Working toward Renewal knowing Jesus is our only hope
Ezra-Nehemiah (Audio Sermons)
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Ezra-Nehemiah is all about renewal of God’s people. This renewal requires a call back to God (RETURN) and a call forward to obedience (REBUILD) resulting in a changed people (RENEWAL and REFORM). However, as effective as Ezra and Nehemiah might be in leading God’s people to return, rebuild, renew and reform, they are left in despair at the end (REGRESSION). The story doesn’t end well because it’s not really the end of the story. It leaves us wanting, looking, hoping for a better priest, a better builder and a better leader. It makes us long for Jesus. As Tim Mackie states: “Unless God’s Spirit does something, that we cannot ever coordinate, strategize, plan, or bring about, we’re dead in the water. We’re just a structure.” We need God to do a better work than we can do. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t need plans, strategies, hard work and wise leadership. Tim continues: “But at the same time if we don’t maintain these structures and these rhythms to ground our identity in the covenant story, we will not be a people ready to receive revival when it comes.” In God’s economy, we are called to plan, structure, work, and lead. We are called to create liturgies, develop spiritual disciplines and walk in everyday rhythms of grace while asking God to breath life by his Spirit into all of our work.
Ezra-Nehemiah tells the story of what we can do as we return back to God while also showing us that we can’t do the work that only God can do. We can’t change hearts and we can’t sustain change. The story leads us to the one who came to be for us what we are not and do for us what we can not do. Jesus calls us to return to God through his life, death and resurrection so that he can build us up and sustain us through his Spirit.
The book of Ezra-Nehemiah is not really about Ezra and Nehemiah. It’s about everyone’s need for Jesus. The only hope we have for true, lasting renewal is the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are called to return to him the true and better word so that he can rebuild us up to be a holy temple transforming cities for his glory.
Covenant and Captivity
Set-up: Covenant and Captivity
Return and Rebuild
TEMPLE (Ezra 1-6)
Ezra rebuilds the temple. This is like a second exodus. Ezra reinstates the celebration of Passover and worship after years of neglect.
Ezra 1-2 Returning to a Home We’ve Never Known
Ezra 3 Worship Remakes Us
Ezra 4-6 Working Hard under God’s Sovereign Hand
TORAH & COMMUNITY (Ezra 7-10)
Ezra 7:1-10 Mediator of Grace through the Word
Ezra 9-10 Wisdom for Holiness
CITY & WALLS (Nehemiah 1-7))
Nehemiah 1:4-11; 4:12-14 A Champion of Hope
Nehemiah 2-7 The City of God
Nehemiah 2-6 Facing Attack
RENEWAL & REFORM (Nehemiah 8-12a)
Nehemiah 8:1-12 Built by the Word
Nehemiah 9-10 Failure and Fulfillment
REGRESSION (Nehemiah 12b-13)
Nehemiah 12:27-13:31 Unfinished Disciples
This series is a joint project of the Seattle Area Pastors Network. Outline created by Jeff Vanderstelt, Paul Dean, Nathan Cedarland, and Brian Hope.