Moved By The Spirit
October 15, 2018

Moved By The Spirit
Ezra 1:5-6

This past week while in the hospital’s waiting room, I started to read the book of Ezra. Why, I’m not quite sure, but the Lord wouldn’t allow be to go beyond verse six, and to specifically meditate on verses five and six.

Ezra begins by taking us back to Jeremiah’s prophecy that after 30 years of captivity to the Babylonians; God would bring the Jews back to their homeland, the land of Israel. (Jeremiah 29:10)

And then Ezra talked about who was going to go, and what those who remained did for those who went.

“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.” (Ezra 1:5-6 NKJV)

Now, this is going to be one of those teachings that is more practical than inspirational. Basically, this is not one of those goose bump messages, that’s if I ever give one of those, but my hope is that it will encourage us to find God’s calling and purpose for wherever we may be at this present time.

What we see here are the types of people that make ministry happen.

1. Called by God

“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:5 NKJV)

God had specifically called the tribe of Levi to minister before Him on behalf of the people, and to minster to the people on His behalf (Numbers 18:26). And from each tribe of Judah and Benjamin, or the southern two tribes of the house of Israel, the tribes taken by Babylon, the head of each family grouping was called upon to go.

These were the ones that God had called to go and start the rebuilding project for the new temple (Ezra 3:8). These were the ones that God had specifically called to ministry.

What about today? How will we know if we are so called by God?

Let me just say that God will raise up His leaders and everyone will know it. But if we say that God has called us, if we have to promote ourselves, then it is very good chance that it’s self-promotion, not God.

I have had people come into my office in Vegas and tell me that God has called them as a prophet, or that God has called them to the healing ministry and then ask if they can get in front of the congregation and give their message. My answer has always been so far no, because after some questioning they couldn’t even define the prophetic office.

I have also had people tell me that God has given them this or that giftedness, and when I dig deeper, they start using the “God Card” on me, saying, “God has called me, and God knows my heart.” At this juncture I usually thank them, but inside I just want to say, “Well God does know your heart, and he says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and beyond cure, and no one knows just how truly bad it is.” (paraphrase)

What I have found is that those who revert to the “God Card” to validate their ministry or message by using, “God told me,” usually haven’t been called and are dealing with some pretty serious problems, deep seated issues that they haven’t worked out and they are using God as a buffer.

I mean, how do you answer or refute someone who says, “God said.” Frankly I rarely if ever use this or “Thus saith the Lord.” Those are some scary words to start bantering around.

There is a truism that we will never develop and will actually hamper spiritual maturity when we are still emotional immature. If there are still issues not fully dealt with in the Lord, then we’ll never move any further than where we are.

What do I mean, well when someone says they have a message from God for the church, and the elders or pastor say, “Not at this time,” or “Now isn’t the right time for that,” and they get all bent out of shape and say how this or that church isn’t spirit filled or they are a dead church because they won’t let them use their gift; this is immaturity on their part. God is the one who sets up His leaders, and if discipline is needed, then God is a whole lot better at it than man.

Let me give you another truism; you cannot lead anybody else until you first learn how to follow.

But I have digressed. When you are called by God, others will know it. They knew who the Levites were and their calling.

But what about today, how will we know? Well, we’ll know because they will already be operating with the leadership gift, or with one of the other ministry gifts. If God has called you to be a teacher, then you’re already teaching in some way, shape, or form. Teaching, you might say, is in your blood.

Ilona, will probably be a teacher someday. Now, I can’t say for sure that this is a prophetic word, but when she was at our house for those first five years, she would pull out all her stuff animals into a classroom setting and began teaching them. I have no idea what she was teaching but she was teaching. There were even times when some of the animals had to go to time out because they weren’t listening.

Let me just says that man ratifies what God has already commissioned.

For myself, I knew that I was called to be a teacher, and in my spirit I also knew that I was to be a pastor, although I really didn’t want the job. But when I was asked to teach a home fellowship and some Bible classes, I followed the pastor’s lead, and God did the rest.

Was everything in order in my life, no, and guess what, it still isn’t. No one is ever without problems or difficulties. What is important is that we’re dealing with them.

One person said, “My house isn’t in order.” I asked, “Are you taking the necessary steps to remedy the problem,” and they said they were, and I said, “Tag, you’re it.” He turned out to be a great worship leader, a teacher, and a pastor. And today he is using his expertise to help another ministry.

Just a short story about myself and hopefully you will catch the drift. I was asked if I would start teaching the morning worship service. I told my pastor that I would pray about it. He said, “Dennis, for you to pray about this is sin.” Now, while that sounds harsh, it was true. You see I was using prayer as a way of escape. But again, you will never lead until you learn how to follow. Since he was the senior pastor of the church, I followed. God did the rest.

Has God called you? Do others see it and affirm God’s calling? Has the leadership asked you to step up? There you go. You are part of the “Called.”

2. Moved by the Spirit

“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:5 NKJV)

Now this is not saying that those who have been called weren’t moved by the Spirit as well, but here there is a specific move by the Holy Spirit upon a person’s life to join in to see a job done. These are those who God had given special gifts and talents to be used in reestablishing Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple.

We see such a move by the Spirit in the building of the tabernacle. The Lord told Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab (a-ho-li’-ab) the son of Ahisamach, (a-lish’-a-mash) of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:2-6 NKJV)

These are who I call seconds, and I use that in a very respectful way. Take for instance Joshua. He was Moses’ second, or understudy. His spirit was moved to follow and to serve God and Moses. What I find interesting is that if you ever wanted to find Joshua, all you had to do was go to the tabernacle, and he’d be sitting outside the door.

