Wednesday’s Word ~ Ezra: Lesson 10

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Ezra 9

After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled.Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, saying:

“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.

10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Ezra and the second wave of exiles had made it back to Jerusalem safely, but everything was not hunky dory. In your own words, summarize the dilemma this chapter deals with.

2. Which specific sin does this chapter address? (1-2) Which classes of Israelites had intermarried with foreigners? (1) Which class was leading the way in the sin of intermarriage? (2b) How does it affect God’s people when their leaders set a bad example by sinning? Why is it important today that pastors and elders are required to be “above reproach“?

3. What was the first thing Ezra did when he was informed of the intermarriages? (3-4) What did the people who feared God and had not sinned by intermarrying do? (4) Why do you think they did this? What was the second thing Ezra did? (5) Compare and contrast Ezra’s leadership and example with the leadership and example of the “officials and chief men” (2).

4. Why did Ezra react with such grief and repentance over the intermarriages? (7, 10-12a, 14) What are the “abominations” referred to in verses 11 and 14? Read 2 Corinthians 7:10. Does Ezra’s grief seem godly (grief over offending God) or worldly (solely afraid of sin’s consequences)? Did Ezra confess and seek forgiveness for his own sin or the people’s sin?

5. In what (spiritual) posture does Ezra approach God in prayer? (6a) Ezra’s prayer can be broken down into several smaller sections:

6-7 Admission of Israel’s G____t

8-9- Acknowledgement of God’s G___ness

10-12- Confession of Israel’s specific S_n

13-14- Recognition that Israel deserves P_____ment

15- Petition for God’s M___y

How can Ezra’s prayer serve as a model to us when we repent of our sin and ask God’s forgiveness?

6. To whom does the phrase “holy race” (2) refer? Does the word “race” in this phrase mean skin color? Some people try to use verses like this to support the fale teaching of Kinism. Considering the historical background and context of this chapter, can verse 2 be used to support banning interracial marriage and segregating worship in the church today? Why not? How does this demonstrate the importance of understanding and using Scripture in context?

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Blog Posts

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Not long ago, I read an article about overused stock photos. You know, like the one up there ↑ that we bloggers use to add visual interest to our articles. It made me laugh, because if anyone overuses certain stock photos, it’s Christian bloggers. I read articles all the time that use the same photos I’ve used for my own articles, and I’m sure other bloggers recognize a lot of the photos I use as ones they’ve used. Hmm…maybe we’re all using the same image site.

Here are seven stock photos that have made the rounds of Christian blogs (including mine). Do you recognize any of them?

1. This Little Light of Mine

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think this one might finally be in semi-retirement. For a while there you practically couldn’t read a Christian blog article without seeing this one. Articles on evangelism, marriage, baptism, cutting your toenails in church…it was used on all of them and not really related to any of them.

2. Shebrews

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This one’s usually used on articles about Bible study, so at least that fits. I kind of like it, but then I’m a big fan of both the Bible and coffee. I started to make a comment about how much this Bible is highlighted, but then I realized I have Bibles that look like they were printed on neon yellow paper.

3. Dark Shadows

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There’s a whole genre of these: silhouette lady reaching for the sky. I’m just curious as to how many women have ever actually gone out to the beach or a meadow or the mountains at dawn and thrown their arms up in the air. I haven’t. Maybe I’m missing something and should give it a try. (But I think the something I’d be missing is my nice warm bed.)

4. Miss Lonely Hearts

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I’ve used this one myself and have seen it on countless other blogs, usually in articles about women’s ministry. Guess what the title of the picture is? “Depression.” It does look pretty depressing, but doesn’t it look more like she’s fighting off morning sickness? I spent upwards of a year and a half of my life hunched over like that willing myself not to hurl, so I consider myself something of an expert.

5. Last Man Standing…er…Sitting

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This is what happens when you fall asleep in church (although I can’t imagine anybody falling asleep on those uncomfortable looking pews)- the service ends and everybody gets up and leaves your sorry self. And no, we don’t believe you’re that deep in prayer or meditation. It’s a great picture, though, a perfect fit for articles on church-related topics.

6. Cup O’ the Mornin’ to Ya!

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Mmmmm…more coffee. Look at its steamy goodness filling that bright, airy room with an awesome Arabica aroma. This hypnotic focal point almost prevents you from seeing the bed that somebody forgot to make up. What do coffee and untucked sheets have to do with anything in the Bible? I’m not sure, but I confess, I’ve used this photo before.

