Category Archives: Ezra

Take courage

“Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage….”  Ezra 7:28.

When I act like a coward, either God’s Hand is not on me or I don’t realize that it is.

A believer has the Holy Spirit.  Jesus/God is with me.  He doesn’t leave.  He doesn’t forsake.  He’s in my midst.

Therefore, His Hand is on me because I am a believer.  He is with me.  Why do I act as if He’s gone somewhere?

We have just returned to our place after being gone for three months while our house was rented.  We have come back to numerous problems.  With limited skills, we tend to panic when something doesn’t work.  To come back to a place that has multiple things wrong is truly a test for us.  Often we react poorly to each other or to those who caused the trouble.

But why?  I think I lose sight of God.  I forget that He is in charge.  I forget to call on Him.

He tells me to call on Him in time of trouble.  Why don’t I?  I get used to going it without Him.  Without consulting Him.

I develop a false set of “I’ve got this” muscles.  And then when I don’t “got this,” I have lost my direct contact with Him and stumble and fumble along.

God is in charge.  He is the One I need to be close to at ALL times.

When I realigned myself to Him today, I immediately thought of a couple of things I needed to do.  Would they be the final solutions to problems?  Not sure, but I was now acting as someone with confidence.  That confidence was a trust in God Almighty rather than feeble, little old me!

Conclusion: Is my courage generated from my connection to God? It must be.

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It will be as He says it will be

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: ‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth…” Ezra 1:1-2.

This is an annual favorite passage for me.

God will get His Way done.

Cyrus became God’s player.  God got at his heart and put Cyrus to work doing something that was God’s Will.

I doubt Cyrus got up any morning asking God to use him.  In this instance, however, he just didn’t have any say in this matter.  God had a plan with all the details filled in.  Cyrus was one of those details.

I belong to God.  I want His Will done in my life and in my midst.

I read a passage like the one above and realize that my planning is very limited.  I have little say in what goes on.  God is in charge.  I need to be available for Him, carrying as little “baggage” as possible.

The Jews in exile could not rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem even though they were willing to do so.  They first needed the leader of Persia to permit them to return to Jerusalem……….and that was what God arranged.

I would like to have all my relatives in a relationship with God that will secure for them an after-life with God.  When I think how many seem apart from God and the reality of their conversions happening, I see a mountain.  I really do!  BUT God doesn’t, and He is not deterred by my lack of faith.  He can step in and change their hearts in His Way.  I beg that He does it.

Conclusion: God’s Will will be done.

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God is always with me

“Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage.” Ezra 9:9.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Ezra 9-10, Psalm 131, and Luke 21.

I often live as someone aware of God’s presence when things are going well and less aware of God’s presence when they aren’t.

I worry when there is trouble because I forget that God is my God in all seasons.

The minister I heard this AM used this line: “This is more than I can handle but He will not give me more than He can handle.”

I look at things through godless eyes and wonder why my reactions are messed up.  God doesn’t ever leave me.

In today’s verse, Ezra speaks words of hope in a hopeless situation after he learns of the exiled Jews blatant disobedience.

Ezra has no hope of a “happy” ending but he understands that God is with His people no matter what they’re going through.  And I need to have the same disposition!

I frequently question my connectedness to God.  I worry that distance develops during my “awayness.”  But it doesn’t.  God is nearby even when I ignore Him.  It is never a long journey back to His presence.  That, my friend, is a great comfort.

“Lord, You are with me.  My mind is stirred by the thought.  Forgive me for believing that You are ever distant from me.  You aren’t.  I love You, Father.”

You cannot be separated from the love of God.

 

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God is in charge

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:” Ezra 1:1.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: Ezra 1, Psalm 84-85, and Luke 7.

This is a favorite verse of mine.  Why?  When I look at “huge” obstacles nationally and internationally and worry, this verse put things into proper perspective.

God is in charge.  There is no one beyond His reach.

God considered Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar to be His “servants.”  They were working for Him whether they planned it that way or not.

When the leader of North Korea says he will destroy places, you have to cringe.  BUT God has that guy under His own control.  God will be steering His ship whether He thinks so or not.

We are not immune from suffering so this verse can’t be taken as a guarantee of safety.  BUT if I know that God is in charge, then I know that all things work together for good to those who love Him.  We lovers of Him win in the end!

