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ASK Leaders June 4

June 4:  Ezra Read the Law
Bible Passage: 
Ezra 7-10; Nehemiah 8
Christ Connection:  The Bible teaches us about God and Jesus.  It helps us know the right things to do.  We do wrong things, but God can help us want to obey Him.  Jesus died to rescue us from sin.
Bottom Line:  I learn how to obey God from the Bible.

Leader Study:  Find 1 John 1:9 in your Bible and read it slowly two or three times. Many Christians are familiar with these words; perhaps you have them memorized. We agree that God wants us to confess our sins to Him. We believe that God is faithful to forgive His children by the blood of Jesus. But do you find it easy to confess your sin to God? If not, why? Do you believe the lie that keeping quiet about our sin will prevent God from knowing about it? In Ezra 9, leaders approached Ezra and declared to him the grim reality of the people of Judah who were caught up in devious behavior and lifestyles. Following the second return of exiles to Jerusalem, the men of Judah began to intermarry with foreign women again. It was as if they had completely forgotten God. Ezra’s response of honest confession before a holy God ought to teach us something about his character and about our need to do likewise. First, Ezra stood before God and the faithful of Judah, and he cried out before the Lord. Ezra didn’t point fingers as he went before God. He didn’t shift the blame or use the chance to gossip about others in his community. Ezra did precisely what we see later recorded in 1 John 1:9: he confessed his sin to God. Ezra truly believed that it was right to bring his sin and the sin of his community before God, to lay it all out before the Lord and to seek God’s forgiveness by faith and repentance. And not only did Ezra see the good of confession, he found reason to celebrate as he did. Read Ezra 9:13. Ezra recognized the necessity of confession and then celebrated that God’s grace was still enough, still active, and still effective toward His people. Ezra took his sin seriously and confessed it before a holy God. And Ezra confessed with hope that the God he had sinned against had been gracious and would continue to be so. When we bring our sin before God, let us do so with humility rooted in our deep need for God and confidence grounded in our understanding of His amazing grace.
Small Group Plans
  • After the walls were rebuilt, Ezra wanted to study God’s Word and teach it to the people.
  • When Ezra read God’s Word, the people loved God more and changed their ways.
  • We study the Bible not just to learn, but to know how to live our lives.
  • When we learn something new about God or from God, it changes how we live.
  • Bottom Line:  I learn how to obey God from the Bible.

Discussion Questions
  • When Ezra returned to Jerusalem he learned that the people had disobeyed God and sinned. How did Ezra feel when he learned of the people’s sin? [Allow responses.] Ezra was so sad that he began crying. As the people gathered around Ezra, they cried over their sin too. They felt sorry they sinned against God and cried out to Him for forgiveness.
  • Can you think of a time you felt sorry for your sin? What did you do? Answers will vary. Remind the kids that Ezra and the people had the right response toward their sin. Discuss how they wept over their sin, repented, and read God’s Word. Encourage kids to take these same steps when they sin.
  • What happened with Ezra read the Word of the Lord to the people?  [Allow responses.]   The people listened closely to the Word and they loved God more and changed their ways.
  • Why is it important for us to read and know the Word of God?  Discuss how the Bible does tell us bad news: that we are sinners. Remind kids that it also tells us good news: that we can be saved from our sin through Jesus. Encourage kids to find joy in reading God’s Word, knowing that God wants them to believe in and follow Him.
  • What changes does God want us to make when we hear His Word?  [Allow responses.]  He wants us to give us our full attention and hear from Him so that we do what He says.   Every time we learn from the Bible, you have another opportunity to obey God.  If God’s Word says to do something, then do it.  If it says not to do something, then stop what you are doing.
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