Monthly Archives: November 2015

Genesis 3.15

Title: His Story in Ancient History: Promised from the Beginning of Time

Text: Genesis 3.1-15

CIT: God had a plan from the beginning of time to redeem mankind.

CIS: Christmas isn’t just about the birth of Christ. It’s the understanding that God had a plan to redeem us since the beginning. The Cradle, and The Cross, were all a part of the plan of God.

Introduction: I’d like to leave Ezra-Nehemiah for a few weeks and focus on the Christmas story. If you tell me ‘no,’ I’m going to be in trouble! There is an idea – a story line that has bounced around in my head for a few years. This past summer I actually had time to work through the idea and bring it in the form of a sermon series. I’m calling it: His Story, as in History. My understanding is that this word comes from the German language. It’s broken down from History to His Story. I’m breaking it down like this:

  • Promised from the Beginning – His Story in Ancient History. Gen 3.1-24
  • Prepared Throughout History – His Story in the Old Testament. Matthew 1.1-17
  • Proclaimed Unexpectedly – His Story Announced. Matthew 1.18-25
  • Arrived at the Right TimeHis Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12

We begin with the Fall. We begin with the Fall because God’s had a plan from the beginning. It wasn’t something he came up with because Adam and Eve messed things up. No. If you focus on Adam and Eve, then you miss what God is doing. This isn’t their story – It’s His Story!

Gen 1 – a beautiful story of creation; Gen 2 – a picture of perfection in the garden. All is well! Genesis 3 – the fall. What a mess! Yes, a mess. And, all would seem hopeless if not for a closer look; At least at first glance…

In Gen 3.1-7, the Fall of Man is recorded. The Garden must have been the most wonderful human experience.

  • Adam and Eve had an incredible relationship with the animals.
  • Caring for the garden must have been a pleasure – no weeds, no scarecrows, no sprinkler systems to maintain, no problems.
  • Walking and talking with God in the Garden in the cool of the day…sharing every intimate detail of life with God.
  • No sin to separate them.

But then, in one small moment in time, all was lost. God appears in v. 8 – but not by sight, only by sound; rd v 8; heard, hid from the presence; rd v 9-10; Adam still hiding, only hearing – not seeing; rd v 11-13; they blame, they confess; And then – curses; you actually see the word in v 14; cursed are you, in v 17 cursed is the ground;

Yes, at this point, it would all seem so hopeless; But there is more to this story than just the fall and the curses. It is found in what God says in v. 14-15; rd 14-15; enmity – hostility; once again, there was a different world inside the garden. There was no hostility between the humans and the animals. There was no hostility between humans and the world of the spiritual. Now, there would be enmity – look at v 15; between your offspring (seed) and her offspring (seed). This is the topic I would like to focus on for the rest of this message: Who is or who are these offspring (seed)? And what’s more, what implication does it all have for us? I need at this point to identify three men I’ve leaned on heavily to answer these questions:

  • James Hamilton, professor at SBTS and senior pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church, Louisville, KY and
  • H. Spurgeon – that great pastor and scholar from the 19th Century, and another pastor – a contemporary of Spurgeon,
  • Stuart Robinson – pastor, scholar in the 1800’s.

Hamilton identifies for certain lenses we use when focusing on the O.T. In Starting Points we call them filters: Here I will put on these lenses, these filters—lenses that assume that the OT is:

  1. A messianic document,
  2. Written from a messianic perspective,
  3. Written to sustain a messianic hope.

With these filters in mind, let’s look at this question of the offspring. When we read this passage, the question that arises concerns the numeric value of the seed: is it collective or singular? Is it a people or a person? The simplest answer is ‘yes’.

ill.: Often times in Scripture we find prophecy and are left with the question of whether it was for this person or another person or even a people as a whole, say Israel. Confusion has ensued when prophets or scholars have tried to limit the understanding of that prophecy to one answer. A great illustration is Psalm 16.10. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Who is this author talking about, Himself? Or another? Answer: yes. The author is King David and he’s was talking about himself, in that God protected him in spite of Saul’s attempts to kill him. God protected him and kept him alive. But, it is also a prophecy about Jesus: Acts 13.35ff. 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

app.: This is a great teaching lesson for us. Let the NT be a commentary for us. If you don’t understand a portion of Scripture, see if the NT refers to it. You’ll see how they interpret that passage based upon the commentary of the N.T. Writers.

In doing research on this question, I came across a blog that referenced a work by a certain pastor, Stuart Robinson, a reformed pastor in Louisville, KY in the 1800’s. The blog is by Nicolas T. Blatzig; I found the book in the Google Library. On pg 65, Robinson gives a great commentary on this passage – Gen 3.15:

Thus it will be seen, on careful analysis of these words, and deducing the truths embodied by implication in them, that they set forth these eight points of the gospel creed.

  1. That the Redeemer and Restorer of the race is to be man, since he is to be the seed of the woman. So, he is a man – fully man.
  2. That he is, at the same time, to be a being greater than man, and greater even than Satan; since he is to be the conqueror of man’s conqueror, and, against all his efforts, to recover a sinful world which man had lost; being yet sinless, he must therefore be divine. So, he is also God – fully God.
  3. That this redemption shall involve a new nature, at “enmity” with the Satan nature, to which man has now become subject. – This new nature means that we’re all sinners, always struggling against Satan’s rule.
  4. That this new nature is a regeneration by Divine power; since the enmity to Satan is not a natural emotion, but, saith Jehovah, ” I will put enmity,” &c. – This is God’s doing, it’s His work.
  5. This redemption shall be accomplished by vicarious suffering; since the Redeemer shall suffer the bruising of his heel in the work of recovery.
  6. That this work of redemption shall involve the gathering out of an elect seed a ” peculiar people” at enmity with the natural offspring of a race subject to Satan.
  7. That this redemption shall involve a perpetual conflict of the peculiar people, under its representative head, in the effort to bruise the head of Satan, that is, ” to destroy the works of the Devil.”
  8. This redemption shall involve the ultimate triumph, after suffering, of the woman’s seed; and therefore involves a triumph over death and a restoration of the humanity to its original estate, as a spiritual in conjunction with a physical nature, in perfect blessedness as before its fall.

