Category: Ezra-BibleTrekToday

Trek through Ezra

Trembling at God’s Word

Scripture reading for May 6th: Ezra 9-10

“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

Ezra was a devoted man with a priestly calling on his life.  He understood from the study of God’s Word, that obedience brought blessing and disobedience brought a curse. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 14-15)  He had devoted himself to obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those in Israel to do the same.  God’s gracious hand was upon him as he set out for Jerusalem.  (Ezra 8:22)  His task was primarily spiritual restoration.  The broken down state of the temple was a symptom of the deterioration of the spiritual life of God’s people and the result of forsaking obedience to the Law of God.

Ezra arrived in Jerusalem and began to set things in order. It came to his attention that the priests and Levites had not kept themselves separate from the pagan peoples and practices of the Canaanites.  They had inter-married and this had led to idolatry and unfaithfulness to the Lord.  (Ezra 9:1-2)  Ezra responded by humbling of himself before the Lord.  He tore his clothes, pulled hair from his head and beard, and sat down appalled until evening.  Others who “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” sat with him.  (Ezra 9:3-4)  Ezra then prayed a prayer of confession and repentance that poured out the grief and anguish that they were feeling for the sins among God’s people.  (Ezra 9:6-15)

But repentance isn’t complete with just “trembling at the Word of God”.  True conviction of sin leads to action.  In this case, a convocation was called in three days to deal with this situation and an investigation brought out those who had disobeyed the Lord.  One hundred eleven men are listed as guilty of mixed marriages and they agreed to send their wives away.  What a serious turn-around and costly action was taken to bring God’s blessing on His people again! 

Have you ever ‘trembled’ at God’s Word? Why isn’t the ‘trembling’ enough to satisfy our need of cleansing and forgiveness?  May our trembling lead to action that brings true repentance that leaves no regrets.  (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

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Prayer, fasting, protection!

Scripture reading for May 4th: Ezra 7-8

Were you ever in a strange land and carrying lots of money?  Mary and I went to Russia in 1999 to adopt our two daughters.  We had to travel by plane and train literally half-way around the world.  We were told that we needed about $3000 dollars in cash to use in the process.  This was a lot of cash to carry around in a strange part of the world where the average wage was around a hundred dollars per month.  We needed God’s gracious hand on us as we traveled!  God answered our prayers and all went well and we are now, over twenty years later, blessed with two beautiful daughters, two wonderful son-in-laws, and one amazing grandchild!

The book of Ezra records another trip taken by God’s people where they traveled by caravan across 800 miles of dangerous territory with lots of valuables–25 tons of silver and nearly 4 tons of gold!  (Ezra 8:26-27)  Ezra had told the king about God’s power to save His people and now the rubber met the road.  He called the people together who would be taking the trip and asked them to fast and pray for God’s protection over their caravan.  (Ezra 8:21-23)  They set out after consecrating themselves and their valuables to the Lord for His protection.  Their trip was uneventful and nearly 4 months later they arrived safely in Jerusalem!

We are reminded today of the importance of being consecrated to the Lord.  Prayer and fasting are not ancient disciplines that are outdated in the twenty-first century.  They are acts of faith that keep us focused on our amazing God, Whose favor and protection are needed.  We travel this world that is full of dangers both physical and spiritual.  We have valuables more precious than gold and silver–our sons and daughters, our grand-children, our fellow human beings!  Prayer and fasting are needed to preserve their lives and souls!  In God’s gracious hands, we will arrive safely at our destination in the heavenly Jerusalem!

“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

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Trusting God to Change attitudes

Scripture reading for May 3: Ezra 4-6

Ezra records the spiritual battle for the rebuilding of the temple.  When the Jews came to Jerusalem armed with the orders from Cyrus, they were immediately opposed by local political enemies.  These enemies offered to help with the work, intending instead to hinder it, and were refused.  They then changed tactics and wrote letters to the next king, Artazerxes.  These letter brought accusations against the builders and caused the work to cease.  (Ezra 4:18-23)  The builders stopped work and left it unfinished for a time.  Discouragement set in because of political and spiritual opposition!

