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"Second To One"

"It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."

John 1:27

Most of us have heard the expression, "He or she was second to none" as a means of saying this person was the best at what they did. A compliment for sure but from studying the Word of God a greater compliment would be to say, "He or she was second to One", with the One being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The more invisible we become the more visible Christ is. Thats we read John the Baptist declaring to his followers, "I must decrease that He might increase" and the apostle Paul writing to the church at Galatia boldly states, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." The highest goal we each should strive for in this life is to be "Second to One".

Ezra was one such man and studying his life will provide you with tremendous insights as to how to become successful in God's eyes. Even the name Ezra is significant as his name means "help". That word can be taken a few ways. God is our Helper and when we look to Him we succeed. It can also mean we are God's helper. Like the apostle Paul writes regarding his life of service to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 4:5, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake." A bondservant was a one who became a slave to another person as an act of their own free will and the term of their service was for life. Thats commitment!

Are you aware that Ezra was regarded very highly in Jewish tradition being regarded as a "second Moses"? Ezra, who himself led a group from Babylon to Jerusalem, it took four months and covered about 700 miles of rough terrain to arrive and assist in the rebuilding of the temple. By the time Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, the people had almost all but given up on the work of rebuilding, discouraged by their adversaries they decided to just focus on building their own homes instead of engaging in the work of the Lord that they were called to do.

Ezra stirred he hearts of the people to get back to work and complete the work they were sent to do. The Word of God tells us, "this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him" (Ezra 7:6). Ezra stirred the heart of the people because the Word of God first stirred the heart of Ezra. If you desire to be used of God in building up His kingdom, learn the lessons of Ezra's life.

Ezra did much in preparing his heart during those four months it took to get from Babylon to Jerusalem. He was a skilled scribe, something more than just a glorified secretary position writing down notes of importance. Ezra was skilled in the Law of Moses, comparable today to being a highly trained lawyer. And because he set his heart to study and grasp the Law of Moses, God's hand was upon Him. In other words, God was with Ezra, supporting and supplying his every need.

What made Ezra successful in his journey of faith will make you and I successful too. First, start by setting your heart on the things of God. Every great work of God in the lives of men begins with a longing in the heart for the will of God. Ezra traveled hundreds of miles and many months to a city that was broken down and in desperate need of restoration. What was in God's heart became Ezra's heart too. Second, he loved God's Word and not just to read it devotionally. Ezra became skilled in Law of Moses. Scribes were influential in Israel's history because they were diligent to preserve the Word of God, to teach the Word of God and maybe, number 3, the most important of all, they helped the people both hear and apply the truths of God's Word in real life. Scribes were different from prophets as scribes didn't receive new revelations from the Lord, they focused on knowing and explaining the revelations already revealed. Ezra was one of the first of these.

Notice the steps we read in Ezra 7:10, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel." What Ezra was to the children of Israel in the Old Testament, you and I have been called to the church and the world which we live in the New Testament. Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen."

The method and the model of ministry has not changed. The men and women God uses for His glory are those who first set their heart to seek God. Seek the Lord, long for Him by setting your heart to know God by knowing His Word. Study to know God's Word both intellectually and by careful application. Don't just study to know, study to do! Study to apply His Word to your life and not just to memorize His Word. And lastly, whatever the Lord teaches you know, He has done so that you might encourage others lives too. Seek out those with whom you can share what you have come to know as true in hope of stirring the hearts of those who are listening and who also want to seek and serve and share Him too. Impact others with what has impacted you! Determine today to be second to One! Be the man, be the woman of God that He uses mightily to stir up others to love and good works.

"So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."

John 13:12-17


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