Such, then, is the gospel theology here revealed, in germ, through the very terms of the curse pronounced upon the destroyer of the race. It will be seen that here are all the peculiar doctrines of salvation, by grace, which every Christian accepts, who exercises the faith which is unto salvation. And in the broader and higher sense of the terms, Moses, as truly as Mark at the opening of his evangel, might have prefixed to this third chapter of Genesis the title,” The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”

Transition: Spurgeon would have Amened Robinson at this point. Dated about the same time, is a sermon from Spurgeon on Genesis 3.15 and in that Sermon he lists 4 facts about the Gospel found in Genesis 3.15.

I.     The Facts as outlined in Gen 3.15

exp.: Spurgeon’s facts: I sound a bit like a lawyer…

  1. Enmity was effected by God: God said: I will put…God is the one who put all of this into effect. He brought about the division – the enmity between the woman and the serpent; He created a new nature, one subject to ruler of the prince of darkness; and he made a plan for the redemption; there was nothing that Adam and Eve could do to repair the damage done. It would take a work of God. That work would be accomplished in her seed – A champion, as Spurgeon calls him.
  2. A Champion was now coming: indeed, he is now promised! I will put enmity between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise or he shall crush your head. The writer of Hebrews records in 2.14 –14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

exp.: This work will include enmity between the seeds – his seed (Satan’s) and her’s. A question arises here that causes one to wonder: is the seed seen as a collective and as in individual. The Answer is yes. Like Psalm 16.10 mentioned earlier – this prophecy is seen in both. Let’s look at these two for a moment:

  1. The seed as a collective – the people of Israel in the O.T. and the people of God in Christ in the church age.
  2. The seed as an individual – that is, the Messiah, Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

I’m grateful for the work of James Hamilton in this area of the collective seed. In his paper The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3.15, Hamilton identifies Old Testament passages that fit the prophecy, with the idea that Israel, a the collective ‘seed’ of the woman is ‘bruised’ at times, but crushes the head of their enemy – the philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites, etc.

  1. David & Goliath: You know the story… 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. A skull crushing victory.
  2. Debra & Barak – go with me, the victory will be given to a woman, Sisera fled to the tent of Jael. Do you remember what Jael did? 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. A skull crushing victory.
  • Hamilton notes that sometimes the skull crushing was of an individual enemy like those mentioned above. At other times, the prophecy is fulfilled in the crushing of a king, the head of another people. Or, another people who are ‘head’ of another people. And those people, those kings might be the physical seed of Abraham, but were obviously enemies of Yahweh; Isaiah 7.1-14.
  1. So, Which is it? Yes, it is both; Paul used both the collective and the individual in his letters
    1. Furthermore, Paul uses it in both terms:
      1. Rom 16.20 – 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
      2. Gal 3.16 – 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Transition: Fact #3…

  1. This Champion will be wounded. The Scripture reads – He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The Champion will suffer a major blow – one that even appears to be fatal. But, He shall prevail. Satan will do his worst on this Champion.

Please allow me the liberty to quote freely from Spurgeon’s Sermon. It is most eloquent and poetic. Spurgeon writes:

Do you need that I explain this? You know how all His life long His heel, that is, His lower part, His human nature, was perpetually being made to suffer. He carried our sicknesses and sorrows. But the bruising came mainly when both in body and in mind His whole human nature was made to agonize; when His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death, and His enemies pierced His hands and His feet—and He endured the shame and pain of death by crucifixion.

Look at your Master and your King upon the cross, all stained with blood and dust! There was His heel most cruelly bruised! When they take down that precious body, and wrap it in fair white linen and in spices, and lay it in Joseph’s tomb, they weep as they handle that casket in which the Deity had dwelt, for there, again, Satan had bruised His heel. It was not merely that God had bruised Him, “though it pleased the Father to bruise Him.”

But the devil had let loose Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Jews and the Romans, all of them his tools, upon Him whom he knew to be the Christ, so that He was bruised of the old serpent. That is all, however! It is only His heel, not His head which is bruised! For lo, the Champion rises again! The bruise was not mortal nor continual. Though He dies, yet so brief is the interval in which He slumbers in the tomb that His holy body does not see corruption, and He comes forth perfect and lovely in His manhood, rising from His grave as from a refreshing sleep after a long day of toil!

Oh the triumph of that hour! As Jacob only halted on his thigh when he overcame the angel, so did Jesus only retain a scar on His heel, and that He bears to the skies as His glory and beauty! Before the throne He looks like a lamb that has been slain, but in the power of an endless life, He lives unto God.

Transition: Fact #1: Enmity was put into effect by God. #2 – A Champion was coming. #3 – This Champion would be wounded. #4…

  1. This Champion will mortally defeat Satan. Spurgeon: He crushes the head of the serpent in fatal effect! Here is a picture of a snake biting the heel of a person. You would think that to be a fatal blow. And, at first, it might appear that way. But, in the course of the serpent effecting his blow upon the heel, the heel then crushes the head of the serpent – bringing victory! What the woman and the man in the Garden once destroyed has now been restored in the seed. Death has been conquered. Sin has been atoned for.

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in Genesis 3.15. God makes a promise and he has kept his promise. You might think in all of this found in Gen 3.14-17 that Adam and Eve would mumble – blame each other – lash out at God, but look instead at the result in 20-21.

