Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ezra, New Beginnings

Ezra 3.1-13

The Bible begins with a beginning of time and ends with a beginning of eternity.

There are new beginings throughout the Word Of God. Ezra is one fo them.

The emphasis in Ezra and Nehemiah is on trusting God for a new beginning and doing His work- no matter what obstacles and opposition are encountered. Although the days may be dark, God is here to guide us, protect us and help us.

Ezra shows us the extent which God will go through to help us. It is not by might, nor by power but by His Spirit.

The first verses of Ezra are the last verses of II Chronicles. God used Cyrus and his decree as He said He would. We cannot read Ezra without being struck with the wonderful way God overrules during times of trouble and crisis. Human freedom does not rule out Divine Control.
Though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the Ruler yet.

We have every reason for radical optimism. Just think about Who we are serving!
Think about the Feeding of the Five Thousand for instance. Things can look hopeless and then the LORD steps in. In fact in this He  was testing them because already knew what He was He was going to do.

Take the death and the raising Lazarus from the dead. 
Martha and Mary: LORD, if You had been here our brother would not have died.
Jesus: Didn't I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God. 

New beginnings are of God. It is His work and in His time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

We may be thinking that its all over. What am I going to do?... and then God steps in with some thing we never envisioned or ever thought of. Like the two one the Road to Emmaus... we had hoped...

The exile was long. They were far away from the Promised Land. In a moment as the decree of Cyrus was read the people of God were on their way back to their homeland.

Here are some lessons from Ezra as we come to retake the land which the enemy has no right to!

1. Celebrate Gods Goodness- v.11a

Feast of Tabernacles Succoth - just ended last Sunday evening after a week long celebration. It commemorates each year the wandering of the children of Israel from Egypt to The Promised Land. It causes the to remember. They celebrated.

The exile was over. It was a time of celebration.

It is always a right time to give thanks and praise the LORD.
Paul and Silas.
Times of great blessing as well as times of great difficulty and all the times in between.

There are times when the Providence of God seems to be running slow.
He is faithful to all His Promises.
He will do what he said.
He keeps His Word.

We can celebrate what He is doing right now!

2. Establish the Foundations -v.10-11

Three Holy Days in this 7th month.. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth). They had the altar repaired so these days could be observed. There were also the daily morning and evening sacrifices offered, emphasizing a daily walk with the LORD.
Restore your first love.
Repent and do the things you did at first. Revelation 2.5

The Feast of Tabernacles brought then back to their beginnings as a nation.
This also was the first High Priest after the exile and return.

Under the New Covenant we are to Build upon the Rock, the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ
I Peter 2.1-7

The rebuilt the altar so worship could begin again.

 The worship itself is felt to be more important than the house in which it is to be celebrated." (Adeney)

 "There cannot be a temple without an altar, but there may be an altar without a temple. God meets men at the place of sacrifice, even though there be no house for His name." (Maclaren)

During their stay in Babylon thye were not able to offer any sacrifices. That had to be done in the temple. 

The LORD made restoration possible. He had not forgotten to be kind to His people.

Psalm 126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 

3. Look To the Future -v.12

There was a mixture of emotions.
There were two distinct groups.
New things were coming.

There are people all over our area who are in desparate need of a new beginning, of becoming a new creation in Christ. We all can be inviters. 

Come and See
John 1.35-39
Johnn 1. 43-46
Mark  1.16-20; 2.13-14

Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—those He redeemed from the hand of the foe.

As we move into through this fall may this be a time of new beginnings in our fellowship, a time of harvest, a time of blessings be outpoured.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Time To Weep

II  Chronicles 35:23-25 Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. 

This was a sad end to one of the great kings of Judah.

Lamentations is a difficult book to read. It is full of remorse and sorrow. It is Jeremiah's reflections as he viewed the city of Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in judgement by the LORD.

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. There is not one recorded conversion in his entire ministry. There are no recorded miracles in the entire book he wrote or in any other records lime the one here at the end of II Chronicles. Yet when Jesus came they said. "Some say You are Jeremiah..."

Why would they say that? Jesus was a Man of Sorrows and familiar with suffering. We are told in Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. 

