Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Ezra and Nehemiah
So many people in our world, nation, and churches seem so determined to damn themselves.
Wherever I look, I see people who are so negative about everyone and everything, backbiting, bantering, bickering, bruising, beating, and butchering. Civility has been replaced with constant crippling criticisms about everyone and everything. People can't seem to help themselves from damning everyone and everything including themselves by simple deduction: if everyone and everything should be...
Even among Christians who should know better, I see increasing separations, segregations, and schisms in total defiance of every ethic taught by Jesus about honoring Him by being reconcilable with others.
Too many churches are disgraces of dysfunction, division, and damning words, actions, and even looks.
How dare such "Christians" and "churches" tell the world and nation how to get along when they are poster children for not getting along?
The next time I see someone who has broken fellowship with a church and then parades around like Sister-Bertha-better-than-you, I'm gonna say, "Even Gandhi would have smacked you in the head."
Twain was right: "The church is always trying to get other people to reform. It might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little by way of example."
Though many like me are just scratching the surface of our relationship with Him, we are praying and laboring to model Someone better for a world, nation, and too many churches so bent on damning themselves.
Ezra and Nehemiah come to mind.
Despite the typical opposition to anything for God's sake, they pressed ahead to rebuild the house of the Lord and His family of faith.
Though I remember someone telling me in seminary that Ezra and Nehemiah were once one book because the message of both is the same, the messengers were a little different; so that's why, I guess, most Bibles have one book for each of them.
Ezra and Nehemiah reflect unity amid diversity.
One message from/through different messengers; or as Paul explained later, "There are varieties of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve, but they're all directed by the same Lord.'
Ezra was a "priest and teacher of the law of the True God of heaven." He was an educated clergyman and expert Bible teacher.
Nehemiah was a "cupbearer to the king" which means he was a taste-tester to make sure the king wasn't poisoned.
One had academic credentials and one did not; proving God can use anyone whenever He wills to use anyone no matter who, what, where, or why.
But as Grandpa Kopp counseled, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
Ezra and Nehemiah teamed up to rebuild the house of the Lord and His family of faith.
Specifically, they worked together to rebuild the Temple and rebuild/renew the faith of God's people.
Their plan was simple: worship, extol God's Word as the ultimate authority for faith and morality, pray, and be counter-culture or distinguishable from the world's ways as God's people.
They knew God's house and people cannot be built/renewed apart from worshiping regularly, staying in His Word, praying a lot more than as only punctuations for meetings, and acting holy in the streets as well as sanctuaries.
Typically, again, they had opposition; or as Jesus promised as well as warned, "You will be hated because you love Me."
Always remember John's diagnosis detecting darkness: "It is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one. Those who don't show love for one another do not belong to God."
Similarly, always remember John's declaration on why faithful folks like Ezra and Nehemiah prevail sooner or later and definitely in the end: "My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world."
Getting back to people who seem so determined to damn themselves, I recall how my good friend Don Hecox distinguishes His from others, "You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can tell a tree by its fruit."
God's people build.
That's the big message of Ezra and Nehemiah: "Whoever is among His people...build the house of the Lord!"
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!