II.    The Result (20-21)

exp.: rd v 20;

  1. Adam acts in Faith – he believed God! rd v 20, he named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all living; we should be spurred to faithfulness in this! Here is a man who has rebelled against his creator. This man has believed the deceiver and rejected God’s will for his life. He is standing before God listening to God speak out what will be. He could have murmured and mumbled at his wife for the situation they now must endure. But he doesn’t. He sees the promises of God and acts in faith – he acts like he believes God and he calls his wife by the name she will live up to – the mother of all living.
  2. God acts in Mercy – rd v 21; he made garments or clothing of skins; why? Because they were naked. Adam would no longer have to say, “I am naked.” God covered his shame.

Transition: Oh, friend – would you respond to the mercy of God today like Adam did? Would you act out what you believe in your heart, that Christ, the Champion came and conquered and lives again victoriously. And in his death he washed away your sin – the sin that has separated you from your God. Yes, Adam and Eve’s actions put us in this place – But our champion, Christ Jesus has come to set us free.

Challenges:

  1. This Christmas season – read this verse as an entrance to the Christmas Story
    1. Tell your family about the fall and the promise.
    2. Share of the plan throughout history to bring us Salvation.
  2. Put Adam and Eve in your Nativity Set this Christmas. Use the leaves to cover them or better yet, cover them with animal skins. Then when people ask…
  3. Make an ornament out of a leaf. Use cloth. Take an ornament ball and fill it with leaves. Be creative.
  4. Share the story of Christmas beginnings with others as an opportunity to witness.
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Ezra 8

Title: Expressing your Gratitude through Worship in Acknowledgment of the Mercy of God.

Text: Ezra 8.1-36

CIT: The Exiled Jews return to their homeland by the faithfulness of God and hard work. Their return culminates in a time of worship and celebration.

CIS: We learn invaluable tactics and lessons on leadership and performance as we watch Ezra lead his people in the return from the exile.

Introduction: Numbers 3 & 4; recording?

When I was a youth pastor in Cotulla, I had one of my teens approach me to interview me about Baptism. In the moment, I was able to explain what baptism is all about and offer my own definition. It’s so good, I’ve often wondered if I thought it up myself in that moment, or, if I borrowed it and claimed it as my own! I didn’t even realize it until he gave me his paper and asked me to proof it. In his paper he quoted me as defining baptism as: An external expression of an internal experience. I’ve continued to use it through the years and have even seen it expressed in these exact words at various times and in various ways. That’s why I think it was never original – but I claim it nonetheless!

An external expression of an internal experience… If you think about it, that definition could be used with other words, too. Like worship.

What about Giving Thanks? Sure, you can feel it inside, but isn’t it truly noticed when expressed externally?

We’re going to look at a people who come together in worship to externally express their gratitude for God’s faithfulness to them in Ezra Ch. 8.

I’ve taken the liberty to break down chapter 8 into three main sections with multiple subsections under each heading.

  1. The People who Return with Ezra
  2. The Preparations for The Long Journey
  3. The Project is seen through to Completion

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st section…

I.     The People who Return with Ezra (1-14)

exp.: rd v 1;

  • only listed names are ‘heads’ of the family;
  • 2nd is genealogy;
  • the particular caravan – evidently there were more during other reigns. This one is the one led by Ezra in the reign of Artaxerxes;

The purpose is to identify the three parts to this list:

  1. Descendants of the Priests in v 2
  2. Descendant of Royalty in v 2b-3a
  3. The Laity in 3b-14

Let’s look closer now:

  1. The Priests in v 2; two lines going back to the High Priest
    1. Phinehas (not Eli’s son) Grandson to Aaron, son of Eleazar
    2. Ithamar, brother of Eleazar, sons of Aaron
  2. Royalty in v 2b-3a;
    1. David, through Solomon to Shecaniah; 1 Chron 3.1(10)-22
  3. The Laity in 3b-14

exp.: rd v 15; uh-oh, Houston, we have a problem: no Levites. I wonder, why is that a problem. Do we really need Levites to go back to Jerusalem to work in the Temple? We do if we’re going to be obedient to God’s commands. Numbers 3.1-13; Numbers 4.1-4; Ezra is sharp! He knows this. The Levites serve in the Temple area. They serve the High Priests who have duties of their own. The Levites must guard the precious items of the Temple.

Ill.: Do you remember the story of David, going out to retrieve the ark, which had been returned by the Philistines? They have it on this cart, and they’re celebrating what God has done. Truly amazing, a miracle that only God could have accomplished. The ark is resting on this cart that’s moving along when it hits a bump. The ark begins to fall over and Uzzah reaches out his hand to steady the ark. The moment he touches it, God kills him. David learned a valuable lesson that Day – a lesson that Ezra seems to be very much aware of: Don’t mistreat the things of God. Don’t handle the holy things of God as if they were common!

So, Ezra remedies the problem – rd v 16-20; v 20 – these were all mentioned by name. This list is a shorter, abbreviated, emphasized list. Another list is kept of all the names. These names are provided for a reason, but why? Here’s what I think: Ezra wants us to see the parallel between the Exodus and the return from Exile.

The Exodus: The Exile
The 12 Tribes The 12 “Heads of Family”
The Levitical Uprising: Don’t want to do their job

Numbers 16

The Levites are Missing: Don’t want to do their job
   

Before we leave this section, there is something interesting to note: Ezra 7.9; 1st day, 1st month, 7th year the journey began; they camped out on the canal for three days in 8.15; they fasted to seek God; then in v 31, it says they departed on day 12; so, between days 4 and 11 these roughly 40 men and their families, along with 220 temple servants were summoned to return to the land, made the decision to go, packed up their belongings, and with their families set out for Jerusalem. Day 4 to day 11 would be one week!