“You are a great God.  Thank You for the Bible evidences of Your greatness.  I want You leading my every step.  I surrender everything to You.  Take complete control of my life.  I love You, Father.”

If God is in charge, of what can I be afraid of?

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He is always with you

“Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage.” Ezra 9:9.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Psalm 131, and Luke 21.

I am amazed by Ezra.  He is role-model material of the highest order.

Yesterday, we learned how he backed up his sense of God’s greatness with action.  He refused to ask King Artaxerxes for travel protection because God would take care of them.

Today, Ezra declares that God is with them even though they are slaves.

How often do we whine about our circumstances?  We determine what is best for us and complain when God isn’t up to (our) speed.

BUT Ezra is content in circumstances that weren’t pleasant because he knew that God was with him.

There is plenty of Scripture about rejoicing.  Not all of it is about rejoicing when things are going good.

There is a belief that when things are good then God is blessing us.  When they’re bad, then God is not with us.  Not according to Ezra.  God is ALWAYS with those who trust Him.

Anyone can trust God in the so-called good times.  There are so many believers in situations that are tough.  I think of those affected by Hurricane Matthew.  God is not in our material trappings.  They’re terminal and sometimes that termination comes when we don’t expect it.  BUT God is with us no matter what!

“Lord, thank You for Ezra’s terrific examples of how a believer must live.  You are always with me.  Help me to remember that in the good and no-so-good times.  I love You, Father.”

God is ALWAYS with those who love Him.

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What “god” did you turn to when Hurricane Matthew threatened?

“I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from the enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’  So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”  Ezra 8:22-23.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading: Ezra 7-8, and Luke 20.

Talk is cheap!

Ezra had told King Artaxerxes that God takes care of those who look to Him.

Remarkably, the king is willing to do anything that he can to help Ezra return to Jerusalem and get the temple there rebuilt.

One of the parts of the king’s help is financial.  The money given to Ezra is enormous.

All and good so far as Ezra contemplates the trip from Babylonia back to Jerusalem.  Then the thought comes to Ezra that all the valuables that they are bringing from Babylonia to Jerusalem would necessitate some serious security.

BUT Ezra will not ask King Artaxerxes for protection.  Why?  Ezra had bragged about what God does for His own.  To ask for the king’s help would suggest that God couldn’t be counted on for protection.

One of the great parts of this story is what Ezra and the others did BEFORE they decided to travel without the king’s protection: They fasted and petitioned God.

And God got them to Jerusalem safely.

We easily say that God is in charge.  God can do anything.  But will we live that way when opportunities come along for us to back up those beliefs?  Ezra is a wonderful role model.

“Lord, You are over everything.  You know what is best for me.  Guide me there, I beg.  Prick my conscience when I am trusting counterfeit gods, so that I will stop doing that. Thank You for Ezra’s example of trusting You.”

The god of our crunch-time crises is our real god.

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Barack Obama is NOT in control

“But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped…..” Ezra 5:5.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 138, and Luke 16.

How few of us understand the Big Picture.

We clearly see what is going on in our midst…….but do we?

Today’s verse is connected to a story about the Jews starting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  There are outsiders who want to stop them, BUT God.

God is in charge of what is going on.  Somehow there is free will combined with the reality that God knows what will and won’t happen.  I do not have the mental capacity to understand it but I believe it!

God wants something done (rebuild the temple) and nothing will keep it from happening.

I still marvel at God “moving” the heart of King Cyrus in Ezra 1:1.  Cyrus has no reason to favor the Jews but God saw to it that he did.

In our day we have so many authorities acting as if they are in control.  I hear politicians say that they will do this and they will do that.  I listen with Cyrus in mind.  Everyone will do what God wants whether they decide to or not.  God “used” Pharaoh to punish the Hebrews.  He used Nebuchadnezzar that way as well.  So not all the godless folks will be used to do what we think of as good.  In the case of the temple in Jerusalem, Cyrus was used by God to assure that something that was good (for the Jews) was done.

How does this impact today’s living?  I can be assured that whatever happens, God knows about it.  I can be assured that He will do what is best for His interests which we are assured is the ultimate Good.

I must be willing to rightly represent Him in my midst.  He’s watching me!  I must seek His will and when I find it, get on with it with passion.

“Lord, You are above all, yet You love me.  That alone is mind boggling!  Why are You that way?  I am the beneficiary of Your love.  Thank You, Father.”

