Repentance in the Rain
May 31, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: How did Ezra respond to the known sin of other? What did he do privately? What did he do publicly? Does this inform the way a Christian responds to sin within the church or within society? How does this story help you think about the seriousness of sin and the life-change of repentance? What factor does rain play in this story? Is it a sign of judgment or cleansing? What do you surmise the people’s disposition was toward standing in the rain? What is the purpose in preserving the names of those found guilty of intermarriage? How do you deal with the memory of past sin?
Confession Before God
May 24, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
How did Israel break the Law by intermarriage? What this an ethnic issue or a spiritual issue? How does the Bible teach Christians to view interracial marriages? What type of prayer does Ezra pray? Is it a model for your prayer life? Where is the redemption in Ezra’s prayer? How should you exercise this in your own prayer life? Ezra’s prayer never asks God for anything. What point is a prayer without a request?
Fasting Before Moving
May 17, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What is fasting? What was Ezra's purpose in fasting (Ezra 8:21-23)? How is fasting associated with prayer? What personal need compels you to schedule time for fasting and prayer? What danger did Ezra and his companions anticipate on their journey? Is God’s plan for you safe? How can risk-taking reveal the Christian faith to unbelievers? How did the journey end? What principles about wisdom and faith can be applied to your life plans?
Men of Discretion
May 3, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What do you learn about family relationships and friendships from Ezra 8:1-20? What relational values do you miss during the COVID-19 pandemic and long to see restored? What does God’s blessing look like to a Christian? Is it the same as God’s blessing on Ezra? How do you discern and enjoy God’s blessings in your life? Why did Levites matter to Ezra’s journey? What principles can be learned about strength in numbers and team-based ministry? How did God provide Ezra’s need? Define discretion. How can you give or receive discretion as a gift?
The King's Endorsement
April 26, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Read Artaxerxes’ entire letter (Ezra 7:12-26). What surprising ways does God work behind the scenes to accomplish his will? Why did King Artaxerxes act favorably toward Ezra and the Jews? What insight can you learn from this as a citizen of a secular government? Where does courage come from in the Christian life? Do you need courage? Where did Ezra find the courage to lead? What type of team ministry does Ezra use? What are the benefits of working together to ministry?
Ezra and God's Book
April 19, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What credibility did Ezra have to lead? Where did his authority rest? How well do you know the Bible? What influence does the Bible have in your day-to-day living? Do you have a biblical mentor like Ezra? Does your biblical mentor know you personally? How often do you learn from them? What does it mean that “the good hand of his God was on him" (Ezra 7:6, 9)? How is God’s hand evident in your life?
A Meal in God’s Presence
April 5, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Was the temple necessary for the Passover celebration? Why wait? Who could participate in Passover? What two steps were required? Are these requirements represented in receiving the Gospel today? What did the renewed Passover celebration signify for the repatriated exiles? What gave people joy in the Passover? What should a Christian do if they don’t feel joyful in God’s work?
Dedication of the Temple
March 29, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What were the similarities and differences between this temple (Ezra 6:13-18) and Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:62-66)? Why are the people full of joy at the temple’s dedication? What was restored that had been previously lost? What did the 12 sin offerings signify? Should Christians remember sin in public worship today? How can this be done? Where is God’s sovereign in the story of the temple’s dedication? Where is the evidence of God’s sovereign providence in your life recently?
The Power to Build Again
March 22, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
]Application Questions: What ordinary means did God use in Ezra 6 to provide for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem? Can man accomplish God’s plan without God’s providence? Why or why not? Learning from this story, what are the blessings of a properly functioning government? How does this inform submission to government? Providence is God working independently of you to accomplish his will for you. What evidence of this is found in Ezra 6? What evidence of God’s providence can be found in your circumstances?
The Authority to Build Again
March 8, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: Was the letter and its requests legitimate? How accountable are God’s people to governing authorities? Is there a place for civil disobedience? Were the Jewish leaders honest about their past? What can be learned from their self-evaluation? How has your past and your family history shaped who you are? Did the Jews have a legal right to rebuild the Temple? One commentator wrote about this letter, “History is a dialogue between God and humankind.” Do you agree? In what providential ways was God working behind the scenes?
March 1, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
APPLICATION QUESTIONS: What changed after 15 years to move God’s people to rebuild the temple? What applies to the renewal of God’s church today? Do you see yourself as a prophet (like Haggai and Zechariah) or a building (like Zerubbabel and Jeshua)? What are your gifts and abilities? How can those gifts contribute to God’s work in the church? What does it mean for the eyes of the Lord to be on his people? Was rebuilding the temple dependent on the movement of God or the response of King Darius, according to Ezra 4:5? How do divine sovereignty and human responsibility relate?
February 23, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What exaggerations accompany false accusations? Find examples of these in Ezra 4 and your personal experience. Should a Christian defend themselves when wrongly accused? How will you respond if there is no recourse to speak in your defense? How did Jesus respond to false accusations, particularly before his crucifixion? How much faith and effort should a Christian or a church place in political leaders like a king or a president?
February 16, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Application Questions: What spiritual realities about opposition in Ezra 4 apply to God’s work in the church today? Have you quit a spiritual task because you were afraid or frustrated? List pros and cons of starting over and trying again. What will keep you faithful under an onslaught of discouragement, fear, frustration, and opposition? How long did the construction for the temple end? How will the whole story end?
Rebuilding the Temple’s Foundation
February 9, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
What principles for public worship and singing can be learned from the peoples’ response to the laying of the temple's foundation? Do you agree with the people’s praise of God, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel”? List three recent examples of God’s goodness and love toward you. Why were people shouting with joy while others wept with tears? What do each of these responses toward God’s work represent? How do you overcome your past hindering your future? Read Ecclesiastes 7:10 and Zechariah 4:10 and apply them to the story in Ezra 3 and your own experience.
Rebuilding the Altar
February 2, 2020 • Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
APPLICATION QUESTIONS: What does it mean that “the people gathered as one man” (vs. 1)? How does gathering express agreement, strength, and community? What caused fear for the returning exiles? What fears do you face as a disciple of Jesus in a culture that does not honor Jesus? What was the Feast of Booths? What did it symbolize for Israel and for future generations? What guided the exiles’ decisions? How do you hear from God when making choices?