Transition: But before they set out… they must make final preparations – that’s point #2

II.    The Preparations for the Long Journey (21-30)

exp.: vs 21-30 show two aspects of this preparation; the 1st aspect of this preparation is spiritual; rd 21;

  1. Spiritual Preparation: look at the elements involved in spiritual preparation –
    1. Public Proclamation: when people fast together, a public proclamation should be made. I think this is great for accountability and encouragement.
    2. Proper Perspective: Humble ourselves before God; nothing helps your attitude more than to catch a glimpse of who God is in his Greatness and who you are in your smallness. Fasting is a great way to do this. Fasting is the denial of the physical appetite while placing a focus on your spiritual needs. It isn’t so you can make God do something for you, but rather it is a time to focus in on God’s agenda. That is really what prayer is: a surrendering of oneself to the will of God. I used to think that prayer was to get God to do something for me – give me what I wanted. Now I see that prayer – especially through fasting – changes me, not God.
    3. Petition: to seek from him a safe journey. Seeking – I think it is good to acknowledge that you are in need and, that need can only be provided for by him. …for ourselves, our children, our goods. Rd 22; this verse cracks me up, because we’re so like that as humans. We want to witness to the world with our words about how awesome and powerful God is. And then, when it comes time to trust him, we don’t, we want to run to the king. Rd v 23; and he listened to our entreaty. HCSB: He granted our request.

Ill.: I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage: Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you. And this leads us to the 2nd part of preparation – working like it all depends on you…

  1. Physical Preparation; rd v 24
    1. He sets apart the Leadership; This is wise on the part of Ezra. Consider there will be roughly 3,000 people on this journey. It would be like packing up Bullard and moving to Greenville, S.C. – without the aid of movers! No United Moving vans! Ezra needs help. He needs strong leadership: so he picks 12 leaders. Sound familiar. Much like the Exodus.
    2. He divvies up the work; he assigns portions to each group: rd v 25a, 26a, I weighed out to them; I weighed out into their hand. Next, he makes probably his most important move:
    3. He gives them a proper perspective of what they’re in charge of: rd v 28; you are holy, the vessels are holy; these belong to the Lord. This is a great application. When you serve in ministry – that ministry is the Lord’s. Those are his items. That is his money you’re counting. You are holy as are the devoted things.

ill.: I think some folks have characterized the God of the O.T. as mean – killing people even. Well, we gain a great understanding of this as we read: touch not the devoted things! When money is given to God, it is His. We must care for those items – things if you will, that are devoted to Him.

4.  He gives them clearly defined tasks; rd v 29; Guard, keep – until you’re in the chambers of the house of the Lord!

5.  He lets them do their job: rd v 30;

ill.: Lisa and running the game at rec. time. Do you want to do this or do you want me to do this?

app.: this was always hard for me when I was young. In one of my very first ministry trips, a young lady volunteered to find us a place to stay. She was from the town we were going to stay in. She was friends with a couple of youth pastors there and was sure she would find us a place to stay. If I recall correctly, I spent the last couple of days trying to find us a place to stay. Sometimes, you’ve got to let your leadership fail. It’s a great teaching time. More times than not, they’re going to come through – especially if you let them do their job.

Transition: we move to the final section of our passage this morning in v 31-36…

III.   The Project is Seen Through to Completion (31-36)

exp.: a list of who they are 1-20; then this is a list of what they do in v 21-30; Now we come to the completion of their journey. Rd v 31-32; There is nothing recorded for the 900 miles they traveled. How do 3,000 people caravan that far together? 100 days at 900 miles is about 9 miles a day on average. There is a lot of time that passes and a lot of happenings. I mentioned earlier that it would be like packing up the folks of Bullard, TX and relocating them to Greenville, South Carolina! Do you think nothing happened during that journey? Nothing is recorded – only rd 31b. Does this mean that No one ambushed or no one attacked them? Or, does it mean ruffians and bandits did attack them and God protected them? I don’t know – only that God delivered them safely to their destination. If you go back to chapter 7, you’ll read that they arrived on the 1st day of the 5th month. It’s kind of like they left January 12th and got there on May 1st. Nearly 4 full months. It takes three days for the Temple to be ready to receive what’s been brought. Rd v 33; Here is really a 6th assignment when working with people.

6.  He holds them accountable. They weighed out their portions. Rd v 34;

Finally,

7.  They celebrate a job well done. They praise God for his goodness, for his faithfulness in all of this. They worship and celebrate God for all he has done. Rd 35-36;

It is good to give thanks to God for all that he has accomplished. Yes, we work like it all depends on us, be we know that through our prayers, God has been working. I like what Paul says in Phil 1: 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance… And when that deliverance comes, it is appropriate to give thanks – to celebrate God’s faithfulness.

Transition: So what are our take-a-ways…

Observations & Implications:

  1. God blesses the work that seeks to honor him through faith. For Ezra, we see him seeking God’s protection and blessing in their journey. He put his trust in power of God and not in the strength of men.
  2. God is honored and glorified through godly leadership. It’s important to put the right people in the right places of service.
  3. God is honored and glorified through the service of faithful workers. Did you notice that there is more than 5 times as many servants/workers than there are leaders? The workers are as important as the leaders.
  4. God is honored when we place our trust in him to protect and provide for our families and our service.
  5. God is honored when we display integrity in our service to him. How the church has suffered scorn and ridicule whenever his people rob the church. How many times we have faced embarrassment as staff members and accountants and those put in charge of the finances have skimmed the coffers to line their own purses and bank accounts? God is not honored in those instances. But, God is honored when we display integrity in our service to him.

