Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Confessions

O. T. #1,029  "Confessions"
July 26, 2017
Ezra 9-Part 3

LET IT GLOW

They say that confession is good for the soul. I agree, for through confession of our sins, we can get cleansed. (Asking Jesus to forgive us.) However, some folks seem to find it hard to admit they have done a wrong, made a mistake, and sinned. In order to keep our relationships going good, there are times we need to confess our wrongs to God and to others. Even if they will not admit their part of the wrong, we still should. This will heal our relationships. The first returnees of Jews had strayed from God and His teachings. Ezra confesses their sins, as we learn reading this chapter.

In this chapter we read of Ezra's prayer of confessions-God's goodness, Israel's past sins, and present sins.
First, Ezra confessed God's goodness as He had:
  • left them a remnant;
  • given them a place in the Promise Land;
  • given them light;
  • given them relief from captivity;
  • not deserted them even in their bondage;
  • revived them and given them new life so they could rebuild the Temple;
  • given them a wall of protection (His power) in the Promised Land.
Can we look back and see the goodness of God in our life?
Has He set us free from a certain thing which held us in bondage?
Has God revived us and given us new life with a purpose?
Did He give us a wall of protection?
Do we have His light to direct us as we live in this world?
Are we looking for our Promised Land-heaven?

LET IT GROW

Ezra confessed the same and past sins of Israel when they forsook Him and worshiped idols.
Also, Ezra confessed Israel's present sins, which had placed them back in bondage. Israel had:
  • forsaken God's commandments, engaged in the corrupt, detestable, and impure behavior of their unbelieving neighbors;
  • intermarried with unbelievers;
  • sought evil associations of friendships, social life, and wealth of unbelievers;
  • jeopardized the future by rejecting the promise of God to make them strong, blessed, and land given to children.
Are we following in the steps of our unbelieving fellow worker, neighbors, or relatives?
Are we separating ourselves to liv morally, righteously, and peacefully? We can associate with them, but not socialize with them and take on their was.

(Resource: The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of our mind, that ye my prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2


LET IT GO

Stay in God's Word.

Live separated from unbelievers, but love them to Jesus.

Confess God's goodness in my life to others.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Little Space Grace

O. T. #1028  "A Little Space Grace"
July 25, 2017
Ezra 9-Part 2
And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the LORD our God... Ezra 9:8

LET IT GLOW

The gold, silver, and articles brought from Babylon were accounted for and placed in the Temple. The returnees rested for 3 days, and after sin offerings and burnt offerings were made in the Temple to God. Then they delivered the king's decrees. After all of this, Ezra was told how the people, the priests, and the Levites had not separated themselves from the people of the land, intermarrying with them.
When Ezra heard this, great sorrow and remorse came upon him, resulting in Ezra tearing his shirt and cloak, as well as pulling his hair out. Then Ezra fell to his knees and spreading his hands before the LORD his God.
Ezra began to pray, confessing Israel's sins:
  • I am too ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God.
  • Our sins are piled higher than our heads.
  • Our guilt has reached to the heavens.
  • From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steep in sin.
  • That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land.
  • We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.

LET IT GROW

What had God done for His remnant?
  • But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, a little space grace, for the LORD our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant.
  • He has given us security in this holy place.
  • Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery.
  • For we were slaves, but in His unfailing love our God dis not abandon us in our slavery. 
  • He caused the kings of Persia to give us extended mercy, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Jerusalem and Judah.

What is space grace?
God permitted His people to return to their land, and off they go again, following the heathen-doing the very thing that had sent them into captivity in the first place. (J. Vernon McGee)

It was idolatry that was their sin. God requires us to put him first, not worship or serve other things. We are to love Him most.
Do you know people who are in space grace? Do we know believers who were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, yet they returned to their sinful lifestyle and forsaking the biblical principles  for the Christian life? Let us pray for their return.

Ezra's prayer has not ended yet, so return tomorrow as we discuss the remainder.

LET IT GO

Thank God for His grace!

Repent of my sins.

Love God more than anything else.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wilth Whom Are We Mingling?

O. T. #1027  "With Whom Are We Mingling?"
July 24, 2017
Ezra 9

LET IT GLOW

With whom are your children mingling? I know, we don't put it that way today. So let me put it in our terms. Are your children marrying unbelievers? Are they running around with friends who do not worship our God? Are they association with immoral heathens? We tend to take on the attitudes of those with whom we associate. Today we will find out the Jews who first returned to Jerusalem and built the Temple had such a problem.