God’s word cannot be hindered, however. God had spoken through Cyrus that His temple would be rebuilt!   God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people.  (Ezra 5:1-2)  The eye of their God was upon them and another letter was sent to the next king, Darius.  Darius made a search, found the decree of Cyrus, and enforced it!  (Ezra 6:6-12)   God truly knows how to change attitudes in political power!   Where He guides He also provides;  Darius even ordered the bills paid by the royal treasury!  (Ezra 6:8)

Are you discouraged today by the attitudes of those in political office or leadership in business? What lessons from Ezra’s record of Israel’s kings can you apply today? Are you helping with rebuilding the Lord’s Church with a joyful attitude?

“For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast 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

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God has the king’s heart!

Scripture reading for May 2nd: Ezra 1-3

The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1

Are you worried when the politician of the wrong party gets into office!  Are you concerned when a leader may not make decisions you agree with or like?  Today’s reading reminds us that God is in control of all kings and He can turn their hearts to do His work.  We are to pray for our leaders and trust the Lord to turn their hearts to do His will!

Cyrus, King of Persia was named by the prophet Isaiah as the king God would choose to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  (Isaiah 44:26-28)  This prophetic Word occurred over 150 years earlier in 688 B.C. when Babylon was the ruling world power.  Cyrus began to fulfil this prophesy by making the decree in 538 B.C. to rebuild the temple.  (Ezra 1:2-4)  He released Jews who were willing to go and work.  He also sent back the articles from the temple which had been taken by King Nebuchadnezzar some seventy years earlier.  (Ezra 1:9-10)   

Ezra lists the numbers of people who returned as well.  Priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants were all accounted for.  The whole company was 42,360 Israelites, not counting servants.  (Ezra 2:64-67) God keeps accurate records and knows each person by name.

As we look at what transpired after the decreed 70 years of captivity (Jeremiah 29:10), we are amazed at how accurately God predicted what would happen and when it would come about!  God is able to turn the hearts of those in leadership, and it doesn’t matter if they are believers or not.

Take time today and pray for our nation and it’s leadership.  We are far from where God wants us to be and our leaders are doing things that are contrary to God’s Word and will.  Remember how God uses leaders and nations.  When His people pray, He hears and acts.  “The heart of the king (president, judge, senator, congressman) is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse where ever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1

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The Glory of Heaven’s Throne!

Scripture reading for December 6th: Ezra 7-10, Psalm 97, Revelation 4

Revelation 4:1-4 “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne. And He Who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. . . “

John, after receiving personal messages from Jesus Christ for each of the seven churches, describes how he next saw an open door in heaven. As he beheld this door, a voice called to him (like a trumpet) commanding that he come up through the door. Immediately, John was in the Spirit and transported to the throne room of heaven. His attention was focused on the One seated there, clothed in radiant splendor like precious jewels. Around that throne were twenty-four other thrones occupied by twenty-four elders, clothed in white with crowns. This scene was marked by worship from these elders and four living creatures guarding and serving God’s throne. ,

Psalm 97:1-3 “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries all around.”

Prayer: Father God, I am in awe of Your glorious throne! Thank You for promising Your church an open door that no man can shut! Thank You for promising those who overcome the right to sit with You on Your throne and for the white robe of Your righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ and the crown of life eternal! Open doors here for sharing this Good News that more may be crowned and clothed!

Ezra 7:27-28 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, Who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, and Who extended to me His steadfast love before the king and his counselors, before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.”

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Fellow workers for the Truth

Scripture reading for November 30th: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 95, 3rd John

3rd John: 2-8 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”

John loved the people that God had assigned oversight to him for their souls. His prayer for them was for health and prosperity as their soul prospered. Soul prosperity comes when we follow Jesus in obedient faith and support Jesus’ workers in order that the Gospel is preached to all the world. John commended this church family because they were walking in the truth and supporting those who were preaching the Gospel message. He told them that as they gave support, they became fellow-workers with them for the spreading of the Gospel. Some can go and others can send, but all share in the work and the rewards.

Psalm 95:1-3 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and great King above all gods.”

