Sunday we started a month of learning from the story of Ezra, a simple scribe who led his people back from captivity in Babylon to rebuild their temple and their land. It’s an inspiring story of God’s power. It’s a great example of how a single “moment of grace” can change everything.
The Story of Ezra also contains many great examples of how the people of God “took action” in obedience to God. The Jewish people gave sacrificially to fund the rebuilding of their temple and journey back to Jerusalem. Many people left their comfortable homes in Babylon to live in the frontier conditions of the war ravaged city of Jerusalem. The story features many great examples of people volunteering their time and skills to do the work of rebuilding the temple and the city. In fact, I can’t imagine how many sermons have been preached from the Book of Ezra over the ages to encourage people to “dig deep” in their wallets to fund a new building or “temple renovation”. I’m sure countless sermons have been preached from the story of Ezra to urge people to volunteer for church projects or missions trips. I can’t even imagine how many sermons have been preached over the years urging folks away from the “comfort of Babylon” and toward a life of sacrifice and significance in the work of “rebuilding Jerusalem.”
Good Sermons, all.
Motivational. Inspirational. Correct.
(With just a pinch of guilt thrown in)
We learned Sunday that God used rescued the people of Israel to fulfill a prophecy and a promise he made through the prophet Jeremiah 70 years before. (You can read it here: Jeremiah 29:1-14). Through Jeremiah, God instructed his people to
“5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:5-7.
I have a feeling that over the years, FAR FEWER sermons have been preached urging people to simply have babies, take care of their families, work hard and share the success of their company and city. That’s not nearly as inspiring…or good for “church business”…but it WAS absolutely being obedient to God.
So…As I try to wrap up this overly long thought before I close my laptop and turn on my paint sprayer..Let me leave you with this.
Whether obeying God means moving to Africa to serve lepers, or leaving your lawnmower in your cul de sac lawn long enough to listen to a neighbor who is going through a messy divorce.
Whether that means adopting orphans, or making a mini-van full of babies the old fashioned way.
Whether that means leaving your career and using your skills as a volunteer, or being the most well paid craftsman at your corporation, small business, or job site.
Obey God. Do what he says. Go where he leads you. Ignore the hype. We need you…the kingdom plan of Jesus DEPENDS on people like you…whoever you are…WHATEVER he has called you to do. Obey God.