Things Seldom Work Out Exactly the Way We Plan

13.1CHRONICLES.17

(verses 1-2):

[1] AS DAVID sat in his house, he said to Nathan the prophet,  Behold, I dwell in a house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remains under tent curtains.

[2] Then Nathan said to David,  Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Here we see that David is living in a pretty nice house.  I dwell in a house of cedars.  Since CEDAR wood was especially valued, it means David lived in an expensive beautiful home.

David remembered that the ark of the covenant of the Lord was under tent curtains and the contrast got under his skin. David was troubled by the thought that he lived in a nicer house than God’s Presence at the ark of the covenant.  So his desire needed a PLAN.  That was who David was.

My PLAN “A” versus God’s Plan “A” –

329794e8f685ce0454e65bf00f7623d9Without saying the specific words, David told Nathan that he wanted to build a TEMPLE to replace the TABERNACLE.  

I have often repeated a quote by Will Smith when people when people ask, “If things don’t work out the way you’ve plan, what is your PLAN B?”

“There’s no reason to have a plan B because

it distracts from plan A.” ~ Will Smith

More than four hundred years earlier, Israel was in the wilderness and God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9).

God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wanted to do this for God.

The Tent of Meeting–

The tent of meeting–also known as the tabernacle–perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness, because they were constantly on the move.

Now that Israel finds themselves securely in the land, and the tabernacle is in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David decides it would be better and more appropriate to build a permanent structure…A TEMPLE, to replace the tabernacle (PLAN ‘A’).

CONFIRMATION OF PLAN “A” – Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Nathan said this to David because it seemed like a good and reasonable idea.  I don’t know about you, but if someone like Nathan came to me with his godly counsel, telling me my desires…my ideas were BLESSED; do all that is in your heart, for God is with you…I would probably jump up and down and shout Hallelujah!  “Lets get this thing done!”

What could be wrong with David wanting to build the TEMPLE then?

All that is in your heart shows that David’s heart, his mind, his soul was filled with this question:  “What can I do for God?”

He was so filled with gratitude and concern for God’s glory that he wanted to do something special for God.

(Vs. 3-6):  God Corrects Nathan’s Premature Advice–

[3] And that same night the word of God came to Nathan, saying,  [4] “Go tell David My servant. Thus says the Lord: You shall not build Me a house to dwell in.  [5] For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel from Egypt until this day; but I have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.  [6] Wherever I have walked with all Israel, did I say a word to any of the judges of Israel whom I commanded to feed My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?”

That very night that the word of God came to Nathan, his response to David was found presumptuous.  He answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before the word of God came to him.

For I have not lived in a house since the time that I brought up Israel, even to this day.

God seemed honored and “surprised” at the same time when David offered to build Him a house.

“You want to do what? No one has ever offered to do that before, and I never commanded anyone to do it.”

David wanted to do more than God had said to do.  

This is a wonderful place to be in our relationship with God.  Most of us are so stuck in thinking, “How little can I do and still please the LORD”, that we never really want to do more than God asks of us.

I love what Spurgeon says on this matter:

“Though the Lord refused to David the realization of his wish [his plan], He did it in the most gracious manner.  He did not put the away from him in anger or disdain as though David had cherished an unworthy desire, but He honored His servant even in the non-acceptance of his offer.” 

David now knew that God didn’t want him to build the TEMPLE, but David didn’t respond by doing nothing.  Instead of building the house of God, David gathered all the materials for the upcoming construction project so Solomon, his son, could build a glorious TEMPLE to God (1 Chronicles 29:2-9).

God’s Plan “A” – He Promises to Build David a House instead (vs. 11-15):

I will set up your seed after you…

[11] And it shall come to pass that when your days are fulfilled to go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  [12] He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.  [13] I will be his father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy and steadfast love away from him, as I took it from him [King Saul] who was before you.  [14] But I will settle him (Him) in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his (His) throne shall be established forever more.  [15] According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

How would I feel coming up with a great idea, a plan, then finding out someone else is going to get the credit? Anger, envy, jealousy, disheartened, devastated and more?

David’s response to the change in plans had nothing to do with “feelings”.  His loving relationship with his heavenly Father took precedence over feelings of personal success.  God must have a better a better PLAN “A”.

God has a better plan that comes with promises.

