For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

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Ezra 7:21-28

Ezra 7:21-28

  “And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence,  up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.   Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.  We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.


“And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach.   Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”   Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem,  and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Confirmation is a powerful encourager and stimulator.  It motivates and mobilizes.  God laid it upon Ezra to study and know His word.  Then He moved upon the leadership of that day to provide Ezra with confirmation and the means to carry out his commission.  Ezra had set his heart to study God’s word and it didn’t end there.  He set his heart to teach it and do it.  This was not just knowledge based for knowledge’s sake.  It was life changing.  It became his life, what he did and further he taught it to others.  Powerful enough to get the king’s attention.  Let us set our heart to study God’s Word, not just for knowledge but to do it and to teach it.  It is not enough to study.  It is not enough to teach it.  It must be lived.  In the living, teaching and study it comes alive.  People are drawn to life.  Christ is the life in us.  It is not enough to study His words, not enough to teach his words, we must live his words.  He gives life abundantly and that is not limited to stuff.  It encompasses all that life is.

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Luke 14: 1-14

  One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son  or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?”  Again they could not answer.

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice:  “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

 What is our motivation, what drives our actions?  Is it  a desire to please God?  Is it a desire to demonstrate a love for Him and obedience to His commands?  Or is there an internal desire to be seen and recognized for ourselves, who we are and what we are doing? Is there a desire to be affirmed as someone of importance, someone looked up to?

 We are given some suggestions to live by that include taking the lesser place and giving without expecting a return on our effort.  The first is an action taken out of true humility.  It is an expression of courtesy, consideration, preferring others above self.  It demonstrates an outward focus rather than an inward focus of self-absorption.  The second action is motivated by a genuine love for those who have less than we, those who can benefit from our actions.  This example of the luncheon and who to invite is driven by a desire to bless others without expecting a return on the investment of time and effort.  True giving expects no gain on our part, is done from a heart of compassion and concern for the other without obligation on the part of the recipient.

 Jesus states we will be blessed; by God and not immediately, at the resurrection of the righteous.  These are character attributes of an individual whose sole purpose in life is to please God and obey His commands.  They are not the attributes of a self-absorbed individual looking for personal gain.  Where is our focus?  What is our desire?  What drives our actions?  Is it love for our Creator, a love that gives and desires to please through obedience?