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Saturday, January 6, 2018

1-6-2018      Rebuilding God’s Temple

At the end of the month, our pastor will usually set a topic and ask for volunteers to do a presentation each week over the next month on that topic for Sunday morning bible study.  Because of the Christmas holiday, no one was assigned for December 31st.  An oversight?  Possibly, because no one had volunteered for that week and we had a special speaker coming in for our Christmas program and things got a little hectic.  Anyway, the 31st came and there was no one planned to bring a lesson.  

Father told me to be prepared and I did get the nod after everyone arrived on Sunday.   What Father had me be ready for was “Building God’s House”.

Early Saturday morning, (it could have been Friday AM), between three and six (yes, that’s AM), before I had gotten out of bed for the day (long before), Father was mulling some things through my heart (mind) about how He has been restructuring His House.  Nothing new, for He has been showing me things in this area for the past couple of years now, BUT this time He was focusing on rebuilding His house and that teamwork played a big part of rebuilding His temple in the Old Testament.  In my heart, He focused on what He had been doing with His church for some time and where He is leading us now.

I knew that there was a passage about rebuilding in the Old Testament and Nehemiah camel to mind.  But, no.  Nehemiah was called to rebuild the “walls” of Jerusalem and yes, there was teamwork involved with that, but Father said to me “I said rebuilding My temple.”  I said “OK.”  I started searching Google for rebuilding the temple and sure enough, Father led me to Ezra, whom God commissioned to get the “temple” rebuilt.  There are only ten chapters in Ezra, two of which focused on genealogy.  Father said that even though Israel faced opposition in their task, look at the favor He gave Israel through three kings – Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes (we might remember two of them for they were kings who followed Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in the book of Daniel). 

So, we’re going to take an overview look at the book of Ezra then see how it applies to the church 
(the body of Jesus Christ) today.

Ezra (the temple)
Ezra 1:2           The authorization by king Cyrus to rebuild the temple
Eza 2:1-70       The family counts (how many of Israel were involved?  Over 30,000 counted & many more families named)
Ezra 3:2           Altar for burnt offerings built
Ezra 4:1-6        The resistance from their neighbors, those around them (pretending to want to help, but??)
Ezra 5:1-17      The perseverance of Israel & support from king Darius
Ezra 6:8           God’s favor for completion of the temple
Ezra 6:15-16    The house completed
Ezra 7:13         Artaxerxes gives many from Israel permission to return to Jerusalem
Ezra 8:1-36      Those returning take their possessions plus all the spoils Nebuchadnezzar took had taken earlier
Ezra 9:1-15      Ezra acknowledges Israel’s sin while in captivity
Ezra 10:1-19    Cleansing the people and the temple of God of strange (ungodly) things   

What does this mean for us today?

Father has been restructuring the church since John Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate into English in the late 1300’s.  Both he and Martin Luther had a passion to provide a bible which the ‘people’ (the common man) could read for themselves.  The subsequent events in the church history since then have been God bringing His people back into alignment with His Word.   The beginning was bringing the bible to the common man late 1300’s/early 1400’s), then the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s and into the 1600’s, the First Great Awakening of the 1700’s, the Great Awakening of the 1800’s, The Pentecostal Movement of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, the Charismatic Movement of the mid 1900’s and now the Prophetic movement of the late 1900’s to present.  Seven seasons, six past (each roughly one hundred years) and now into the seventh.  Each phase designed to bring Christianity back into a closer relationship with our heavenly Father and in its own way, each has.

These seasons brought Christians from a relationship with God which was coming from only priests and ministers to where ‘we’ can understand the bible for ourselves, with the Holy Spirit leading us.  After all, He will lead us into all truth, will He not (John 16:13)?  But, more importantly, Father is bringing us to where we come to realize He doesn’t just want us to know ‘about Him’, a long distance relationship, but He desires to get up close and personal.  Mano e mano, or mano e womano.  Father has carried us through seveal stages of growth so the knowledge of our relationship with our Lord and Savior would grow to where we are today, ready to take that final step in our relationship – to walk with God!  To actually live in His presence even though we are still here on planet earth.  Heaven may not rest upon the whole earth at this time, but the kingdom of God is alive and well in our hearts so we can endure the things we face here in this world and influence that part of the world in the realm of our influence.  We live for Jesus!