David is told,  not only will your son build Me a house, but I will establish his throne forever.  God’s PLAN promised David that the reign of his dynasty will last forever.

Each of these great promises revealed within God’s PLAN is partially fulfilled in Solomon, David’s son, successor to his throne.

*  Solomon ruled on David’s throne.

*  God’s mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned.

*  Solomon built God a magnificent house.

Yet, God’s Promise to David was all the more important…because when the Chronicler (Ezra) wrote about it–after the  exile, when there wasn’t an independent kingdom of Israel, and the throne of David seemed vacant–the PROMISE wasn’t broken, even when all appeared that it was.

The Chronicler knew that Messiah would indeed come from the seemingly dead line of David and reign forever.  He had FAITH in what the prophets foretold as a greater fulfillment of God’s PLAN:

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ~

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Sprout), and He will reign as King and do wisely and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name by which He shall be called:  The Lord Our Righteousness.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ~

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.  [7] Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [later] time forth, even forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Luke 1:31-33 ~

And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  [32] He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David,  [33] And He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages; and of His reign there will be no end.

God did not want the earthly house built until…

Until the SPIRITUAL HOUSE was promised and established.  The more important house had to be in place first, and that house was the dynasty and was the result in the throne of God’s Son.

What is our response when we think our plans are so meaningful, so exact, so wonderful in furthering the kingdom…and then God says no?  Let’s look had David’s response.

David’s Thankful Response to God’s Plan (16-22):  *Note – You will need your Bible to read along.

Who am I O LORD God?…O LORD there is none like You

When David received this spectacular gift, he didn’t think it made him any greater.  In David’s eye, it made God greater.

David’s attitude wasn’t “I’m so great that even God gives me gifts.”

Our attitude in receiving…

We should receive th gift of our SALVATION and every BLESSING with the same attitude as David’s.  God’s giving reflects the greatness of the Giver, not the receiver.  [*See Footnote [i] ]

Your servant

David’s humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant ten times in this prayer (15-27).

It shows that David humbly accepted God’s “no” when he wanted to build the TEMPLE.

Bringing Boldness in Prayer – (23-27)

“And now, O LORD, let the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant and concerning his house, be established forever, and do as Thou hast spoken.

“And let Thy name be established and magnified forever, saying ‘The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel; and the house of David Thy servant is established before Thee.’

“For Thou, O my God, has revealed to Thy servant that Thou will build for him a house; therefore Thy servant hath found courage to pray before Thee.

“And now, O LORD, Thou art God, and has promised this good thing to Thy servant.

“And now it hath pleased Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee; for Thou, O LORD, hast blessed, and it is blessed forever.”

(The NASB translation)

David’s conversational prayer boldly asked God to do what He promised.  This wasn’t a passive prayer:  “Well God, do whatever You want to do–I don’t care one way or another.”

This wasn’t an arrogant prayer either that said, “Well God, let me tell You what You need to do here.”

This was a BOLD PRAYER–that said, “God here is Your promise.  Now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word.”

Confidence in Prayer Comes from the Blood of Jesus–

I love a verse in Hebrews that reflects bringing boldness to our prayers with confidence.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus…”  (Hebrews 10:19).

Prayer that comes from the heart –  Therefore Your servant has found it in his HEART to pray before You.

Notice that David’s prayer was coming from his heart.  Some people pray from a book, others pray from their head.  But oh, what a difference it makes when we pray from our hearts.


 Credits, Footnotes, Photo credits:

Referred Commentary by David Guzik 2006.

Footnote [i] : from David Guzik’s commentary.

Photo Credits: Google Images.

Bible Translation for this Blog:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

If God Wrote Your Obituary…

“IF GOD WROTE YOUR OBITUARY, WHAT WOULD HE SAY?”

“OBITUARY” –  “a published announcement of a death, often accompanied by a short biography of the dead person”  (*See Footnote [i]).

Fill in the Blanks
Filling in the Blanks

TEXT:  1 Chronicles 10:1-14 and 1 Samuel

[13]  So Saul died for his trespass against the Lord [in sparing Amalek], for his unfaithfulness in not keeping God’s word, and also for consulting [a medium with] a spirit of the dead to inquire pleadingly of it.

[14]  And inquired not so of the Lord  [in earnest penitence]. Therefore the Lord slew him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Often when I read a great book, I want to read even more by the same author.  My last blog-post was a study in the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament, and since Ezra was the author/writer of the volumes of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, why not dig into 1 Chronicles.  Some scholars attribute the possibility that Ezra may have been the author of Ester as well.

