Tag Archives: Ezra

The Church and its Priesthood (Part 6)

Today’s message summary of September 24, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

What is it to be a saint of God?  A saint is one who is consecrated to do the work of God.  It is to be an adopted son or daughter of God.  This, along with the title of being a priest of God, are all descriptive of people who are followers of Christ.  These are all names, but each one of them means something.  As a saint, you are to live in holiness.  As an ambassador, you are to proclaim Christ wherever you go.  You should know the reason and the purpose behind these names.  As a priest, you are a servant of God.  You are part of a royal priesthood before God in your service to Him.  With this representation comes responsibility.

You are someone that God chose to represent Him and to live for Him.  God is not here to serve us; instead, we are to serve Him.

The Levite, in service for God, had to make sacrifices in order to serve Him appropriately.  God has to be first in your life.  In order to be a priest, there cannot be anything that gets in the way of your dedicated service for Him.

In picking up where we left off before, we were discussing the importance of sound teaching.  Teachers are important.  We need to be mindful of the fact that Satan also teaches, as well.  He teaches others those things that are contrary to the ways of God.  He desires to get people off course in the service of God.  He will divide people and cause derision.

Exodus 17:7

He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?

Psalm 95:7b-9

Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.

The word of God is more important than any family relationship, and it may even divide family members.  When you want to draw near to Christ, someone may try to pull you away from Him.

The focus must be to remain of God, His covenant and to serve His people, just as the Levites were to do.

Deuteronomy 33:8-11

He said about Levi:

Your Thummim and Urim belong to your faithful one;

you tested him at Massah

and contended with him at the Waters of Meribah.

He said about his father and mother,

I do not regard them.

He disregarded his brothers

and didnt acknowledge his sons,

for they kept your word

and maintained your covenant.

They will teach your ordinances to Jacob

and your instruction to Israel;

they will set incense before you

and whole burnt offerings on your altar.

Lord, bless his possessions,

and accept the work of his hands.

Break the back of his adversaries and enemies,

so that they cannot rise again.

 

Hebrews 3:7-10a

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for 40 years.

The character of a priest of God is something that requires time and building of one’s character.  Teachers must instill the principles to build the person up.  The teacher must take their role very seriously.  He is to teach God’s precepts and standards, and not his own way of thinking.

Romans 2:17-29

Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the lawyou then, who teach another, dont you teach yourself? You who preach, You must not steal”—do you steal? You who say, You must not commit adultery”—do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  So if an uncircumcised man keeps the laws requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?  A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision.  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh.  On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heartby the Spirit, not the letter. That persons praise is not from people but from God.

In order to be an effective teacher, the student must have the desire to learn.

Additional characteristics of the character of a priest:

Ezra 7:5-28

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, the chief priest Aarons son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was on him.  Some of the Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants accompanied him to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, during the seventh year of the king. He began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month since the gracious hand of his God was on him.  Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.

This is the text of the letter King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest and scribe, an expert in matters of the Lords commands and statutes for Israel:

Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens:

Greetings.

I issue a decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including their priests and Levites, who want to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.  You are sent by the king and his seven counselors to evaluate Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your possession.  You are also to bring the silver and gold the king and his counselors have willingly given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold you receive throughout the province of Babylon, together with the freewill offerings given by the people and the priests to the house of their God in Jerusalem.  Then you are to be diligent to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, along with their grain and drink offerings, and offer them on the altar at the house of your God in Jerusalem.  You may do whatever seems best to you and your brothers with the rest of the silver and gold, according to the will of your God.  Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles given to you for the service of the house of your God.  You may use the royal treasury[c] to pay for anything else needed for the house of your God.

I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers in the region west of the Euphrates River:

Whatever Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens, asks of you must be provided in full, 22 up to 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of oil, and salt without limit. Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven must be done diligently for the house of the God of the heavens, so that wrath will not fall on the realm of the king and his sons.  Be advised that you do not have authority to impose tribute, duty, and land tax on any priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.