Prayer: Father God, we praise You with great joy, singing, and giving to Your sacred work! Thank You for encouraging me to give generously to support Your workers who share the Gospel and quarry ‘living stones’ from the lost of this world. I can’t always go, but I can joyfully give that Your work proceed. I say ‘amen’ to this prayer for prosperity and health as my soul prospers through Your amazing grace!

Ezra 6:22 “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

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The Light of Truth

Scripture reading for November 22nd: Ezra 3-6, Psalm 92, 1st John 1

1st John 1: 5-10 “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

John, in his old age, wrote this letter to the church to encourage them in the truth and to warn them against the lies of false teachers who were seeking to deceive the believers. God is light, and His Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet. Believers must walk in the Light of God’s Word and cling to Jesus Christ for cleansing and salvation. The false teachers were telling people that there was not really anything like ‘sin’ and that God would save everyone. John stated that those who say they have no sin, deceive themselves and ignore the Truth of God’s Word. Confession of sin and repentance alone brings cleansing and it is a continual process to walk it out. The blood of Christ, our ‘Passover Lamb’ is sufficient!

Ezra 6:20-22 “. . .So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by everyone who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful. . .”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the Light of Life in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Thank You for the apostles, like John, who knew You and spoke plainly to the Church concerning basic truths of sin, repentance, cleansing by Christ’s blood, and the deceptions of false teachers. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me today to walk in the Light of God’s Word and speak truth that brings repentance and faith.

Psalm 92:1-2 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your steadfast love in the morning and Your faithfulness by night.”

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“Do you love Me?”

Scripture reading for November 21st: Ezra 1-2, John 21

John 21: 15-17 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord you know everything; You know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. . . .”

Peter had been an impetuous disciple known for rash outbursts and impulsive responses. When Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray Him, Peter swore He would remain faithful, even to death. Jesus responded: “before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” This indeed was what happened. Now, as Jesus set about restoring Peter, He asked him three times, “Do you love Me?”. Peter responded simply with “Yes Lord” two times then declared that Jesus knew everything. Jesus’ response to Peter was a reiteration of His mission to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep and follow Him.

John 21:20-22 “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against Him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “What about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for restoring those who slip up in following You. Your mercy and kindness lead Peter to repentance and many others, including myself. Thank You that You alone know everything and see every heart and restore and stir up Your people to accomplish the mission You give of reaching the lost and building up Your house with living stones out of the rubble of sin and death. I will follow You.

Ezra 1:5 “Then rose up the heads of the father’s houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.”

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“The “Upper-taker!”

Scripture reading for December 4th: Ezra 7-10, Psalm 97, Revelation 4

Key Scriptures: Revelation 4:1-4 “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.”

John was exiled in a prison colony on the Isle of Patmos and was worshiping the Lord when he had a divine revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus appeared and spoke to him and told him to write down everything he would be shown. Following letters dictated to John’s seven churches, Jesus called John through an open door to heaven itself. The voice of Jesus was like a trumpet, calling John heavenward. Jesus wanted to show John the events that would transpire in the future and have him write them down for all believers. Immediately, John was transported in the Spirit from earth to heaven where he was shown God’s throne in all its glory and the events to come. This call heavenward is a foretaste of the Rapture of the saints, also initiated by a trumpet sound.

Psalm 97:1, 6 “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! . . . The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I await the trumpet call for Your people to come to You and to behold Your glory forever and ever. Help me and my family to faithfully successfully complete my journey to You and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Ezra 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our goods.”

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Fellow workers for the Truth

Scripture reading for November 30th: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 95, 3rd John

Key Scriptures: 3rd John 4-8 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”

The Apostle John wrote his third epistle to an elder named Gaius. John was overjoyed that this leader in the church was walking in the truth and leading others in the church to walk that way as well. The believers there were also supportive of other Gospel workers who went out from the church to the Gentiles. They gave towards the work and John commended them. When believers give to support God’s workers, they become fellow workers with them, sharing in the reward.

Psalm 95:6-7 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and the One worthy of worship. Lead me to work for You each day reaching the lost and help me to support workers who are also working in the harvest of souls.

Ezra 6:22 “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the King of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

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