Bible Devotion Week 1
We are almost a through our first week of 2024. How is it going so far? One person in the Bible Reading Group (which you can find in the app) asked, “Why does M’Cheyne start one of his sections in Ezra?” We get starting in Genesis and Matthew and Acts, but why Ezra? It is an excellent question because most of us never pay attention to the books of Ezra or Nehemiah. The first six chapters of Ezra detail events prior to Ezra’s own story. It isn’t until chapter 7 that we learn who he was by the way King Artaxerxes addresses him, “Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the LORD and His statutes to Israel” (Ezra 7:11). The author of Ezra describes him as a man who “set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to pracitce it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
M’Cheyne may have started in Ezra because it is one of the great “new beginnings” of the Scriptures. The people of God have returned from their long exile. The temple will be restored and worship of God will once again happen in the place where God’s glory had dwelt (2 Chr. 5:11-14). Maybe he started in Ezra because it begins in the ruins of former glory. Perhaps 2023 was not your year. It was filled with sorrows, trials, and pain. Ezra reminds us that God’s people are familiar with trauma. His book also reminds us that God is faithful and can rebuild on the ruined landscape of our lives. Maybe he started in Ezra so that we would quickly learn of this man who loved the Word of God, who was described as someone who “set his heart to study the law…and to practice it.” As we read the Bible together this year, let us not only study it but practice what we learn. Let us commit ourselves to pursue holiness the way Ezra did, to preach boldly to all we come across like Peter in the opening chapters of Acts, to walk as Jesus walked in the gospels, and to live by faith like Noah.
I wanted to share a brief prayer I have been reciting before I being reading. Maybe it will help you. I pray Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” I then pray this prayer from the Valley of Vision:
O God of Truth, I thank thee for the holy Scriptures. In them may I learn more of Christ, be enabled to retain his truth and have grace to follow it. Help me to gain profit by what I read, as treasure beyond all treasure, a fountain which can replenish my dry heart, its waters flowing through me as a perennial river on-drawn by thy Holy Spirit.