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Craig

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  • Birthday 06/03/1955

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  1. 4. (Ezra 10:2-4) Do you think Shecaniah’s solution to the people’s sin of intermarriage was from God? Can you think of any other examples in the Bible of prophetic “words of wisdom” directing God’s people at crisis points? How do the people respond to Schecaniah’s radical solution? How does Ezra implement it? I think Shecaniah was under conviction and was afraid of God's judgment on Israel so he came up with a solution. It was adopted and the people took an oath to go along with the solution. I don't see words of wisdom in this event. I see a radical knee jerk reaction by frightened people to appease God. What became of the abandoned wives and children of these guys?
  2. 3. (Ezra 9:3-4) How does Ezra react when he hears of the sin of intermarriage? Does he react for show? Does he over-react? Why does he grieve over the sins of the people? What is wrong with us if we don’t grieve over the sins of God’s people? He is stunned and overcome by the realization that Israel had once again disobeyed God. He is so overcome that he tears his tunic and pulls the hair out of his head and beard as a sign of grieving. He does this not for show but in actual response to disobedience and the possibility that God might punish Israel again. He grieves for the sins of the people because it alienates the people from God. It places the people outside the will and blessings of God. If we don't grieve to some degree over the sins of God's people then we are out of touch with God.
  3. Q2. (Ezra 8:24-30, 33-34) Why does Ezra weigh out the gold and silver vessels when he entrusts them to individuals, and weigh them again when they are delivered to the temple? Is this an act of distrust? If not, why are steps to prevent embezzlement good for Christian organizations? It is not a matter of mistrust but of accountability. All human beings, even the best of us, can be tempted under the right conditions to do the wrong thing to fill an actual or perceived need. So, measures of accountability are good for Christian organizations. Additionally, Ezra wanted to make sure that what he left with was what arrived in Jerusalem. Accountability.
  4. Q1. (Ezra 8:21-23) Why does Ezra call the people to fast? Does fasting compel God to answer our prayers? What does fasting accomplish in us? Ezra calls the people to fast in order to humble them before God and to ask God for a safe journey to Jerusalem. Fasting does not compel God to do anything. God acts on His own. What fasting does is to diminish the ego and open the soul to communicate with God. To humble oneself before God in order to listen to God. To hear God.
  5. 2. (Zechariah 7:9-10; 8:16-17) What does it look like to operate from a policy of mercy and compassion? God commands justice for the poor and oppressed in our culture. How can we be sure that the poor are treated justly in our courts? How do you treat aliens in your country, sojourners from another land? Why is speaking truthfully with others so important to God? Operating from a policy of mercy and compassion looks like doing unto others as you would do unto yourself and loving your neighbor as yourself. It's seeing yourself in others which eliminates otherness. It's taking care of people regardless of who they are and acting justly to all. This applies to all institutions in our country. Fairness and equal treatment to both citizen and sojourner. God is truth therefore we must speak the truth.
  6. Q1. (Zechariah 7:4-6) In what ways have we Christians tended to make worship about us, rather than about God? How should we evaluate our churches and our worship patterns? What can we do to make our personal worship a matter of the heart, and not just rote readings and prayer? Many Christians want feel good sermons and music to entice them to attend a particular church. The whole performance must be entertaining and I must leave church feeling "blessed" and "good about myself." If I don't I must go somewhere else therefore creating the great church franchise wars for the Christians' business. Worship must be personal and in truth and spirit that takes place anywhere at anytime. Most importantly it must be trinity focused.
  7. Q2. (Zechariah 7:9-10; 8:16-17) What does it look like to operate from a policy of mercy and compassion? God commands justice for the poor and oppressed in our culture. How can we be sure that the poor are treated justly in our courts? How do you treat aliens in your country, sojourners from another land? Why is speaking truthfully with others so important to God? Operating from a policy of mercy and compassion results in laws and customs that protect the widow, fatherless, the stranger, the poor in other words loving your neighbor as yourself. Lifting up your neighbor vice plotting to do evil to your neighbor. God acts in truth and justice and he commands us to do the same. Throughout American history it has always opened its arms for refugees and immigrants, but its citizens have not always treated them well. In fact some who were treated badly treated newcomers badly. America is a country governed by laws, if those laws are practiced and implemented without bias then all people will be treated fairly. As an individual, I try to "do unto others as I want to them to unto me." Regardless of who they are or where they come from. We are all sojourners on this planet and in this life.
