LONGING, UNITY, & OPPOSITION
March 3rd, 2020
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’” (Psalm 27:8).
“My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away’” (Song of Solomon 2:10).
How often has my heart heard the beckoning of the Lord only to dismiss it and choose something of far less value? The Lord, the God of the universe, the lover of my soul, is pursing me and desiring to spend time with me; why would I choose anything else? What prevents my heart from leaping at the sound of His voice? What hinders me from immediately responding: “Lord, I am coming?” Where else am I choosing to go? Where am I choosing to remain? I want to run to Him when He calls. I want to always be following in close proximity; never growing tired, weary, or lazy in my race. There are challenges, there are obstacles, there are many reasons to sit down on the sidelines for a breather, wave off the Lord and say: “I’ll be there in a minute.” Do not procrastinate, don’t stop running, don’t take a break. Keep pressing on towards Jesus, one step at a time.
UNITY IN DIVERSITY
“In early autumn, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose” (Ezra 3:1).
Unity. There are many things in this life that can bring division. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on our differences and conclude that those things divide us. However, it is in our diversity that we have unity; a body cannot function properly unless its different members each do their specific part that they were designed for (1 Corinthians 12). If a foot starts behaving like a hand, we’ll have trouble walking. If an eye starts behaving like a nose, we are going to have trouble seeing. But when the body operates in its differences, it’s able to accomplish great things.
The only thing we need in order to have unity in this life is Christ. He unifies us. I am not talking about uniformity—we remain unique individuals, but we use those unique gifts, talents, personalities, etc. to work towards a unified purpose. In Ezra, that purpose was in the rebuilding of the temple.
“Make every effort to keep yourselves unified in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
We are united in the purpose of glorifying God and in the building of the temple—the church and the kingdom of God—through the preaching of the gospel. If we keep Christ and the gospel as our central focus and our purpose, even our differences will be a source of unity. Let us strive for peace as we pursue Christ. Also, side note, I have never seen a single act unite as much as communal prayer. Seeking the Lord collectively sets our hearts and minds back on Christ and unites our hearts as we become united with Christ through prayer. Make it a point to pray more with and for people collectively.
OPPOSITION AND THE TEMPTATION TO QUIT
In Ezra 4 it speaks of the opposition from the enemy in the work of rebuilding. I am currently reading “Don’t Give Up: Faith that Gives you the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going,” by Kyle Idleman. He spoke on the opposition that Nehemiah faced while rebuilding the wall. Opposition is not a sign that we’re going in the wrong direction. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The enemy seeks to tear down and destroy what God is building. This could come in the form of discouragement or fear (Ezra 4:4), exhaustion or weariness (Ezra 4:5 “This went on during the ENTIRE reign of King Cyrus of Persia”), laziness or apathy, temptation (another work sounds more appealing or rewarding, so we abandon the current work—we want to gratify our flesh rather than be disciplined in continuing the difficult work set before us), loneliness (everyone else is in opposition and you seem to be the only one clearing the rubble and laying the bricks), the law of the land forbids it (Ezra 4:21), and I’m sure countless other reasons. Unfortunately, the Israelites did succumb to the opposition and the work on the temple ceased (Ezra 4:24). Where have you given up, quit working, or left a project that the Lord has called you to incomplete? Where have you lost heart?