Today’s reading: Ezra 7:1–8:36, 1 John 4:1–6, Ps 107:1–22
Today’s Theme: Skilled for God
Today we explore our call to be both students and teachers in God’s kingdom. We should apply ourselves to the study of God’s word and allow God to fill our mind. Determine to dedicate your skills to God’s service today and know that He created your mind to bring Him glory, not to be a stumbling block to your spiritual development, but a tool in His hand.
Be A Scribe for God
this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. Ezra 7:6 (ESV)
Ezra is described as a scribe skilled in the law. He was a man who applied himself to the study, teaching and application (as a judge) of the law.
God has gifted us with skills which we should use for Him. Matthew 25:15-30
Some of you reading this may still be in school, college or university. You can use your education and desire for studying, to be a scribe for God, like Ezra, by applying yourself to the study and application of God’s word. 2 Timothy 2:15
God wants us to use our skills, professions and education in the service of the kingdom. Don’t just think of being used on the platform in church, think about the skills, expertise and education you have and seek God for how that can be used. Romans 12:4–8 and1 Corinthians 12:14–20.
Our minds were created by God, not the devil. God desires that we use our minds to serve Him. Intelligence can be a powerful tool, if our lives are surrendered in humble submission to God’s word. 2 Peter 1:5
Study, Do, Teach
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 (ESV)
We should set our hearts like Ezra, to study, do and teach God’s word. This three tiered approach to the bible is essential for our own lives today.
Study: We have all been called to study the word of God. Paul commended the Bereans because they were eager and took the time to study his teaching for themselves, against the bible. Acts 17:11
Jesus rebuked the Sadducees for not knowing the scriptures in Matthew 22:29.
Do: James tells us in James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Read James 1:22-26 for fuller context.
Paul also reminds us in Romans 2:13 “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”
Teach: We are not all teachers by profession or in ministry, but in our everyday lives we are meant to be teachers, sharing the truth of God’s word with one another.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Not Just Natural, Supernatural
For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. Ezra 8:22–23 (ESV)
Ezra and those with him knew that their skill and intelligence were not enough to keep them, they knew they needed supernatural help.
Ezra shows clearly that his faith is not in his own ability, but in God. He demonstrates this by fasting and praying.
He had made a bold declaration of faith to the king, that God would keep them and now needed to see God come through for him. He does not sit passively and wait for God’s help, he seeks God.
We must learn from this that although God has given us natural gifts that He wants us to use for Him, we still need supernatural (superior to natural) help from God the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:17
God enhances our gifts, gives us wisdom that cannot be learnt and does all that we cannot do, to see His purposes fulfilled. Today, let us determine to trust Him Like Ezra did, and rely on God the Holy Spirit and not our own skill. Romans 8:6–11
With God, our gifts and skills become supernatural. Acts 1:8
1 John 4:1–6
The Validation Test
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)
When John tells us to test the spirit, he is saying that if a spirit speaks to our hearts or through a “teacher”, we need to take what we hear through a validation test.
John does not tell us to test the spirit using intuition or some mystical, spiritual method, he asks us to engage our minds with a simple test.
First, is Jesus proclaimed as the Jesus of the bible, the Son of the Living God who became incarnate in flesh to save sinners? (Verse 2-3)
Second, is the word or teaching in opposition to the teaching of the Apostles, because John boldly declares that all who are against them are against God (verse 6).
This is how we sniff out error, not with our feelings, but by engaging our God given minds to measure what we hear against the word of God.
The Spirit of God will NEVER lead us in contradiction to the word of God, or the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Just because someone says “God says…”, do not immediately accept it as true without first taking it through the validation test.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (ESV)
We thank God that we overcome, not by our own strength but by God’s strength, because it is God in us who is greater than the enemy. This should encourage us today.
The Healing Word
He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Psalm 107:20 (ESV)
We give thanks to God today because He is good. God’s word has the power to heal and deliver us. We submit to and give thanks to God for loving us and giving us His word today.
When God sends His word, we need to hear it, believe it and apply it.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on 1 John 4