If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Genesis 7, Matthew 7, Ezra 7, Acts 7. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Matthew 7:24-27 AND Ezra 7:1-10.
As Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, he left us with a memorable image. Two homes were built. One was built on a rock foundation, the other was built on sand. Both homes were beaten by rough weather. The one founded on the rock remained; the one with a sandy foundation was not only damaged; it was completely destroyed. Each house corresponds to a type of person. Both types of people heard the message of Jesus. It was not a question of ignorance versus knowledge. Both had the knowledge they needed. No, the difference is that one type of person “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” The other type of person hears the words, too, but never acts in obedience to them. His destruction came from disobedience, not from ignorance.
We need to be continually reminded of this warning because we easily deceive ourselves into thinking that knowledge is enough. If we know God’s word, we think our lives will be rock solid. Temptations may come, trials may blow, but knowing God’s word will carry us through, right? No. We often succumb to temptation or lose our way in trials because we have not obeyed God’s word. Obedience to God’s word is what builds a stable life. Knowledge is important, but not enough.
Interestingly, Ezra lived out the teachings of Christ long before Jesus even lived. In Ezra 7:10 we read, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” “Observance” in this translation isn’t the greatest word choice. What Ezra did was obey the Law he was learning. So notice the progression. First, he devoted himself to studying God’s word (which is like hearing the sayings of Jesus), then he obeyed the laws he had studied (just as Jesus commanded us to “put them into practice.)” THEN Ezra taught God’s word to others. All of us who hear God’s word (or read it!) need to be obedient to it next if we are going to have a spiritual life that thrives. All of us who teach God’s word need to first cultivate a thriving spiritual life through obedience. This is how to withstand the temptations and problems in life with your faith and your life in tact.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.