Got problems? If you are like most of us, you have a few, maybe a lot! Are you distressed, fearful, anxious, or discouraged? Where are you looking for the answers?
Ezra 7 & 8
Ezra 7 & 8:
How God protects His Word
As you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and been born in a pagan culture had little understanding of God’s law. But chapter 7 verse 6 says:
“This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given.”
Ezra had faithfully studied and meditated on the laws and precepts of God in spite of the culture around him. And because of his faithful preparation, he was instrumental in teaching the people who returned to Jerusalem from the captivity and was greatly used by God!
Do you suppose he ever wondered, “Why am I spending all this time reading and studying and memorizing?” John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible that, according to tradition, Ezra had God’s law memorized. That would have been at least the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to seek to understand and apply it.
Scribes were commissioned with copying the Scriptures by hand, as well as, knowing and teaching them. Did you know there are more than 5,300 handwritten Greek manuscripts of the New Testament alone (many more of the O.T.) and they have very few errors, most of which have to do with numbers or spelling not things which would alter any Bible doctrine.
It’s no wonder that Jesus was so upset with the Scribes and Pharisees in His day. They knew the Word of God and legalistically demanded adherence to the letter of it without grasping the Spirit of it.
Ezra was a great example not just in knowing the law, but living it:
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7.10).
Notice the order: he prepared his heart, he sought to understand the Word of God, he purposed in his heart to obey it, and then he taught it to others. It’s not that we are ever going to do things perfectly, but before we seek to teach others, we should be doing our best to understand and be doers of God’s Word ourselves.
Trusting God in trouble
This psalm is a lamentation. The psalmist was apparently in some kind of deep distress and didn’t understand the reason nor why God had not answered his prayers for relief. Can you relate?
88 O LORD, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
2 Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.
4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
5 Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.
But he still called God, “Lord, God of my salvation.”
He continued to trust in God and he understood that this world is not all there is. We, too, need to understand there are times when God will not answer as we see fit. There will be times when there are things going on that are good and good for us, but it won’t seem so to our limited understanding. That’s when we must process them through the grid of who God is. As another of the psalmists said, “You are good, and do good” (Ps. 119.68).
In what or whom do you trust?
Verse 22, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty, And brings down the trusted stronghold.”
Strong and powerful men put their trust in their strength thinking nothing can bring them down. But a wise man, one who fears the Lord, will persevere not on the basis of his own strength or wisdom, but because he seeks to love, honor, and please God, who will fight the battle for him.
We’re seeing this beautifully illustrated in the book of Ezra as God gave the people favor with the King and protected them on the dangerous journey back to Jerusalem.
God’s timing and protection
God supernaturally protected Paul again, by exposing the plot to kill him. We, too, can rest in God’s timing and protection in our lives, if we seek to live our lives to please Him. Though Paul would eventually die a martyr’s death, it would be in God’s timing.
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Problems! If you are like most of us, you have a few, maybe a lot! Are you in distress? Are you tempted with fear, anxiety, or discouragement?
What are you looking to for the answers? To God or to the world? In what or whom are you placing your trust?
How might God be using those problems in your life? “God is good” (Ps. 136.1) and He always “causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8.28). And Romans 8.29 gives us a glimpse into what that overall “good” is, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son …”
Whatever problems God allows us to experience He is using them to grow and mature us and cause us to become more like His Son. So what are you struggling with today and what might God be doing in your life? What characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is He developing? love? joy? peace? patience? kindness? goodness? faithfulness? gentleness? self-control? (Gal. 5.22-23).
How do you need to pray? Will you commit or recommit to putting your faith and trust in Him?
For further study:
A great book on the subject of trust is Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. I’ll send you a FREE booklet, “You Can Trust God” which is an excerpt from Bridges book when you sign up to receive this blog by email. Just add a comment to the bottom of this post and let me that you signed up and would like the free booklet.
By Jerry Bridges / NAV PressDoes trusting God come easily to you—until adversity strikes? Amid troubles and tribulation, do you sometimes doubt whether he really cares? Exploring three essential truths about God—his complete sovereignty, his infinite wisdom, and his perfect love—Bridges shows you how to rely on God implicitly in every circumstance. 240 pages, softcover from NavPress.
|You Can Trust God
By Jerry Bridges / NAV PressAdversity is everywhere; nobody escapes it. But is it causing your confidence in God to crumble? Trust is a matter of will—not feelings—says Bridges, who outlines three essential truths about God that helped hymn writer John Newton (“Amazing Grace”) believe in God when his wife was dying. Features application questions and Scripture memorization. 22 pages, softcover from NavPress.
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