Thursday, June 01, 2006

Preparation for the Proper Foundation

For the last month, God has been dealing with me about worship. The clarion call for His people in this season is to develop relationship with the Father. So, many of us have focused on worship and intimacy with Him. Yet, God has even more to say to His people. Hallelujah! I am so thankful for a Father who chastises those He loves!

During these last few weeks, the Lord has been dealing with me through the book of Ezra. Of course, I found this very interesting. Many of us NEVER pay any attention to this book, yet it offers so much insight on true worship and dedication to the Father. The book begins with a decree from Cyrus, the King, to build a house for God in Jerusalem. So, he instructs the Jews who remain after the Babylonian captivity to go back to the holy city and build a temple to Jehovah. Cyrus gathers all the temple materials that were brought out of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar during the capture of Jerusalem. Until this day, they were used in the temple of idols for the worship of false gods.

Now, just in this little bit of information shared during the first chapter, the Lord began to speak to me. So many of us often quote that we are “taking back what the devil stole from us.” The Lord showed me that a season of restoration is coming forth, but not as we may expect. “The church has allowed the world to steal from ME,” said God. This stung me when I first heard it, but God began to show me even more. The basins, bowls, vessels, jewels and fine metals that were stolen from the temple in Jerusalem were all commanded and ordained for worship. They WERE NOT FOR THE PEOPLE, but they were brought into the temple to bring glory to the Father. In the church, HOLINESS has been stolen by the world. The church has allowed the world to dictate music, to dictate the order of service. The pulpit has become a political platform, a fundraising podium and a comic relief, rather than a station for the dissemination of God’s Word. The church bows to the world and allows it to dictate song and dance. My God! How many more preachers will start service at 11:00 and end by noon, just in time to catch the game? “Holiness,” says the Lord, “is being restored.” Church, no longer can we allow the world to dictate how we serve our God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

In the second chapter of Ezra, a count is taken of all those who returned to Jerusalem. In addition, a determination of the priestly lineage was also determined. Though they were all CALLED back to the holy city, not all were CHOSEN to take of the priestly sacraments. Again, God is speaking. Those who were of priestly lineage, but had taken spouses of unholy nations, no longer found their names in the book of the priests. Saints of God, we cannot expect to do what we wish and return to God desiring the same position and the same anointing. The day has come when some will need to SIT DOWN. God is not using everybody. This is a season where gifts and talent alone will not suffice. The Father is raising up those who have a heart for Him. He is anointing the lips of those who desire to worship rather than those that can just sing. He’s anointing the feet of those ready to dance in battle rather than those who have professional training, but no anointing. Yes, get ready for the shift. The world’s ways will no longer dictate the move of God’s people.

As chapter 3 opens, the Word says the people gathered together as “one man.” Glory to God! Unity is restored. Once again, God’s people came together with one mind and a willingness to move on one accord. Unity is being restored to the Body of Christ. Hallelujah! Now, take note of what happens next…

Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and they built the altar of the God of Israel to offer burnt offerings upon it, as it is written in the instructions of Moses the man of God.
Ezra 3:3 And they set the altar [in its place] upon its base, for fear was upon them because of the peoples of the countries; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord morning and evening.
Ezra 3:4 They kept also the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the ordinances, as each day's duty required,
Ezra 3:5 And after that, the continual burnt offering, the offering at the New Moon, and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord.
Ezra 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, but the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.

Notice that the altar was built before the temple. Not only that, but the altar was built BEFORE THE FOUNDATION WAS LAID. Oh, God really dealt with me about this. He said the problem with many “church folk” is that we are standing on foundations that were built outside of worship! My God! I had to ask the Lord what He meant. He showed me that most of us still rely on tradition and religion. We still depend on what we were taught my grandmother and granddaddy. We are more devoted to the church body than we are to Him. We’re more concerned about the denomination than the souls of His people. Instead of changing what we think and believe, we want God to conform to the mold we have created for Him. Why? Because a foundation has been laid that was never destroyed. Yes, some of us need to throw out all our ideas. Lay down the titles. Throw out the denominations. Put away the tradition and superstition. JUST SEEK GOD. This is a season for NEW REVELATION. Religion is being challenged…not to create strife, but to bring us into a new season with the Father.

Even in our personal ministries and endeavors, God is saying “Worship me before you lay a foundation. Seek me before you begin to build.” People of God, we must be so careful in this season to keep our motives pure. This is not the time to make any decision without seeking the Father. Even if a thing seems good, do not establish anything before seeking God. We do not have time to build temples in which the Father refuses to dwell. How many times will we establish ministries, set up boards, create activities and take part in events without seeking God first? Why do we insist on completing our own agendas, then “inviting God in?” No. Invite Him first, and let Him tell His people what to build. Just as the people did in this passage of Scripture, we must build the altar first. Worship. Seek God. Then, build a foundation. Last, build the temple. The established work comes at the end, not the beginning. Yes, Lord!

Ezra 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their vestments with trumpets, and the Levite sons of Asaph with their cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the order of David king of Israel.
Ezra 3:11 They sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His mercy {and} loving-kindness endure forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid!

After the altar was erected, and the worship was accepted by the Father, the foundation was laid. The people knew it was accepted by the Father because their offerings had been received, not rejected. Therefore, praise was in order when the foundation was laid. People of God, when we get into God’s will, the works we complete for His kingdom will ignite praise rather than strife…unity rather than confusion. To GOD be the glory!

Ezra 4:1 NOW WHEN [the Samaritans] the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles from the captivity were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel,
Ezra 4:2 They came to Zerubbabel [now governor] and to the heads of the fathers' houses and said, Let us build with you, for we seek {and} worship your God as you do, and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.
Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses of Israel said to them, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us
Ezra 4:4 Then [the Samaritans] the people of the land [continually] weakened the hands of the people of Judah and troubled {and} terrified them in building
Ezra 4:5 And hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose {and} plans all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius [II] king of Persia.

Now, don’t be surprised when the enemy sees the success and tries to get his hand in God’s work. This is where so many of us miss it. Some of us are going to have ministries coming forth with a success like never before. People with a true heart for God are gathering and getting works completed for God’s glory. Beware of allowing the world to take part and corrupt the work. Saints, this is a season when you may have to turn help away. You may have to deny the loan from the bank that supports homosexuality. You may have to tell your sister or brother in the natural that they can’t preach in the pulpit until their lives become holy. Jesus said that his followers would have to deny mother, father, sister and brother for His sake. That time has come. No unholy thing should touch what God has anointed to be built. This is the season of HARD DECISIONS, yet holiness cannot be compromised. Many must sit down and be turned away…OR EXPOSED.

As the book of Ezra concludes, we see that many years pass before the temple is finally built. Opposition comes in many different forms, delaying the building of the temple on numerous occasions. God is telling His people not to be discouraged. No matter how long it may take a thing to be established, as long as the pure worship, in spirit and in truth, is not quenched, the battle has not been lost. The enemy is bringing forth an attack as many of us have never seen before. Be prepared to STAND.

Most importantly, always build the altar before setting a foundation. Any foundation set on anything other than relationship with God will either fall or serve as the base to another altar that must be torn down! If disobedient, do not be upset when God’s people bring exposure and destruction to the work created in idolatry. To God be the glory!

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