God’s hand is on us.
Ezra set his heart before God to studying God’s Word, doing God’s Word personally, and teaching His Word. Isn’t this the healthy life of being a disciple of Jesus, his follower? We get to constantly cycle through and dwell in each of these three activities, all three being what comprise our life in relationship with our Savior together a His people. We are constantly soaking in God’s Word in our personal lives, living it out, and encouraging each other to do the same.
What do we think of the reality that God’s hand is on our lives? We can take this to be so comfy and kind of cheap really. It is comforting, especially as we are aware of His kindness and goodness and patience and grace. But, we’ve got to be aware of His ability to carry out His plans through us too. He isn’t just a nice guy in the sky ready to bless and never concerned about our actual commitment and actual heart’s devotion.
Ezra 7 is so worth soaking in and gleaning from today. Let’s glean some rich truth for our souls. As I read this, and as I think about the images I captured during my drive yesterday (see below), I’m reminded that God is the ultimate Wrangler. His hand is upon us to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). It is only His providence and His goodness that results in His glory through our lives. We should not even want the credit for our good works. He is so worthy and awesome, and it really all is from His good hands working in our lives anyway. If we want to live a God-oriented life, let’s go at it together.
That said, what does Ezra do from his point of view? What can we do in our walks with God? Respond to God’s work in our lives. Like a horse must be broken, we must break under His good grace working in our lives – hardships and fresh experiences of kindness, heart-ache and death, broken relationships and restored ones. God works on our lives whether we recognize it or not. It’s our opportunity to respond well to His initiatives in our lives.
So, step one to being like Ezra and his crew in preparation for their return home to see fruitful labor was BROKENNESS and WILLLINGNESS. Whoever freely offered to go was able to go home and work hard on God’s house of praise. Who wants to join in and see fruitful labor in this life? More specifically for our county and seeing fruitful labor among believers in community, who wants to volunteer to jump in and get your hands dirty? It will take a little more than just offering to help, but this is how you get “picked” to serve. You’ve sort of got to volunteer.
Step two wasn’t something anyone volunteered. It was simply what happened next. OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD. What you have you get to use! Ezra was to work with those who were already taught and he was to teach those who hadn’t yet been taught. This isn’t to say we arrive and never have to learn anything else. Any broken Christian knows better. This is interesting because it seems to indicate in one sense that DOING GOD’S WORD was more the priority than just getting it taught to us.
This is challenging in our Christian culture because we highly prize teaching God’s Word and getting it taught to us. Our “church life” is oriented around production, stage life, audience life. In fact, our whole culture is oriented this way. How exciting to get to get our hands dirty and get into the DOING of God’s Word. New Testament “building of God’s house” is simply making disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s no longer as much a construction project as it is a relationship “project”… and anyone knows that relationships that are treated like a project are resented. Instead of “being a project,” let’s ready ourselves to being cared for by God through one another. We get to focus on people, encouraging each other in God’s Word, and doing God’s Word.
Ezra set his heart before God to studying God’s Word, doing God’s Word personally, and teaching His Word. Isn’t this the healthy life of being a disciple of Jesus, his follower? We get to constantly cycle through and dwell in each of these three activities, all three being what comprise our life in relationship with our Savior together as His people. We are constantly soaking in God’s Word in our personal lives, living it out, and encouraging each other to do the same.
What we get to remember in all of this is to remember Who ultimately handles our hearts. In our less faithful points of relationship with God, our more stubborn stages (anywhere in our walk with God no matter how long we’ve been a professing Christian), being a believer can feel like we are a bull that just can’t be beat. We buck and twist and kick and snort. As God breaks us, together as His people, we start to feel more like horses, broken horses, directed and led by bridles, all with the same Rider. Our Lord directs each of us, and we are more and more useful under His kind direction. We more willingly volunteer for His work as He reveals it to us, and we more readily serve His purposes for our lives in communities of believers.
May each pooling of believers in our county and region work together like teams of cowboys and cowgirls, ready to go where we are commissioned. May we live in community with one another, ready to serve one another and serve others we encounter together. Ready to build God’s house, making disciples for Jesus as we go along. May we be humble as we see each other or new believers or non-believers bucking and kicking against the Lord as He breaks and humbles us and reminds us of how good and pleasant it is to dwell in His presence and abide in Him. He directs us into His grace, whether it’s hard or tender, and He cares for us along the way until we encounter Him in glory together. Then, it will all be Heaven. It will be awesome. Until then it’s much like a long pack ride, plenty of beautiful sights along the way, but plenty of trudging and steady climbing and toughening. God builds His church, His people. He sustains us as His laborers.