Pray

Invitation to respond…

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James 1.2-12

Title: Steadfastness In Trials

Text: James 1.2-11

Introduction: James, the brother of Jesus writes to the Jews scattered abroad. His letter is about faith being lived out. I think that really comes through in our study tonight. Let’s begin with a question:

  1. How one should respond to Trials? (1.2)

exp.: read v 2; Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds; Count – means lead or guide; Luke 22.26; the 2nd meaning is consider or regard or think; here, count. Also, esteem might be a good word. use that with lead or guide. Someone who is a leader or guides others is someone who is esteemed, held in high regard, considered or well thought of. That’s the idea behind this word – hold joy in high regard when you meet trials of various kinds.

Transition: the next question would naturally be: why? Why hold it high, why be joyful in trials? What do these trials bring?

  1. Why? What do trials bring to your life? (1.3-4)

exp.: rd v 3; for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Steadfast bookends; rd v 12; in v 2-3; also trials; so the theme here would be remaining steadfast in trials; and the reason is because of the outcome: maturity; rd v 4; And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. See the words full and perfect; same word in the Greek. It means to finish, like a goal or the end of a race; you’ve run the course and you’re finished; Hence full, I like complete. There isn’t anymore to do. As for the word complete, my lexicon says: “a qualitative term (think quality over quanity), with integrity, whole, complete, undamaged, intact, blameless πίστις undiminished faith…”

app.: trials have benefit – they produce steadfastness in your faith, which in turn brings about a sense of fullness, perfection, completeness in your faith (think quality, not quantity). The word I used, but you don’t see in the text is maturity – a mature faith.

Ill.: Elsie Snyder: we had just finished a rather tough business meeting. I apologized to her for the hard times we were going through and she said: we’ve been through much tougher times than these.

Transition: I know we don’t like trials of various kinds; however, there is a great benefit to enduring them – growth in your faith. Let’s look at this next section in v 5-8; rd v 5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. It sounds like he’s leaving the issue of steadfastness in trials and moving on to something else. But he isn’t, not really. I believe he’s answering another question:

  1. How do we handle trials when we’re in them? (1.5-9)

exp.: Yes, count it all joy when you’re in them. Understand that they produce a strong, mature faith. This takes wisdom, and, if you’re in a struggle, a trial, and you’re lacking the wisdom to push forward, ask for it. It’s like he’s saying – be steadfast in trials because they’re going to make you more mature in your faith. And if you have trouble seeing it, ask God for the wisdom to show you. The Greek is much more poetic than the English: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask the giving God who is generous to all without reproach… Now isn’t that beautiful? The Giving God. Do you look at God like that? Like, he wants to give you what you need to be strong in your faith as you endure trials.

I don’t want to move on from this… let’s dialogue for a moment; what does this do for your faith?

  • If you lack wisdom – Ask for wisdom, and then he says…
  • If you ask for wisdom – Ask in faith… let’s continue reading rd v6;

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I think we see a comparison here: faith v. doubt. Sometimes we see the word doubt as ἄπιστος; but here, the word is διακρίνω: through, because and to judge.

Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.

How much doubt would you say someone has to have before he doesn’t have faith? Mark 9.14-29; What does Matt 14.31 mean? Mt 21.21?

Well, that person – the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.… tossed up and down, in and out, to and fro. But the one with faith…he is steadfast. Rd v 7-8:

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. So this is what we see: A lack of faith reaps nothing. So ask for wisdom believing the giving God for his gift.

Let’s continue with this illustration James gives us; rd v 9-11;

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

exp.: Let me say, I struggled with these verses. What do they mean? One of my favorite preachers, R. Kent Hughes disagrees with me here. But here are my thoughts: I think James is using what we call a ‘paradox’ here: The rich poor guy and the poor rich guy. Actually, he calls the 1st guy a brother. So, who is he talking about? Really, I don’t think the question is who, but rather what. What is he talking about here?

Well, what is the context? Remaining steadfast in trials. So, within the context here, he’s talking about a person, a Christian whose trial is their severe poverty. A person who is poor should ‘boast’ in their highly exalted position. Really? Sounds crazy! Well it is, unless you understand the paradox. This takes wisdom. And if you don’t have wisdom, then ask in faith for it.

The rich poor person should be proud of his exalted position. The focus isn’t on money, but rather, who we are in Christ.

  • Romans 8.17a;
  • Hebrews 12.22-24a;
  • 1 Peter 2.9-10;
  • 1 John 3.1-2;

The rich person, I’m assuming now the context is about the rich person without Christ, they have all they are ever going to get. When they say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” They have no idea the truth to that prophecy. For them, it’s all down hill from there. Do you see the analogy here: rd 10b-11; the rich man hasn’t any hope for the future. Everything he is enjoying now will pass.

Transition: And v 12, brings it all back into context: rd v 12; 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. It is a call to remain steadfast in trials, because we know what our future holds.

So, what are our take-a-ways?

  1. Evaluate your attitude in your current struggle. As for counting it pure joy, how are you doing?
  2. Do you see most of your trials as
    1. Burdens placed on you by God?
    2. Satanic attacks?
    3. Opportunities for growth?
  3. Have you ever referred to God as The Giving God? What terms have you been using?
  4. Which statment identifies your walk better?Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.

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Filed under Faith, James, Purpose, Scripture, W.E.B.S.

Ezra 7

Title: Finding the Favor of God by Fulfilling your Purpose in Life.

Text: Ezra 7

 

Introduction: We’re in chapter 7 of Ezra. The next few sermons will reflect the previous messages on Ezra. In Ezra 1-6, we saw an edict from a king, a return of the people and strong opposition by the inhabitants of the land. In Ezra 7-10 we’ll see much of the same thing: a decree from the King, a return of the people as they face strong opposition.

Let me begin this morning by asking you a question: What is your purpose in life? Let me show you where I’m going with this as you ponder this question: What is your purpose in life? At Calvary, we say our purpose is to develop passionate followers of Christ. Calvary, what is your mission statement? …developing passionate followers of Christ! That’s why we’re here at 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy.

