Summary: What do we need to know about God’s Word in order to be skillful in living a Christian life as well as helping others in their journey of faith?
Mining for Gold in the Word of God
INTRODUCTION: Have you ever tried to draw a straight line? What happened? Did it come out crooked? What would help you to do a better job? A yardstick, a ruler? Yes, a ruler can help you to measure things accurately, and you can use it as a guide to draw a straight line.
In the Old Testament there was a man who made the Word of God his ruler. He measured his life by it, and when he applied that ruler and made it his way of life, it helped him to live like God wanted him to live. His name was Ezra.
Ezra was a Jewish exile in Babylon, and he was a man who was called a “Scribe” in those days. He wrote down the Scriptures as the prophets spoke. He was said to have done more to collect and arrange all of the Scriptures and record them than anyone else. Ezra was called a man of “great piety and zeal.” What that mean was that he focused on the things of God, and it was a priority to him to do so. He put God and the Scriptures first in his life every day. We could call his attention to the Scriptures, “Mining for Gold in the Word of God” because the truths he found were like gold or treasure that had great value in helping him to live as God wanted him to live.
It is important for us to learn how to “mine for gold” that is in God’s Word just like Ezra did. How do we do this? Ezra gave us some tips. Let’s look at five things.
1. He Prepared His Heart: Ezra opened his heart to receive the nuggets of truth from God. He prepared his heart to listen for and receive what God wanted to say to him each day. He was open to believe what God told him.
Sometimes we cannot receive because we are talking in church and not paying attention when the Word is being taught, and we miss what God is trying to tell us. Sometimes we are daydreaming, sometimes we are thinking about what we are going to do later in the day, or what we are going to have for lunch. Ezra made sure that his heart was prepared first to receive so that not even “a nugget” would be lost. Ezra made sure that he prepared his heart so that no sin would block him from receiving from God. When our hearts are prepared and cleansed ahead of time, a lot of work can be done quickly. Do you make sure that your heart is prepared to receive from God?
2. He Chose to Study: It is said that the Chaldeans were people who studied many writings-- astrology, magic, and other writings of the times. What Ezra chose to study was the law of the Lord. He could have studied anything he wanted to, but he selected the Word of God as his priority. Ezra was saddened to see that the Jewish people had not studied much. Romans 15:4 says that Scripture was written for our learning, and we must study not only to understand the literal meaning of the Scripture but to learn out of it what will do us good.
II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” It requires study in order to do this and Timothy also studied to do this well just as Ezra did.
What do you choose to study? Is it worthwhile? Will it make you a better person? Will it help you to grow in the Lord or will it turn you away from Him. Is what you are studying a productive use of your time--like “pure gold” or is it worthless? Are you just wasting your time?
Ezra made sure that he was selective in what he studied. There are many books we could read. Let us be like Ezra and to select them wisely.
3. Ezra Sought the Law of the Lord: Did you ever get a new magazine and just flip through the pages of it? Sometimes the subscription cards fall out of it. We are just skimming through to see what’s in it. We are not reading it. We may be just looking at the pictures and something catches our eye. We stop and read some and then go on. This is not “mining.” We are told that Ezra sought the law of the Lord. He made it his business to check into what the Scripture said. He searched the Scriptures and sought the knowledge of God. What was God trying to say in this verse? How could he apply it to himself? He spent time reading the Word, thinking about it, clarifying what it meant. He was doing more than merely “flipping the pages.” He would stop on a particular verse and get his “pick” out and mine the nuggets that were deep down below the surface and hidden from sight. He didn’t just get the surface gold. There was a lot more gold to be mined than that, and he sought out the truths that God had for him and treasured them as much as the miner treasured the gold. It is important for us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring these truths out to us as we study the Scriptures. Otherwise they will be overlooked. When Ezra mined the gold, he laid up a treasure so that whenever he needed it, he had it ready to give out to others.