Ezra 7:1-8:20 ~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 ~ Psalm 30:1-12 ~ Proverbs 20:28-30
Today is August 8th. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It is wonderful to be here with you today. And a fine day that it is, no matter what’s going on outside in the weather, no matter what’s going on in our lives right now. It’s a fine day to spend some time together as a community and take the next step forward in the scriptures. And, so, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We are reading from the Good News translation this week. Ezra chapter 7 verse 1 through 8 verse 20.
Ok, so, yesterday in First Corinthians we were talking about how Paul was saying, look you can’t get an identity by who follow. You can’t get an identity any other way. We are all built upon the same foundation and we are building upon that foundation, which is Christ. And what we build matters but in the end, it’s all in God’s hands. His judgment is His judgment and what we think about that has no bearing and what we walk around telling each other about what God is going to do, we are, like, talking in a way that we don’t understand. We’re trying to use the world’s wisdom to make us seem wise, when, actually, God looks at that wisdom and sees it as nonsense. So, there is only one foundation and we are all built upon it and struggling for identity and who we follow or our rituals and customs, that’s not going to get us there. It’s all already ours. Paul continues, obviously because we’re just in the next day and we’re reading the next portion of the letter, he continues with some of that thought, he expands upon that thought, which is a bit of dismantling the places that we naturally gravitate toward to get identity. Right? In judging each other. And Paul is saying, I don’t even judge myself. And that’s not to say that I can just do whatever I want. I just understand that I have a conscience that’s clear before God. But that doesn’t mean I’m innocent. It’s just…this is the best I have and the Lord is the judge and we should apply that to ourselves and to each other. So, quoting from First Corinthians, ‘you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes. None of you should be proud of one person and despise another. Who made you superior to others? Didn’t God give you everything you have? So, then how can you boast as if what you have were not a gift?’ I mean, this is a huge invitation because Paul’s saying, this struggle for identity by competition by comparison by who you follow, by who don’t follow, by who you read, by who you don’t read, by who you listen to, by who don’t listen to, by what church you go to, by what by what denomination you are part of, these things are kind of beside the point and none of you should be proud of one person and despise another. Who made you superior? Everything you have is from God. Stop pretending it’s not a gift. It is for all of us. And it’s interesting, because Paul pulls back the veil on ministry. So, he’s basically inferring, you want to follow me, you follow Apollos, you want that to be your identity? Let me tell you with this is really like. So, to quote Paul, ‘it seems to me that God has given the very last place to us apostles. We’re like people condemned to die in public as a spectacle for the whole world of angels and of human beings. For Christ’s sake we are fools. To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty. We are clothed in rags. We are beaten. We wander from place to place. We wear ourselves out with hard work.’
So, there it is. This is what you’re following. This is what it really looks like. And every pastor in the sound of my voice, God bless you. You know this is true. And everyone in the sound of my voice that has a pastor, you need to know, this is how it is. It is hard, hard work. I love being in ministry but it is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it sends me to my core on a daily basis. There is no way to survive without this foundation, this sure foundation of Christ. And, so, whenever you’re looking at the person with the microphone who’s on the stage saying words or you’ve got your earbuds in and you’re listening to somebody saying words that’s in ministry, and you think, O, I just wish I could do that or O, I just wish I could have a relationship with Christ like that. Trust me you can. And trust me, this is not easy. And, so, Paul’s just kind of demystifying the whole thing, sort of, like, pulling back the curtain and saying, OK you guys keep trying to find an identity on, like, you’re of Apollo’s, you’re of Paul, you’re of Peter, you go to first Baptist, you go to first assembly of God, you go to first United Methodist Church. I mean, on and on we could go. Paul’s saying, behind the identity you have are people who are working themselves crazy to pour out their lives for you as servants. Paul says it like this, ‘we wear ourselves out with hard work. When we are cursed, we have to bless. That is hard work. When we are persecuted, we endure. That is hard work. When we are insulted, we answer back with kind words. Again, that is hard work.’ And it’s the work that we’re all invited into. All of us, not just pastors and teachers. We’re all invited into this collaboration of building upon the foundation that is Jesus Christ. And then, in a little bit of his own defense, Paul says, look, I’m not telling you this, like, I’m not pulling back the curtain, I’m not saying the things that I’m saying to make you then feel sympathetic toward me because this is such a hard job. I’m not trying to make you feel ashamed. I am just trying to instruct you because there may be many voices in your life or as Paul says, you may have 10,000 guardians in your Christian life but you only have one father. And Paul is looking at the Corinthian church through the Father’s eyes. He planted this. He’s cultivated and nurtured this. And, so, he’s saying, like, in your union with Christ, I’ve become your father because I brought the good news to you. And, so, if you’ll look at me that way then I’m begging you to follow my example, the example of not being judgmental, of understanding that God is over it all, of understanding that Christ is the foundation upon which we are building, the understanding that there is no identity in comparison and competition. It’s not how this Kingdom works at all. It’s nonsense to God. Try to live that way. And I mean, this can be kind of condemning. Like, we can go, like, wow, he’s kind of coming right at it. But it’s not that. It’s an invitation to freedom. It’s this plea. You don’t have to do this. It’s not going anywhere. It’s all already yours. There is actually work to be done but it’s not against each other. There’s such freedom and invitation in that.