I’m reading a book entitled: 7 men and the secret of their greatness. These 7 men are men who have impressed Eric Metaxes. Show video: Let me tell you about a couple.

  1. George Washington, who had every opportunity to sieze power and become the 1st King of America, but saw a greater purpose for his life. And boy are we blessed today because of his selfless actions.
  2. William Wilberforce, who saw the purpose of his life was the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners. This purpose drove him.
  3. Eric Liddell – missionary to China, Olympic Gold medalist, Chariots of Fire. He died in a concentration camp at the young age of 43 in 1945. Metaxes writes that in 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities revealed that Liddell had refused an opportunity to leave the camp, and instead gave his place to a pregnant woman. He could have been freed. He could have been reunited with his family, yet chose to sacrifice his pleasure for that of a woman in need. Apparently, the Japanese and British, with Churchill’s approval, had agreed upon a prisoner exchange. News of this final act of sacrifice surprised even his family members.
  4. Dietrich Bonheoffer – murdered by the Nazis. He actually fled Europe and made it to America, only to return to face the Nazis, to be imprisoned. He, a pastor, a professor, a mentor to young men, was in the group of men who plotted and planned the assassination of Hitler. A movie was made starring Tom Cruise – Valkyrie.
  5. Jackie Robinson – who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The trial and tribulation he endured is almost unimaginable. Just because his skin was the wrong color.
  6. Pope John Paul II: A truly amazing story.
  7. Chuck Colson: One of my all-time heroes.

Each of these men had purpose. They saw what they were doing gave them purpose – and it drove them. What is even more amazing is that they faced severe trials during it all. Like, God where are you in all of this kinds of trials. And yet they persevered. Today, we’re going to the purpose Ezra had and how it drove him to follow God.

Transition: I’ve outlined this passage, thus –

  1. A Description of Ezra, the Priest
  2. A Decree by Artexerxes, the King
  3. A Doxology of Blessing and Favor

So, let’s begin with the 1st section…

  1.     A Description of The Priest: Ezra (1-11)

exp.: rd v 1a;

  1. He gives a Date (1); in the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia – 465-425 BC; v 7 tells us the 7th year of the king – that’s be 458 (BC); rd v 1b-5;
  2. He is a Descendant of the High priestly line (1-5) – this alone doesn’t determine who he is; it isn’t to make him proud or arrogant (though many High Priests seem to take this line). No, it is to show us that God is faithful. He keeps his promises.

app.: Some of you are from godly stock. Your parents were strong believers and raised you in the church – as did their parents for them – your grandparents. I think that is truly awesome. But that doesn’t make you better than anyone else. Some of you came to Christ without the benefit of godly parents – or godly grandparents. That doesn’t make you any worse. God’s faithfulness is demonstrated though both! Celebrate that and boast in Him. Next,

  1. A Description – rd v 6;
    1. Position: Scribe (6); a lawyer, copied the law. Rd 6b;
    2. Ability: Skilled; Learned (11); this is more than position – a priest; I’m sure there were many men who were priests who were not skilled; But, Ezra knew God’s Word so well that the King knew he knew it.
    3. Leadership: rd v 7-9; The Group & Their Journey (7-9); He takes the time to assemble of team of quality, of men to accomplish this task. If you missed it before: the hand of the Lord was with him in v 6, 9; This has been the desire of my heart – that God’s hand would be with me in this ministry. Will you pray that for me – God, let your good hand be upon our pastor and this ministry. And here is where we see his purpose as expressed in his character; rd v 10a
    4. Character: defined in His Purpose; set his heart: The Law of the Lord (10);

This past week I taught the NT class at Venture and one of our discussions was upon the purpose of Christ in Luke: He set his face toward Jerusalem in 9.51. Time and again, Luke brings the reader back to that purpose. Chapter after Chapter, reminding us as Jesus makes his way toward Jerusalem – and then it culminates in the cry of our Master as he stands on a hillside overlooking Jerusalem. 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Earlier in Luke, as he makes his way to Jerusalem he cries out: 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Christ knew his purpose. And here, Ezra knows his purpose, too: rd 10b; a three-fold purpose

  1. To Study the Torah
  2. To Do it (Obey the Torah)
  • To Teach the Torah

Ill.: in my 1st year as a pastor – 18 years ago, I had came to a point of struggle. I had no idea what I was doing. I had a book from my college days that led me to create a purpose statement for my life. I’ve shared this with you before:

I will strive with skillful hands

To build and equip leaders to accomplish the Great Commission,

By being an example through service,

An effective communicator of God’s Word,

And a faithful and loving husband and father,

As I work daily to conform to the character of Christ.

 

app.: Who you are isn’t determined by your success or failures; who you are is determined by what you do based upon your God given ability given you and the usage of those gifts in your life to fulfill your purpose. The Results: those are God’s. You do – he blesses. You obey – he uses. You give – he accomplishes. You don’t know what God is doing. Your job is to trust. Hold on to what you know – and keep the faith.

I didn’t write out my purpose statement in a few minutes. It took work, re-wording, moving things around. It took thought and input from those around me who I’ve given permission to speak into my life. I want to encourage you to do the same thing. If you have questions, I’ll share my journey. I’m sure I can find the book that helped me. Aubrey Malphurs.