We can make choices but God’s plan is what will actually take place.

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What have we done?

“But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands you gave through your servants the prophets when you said; ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples.’” Ezra 9:10-11

(Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading – Ezra 9-10 & Luke 21)

The Israelites had been blessed and Ezra knew it. The King of Persia, moved by God, had enabled them to leave Babylon and restore the temple in Jerusalem. No logical reason for King Artaxerxes to do this. Just God being God in the situation.

Well blessed, it comes as a shock to Ezra that those blessed have directly disobeyed God’s command not to intermarry with other cultures. Ezra, in fact, doesn’t know what to say….”What can we say after this?”

I need to realize that if I want God’s blessing I MUST be doing what He wants me to do.

If there is sin in my life I must recognize it for what it is; disobedience of God’s will. Ezra quickly realizes that the exiles have sinned and in the verses thereafter leads those people down a path to repentance and getting right with God.

I must take action over known sin. I cannot hope that it will go away on its own. Ezra’s solution required a significant action by the exiles. My sins may require something similar. It may be a phone call. It may be a visit. I may be no longer doing something. It may mean doing something.

The keys for me are to identify sin when it happens and then ask God to show me the road to repentance. And then, most important, take Godly action.

“Lord, I thank You for Godly role models in Your Word such as Ezra. He recognized sin and with Your help did something about it. Help me to do the same. I want to be clean in Your sight. I want to be blessed by You in all that I do in Your Name. Help me, Father. I am weak. I crave Your guidance NOW.”

Are you acceptable to God?

+19 – My body is supposed to be His Temple.hwfm-oct-8

 

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The hand of God

“The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.” Ezra 8:31

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Ezra 7-8 & Luke 20)

Ezra is quick to notice the hand of God. A number of times in Ezra 7-8 he credits God for good things that happen.

The “good things” weren’t small either. In one, the king helped them. In another, he was able to bring a collection of leaders together. In today’s chosen verse, while carrying a very valuable cargo, he journeys safely without a military escort.

How tuned in am I to God’s workings in my midst? Does the sunshine just happen? Is the good food I have eaten today something I can glory in?

I have written often lately about having God’s eyes, ears, and words. Again it fits with this topic. I must look at what I have with God’s eyes. If what I see misses God in it, then I am loose from Him. That can’t be!

How much more could I praise Him? As soon as I thought of this question I laughed inside myself. My praising Him has certainly not reached the noticeable level! And it should. However, my motivation should not be to alert others of my thinking but to do it naturally, at least internally.

I need to be doing God’s will. If I’m do His will, then His Hand will be on me.

“Lord, I want Your Hand to be on me. Prick my conscious when I am loose from You. Enhance my awareness of Your goodness. Help me to take note, at least internally, of Your Hand in my midst. I love You, Father.”

Are you acceptable to God?

+19 – My body must be suitable to be His Temple.hwfm-Oct-7

 

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How did this happen?

“For seven days they celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:22

(Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading – Ezra 5-6 & Psalm 138 & Luke 16)

The exiles returned to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the temple there with the blessing of Cyrus, leader of Persia.

As work is under way, leaders from nearby areas arrive in Jerusalem questioning their source of permission to do the work they’re doing.

The temple builders explain that there is a decree written in Babylon in which permission was granted by King Cyrus. The present King, Darius, had a search done and a scroll was found detailing the permission granted to the exiles. Darius chose to honor the permission granted to the exiles by his predecessor.

A lot of things could have gone wrong…………..but didn’t. Based on today’s chosen verse, Darius wasn’t at first inclined to help the exiles. BUT GOD saw to it that the permission scroll was found which helped change Darius’ attitude toward the exiles.

The exiles realized what had happened and credited God. The exiles were filled with joy when they realized what God had done for them.

I must be alert to what is going on in my midst. If I am in Godly-alert mode I will be quicker to pick up His workings in my midst. I will see what He has done and be joyful about it.

I need to verbally marvel at God’s workings. They are numerous, and that’s just the ones I’m aware of!

“Lord, You have blessed me. Forgive me for missing You in what goes on in my midst. Holy Spirit, take me over NOW. Clear out the sludge and give me Your eyes, ears, and words for the rest of this day. There is no other way I want to live.”

Are you acceptable to God?hwfm-oct-3

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