Summary: Today's Sermon is more practical than inspiration and looks at the four types of people involved in ministry from Ezra 1:5-6.
Moved By The Spirit
This past week while in the hospital’s waiting room, I started to read the book of Ezra. Why, I’m not quite sure, but the Lord wouldn’t allow be to go beyond verse six, and to specifically meditate on verses five and six.
Ezra begins by taking us back to Jeremiah’s prophecy that after 30 years of captivity to the Babylonians; God would bring the Jews back to their homeland, the land of Israel. (Jeremiah 29:10)
And then Ezra talked about who was going to go, and what those who remained did for those who went.
“Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.” (Ezra 1:5-6 NKJV)
Now, this is going to be one of those teachings that is more practical than inspirational. Basically, this is not one of those goose bump messages, that’s if I ever give one of those, but my hope is that it will encourage us to find God’s calling and purpose for wherever we may be at this present time.
What we see here are the types of people that make ministry happen.
1. Called by God
“Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:5 NKJV)
God had specifically called the tribe of Levi to minister before Him on behalf of the people, and to minster to the people on His behalf (Numbers 18:26). And from each tribe of Judah and Benjamin, or the southern two tribes of the house of Israel, the tribes taken by Babylon, the head of each family grouping was called upon to go.
These were the ones that God had called to go and start the rebuilding project for the new temple (Ezra 3:8). These were the ones that God had specifically called to ministry.
What about today? How will we know if we are so called by God?
Let me just say that God will raise up His leaders and everyone will know it. But if we say that God has called us, if we have to promote ourselves, then it is very good chance that it’s self-promotion, not God.
I have had people come into my office in Vegas and tell me that God has called them as a prophet, or that God has called them to the healing ministry and then ask if they can get in front of the congregation and give their message. My answer has always been so far no, because after some questioning they couldn’t even define the prophetic office.
I have also had people tell me that God has given them this or that giftedness, and when I dig deeper, they start using the “God Card” on me, saying, “God has called me, and God knows my heart.” At this juncture I usually thank them, but inside I just want to say, “Well God does know your heart, and he says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and beyond cure, and no one knows just how truly bad it is.” (paraphrase)
What I have found is that those who revert to the “God Card” to validate their ministry or message by using, “God told me,” usually haven’t been called and are dealing with some pretty serious problems, deep seated issues that they haven’t worked out and they are using God as a buffer.
I mean, how do you answer or refute someone who says, “God said.” Frankly I rarely if ever use this or “Thus saith the Lord.” Those are some scary words to start bantering around.
There is a truism that we will never develop and will actually hamper spiritual maturity when we are still emotional immature. If there are still issues not fully dealt with in the Lord, then we’ll never move any further than where we are.
What do I mean, well when someone says they have a message from God for the church, and the elders or pastor say, “Not at this time,” or “Now isn’t the right time for that,” and they get all bent out of shape and say how this or that church isn’t spirit filled or they are a dead church because they won’t let them use their gift; this is immaturity on their part. God is the one who sets up His leaders, and if discipline is needed, then God is a whole lot better at it than man.