Transition: A description of the priest. 2ndly,

2.     A Decree from The King: Artexerxes (11-26)

exp.: Ok, I say “A Decree” and that’s true, but really, as you read this, you’ll see it as two decrees. The 1st one is v 13-20 and the 2nd one is v 21-26; Now, verse 11 begins this next portion. I added it to the last section because the comments here fit with the previous section: a man learned in matters of the commandments and statutes for Israel. It’s interesting to see how many times the word Torah or the context of the Torah appears in this passage (ch 7):

  • 6 – He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord,…
  • 10 – For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
  • 11 – a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel
  • 12 – the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven.
  • 14 – For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand
  • 21 – Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence,
  • (24), – We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll
  • 25 – all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach.
  • 26 – Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”

exp.: There is a short introduction in v 12 and the Decree is 13-20; The 2nd Decree is outlined in 21-26;

  1. Decree #1 (11-20) – Whosoever may freely go;
  2. Decree #2 (21-26) – How it is to be funded – this is how it is going to be paid for…

Look at the beginning of this 1st Decree: rd v13-14; according to the Law of your God, that is in your hand. You’ll see this again in v 25, at the end of the 2nd Decree; rd v 25; And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand… It’s pretty subtle, but don’t miss this: it really is a sweet comparison – The King, and I’d say Ezra, too, since he’s the writing this out here before us – when Ezra holds the Torah of God in his hand, he has the wisdom of God in his hand, too. Too often we take the O.T and we divide it up into parts. We read Psalms and separate them from the Torah, or the History, or the Apocalyptic portions – like they’re not wisdom liturature. But, Ladies and Gentlemen, this – hold your copy up – Go ahead – this is the wisdom of God, right here in your hand.

Challenge: Teachers, Elders, Deacons, Bible Study Leaders, Missionaries, Staff – look at the end of the 2nd decree: rd 25: 25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. You shall teach them the manifold wisdom of God. That’s my challenge to you: teach the manifold wisdom of God!

ill.: Paul told Timothy: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (Grandma Lois and momma Eunice) 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 3.14-15) Parents, Moms, Dads, Grandparents – teach the manifold wisdom of God to those in your care.

app.: the wisdom of God in your hand! Wisdom, that leads to salvation. Teacher, ask your students if they want to receive Christ and the forgiveness of sin. Teach them of salvation and lead them to it.

This final section is entitled:

3.     A Doxology: Blessing & Favor (27-28)

exp.: Blessed be God…who; look at the work of God:

  1. Who put it on the King’s heart to beautify his Temple… What a great reminder for me that God is in control. Aren’t you glad that God is still in control of this crazy world? I’m reminded when I look at the people running for president… the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord… Proverbs 21.1: The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
  2. Who extended to me his steadfast love… Aren’t you glad for God extending to you his steadfast love? He says to you, what the King said to the Jews – whosoever will, may come!

This thought actually crossed my mind as I read this 1st decree: rd v 13; And now 13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. Whosoever desires to go – may go. And that’s the gospel. Anyone, whosoever desires to come, let him come along with us! Come with me! If you’ve never asked Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and found the promise of heaven…Come!

  1. Transition: In just a moment I’m going to ask Chris to come and lead us in a time of singing. During this time, if you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or you just have questions… come.

That same cry goes out to you today. Freely, heaven has been made available to you. Do you get that? At no cost to you, the price has already been paid in full – all you have to do is receive the free gift of God!

Transition: rd last sentence of v 28: I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Normally, here is where I outline my take-a-ways, but this morning I wish to do things differently. Can I ask you to take courage and respond, if the hand of the Lord is on you now?

If you’ve never asked Christ to come into your life, would you do it now?

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Ezra, Scripture

Ezra 5-6

Title: The Work of God

Text: Ezra 5-6

CIT: The rebuilding begins and the people of the land openly oppose the work by sending a report to the King. The King responds positively by not only supporting the decree of Darius, but by funding the rebuilding.

CIS: The Word of God is prevalent in all of this. His prophets prophesy about it all, encouraging obedience and faithfulness. The exiles return has God had promised. All is restored as God had promised.

Introduction: Our last message in Ezra came from chapter 4 and the theme was: Opposition. The sad news is that opposition will be relentless; Houston’s city ordinance; persecution of pastors; Now it is back to the drawing board for the LGBTQ Community.

Ezra and Nehemiah are about the rebuilding of the Temple and the Rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem – respectively. Ezra, the book we’re in now, is two divided into two parts – two accounts, if you will, of the rebuilding of the Temple: 1-6 and 7-10. We’re currently in chapters 1-6. Chapter four deals with the persecution of Jews in their return from Exile over a period of 80-100 years. Chapters 5 and 6 return to the time period of Chapters 1-3.

Transition: as believers, we will face opposition; it may appear small and in some cases, it may appear rather severe; but we can be sure that God will fulfill his promises in his Word. Please don’t miss that. There seems to be chaos and confusion in the world. Right now the persecution of believers around the world is at an all time high. Today’s passage encourages us to hold on to God’s Word.

2 Peter 1.3-4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

…he has granted to us his precious and very great promises. Peter’s letters are filled with encouragement for those who were enduring suffering. Let God’s Word meet you where you are today. If I could narrow down today’s message into a phrase – it would be the faithfulness of God’s Word: God’s Word is True.

I’ve outlined Chapters 5&6 as follows:

  1. The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins Anew (5.1-5)
  2. The Report of Tettanai’s Opposition is Sent to the King (5.6-13)
  3. The Response of King Darius (6.1-12)
  4. The Restoration of the Sacrificial System (6.13-22)

Transition: Let’s begin with the 1st section…

I.     The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins Anew (5.1-5)

exp.: Right away, in v 1, we’re given our 1st application of the day; rd v 1-2; you probably recognize these two names; Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; Their prophecy is ‘speaking the Word of God to the people of God.’ And they ‘support’ these leaders who ‘rise up’ and ‘begin’ the process of rebuilding God’s Temple. Here we find our 1st two points of application.