In the New Testament, Paul had several, like Silas. You don’t hear much about him except he joined Paul on his 2nd missionary journey. You also have Timothy, who joined in with Paul and learned the ministry from him.

Today, those who’s spirits are moved in this same sort of way are those God has called to help, to stand alongside and be helpers to the leadership. Take for instance Aaron and Hur. They stood beside Moses and kept up his arms while the battle raged below.

We have names for these individuals within the church, they are called deacons, that is, those who serve, because that is what the word means.

Now, what I have seen is that when people are faithful in serving in their particular area, God usually moves them up, often times to head up a ministry, or to become elders, and even pastors. But still, some remain right where God wants them to be, because they perform a vital function within the body of Christ.

The Bible says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10 NKJV)

Story of sheep dog.

3. Encouragers

And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.” (Ezra 1:5-6 NKJV)

Because this is in the next verse, and it doesn’t say the Spirit moved upon them, for us to automatically say that this isn’t just as much a move of the Spirit as those who were sent, is wrong, because each play a vital role in the ministry.

The first thing we see is that they encouraged them. Now, within the context of the passage it says it was with monetary means. And I’ll get to that in my next section, but I want us to focus on the idea of encouragement.

Paul said, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

And the writer of Hebrews said, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)

Unfortunately, today Christians are known more for shooting their wounded than for their encouragement.

For a time, prior to my becoming a Christian, I was a Dale Carnegie assistant. And I always remembered a saying that he had. “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

But truthfully, I see little if any of this within the church. Instead of saying, “Way to go, we’re behind you all the way, we’ve got your back,” we’re talking smack behind their backs which is called gossip, and sometimes even to their face.

I kind of like Jesus’s statement to those about ready to stone the woman to death. He said, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7 paraphrase) Or better when Jesus said, “Hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 NIV)

But this is nothing new. We see the same thing with the Israelites. We’re they grateful to God and Moses for their deliverance, yes, but also no.

It says that the people complained, and God sent down fire from heaven and consumed them (Numbers 11:1-3). It also said they didn’t like the manna and so they craved some meat, so God sent them lots and lots of quail, and while the meat was still between their teeth, God struck them with a severe plague (Numbers 11:4-35).

But the two that stand out the most for me is when Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses’ leadership saying they were as much leaders and Moses, and because Aaron was God’s High Priest, God never struck him with leprosy, but Miriam, was so stricken and placed outside the camp until she was pronounced clean (Numbers 12).

And let’s not forget Korah from the tribe of Levi along with 250 leaders of the Jews. They opposed Moses saying He had gone too far, and they were just as holy, that is, set apart by God as he was. And so, as they burned incense before the Lord it says the earth opened up and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with their families and possessions fell straight into the fires of hell, and the 250 leaders were consumed with from a fire sent down by God (Numbers 16).

Aren’t you glad we’re in the days where God gives us mercy and grace? Otherwise we’d all be crispy critters.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to obey and submit to those in leadership because they watch out for our souls. And the reason is so that they can do so with joy and not be grieved, because in the end that would be unprofitable for us (Hebrews 13:17).

4. Willing Givers

And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.” (Ezra 1:5-6 NKJV)

Like the encouragers, these are also moved by the Spirit in their giving.

When the first tabernacle was being built by these men whom the Spirit of the Lord moved upon, it says that that people were bringing so many offerings that there was more than enough and then some. And what I find amazing is that it says that the people were restrained from bringing in any more (Exodus 36:5-7).

Frankly, I have yet to see that in today’s church. Instead, what I have seen are all these pledge cards and vision casting for people to give more. In fact, I have seen where there are some who target the big donners.

People, please understand that the one thing I hate most is talking about giving, which is why I put it as a chapter in my upcoming book. So, I can just say, see chapter 11, and leave it at that.

But I will say that I sent this chapter to someone whose family was struggling in this area. I was told that it brought not only clarity, but harmony and unity as well.

But giving willfully and abundantly is found within the Bible.

We see Paul thanking the church Philippi saying that no church shared in giving as they did. They even sent this guy, Epaphroditus, to help Paul out. And Paul also thanked the church in Thessalonica for sending monetary gifts again and again to meet his needs. And I love Paul’s response, in that he didn’t so much seek the gift as he did the fruit that they would receive because of their sacrificial giving (Philippians 4:15-19).

Some time ago I wrote either a devotional or a thought entitled, “Let’s Stop Counting.” This came from something Jesus said about our charitable deeds. He said, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Matthew 6:3 NKJV)

What I find amazing is how meticulous we are when it comes to recounting our good deeds and/or how much we give. We’re much like those Pharisees Jesus commented about saying not only how much they give, but how meticulous they were in the tithe, even giving a tenth of a leaf of a particular spice, all the while forgetting what it is truly all about, or what Jesus calls the weightier matters of the law; justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23).

In the end, we have to stop all this trying to figure out how much we’re supposed to give God, what exactly is a tenth, and start giving, not only the tithe, but also the offering and alms. And this wholly is to be led by the Spirit, that is, we are to be moved by the Spirit in our giving and to be willing to give as God directs.

What I find interesting is that we pray for God supernatural intervention in our finances but are unwilling to follow His instructions in our giving. Oh, and by the way, doesn’t God own it all anyway.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV)

Conclusion

Now I know that when many of you saw the title of today’s message you were probably thinking I was going to talk about being filled and baptized in the Holy Spirit, and how we can see God move in a mighty way in words of knowledge and wisdom, not to mention prayer for healing and power.

But can I say this. When we’re moved by the Spirit into these areas of doing things God’s way, instead of man’s, then we will see the Spirit move in our midst. Why? Because when we’re doing it God’s way, and God will honor it.

Jesus said, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26 NKJV)









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