Do we remember the joy which the first group of returned Jews to Jerusalem had whenever the Temple was finally finished? This group of about 50,000 Jews left their captives in Babylon to be free to worship God. Only some 75 years later, when Ezra and the second group of Jews returned to Jerusalem, they found those brethren slaves again, but this time they were slaves to their own sin and lust. Ezra had the problem reported to him.

What was the sad condition of the Jews already living in Jerusalem?
  • They had not separated themselves from the peoples of the land. (verse 1)
  • This included the Jewish people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. (verse 1)
  • They did according to the abominations of those heathens listed in verse 1.
  • They had intermarried their daughters with the heathens' sons and their sons with the heathens' daughters.  Thus, the holy seed of the Jews was mingled with the unbelieving heathens, including the princes and rulers. (verse 2)
Mingled in the Hebrew language is the word arab (aw-rab'), which refers  to braid; intermix.

In Deuteronomy 7:2, Israel is instructed to utterly destroy the heathens in the land, make no covenants with them, nor show them mercy.
Verse 3 says for them to neither make marriages with them, for they would turn Israel's sons from following God, to serve other gods.

In verse 6, the Lord called Israel a holy people unto the LORD thy God, a special people unto Himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.
(Deuteronomy 7:9)

Did you pick up on the description of Israel's God, our God? He is the only God, faithful, keeps His word in covenant, and loves us who love Him and keep His commands.

Are our children mingling, intermarrying with unbelievers? Are we warning the next generation of such a thing is against God's ways?

LET IT GROW

This sin was not limited to the common people, for the leaders in Israel were just as guilty. Chances are, their example and influence probably lead the folks into sin.

How did Ezra react to his news?
  • He showed deep remorse and sorrow, plucking out some of his hear on his head and beard, astonied.
  • This symbolized the extreme personal pain he felt due to the sin of the people.
  • Ezra gathered those who trembled at the words of the God of Israel. they had been true to God and heard the Lord.
  • Ezra sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. (verse 4)
Astonied means to stun, to devastate, make amazed, astonished, wonder.

I can't believe they did that. What were they thinking? Why in the world did they do that? I am shocked. No way they would do such a thing.
So many times we may think or say those phrases. But when we let down our guard, we become susceptible to discouragement, which is one of the Devil's greatest weapons. The lack of separation from worldly ways or from unbelievers can lead to immorality and idolatry, just as it happened to the Jews Ezra wrote about here.
However, let us not point our finger accusing folks of wrong, nor let us fluff it off, but notice what Ezra did-spread out his hands to God in prayer. Here is Ezra, the leader of the second group of Jews returning to Jerusalem, humbling himself under the mighty hands of God.

Will we spread out our hands to God? Will we lay it all out, concealing nothing, bearing our mind and soul naked before our God? Will we hold nothing back from God, admitting our sins, our nation's sins, our family's sins?

Paul told Timothy, I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  1 Timothy 2:8)

LET IT GO

Beware associating and mingling with unbelievers.

Spread out my hands to God in prayer, admitting my sins and the sins of others, begging for His mercy and forgiveness.

Friday, July 21, 2017

God's Hand Upon Us

O. T. #1026  "God's Hand Upon Us"
July 21, 2017
Ezra 8-Part 2
We were strengthen by our God and He protected from the power of the enemy and ambush along the way.  Ezra 8:31b LASB

LET IT GLOW

It took the Jews 4 months to reach Jerusalem. They averaged 7 miles a day.
What happened whenever they arrived?
  • Ezra acknowledges that the hand of their God was upon them. (verse 31)
  • He delivered them from the hand of their enemy
  • and from any ambush. Nothing else is said about the journey. God had protected His remnant and answered their prayers.
  • The Jews rested from their journey for 3 days in Jerusalem.
  • On the fourth day they weighed the silver, gold, an articles for the Temple.
  • Everything was verified by number and weight, with the total recorded.
In verse 31, the hand of God mentioned by Ezra, in the Hebrew language, hand (yad-yawd) refers to an open hand; indicating power, means, direction, etc.

Ezra used the phrase "hand of God" in other places-1:8;  5:12; 6,9,28;  8:18, 22, 26, 31,33; 9:2,7.