7. Bible Study, Baby!

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Could this photo be any more adorable? Probably only if we could see this little cutie’s face. I’ll be honest, I love this picture and I don’t care how many bloggers use it. It might not work for an article on circumcision or eternal conscious torment, but, hey, give it a try anyway. It’s too precious to pass up.

Those are the seven most used stock photos I’ve seen floating around the Christian interwebs. What about you? What are some photos you’ve seen over and over on Christian blogs and web sites? Post a link or the photo in the comments below!

Thanks for your patience…

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Hi Everybody-

Just wanted to take a moment thank you for your patience if you’ve submitted a question or comment and haven’t received a response from me. I have been helping with flood relief, plus taking care of my own family, and today is the first day of school (I home school), so, except for a few questions that required only very brief responses, I haven’t had time to answer the pile of (approved) blog comments, e-mails, and social media messages I’ve received. I promise I will get to them just as soon as I can.

Again, thanks so much for your patience and understanding.

Michelle

Baton Rouge Flood Relief- We Need Your Help

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Regular readers: This week’s edition of The Mailbag answers the question I’ve received from several readers: “How can we help with flood relief?” I’m posting it today, Sunday, in hopes you can catch your pastor or small group at church and talk to them about sending a team or a love offering. Please share this around to help us get the word out, and thank you so much for your love and desire to help.

high-water-123201_1280Imagine 90% of the homes and businesses in your town destroyed by a flood. Thousands of your friends and neighbors rescued from rapidly rising deadly currents by boat, sometimes, literally, with only the clothes on their backs. Some separated from spouses or young children for days because they had to get into different boats and ended up at different shelters. No homes to go back to. No jobs to go back to because businesses flood just like homes do. No cars to drive because cars flood, too. No clothes, no food, and often, no money to rebuild and replace everything they owned.

Now try to imagine, in the aftermath, having to choose whether to scramble to clean out your own flood ravaged house before it molds and mildews or helping a loved one who desperately needs you. Or, if your home didn’t flood, feeling torn between helping your family, your best friend, your church, and other relief ministries.

This is the situation my community, and communities across south Louisiana, are facing right now. Those of us whose homes and businesses God spared are doing what we can to help friends, loved ones, and strangers, but we are spread dreadfully thin. Shelters and relief ministries are in desperate need of food, supplies, and volunteers.

In Louisiana, we take great pride in taking care of our own, and our locals are doing an astounding job of it. But the situation is so overwhelming that this time we need help.

We need your help. We need your church’s help.

How? Could you spare a few days or more to come down and volunteer with a flood relief ministry? Could your church send a team? Would you like to make a donation, or could your church collect a love offering, to help the many people whose lives have been turned upside down by the flood?

If so, I’d like to direct you to the relief efforts at New Covenant Church. New Covenant is about 15 minutes from me in Denham Springs, Louisiana, one of the hardest hit areas. Blessedly, God spared this precious church to be a ministry to others during this difficult time.

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New Covenant is a doctrinally sound local church where several friends and loved ones of mine, including the associate pastor (who is heading up flood relief efforts there), are members. My family and I have worshiped with New Covenant numerous times. If you or your church would like to help by making a donation, I can personally assure you that your money will be handled in a godly way and will go directly to flood victims who will also hear the biblical gospel. New Covenant needs volunteers for various aspects of relief ministry, too, and would welcome you or a group from your church if you are able to come down here and help out.

You can give on line or via text. And, if you’d like to come down and help out, you can contact Pastor Todd Whirley by phone or e-mail, or (possibly more quickly- phone service is still somewhat spotty) by private message on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you so much for your kindness, prayers, compassion, and generosity, and please share this with your friends and on social media to help us get the word out.
Same street as the one in the video above.

Same street as the one in the video above.

The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

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Note from Michelle: Thanks so much for your prayers during the devastating flooding we’ve been having down here. My family is fine and we were blessed to be in one of those peculiar little spots in town that stayed relatively dry. However, due to helping with flood relief efforts, I did not have time to write an original article this week. I hope you’ll enjoy this “blast from the past” (January 27, 2013) article.

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mh900442249Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.

MH900409045Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.

MH900386222Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.