So for the past week, I’ve been reading and studying 1 Chronicles which brings me to this particular blog-post in Chapter 10.

Verse 13-14 of 1 Chronicles 10 provides a sad OBITUARY of a man who had been called of God but whose life ended in tragedy and ruin.  God cuts no quarters in telling us exactly what brought down this man of God.

In this WORD DETECTIVE investigation into the Scripture provided, I want for us to consider what God has to say concerning Saul that might be a warning for all us to take heed.

SAUL BREACHED FAITH WITH GOD–

What does a person do when they BREACH a thing?  Going to my Thesaurus and Google Search, I came up with this brief definition:

#1. An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.  

#2. To make a gap in…

We have a definition, so let’s begin to search out the Spirit of God and dig deeper into the Word.

THE KING WAS SO PRIVILEGED, SO WHAT HAPPENED?

From a natural point he was outstanding:

“…a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he.  He was a head taller than any other of the people”  (1 Samuel 9:2b AMP).

Saul was given a new heart besides by God–

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily…and you will be turned into another man”  (1 Samuel 10:6)

“…God gave him another heart…”  (1 Samuel 10:9).

Saul was chosen by God for a TASK: To SAVE Israel–

“And Samuel said to all the people,  Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that none like him is among all the people?  And all the people shouted and said, Long live the king!”  (1 Samuel 10:24).

God touched the hearts of other lives around him–

“Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of valiant men whose hearts God had touched”  (1 Samuel 10:26).

Everything seemed to be in Saul’s favor:

–  Had a good standing in the nation.

–  Distinctly called and commissioned by God.

–  Honored with the friendship of Samuel.

–  Surrounded by a band of men whose hearts God had touched.

Wow!  What privilege Saul must have had and thought of himself in having.  Do you ever feel like a PRIVILEGED one in your ministry?  Not you?

THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIVILEGE–

Believers in JESUS have been chosen by God to take the message of salvation to the world:

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting…”  (John 15:16).

God doesn’t want for us to be “Lone Ranger Christians” and provides and touches the lives of others to co-labor with us:

“For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God…”  (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Saul Disobeyed God’s Command!

Saul OBEYED God’s command but NOT to the letter.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul in obedience to God’s command with his valiant men fighting the Amalekites.  He won the battle, but failed to do everything the LORD said.  Rather, he chose to do it his way.

Some feel that the end justifies the means–that’s REBELLION!  Note what God’s Word says in 1 Samuel 15:23-24:

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images).  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.  [24] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.”

A Lovely Thought, But Still Disobedience…

While vacationing, a little girl was told not to go by the cliff, and wandered out toward it when her dad fell asleep.  She reached out over the rocks and grabbed a pretty flower and ran back to her dad and said,  “Look what I brought to you.”  He grabbed the flower and threw it down and clutched his little daughter and said,  “You have disobeyed. I’d rather have you than anything you could give me.”  Sound a bit harsh?  Perhaps.  But to DISOBEY God is the ultimate REBELLION–the scowl, the folded arms in position of defiance.

The Regrets From Unfaithfulness–1 Chronicles 10:13:  

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the LORD.

Verse 13 (ESV):  So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD.

Seeking the Advice of the World–

According to Verse 13, Saul not only ignored God’s Word, but sought out and consulted the world–“…[a medium with] a spirit of the dead…”

WHAT IS WISDOM OF THE WORLD?

“Then Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her.  His servants said,  Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor”  (1 Samuel 28:7).

The apostle Paul warns the BELIEVER to beware of the “wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:19).

In study for this blog, I discovered the WORLD SYSTEM is committed to at least FOUR major objectives:  [*See Footnote [ii] ] 

– FORTUNE,

– FAME,

– POWER,

– PLEASURE.

FIRST and foremost: Fortune, money.

The WORLD SYSTEM is driven by money, feeding on materialism.  Remember, the Bible never says “money is the root of all evil”, it reads “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5).

I ran across this quote the other day in my reading to share–

“I LOVE MONEY.  I love everything about it!  I bought some pretty good stuff.  Got me a $300 pair of socks.  Got a fur sink.  An electric dog polisher.  A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater.  And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too”  ~ by Steve Martin.

