Sunday School Material 6-30-13: Restoring Joyful Worship

(Isaiah 65:17-25; 6/23/13)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is the people gave diligence to rebuilding the altar and place of giving. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on our worshipful giving.

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Read Ezra 3:1-2

I. Rebuilding the Altar. It was in the seventh month and after the Israelites settled into their towns that they assembled in Jerusalem. In our Sunday School material the leaders began to rebuild the altar.

The altar was the place of sacrifice to the Lord, according to the Law of Moses - the man of God.

Applications -

- Staying focused. Notice in vss. 1-2 of the Sunday School material that the people stayed focused on the purpose for which they took the journey. They went back to restore the altar and Temple.

If we are not careful, we will get distracted by the cares of this world and the devil’s tricks. And before we know it, we will have spent months, if not years, of our lives on things other than what God has called us to do.

Let’s work on staying focused on God’s will. God’s will for the lives of His people is to fear/reverence Him and keep His commandments. At the core of God’s commandments are the issues of accepting Jesus as one’s savior and living a life of loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

- Worshipful giving. Notice in vs. 2 that a key part of worship was and is giving. On one hand, we express how worthy God is of our admiration because of how much He has already given to us.

On the other hand, we express how worthy God is of our admiration by what we give to Him. If God had not given to us, we would not be worshipping Him. And if we are not giving to God then we are not worshipping Him the way He desires for us to worship Him.

Let’s work on making sure that giving is a key part of our worship. Every believer ought to pay his/her tithes and give an offering according to his/her ability to give an offering.

Don’t wait until the leader in your life dies before you acknowledge him as a man of God. Moses is viewed as a great hero in Ezra. But when he lived, there were times when the people of God were very rebellious against his leadership.

Read Ezra 3:3-6

II. Resuming the Offerings. In spite of the people’s fear of those around them, they began to give their offerings. In our Sunday School material they gave a number of different offerings/sacrifices.

They sacrificed during the morning and evening, daily. They did this before the foundation of the Temple had been laid.

Applications -

- Faith or fear. Notice in vs. 3 that the people worshipped God, in spite of their fear of the people. First, there are some wicked people in this world who plan and scheme to do people like you and me harm. There is a reason to be concerned.

Second, God is able to deal with whatever concerns us or tempts us to be afraid. God is bigger than the wicked people around us.

Third, our behavior shows that which is dominating our spirit and personhood. If we act afraid then fear is in control. If we obey God then faith in God is in control.

Let’s work on living by faith in God. Such living should be known for obeying God. A good way to control our emotional state is to think about and obey God’s will. Our emotions have a way of catching up with our thoughts and behavior.

- Free will offerings. Notice in vs. 5 of our Sunday School material that the people were known for giving freewill offerings. First, we have to give what we owe, before we can give something extra.

For example, you have to pay the restaurant bill, before you can leave a tip. We owe our tithes and we give our offerings. Any offering before paying our tithes is a down payment on our tithes.

Second, when we think about how good God has been to us and promises to be to us, we should freely give more than we owe as a way of telling the Lord, “thank You.” Let’s work on giving in proportion to how good God has been to us.

Read Ezra 3:7

III. Resources for the Temple. In our Sunday School material the people gave money and resources to further the work. They wanted cedar logs from Lebanon. They were operating under a decree from King Cyrus.

Applications -

- Supporting the work. Notice in vs. 7 that the people gave as a way of supporting the work of rebuilding the Temple. Every member of the church should feel duty bound to give according to his/her ability to support the work of the church.

In most churches, if the members (i.e., not the visitors or “used to be” members) of the church would simply tithe then churches would not be in so much debt and known for so little ministry. Let’s work on supporting the work of the church, based on our ability.

On one hand, God doesn’t expect much money from those who are poor. But on the other hand, God does expect equal sacrifice from those who have multiple closets of clothes.

Conclusion: Let’s work on our worshipful giving. God has much for those who obey His will.

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