We ARE the light of this world (Matt. 5:14), a commission Jesus gave us “Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all those things I have commanded you.”  I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20).  And Jesus requires us to love, in God’s love (John 15:10) for God is love (1 John 4:7).

There is a Spiritual Explosion coming – soon.  I don’t mean within centuries (as we’ve already waited since the apostle’s time), I mean soon, within a few years.  Listen to the teachers and today’s prophets, they’re all talking about it – now, a great revival.  And the talk is intensifying.  Most prophets agree that we are in a seven year period.  But this is a growth period where Father is establishing His cadre of believers to go out and introduce the world to His true love and the true kingdom of God.  Not just a pretend facade.

Just as Father was rebuilding the “temple’ in the book of Ezra, He is rebuilding His temple, the body of Jesus Christ, today and as we said, has been doing so for a while now. 

Just as in Ezekiel, Father has gathered up all those old, dried, bleached white bones of Israel, which have been scattered all over the place, Father has been bringing those old, dry bones of today’s church back together (spiritually), setting them up in His proper alignment so those bones can be properly interconnected and in their proper places.  He has been connecting those bones with sinews and tendons so they don’t become disarrayed and scattered again, but hang together, like they’re supposed to.  He’s covering those bones and sinews with spiritual muscle so we can do what He’s called us to do.  He’s covering those bones, sinews and muscle with skin so we can look like the church we’re supposed to be – a reflection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And now!  Now!  He’s infilling us with new levels of His Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost so we can do all the things that Jesus did – and more (John 14:12).  We are being filled afresh, to a new and greater level with His Holy Spirit so we can reflect a greater degree of His love.

If we consider the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the early disciples the ‘early rain’ surely we are moving into a time where the ‘latter rain’ is coming and this state will surely overshadow that which those early disciples did before (Haggai 2:9) for the latter state of the house shall be greater than the first.

The ‘rains’ coming and Father is preparing His children to be ready.  Like the five wise virgins who made sure they had enough oil and were ready when the bridegroom would come (Matt.25:1-13).  The five wise virgins were in a state of constant readiness.  That is it didn’t matter when the bridegroom returned, they would be and were ready.  They were living for Jesus on a daily basis.  They didn’t just know a neat catch phrase “WWJD” (what would Jesus do), they were living in the reality of that phrase. 

This means that we have to understand something about the bible so we can know God’s love for ourselves, on a personal level AND we have to listen to the Holy Ghost for direction for our lives so we can share that love with those around us.  Uh, that just might mean we actually have to ask for help (from Him), then listen, confirming what we hear in our heart with scripture – until we truly learn to hear God’s voice for ourselves.  When Samuel came to Eli, in the middle of the night, it took Eli three times before he realized it was God who was calling his young charge.  Samuel did as Eli suggested and when he heard God call his name a fourth time his response was “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1 Sam. 3:1-10) and Samuel became God’s spokesperson (final judge, if you will) the rest of the days he spent here on earth (remember, Samuel anointed Saul, then David as kings of Israel, no more judges).

Do we hear God?  Are we listening?  When we do hear it, do we know our heavenly Father’s voice?  It is distinctive but the enemy will throw up smoke screens and try to confuse us.   That’s why we need to know scripture, so we can know God’s nature so we can rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).  So we can know HIS voice.

Some of those dogmatic, denominational barriers have been softening.  Many Christians are actually realizing the common denominator is Jesus Christ and that means our being obedient to God, the Father, and His Word. 

The body of Christ is a body for a purpose.  Just as Israel came together, working together, to accomplish a unified goal – to rebuild the temple of God, today’s church needs to fully realize we need to work together to accomplish Father’s will in this world.  God gives each of us a specific talent.  It may be like someone else’s gift, but it is unique to the individual that only “I” can do it in the way God has given me.  Several of us may have the same gift, but we each have our own unique approach.  Some may hear me while others turn a deaf ear, but those same ‘others’ may listen to you speaking the same word because your approach is different.  Amen?

So God gives each of us a talent (gift) but “I” can’t go to everyone in the world, so Father gives many people the same talent so the world might be reached. 

