HOW DO YOU PREARE TO EFFECTIVELY SERVE THE LORD IN OUR CULTURE?

– Jesus: Our Faithful High Priest and Scribe (Part 2) 

HOW DO YOU PREPARE TO EFFECTIVELY SERVE THE LORD IN OUR CULTURE?

(Ezra 8)

The Bible tells about the “Arctic wasteland” we are headed into. Are we prepared or are we “polishing our silver and tuning our organ”? Now is the time to prepare. We are at the exact time and place in history where God, in His sovereignty, has placed us. He placed us here for a reason. That reason is the journey He’s called us to travel; the life He has called us to live as we travel through these changing times and shifting paradigms as followers of Jesus Christ.

Preparation is essential to accomplish what God has for us to do. To begin preparing, we are going to look at Ezra’s example. It was somewhere around 450 BC that King Artaxerxes of Persia allowed Ezra to lead a second remnant of Jews out of exile in Babylon to Jerusalem.  Ezra, a respected priest and scribe, was given “traveling papers” assuring his safety. For some reason, the king also gave huge amounts of captured gold and silver to help with the temple.

The Israelites knew much of what awaited them. They knew it was not going to be pretty. They were preparing for a 1200 mile, four month long journey, with NO ARMED ESCORT and VAST WEALTH from the King among their meager possessions. In addition, they had women and children in tow. They realized the temple, about 60 years old at the time, was in the middle of a city of rubble. They knew the wasteland was ahead of them and understood the potential threats they could encounter. So, they realized the serious need to prepare.

A journey requires preparation on multiple levels. Ezra understood this. First, Ezra prepared himself spiritually. He knew that before he could lead this unguarded caravan, he himself had to be absolutely “clean” and sensitive and willing to trust and obey.

Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” In this verse, we see Ezra’s preparation, priority, and plan. Ezra prepared his heart, he knew his priority (to seek the Law of the Lord), and he had a plan (to do what the Law of the Lord said and teach God’s statutes and ordinances to his fellow Israelites). Simply, Ezra’s testimony was one of DIGGING into God’s Word – LIVING OUT God’s Word – and SHARING God’s Word!

Secondly, Ezra knew the exiles must prepare spiritually. Ezra “practiced what he preached” and he “preached what he practiced.” He listened to God’s Word, he believed it, he studied it, he lived it, he journaled it, he passed it along – and he was blessed for it. In our day, we call this BIBLICAL DISCIPLESHIP.

Ezra told the exiles, “meet me at the river”! Then Ezra proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that they might humble themselves before God, to seek from Him the right way for them and their little ones and all their possessions” (Ezra 8:21). Ezra declared a “fast.” WE must remember that a FAST is not just about giving up food or social media or a pleasure. It is about HAVING AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW TO THE HEART OF GOD …  IT’S AN ATTITUDE.


INTEGRATING TRUTH INTO EVERYDAY LIFE

As we have transitioned into a post Christian culture, much has changed and we have entered the outskirts of an “Arctic wasteland.” God has placed each one of us where we are and in this period of history for a reason. We are right where he designed us to be. Yet, we are individually responsible for our preparation to live effectively as followers of Christ in our generation. The method of preparation has not changed since Ezra’s time.

Ezra prepared his heart, prioritized his thoughts, and planned his action. (See Ezra 7:10). To be prepared to reach out to our culture for Christ, we must first prepare ourselves spiritually.

1. Ezra started by setting his heart to seek God and the Law of the Lord (Scripture). Why was this important? How did it effect his priorities and plans? What are some practical ways you can set your heart to seek the Lord this week?

2. Reflect on your “view to the heart of God.”  What does a view to the heart of God mean? Is yours unobstructed?

3. We know that our minds must be set on the Spirit rather than on the flesh, and that we must walk in the Spirit. Part of our daily spiritual preparation is to examine ourselves to see if we are walking in the Spirt or according to our flesh. (See Romans 8:6 – For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.) (See also Galatians 5:16-17 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.”) Take some time to examine your your focus and actions.

4. Prayerfully evaluate your current priorities. Where did they originate? Are they in line with God’s Word? Do you genuinely believe they are what God wants to hold prominence in your life? If not, what adjustments could be considered?

 

Listen to :Jesus: Our Faithful High Priest and Scribe (Part 1)

 

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