ezra determined to teach. He wanted Israel to know the truth he knew and to obey the truth he obeyed. He cared about others and wanted them to find and follow God’s plan too. Here’s how you might do that.

If God calls and gifts you to teach, take it seriously. Whether as a volunteer teacher in a small group bible study or a pastor in a church, teach to the best of your ability and in response to God’s leading. Perhaps you aren’t gifted to teach or don’t have enough knowledge to teach a class yet. You can teach through your thoughtful participation in a bible study. You can teach your family or friends the truths you are learning. You can teach by sharing the gospel message with someone who is lost. This kind of teaching is for every follower of Christ. Don’t hold in the truth. Teach others because you know how valuable and important God’s word is.

Ezra set his heart on the right things. Learn. Obey. Teach. This is a good verse to underline.

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