We also know there were times when He was gripped with compassion. 
Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 

So there was a close relationship between Jesus and Jeremiah in personality and brokenness over people.

Jeremiah was a man of sorrows. He was familiar with suffering. He wrote the book of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Here we see he composed a lament for Josiah. No one was more qualified than he to do it.

Josiah's death caused profound sorrow throughout the nation. It appear his death was celebrated in a memorial service annually years later.

1. When we lose a loved one it is a time to weep.

Certain quarters where they are told to celebrate over death of a Christian, to not cry, to praise God.
Spanish pastor's son years ago
Bellevue, Haiti a few weeks ago

There is a time to weep in our losses.
We know it is not permanent.
We know God is with us.
We believe in heaven.
We are without someone we loved.

2. Like Jeremiah we should weep over the nation.


Revelations of our worsening spiritual condition each day.

Superficial Reformation under Josiah . The reforms seem to be made on the basis of the love the people had for the king rather than their heart for God.

3. There is a time to weep in other life events.
Someone leaving... Church in Haiti. When we all get to heaven!
Someone losing their way.
Someone hurts us.

4.What Makes God  Cry

Let my heart be broken

Weeping lasts for the night but joy comes in the morning

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Humility in Prayer

II  Chronicles 34:26-27 
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD,  ‘This is what the LORD,  the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what He spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before Me and tore your robes and wept in My  presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. 

Josiah was a good king. He walked in the ways of his grandfather David. David was a man after God's  own heart. 

There was a humility with David that comes through his words, his life and the Psalms he wrote. When he was told about the future of his kingdom by Nathan the prophet he replied:
2 Samuel 7:18-21 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in Your sight, Sovereign LORD, You have also spoken about the future of the house of Your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD is for a mere man! “What more can David say to you? For You know your servant, Sovereign LORD. For the sake of Your word and according to Your will, You have done this great thing and made it known to Your servant. 

The news of David's being honored and his name living forever through his descendants was overwhelming and humbled him.

When Josiah heard how far the nation was away from the Law of God given through Moses he wept and mourned. He humbled himself.

He sets an example for us. 

1. Humble Yourselves

Ninevah is another example.

Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 

The people of Nineveh humbled themselves.
Jonah and Jesus similarities.
3 days and 3 nights
Back from the dead with the marks to prove it.
A message of repentance when they came.

When we read God's Word we are ought to be humbled:
*God speaks to us.
*God points things out in our lives that need correcting.
*Our response ought to be humility.

When we look at the sin in our nation today we should be humbled. We should call upon the LORD for mercy. 

2. Humility is not knowing the solution when you are praying.

We so desperately want to know.

Admitting to the LORD we do not know.

Psalm 95:3-5 For the Lord is the great God,the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth,and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it,and his hands formed the dry land. 

Psalm 95:4, 6-7 In his hand are the depths of the earth,and the mountain peaks belong to him. Come, let us bow down in worship,let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our Godand we are the people of his pasture,the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice...

We pray because of our dependency upon the LORD.
Our dependency includes not knowing what to do many times.
Asking for wisdom is an act of humility.
The Book of Proverbs opens with Solomon explaining this need to his son and us.

3. Humility is sensing our great need of God.

It is greater than we can imagine.
It is greater than everything.

I Need Thee Every Hour

We have a personal account of the genesis of "I Need Thee Every Hour": Hawks writes, "One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning [in 1872]. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me -- 'I Need Thee Every Hour. . . .'" 

Sensing that need causes us to pray continually. Perhaps one of the reasons so many struggle in this is that we do not feel that need. We may say, "I am not hungry." Does that mean we do not need food? Or we may say, "I am not thirsty." Some have said that and ended up dehydrated. 

I am not saying we do not know we need to pray. I am saying we have enough distractions and some of them are in the vast array of things we own, that we do not feel the need to pray therefore we don't. The truth is we do need Him every hour, every moment.