  1. The Word of God Gives us Direction; The word of God is given through the prophets; And look what happens in v 2; – and this is our 2nd application:
  2. The Leadership of the Church Guides us in Obedience to that Direction. Zerubabbel and Jeshua rise up and lead. I had the privilege of serving under a great leader. He was truly gifted at moving people and getting things done. I could be in a meeting with him and hate the idea being presented. He could turn to me and get me to a place of acceptance. One time, I walked into his office fully aware of what I was going into his office to talk to him about. I fully intended to let him know in no uncertain terms that I would not, I could not add anything else to my plate. I knew he was going to ask me to do something I didn’t want to do and planned to shut him down. Somehow, I left that meeting in charge of that project and excited about what could be. How is that? Harry Truman is noted as saying of leadership: A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do and like it. I think my former pastor went to the Truman School of Leadership. Really, though, I think Henry and Richard Blackaby’s definition of spiritual leadership works best: Spiritual Leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda. That fits this passage to a tee! This leadership hears the Word of God and then rises up to move God’s people on to God’s Agenda! – Rebuilding the Temple – which in itself has purpose – more on that in a moment.

Well, you know the rest of the story. It wasn’t that easy. It never is! Rd v 3; Here is our 3rd application:

  1. The World stands in Opposition to the Church to moving in that Direction. I can’t fully explain why, they just do. They want to know who authorized this and they’re taking names of everyone working on the project. Look at these questions: #
    1. By whose authority are you doing this work?
    2. Who is participating in this work? They want names. This is a scare tactic and it works! Just try it.

Transition: You know what, that’s ok. Because it doesn’t phase God or his work: rd v 5; it didn’t stop the work, it didn’t even slow them down. I think this is made clear in the next section:

II.    The Letter from Tettanai (5.6-16)

exp.: in v 6-16, a letter is sent to King Darius. It consists of two parts –

  • The Report: from the Governor of that region; v 8 tells the King that this work prospers in their hands. In v 9-10 they tell the King just what we saw in the previous verses – Who gave you permission to do this? who are the workers?; v 11- this was their reply; rd v 11-16; wow… that’s pretty spot on.

Can I give you a 4th application here:

  1. When faced with opposition, be honest and forthright. They basically say:
    • Who we are; where we’ve come from; how we got here; this is the history of this place, but we were bad and deserved what God has promised would happen to us in our rebellion.
    • This is the earthly authority who sent us to work here;
    • Everything is Honest & Detailed & forthright;
  • The Request: rd v 17

Transition: So, chapter 6 picks up with the king’s reception of this letter and a decree is issued that a search for King Cyrus’ decree be made in the house of the archives. And, in v 2, the decree is found and in v 3-5 it is repeated for the governors. And this leads us to the next point, where King Darius gives his response.

III.  The Response of King Darius (6.1-12)

exp.: this picks up in v 6, rd v 6-7

  1. Keep Away; Leave the work and the workers alone; let the workers rebuild the House of God.

So back off! I love this! But, to add insult to injury, the king says; rd v 8a; I’m going to add to what the previous king ordered; rd v 8b

  1. The Work is to be fully funded – and it’s to be funded by you! This had to hurt. These guys wanted bad things for the Jews. But, instead of bad things happening, they’re told to leave them alone and let the work continue. But no, that’s not enough! Now, you guys, take money from the royal revenue, generated from money raised in your area and pay for this work! Oh, that had to hurt! But wait, there’s more! Rd v 9-10; Not only is the work to be financially funded, but…
  2. The Worship is to be fully supplied – if they need animals for sacrifice – give ‘em! If they need ingredients to make food – give it! But wait, there’s more – it feels like I’m selling Ginsu knives: buy these knives and we’ll throw in a blender, but wait there’s more… if you order before…

Keep Away! Pay for the funding of the work! Provide the materials necessary for the Service! And, oh, yeah, rd v 11;

  1. A punishment for anyone who hinders the rebuilding.

Ouch! That’s bad! That’s a heavy warning! The King makes it clear not to mess with what’s going on. And then he makes this statement; rd v 12; From what I can gather, this wasn’t done by Cyrus and Darius and we’ll see Artexerxes because they were believers. Rather, they wanted to cover their bases. What could it hurt to let these people practice their faith, and in turn, beseech their God on my behalf. Better play it safe and not upset any of the gods. It makes sense here.

Transition: well, these governors receive the letter and the king’s wishes are carried out: The Temple is built and the sacrificial system is once again instituted;

IV.    The Restoration of the Sacrificial System (6.13-22)

exp.: Here is a simple outline of v. 13-22

  • The Temple is Completed
  • The Temple is Dedicated
  • The Passover is Celebrated

Transition: So, what are some Observations & Implications:

  1. God’s Word is Sure.
    1. God had brought back the Exiles as he had promised
    2. God had restored the Temple and its practices as promised
    3. God gave his word through the prophets and the people prospered through their obedience to that word. Don’t separate those two – God’s Word – Our Obedience.
  2. Picking your leaders is a great responsibility. It isn’t a popularity contest. It isn’t for the men who’ve been here the longest or for the wealthiest of the membership.

I heard a story recently about a church that nominated a man who had been successful in business to lead as an elder. Their thinking was that if he had led his business to success, then he could do the same for the church. That would probably work if the church were a business! There are qualifications for your leaders and success in the business world isn’t on that list.

You must pick men who will lead you on to God’s agenda. Men who will lead you to be obedient to God’s Word.

  1. Opposition from the world is to be expected. But when it comes, don’t respond as the world does. Don’t try to lie your way out of it or to hide some of the situation. Be honest and up front.
  2. God is going to accomplish all that his heart desires. No one can stand against Him. And he will use whoever or whatever he desires. Don’t let the politics of America get you down. Cities will take churches to court over worldly issues. Trust God – He is at work moving us to that Great Day.

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Filed under Ezra, Faithfulness, Scripture