Today is the 5th day of August. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It is great to be here with you as we end another week. And this is the first weekend in August. So, we end this week together with a beginning. We finished the book of Second Chronicles yesterday, which brings us to the book of Ezra. And Ezra will pick up, historically, where Second Chronicles leaves off, with the children of Israel in exile in Babylon, having been carried off for their rebelliousness to God, which we covered in detail in the previous readings. So, the book of Ezra is going to cover about eighty years and it will include three different kings in Babylon - Cyrus the Great, Darius, and then Artaxerxes, all who provide favor and cover for the Israelites, who are returning to their homeland. Cyrus the Great begins the process desiring, literally, to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem for the worship of God. And about forty-two-thousand Israelites, who have been in exile in Babylon, crying and weeping for the day that God would restore them, they finally get to make the trip back, under the leadership of a man name Zerubbabel, to rebuild Jerusalem. And, of course, they and their leaders are going to face all kinds of opposition both through intimidation of those nearby people who have been kind of in the land as it was dismantled and they’ve just kind of been there for the last decades and don’t necessarily want returning people to come in. And they’ll be opposed through political maneuvers but they will stick to the task. And it’s a great reference point for us in our own lives. This becomes a really, really poignant piece of scripture that applies to our lives as we persevere, as we stick to what we know God has given us to do in our calling in life, regardless of what seems to be caving in and around us, whatever our position we may face. Ezra later returns with a second group of returning exiles, the remainder of the exiles that are in Babylon, with the blessing of the king. And then Israel is fully restored to its homeland. So, let’s embrace Ezra, not only for its history but as metaphor for your own life. And we’ll definitely find ourselves in these pages, without a doubt. And, so, we begin. Ezra chapter 1 verse 1 through 2 verse 70. And we’ve been reading from the names of God Bible this week, which is what we’ll finish doing today.
OK. I was talking about this particular passage of scripture from First Corinthians when we did the Facebook Live in the Sneezing Jesus group the other night. Here’s the thing. It’s hard, it’s actually hard for me at this point not talk in terms of Sneezing Jesus or in terms of my previous book, Reframe, when we’re in the New Testament because both of those works were my deepest dive, like, they were me looking for where is the bedrock in certain aspects of our faith. So, with Reframe, it was, what is a relationship with God. And with Sneezing Jesus it was, what does it mean to be Christ-like, is that real, or is that metaphor and ambition, what is Jesus humanity mean to mine, does it matter that I’m a human being right now. And Paul talks about both of those things in this particular passage of scripture, when he is simply unpacking what reality is. And, so, if we move back through this passage of scripture it’s just so enlightening and so helpful to the way that we look at the world. Paul says - and he’s just getting going in this letter by the way, we’ve just got past the introductions, right, the hello, the “hey, it’s me Paul and I’m writing to you” stuff. So, Paul kind of gets against this letter going by saying, the message about the cross is nonsense to the people who are being destroyed. Right? The people who are destroying themselves by the choices that they are making to reject and renounce and move away from God, to stay devolved, to stay sub human, to stay as they were. But this same message about the cross that’s nonsense to them is God’s very power to us who are being saved, who are being sanctified, who are being awakened, who are being made new again as human beings. So, with that in mind then Paul asks, where is the wise person, where is the scholar, where’s the persuasive speaker of our time, hasn’t God turned that wisdom of the world into nonsense? Because the world with its wisdom, right, with its knowledge of good and evil, what mankind did after the fall, to try to recreate shalom, to try to be like God without God, the world with its wisdom was unable to recognize God in terms of His wisdom. So, God did something kind. He decided to use the nonsense of the good news that we speak to save those who believe. Jews ask for miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom. So, Paul is saying, basically Jews and Gentiles, because the Greeks were the gentiles for Paul, the predominant group of Gentiles for Paul. Jews are looking for miraculous signs, Gentiles are looking for wisdom. Right? So, people of faith are looking for signs from God. People that aren’t particularly religious or have a pantheon of gods, they’re looking for wisdom. Right? I mean, we can look at this in our own world. Christians ask for miraculous signs and secular people are searching for wisdom. Devout people want a sign from God or the gods, where other people use their knowledge as god and say, if it doesn’t measure up to this, it doesn’t exist. So, Paul takes that and juxtaposes it, but our message is that Christ was crucified and that is a ridiculous message. I mean, think about it. That is a ridiculous message. We walk around talking about a man who was crucified - a horrible death, of course, terrible, brutal execution, absolutely - and that’s the big-game changer? You see how ridiculous this is? This offends Jewish people, Paul says. And, of course it does. This was their fear from the Romans. And it makes no sense to people aren’t Jewish. But to those Jews and Greeks who are called, He is the Christ. God’s power. Right? The signs. And God’s wisdom. Gods nonsense is wiser then human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Right? So, no matter how you look at this nonsensical story of the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter where you are coming from on it, it all leads to God, who