Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9: Ezra 8:21 – 9; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 21:1-2; 1 Corinthians 5



Overview

            Ezra: Ezra called for a fast and prayer to ask God’s blessing on the trip to Jerusalem because he told the king that God would take care of them. God listened. Ezra then divided up the silver, gold, and vessels among 12 of the priests weighing them and recording the amounts. They then left for Jerusalem. No enemies attacked them on the way. When they arrived, they weighed and counted the treasures and put them in the temple. They also offered burnt offerings.
            The officials in Jerusalem told Ezra that the people, priests, and Levites had not kept themselves separate from the other nations but had intermarried. The officials and chief men were the worst offenders. Ezra tore his clothes and was appalled. He sat until the evening sacrifice then prayed.
            He prayed that he was ashamed because of the sins and recounted the sins of their fathers. In spite of now being slaves, God had granted a remnant because of his steadfast love and had provided their ability to repair the ruins and provided protection in Jerusalem and Judah.
            He then confessed their sin of intermarrying which the prophets had forbidden. He said that they had been punished less than their sins deserved and now they have broken the commandment again. He asked if God would not be angry and leave no remnant. They are there before God in their guilt.
            Psalm: This is another Psalm where David is in trouble and he calls to the Lord for help. He acknowledges that God is his rock and refuge and it is for God’s name’s sake that God helps. He has committed his spirit to God and God sees his affliction and delivers him from his enemies. He trusts in God and hates idol worshipers.
            Proverbs: The Lord directs kings in the way he wants them by placing what he wants them to do in their heart. Everyone thinks they are doing right, but the Lord knows what is really in a person’s heart and judges them.
            1 Corinthians: Paul addressed sexual immorality among the Corinthians that even pagans didn’t tolerate. Their tolerance showed their arrogance. Instead they should mourn and kick the offenders out of the church. Even without being there, Paul knew it is wrong. They were told to give the man over to Satan to be punished in his flesh so that he may still be saved in the judgment.
            Boasting about this just makes everyone likely to sin like leaven. But Christ was sacrificed as the Passover lamb so they should get rid of the sinful leaven of malice and evil and replace it with sincerity and truth.
            They are not to associate with sexually immoral people or other blatant sinners who call themselves Christians. That doesn’t apply to people of the world or they would have to leave the world. He doesn’t judge those outside the church but they need to judge those inside the church. God takes care of those outside. So, they need kick the evil person out of the church.

What Stood Out

            Ezra: “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’” (Ezra 8:22).     
            Psalm: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Ps 31:5).
            Proverbs: “The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1).
            1 Corinthians: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans” (1 Cor 5:1).

Insight

            Ezra: Ezra exhibited a strange way of trusting the Lord. In one way, it was presumptuous and in another way, it was an expression of trust. The presumption is that he told the king God would protect them on their journey so he didn’t need any armed guards. He did that before he had the people fast and pray for protection. So, he admits he was ashamed as it is almost as though he was proud of his decision yet fearful that God wouldn’t take care of them. If you look at all the weight of the silver and gold that they were taking to Jerusalem, this band of people would have provided a lot of loot for any bandits.
            I wonder if you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve presumed upon God’s grace but hadn’t actually asked him for the help. I had one friend who admitted that he never used a seatbelt because he knew God would protect him. He finally realized that presuming upon God’s protection like that was a sin. Even Jesus didn’t presume upon God’s protection when the devil tempted him to jump from the pinnacle of the temple; Jesus said that would be testing God (Matt 4:5-7). While God did protect Ezra and company, it doesn’t prove that it is something we should do. Rather, we should always ask the Lord and then proceed with wisdom.
            Psalm: Talking about trusting God, David expresses his trust by committing his spirit to God. This is a total commitment. It isn’t asking for anything except to belong to God. The total trust is seen also in that Jesus quoted this as his last breath (Luke 23:46).
            David had this trust in God because he knew he had already been redeemed and knew that God was faithful. When we trust in the Lord and commit ourselves to him, we have the assurance we have been redeemed and because of his faithfulness, we will never be forsaken. He will make sure we arrive at our destination in heaven blameless and without fault (Jude 24).
            Proverbs: If you have any doubt that God stirs up the hearts of kings to do his will, then your attitude is described in the Proverbs 21:2. You just think your way is right. You haven’t been looking at what God did with Cyrus and Darius either. You forgot that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that God’s glory and strength would be demonstrated. In our complicated world, he is working his will in each country’s leaders to accomplish his purpose. We can’t even fathom how all these things work out, but when we trust him and commit out spirits to him, we can have peace regardless of what appears to be chaos in the world.
            1 Corinthians: It shouldn’t surprise us that the world tolerates sin but it does surprise us when the world doesn’t tolerate sin that Christians accept. That should be a real wake-up call for us. The problem with our society today is that things that pagans used to abhor are now totally acceptable. The key word for them is tolerance. They have pushed the idea of not being judgmental to the point that anyone can do anything sexually they want and that should be tolerated. However, the one thing that can’t be tolerated is saying some things are wrong.
            Fortunately, some things are still unacceptable to the world. Sex trafficking of children is one and pornography involving children is another. Yet most people believe that prostitution and adult pornography is generally seen as a harmless choice. The sad part of all this is that the church has gone the way of the world as far as sexual immorality is concerned. Adultery, homosexuality, and sex before marriage is acceptable in most churches. Some won’t admit it and others will. But the sad fact is that there are very few churches that will take Paul’s stand and expel violators from their congregation. The result is a weak and ineffective church that may have many members but are not a witness for righteousness in the world.

Application

             I don’t want to presume upon God’s grace and mercy. Rather, I want to submit all I do to him and trust him with my spirit. I always want to belong to church that takes sin seriously and exercises biblical church discipline.

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