Thoughts from an aging pastor
Israel had fallen into the insidious plot of Balaam, who counseled the Midianite king to seduce Israel into idolatry through intermarriage. An Israelite man brazenly had brought a Midianite woman into his tent in the sight of all Israel. Phinehas took a spear, went into the tent, and pierced them both through, probably while they were in the act of immorality! We never obey or sin in isolation. That sobering thought should motivate us to follow the Lord. Even if they could scrape together that much, it would not have been sufficient for everyone to receive just a little!
But Jesus could do far beyond what human calculations and effort could ever hope to do. And, 5 he authorized Ezra to set up a judicial system to see that these laws were obeyed and that violators were properly punished That is no doubt far more than Ezra dreamed that a pagan king would grant to him.
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He had already had trouble with Egypt revolting. He figured that if he granted political and religious self-governance to the Jews, they would live contentedly under his reign.
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By providing generously for the people who followed this God to worship Him as He prescribed, Artaxerxes hoped that this God would be nice to him and his sons. But Ezra still had to go and ask for it , Kidner, p. To go before such a powerful monarch and his counselors and powerful princes and ask for such extravagant provisions for a subject people whom the king easily could have exterminated, took some courage!
Thus we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and yet at the same time, it is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure Phil. I covet for my life, for my children and grandchildren, and for my ministry that God would work far beyond my effort, ability, or expectation.
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I hope that each of you will do the same. All of us should seek His blessing on our lives. But, how does that blessing come? Every Christian wants to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord. To do so, you must grow in your understanding of His Word. The proper order is to allow the Word to sit in judgment on us! While giftedness has something to do with it, skill also requires effort and practice.
You have to discipline yourself to do it, and the minute you let up, other things will crowd out the Word. We all lead busy lives. We all have the same number of hours in our day. We all must make decisions about how we spend those hours.
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When you do spend time in the Word, make sure that your bottom line is obedience. The goal of Bible study is not to fill our heads with facts, although facts are important. It is to change our hearts and lives into conformity to Jesus Christ. If anything was left, he told him to do with it according to the will of his God !
Our obedience should be obvious to those in the world who know us. Again, not everyone is gifted to teach in a public setting. His blessings come to the ones who study and obey His Word. Such study and obedience are the foundation for imparting the Word to others, whether personally or in public settings. Thus I was strengthened according to the hand of the Lord my God upon me….
He gave all the credit to God for His abundant mercy. When God blesses us, our response should be to bless God for His great mercy in using such imperfect vessels as we are. Jacob was a man with many shortcomings and faults. He connived his brother out of the birthright. He bargained with God at Bethel, promising to follow Him if He would take care of him and bring him back safely to the land Gen. After his many years of trying to out-maneuver Laban, he returned to the land full of fear about what Esau might do to him.
The night before he was to meet Esau, the Lord met him and wrestled with him, dislocating his hip so that Jacob always walked with a limp after the encounter. The Lord did bless Jacob, the conniver, by changing his name to Israel, one who has wrestled with God and prevailed. Then he held the paper up before the group and asked them what they saw. A chorus of noes came from the audience. He said that in life we are often distracted by small, dot-like disappointments or painful experiences, and we are prone to forget the innumerable blessings we receive from the hand of the Lord.
But like the sheet of paper, the good things are far more important than the adversities that monopolize our attention. This reminds me of a bit of verse which, though I admit is somewhat trite, does express good practical advice.
Yes, rather than concentrating on the trials of life, we should fix our attention upon is blessings. Whatever is not done out of faith is sin. James writes, "If anyone knows the right thing to do but fails to do it for him it is sin. You are a vessel He will and can use, if you make yourself available as each of the above did. Haggai urged the people in Jerusalem that the work of God was neglected, overlooked and considered as a lower priority their own concerns. Haggai spoke, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you!
You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. I have called for a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get. God has the ability to withhold His blessings to the disobedient.
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Fear the Lord you His saints for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but they who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Psa The people began building the Temple 23 days after they arrived back from being in exile. Too many people hear excellent sermons on TV, the radio and church but fail to respond due to a bad case of procrastination. James wrote, "Be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. Ask God what He wants you to do when you read His word and make plans to put it into practice immediately.
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