4. Humility is trusting in Him alone.

Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Ten years later Louisa Stead would write the words to this well known hymn. The family decided one day to enjoy the sunny beach at Long Island Sound, New York. While eating their picnic lunch, they suddenly heard cries of help and spotted a drowning boy in the sea. Mr. Stead charged into the water. As often happens, however, the struggling boy pulled his rescuer under water with him, and both drowned before the terrified eyes of wife and daughter. Out of her ‘why?’ struggle with God during the ensuing days glowed these meaningful words from the soul of Louisa Stead.”

We have a large amount of resources to occupy our time, to soothe our troubles. All we need is God! He is all I need.

5. Humility is looking to heaven.
Not looking to my own hoarded resources
Not looking at the stock exchange
Not playing Lotto and hoping for that big win.
Not wishing for luck to come way.

Looking unto Jesus
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

God's Work

I Samuel 17.47

People will know if there is a work of God going on.

It is not by might nor by power but by His Spirit that God's work is done.

If we are surrendered to Him, the battle belongs to the LORD. Make no mistake about it, it is a battle.

1. He will work wonders.

2. He will bring victory.

3. He will glorify Himself.

God is in control.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Growing In Spiritual Power

II Chronicles 27.1-6

Walking steadfastly before the LORD brings spiritual power.

Established, stable, secure

Being Established 

Being stable

Making your election and calling sure II Peter 2.10

A strong spiritual life means that the Holy Spirit has control of the vessel. Then He can fill it to overflowing. He can send it into the places where He wants it to be and where it will be used in powerful ways.

Many men pray for the power of God.
More every year.  Those prayers sound powerful, sincere, godly and
without ulterior motive.  Hidden under such prayer and fervor, however,
are ambition, a craving for fame, the desire to be considered a
spiritual giant.  The man who prays such prayer may not even know it,
but such dark motives and desires are in his heart ... in your heart.
Even as men pray these prayers, they are hollow inside.  There is
little internal spiritual growth.  Prayer for power is the quick and
the short way, circumnavigating internal growth.
There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit's
power and the inward filling of the Spirit's life.  In the first,
despite the power, the hidden man of the heart may remain unchanged. In
the latter, that monster is dealt with.

The path to power used by God in His Kingdom is a pathway of inner spiritual growth.  So if you are desiring to work for God you must first let Him do a work in your own heart.

1. Humble Yourself

Tell Him what you need Him

Realize without Him you can do nothing.

Ask for forgiveness

Give Him all glory for your successes.


Don't believe your own press.

2. Obey His Word - John 8.31
John 8.31 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."

Read it.
Have a plan to go through the whole Bible.
Keep your appointments with God.

Hear it.
Every chance you get.

Do what it says.
Obedience to Him out of love for Him is beautiful. Dr Aileen Coleman

Jotham did this.

3. Be a Servant

Follow the example of Christ Jesus as a servant. Philippians 2.5-11
Let this be your attitude.
Let this mind be in you.
Your attitude should be the same of Christ Jesus... Make me a servant.

There is such joy in this.

It is a safe place to be.

There are such blessings.
John 12:26 Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me. 

4. Keep Your Eyes on Jesus Hebrews 12.2

Fix them on Him.
to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.


5. Run the Race with Perseverance. Hebrews 12.1

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee
to persevere: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one's faith in Christ
to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

Climbing the mountain on the Sugarloaf Trail in New Hampshire

My grandkids who went up this past week are the fourth generation in our family to do this trek into some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. My Dad started it. I remember him leading us up there 50 years ago. When my daughters were about the same age they hiked it. Monday my grandkids, Emma and Jackson join the fellowship of family members who have reached the summit.

Tonya and I kept going because we knew what was ahead. We knew the rewards awaiting us as my son-in-law put it.

The entire Presidential Range with majestic Mount Washington in the center came into view from the summit. We ate lunch, took in the gorgeous view, took some video and pictures then headed back down. At the base of the mountain is a river. Children and adults were frolicking in it. We joined them. I took the ice cold water and threw up into my face. I put my feet in. My grandson, Jackson, joined me. It was so refreshing to our weary bodies and feet.

Our work joins a number of memories already in our minds and gave us a sense of accomplishment.  Our growth in spiritual power comes from our walk with the LORD. The closer we walk the more we make ourselves available to Him.