Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 4:24-6:22; 1 Corinthians 3:5-23; Psalm 29:1-11; Proverbs 20:26-27
Even though the enemies of God were successful in delaying the rebuilding of the Temple, they didn’t stop it permanently (Ezra 4:24). God’s will was going to be fulfilled no matter what the God-haters tried. The same is true for the future.
Whenever we are doing God’s work we can expect opposition. Those who oppose us think they are doing the world a favor, but they are not. But God lets them have their say for a while. Hopefully in the process they will learn something and will turn to Him. But there is another reason why God allows such opposition – to test us to see if we will quit or if we will trust Him.
Although the work had been temporarily halted, it restarted. But yet again there was opposition (Ezra 5:3). The Jewish leaders had no fear. They knew God was watching over them and therefore willingly handed over the names of everyone working on the project (Ezra 5:5).
When Cyrus’ original decree is found, Darius confirms that the Temple can be rebuilt on its original location (Ezra 6:7). But he goes even further than that. He expands the original decree by ordering the local government to foot the bill and to provide the Jews with whatever supplies they might need with a harsh penalty for not doing so (Ezra 6:8-12).
Here we see a prime example of God using all things for good (Romans 8:28). God never said all things will be good. He just said that He can, and will, use whatever happens for good. Some selfishly tried to stop the building of the Temple. But God turned it around on them. The end result was that the Jews had even more money and supplies than they would have otherwise. That is God at work.
As Paul continues his letter to the Corinthians he reminds them that he and Apollos, the two men who taught the Corinthians about Jesus, were nothing (1 Corinthians 3:5). They were just doing what Jesus asked them to do. They planted and watered, but it was God who made the Corinthians faith grow (1 Corinthians 5:6).
Believers can tell others about Christ (plant) and bring more information to them (water). But only God can make someone’s faith grow stronger. We need not be frustrated if we do not see the results of our planting or watering. I can tell you that there are people in my life I’ve been praying for for over 20 years and I’ve not seen one millimeter of interest in God on their part. Yes, it can be frustrating. But all I can do is plant seeds.
Notice that we are partners with God in this endeavor. God can’t make something grow that hasn’t been planted and watered. The work we do is not unimportant.
One of the aspects of Bible study is recognizing verb tenses. In the original Greek the words for “planted” and “watered” in verse 6 are in the definitive past tense meaning that these actions happened and were now over. But the words for “made… grow” are in the imperfect tense meaning that the action was begun in the past and is continuing to the present day. Our part has definite beginning and ending. But God’s work never ends.
Whatever a Christian does for God will be evaluated after he dies (1 Corinthians 3:13). The things we do in this life either promote Jesus or don’t. What we do with our time, money, and talents should go towards furthering God’s kingdom. This includes speaking to others about Jesus, giving to our local church and Christian charities, serving at our church (maybe even writing a blog?).
If the work we do promotes Jesus then we will receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:14). This is the first verse we’ve read this year about eternal rewards. Many more will follow. The truth is that how we live for Jesus after being saved has a direct and proportional relationship to the rewards we receive, if any, in heaven. Many believers do not realize this. They think that once they are saved they are done. But that is not at all what God tells us in the Bible. God will reward us for how we serve Him after we receive the Holy Spirit. These works don’t get us into heaven. But they effect the life we will have in heaven – for all of eternity.
If a Christian’s works do not survive the test of fire – if they did not live for Christ after being saved – that person will still make it to heaven. But they will not receive any reward (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Psalm 29 describes God in very powerful terms. No human’s voice can make mountains move. No human’s voice can make the earth quake. If God’s voice is so powerful it can do the things mentioned in this Psalm, then certainly His voice is powerful enough to help you through the seemingly unsolvable problems that you face. Stop and listen to Him. If your idea of God is that He is simply a “super-human”, think again. God is infinitely more than we can imagine.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post