SECOND:  FAME –  

That’s another word for popularity.  It’s the longing to be known, to be a somebody in someone else’s eyes.

THIRD:  POWER –  

This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever.  It is the DESIRE to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.

FOURTH: PLEASURE –  

At its basic level, PLEASURE has to do with fulfilling one’s SENSUAL DESIRES.  It is the same mindset that’s behind an all together familiar slogan:  “If it FEELS GOOD, do it!”

God’s System Vs. The World’s System:

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then ALL THESE THINGS taken together will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

“BLESSED  (HAPPY,  fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly  [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands  [submissive and inactive] in the pth where sinners walk, nor sits down  [to relax and rest] where the scornful  [and the mockers] gather” (Psalm 1:1).

FAILING TO SEEK GOD AND HIS WILL–His Word

In 1 Chronicles 14, Saul,  “He did not seek guidance from the Lord.  Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”  (English Standard Version-ESV).

Th Jameison-Faussett-Brown Bible in their commenting on the statement given in 1 Samuel 28:6 says, Saul inquired of God alright, but Saul  “…had done so in form, but not in the spirit of a humble penitent, nor with the believing confidence of a sincere worshipper.”

“Whoa!,” I thought when I first read the comments.  At times, I have asked questions of my heavenly Father, just as a matter of form in my prayers, not expecting an actual answer.  Did I really have the “believing confidence” that God would answer?

Saul’s inquiry was, in fact, mere mockery.  His total want was really for all right religious impressions toward others surrounding him in his kingdom manifested by his rushing FROM GOD TO an imposter “in the service of the devil.”

James 1:5 (AMP):

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God  [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or fault-finding, and it will be given him.”

Many today who are like Saul, operating in their own kingdom, seeking counsel from everywhere but God and His Word!  Usually, it’s because they don’t really want to hear what God has to say!

Saul Lost Everything God Had Given Him (Vs. 14 b.)

Saul had lost contact with God, lost God’s anointing; an enablement for the task at hand.  Saul lost his character, he lost his kingdom and lost everything that God had given.

Sin has devastating consequences for not only us, but our descendants as well.

Exodus 34:6, 7:

“The Lord!  the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.  [7] Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT…Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

1 Chronicles 10:6-7:

[6] So Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together,  [7] And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

Sin & A Rotten Apple
Sin & A Rotten Apple

We don’t operate in a vacuum and that one person’s sin affects others beyond himself.  It’s like the saying your parents may have referred to when they were unhappy with the crowd you were hanging out with:  “One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel!”

Saul committed a BREACH OF FAITH that cost him dearly.

When you accepted Christ Jesus, you pledged your FAITH in Him and Him alone.  Have you breached that faith by your actions, or lack thereof?

Thank God for His Word in 1 John 1:8-9:

“[8] If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us  [does not dwell in our hearts].  [9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

 

GOD IS FOREVER FAITHFUL–

THERE IS NO BREACH OF FAITH IN HIM!

 


 Blog Credits & Footnotes:

Photos:  Photo Pin/shutterstock

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

Footnote:  [i] The Free Dictionary.com; [ii] Charles Swindoll’s Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219

 

 

Who Are The Teachers?

ezra

Before answering the question in this blog title, I felt needed to identify–find out who the teachers are in the body of Christ.  So let’s look at the Book of Ezra together to observe some distinguishing qualities.

EZRA’S RESUME: 

First of all, Ezra wasn’t the one who had the Temple rebuilt.  That was Zerubbabel.  He wasn’t the one who had the wall built around Jerusalem to protect the inhabitants.  That was Nehemiah.  Ezra wasn’t responsible for the things made from stone.

Then who was he?

Ezra was a PRIEST, a direct descendent of the line of Aaron.  Because of his lineage, he could have functioned as a HIGH PRIEST.  Yet we probably better know him as a “SCRIBE”, a teacher of God’s Word (Ezra 7:6).

Ezra is often called the “father of Judaism” and ancient rabbis said, “If Moses hadn’t received the Law of God, Ezra would have.”

He was the author of the following books:  1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some scholars have suggested he may have written Ester as well.

Ezra was responsible for the establishment of the SYNAGOGUE.  This was a system to help the people learn the Law of Moses in a setting near their homes on a weekly basis, rather than just going to Jerusalem three times a year.  This would become the basis for Christians of having church each week.

