Cyrus

What’s it worth?

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And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

-Ezra 1:4

She stared at the huge chunk of rusted metal that sat on her husband’s flatbed trailer.

“You paid how much for that?” She asked.

“$900,” he replied.

“I wouldn’t have paid 50-cents,” she responded.

Such is the life of a couple where the husband collects classic cars, and the wife knows how to drive a car.

The rusted chunk of metal on the flatbed trailer was one of the first 1964 1/2 Mustangs to roll off of Ford’s assembly line in Detroit. Knowing this, the husband valued the car in its current state at $750, but wound up paying $900 after being bid up at an auction.

Why pay more? Because he knew that, after he sanded the rust, applied primer, painted, reupholstered, and rebuilt the engine and drive train, that newly restored Mustang would be worth at least $20,000 to a collector. You see, the value of anything is determined by what you are willing to pay for it.

In Ezra 1, the Lord stirred the spirit of King Cyrus, who called upon the people of Israel to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. To finance this project, he ordered the return of the gold and silver vessels taken from the Temple during the Babylonian captivity, and called upon the people to contribute financially to the project. Ezra 1:6 says the people did just that:

 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

The rebuilding of the Temple was so important to King Cyrus that he gave the gold and silver vessels that were handed down to him from a previous invasion to be used for the Temple. The Bible says there were 5,400 vessels made of precious metal handed over.

While the argument is valid that those vessels belonged to the Lord in the first place, it was still a huge transaction for a pagan king who had not been raised in the faith. Just as God stirred Cyrus to make this contribution, He stirred the hearts of the people to financially donate to the rebuilding of the Temple as well.

From this, we learn that if God has stirred your heart, it will affect your pocketbook. If you have been moved by God’s grace in your life, you will want to see that happen in the lives of others. That will motivate you to financially support ministries that carry out the Gospel.

Whether you give, and how much you give, will be determined by how much you value seeing God move in the lives of others. Again, the value of anything is determined by what you are willing to pay for it.

When we began this post, we noted the difference in value of an old Mustang based on who was looking at it. The wife, who had no interest in classic cars, saw an old hunk of metal, and assessed no value to it. Her car enthusiast husband saw the value of the restored classic, and assessed a higher value to it, and thus was willing to pay more.

In the Spiritual life, there are two types of individuals: those who see the church as a milquetoast institution with a pastor who works two days a week, and those who see the potential lives changed through the missionary efforts of that church. The one who sees the latter will value the church more, and thus will be a more faithful financial supporter.

In which camp do you find yourself today?

Leland Acker has served as the pastor of Life Point Baptist Church since its inception in 2008. Life Point meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Sunday Worship at 11 a.m., and meetings are held at the Early Chamber of Commerce/Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early, TX, pending the construction of a new worship facility.

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Who is there among you?

Jerusalem Reconstruction

Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

-Ezra 1:3

The Persian king Cyrus had no ties to Jerusalem. There was no sentimentality on his part. He had probably never even been to Jerusalem. Yet, when God stirred his spirit, he was moved to rebuild the house of God at Jerusalem.

Knowing that God’s will was to revive Israel, Cyrus understood that if the reconstruction of the Temple was to truly accomplish its purpose, the Israelites would have to be the ones to rebuild it. Therefore, he challenged God’s people. “Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him.”

Over the past 9 years, I have seen signs posted along the highways of Texas urging residents to pray for our nation. On more than one occasion, our nation has been mentioned as a prayer request during morning services.

And then there’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We pray for our nation often. We pray that our nation will remain safe, prosperous, that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same lifestyles we did. More importantly, we pray that God would bring a revival in America. More than a cultural revival, we pray that God would bring a spiritual revival to America.

We’re concerned about more than American traditions. We’re concerned about the soul of America. Historically, our nation has lived by Judeo-Christian values. In recent years, it seems that society is deliberately moving away from those values.

