Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Doing A Good Work

Text: Ezra 3:8-13

Thesis: Whenever the people of God places their total focus on the fulfillment of the divine plan of God they we realize they are doing a good work

I. Wisdom of the Work
-verse 8...now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, they began to supervise the work of the house of the Lord
-the wisdom of the work is that as soon as the season permitted, they began the work on the foundation of the temple
-it is wise to begin God's work when the season permits because seasons can and will change

II. Weight of the Work

-verse 9...and Jeshua with is sons and his brothers and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers
-acknowledging the necessity is not enough, somebody needs to carry the weight of the workload

a. those who initiated the work...Jeshua, Kadmiel and the sons of Judah were supervisors...there must be leaders in every work project for the Lord

b. those who implemented the work...sons of Henadad and the Levites...there must be workers who follow the supervision of the leaders

III. Worship in the Work

-verse 10...and when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets and the Levites, the sons of Asaph with cymbals to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David King of Israel
-verses 1-7 tell us that worship must come before work...verses 8-13 tell us that we must worship while we are working
-jsut because the work begins doesn't mean everything will run smoothly...we need to worship while we work to keep our focus on the Lord

Why did they worship?
a. God is good...verse 11 they are repeating the refrain from Ps. 136...God is good for his steadfast love endures forever
-psalter writes this to encourage Israel to praise God for the wonderous works that nobody but God could have done

b. foundation is finished...verse 11...and all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord becasue the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid
-when the work is complete, praise God that he allowed you to finish what you have started

IV. Wonder of the Work

-verses 12-13...when the priests, Levites and the old men who had seen the first house, saw the foundation of the new house, they shouted with joy...so greatly that no one could differentiate the weeping from the shouting
-when we walk into our new house built for the Lord...the older saints who remember the first house, will weep and rejoice because they will be amazed at the things that God has done for us

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Worship yesterday at the First Mount Zion Church was one of the best times in praise to the Lord in a very long time. I do not attribute it to anything that I have done save our time in prayer before worship begins. A few weeks ago, I began something that I should have done a long time ago, I walk into the sanctuary before our Sunday School begins and I am at the altar in prayer, so that when the congregation walks in, the first thing that they see is their Pastor on his knees talking to the Lord. What I have discovered is that since I made this move, the spiritual atmosphere of our church has gone up tremendously.

We worshipped yesterday in a way that made the moment of preaching easier than it had been in a long time. Praise & Worship was off the chain! The moment of collective prayer was stirring and spirit-filled! God Be Praised!!!

Something outstanding happened before I preached, the Chairman of Trustee Ministry, John Rich, made an announcement that one of our members, Kareem Ali and his wife Josephine, prepared a dinner for our church in appreciation for the Pastor and First Lady for all of the hard work that we have done with the relocation project. I must admit, that I went in! Sometimes we as Pastors, who don't have a large congregation, feel somewhat unappreciated for work that you put in. I want to state up front, that nothing I do as a Pastor, is done for the approval of man, but rather for the glorification of God. But the human side of all of us would love for people to recognize our efforts to make things better for the church. And to receive an act of love from members really make me feel like things are starting to turn around for the better. I truly have only the Lord to thank for that.

We continued our series on the book of Ezra, with an exposition on chapter 3:8-13, which I labeled Doing A Good Work. For here are the returnees to Jerusalem, as they get back to the exact place where the first temple stood, and they built an altar so that they could worship God before the work began. They began the work on laying the foundation for the temple and in the process, they realized that what they were doing, was a good work for the Master. As our church prepares to relocate and restore a temple for the Lord, it is important for us to understand that whatever we are doing for the Master, it is a good work. I will post the outline tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It Begins At The Altar

Text: Ezra 3:1-7

Thesis: our sincere and dedicated worship to God must always precede out intended work for God

I. Worship in the Face of Fear

-verse 3...they set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening

-fear of man should never restrict us from worshipping the Lord

a. contentious worship - verse 3...the fact that they decided to worship before they went to work angered the inhabitants of the land

b. continuous worship - verse 3...burnt offerings morning and evening

II. Worship That is Synchronized with Scritpture

-verse 4...and they kept the Feast of the Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule as each day required

-every aspect of our worship must walk in line with the Word of God

a. Instinctive Worship - verse 4...and they kept the Feast of the Booths as it is written
-they kept the feasts that had been passed down from generation to generation...there are some aspects of our worship that we perform by instinct

b. Intended Worship - verse 5...and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offerings to the Lord
-instinctive worship is not enough...we must be willing to go the extra mile and give more in our worship

III. Worship That Makes Preparation for Production

-verses 6 & 7...states that work did not begin until the worship ended

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday/Monday Stuff

I would like to explain the infrequency of my posts lately. Our church's relocation project has ventured towards what I feel to be the home stretch, and the need for my complete participation on every aspect, has taken the majority of my time, along with my sermon preparation for our series on the book of Ezra.

Speaking of the new series, the book of Ezra is shaping up to be the most challenging series of my pastoral ministry. Not just because of the difficulty in the exposition of the text, but also because our church is dealing with the same issues that the children of Israel faced during this time in history.

Yesterday, the Lord allowed us to deal with Ezra 3:1-7 in which I labeled the message, It Begins At The Altar. Over 42, 000 remnants of the 12 tribes, returns to Jerusalem under the orders of Cyrus, king of Persia, who received a charge from the Lord to build God a house. But when they got to the site where the Temple was and will be, they built an altar and worshipped. The point is that before any work could be done on the temple, they realized that worship to the Lord must come first. In other words, work cannot begin until the worship ends. This message is designed to encourage our church to rededicate our selves to a life that is filled with worship to a Holy God.

