Godly Leaders Raise Up Godly Leaders

“…as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me…I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:28).

A mark of a godly leader is one who raises up other godly leaders. He doesn’t want to walk alone; he doesn’t want to keep God’s blessings to himself. He knows that there can never be too many God-fearing leaders.

How did Ezra raise up more godly leaders?

  1. Ezra made sure his team had everyone it needed to be successful. When he discovered his team had no Levites to oversee functions in the temple, he made an appeal for a Levite to join his team. “Then, by the good hand of our God upon us” God sent Ezra nearly 250 Levites (Ezra 8:18-20)!
  2. Ezra made sure his team would be adequately cared for. He prayed and fasted as he asked for God’s direction and protection for his team (vv. 21-23).
  3. Ezra trusted his teammates. He entrusted them with precious, irreplaceable treasures (vv. 24-34).

What Ezra did became contagious. The leading men that came to follow Ezra all brought other potential leaders with them as well.

Godly leaders are never content arriving at their destination alone—they want as many other godly leaders alongside them as possible.

My prayer—God, place Your good hand on me to empower me to raise up godly leaders.

This is the first part of my series on godly leadership. To check out all of the posts, please click here.

What Are You Looking At?

LookingIn the feeding of the vast multitude, Jesus had very little in the way of natural resources: five loaves of bread and two fish. He also had the skepticism of His closest followers.

But all three synoptic gospels record a very telling phrase—Jesus looked up to heaven.

Jesus didn’t look at what He didn’t have; He looked up to His Father in heaven.

Jesus took His eyes off the limited and put them on the Limitless.

Then Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Are you looking at your poverty, or the Provider? 

Are you looking at your sickness, or the Healer?

Are you looking at the skeptics, or the Promise?

Are you looking at your confusion, or the All-Knowing?

What are you looking at?

Stopping More Than Enough

There’s a well-known line from the movie Wall Street in which the up-and-coming Bud Fox asks his rich mentor Gordon Gekko, “How much is enough?” By his words and actions, Gordon answers, “It’s never enough, pal!”

The pursuit of More Than Enough is beyond greed. It’s what both the Bible and the Greeks called Mammon: the relentless pursuit of More. It’s an easy trap in which anyone—young or old, rich or poor—can get caught. But God gave us a way out:

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

God wants us to acknowledge that He is Provider by deliberately leaving something behind.

Let me state that another way: God provides our daily bread, if I have anything that is More Than Enough, it’s not for me—it’s for others.

This is yet another work-in-progress for my life: I am thinking about how I can deliberately leave the More Than Enough behind for someone else? I have a couple of thoughts, but would love you to expand on this list:

  • Leave a larger tip for my server at the restaurant.
  • Pay for the people in the car behind me in line at the drive-thru.
  • Continue to be a proud member of the Junky Car Club, so I can use my car payment money to help others.
  • Find out what one day of work really earns me, and then give up just one day a month to help others (see One Day’s Wages).
  • Order less food at McDonald’s and giving a donation to The Ronald McDonald House.
  • When I have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, give the free one away to someone in need.

That’s just the start of my list.

I want to honor God and I want to defeat the More Than Enough monster. I can do both by deliberately leaving something behind. Will you join me?

(And feel free to continue to add to the list of ways we can all deliberately leave something behind.)

Ahead-Of-Time God

I was reading the well-known story of the prophet Elijah this morning, while still thinking about a life in limbo. Elijah has the audacity to say to the king of Israel, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, Whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1).

That’s it. We just sort of jump right into this story. We don’t read about God instructing Elijah to say this to King Ahab. And more importantly, we don’t see God saying, “Elijah, even though the land will go through a severe drought, here’s how I’m going to take care of you.” Elijah’s life was in limbo. But I’m struck by God’s ahead-of-time provision for Elijah.

At the time of this story, the land of Israel is now under its sixth evil king; each one getting more and more sinful than the one before him. The current king, Ahab is called the most evil of all the kings yet. Israel had lived under sinful kings—which the Bible says were causing all of the people to sin, too—for over 70 years! Yet at least one family still faithfully clung to their belief in Yahweh, the true God. These parents named their son Elijah, which means “Yahweh is the one true God.” Although it might have seemed everyone was sinning and turning their back on God, at least one set of parents raised their son in a counter-cultural way, at least one set of parents trained their son to rely only on God, at least one set of parents equipped their son to stand firm in the face of overwhelming evil.

The ahead-of-time God provided God-fearing parents for Elijah to train him to fear God too.

As the famine began, God directed Elijah to a brook that continued to flow. This was also the place ravens would bring him food.

The ahead-of-time God provided food and water for Elijah.

The drought eventually dried up the brook that Elijah was using for water, and the ravens eventually stopped coming to that dried-up creek bed with food. So God sent Elijah to a widow in Zarephath with this promise, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food” (1 Kings 17:9). After Elijah entered this widow’s home, her supply of oil and flour never ran out throughout the entire three years of drought, giving all of them food to eat.

The ahead-of-time God provided oil and flour for a widow so that she could make food for Elijah.

My life may be in limbo, but I am confident that my ahead-of-time God has already provided for me. You and I have this promise: “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

This story is in the Bible to reassure you and me that God supplies for us. I’d love to hear your story, too: Where have you seen God’s ahead-of-time supply in your life?

The Village That Wasn’t There… Yet

In my devotional time I am studying the life and leadership of Joshua. This morning I was beginning to read the sleep-inducing list of boundaries and towns that were assigned to each of the Israelite tribes (Joshua 15). I read the description of the territory for the tribe of Judah, and I must admit that I sorta glossed over the names of all of the towns. I got to the last verse and was ready to move on, and then it hit me.

As a pastor I’m always thinking ahead to my next series of messages, and currently I’ve been thinking about our Christmas series. So all of a sudden it jumped out at me — something I didn’t read in that list of towns. I went back and re-read the list a little more slowly this time. Nope, still not there. I looked a third time at all 38 cities: still missing. There are a couple of very notable figures that dominate the Old and New Testaments, and they have something in common — King David and Jesus both come from the tribe of Judah. And both of them were born in Bethlehem.

But in the list of towns in Judah’s territory, there is absolutely no mention of Bethlehem.

This town either didn’t exist, or it was so “insignificant” that Joshua didn’t even think to mention it. It would be almost another 500 years before David would be born in Bethlehem, and then another 900 years or so after that before Jesus would be born in this tiny village.

God had in mind for the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history and the King of all kings to come from such humble origins… from a village that didn’t even make the list. On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m grateful to belong to a God who has time after time made a “Bethlehem” for me at just the right moment!

My friend, if you are facing a difficult situation today, know that God already has the answer. He already has a Bethlehem prepared for you!

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