How Our Goal-Setting Should Begin: A Look at Ezra

I know, I know, we’re already through January and I’m just now talking about goals, but perhaps this is the best time, no?  Certainly all your New Year’s Resolutions are in full swing and are being brilliantly executed, or…

You might be saying:
“I’ve got my five and room for no more, no siree, ain’t gettin’ any more goals in me this year.”
or
(insert flies buzzing around face) “Huh, goals?”
So, if you don’t mind, indulge me with five minutes of your time, surely you can spare it on the treadmill as you reach your goal of running a 90K this year.
Let’s back up a little in time to the book of Ezra, all the way to 538 B.C….To give you some context: after King Cyrus of Persia overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C., he established a new policy toward the Jews living in exile, they were permitted to return to their homeland and reestablish their worship of God.  Adding to that, Cyrus gave the returnees over 5,000 gold and silver items that the Babylonians had looted from the temple before burning it. (Talk about God’s favor!)  More than 42,000 Jews followed Zerubbabel in returning to the promised land…
A second group of exiles, led by Ezra the priest returned around 458 B.C. (approximately 80 years later).
This first group worked carefully to build the altar on the exact location on where it had stood before, signifying their dedication to God, and other groups joined in to help.  Things were going well for a while, but, many times, as we can see in our own lives, this work is not without it’s opposition, there was jealousy and bribery of officials to frustrate construction plans.  Enemy groups wrote complaint letters to the Persian king, accusing the Jews of rebellion, convincing the king, too, that once their city is built he will lose all revenue to his land, the king in turn halts the work.  And yet God’s work continues under a new regime (King Darius) years later and the temple is completed and dedicated.
They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, Kings of Persia.  The temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. (Ezra 6:14b-15)
They celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy, offered sacrifices and installed priest and servants to God all according the book of the Law of Moses.  And here is beauty: On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.  So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel.  For seven days they celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in work on the house of God, the God of Israel. (6:19-22)
Spotlight on Ezra, entering Jerusalem, guided by God’s righteous, protective hand and he kept it simple, as he assumed his position as prophet, priest and the man who, under God, would lead this reformed, chosen nation.  Yes, there was rejoicing and joy, but this man had his work cut out for him as we will see later in this book, so this man of God committed to:
1) study the law: the revealing the Lord’s nature and character
2) obeying the law
3) teach the law among God’s people. (7:10)
This man’s life was marked by three ingredients, I believe, are crucial to strong leadership and are key to making sure he met his commitments:
Courage (def.) the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous
Vision (def.) something that you imagine: a picture that you see in your mind
Sacrifice (def.) the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
How can we apply these same tasks in our very own lives?  These action points, coupled with the characteristics above provide an invaluable framework from which to base your goals:
-How will you study the Bible this year?
-How will you obey it?
-How will you teach others about it?
So what three practical, spiritual goals can you commit to for this year?  Make them simple, but above all else, make them Christ-centered you won’t regret continuing your year this way.
Care to share any of your goals from this year?

2 thoughts on “How Our Goal-Setting Should Begin: A Look at Ezra

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