This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Ezra 8:21-36 Fasting plus Prayer plus Faith Equals God Being With Us
the reading from Ezra 8:21-36, Ezra and the Jews are returning to Jerusalem
from exile in Babylon, just like the Jews travelled to the Promised Land under
the leadership of Moses and Joshua. They decided to trust in God for protection
instead of relying on an armed escort provided by the king of Babylon. The
native peoples who prowled through the desert in Old Testament times were as
dangerous as they are today. Travellers usually had an armed escort, but Ezra
spoke so much to the king of God’s providence that it would have been foolish
for him to ask for armed guards.
is not one battle in the Old Testament that was won by man-made means. Each
battle was won by men who knew God. Ezra is another person who knew God.Ezra decided that the exiles should commit
themselves to God’s protection by fasting and prayer. God is not a set of
timeless principles such as the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. He
has and is a divine will who has specific goals:
1.To claim what is
rightly his, namely us.
2.To bless those
who trust him and enter into his covenant relationship.
3.To judge those
who reject him
God means acknowledging him, pursuing him, experiencing him, responding to his
initiatives of grace, submitting to his claims, entering into his covenants and
living in his power. Ezra met all of these conditions, and we must ask
ourselves if we meet these conditions as well.
God involves three things:
1.Head. You read,
study and understand God’s Word. You listen to preaching and teaching. You see
God revealed in creation. You study his nature and actions. You listen to
testimonies about God’s faithfulness. Ezra met all of these qualifications, but
head knowledge is not enough.
experience the presence and power of God in a real and vital relationship in
your life. His love constrains us to love him in return. You receive what your
head absorbs about God and you humble yourselves in his presence. You allow
conviction to grip your heart and life until it leads to repentance that leads
to life. You allow sorrow to produce hatred of sin. You experience the joy of
the Lord. You live a life of brokenness before him and long to be in his
presence. Ezra met all of these qualifications, but heart knowledge alone is a
dangerous thing because it is vulnerable to manmade desires.
3.Legs. You obey
and live a relationship with Jesus and do what he commands. Ezra met all of
these qualifications, but if all we do is the doing, we can burn out quickly.
three of these have to be put together in order for us to know God. We have to
renew our minds with godly things. We have to be melted and softened by his
touch. We have to run to obey his word and commands.
you consider the dangers of their journey, their faith was great, and it was
rewarded by divine protection. This had to have been one of the most
astonishing events in history. As they travelled, they carried orders from the
king. These orders were shown to the governors of the areas where the exiles
travelled. As a result of these orders, the governors supported the exiles.
commission from the king Ezra included orders to carry over 25 tons of silver
and gold from the Babylonians to the temple of Jerusalem. Ezra gave twelve
priests and twelve Levites the responsibility and accountability for carrying
this treasure. Ezra carefully distributed all of the offerings for the temple.
This ensured that everything would arrive intact, especially since the
offerings would be weighed in Jerusalem to confirm the safe passage of the
did not build a physical structure. He re-established the true worship in
obedience to the Law of Moses. When Ezra and the exiles prayed to God, their
focus changed from the immediate to the eternal. They had a hunger for God.
Their focus changed from their earthly journey to their eternal journey. They
trusted God. God’s oversight of history forms the background for the Book of
was more than a Biblical scholar. He had a burning desire to teach God’s law to
the people and to practice it as it was written and intended. He was burdened
that the Jews were not following God’s law correctly and was committed to
showing then their errors. Ezra had the goal of leading the Jews back to proper
worship and practice. For example, while in Babylon, the exiles mixed with
foreigners. Ezra asked God to forgive them. They deserved everything that
happened to them because they disobeyed God by mixing with the foreigners, but
God remained faithful to them. The exiles had to repent and change, which meant
that there could be no more marriages with non-believers.
was not the type of person who could be content with half-hearted or faulty
service. He could not allow God’s people to remain ignorant of God’s Law. He
obeyed God’s Law perfectly and expected the people to obey the Law as well. He
knew that what the people were doing was the opposite of what they should be
set a good example for us to follow. He inspires us to do the right thing, even
if it means that more time will be needed. Ezra and the exiles prayed to God
for guidance, and God was with them. God is also with us to guide us regardless
of our circumstances. God made faith a key ingredient in our faith journey so
that we would be 100% dependent on him. Reason tells us to stay where we are,
but faith encourages us to step out. Ezra’s example encourages us to consider
our lifestyles and our activities honestly and to seek the Lord for wisdom and
was able to be a successful minister to those in need because of his lifelong
study of the Scriptures. God wants his name to be spread throughout the world.
He equips his followers to cross cultures and touch hearts. If we are in
Christ, God will speak to others through us. God will tear down our shells or
walls and then we can discover what our ministry passion is-i.e. teenagers, the
elderly or drug addicts. God calls on us to minister to those in need, and that
means all of us, because we are all in need. We need God’s saving power and
David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood,
TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
Fawcett, A.R. & Brown, D: Commentary
Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbour, WA: Logos
Research Systems, Inc.; 1997)
& Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s
Commentary Series, Vol. 11: Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther (Nashville, TN: Thomas
Nelson Inc.; 1993)
5.Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville,
TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2010)