And you, Ezra, according to Gods wisdom that you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people in the region west of the Euphrates who know the laws of your God and to teach anyone who does not know them.  Anyone who does not keep the law of your God and the law of the king, let the appropriate judgment be executed against him, whether death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the kings mind to glorify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and who has shown favor to me before the king, his counselors, and all his powerful officers. So I took courage because I was strengthened by the hand of the Lord my God, and I gathered Israelite leaders to return with me.

When you are in the midst of doing God’s work, God will provide all that you have need of to accomplish what you need to do.

  1. Ezra was a teacher.
  2. Ezra devoted himself to study and observance.
  3. He devoted himself to teaching God’s decrees.

Note that he was doing all of this while he and his people were in captivity.  The king had granted everything that he had asked for.  He even saw that God’s hand was upon him.

A believer who is devoted to serving Christ will live it out before others.  A priest is driven and devoted to His Word and searches Him out in order to develop a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

With sound teaching, everything is put in its proper place as a priest who serves God and others.  You are always ready to do what God has called you to do.

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Doing the Work of The Lord

Today’s message summary of June 4, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If your focus is on the work of God, it will change you.  God should come first in your life.

If there is a lack of focus, there will be a hole in your life that cannot be filled by material things.

You can be confused over those things that you deem to be priorities.

Over time, God’s work can get lost within the course of life.  You can get so busy living and lose track of what is most important; yet, God has a plan for you each and every day.

The word of God is the most important part of your life.

Haggai 1:1-11

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 

The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much

but harvested little.

You eat

but never have enough to be satisfied.

You drink

but never have enough to become drunk.

You put on clothes

but never have enough to get warm.

The wage earner puts his wages

into a bag with a hole in it.

The Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account,

the skies have withheld the dew

and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought

on the fields and the hills,

on the grain, new wine, olive oil,

and whatever the ground yields,

on man and beast,

and on all that your hands produce.

 

Haggai’s words to the people of Judah was a revealing of their weakness toward the work of God.

  • Carelessness about the matters of God
  • Their sincerity concerning the things of God is small
  • Their leisure time was more important than God’s work
  • Their personal comfort was more important

Ezra 5:1-2

But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.

When you see and hear that God is at work, it places an expectation from Him upon your life.  As you remain obedient to Him, He will affirm your efforts and even provide the support that you need in service to Him.

Ezra 6:14

So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.

Ezra 7:5-6

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, Aaron the chief priests son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him.

 

The workforce was made up of everyone who had returned from exile.  Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they still rebuilt the altar at its original site (Ezra 3:3).

The people overcame their fear in order to obey God.

Haggai points out the weakness of God’s people and what causes them to be distracted.  What are the distractions in your life that prevent you from serving and honoring God?

Haggai 1:2

“The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”

  • You can see it, but you won’t do the work
  • You can hear about it, but will not do the work.
  • You can receive from God the ability to do what is needed, but still choose not to do it.

 

The conflict here is your comfort versus God’s comfort (Haggai 1:3).

When is the right time to do God’s will and be obedient to Him?  The right time is when you see it, hear about it, and have received from God the ability to do it.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Haggai 1:5, 7

Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”

You need to give consideration as to your ways in life.  You need to go over how you make your decisions and reflect deeply upon how you are spending your time.  He wants you to be thoughtful as to your ways.

God challenges you with your way of thinking here.  Before God asks you to do something, you need to consider how you are going to respond to Him.  He may give you something that will pull you out of your comfort zone.

God will enable you to do many things in your life if you simply remain obedient to His will.  Take pleasure in it, you please Him and honor Him, and God will honor you.

Are you taking care of God’s business?  It remains as a priority in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Haggai gave words of encouragement only after the people were willing to obey.

Haggai 1:12-14

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lords messenger, delivered the Lords message to the people, I am with you”—this is the Lords declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God.

Once the people began to fear the Lord, their own fear to proceed had subsided.  The people had to see God for themselves.

God’s message is “I am with you.”

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Haggai 2:3

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest.  Be strong, all you people of the land”this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you”the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

To build the temple was going to require strength. God’s encouragement was to say “be strong” three times.

When the Spirit of God is with you, there is no need for fear.  He will enable you to complete the task at hand.