  8. Q1. (Zechariah 7:4-6) In what ways have we Christians tended to make worship about us, rather than about God? How should we evaluate our churches and our worship patterns? What can we do to make our personal worship a matter of the heart, and not just rote readings and prayer? In my view, there are two primary ways Christians have tended to make worship about them and they are: 1) Participating in worship by rote or going through the motions just to check the block that "I went to church and I am a good Christian" whether my heart or mind was in it or not. 2) Turning worship into a another form of entertainment through music and/or dynamic/show preachers who are good at singing, yelling, and jumping around the stage regardless of the quality of the message they are presenting. They get our attention and money. Sometimes they get our worship. We can make worship a matter of heart by making it a matter of heart regardless of music or preaching style. Worship begins in my heart at any given moment not when I enter church. I should be bringing genuine worship with me to church.
  9. Q4. (Zechariah 4:1-10) Why do we so easily fall into the trap of trying to do God’s work with our own strength? What does it mean, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit”? How might you apply this truth to your life? Our ego leads us into the trap of trying to do God's work in our own strength. We often don't trust or know how to trust God in enabling us to carry out our assignments.
  10. Q3. (Zechariah 3:1-7) What do Joshua’s filthy clothes represent? How does God deal with this? What message is this prophecy intended to convey to Joshua the High Priest? How might this message apply to Christian leaders who have sinned? Joshua's filthy clothes represent his personal sin. God deals with this by providing him with fresh, clean garments. The message is that God has forgiven Joshua of his sin and removed the guilt associated with the sin. He gives him fresh garments and restores His relationship Joshua. God restores relationships and leadership positions upon repentance of sin as He sees fitting.
  11. Q2. (Zechariah 2:13) Why, in this passage, do you think the prophet calls all mankind to be still before him? In the context of God aroused to protect his people from attack, why is silence appropriate? For the enemy of God, what does silence represent? For the believer, what does silence before God represent? The prophet calls all mankind to be still before God because His presence is localized in their midst. Silence is required because God doesn't need our input and mankind needs to focus on God, not our own ego fueled opinions. For the believer silence means being still before God to permit the Trinity to fill our being and that we may experience God in a real way. In reality we must often be still before God. We talk too much and don't say much.
  12. Q2. (Zechariah 2:13) Why, in this passage, do you think the prophet calls all mankind to be still before him? In the context of God aroused to protect his people from attack, why is silence appropriate? For the enemy of God, what does silence represent? For the believer, what does silence before God represent? The prophet is calling for silence before God because He is getting ready to act. Oftentimes we must be still, get out of the way and let God act. For the enemy of God silence might represent unknown consequences, looming doom, or a visit from the hour horsemen. The point being is the unbeliever doesn't know what to expect in any degree regarding God because they have no relationship with Him or knowledge of Him. For the believer silence before God might represent the expectation of some kind of positive action on God's behalf for the believer(s).
  13. 1. (Zechariah 1:3) Why is a message of repentance from sin such an important part of the Gospel? What happens when we remove repentance from the core message of Jesus? Why do you think God wants you to repent of all known sin? The acknowledgment and repentance of sin before God opens the door of the soul for a relationship with the Trinity as well as the redemptive work of the Gospel in one's life. When repentance is removed there is no acknowledgment of sin, no healing, no understanding of the Gospel, and no indwelling presence of the Holy spirit. There is no transformative process going on. Repenting of known sin is acknowledging those acts and/or omissions of acts as sin before God. It brings us into agreement with God and opens our inner person for the Holy Spirit to transform us into Christ-like human beings.
  14. Q5. (Haggai 2:20-23) In what way is Haggai’s image of Zerubbabel being God’s signet intended to encourage Zerubbabel? What is the power of a leader’s signet? How does listening to God’s Spirit make you effective as his agent? In what ways are you authorized to speak and act for Jesus? To encourage Zerubabbel, God tells him through Haggai that he is God's signet. In being God's signet Zerubbabel has the power and authority to execute God's will for Judah. Listening to God's Spirit validates purpose and direction in one's life and mission. Thus, making one an effective agent. Christians have the power and authority to represent Jesus Christ in this present world.
  15. Q4. (Haggai 2:10-14) What kinds of things defile a disciple today? What is the danger of acting as if doing church work somehow makes us holy by association? How does a believer deal with spiritual defilement and sin? Getting too close to the things of this world defile a disciple today. For example, materialism, consumerism, celebrity worship, ****, sex outside marriage and rote Christianity. Church work does not make one spirituality clean. Thinking that it does only deepens self-deception. A believer deals with spiritual defilement and sin by going to God and asking for forgiveness and cleaning the issues up with the Trinity. Quote
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