And Father metes out different talents for there are many different things that need to be done.  Think of a stage production.  Of course, there are the actors, but before the play goes to stage, there had to be writers writing the storyline and script.  You need a director to assure the actors do their part.  There have to be stage hands to move props and equipment around.  There have to be lighting technicians so the audience can see the action on the stage and sound technicians.  There have to be musicians and a musical director so moods can be set for each scene.  There have to be secretaries to answer the phones and, of course, there has to be a producer (at least one), or else who foots the bill until ticket sales are realized?  There are many unique tasks to be performed and often more than person performing a given task.  TEAMWORK!  No task is less important than another.  All are necessary in order for the production to ‘come off’.

With all our denominations, has the church lost sight of teamwork within the body of Christ?  Arguing over church “dogmas”, arguing over who is right and who isn’t, rather than focusing on living in, through and for Jesus?  The devil has kept us divided and the church has suffered for it.
  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even remotely suggesting one huge megachurch.  Even within our fellowships, we have to work together and even though we work as a team, accomplishing many different tasks. I am still me, a unique individual.  God does not want us to lose our individuality, but He does expect us to cooperate.  So, whether we are a single fellowship, a Christian denomination (Baptist, Lutheran, etc.) or the body of Christ as  a whole (all components), we need to realize that if we have confessed Jesus, believe Father has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9) and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34, Acts 7:55-56) in all glory waiting to come back for His church (1 Thess. 4:13-17).  We need to cooperate.  A house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25).  We wonder why things have been so difficult in the church.  We are not working in unison.        

Of course, where Father is working in Jesus through the Holy Ghost, the enemy (Satan) will oppose.  Just as those around Jerusalem spoke against the rebuilding the physical temple, more so, we can expect greater opposition as God rebuilds His Spiritual temple here on earth.  But understand this, Satan cannot come against us without the Father’s permission (Job 1:6-12).  Having said that, Father does buffet us to keep us on track, that is why He allows Satan to come against us, for our benefit (2 Corinth. 12:1-9, Paul’s thorn).  We need to remember that Jesus is always with us (Heb. 13:5-8).  We are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37-39) because we abide in Him (John 15:1-13).

 And as we see in Ezra, Father will give us favor with those around us, even those in authority.  In this book (Ezra) God’s favor is shown through several kings not only the beginning, but in the continuance and conclusion of the building of the temple.  Can we expect any less as Father rebuilds His Spiritual temple?  Jesus said He would raise the temple on the third day (John 2:19), not the one of stone and mortar but the Spiritual temple of God (John 20:1-31) and we, also, are the temple of God, are we not (1 Corinth. 6:19)?  Jesus had favor with the Father and with man (Luke 2:52) and He promises us the same (Prov. 3:1-4), as we abide in Him.  God’s favor is a shield for us as we are righteous (in Christ Jesus) (Psalms 5:12).  Paul encourages the Romans (us) to present ourselves acceptable to God, being humble and remembering that we are all the body of Christ (Romans 12:1-5).  Father will grow us individually and in unity.

We have a calling on our lives, no matter how great or how small (there is no small task with God).  First, we need to recognize what that calling is, pursue it, then perform the task Father has set before us. 
As we grow there will be opposition, we also need to keep in mind that it is not the person or situation that’s coming against us but Satan and/or his demons.  We take on the whole armor of God for we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against the powers, principalities, rulers of darkness which are in this world operating under spiritual wickedness in high places so we should not falter but rather stand fast in Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:10-12).

And as we stand in Christ Jesus, we will discover that we have favor not only with God, but with those around us.

Now, I mentioned a Spiritual explosion and many of today’s preachers and prophets are talking about a great revival coming. 

I prefer to say “Spiritual explosion” because what is coming after this season is more than just a ‘revival’.  Two years ago I asked Father what is coming after this season and He said “a Spiritual explosion’.  Father is putting the components in place during these seven years which started in January 2015.  We will see rumblings and some manifestation of the explosion as these seven years progress, but in the next seven years the explosion fully manifest.  It will be going full steam!  God will be glorified amidst spiritual warfare and souls will come to know His true love and how to abide in Him.  Thus all believers can secure their place in heaven (John 14:2-3), their name in the book of life (John 20:12-15).


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