Can we look back and see the hand of God in our life, protecting and guiding us? Certainly I can.
He always had another church for us to serve God in whenever it was time to leave one. He provided for our family when we could not afford health insurance. We always had the money to pay our taxes, a doubled amount since the churches did not pay the employer's part. Secular jobs were given to help supplement our income. Our God has been faithfully meeting our  needs these 37 years in ministry. You are faithful God forever! Can I get an amen?
Will you share with us how God has been faithful to provide for you?


LET IT GROW

The Jews must have been utterly exhausted after such a lengthy voyage. They did nothing but relax, sleep, and recuperate. On the fourth day, Ezra, along with two priests and two Levites named here, took the treasures to the Temple and inventoried it.

What did they do next?
  • First, the returning Jews from exile worshiped God by making sin and burnt offerings listed in verse 35. This encouraged those Jews who had been captives 57 years earlier.
  • Next, Ezra and the leaders delivered the decree King Artaxerxes  to the local officials. (verse 36)
This would have been the first time this new generation had worshiped in a Temple in the Promised Land. Can we imagine the joy Ezra and his people experienced?
Assistance was required to be given the Jewish returnees and to the temple.

Are we looking to Jesus as our Protector, Provider, as well as Savior?

I Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our cares upon God for He cares for us
Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
2 Timothy 4:18 says the Lord will deliver us from evil work.

LET IT GO

Ask God to keep His hand upon my life and my family.

Thank You Jesus for Your provisions.

Love God first and most.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Days of Delay

O. T. #1,025  "Days of Delay"
July 19 2017
Ezra 8
So we fasted and pleaded with our God about this, and He granted our request. Ezra 8:23

LET IT GLOW

Days of delay. It took 5 months in the process of my husband being called as pastor of our current church. It began with a phone call whenever we lived in West Virginia, where he served as pastor. Then we visited our home church, where he preached in view of a call to our current church's pulpit committee. That was a long wait, days of delay. Ezra had some days of delay of his journey to Jerusalem. Want to know why? continue reading, my friend.

The physical preparations for the journey had been made-the king's letter of support, offerings, 25 tons of silver and 4 tons of gold, items recovered which were from the first Temple, relatives of the first group returnees.

In verse 1-14, we find a list of those returning and the number of men in their family.

Liberty Bible Commentary give us several important facts to consider from this list:
  1. Returnees  under Zerubbabel had left parts of heir families and relatives behind in Babylon.
  2. There are 12 families mentioned in this list. This is implied to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
  3. There was a total of 1,496 males and 15 heads who returned with Ezra.
Notice that Ezra changed to writing from a personal viewpoint, using personal pronouns. In the first 6 chapters, he wrote about the Jew returning to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, their building of the Temple, and their hardships. Now Ezra is personally involved in the story as he recorded the events of  his return.

Now the other preparations for the journey was that of spiritual provisions. Ezra was described as a man wholly committed to the LORD and His Word; a man sent on a mission. He was commissioned by King Artaxerxes to teach the Law of Moses to the Jewish people in Jerusalem, execute justice in the land as he appointed magistrates and judges, and oversee the royal treasury there.

Ezra urged the people to prepare themselves for the journey. He challenged the Jews to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting:
  • to seek God for a safe trip, for His guidance and protection;
  • to seek God because the journey was long (900 miles), demanding, and dangerous, especially with children present. Bandits were common along the road. Keep in mind it took them 4 months to reach Jerusalem.
  • because Ezra felt uneasy asking the king for a military escort. It he had, then the king would doubt God's ability to provide.
Their prayers were answered since they made a successful journey to Jerusalem, so God did protect and provide for His children. Fasting showed God that they seriously and completely depended upon God. Serious prayer can put us in touch with God's will and can change our will into His will.
Do we pray before we attempt our tasks? God knows exactly what we need. Even when we encounter suffering and hardships, God does not forsake us, nor leave us alone.

LET IT GROW

Ezra had one problem-not one single Levites volunteered to go with him to Jerusalem. They were needed to assist the priests in the Temple. Apparently, they did not want to leave the comfort, prosperity, and success they achieved in Babylon. (However, this new generation had not seen Jerusalem, the Temple, nor the Promise Land.)