is more powerful than anything that we can ever dream up. And, so, Paul is invites us, brothers and sisters, think about who you were when God called you to faith. Not many of you were wise. Not many of you were in powerful places or positions. Not many of you were upper class people. But God chose you anyway. He chose what the world considers nonsense. Right? So, he put the crown on your head when you were nothing. The world would have never done that for you. The world throws people up the movie charts, the music charts, the book charts. The world throws people up and celebrates their giftedness and worships them until they fall down and then they start with the next person. And Paul is saying, you were not that at all. God came down and put the crown on your head and you were nothing and that is nonsense to the world. But he did it to put the world’s wisdom to shame, to show that it’s backward, its opposite of the way the world is operating. It is God’s grace and kindness and His choosing of us that matters. We cannot earn our way toward it. Even if we become the most celebrated human being on the face of the earth, we cannot earn our way to God. He came or us specifically and rescued us intentionally. And while it may look like nonsense, it is the salvation of the world. And, so, Paul’s point is, you can’t brag about this. You can’t walk around being super Christian. That’s an oxymoron. All of us were rescued in a nonsensical way - at least to the world’s way of thinking. But what this gospel reveals is the backwardness of the worlds system. God game and chose you. You have nothing to brag about. The only thing you can brag about is the same thing Paul was bragging about - Christ crucified, Christ alive within me rescuing me, Christ who knows my name, Christ who lives his life out through me. I have nothing in myself to brag about. I am a partner. And Paul says this, you are partners with Christ Jesus because of God, a partner. A partner with Jesus in this world. A collaborator with Jesus in this world. Jesus is the wisdom from God. Jesus is the approval from God. Jesus is the holiness before God. Jesus is the ransom from sin.
Wow! That’s the big story of what’s going on here. That’s the good news that were supposed to be sneezing into the world everywhere, with everything that we’ve got, in every way that we can. And this is not an obnoxious thing. This is the simple weight of our lives, the impact of our lives being light in the darkness. Paul describes this kind of posture and this behavior of sneezing it forward, of spreading the good news, spreading it like a virus, spreading it like something that will take hold and grow and be nourished and flourish and replicate itself. Paul talks about that very posture. He says, brothers and sisters, when I came to you I didn’t speak about Gods mystery as if it were some kind of brilliant message. He’s like, I didn’t come to show you the next big thing, which is what their culture and, for sure, what our culture is looking for. I didn’t come with this gospel to show you that it was the next big thing. When I was with you I decided to talk about only one thing, Jesus Christ, who was crucified. When I came to you I was not strong, I was weak. When I came to you I was afraid and very nervous. I didn’t speak my message with persuasive intellectual arguments. Right? I didn’t get into theological battles, thinking that if I could win the argument that I could win a convert. I spoke my message with a spiritual power. Right? Something from within. Something welling up from within that just is. Not something that I needed to prove. Something that just is so that your faith wouldn’t be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. And isn’t that how the gospel comes to each of us? And isn’t that how we sneeze it forward?
Father, we come to You and we’re humbled. Were humbled by just this small little passage from an ancient letter because it fillets things. It opens them up. And all the sudden what is inside is exposed and we have to admit that we’ve tried to intellectualize this and we’ve tried to frost it and we’ve tried to bake it and we’ve tried to broil it and we’ve tried to microwave it and we’ve tried to cook it on an open fire. We’ve tried every conceivable way to make it work in a palatable way, when Paul is just showing its not palatable. That was never the point. The point was restoration, redemption, a complete reversal of the order of things. And, so, yes, we can see clearly how this is nonsense. And yet this is the wisdom of God. It’s this juxtaposition of the cultures that we live in, what we declare as nonsense, what we declare is illogical. As if we are the de-facto people that get to make these decisions. Then You come in and say it’s backward. The things that you think are the next big thing aren’t. The next big thing comes through a cross and defeat because in that utter helplessness and hopelessness the power of God comes with the resurrection and restoration. And, so, yes, we will never earn our way. Yes, we will never become holy enough or perfect enough before You to say that on our own You must acknowledge us. It is only because You have come personally to rescue us. And we have nothing to brag about. And that posture of our lives and hearts, that we have nothing to brag about. And we are not trying to create something to brag about. We are simply trying to throw ourselves on the truth of Your rescue of our souls through the cross through Your death, burial, and resurrection. That’s all we’ve got. It’s all we’ve ever needed and we accept fully. And we ask Your Holy Spirit to transform us, to continually transform us, to continually remind us not to go back to the old ways of thinking, that we are being made new. And while that may not be understandable to everyone in our sphere, the weight of our lives, the transformation of our lives, the impact of this truth on our lives, that is compelling. And that is how we spread the good news. That is how we sneeze Jesus. Help us, Holy Spirit, to come into this place and live from here. We ask this in Your precious name. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is the website. It’s home base. It’s where you find out what’s going on around here.