We actually don’t get to meet the man named EZRA until Ezra 7–where we see one of the unique characteristics of a teacher’s life.

“For the hand of the Lord his God 

was upon him.”

(Ezra 7:6-b.)

“THE HAND OF GOD” –

Psalm 63:1-8 Amplified Bible:

[1] O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  [2] So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. [3] Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.  [4] So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  [5] My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.  [6] When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.  [7] For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.  [8] My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You;  Your right hand upholds me.” 

Psalm 63 is a song of David.  But it could have very well been a Psalm of Ezra, or what that matter, yours and mine too.

WHAT IS THE “HAND OF GOD”?article-1169776-046ECDC9000005DC-372_634x475

It is another way of displaying the POWER OF GOD; it is how God gets His work done in our lives.

So what moves the ‘hand of God”?

I noticed an interesting thing about God’s hand being on Ezra.  Ezra didn’t just think this was some sovereign move of God which he had no part in. He realized there were certain things that moved God’s hand–

Ezra 7:9-10:

[9] On the first of the first month he started out from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, for upon him was the good hand of his God.

[10] For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.

A “prepared heart”–

PREPARED  kuwn, Hebrew word. (hipul); to establish, to set up, accomplish, do, make firm; to fix, make ready, prepare, to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order.

HEART – lebab, Hebrew word; inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.

Ezra 7:10 NASB –  “set his heart”

Ezra 7:10 NLT –  “determined to” 

Ezra 7:10 NIV –  “devoted himself”

It all starts right here my friends–with YOUR HEART.  If you don’t want God to work in your life. He won’t.

BECOMING A DEVOTED STUDENT–

When I was a student in school, my concept of success in  study was to “just get by.”  I would do the minimum amount required to gain approval from my parents.  In High School, this idea worked fairly well maintaining a “B” average.  But when I went to college…the “just getting by” plan didn’t work.  After 3 1/2 years of stumbling around academic target practice, trying to decide what my future profession would be–with little help from parents, friends, and school counselors–I dropped out of school.  I came to the general conclusion–I just wasn’t going to be a STUDENT.

The Change that Occurred in My Life…

After becoming a born-again believer in Jesus at age 30, and as I matured in Christ over the years, God’s hand wasn’t in my life and I had become frustrated in being a servant in His service.

As I grew in spiritual maturity, I began to become a student of God’s Word as Ezra became and as a result of God’s POWER, His hand, I became a TEACHER of God’s truth.

Ezra became a TEACHER of God’s truth and restored a nation of believers in a right relationship with God.

COMMUNICATING GOD’S WORD EFFECTIVELY IN THE WORLD TODAY–

Much like in Ezra’s day, as he thirsted after God’s holiness and insights and then communicated it effectively to others should be all of our goals.  Our reputation as TEACHERS is at stake as was Ezra’s.  How did he get that reputation?  “having God’s hand on him” (Ezra 7:6).  

We LEARN by the words given…

Ezra was a TEACHER who was well-studied and diligent in knowing God’s teachings.  Ezra’s REPUTATION was one of being known [and not to just the “religious” ] as a STUDENT of God’s law and because of his studious mindset, God’s hand was on him.

You might be thinking right now, “I’m not a teacher.  It’s just not my spiritual gift.  I didn’t go to bible school or seminary or have I taken an online bible college class.  There isn’t a teaching certificate on the wall. 

Let me counsel and guide your thoughts here, taking you to the apostle Paul’s instruction to  a young man by the name of Timothy:

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

**Note:  “The best teacher is one who is always a student and always learning.” ~ Dr. Howard Hendricks’ “Learning Professor”.

A TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY:

Dr. Hendricks felt it was the RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER to teach people to learn, not the students.

Hendricks tells of a professor who made a great impact in his life.  He passed the teacher’s home many times–early mornings or late at night, and often saw him pouring over his books.  One day Hendricks asked him, “Doctor, I would like to know what is it that keeps you studying?  It seems you never cease to learn.”  His answer:  “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than from a stagnant pool.”

“STUDYING” GOD’S WORD wasn’t enough for Ezra–

EZRA devoted himself–prepared himself–set his heart to–STUDYING.  He was zealous, relentless in his study of God’s Word. Nothing superseded his study time.  He digested it in his heart and in doing so, it changed him so much that he became DEVOTED to observing what he learned.  He LEARNED and then put it into practice in his own life.

