A Renovators Dream
16/10/2022 - Jody Destry
Ezra – A lens through which to view God’s design for hope and restoration for his people – and as a way of listening together to how God is inviting us to partner with Him in His mission for The Legacy Project.
Background & Context:
When: two time periods – 538BC rebuilding the temple (23yrs) 60 years later – a second group of exiles return to Israel.
Author: Ezra (and potentially a group of editors)
What: 70 years of exile in Babylon is over – The people of a God return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple
Persia is the new superpower nation under King Cyrus
– A chronicle of hope and restoration
– Rebuilding of the temple
– The prophetic promise that exile is not the end of the story
God still has a purpose for his people (despite continuing sin and rebellion)
God can and will use anyone he chooses (even pagan Kings) to accomplish His purposes
Spiritual renewal and revival
1/ God was faithful to His promise – exile was not the end of the story
2/ God had a specific plan in mind for His people – God had a clear purpose and and a clear outcome and He chose specific people to be part of bringing it to life. (Including secular leaders and authorities)
3/ Before any bricks were moved God needed to move their hearts – it began first with the leaders and then continued through to the people. (Hearts before bricks)
4/ God resources His mission through the community ‘all their neighbours assisted them’ – God uses unlikely sources of blessing and provision for his purposes.
Q Why was it essential that God moved their hearts??
A GOD project V A GOOD project
When we zoom out and look at the story of Ezra there’s a great master metaphor of rebuilding and renovation taking place – one that begins not with bricks and mortar but with an internal renovation. A renovation of the heart.
That’s the first invitation for us today – before any kind of physical redevelopment or reorientation – there is a work God is wanting to do IN us.
“Christianity is not something YOU do as much as it’s something that is done to you. Our challenge is allowing Him to do that work IN us”
The life of a disciple of Jesus is a daily journey of transformation. God is constantly redeeming us from places of exile in our lives. He is redeeming us everyday from sin and shame and restoring us for His purposes and moving our hearts onto His Kingdom agenda and preparing us to outwork His Kingdom plans.
Our lives are a series of internal shifts – shifts of our heart, mind and spirit more and more into the likeness of Jesus – internal shifts that lead to external shifts in our behaviour, action and service.
1/ How is God moving my heart towards His agenda in this season? (In my life, in my family, in my part to play in the Legacy Project)
2/ What are the internal shifts God might be inviting me to in this season? What needs renovating or rebuilding in my heart and life? What needs redeeming and restoring? (Pride, ego, shame, not living in the Word, fear, doubt, self-control, self-reliance)
(remember exile is not the end of the story! The amazing thing about grace is that we don’t have to stay where we are – God’s taking us individually and together on a journey of transformation)
3/ Where do I need God to bring spiritual renewal in my life?
Key Takeaways as we step into this season:
1/ God’s job – to move the hearts of the people
2/ Our job – to respond in faith and obedience to God stirring our hearts and to begin making preparations to build personal response and a ‘together’ response (family conversations, prayer and discernment, dreaming, research, engaging our community and our region, our council)
3/ Expect opposition – don’t lose heart or give up
4/ Expect the provision to come – God will use the entire community to resource the work