“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”MH900442248

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

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 www.carm.org

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Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough
www.fightingforthefaith.com

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 www.gotquestions.org

 apprising.org

www.apprising.org

Throwback Thursday ~ My Husband Brought Me Flowers Today

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Originally published June 27, 2014

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“I’m so tired of flowers,” sighed the elderly woman in the TV commercial as my jaw hit the floor. She had just described how her husband of fifty years, seated next to her, brought her flowers on their first date, and every year since had given her the same bouquet on that day.

And she was tired of flowers.

It wasn’t enough that she had a husband who stayed with her for fifty years. Or that he actually remembered the day of their first date every year. Or that he was caring enough to send her flowers on that date. Or that he was sentimental and romantic enough to send her the same flowers every year.

No. She was tired of flowers. She wanted the product the commercial was trying to sell.

I wanted a shoe to throw at the TV.

My husband brought me flowers today. I know, in the picture they look rather more like birthday candles than flowers. That’s because, technically, my flowers were birthday candles.

I was getting ready for our youngest son’s birthday party. I had already made a trip to the store and thought I had everything I needed. Until I discovered I was nearly out of baking powder. My husband was out running errands, so I sent him a text asking if he could pick some up for me. He did. No problem. Until I remembered I didn’t have any candles for the birthday cake. And he had already left the store. And it was raining.

“And it was raining.” I say that like it’s just so pedestrian, like it’s some normal, everyday thing, which, in south Louisiana in June, I assure you, it is not. Every day, yes. Normal, no. Remember that scene in one of those ’90’s “asteroid crashes into the earth” movies where the asteroid has just hit and the man and his daughter are standing on the beach watching the huge resulting tidal wave roll in to engulf them? Well if, instead of the beach, you can imagine yourself trying to navigate a WalMart parking lot with a buggy full of groceries and four kids in tow in the middle of that tidal wave, you’ll have some idea of what monsoon season is like down here.

And you know what my husband did when I asked him to go get birthday candles in that mess? He did it gladly. No complaints. No asking, “Why didn’t you think about this sooner?” He just walked in the house, soaked and smiling, and handed me the candles.

No bouquet could have been better.

Ladies, my husband has a lot of faults. I’ll bet yours does too. Because just like us, they’re sinful human beings. Often, like the lady in the commercial, we trample over a dozen roses to plant our feet in a briar patch. We overlook the ways our husbands are a blessing to us and focus only on our complaints.

Maybe he didn’t get you exactly what you wanted for your birthday, but does he work hard every day to support your family? So, he didn’t notice your new haircut right away. Does he give the kids their bath every night? Yes, his dirty socks are constantly on the floor in front of the hamper, but didn’t he change the oil in the car yesterday?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The next time you’re tempted to complain about your husband’s shortcomings, why not praise God instead for a way that he has blessed you or done something admriable? And let’s make sure to thank our husbands for those little “flowers” they bring us every day.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Wednesday’s Word ~ Ezra: Lesson 9

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Ezra 8

These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men. Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men. Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men. 10 Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men. 11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men. 12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men. 13 Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men. 14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men.

15 I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, 17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; 19 also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; 20 besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God,to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. 25 And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. 26 I weighed out into their hand 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents, and 100 talents of gold, 27 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold. 28 And I said to them, “You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. 29 Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the Lord.” 30 So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. 32 We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. 33 On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui. 34 The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.

35 At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord. 36 They also delivered the king’s commissions to the king’s satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Ezra was about to return from Babylon to Jerusalem bringing the second wave of exiles with him. What are some practical reasons it might have been important for Ezra to make this list of returnees and their genealogy? (1-14) What are some other reasons God includes census lists and genealogies in the Bible? How does this list demonstrate that God is a God of order and detail? Can you think of other examples of God’s orderliness and attention to detail?

2. Stop and consider for a moment that each name listed in verses 1-14 represents a real, flesh and blood person that God loved and cared for individually. Now consider how He loves and cares for you in a personal, individual way and spend some time thanking and praising Him for that.

3. Who were the sons of Levi (15) and why was it important that they be found and brought along (17b)? Why couldn’t just any willing person do what the Levites had always done? Compare the Old Testament requirements for Levites with the New Testament requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons. How do these passages demonstrate to us that God wants the church to be structured and run, and for His people to conduct themselves, in a decent and orderly way?

4. What did Ezra lead the people to do before starting on their journey back to Jerusalem and why? (21-23) What does this passage teach us about the necessity of humility, prayer, and dependence on God? How did Ezra’s actions show concern for protecting God’s reputation and demonstrating His power in the sight of pagans? How did God answer their prayer? (31) Can you think of a comparable situation in your own life when you have depended on God and lost people were able to see God’s faithfulness, power, or protection as a result? How might this have been an opportunity to share the gospel with those lost people?