I’ve often thought to myself over the years, wouldn’t it be nice to see the results of my effort before committing the effort.  But take a moment to look at EZRA’s success–

THE RESULT FROM STUDYING–

Others noticed his effort and because of his passion he earned a reputation; his REPUTATION to those who would listen.

EZRA was not only studious but a TRAINER, TEACHER of people who probably followed these principles.

The RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF AMERICA gives us a list of requirements for those who train–teach others.  I keep this list in a notebook on my desk for reference and reminders for my own teaching: (by Donald Kirkpatrick)

#1.  DESIRE TO TEACH.

#2.  KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBJECT.

#3.  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE.

#4.  PATIENCE.

#5.  SENSE OF HUMOR.

#6.  TIME TO DO A THOROUGH JOB.

WE ALL HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH:

No, sorry. It is NOT just the responsibility for the pastor.  After JESUS’ resurrection and exaltation, He sends his disciples out with the mandate to perpetuate His teaching:

“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  TEACHING them everything that I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

THE SALVATION MESSAGE:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the word that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN (trusts in, clings to, relies on)  Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life”  (John 3:16).

OBEDIENCE IN TEACHING–

EZRA 7:10 says a teacher is to PREPARE, SEEK, and to coin a phrase from Madison Avenue,  “…and (‘just’) do it!”

Ezra knew enough that it wasn’t enough just to KNOW God’s Word, yet we don’t let it affect our behavior, fooling ourselves.  We need to LEARN to OBEY what God says:

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you TEACH and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16).

“BUT [as for] you, TEACH what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine.  URGE the older men…  Bid the older women…  So that they will wisely train (teach) the young women…”  (Titus 2:1-4).

 SHARING IN OBEDIENCE–

EZRA 7:10 further gives us our responsibility as God’s disciples:

“…and to teach in Israel statutes and its ordinances.”

TO TEACH – Hebrew word lamad – to learn, teach, exercise in, train.

STATUTES – choqstatute, ordinance, limit something, prescribed, due.

JUDGEMENTS – mishpat – judgements, justice, ordinance.

Ezra’s RELATIONSHIP with the Word wasn’t just about living a better life for himself.  He knew he needed to share–COMPELLED–to share, to communicate God’s Word with those around him.

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of divine favor…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We are PLENIPOTENTIARIES (Ambassadors) and as God’s representatives we have a responsibility–

According to Dictionary.com, the definition given for the noun AMBASSADOR reads:

A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary) an authorized messenger or representative.

“But I’m not a teacher in any stretch of the imagination!”

By your definition, perhaps not.  But with God’s hand on your shoulder, you have entered the priesthood and by His definition…you are teachers.

If you are a Christian father, God’s Word says you are a TEACHER:

“Fathers don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline”  (Ephesians 6:4 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

LIVING THE EZRA EXAMPLE IN OUR FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY:

We as Christians need to practice daily Ezra’s example–

#1.  We need to have a REPUTATION like Ezra’s as God’s hand was on him.

#2.  We need to STUDY God’s word with diligence and have a Godly reputation with those around us.

#3.  We need to be DEVOTED to God’s teachings and have a Godly reputation.

#4.  We need to have a reputation so Godly that earthly rulers see and testify about our example.

#5.  We need to be walking sermons and not just talking sermons with no action.  “DO IT”

#6.  We need to be PRIESTS that trust God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  A reputation of being confident in God 100%.

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS TODAY?  The responsibility has been given to you and I.  So, let us all…

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CREDITS:

Photo Images:  Google Images and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

English/Hebrew translation and definitions:  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words – Stephen D. Renn, Editor.

  

A Congregation of Two

TEXT: Luke 24:13-35 – The Events After the Resurrection

An EMPTY Tomb
An EMPTY Tomb

This last week during my morning bible reading, I decided to read in the first four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] the Scriptures pertaining to the DEATH, BURIAL, RESURRECTION of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  I tried to place myself in that time frame–observing the events of Holy Week:  Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

The evidence was plain–or was it?  How would I have reacted, and how strong would my faith have been on that particular Sunday morning?

I hoped that I would have been a “on fire” disciple/follower of Jesus–not doubting, strong in the words and teachings of my Teacher.