Father, once again, just like yesterday, here we are, inviting You to dismantle these false constructs that we have arrived at to find an identity, even an identity in our faith that is nonsense to You. But we don’t want to live that way, not when You are inviting us into freedom. But it requires a reframing of a lot of things that we thought we knew - about each other, about Your church, about You. It forces us to come clean and it forces us to come as individuals before You. And, so, here we are. Holy Spirit, dismantle whatever You want to take down. Things that we’ve been working on for years, You have permission to smash that. Things that we’ve thought our whole lives, if they are leading us away from truth, then dismantle them. We’re with You. We entrust our identity to You, fully. Which means, You can dismantle whatever You want to and insert whatever You want to. We are here to serve You. We are here to collaborate with You. We are here to be friends. We are here to be in love. And we have done everything but that. And, so, forgive us God. We step away from all of that, that false creation of an identity, and step into an identity with You and You alone. Come Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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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:
This call is in response to a message I just heard tonight. It’s Friday night. It is late. It’s August 5th now. Jake, I am praying for you my brother in Christ. You called about your father taking his life and I want you to know that I will continue to pray for strength for you. And I want to give you a Psalm. This is Psalm 29:11 - The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses His people with peace. Clearly, you are one of His people. You reached out to Him in your pain and your brothers and sisters here, we hear you and we love you and I’m sure there is a lot of prayer coming your way. God bless you my brother in Christ.
Hi. This is Elaine from Victoria and its Saturday, August 5th. And I heard Jake Oaks pain about his father committing suicide. I know this pain. I had a stepson, he might as well have been called my son, because I was close to him, and he committed suicide. So, I know that grief that you are feeling. But I want to encourage you from Isaiah from the Old Testament. Isaiah 41:10. So it’s, do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. And He is holding you, Jake, by your hand. Go with this today, knowing that God is walking you through this very difficult, stressful time. I love you. I love you Brian for this ministry and all your family and all the Daily Audio Bible family. Bless you all today and go with God. Amen.
Hello. This is the greatest trucker from way out west listening to the Daily Audio prayer line on the 5th of August and at the end the last caller was Jake Oaks after his father had taken his life last weekend. I don’t know when that was. Jake, I want you to know that we are praying for you in the most fervent way that we could pray for you and your family in this hour of confusion and despair. And I don’t really have any words to describe how I feel about what happened with your family there. It’s hard to understand and hard to comprehend and my brain doesn’t even want to go there I guess. We are going to be praying for you brother so that prayer has power to heal your family. In Jesus name.
Hi everybody this is Alicia from Kansas. It’s August the 5th. And I just listened to the readings and then the prayers afterwards and I’m calling to tell Jake, whose father took his life this past Tuesday, or whenever. Jake, I’m praying for you and I know there are hundreds if not thousands of others that are praying for you and your family. I am grieving with you and I love you precious one. Lord, Father, I thank you and I praise you so very much for Jake for his vulnerability for reaching out to his prayer family. Lord, Father, I pray that you’ll be with Jake. Wrap Your arms around him. Lord, Father, may he feel Your presence. I thank You and I praise You for his heart. I thank You and I praise You for his family. I pray, Lord, Jesus, that we would be faithful to You and to Jake, Lord, God and continue to lift him up in prayer in Your holy and precious name, I pray. Amen. I love you sweet brother. Bye-bye.