That Facebook Live that I was talking about. You can still see that. It’s one of the posts at the Sneezing Jesus discussion group, which is at facebook.com/groups/sneezingjesus. If you are going through the book. If you are interested in what it looks like for you to move the gospel forward, then it’s a great place to ask questions and have conversations and share stories and be encouraged by one another. It’s an excellent resource. So, you should check that out.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayers and Praise Reports:
Hey Daily Audio Bible family. It’s doctor John from Jordan, New York. Cherry C., thank you for the shout out. I’ve been praying for Malcolm and I want specifically pray. In Jesus’ name, I ask you to provide Malcolm with a ticket home to honor his father and be able to provide for him. I ask that the price of that ticket will be less than $425 so that they can afford it and be able to complete the service for Malcom’s father. Jen, Prayer Warrior Princess, which, of course, I love your moniker, thanks for the shout. I just love this community and how we get to fellowship around the world. I truly believe that this is a vision of heaven on earth, where we care for one another and pray for one another in Spirit and in truth and help to have God’s will done here on earth through the prayers of the righteous. And none of us are righteous except through the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. So, thank you all, for everyone, what you do, and how you love one another. And as our poet, Tony, says, keep it flowin’ y’all.
Hi DAB family. This is Will from beautiful Bozeman, Montana. I’ve been in the background just listening and praying for others and learning. Asia, I heard you sister. I’m praying for you. And I just want to share this with you and with everyone else. God said to Paul, My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness. He said, My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness. He said, My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness. And, I know that many who are hurting, I just want to be sincere in what I’m saying for Jesus said, blessed is he who is not offended on account of me. So, take His words. Trust Him. And then He said, come to Me all you of heavy laden in burden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your soul. Now, what is that yoke? I call this my Sneezing Jesus moment as I thought through this process. It’s His grace. Now, in saying all this, that grace is sufficient for you. That is not a time to shrink back. It is not a time to retreat but for each and everyone to stand firm in God’s truth, to stand firm in who He is, for every word that He shared in these scriptures is not a point of shrinking back. So, hold on firm to your hope, your faith, your truth of who God is. And remember also, that if you can see hope then it’s not hope. So, true hope is something you’re holding onto by faith, knowing that the One who created life is the One who is able to do it. I love you all. You guys are such a blessing to me. Love you DAB. Thank you, Brian and Jill.
Hi. It’s Stanley from Maryland. Daily Audio Bible family, let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for who You are. We thank You because You are God. We thank You because You are our Father and You love us. We thank You because You know every single thing that we’re going through and You’re sad with us and You’re happy with us and You rejoice with us when we rejoice in You and You cry with us when we cry. Thank You for who You are God. Psalm chapter 37, verse 23 and 24 says, the Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in the details all their lives. Though they stumble they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand. Thank You, God, for this word. And we just love You today no matter what we are going through. I hope that this encourages anyone who’s struggling with something or who feels like giving up. God knows. He delights in every detail of your life. And though you stumble, you will never fall because He knows you and He holds you by your hand. So, I love you today. Bye.
The is Alyssa from New Jersey, AKA Zion Sinner. And I’m calling to encourage Lawrence from California who called in. Lauren, God hears your cry. And you may have walked away from Him but He’s never walked away from you. God doesn’t lose His sheep. And He wants you to know that He’s with you and He never left you. And I want you to know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even during that dark night of your soul, when you walked away, there’s still no condemnation because you’re in Christ Jesus. You’re still in Him. And, so, Lawrence, I want you to know that, with God, all things are possible. Restoration is possible. He is the king of restoration. So, I pray in the name of Jesus that you will have an encounter with the Lord, that you will continue to stay hungry for him, and that the fruit that you bear from that will be the evidence that your family needs to be willing to work in the restoration process. I thank you, Lord, for Lawrence. I thank you that he was vulnerable enough call in and cry out in front of the entire world that listens. Lawrence, your tears are in Gods bottle. He collects your tears. He wipes tear from your eye. And though weeping may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. So, be encouraged my brother. Your joy is coming. Your joy is coming. Morning is coming. Its darkest before the dawn. And the Lord is here and He never left to. He’s not angry with you. And He just loves and. And He’s just standing there with arms wide open, ready to put the ring on your finger, the sandals on your feet, and the robe upon your back. So be blessed my brother and take care.
My name is Jake O. and my father took his life over the weekend. We just found out Tuesday. You can probably hear it in my voice…I’m struggling today. But…it’s not easy. ___ Nation Guard ___ oak. It’s way too early. It’s wrong on so many levels. It’s not easy. And I know that without prayer and without God ___. I just need your prayer. My family needs all the prayer it can get. Thank you. Thank you.