Or, would I have been disappointed in His death–His burial in a borrowed empty tomb–certainly not accomplishing and fulfilling the things I thought Jesus came to do.

With all those thoughts buried in my thoughts and imagination, I decided to re-read the events that took place AFTER the Resurrection.

THE EMMAUS TWO AND THE UNSEEN STRANGER –

ROAD TO EMMAUS
ROAD TO EMMAUS

I am almost certain, you’ve all heard this story in the Gospel of Luke before–based on what happened on a 7-mile walk from Jerusalem.  It is the very heart of the Gospel which highlights the LIVING HOPE found only in the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth…

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep”  (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20 NASB).

But on that first Easter day, that LIVING HOPE was far from being established in the experience of two people mentioned in Luke 24:13-35.

We’ve just celebrated together Resurrection Sunday 2015.  Let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes for a time as they set out on their 7-mile journey.

IT WAS A HEARTBREAKING EXPERIENCE –

Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in our language begin with the letter D?  For example: disappointment; doubt; disillusionment; defeat; despair AND death.  All are summed up in the words of CLEOPAS and his companion to the stranger who joined them on the Emmaus road.  They had left the events of Good Friday behind them, yet what had occurred was still fresh in their memories.

Does that happen to you? It does me.  I try to put disappointing events that happened in the past behind me–don’t want to talk about them, don’t want to relive them and then all of a sudden, I replay the entire scenario to someone else.  I keep picking the scab over and over again and the wound never seems to heal over.

The News Reports Were In– 

Christ’s tomb was empty and did nothing to alter their thinking, it only confused them.

The congregation of two summed up the situation neatly in Luke 24:21:  “we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free.”

HUMAN HOPE is a fragile thing, and when it shrivels up, it’s difficult to revive.  HOPELESSNESS as a disease of the human spirit is hard to rewire.

Sickness overtakes someone you love, it goes on and on–you pray for a cure, your friends pray for a cure, and despair sets in. It becomes almost impossible to HOPE for recovery; even afraid to HOPE because of not being able to cope with another letdown.

The Emmaus Two–

This congregation of two men, created a wall of HOPELESSNESS around them, entrapped in their own misery.  We had hoped…” BUT…

What they were saying is, “We don’t expect it now, but we once did.  We had it, this thing called HOPE, but now it’s gone.”

Has something or someone come between your relationship with God?  If so, take in the words of the Emmaus story because the heart-breaking experience was only the beginning!

The Travelers Made Their Weary Journey Home–

A child's Sunday School class drawing
A child’s Sunday School class drawing

A stranger suddenly accompanied them along the way.  It was going to be one of the most wonderful walks in history!  We know, of course, it was the risen Jesus, but somehow these Jesus followers didn’t have a clue who He was.  In fact Luke tells us “they were kept from recognizing Him.”

They weren’t allowed to recognize Him for a purpose.  It was so that they might be in the same position as the church some 2,000 years later.

The stranger starts the conversation by asking a question:  “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”  (verse 17).  So they poured out their sad story to someone who seemed so willing to listen.

The way Jesus dealt with the situation is a lesson for us–to help those who have lost HOPE.  They NEED companionship–they NEED a listening ear before a stream of “good advice.”

Let’s LOVE them by LISTENING, accepting the way they feel.  The last thing they need is a brisk “cheering up” talk or being told to “snap out of the funk.” There will be a time later to point them to a way of HOPE, to the One in whom HOPE is to be found.

But first things first.  They need someone just like you to listen to their story–someone who has “skin on.”

THE HEART-SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The congregation of two spokesman, Cleopas, expressed surprise by being asked what was worrying them,  “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  (verse 18).

There seems to me a note of suspicion in the voice of Cleopas, but Jesus continues patiently and innocently asks,

“What things?”  

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.  “who was a prophet…”

Notice in verse 19, they said,  “He was…” past tense.  Their experience of Jesus was in the past, thinking they were alone in the world.  The CROSS had taken Him from them.

We’ve all heard exciting testimonies of what JESUS has done in their past–but what about the present?  The past is history.

The question we all must face, is JESUS “a present bright reality” to those who give their experience to you and me?  Do we always recognize Him beside us?

LIFE has many distractions:

HARD WORK–ROUTINE–TIREDNESS–BAD HEALTH–

All can grind us down to carry us on mechanically, never lifting our eyes or minds from the dust of the road we’re traveling on.

