Tag: Ezra

Aug 14 Do not grieve

person-joyjumpPsalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”

When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people. And today, any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people. Believers have an inheritance with You. And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.

The Israelites mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin. As a believer, I also mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation.

But Nehemiah told them “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In happy times it is easy for me to say this. When things are going well, I can be joyful. I feel strong. But in this context, the people are not happy. They are grieving, ashamed, broken by their sin. This is when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.

I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend. Your presence gives me joy and strength. Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.

Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse. But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”

Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances. But are found, sure and steadfast, in You. Amen

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 33:12-22

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Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

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Father, thank You for Your Word that guides me every day in my prayers and in the choices I make in life. In today’s scriptures there are many reminders of things that deserve my attention.

First, like Ezra, I need to remember that my actions speak louder than my words, and my actions reveal what I believe about You.   Ezra didn’t ask for a military escort because it would look as if he didn’t trust in Your protection.

What do my actions say to others around me about my faith in You? When I seem afraid and worried over circumstances, does that show others I don’t really trust Your protection and provision? Father help me show my faith in You in my responses to difficulties.

When things don’t go my way, remind me that You are in control, and that You have my back!

There is absolutely nothing that can happen to me that You are unaware of. And I believe that You filter everything that comes to me, through Your fingers of love. Even in the bad times, You have prepared me, and You are with me. Thank You that You never, ever leave me.

Ezra fasted. I believe this is something that You honor. And it is good for me to relinquish something in order to spend time in prayer and humble myself before You. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s an activity, like the internet, or tv, or addicting games.

Whatever it is, I believe it is the act of focusing my attention and energy on hearing from and submitting to You.   Father, I express my desire for You to “clear my plate” of anything that is not of You.  Help me see my attitudes and actions from Your perspective, and tap into Your power for course correcting changes.

Ezra felt personally the burden of the sin of his people and interceded for them. I also have a burden for the “corporate” sin of my nation. I think of how far my country has come away from Your precepts, from Your commands, and I weep. I cry out with Ezra, “O my God, I am too ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached the heavens…we have disregarded the commands You gave…”

But Father, I have faith that You are still in control. That You have the power to move in the hearts of men and women, young and old, and call us back to You. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.”

Your work is not done and You are not finished with my country yet. Or my family. Or me.

Thank You Father for the hope You give me. You are my “rock of refuge, a strong fortress”. And I trust in You.  Amen

Ezra 8:21-9:15; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 21:1

 

Aug 8 Help me be like…

BelieversHeritage TreeHeavenly Father, what a rich heritage Ezra had. Usually I just skim over the names listed in genealogies, but somehow this time, these names seemed familiar.

I know Hilkiah – during Josiah’s reign, he was the priest who found the Book of the Law that had been lost in the Temple. He brought Your Word back to the people so they could hear Your Word and have their hearts respond with humility. They returned to worship You. In last week’s prayer I prayed that I would hear all Your Word has to tell me, and that my heart would be responsive and humble too.

I remember Zadok. He was the priest who remained loyal to David when David’s son Absalom was chasing him out of Jerusalem. Zadok prayed for David, offered sacrifices, and escorted him with the Arc of the Covenant. Then at David’s request, he stayed behind in Jerusalem to be his spy. And I prayed that I would have the loyalty and support of my friends, and be a loyal support to them.

Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, stands out as a man who was so zealous for Your Word that he drove a spear through a Midianite woman and her Israelite lover who were flagrantly breaking Your Law. This turned back Your wrath from the people and stopped a plague. You gave Phinehas a covenant of peace and perpetual priesthood for he and his descendants. Father, I desire to have that zeal for Your Word.

And Aaron, Moses brother, who You spoke through when You freed Your people from Egypt’s Pharaoh. He became the first High Priest, entrusted with carrying out Your Law. You separated him from the other tribes to be Your representative in intercession for all Israel. Only the High Priest could approach You.

O Father, what a rich heritage for Ezra, who is now the one taking a copy of Your Word back from the Babylonian exile to the people. He will be Your representative in the land, reading and teaching Your Law once again to Your people.

Father, let me be like Ezra and all those in his line. Like Aaron, I can now approach You personally and come boldly before Your throne of grace because of Your redemptive work on the cross.

Give me a desire to obey You like Phinehas, and help me be loyal and an intercessor like Zadok. Make my heart humble to Your Word revealed by Hilkiah and returned to Your people by Ezra.

Thank You Father for each one in this line, who zealously guarded and revealed Your Word to others. Let me do the same. Amen

Ezra 7:1-7