How do you communicate with others? I am thinking about how communication (written, verbal, nonverbal and visual) happens in our culture today. Of course, technology plays a big part in how we network with each other today. There are a multitude of companies and applications  like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype and Facetime help us communicate in our digital age. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know how I would survive without my phone, it connects me to everyone and everything.”

Reading through the book of Ezra I was reminded of the “roots” of communication. We still write letters (5:8-17), we issue decrees (7:21), send memorandums (6:2) enforce stop work orders (4:23) and issue proclamations (1:2). Each of these communication methods serve a purpose today just like they did centuries ago, only today we have a different system to employ them. Consider for a moment how you use technology today to communicate and then continue reading.

God’s Word, the Bible, is one of the ways that He communicates with us. As the grand author, He inspired each and every word that is written for us to read today. The book of Ezra begins with a proclamation given by King Cyrus, a declaration that came from the Lord as He worked in Cyrus’ heart that allowed His people to return to Jerusalem. “The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing” (1:1) God inspires (moves our hearts) His people today in much the same way. Through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit, God leads and guides hundreds of thousands of leaders across the world to bring the truth of His word alive so that people will know Him. We are called to be communicators of His word, called to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Technology has changed the way we communicate; the message of the Gospel has not changed, the call to go into all the world has not changed. The work of the Holy Spirit continues to inspire and help us work out how we can best steward what God has given us (technology) to spread the message of the good news.

What is in a Story?

scriptureThere is always a story behind a story.

The story of Ezra is packed with many accounts, records and lists of the exiles that returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. We read about the incredible journey of God’s people as they work to rebuild the temple through the reign of more that one king, one of which puts a complete stop to the work. Alongside this great story another story unfolds that helps us understand how God was working in the lives of the people. God had raised up a great teacher and leader among them. “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”

After many years of wandering from one place to another and with so many years of influence from the “outside” world the new gathering of the people of Israel had strayed from the practices of the Law of the Lord. Ezra, with his knowledge and understanding of scripture began teaching and preaching the word of the Lord so that the people would come back into a right relationship with God. Ezra’s story reaches beyond that of the book scribed with his name, you can continue to read about his ministry in Nehemiah chapter 8. “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (8:6). All this happened when Ezra opened the book, (the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel).

Fast forward to today, what we have is much like that in Ezra’s day. Our bibles are filled with stories that have the power to change lives. Many of us gather together every week to listen to the Word of God being preached, we listen to how God speaks through His word to us. When was the last time you responded with a loud Amen! Amen! bowing in worship to the Lord? The stories we read, each one of them are there for a purpose and when the time is right God will use them to shape our own personal stories, and when that happens it deserves a loud Amen.