Ever since I became a Christian I was taught to dream big. I was told to believe God for the impossible. Now that I have seen how it's helped me I like to teach others to do the same. I want to help you reach your full potential in Jesus. Ephesians 3:20 has to be one of my favourite verses (I know we all say that about many Scriptures). It states, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Isn't it amazing that God will do even greater than you can think? This is why I encourage people to dream big. Whatever we think, God can still do greater. If we think small God will do better. If we think big, God will still do greater. Dare to believe God for the impossible.
However on our way to seeing the vision fulfilled we will most likely go through some difficult times. I'm not prophesying over you, I'm just simply stating that life has many obstacles and things that we may need to face. We can learn great lessons from people in the Bible that went through tough times. We may not be able to avoid everything, but we can at least glean from what they learned in the process.
The book of Ezra is a small book in the Bible that you may or may not have read. Personally, I have found some great treasures within the book. When God's vision for our life seems to be in a rough patch we can look at Ezra and see what he had to go through. Having a vision is not just lots of fun and exciting times. There is a lot of strenuous work, discipline and determination that must be in our lives in order to see God's vision for us fulfilled. Ezra shows us a few difficulties that we can face before we see God's vision fulfilled. Let's look at them:
1. Opportunity to compromise. Ezra 4:1-3
Satan still uses the same tricks today as he did then. He has nothing new to offer. Here Ezra is faced with an opportunity to compromise. In verse one it states that, "the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin". I want you to first note here that they were adversaries. They didn't have Ezra's best interest in mind. Now that we see this, listen to what these adversaries say to him, "...Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do..."(v.2)Very interesting, they were adversaries yet they were saying that they worshiped God in the same way. It was a way of tricking them into compromising so that the call of God could be stopped.
I love the response of the people of Israel: "You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us" (v.3). These people weren’t willing to compromise God's call to align themselves with worldly mindsets. We can't allow what's popular or what will make us famous to get us off the focus of God's call. You see this in many Christian music bands today that stop using the name of Jesus just so they can sell more albums. This is a very sad mistake. Whenever you are given an opportunity to compromise, don't take it. Trust that God will bring fulfillment no matter how impossible it seems. It may have seemed to the people of Israel that their adversaries could have helped them and the temple would have been build much faster, but the reality was they were adversaries who wanted to destroy God's work.
2. Discouragement. Ezra 4:4, 5
See what happens here. Since they were not able to cause the people of Israel to compromise, their adversaries tried challenge number two: Discouragement. Have you ever felt discouraged in the middle of God's plan for your life? You are serving Jesus the best you can, yet you still feel like 'throwing in the towel.' This happens to all of us even me. This is why I want you to recognize it as Satan's attack.
“Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purposes all the days of Cyrus King of Persia, even until the Reign of Darius King of Persia" Ezra 4:4,5
Whenever you feel discouraged, shake it off, knowing that we all face it one time or another. Satan uses people and circumstances to try to discourage you from fulfilling God’s plan for your life. If you can overcome this discouragement, you are well on your way to accomplishing God’s will for your life.
3. False Accusations. Ezra 4:6
Another one of Satan’s schemes is that of false accusations. If opportunity to compromise and discouragement didn’t work, be ready for false accusations. One thing I have learned is that people will talk. No matter who you are or what you do people will talk about and against you. You can’t please everyone. Look what happened to Ezra and his helpers:
“In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” Ezra 4:6
People began to write false accusations against Ezra and his team. They were doing nothing to harm anyone else. They were simply building a temple. They were doing something noble and right, yet Satan tried to defame them.
When you are living a righteous and upright life and serving the Lord with all your heart there is no need to retaliate. Trust that God will fight for you. Don’t be afraid of false accusations. The truth will always become known. Keep doing what you are doing and your testimony will speak for itself.
4. Delay. Ezra 4:21-24
Due to the false accusations they were now commanded to stop the work. They were no longer allowed to build. They were told to stop at once. Delays and setbacks can always be a hard thing to face. This is when you need to continue trusting God even when it makes no sense. Keep strong and see what God will do!
Next week we will talk about the good news on what God will do as you face these different situations. Remember that God is always on your side!