As a result, we see the increase in drug abuse and crime, child abuse, human trafficking, moral degradation and cultural rot. The solutions to these problems cannot be legislated. These are problems that can only be solved by a revival in America. These problems can only be solved by national repentance and a renewed interest in true Christianity. We pray for this to happen.

However, this revival will only be sparked if the people of God will stand up, speak His Gospel, minister to those who hurt, and reach out to those who are lost. If we are to see a spiritual revival in America, we need a generation of Christians to rise up and unabashedly do God’s work.

So, in the words of Cyrus, “Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him.”

Rise up, reach out, and be the influence that leads your friends, family and neighbors to the Lord. Who knows? You may be the spark that ignites a revival in our country.

Leland Acker has served as the pastor of Life Point Baptist Church since its inception in 2008. Life Point meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Sunday Worship at 11 a.m., and meetings are held at the Early Chamber of Commerce/Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early, TX, pending the construction of a new worship facility.

Once you realize this, your life has purpose

andrew carnegie

I should consider it a disgrace to die a rich man.” – Andrew Carnegie

A boulevard runs through downtown Brownwood, connecting CC Woodson Drive with US Hwy. 377 South. The boulevard, which provides quick, and easy access from the outlying areas of Brownwood to downtown is named Carnegie St.

The name comes from the Carnegie Library, which was built back in the early 1900s at the corner of what is now Carnegie and Adams St. The Carnegie Library was named for Andrew Carnegie, a late 19th Century/early 20th Century industrialist who donated the money for the library’s construction.

Like many who take the journey from rags to riches, Carnegie understood that wealth was meant for more than enjoying with frivolous lifestyles. He advocated for the wealthy to invest their riches in programs that would help the poor escape poverty, such as schools, education, or in his case, libraries.

His philosophy was simple. Spend the first third of your life learning as much as you can, the middle third earning as much as you can, and the last third of your life giving as much as you can. Carnegie understood that, with wealth came responsibility. Sadly, he missed the spiritual component of that truth.

That was not the case with the emperor Cyrus, who stated in Ezra 1:2, “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”

When Cyrus became the king of Persia, he became the most powerful man in the world. All of the known civilizations were under his control at the time. Those provinces he didn’t directly rule over paid him tribute for their safety and sovereignty. Cyrus owned everything.

With his rise to power came the realization that there was a purpose for it all. Cyrus understood that his power and wealth came from divine blessing, not from his own personal merit. Therefore, the Lord stirred his spirit, and brought him to the realization that his rise to power coincided with God’s will to rebuild His temple. Thus, Cyrus concludes in Ezra 1:2 that the Lord gave him all the kingdoms in the world in order for him to rebuild the temple.

Cyrus understood that God raised him to power so that he would rebuild the temple, and failure to do so would result in his reign being prematurely ended. If God blesses you with a purpose, you better follow the purpose, or lose the blessing.

Today in America, we are amazingly blessed. The poorest among us are still among the richest 40 percent of the world’s population. We enjoy fast, convenient access to a variety of foods, can generate income at will, and enjoy the convenient lifestyle afforded by modern technology.

In the third world, goods are expensive and labor is cheap, hence the low standard of living. In America, goods are cheap and labor is expensive, meaning we have more buying power than most of the rest of the world.

Why has God blessed us so?

Simple. God has blessed us so that we will use our ample resources to spread His Gospel throughout the world. This is a Biblical concept. What God gives us still belongs to Him. We merely manage it on His behalf. His will for us is that we use those blessings to further His Kingdom, which means spreading the Gospel and winning more converts.

Has God blessed you today? If so, then live your life on purpose and use those blessings to further the Gospel. You never know what great things may come from your dedication to the Lord.

Leland Acker has served as the pastor of Life Point Baptist Church since its inception in 2008. Life Point meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Sunday Worship at 11 a.m., and meetings are held at the Early Chamber of Commerce/Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early, TX, pending the construction of a new worship facility.