Sharpen Your Skills

Ezra 7:6 says of Ezra that “he was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses …”. This is an important statement, and it is no accident that it is mentioned as his character is introduced into this story. It should remind us all that God uses our preparation and skill for His kingdom purposes.

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“The Little Condo on the Prairie” (9-16-14)

The inhabitants of “The Little Condo” recently took a family trip to the drive-through for dinner — you can ride along if you’d like:

Cheryl had to work really hard this particular Monday, so I decided we’d give her a break and go get some fast food for dinner. But as I was getting ready to leave, Paul mentioned how he was really craving one of those old-fashioned, store-bought, really-bad-for-you cookie cakes. I made an executive decision: “EVERYBODY load up! This is going to be a family outing!” Almost surprisingly, no one objected, so Cheryl, Paul, Michael & I all piled into the Camry. It was a good decision:

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“Playing Without Ceasing?”

Have you ever noticed that it is now possible to go all day long and never have a quiet moment? We have an unprecedented amount of media available to us today — which can be a blessing in some ways: we can listen to Christian music, to podcasts of sermons from preachers all over the world, etc. But a person may now, purposefully or not, fill up literally every second of his day with some kind of music or media. And that is not particularly a good thing.

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“The Discipline of Spontaneous Prayer” (Nehemiah 2:4 sermon)

(Preached at First Baptist Pauls Valley, OK, 9-14-14 a.m.)

Some of us were eating out a few years ago, and one of our friends was asking the blessing for our food, and he prayed a fairly long prayer. When he was finished, another of our friends said, “Hey, just because you missed your prayer time this morning doesn’t mean you had to make it up while all of our food was getting cold!”
There is a time for praying longer prayers, and there is a time for praying shorter ones, and as disciples of Jesus we need to recognize, and learn to use both types of prayer.

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Fear God, Not Men

Many of us are afraid of the wrong people. In Ezra 5, the leaders of Israel explained to those who were opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple, what had led to its destruction. In verse 12 they explained: “But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon …”. The Jewish leaders had the right perspective — one which many of us need to adopt as well.

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A Word to Church Leaders

Ezra 5 tells us that the prophets Haggai & Zechariah prophesied and told the leaders of the Jews, Zerubabbel and Jeshua, to rebuild the house of God, despite those who opposed them. Verse 2 says that Zerubabbel and Jeshua did what the prophets told them, AND it says that “the prophets of God were with them supporting them.” That last phrase is one which all of God’s leaders should heed: Continue reading

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Taking the Long View on “Wins” & “Losses”

I wonder how often we are very short-sighted in what we consider to be “victories” and “defeats”? At the very end of Ezra 4, after the enemies of Israel had written to the king accusing those who were trying to rebuild the Temple, the king ordered the work to stop, and verse 24 says: “then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased.” But it was a short-lived victory. Continue reading

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