And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (Neh 8:6)
Being raised in a church that does not allow for participation other than what is scripted by the leaders made for a very stunted born again Christian. It took a long time for me to be able to utter the word "Amen" during a worship service. It took even longer for me to be able to raise one hand toward the heavens and sing praises to God...even longer still for me to raise them both! Even the prayer meetings I had attended back in the late 70's did not allow for me to praise God the way I do now! I love going to church and lifting my hands with my fellow Christians in praise and worship!!!
Ezra was the priest of the people of God. He knew the law and was committed to study, follow and teach God's Word. He is credited with leading the second group of exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. It is thought that he may be the author of both books of Chronicles. He was concerned about keeping the details of God's commands. He was sent by King Artaxerxes to Jerusalem to evaluate the situation, set up a religious education system and returned with a firsthand report. He worked alongside Nehemiah during the last spiritual awakening recorded in the Old Testament.
We must, as Ezra teaches us, have a willingness to know and practice God's Word. This will have a direct effect on how God uses one's life. The starting place for serving God is a personal commitment to serve Him even before you know what the service will be. It is not a personal achievement, but rather a personal commitment to live for God - that is what is important. True leaders (in the Bible) don't realize the impact their lives had on others. They were too busy obeying God to keep track of their successes.
Make the change, make the choice - serve and worship God openly, willingly and lovingly! If you can't do that comfortably in the church you currently attend (or your "religion" has stunted your ability to look beyond that which is written by it's leaders), find a new one! Find one that truly teaches you to be of service. Find one that welcomes your praises of the Creator! Find on that preaches from the Word of God! The Old Testament is not filled with "fire and brimstone" - it is filled with miracles, love and praises. It is a testament to the power and the justice of God's hand. It is filled with songs and wisdom, heroes and heroines whose lives were dedicated to the one, true God! It is filled with examples of dedicated individuals whose faith was great and firmly planted in the coming of the Savior! Spend time in the Word of God - all of it, not just the story of Jesus. Shout your "Amen" loud enough to shake the foundation of Heaven, raise your hands high enough to be seen, let the tears of joy roll down your face as you realize the magnitude of the one who created you! Praise and serve as Ezra did!
Manifesto - The City Harmonic