Sunday School Material 7-28-13: Giving Gifts for the Temple

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

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is trusted people carried a large sum of valuables over 880 miles to finance the work of God. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to develop trustworthy people to aid in our doing great things for God.

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Read Ezra 8:24-27

I. Consigning Offerings.  In our Sunday School material Ezra set 12 leading priests aside to handle valuables given for the Temple. A couple of the priests are named. An itemization of the valuables are listed.

Applications -

- Workers with godly character. Notice in vs. 24 that there were some people who had trustworthy character and willing spirits to do what needed to be done. It is becoming more and more difficult to find people who have trustworthy character and who have a willing spirit to do what needs to be done in God’s kingdom agenda.

Too many are concerned about their name being called. They don’t want to be identified as one selected by the leader - the Pastor’s pet.

Others are too concerned about their name not being called like the 10 unnamed brothers. Consequently, so much work goes undone or the work is performed by people whose character and competency are suspect. Let’s work on being, developing, and supporting people with sound character to do God’s work.

- Financing the work. Notice in vss. 25-27 of our Sunday School material that it took a great deal of money to build the Temple. In like manner, it takes money to do some of the things that God is calling the church to do today.

It takes money to have air conditioning, heat, and lights. It takes money to pay mortgages. It takes money to pay the staff that many churches use to almost replace the volunteers. Let’s work on giving as God has prospered us.

This is another way of saying, let’s pay our tithes and give our offerings. If 2/3 of those who claim to be a member of the church just tithed, the church would be so much further down the road.

Real scholarships could be given, home ownership could be realized by more, and staff could be assigned to maintain standards of excellence, where we are simply doing the best we can with who we have right now.

Read Ezra 8:28-30

II. Communicating Holiness. In our Sunday School material Ezra tells the people that they and the articles given to them are consecrated unto the Lord.

The articles were free will offerings. They are to guard the valuables carefully, until they weight them out to the leaders in Jerusalem.

Applications -

- Wise stewards. Notice in vss. 28-29 that the money and money handlers were consecrated unto the Lord. Therefore, it was expected that the money handlers would exercise great care in handling God’s money.

This a good place to remember that those who have stewardship duties with God’s money and other assets should treat them as sacred trusts. We should be more prudent with God’s resources than we are with ours.

Think about who we would not have the air conditioner blowing at 65 degrees in a room that no one is scheduled to be in for the next three days, leave lights on, fail to replace brake pads, or fail to fix holes in the roof of our houses and vehicles; therefore, we should not poor stewards of God’s resources either.

Let’s work on developing and supporting people who understand and live out the principle of being a wise steward of God’s resources.

Read Ezra 8:31-35

III. Completing the Mission. In our Sunday School material the delegation set out for Jerusalem with the valuables. The hand of God kept them from being robbed.

They presented the money to the Temple leaders. All was accounted for. There is the offering of burnt offerings unto the Lord.

Applications -

- Acknowledging the hand of God. Notice in vs. 31 of our Sunday School material that Ezra and others acknowledged the hand of God. Too many ignore the hand of God or simply don’t acknowledge out loud so others will know that God is the real hero.

All that we have and all that we claim to be is because of the grace of God. Let’s work on acknowledging the hand of God on us, as we experience success in our work for God. Without God the choir could not sing, the preacher could not preach, families would be worse off, and our community would be more crime infested.

- Accountability. Notice in vs. 34 there was an accountability of funds. It is reasonable for people to give money throughout the year and receive periodic reports about what came in and what went out.

It is reasonable for people to expect an accurate tax statement at the end of the year. It is reasonable for an accounting of funds to be given with a reasonable amount of notice. Let’s work on being accountable with God’s resources.

Rev. Dr. Frank Ray, a noted Pastor in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., said in effect, “When people don’t have information, they use their imaginations.” I would add they often imagine bad things about church resources that are not accounted for.

- Giving. Notice in vs. 35 that giving was a key part of the people’s interacting with God. In like manner, every believer should love God so much that they give in proportion to how God has blessed them. God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son. Let’s work on giving because of love, not just because of law or the church’s needs.

Conclusion: Let’s work on developing trustworthy people to aid in our doing great things for God. God has much for those who obey His will.

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