January 15, 2023
Bishop, W. F. Houston, Jr.
***C H O F Ministry Bible Study Reading:
*C H O F Ministry Focal Verse:
1 Peter 3:15 (AMP) - But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.
When the priest Ezra, gives the returned exiles a reading from the Law, it’s one of the most emotionally charged passages in the Old Testament (Nehemiah 8). He stood on a raised wooden platform so everyone could see and hear him. As the Levites visited different places, they explained the significance of what the people were hearing. On that day, many people in the crowd realized they had done wrong, but they were told not to be unhappy because it was a day of celebration.
This historic resurgence didn't just materialize out of thin air. Ezra had spent his entire life preparing for this moment by becoming a devout student of the Scriptures (v. 10). The Bible contains many examples of people (like Ezra) whose lives were transformed as a result of discovering and studying the Word of God. Since God's Word plays a paramount role in divine knowledge, this should not be surprising (see “Putting It into Practice – Part One”).
Just what did Ezra discover? “The ordinances (Law) of the Lord” (v. 10). What was the method that he used to learn it? Through "research and careful examination.” The word “examination” is another way of saying study. Since Ezra was Aaron's descendant, his pedigree dates back to Mount Sinai when the Law was first given. (vv. 1–5). He "committed" himself entirely to the process of acquiring this knowledge. Worldliness didn't divert his attention!
What motivated Ezra to learn? He desired to educate. (vv. 6, 10). He was "fully informed in the Law of Moses," making him equipped to train others in both the comprehension and obedience of the Scriptures. He got himself ready to take on the role of spiritual leader for the exiles who had returned. (vv. 8–9). Because of God's kindness and generosity in this matter, the king of Babylon agreed to fulfill all of his requests. Not only did Ezra bring many people who had returned from exile, he also brought many priests, Levites, and other spiritual leaders (v. 7). Their grueling voyage stretched almost 900 miles, and it took them four months to complete it!
Beloved, an essential spiritual virtue is readiness. Have you prepared? A good litmus test might be whether you're prepared "to provide an answer to everyone who asks you to offer the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).
Let Us Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, train us to communicate our relationship with You when people ask us "to provide reason for the hope" we have (1 Peter 3:15). Prepare us to do so by teaching us how to articulate our relationship with You. Knowing the God of heaven necessitates having knowledge of three things: your guidance and consolation, as well as your authoritative voice. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.