by Kevin Burton
Three words leapt out at me during our regular family Bible study recently.
These days we are in the book of Ezra. That book tells the story of the rebuilding of the temple after Israel’s return to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity. Not long ago we studied the book of Nehemiah, which tells a similar story of the rebuilding of the city’s walls of defense.
God turned the heart of King Artaxerxes to facilitate the rebuilding of the temple. The king bankrolled the venture including returning the gold and silver utensils that had been stolen by a previous king. In a letter to the leaders of Israel and to others, Artaxerxes spelled out in detail what resources Israel was to receive from the other nations and the punishment to be meted out to any who didn’t cooperate.
The three words I spoke of come from Ezra 7:19, which in the New King James version reads, “Also the articles that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver in full before the God of Jerusalem.”
My three words are “deliver in full.”
I am not rebuilding a temple, probably neither are you. But we are in service to God, and those words hit me with some force.
I have delivered some since I was saved but have I ever delivered in full?
The great fear I have is even to utter these words in public. Inevitably there will come a time I blow it big time. Someone will say “oh, check it out. Here’s this ‘deliver in full’ guy. Look what a mess he has made. Ha ha ha…”
That is not an if it happens, it is a when it happens.
How great it is that we serve a merciful God who knows full well our limitations under our sin nature.
Jesus delivered in full for me at Calvary when he said “not my will but thine,” and went through with the painful plan of salvation.
Because of my journalism background I think of this like a newspaper. Too often my life’s newspaper limits God’s content to just one section called “religion.” It also contains news, lifestyle, sports and more. These are given equal weight.
As a Christian my newspaper should be all about God. The other things I write about should fall under His reality. What’s going on in lifestyles today based on what Jesus did for me and what he requires of me?
Like the Israelites in the book of Ezra, I have been given things of value, talents, abilities and resources that should be dedicated to the service of God.
The king instructed the people to deliver their items in full. Why should I do any less for the Savior?
Of course in my case I need to allow God to identify which things are truly treasures for god and which are my ideas or striving and need to be tossed aside.
Toward the end of chapter eight, the Israelis entrusted with the gold and silver utensils for the house of God, delivered them faithfully. When my life is recorded in full, what will that record say of me?
Delivering in full also makes me think of a Samson, who did not travel a straight path in life and did not live up to his calling. Not even close.
Most of you know his story. If not, look it up in the book of Judges, chapters 13 to 16.
After a very public failure, capture and imprisonment by the Philistines, Samson prayed to God to allow him, one last time, to deliver in full.
“Then Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
“Then Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed outwards powerfully, so that the house fell on the governors and all the people who were in it. And the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed during his lifetime. (Judges 16: 28-30 NASB).
Most of us will not have a story so dramatic. But in our quiet way each day, we have a new opportunity to deliver in full for Jesus.