There’s Joy, There’s Hope!

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point, or just read along.

Ezra 6:13-22 CEV

THE TEMPLE IS COMPLETED AND THE PASSOVER IS CELEBRATED! 

God prospered His people through all the difficulties – what a testimony for those who are now struggling to build the city and walls through difficulties and what an encouragement for us today.

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God accomplishes his decrees through the decrees of kings and through prophets and men like Ezra spurring on the people through God’s Word.

God is for Ezra’s generation just as he was for those who rebuilt the temple in the first generation and He is also for us His children and His church.

THE TEMPLE CONSTRUCTION  IS COMPLETED!

  • God gave the temple to his people to make a way to be cleansed of sin and be in relationship with a holy God who lives in the temple.
  • We no longer offer sacrifices. Jesus died to make a complete and full atonement for our sin, realising that a holy God is against our sin.

This testimony stokes the fires of hope that God will prosper the city-builders too and those who see His kingdom today too.

THERE IS JOY!

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HOLINESS AND SEEKING THE LORD.

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IN THE REST OF THE BOOK OF EZRA we see how God raised up Ezra and used him to bring a revival of understanding of the Word of God at this new exodus from Babylon to Jerusalem.  Exciting!

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There is no Setback God cannot Bless.

 

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point or just read along.

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Ezra 5:1-12 NIV no in the CEV

ENCOURAGED BY  THE THE PROPHETS HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH, THE RETURNEES FROM BABYLON’S SLEEVES ARE ROLLED UP AND THEY ARE BUILDING THE TEMPLE.

  • The enemies Tattenai and Shethar-bozenai ask the Persian king Darius to search the archives to verify the returnees’ claim that the Persian king Cyrus decreed the rebuild.
  • And that’s exactly what happened – King Cyrus’ royal decree, which authorised the Jews to build together and fund the project – is found!

Ezra 6:1-12 CEV

GOD TURNS SATAN’S EFFORTS AGAINST GOD’S PEOPLE INTO BLESSINGS FOR THEM. 

  • Satan succeeds in having Jesus the Messiah crucified, fulfilling God’s plan of love and eternal life to save those who believe.
  • God will do this in our lives too. He will.

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There is no setback, failure, tragedy, disappointment or defeat that God can’t use to bless us.

THE PERSIAN KING DARIUS’S DETAILED RESPONSE TO THE JEWS’ ENEMIES  – Ezra 6:6-12 CEV

  1. He tells the enemies to stay away from the place where the temple is getting built – to clear out and to stop intimidating them, to stay away.
  2. King Darius goes a step further and makes them to pay and contribute towards the temple.
  3. Ezra 6:8-9See King Darius threats to God’s people’s enemies.  Ezra 6:11-12 Imagined being stabbed by a sharpened wooden beam.

IF WE WERE INVOLVED IN THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE AND BEING THREATENED HOW WOULD WE RESPOND?

  1. Would we be calling on God’s Name and would we have stood firm?
  2. Or would we respond with pessimism and despair as though we don’t know God?

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LET US BE ENCOURAGED WHEN WE ARE TEMPTED TO DESPAIR. 

  • God uses even opposition to bless His people. God ieven gets the pagan kings to fund God’s work.
  • We see here that we can trust God’s Word and plans and He will prosper us in making disciples.

GOD LOVES US HIS PEOPLE AND ALWAYS DOES WHAT IS RIGHT. Those who trust the Lord their God and believe what His promises, are blessed in all they do.

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God’s Kingdom will triumph!

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point, or just read along.

IN EZRA 4-6

DESPITE ALL THE THREATS OF THE ENEMY, THE TEMPLE GOT BUILT.

  • Ezra uses this testimony  to encourage the next generation of returnees from Babylon to continue to build – this time  the city and wall despite opposition.
  • God provided in every way even through liberal funding by the Persian kings and even contributions by the enemy as instructed by the pagan Persian king.

Often the whole building project looked as impossible as a butterfly emerging from a  cocoon.

GOD MADE HIS PEOPLE VICTORIOUS AND CROWNED THEIR WORK WITH SUCCESS. 

  • And – guess what – despite all the hard labour and set backs, they completed the temple. Later on Ezra and the others would complete the city and walls.
  • One day God’s kingdom will finally come and Jesus will present the church faultless before God!

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God will also prosper our disciple-making of our children, communities and all nations as we seek His kingdom through difficulties and encouragements.

  • For 2,000 years now the church has faced opposition and persecution but the gates of hell have not prevailed against the church. God will prosper His work and our work.
  • Let’s take heart! God’s kingdom and church can appear small and insignificant but will certainly triumph.

 

 

From Rubble to Restoration.

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point

.Ezra 3:7-11 NIV and Ezra 3:7-11 CEV

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Those who returned from exile were fearful of the opposition yet they worshipped God and began to build the altar.

THE FEAST OF THE BOOTHS WAS A REHEARSAL OF THE PATTERN OF GOD’S DELIVERANCE AND SUSTENANCE and was meant to remind Israel of their precarious wilderness experiences post-Egypt.

  • For a week they lived in lean-tos or huts (“booths”), which conjured up  vividly how fragile  life is.
  • The returnees were now not only thinking of the Exodus from Egypt but also their own personal experiences and  exodus from Babylon.

This feast reminds us too that we live our Christian lives in a hostile world  –  often in uncertain  insecurity. God is our only Sustainer.