So Ezra enlisted:
  • three family heads or leader to help him recruit, who were from two priestly families of Phinehas and Ithamar, named Gershom and Daniel;
  • Hattush was from the royal line of David, and a descendant of the family of Shechamah;
  • those 3 special family head recruited a large number of people from12 major families. (verse 3-14)
  • and they all assembled at the Ahava Canal;
  • a special delegation to recruit Levites, led by Iddo, who must have lived in the city where the school of Levies was located;
  • recruitment delayed the trip by 12 days, as it took 3 days to recruit the Levites (verse 15) and the rest in fasting (verse 21).
What resulted? They recruited 38 Levites, along with 220 temple servants, the Nethinins. Those servants were established by King David and descendants of Gibeonites who helped in the Temple.Their task was to rebuild the Jewish nation and restore true worship in the Temple.
Laborers are needed in church and kingdom work. People around us are lost and without hope, separated from God. They do not know salvation and hope comes though Jesus Christ. Are we being a strong witness of the mercy and help we receive through our hardships?

LET IT GO

Don't delay in obeying God.

Trust His purpose in asking us to do certain things.

Share the hope of Jesus that is in my heart.

Tell of His wonderful salvation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Journey Preparations

O. T. #1024  "Journey Preparations"
July 18, 2017
Ezra 7-Part 2


LET IT GLOW

Do you make preparations for a vacation or a journey? We are in that process now. Our airline tickets have been secured for our trip to the Portland area next month. We are making a tentative agenda concerning what we will be doing in the area, places to see. Next is deciding where we want to stay for the week. The anticipation is exciting for us. I have not been in the area before, yet my husband was during his teen years.
Don't you know the Jews and Ezra were excited as they made preparations for their journey back to their homeland? Join me as we look at their preparations.

Between the chapters 6 and 7 was a period of 57 years. The book of Esther fits in this time frame. During the seventh year of the reign of King Artaxerxes, the priest-scribe Ezra led 1,754 Jewish men to Jerusalem, located in their Promised Land. When you include their women and children, the number could have been 7,000 to 8,000. This was the second group to return after their captivity into Babylon. (Zerubbabel took the first group, who rebuilt the Temple and worship system and city.) It was a 4 month journey to make the 900 mile  Any Jew could go with the king's permission.

However, by this time, the first remnant was in need of spiritual guidance by that time.  That was the purpose of Ezra's going to Jerusalem. He was going to investigate and make sure the people were obeying the Law, God's Word.

What was Ezra's response to the commissioning of the king? Verses27 and 28 tell us:
  • He blesses and praises the LORD God of their fathers.
  • He recognized that God had moved upon the heart of the king to honor (beautify) the LORD's house, the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Also, God had showed mercy when He stirred the king and his officials to appoint him for this great mission.
  • Ezra was strengthened as God's hand was upon him.
When we face life's challenges, we often must work diligently and with extraordinary effort, realizing that God oversees all our work. God can change even the king's heart. (Prov.21:1) (Life Application Study Bible)

Do we recognize God's hand in our success? It is the God-given power that enables us to achieve His will, not our own power. Do we praise and thank Him for His help and protection?

LET IT GROW

Not only did the king support Ezra and the Jewish returnees, but he was allowed or given:
  • Ezra was to oversee the gifts given for the Temple-the king and officials gave silver and gold, as well as officials in the providence, the Jewish people and priests gave offerings.
  • The money donated bought animals and food to be sacrificed in the worship services of the Temple.
  • He was allowed to use left over money as he felt needed for God's service, not selfishly.
  • Wiersbe suggests that Ezra was given an expense account of $100,000 to be taken from the king's treasury. What an extraordinary amount back then.
  • The return of the Temple furnishings were to be give to the Temple. Babylon's king had taken them away.
  • Ezra was given permission to request help from political officials.
  • He was allowed to appoint magistrates and judges for the region, which gave the Jews some local autonomy.
  • We can't leave out the letter granting Ezra and the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem according to their desires, not a command by the king.
Ezra was a man wholeheartedly devoted to God and His Word. Does our soul hunger and thirst after God's Word? We are on a journey through this life. We are commissioned by the King Jesus to proclaim God's truth and salvation to the world. Are we being the faithful ambassador?

In Acts 1:8, Jesus commissioned His disciples and us, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

Friend, have you made preparations for your journey to eternal life? Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to God except through Him. (John 14:6) I rejoice if you have. However, have our loved ones?


LET IT GO

Leave Babylon (the world) and make the journey to the Promised Land (heaven) on the road of faith in Jesus.

Surrender to God's will for my life.

Trust Him to provided what is needed.

