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Text: Ezra 3:7-13

Proposition: A good foundation for spiritual growth is grounded on the Person of God, the Plan of God and the People of God.

Introduction: In 1887 Gustafe Eiffel won a competition to build a monument to commemorate the French Revolution. His project, which came to be known as the Eiffel Tower, was three times higher than any other building on earth. It would be built in two years and cost over 7 million francs. The foundations went 40 feet down and were made up of cement, quarried rock and steel with an ingenious air piston under each foot for continuous leveling of the 10,000 tons of steel that rose over 1000 feet high. It was because of the careful attention to detail in the foundation and the consistent overall excellence that the Eiffel Tower has become a landmark standing the tests of time.

Every foundation, whether made of concrete or consecration needs to be set in place carefully. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.When the Israelites returned from Babylon what they first sought to do was to lay a foundation for the rebuilding of the Temple. For the forgiveness of sin through sacrifice… it was necessary. With resources and manpower and faith … it was possible. By God’s grace and against all odds… they overcame the impossible. What about the foundations which have been and even are being laid in your life? Is it possible that your life, your whole life on this earth is no higher than a foundation for what God is about to do in the impossibility of eternity? That would mean that your greatest success, your most mature of moments, your purest acts of faith, were well placed foundation stones upon which God is yet to build. Perhaps the foundation blocks are many layers deep, a succession of effort and faith… do you regard these as towering achievement or even the pinnacle pieces of your life? What if laying a good foundation is really more than just getting the beginning details of faith in Christ, it is a lifelong process which has yet to clear the ground. Though so much of it lays beneath the surface and is unseen by most, there is tremendous celebration over these beginnings. Read with me a few verses of Ezra 3:7-13 as we consider the parts of a good foundation.

I. The People of God That Have Been Placed Alongside You.

Is it possible that it is not only the people that you get along with well but also those whom you find somewhat abrasive or awkward that God has placed there as He builds foundation in you? Certainly there were many types of people involved in this account of Ezra, construction workers, priests, administrators, musicians, and farmers. Each one was being used by God to accomplish the laying of this great foundation. All kinds of people, young and old, and they didn’t always see things from the same point of view. As the foundation was being laid some shouted for joy over what was about to be while others wept tears over what once was. In near Eastern culture that weeping was more like a very vocal wailing, a crying out. It in a strange way blended in with the voices that were shouting out praises and were celebrating God’s mercy. The voices of the experienced, those who had seen the wonders of the first Temple some 52 years earlier blended with the voices of those who were in their early 20’s and God used both to set foundation points into their lives. They saw things together, they accomplished things together, they worshipped God in His goodness together. What is it that enables people who are different from each other to be knit together in the building of one foundation? Perhaps things like humility and perseverance and integrity help them all to see that a foundation is more than just a collection of raw stones in one location. Each person is like a stone well placed, being built into something much greater than any one by itself. Perhaps that’s what Peter had in mind when he wrote, “ Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy and envy and all evil- speaking , as new born babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men but chosen by God and precious. You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Living stones are who we are, a spiritual house is what we are becoming and spiritual sacrifices are the great purpose that sits before us. The people of God have been placed alongside you. Have them into your home, pray for them, encourage them, work with them, love them, forgive them, be affirmed by them. This is one part of a good foundation.

II. The Plan of God That Instructs You Where and How To Build.

The laying of the foundation of the Temple likely began by digging around and looking for the previous foundation stones. The Temple in Solomon’s day was about 180 feet by 90 feet, an impressive building that would have had impressive foundations. Certainly there would be considerable details for how such a foundation were to be laid in place. The plans or details extended even further than this, how the priests were dressed, the instruments of the trumpets and the cymbals that were used, how the people sang responsively to each other … all these were details for laying the foundation. If God has used such detail in setting the foundations of the Temple of days gone by, how much more does He have a detailed plan for the building of a foundation in you, the new Temple of God. The leaders in churches all over the world are discovering that though church growth has been a significant movement what has been missed is the intentional process of disciple making. If you were to carefully read through the pages of the Bible it would reveal that there are a number of areas necessary to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. The appendix to this message has a number of those categories. As you read these the plan of God to lay a good foundation in the church becomes more and more defined. Let me exhort you to find two things:

1. Find that buried foundation stone that was there before you even began to dig. Look for someone whom you are willing to learn from, someone who will walk with you in a systematic and consistent way.

2. Find someone you can encourage and equip, be their discipler. Look to see who God is bringing along behind you.

III. The Person of God That Invites You Into Relationship in the First Place.

At our men’s breakfast this last Saturday Roy spoke about how God steps to center stage at the end of the book of Job and instead of having people explain who God is, God Himself speaks and declares the wonders of who He is. As we talked about the magnitude and specific detail we were awed that such power and such wisdom could be coupled to such moral goodness. Honesty and truth accompany power and knowledge when it comes to describing the character of God. Look at what the Israelites sang responsively to each other, as if to remind themselves and at the same time to proclaim His glory… “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” When we come know the person of God as being only and always good, perfectly good despite our circumstances, we have a foundation in that. When we come know the enduring mercy of God towards us, the forgiveness and patience of God, His loving kindness, the image of God standing there with His hands outstretched towards us all day long saying, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…”, when we see this aspect of the character of God and it moves us to trust Him and move in obedience towards Him… our foundation increases. To focus our eyes on the face of God so that we could perfectly understand the contrasts of holiness and sin, God sent Jesus. He was the image of the invisible God. His words and actions perfectly represented God the Father. “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world…And the glory which Thou gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are One” – John 17: 14,18,22 Knowing God, knowing Jesus this is our foundation.


Appendix - Discipleship Outline by Chris Adsit

1. Assurance of Salvation

The Disciple is sure that if he has honestly asked Christ to enter his life:
a: Christ has indeed come into his life;
b: He has been reborn as a whole new creation;
c: His sins - past, present and future - have been forgiven;
d: A new relationship has been established between him and God;
e: He will never again be separated from God.

2. Scope and Significance of Salvation

The Disciple understands in greater detail the scope and significance of what occurred when he invited Christ into his life, producing a deeper commitment and greater motivation to grow in Christ.

3. Filling of the Holy Spirit

The Disciple has a basic understanding and avails himself of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

4. Identity in Christ

The Disciple has a basic understanding of his new identity in Christ and the struggle that exists between his old nature and his new nature.

5. Basic Growth Principles

The Disciple has a basic understanding of spiritual growth principles and is aware of the beneficial influences of time, adversity, and the sovereignty of God.

6. In Fellowship

The Disciple has a basic understanding of the importance of Christian fellowship and is beginning to attend Christian functions.

7. In the Word

The Disciple has a basic understanding of the importance of Biblical input, the physical layout of the Bible, and has begun to read it on his own.

8. Prayer

The Disciple has a basic understanding of prayer, knows the fundamentals of prayer, and is beginning to pray on his own.

9. Witnessing

The Disciple has a basic understanding of witnessing, knows the primary elements of the Gospel and can tell another how to become a Christian.

10. Spiritual Warfare

The Disciple has a basic understanding of fundamental facts concerning adversity, Satan, temptation and sin.

11. Time Management/Stewardship

The Disciple has a basic understanding of the principles of Biblical stewardship, encompassing his time, talent and treasure.

12. Vision

The Disciple understands how significant he is to the advance of the Kingdom of God, has a clear picture of some of the broad plans God has in mind for him, and is motivated to actively pursue his spiritual development and his relationship with God.


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