First Things First

FullSizeR-1We have had a busy few days. We returned to Denver from Palm Desert on Friday20170723_162822-1 and traveled to downtown Denver for the Western Conservative Summit. On Saturday we attended a birthday party for Carolyn Wilson who attended the church we pastored in Lakewood. Then on Sunday we attended the 50th Wedding Anniversary for our friends John and Bonnie Weston. Today Debbie returned to work and I returned to some of my duties as a City Councilor.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:3 ESV

Ezra is the sequel to 2 Chronicles. The book begins where the end of 2 Chronicles leaves off. Babylon is overthrown as Jeremiah the prophet has foretold. Cyrus King of Persia comes to power and in accordance with God’s plan told through the prophets, the people of God begin to return to the land.

As a “pagan” king, Ezra understands his divine call. We see it in his own words, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:2 ESV)

He did not claim this initiative as coming from his own mind or as part of his plan to secure his power or influence. He recognizes that the “God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth.” He invites all of God’s people who are willing and able to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. He provides the articles that had been taken from the Temple by the Babylonians along with all of the provisions needed for the job to be completed.

What is of interest is the the call was not to rebuild a city, it was to rebuild a Temple. In due time houses would be rebuilt, and the walls of the city would be rebuilt under the leadership of Nehemiah. But the first order of business was the rebuilding of the Temple and the first step in rebuilding the Temple was rebuilding the altar upon which sacrifices would be made.

 They set the altar in its place…and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening.” (Ezra 3:3 ESV)

Before the foundation of the Temple was laid, they erected an altar and began to offer regular sacrifices to the Lord. This order and commitment is a good reminder that in all of our endeavors we need to begin first with prayer and worship. When great tasks are undertaken prayer is the order of the day. Seeking the Lord, having His direction and favor is what makes the difference.

I remember a conversation with a political friend of mine who had served in the administration of a Colorado Governor. As I was early into my political endeavors, she was getting ready for a key role in campaign for congress. As talked about this potential campaign and the preparedness of the candidate she was working with, she made the comment about how they “had prayed about” this decision. I found that both encouraging and convicting.

All too often prayer is viewed a perfunctory or the recourse that takes place when our plans run into an obstacle. Instead it needs to be our first and constant priority.

Prayer for today…. Lord remind us that we are to “worry about nothing, but pray about everything.” May we put first things first by seeking You and always keeping You in the forefront of our plans and endeavors.