Sunday School Material 7-21-13: Fasting and Praying 



(Ezra 7:6-10; 8:21-23; 7/21/13)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Ezra prayerfully traveled to do God’s will. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on discerning and obeying God’s will for our lives.

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Body:

Read Ezra 7:6-10

I. Mission Overview. Ezra and others had made their way to Jerusalem. There is mention of how God’s hand was on Ezra. Ezra is known as a man who was devoted to the study and observance of Law of the Lord as well as a teacher of the decrees.

 

Applications -

- God’s use of government. Notice in vs. 6 of our Sunday School material that God can use the civil government for the good of His will. There are too many Christians who behave as if God is only God of the church building and Christians. However, the whole Earth belongs to the Lord and they that dwell there in.


Let’s work on being open to God blessing in whatever way He chooses to bless. This means being open to God blessing us through church ministries, government programs, and self help efforts. We should also be open to God using us to bless others in these areas as well.

 

- Doing our part. Notice in vs. 7 of our Sunday School material various types of workers went back to Jerusalem. First, we should not try to be what we are not. If we are gatekeepers then we should be gatekeepers and not musicians. If we are musicians then we should be musicians and not priests. We should do what God has called us to do with great enthusiasm.


Second, whatever our title or label, we should remember that we are all called to serve the greater good. No one is called to simply please him or her self. No on is called to simply watch. Some are general servants and helpers. Let’s find and perform our ministry in our churches, families, and communities.

 

- Dedication. Notice in vss. 8-9 of our Sunday School material it took four months for the people to make the trip from Babylon to Jerusalem. It took a great deal of patience and dedication to complete the journey, especially after the people had grown comfortable living in Babylon. There are many who grow too comfortable where they are and don’t have the patience and dedication to work with others in getting to where God is calling them to be.


Let’s work on having the dedication needed to go where God would have us to go and do what God is calling us to do. Think about how this application relates to our individual lives, families, churches, and communities.

- Studying, obeying, and teaching. Notice in vs. 10 of our Sunday School material Ezra is noted for three outstanding characteristics. First, he is known for studying the Law of the Lord. In like manner, every believer should be known for studying God’s word, the Bible. We should study individually and collectively (e.g., Sunday School and Bible Study).


Second, he obeyed the Law of the Lord. The more we know, the more we are to obey. It is not enough to know that we should love God and others, as we love ourselves; we must actually love God and others, as we love ourselves. Third, he taught others. In like manner, we should at least teach others to know and obey God with our example.


But there are some who are teach in classrooms and various teaching settings. Let’s work on being known for studying, obeying, and teaching the principles of God’s word.

 

Read Ezra 8:21-23

II. Mission Preparation. Ezra called for a fast. The purpose of the fast was to ask God for protection on the long journey. Ezra was ashamed to brag about how God takes care of His own and then ask for the King’s protection. God answered the prayers.

 

Applications -

- Fasting. Notice in vss. 21-23 of our Sunday School material Ezra called for a season of fasting and prayer. First, fasting and praying will not get God to do what He sees that He should not do for us. There are ways that seem right to people but the ends there of are the ways of death.


Second, fasting and praying seemed to be a way of showing God how serious we are about what we are praying about. As children, some of used language like “please” and “pretty please.” Prayer alone may be like “please” and fasting and praying may be like “pretty please.”


Third, we should fast and pray as we feel led to do so but with the above mentioned understanding and with consideration for our health. For example, diabetics ought to be careful about prolonged periods of not eating. Some people fast from television, internet, or something else. Let’s seek to know and do God’s will for our lives.

 

- Receiving or rejecting help. Notice in vss. 21-23 of our Sunday School material Ezra was ashamed to ask for help. Nehemiah accepted help from the King. Instead of approaching the matter of receiving help with an either/or mindset, we should exam one’s motivation. If one’s motive is godly for rejecting help then the action is godly. If one’s motive is godly for accepting the help then one’s acceptance is godly. In other words, whatever is not done by faith or godly motives is sin. 


Let’s aim to do what we do because of a sense of it being God’s will. For example government grant money to do human service work can be God’s will or it can be contrary to God’s will depending on a person’s motives and heart. If the money becomes our hope and we abandon any concern with ministering to the needs of people for God’s glory then it seems that God is not honored. I


f we use the money to be a blessing to people for the glory of God (i.e., even if we have to tone done the actually calling of His name in the program) with our ultimate confidence in God then it seems that such is godly or at least can be godly.

 

Conclusion: Based on our Sunday School material, let's work on discerning and obeying God’s will for our lives. God has much for those who obey His will.

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