UNCERTAINTY, FEAR AND WORSHIP HANG TOGETHER.

THERE IS A RESTORATION WE CAN EXPECT.  Ezra 3:7-11

  • They started to build the altar but in the end will rebuild a the whole temple and after that the city and city walls/

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Jeremiah 33:7,10,11 IS FULFILLED!!

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IMAGINE THE RUINS – a heap of rubble, an Alleppo-sight and smoking destruction.

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Who would ever have thought that the day of rebuilding would come – against all odds!

God’s people saw God’s goodness again!

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Every time in our despair and sadness we need to hear the word that we will see God’s goodness again!

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Fear and Worship

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point.

Ezra 3:1-6 NIV and Ezra 3:1-6 – CEV summary with help from Dale Davis

What can we, as God’s people, expect when things are tough and how should we live through turbulent times? 

DESPITE THEIR FEAR OF THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM AND THOUGH THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEMPLE HAD NOT BEEN LAID….

  • Joshua, Zerubbabel and the people began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice morning and evening offerings as was written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
  • Daily and regularly they celebrated and worshipped as their God wanted and appointed it.
  • They brought freewill offerings to the  Lord.

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Yes they are scared of the surrounding people, but despite their dread and fear they built an altar and worshipped God “as it was written in the law of Moses”  Ezra 3:3-6

FEAR AND WORSHIP.

  • Did they worship because they were scared? Did their fear drive them to seek God?
  • Did they worship despite their fear?

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In our fears and dreads what better comfort and security than adoring and gladly serving and worshipping our God, fellowshipping with Him in His presence?

  • While they built the altar, in the face of intimidation they unashamedly assumed that God was their refuge.
  • We can be fearful in the face of opposition and faithful in adoring our God.

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Safety is found in glad obedient adoring worship of the living God.

 

God Stirs Hearts

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point.

A summary of Ezra 2 with help from Jim Hamilton’s commentary.

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Ezra 2:1 -2 summarises the chapter and lists the leaders.

When God restored His people to their land to rebuild the temple, He stirred hearts.

  • HE STIRRED THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO RETURNED AND STIRRED THE HEARTS OF THE LEADERS. Ezra 2:2.
  • HE STIRRED THE HEARTS OF ORDINARY ISRAELITES AND THE HEARTS OF THE PRIESTS. Ezra 2:3-39.
  • HE STIRRED THE HEARTS OF LEVITES AND THE HEARTS OF THE TEMPLE SERVANTS. Ezra 2:40-53.
  • HE STIRRED THE HEARTS OF THE SONS OF SOLOMON’S SERVANTS.Ezra 2:55-58

God stirred the hearts of everyone necessary for the work.

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GOD IS THE STIRRER OFAND THE LIFE-GIVER TO HEARTS.

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THOSE WHO COULDN’T PROVE THEY WERE BORN INTO THE NATION OF ISRAEL.

  • They were listed out. Ezra 2:59.
  • The priests who could not demonstrate their genealogy were “disqualified from the priesthood.” Ezra 2:61-62.

We see here an intense carefulness and concern with preventing God’s people from settling back down in their land with people and leaders of other religions and idols. More at the end of Ezra.

AN EXCEPTION: THE SONS OF HAKKOZ WHO WANTED TO SERVE AS PRIESTS. – Ezra 2:61. It appears that they were verified when a priest consulted Urim and Thummim – Ezra 2:63.  Explanation.

SO WE SEE…

  1. There was an exodus from Egypt.
  2. There was an exodus from Babylon.

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There’s an exodus that will still happen when Jesus takes His people into the new heaven and new earth.

Here are mind-blowing expectations in the form of RAP!

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It All Looked So Impossible.

Micro Devotionals for busy people –  reading through the Bible at savouring pace.

(Please feel free to hop on the bus and join the 3 year plan at any point.)

600 2 December 2016-07  WHEN GOD STIRS HEARTS….AND SETS INTO MOTION THE FULFILMENT OF HIS PLAN OF 70 YEARS IN EXILE.

Ezra 1:5 – NIV

Many people felt that the Lord God wanted them to help rebuild his temple, and they made plans to go to Jerusalem.

THE LORD LEFT NOTHING TO CHANCE.

  • He stirs the spirit of pagan king Cyrus of Persia.
  • He moves the hearts of the leaders of the families who would have broad influence among the people.

SEE THE INFLUENCE THE LORD HAS!

  • He can do this great work of stirring our hearts. the hearts of our apathetic or unbelieving loved ones and even world leaders.
  • Do our prayers and evangelism reflect this conviction?

Ezra 1:3-6 GOD IN ACTION!

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How God fulfilled the prophecies of a new exodus from Babylon after 70 years – just as was prophesied.Ezra 1:7-8

600 Concepts Icons 28Juy2016-05IT ALL LOOKED SO IMPOSSIBLE!

  • How can the people leave Babylon with the king of Persia in charge?
  • How could they afford to go to Judah and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem?

GOD MAKES IMPOSSIBLE THINGS HAPPEN!

  • King Cyrus decrees that those Israelites willing to return to their land, and rebuild the temple for their God, are free to leave!
  • It was impossible that a powerful pagan king would fund the building project and return the treasures originally robbed from the temple.

“CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS”, WE SAY.

  • Exactly. But……
  • Look at God’s sovereign power and mercy. See how He keeps His Word.

What do we look at in life and say, “that’s impossible” right now?

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