We become unaware of the GLORY and STRENGTH found in His presence with us.

“I love To Tell The Story…of JESUS and His love” – [An Old Hymn]

THIS STORY in Luke can give us HOPE that JESUS is still there.  He’s the UNSEEN “STRANGER”, walking with us, listening to us and, if we’re willing to hear His voice, revealing Himself to us.

THE CONGREGATION OF TWO–

JESUS took their sorrow, their bewilderment and gave them a heart-ing experience.  How did Jesus do that?  He pointed them to GOD’S WORD–The Scriptures.

Luke tells us in verse 27, 

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in ALL the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

What? The Old Testament? Yes!

JESUS must have given the EMMAUS TRAVELLERS the greatest Old Testament explanation in history–to A Congregation of Two.

What a wonderful anticipation of Jesus at Calvary as He shared Old Testament revelation: the fall of mankind; the apparently victorious Satan in the form of a serpent– told that the SEED, the offspring of the woman “will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The problem for the disciples was how to make sense of the CROSS, how to accept it.  Jesus helped them do that, showing them that the CROSS itself was the creative act of God.

THE CROSS of SHAME & SUFFERING had become the CROSS OF REDEMPTION for all who would come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

cross-steps-to-peace-photo-604x270

When Jesus arrives on the scene of our lives, He’s probing our thoughts; it’s the PURPOSE of blessing us.  But how do we respond?  Do we, like the two disciples from Emmaus, welcome His approach in letting Him minister to us?

Sometimes the things He points out are uncomfortable.  Do we really want Him to keep looking and explaining what previously baffled us?

Cleopas and his companion accepted the gentle rebuke that Jesus made,  “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken”  (verse 25).

Maybe, the key word here is “ALL”.  It wasn’t that they hadn’t read the prophets of old, but perhaps they’d read the Scriptures selectively…out of context…concentrating on those parts that spoke of a conquering Messiah–being kind to His enemies–be victorious.

The passages that spoke of a suffering servant didn’t fit with their expectation and they’d tended to skip over those parts.

When they now were given the explanation from the Scriptures they reacted positively, and in fact they wanted more, which led them to…

A HEART SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The two-hour journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus seemed like five minutes on that Sunday.  So wrapped-up in conversation with the Lord they hadn’t yet recognized Him.

Luke tells in VERSE 28:  “And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He would go further.”

JESUS is so gentle with us.  He won’t force Himself where He’s not really wanted as He awaited their invitation to come in.

God gives the world the greatest and most precious GIFT, the Gift Of Free Will–we can use it to invite JESUS into our hearts and souls or…allow Him to pass on.

God gave a test to the Congregation of Two to see if the disciples had more appetite of the things of God.  And they did.  We are told,  And they urged Him, saying “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over”  (verse 29).

That’s the sort of INVITATION that Jesus can’t resist:  “And He went in to stay with them.”  

A basic meal was quickly made ready for their guest.  The bread is on the table and the moment for Jesus’ reveal has come.  How does JESUS do it?

“He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and

began to give it to them.”

THE ACTION of the breaking of the bread–

They saw His hands–they were different from the breaking of the bread and feeding of the Five Thousand, and the Last Supper.  They were the nail-pierced hands of JESUS.  In an instant they knew Him.  And in an instant, He’s gone!

Why did Jesus have to disappear at that moment?  Couldn’t the Lord stayed longer?

He could have but He didn’t because all part of the education, the continued teaching was to last 40 Days on Earth–how to manage without His bodily presence from now on; exactly the same as we have to do some 2,000 years after.

But JESUS is with us still by His Spirit.  He is with us as we fellowship with Him in WORSHIP, and in OBEDIENCE to His command, remembering Him in the “breaking of bread” service.

Christ Is Risen From The Dead!

Christ is the SAVIOR!  Christ is the HOPE of the world!

The TWO DISCIPLES in this story lost no time in retracing their steps to Jerusalem (yes, another 7 miles!) in excitement to SHARE the Good News.  May that be our experience after Resurrection Sunday and for the rest of our life.


BLOG CREDITS:

BIBLE TRANSLATION FOR THIS POST:  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

PHOTO CREDITS (Various): Photo Pin; Google Search Images and OTHER saved photos.

Sermon Notes: Owen Bourgaize Emmaus Experience.