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Keep on, keeping on

(19)

Sermon shared by Larry Brincefield

July 2005
Summary: In Ezra chapter 4, the work of the Church (Temple) came to a standstill. 15 years later, in Ezra chapter 5, we see that the people are recommited to building His Church (Temple).
Series: Ezra
Denomination: Nazarene
Audience: Believer adults
Sermon:
Introduction
1. “I Give Up”…
• That’s a phrase that we use when all hope is gone…
• We throw up our hands…
• And we surrender…
• We give up…
• In boxing, they would “throw in the towel”…
• Meaning that their boxer has had enough…
• And he would fight no more…
• In warfare, one side might see that the battle is hopeless…
• And will run up the white flag of surrender…
2. In 1877
• Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce Indians…
• Surrendered to the American Army…
• There was a movie made in 1975 about Chief Joseph and his battle to remain free…
• It was entitled, “I will fight no more forever”….
• As a teenager in the 70s, I remember this movie…
• The speech that he gave when he surrendered is filled with emotion…
• Let me read it to you:
I WILL FIGHT NO MORE FOREVER
(Surrender Speech)
by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce
I am tired of fighting.
Our chiefs are killed.
Looking Glass is dead.
Toohulhulsote is dead.
The old men are all dead.
It is the young men who say no and yes.
He who led the young men is dead.
It is cold and we have no blankets.
The little children are freezing to death.
My people, some of them,
Have run away to the hills
And have no blankets, no food.
No one know where they are-
Perhaps they are freezing to death.
I want to have time to look for my children
And see how many of them I can find.
Maybe I shall find them among the dead.
Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired.
My heart is sad and sick.
From where the sun now stands
I will fight no more forever.
• Sometimes we face circumstances that seem insurmountable…
• And we feel that we have to just give up…
• It happens in life…
• And, as we saw in Ezra chapter 4, sometimes it happens in the church.
3. In Ezra Chapter 4, we saw how the enemies of God’s people tried different methods to stop the church from charging forward…
• They tried trickery…to infiltrate the church and defeat it from within…
• They tried intimidation and fear…which had some measure of success…
• And finally, they resorted to political pressure…which stopped the church dead in its tracks.
2. Now, in Ezra, chapter 5, we see that 15 years has elapsed…
• For 15 years, there was no work done on the church…
• But then, we see that God’s people take up the work once again…
Read Text: Ezra 5:1-17
Body
1. One might wonder, What did they do for those 15 years?
A. We don’t really see any reference to this in our text…
• But, if we look to the writings of the prophets mentioned in verse 1, we will get a glimpse…
• Haggai is especially clear and vocal…
• In Haggai 1:2-4, it says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, ’The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’" Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"
• And then, in Haggai 1:9, the prophet says, “my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house”
• Evidently, once the challenges arose to the building of the Temple…
• God’s people just dropped the work of building the Temple altogether…
• And instead, focused on their own homes.
B. And so, for 15 years…the work of the church was at a standstill…
• And, as a result, all the progress they had made in building the Temple…
• It began to deteriorate…
• Once you stop building
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