Have you ever been sitting in church listening to the preacher go on and on and wondered when the sermon would be over? We've all been there, but in Nehemiah chapters 8 and 9, we see Ezra stand up and read from the Bible for four hours (possibly more)! While I don't recommend our preachers start knocking out Lord of the Rings lengthed sermons like Ezra, I think we can learn from the response of the people. Here are four tips to help you respond to God's Word whether you are listening to a sermon or reading on your own.
How many demoniacs were there in the region of Gerasene... one or two? If God can't change, knows the future, and is never wrong then how did the prayers of Abraham and others change God's mind? Was Jehoiachin eight or eighteen when he became king? If God cannot be tempted, then how was Jesus tempted three times by the devil? Who incited David to number the people... God or Satan?
Do Old Testament promises apply to me or just Israel? Depending on how "churched" you are, you may not know all of the controversy that surrounds this question. Dispensationists line up on one side while Covenental theologians line up on the other. If you don't know what those words mean, don't worry, you don't need to.
There are tons of different promises in the Old Testament. God speaks to many people and promises a variety of things. The Bible records those words and conversations. We need to treat those words and conversations like we would any other to understand them. The key to understanding biblical promises is context. CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT. The truth is that some of the promises in the Old Testament apply to us and some of them don't. You have to read the context to see which is which. Here are a few categories that promises might fall into...
I've been reading through Ezra for a class I'm taking and wanted to share some thoughts with you. Ezra was a spiritual leader among God's people after they had returned from exile. They had returned to a pretty ruined land and were in the process of rebuilding the city, the walls, the economy, the temple, and their relationship with God. Ezra was used by God to lead the people in some of these areas, most important of which was their relationship with God. Here is the verse that the whole book of Ezra is famous for and my thoughts on it.
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. -- Ezra 7:10
Among many other Memes on the internet, "You're Doing It Wrong," has become quite popular. And because I am a Star Wars nerd, here is another good one.
In John 5:39-40, Jesus tells a crowd of people, "The Bible: You're doing it Wrong". Take a look.
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." - John 5:39-40
Jesus tells the crowd of people that they are reading the Bible wrong. At that point, the Bible only consisted of the Old Testament. Jesus tells them that its not just enough to read the Bible. Its not just enough to study the Bible. You need to read the Bible and connect the dots to Jesus.
Mark has been happily married for five years, has a year and a half old daughter, and serves as a youth and children pastor in Oak Park.