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
I’ve been making my way through the Bible with intentions of reading the Old Testament once through and the New Testament twice through this year using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading plan. I purchased a Bible set up in the M’Cheyne reading plan and it has helped with staying disciplined with the daily readings. You can purchase one here.
The reading plan will have you to read four chapters of Scripture a day. I know this is a lot to take in, and I certainly won’t be able to glean every glorious kernel from my readings. But I try to meditate on a section or verse between readings. Ezra has been the center of my meditation so far.
This particular verse resonates with me as a preacher. Ezra is a leader of the people of Israel. His task was tremendous, to rebuild the place where the people of God would worship God. It is much the same task of the pastor/preacher today. His job is to lead the people of God to God and to lead the people of God in the worship of God.
Ezra set his heart to do these things. Don’t forget this, strive for this, let this be your prayer. I pray that God would help me to do these things and be the kind of leader God desires for his people. Make it a matter of the heart, let it be the inclination of your heart to study the word, do the word, and teach the word.
Ezra set it in his heart to do three things with the word of the Lord:
1) Study the word of God
2) Do the word of God
3) Teach the word of God to the people of God
1) A pastors role is to do such things. Paul charged Timothy, “Preach the word.” One cannot preach the word unless one knows the word. I know some think it to be un-spiritual and denying the work of the Holy Spirit to study the Bible in preparation to teach it. Yet the astonishment is in scripture to ‘study to show yourself to be an approved workman who need not be ashamed.’
I see so many pastors and people training pastors pointing guys to the leadership books. Time spent reading the Scriptures and a good hermenutics book would serve a lot of pastors better than the latest John Maxwell book on leadership. Spending time with the God of the Bible while in his word will make you a better pastor. It made Ezra a better leader, it will make you a better pastor, and most importantly it will make you more aware of the living word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Study the word.
2) Do the word. Keep it. Jesus says if you love me you’ll keep my commandments. That isn’t a burden laboring over your head meant to enslave you. No one is justified by works of the law. We are justified by the finished work of Christ who kept the law perfectly and upon his saving grace gives us his righteousness. He gives us the power to do the word of the Lord. Pastor, Preacher, Christian, God has revealed his word for our good. Doing things his way is always best for us and most glorifying to him.
Before you are concerned with leading the people of God according to the word, you need to be keeping the word of God in your own life. Don’t rely on your experience of a Christian. All the books in your library aren’t going to make you holy. Your academics aren’t sanctifying power (though God probably used it to sanctify you). Pastor preach the word to yourself. Christian preach the word to yourself. Abide in the word. Dwell in it. In it are the words of life. Don’t just preach it, believe it. Don’t just say you believe the Bible is the word of God, but live like it. Pray God helps you to trust his word and grow in your understanding of it for the sake of glorifying his great name in all you do. Be in the word, do the word.
A lot of voices will guide you on how to lead the people of God. You can be a part of this group, that denomination, this blogging co-op, or such and such driven, but if you aren’t shepherding as an under-shepherd according to his ways, you are headed for trouble. Be lead as you lead.
3) Teach the word of God to the people of God.
Ezra studied to teach the word of God to the people of God. This is your job pastor. If you aren’t studying and teaching the Bible to your people you aren’t fulfilling your duties. Preach it to them on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday evenings, Saturday men’s breakfasts. Pray the word when you are with your people. When you are visiting your people let your words be sprinkled with the truth of God. Proclaiming the truth of God’s word to your people certainly is a priority when you stand (or sit) to teach. Yet it goes beyond that. Teach in all the ways you shepherd the flock of God. As you study the word and keep the word you’ll preach it with your life. Set it upon your heart, study the word, do the word, and teach the word. God help us to love you and your people.