5. Summarize verses 24-34 in your own words. How is this another example of God’s people acting in an orderly way? Consider Ezra’s emphasis on holiness in verse 28. In what ways should we emphasize holiness in the church, in our pastors and other church leaders, and in our own lives today? Do we take our churches and our ministry responsibilities as seriously and reverently as the priests in this passage?

6. How did the people respond to God giving them a safe journey to Jerusalem? (35-36) Notice that this is a corporate (all the people gathered together) time of worship, thanksgiving, celebration, and repentance. Does your church have similar times of corporate worship and thanksgiving? How did/does this build fellowship and biblical unity among God’s people? How did it serve to remind Israel (and us today) that God alone gets the glory in all our circumstances?

 

Street Preaching: A Call to Arms

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If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you might remember my friend Michael Coughlin, who’s written some great guest posts for me. Recently, Michael alerted me to a fantastic little series of videos about open air (or “street”) preaching. If you’ve ever wondered what’s involved with this kind of ministry, the gentlemen in these five brief (most are 7-8 minutes; the longest is under 11 minutes) videos will share their hearts with you and fill you in.

There are many ways women can be involved in open air ministry, as well. There are often bystanders who need someone to share the gospel with them or answer their questions one on one. You can also hand out tracts or invitations to your church and pray for the open air preacher and those who are listening to him. Tony Miano over at Cross Encounters Ministries has written a helpful resource about women and open air preaching called, Should She Preach? – Biblical Evangelism for Women.

Give these videos a viewing. I hope you’ll enjoy and learn from them as much as I did. And be sure to share with friends and those in your church who might be interested in starting up an open air ministry.

 

 

 

 

The Mailbag: Attending a Homosexual “Wedding”?

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“Should a Christian attend the wedding of a homosexual friend or loved one?”

Matt Moore, a Christian who was saved out of the homosexual lifestyle, does a beautiful job in this article of answering this question by first examining the two reasons Christians typically give for attending such weddings.

I would echo his responses to both of those reasons and agree with his answer that, no, Christians should not attend homosexual weddings. Attending a wedding implies that a person is in favor of the union, and no matter how much we love the person, Christ calls us to love Him more and not participate in or give approval to sin.

Speaking of lost people who approve of the sin of others, Romans 1:32 says:

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

If it is an abomination to God for sinners to give approval to the sins of others, how much more abominable is it in His sight for Christians to give approval to the sins of others?

I love this quote from Matt’s article:

“Yes, God is love. Yes, God is merciful and gracious. But God’s love, mercy and grace are saturated in holiness and that is why his Son was mutilated on a Roman cross for our sins. God hates sin. If we want our lives to show unbelievers the true character of our loving and holy God, we must be people who set ourselves apart from the evils of this world. And a gay marriage ceremony is a celebratory glorification of blatant evil. A Christian abstaining from a loved one’s ceremony would give witness to the holiness of God – a characteristic of His which most are failing to believe still exists.”

Additional Resource:

Should I attend the wedding of a gay friend or family member? by Denny Burk


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Announcement

high-water-123201_1280For those that don’t know, I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You’ve probably seen some dramatic video of flooding in my area on the news. It’s a pretty serious situation, and we covet your prayers.

My family and I are fine for now. I live in a fairly large, spread out neighborhood. The main thoroughfares that form the perimeter of my neighborhood all have varying degrees of standing water and passability. Blessedly, our house is far enough “inland” from those streets that we do not have any water on our own street at all, much less in the house. We don’t have cell service, but we do still have power and satellite/internet as of the time I’m posting this. Unfortunately, we are expecting more rain this week.

I’ve received some questions about whether the flooding is worse than Katrina was. That’s a little tricky to answer. Katrina didn’t hit Baton Rouge anywhere near as hard as it hit New Orleans. So, yes, this flooding is much worse in Baton Rouge than Katrina was in Baton Rouge, but I’m not sure it’s quite as bad as Katrina was in New Orleans, if that makes sense.

All of this is mainly to let you know a) to keep us in prayer, and b) if you don’t see normally scheduled posts on the blog or on social media, or if I don’t answer e-mails, messages, or post blog comments for a while, it’s probably because our power or internet went out, or because we had to evacuate.

Thanks so much to all who have expressed concern and prayed for us :0)

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