Summary: Ezra is the story of the Jews’ return to Jerusalem after almost a century exile in Babylon. When they returned, all they found were ruins. There was no temple, so the people felt spiritually unplugged. Ezra is a story of how they got plugged in.
Are You Plugged In to Study and Obey God’s Word?
By Dr. David O. Dykes
Over the next three weeks, I will be sharing from the book of Ezra about the importance of being plugged in to the best God has for you this year. Today I want to talk about the importance of being plugged in to a Sunday morning Bible study group.
Someone told me recently the first year they attended Green Acres, they slipped in late and sat up in the back of the balcony. Then they left early so they wouldn’t have to meet anyone. Since then, they’ve joined the church and gotten involved in a SMBS group, and they told me how blessed they are now.
If that’s where you are right now, that’s okay. Maybe you need to come and just check us out. I’m glad we can provide a place where you can be anonymous. But God loves you, and He wants to show you His love through His children–that will happen best when you’re plugged in to a small group Bible Study that meets on Sunday mornings. We have groups that meet at 8:15 and 9:30. Beginning in March, we will also offer Bible Study classes for all ages at 11:00. You’ll be blessed if you are a part of a SMBS group. But don’t take my word for it, listen to a couple of people tell you about the blessing of getting plugged in.
Many of you grew up thinking Sunday School was only for kids–and you still think that. But it’s for teenagers and adults too. That’s one reason why beginning this year we have “officially” changed the name from Sunday School to Sunday Morning Bible Study. I have to chuckle when I say “official” because we never get too “official” around here. We don’t have an “official” dress code. Some people call this room the “Worship Center,” others call it a “sanctuary.” Take your pick. I usually call it “the room where we gather to worship.” ? Once Dr. Bill Streckert jokingly told me he calls it an “auditorium” because in Latin audio means “to listen” and taurus means “bull.” Think about it.
So if you call SMBS “Sunday School,” we aren’t going to ask one of the policemen to escort you off the campus. What you call something is not nearly important as what you do about it. You may call it an “itch” or you may call it an “dermatological irritation” but you still have to scratch it! It doesn’t matter what you call, it as long you get plugged in to a group of people studying the Bible on Sunday mornings.
The book of Ezra is the story of the Jews when returned to Jerusalem after almost a century of being exiles in Babylon (modern day Iraq). When they returned, all they found were ruins. There was no temple, so the people felt spiritually unplugged. It’s a story of how they got plugged in. Let’s read beginning in 3:1:
“When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people ASSEMBLED AS ONE MAN in Jerusalem. The Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, IN ACCORDANCE TO WHAT IS WRITTEN in the law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT IS WRITTEN they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.”
As we think about getting plugged in to God’s best, I want to share with you four important benefits of SMBS.
1. S.M.B.S. IS THE BEST PLACE TO PLUG IN FOR: STUDY (3:1-4; 7:10)
The scripture says the people made a commitment to live according to God’s Word. Ezra has often been called the first Sunday School teacher in the Bible because we read in Ezra 7:10, “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws.” For us, SMBS is a place where we can learn to live according to God’s Word.
The first thing the Jews did was to lay the foundation of the altar. Every good builder will tell you if a building has a weak foundation, it will settle, and the walls will crack. In Matthew 7, Jesus said your life must be built upon the foundation of hearing and obeying His Word. He said if a person doesn’t live a life according to God’s Word, he is like a house built upon sand. When the storms of life come, that life will crumble and crack. The only way to survive life’s hurricanes is build your life upon the solid foundation of God’s Word.