Today is a day that each and every one of us should focus on what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life has meant to us. What I have noticed about mainstream America and the media is that they have attempted to limit him to one speech that he gave in 1963 in Washington D.C. which many have called the I Have A Dream speech. The reality of that speech is the part about the dream was not in his prepared text. His speech was about economic equality for our people, that was clearly stated in his initial remark that the black man in America has received a check from America that has been stamped insufficient funds. It was not until Mahalia Jackson leaned over and told Dr. King to tell the people about the dream, did that speech soar into the lofty skies of historical wonder.

Dr. King was more than just a speechwriter or speech-giver, but firstly, he was a preacher. There have not been anyone in the history of this country, black or white, who could put together a better message on the Holy Writ. He was not just a dreamer, but he was a servant who went to work to make a change for black and poor whites in this country. I thank God for sending us Martin King.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Building God A Kingdom

Text: Ezra 2:1-70

Thesis: God will use people will many differences who express a willingness to work for Him to build Him a kingdom

I. Leaders Came To Work

-verse 2

II. Laymen Came To Work

-verses 3-35

III. Lord's Ministers Came To Work

-verses 36-58

a. Called Because of Lineage - verses 36-40...priests and Levites were born into position

b. Called Because of Labor - verses 41-42...singers, praisers and ushers were called to position because of their gifts

c. Called Because of Love - verses 43-58...Nethinims (dedicated temple servants) and children of Solomon servants were called because of grace

IV. Leftovers Came To Work

-verses 59-70...collection of characters who couldn't prove their lineage, but had a desire to work for the Master

On yesterday I was filling extremely stressed and a little down about this project and other ministry issues. Just when I was at a real low point, I was driving to our Baptist Ministers Conference and stopped at a red light behind a white delivery truck, that had printed on the back door words that lifted me up from what I was dealing with. On the door of this truck was written John 3:16, and as Pastor H.B. Charles said in a sermon on John 3:16, it has enough Gospel in their to save the whole world, and to lift up a bowed down head.

So to any of you in the world of blog have been feeling down and depressed about ministry and the church, just take one moment and remember that God loves you! Hey!!!! Just writing that is making me shout!!! God loves you!!!! He loves you enough that he gave you the very best that he had!!! Thank God for Jesus Christ!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Road to Restoration

Text: Ezra 1:1-11

Thesis: our road to restoration is directly and intrinsically connected to the sovereign will of God to always keep his promises

I. Purpose of the Promise

-verses 2-4...God expresses the promise that he made to Jeremiah is filled with the purpose that he has for the children of Israel
-their purpose was to build God a house in Jerusalem

1. God presents his purpose to anybody - he charges Cyrus to build a house
2. God reveals his purpose to everybody - verse 3 he appeals to everyone

II. Performance of the Promise

-verses 5-6...suggests that we must be willing to walk in our purpose to allow the promise to be fulfilled

1. learn to work with limited resources - verse 5...he made the call to all 12 tribes but only Judah, Benjamin and the Levites answered the call
2. learn to give God all that you have - verse 6

III. Prize in the Promise

-verses 7-11 suggests that when you walk in the purpose that God has for you in order to fulfill his promises, you shall receive a reward

1. unorthodox origin - verses 7-8...God uses Cyrus to be a blessing to the returning Jews
2. substantial sufficiency - verses 9-11...God gives them everything that they need to be stable financially

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A New Series

First of all, let me express to this great blogging community my prayer to the Lord that each and every one of you as well as your ministries and the churches that you Pastor, have a prosperous New Year. You all have been rich blessings to my life during this past year as we have become just like a family that helps each other through our rough periods and celebrate through our times of joy. What's really so amazing about the closeness of our family is the fact that we have become close despite never having actually met in person. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have you all call me brother (and son Momma V), you all have been a blessing to me and I pray that we will continue this fellowship, and hopefully one day real soon, have a down home family reunion.

As our church begins our transition of parting ways with Newark, our home for the entire 130 year history of our church, and head towards our new location in Montclair, I sought the face and voice of the Lord in prayer, asking him to direct me as to what to say to the congregation during this period of transition. The Lord led me to put an emphasis on the first half of 2009 on two words: Evangelism and Worship. And God led us to teach on evangelism and to preach on worship, in which the Lord directed me to begin a new series on the Old Testament book of Ezra, which I labeled the series: Restoration and Rededication.

This book is a wonderful narrative that chronicles the journey of the children of Israel from exile back into the holy city of Jerusalem, to restore the temple of God. The first 6 chapters tells of the call from God to the Persian King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and build God a house. Chapters 7-10 begins after a period of 50 years between chapters 6-7, when Ezra shows up to lead the Jews in rededicating their lives back to the worship of Yahweh.

I began this series today in our worship with an exposition on Ezra chapter 1 which I labeled The Road to Restoration. The bible declares that King Cyrus was stirred in his spirit by the Lord using him to fulfill the prophecy once given to Jeremiah. This is the same Cyrus, that was prophesied about in Isaiah as the one that the Lord would use to deliver the Jews from exile. Here God is using a pagan King to fulfill prophecy that Jeremiah spoke of in Jer. 29:10 which says that, thus saith the Lord, when 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. God is faithful to his word and to his covenant, and since he is faithful, then it is our job to have enough faith to trust that God is still leading his people back down the road to restoration. I will post the sermon outline tomorrow.