Praise the Lord for all He does.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Man on a Mission

O. T. #1023  "Man on a Mission"
July 14, 2017
Ezra 7
This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.  Ezra 7:6

LET IT GLOW

What a joy is has been to see 8 children com to know the Lord Jesus as Savior this week at Vacation Bible School. It certainly makes all the work and sacrifice worth it! One of those was my granddaughter, so you know I was shouting for Joy!

Almost 57 years passed between  chapters 6 and 7. Prophet Ezra is the author of this book. One thing to notice is that his writing changed from the third person to the first person. Now Ezra lead the second group of Jews back to Jerusalem. the first group rebuilt the Temple and reestablished worship of God and the Law. There were 1,754 Jews that returned out of the captivity. In the intervening years, those Jews in Jerusalem had slipped away from the Lord apparently. Intermarriage with foreigners posed a threat to their spiritual future as a nation of God's chosen people.

What do we know about Ezra?
  • He was a descendant of the High Priest Aaron, brother of Moses. (verses 1-5)
  • He was a scribe, dedicated to studying God's Word, committed to following and teaching it, and its application to life. (verse 6)
  • He was sent to Jerusalem by King Artaxerxes (with a royal letter of permission) to evaluate the situation and set up a religious education system, then report back. This took 4 months to achieve.
He must have been a persuasive man, as he secured the king's help and convinced the people to leave their homes and security to make such a long, and dangerous return to an uncertain future. Can we call Ezra a "man on a mission," sent by the king?

So can we consider our self a person on a mission, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of heaven and earth? He is the only way to God, a bridge so to speak from us to God of the universe.



LET IT GROW

We see Ezra's wholehearted devotion to the LORD and His Word as he:
  1. studied God's Law
  2. obeyed God's Law
  3. taught God's laws. 

The qualifications of Ezra included a priest, teacher, and scholar of the Law. Do we consider his willingness to study God's Word and practice it in his life. What faithfulness. (He wrote 1 and 2 Chronicles also.)
Will we make the commitment to serving God, even before we know details of the service? I have found that most of the time our area we are called to serve in is something we are interested in and enjoy doing. We can start out by applying the Biblical principles in our life.


LET IT GO

Study, obey, and teach God's Word as the opportunity comes.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

With Joy

O. T. #1,022  "With Joy"
July 13, 2017
Ezra 6-Part 3
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

LET IT GLOW

Finally, the Temple was finished. In all the events of the rebuilding, God was at work. He utilized heathen kings to accomplish His will. All that had happened was in His control. Their 4 month journey over 900 miles, sum 20 years earlier, had been worth it. The returning Jews endured a lot of opposition, even being made to stop the construction of the Temple, during the next 20 years. I doubt that thought much about all the sacrifices they made now-building new homes, business, city government, Jewish ways of worshiping God.

The Temple was dedicated with joy. Verse 16 says, And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.

What is joy? Webster's Dictionary describes joy as being happiness and delight.
Need some joy? Jesus will give it, filling our cup up. Last night at Vacation Bible School, we had some children saved. Now that was a joyful time for those teachers who lead them to Christ and for me. All the hours spent in preparation was not considered too much of a sacrifice when all is said and done. Needless to say, we had joy.

LET IT GROW

The Temple was dedicated with joy. We read of the large amounts of sacrificial animals and 12 goats or the sin offering, one per tribe of Israel, in verse 17.
Five weeks later, the Jews observed the Passover Feast, which was a reminder of the blood of the lambs sprinkled over the doorpost of the Hebrews, so death would not take their first born. Jesus is our Passover Lamb-the first-born, spotlessly without sin, killed in our place for our sins. This took place 900 years after the first Passover in Egypt.
Also, the Jews celebrated the Feast of the Unleavened Bread with joy, for God had turned the heart of the king of Assyria, and strengthened their hands in the work of the God's House.

God can change attitudes, as we see here. He can even use unbelievers for His purpose.
What a chapter! Aren't we glad I didn't miss it?

Look at our key verse today. God is mighty, saves, rejoices, rests in His love, and sings over us.
Can't get any better than that! He fills our heart with joy, love, and singing, too./

LET IT GO

Stay faithful to the work God has called me to do.

Wait for His blessings on the work.

Have faith that it will be completed for His glory.

Rejoice with great joy when we see His working.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Doing it Speedily

O. T. #1,021  "Doing it Speedily"
July 12, 2017
Ezra 6-Part 2


LET IT GLOW

You know, it is easy for us to read about the difficulties Israel had and wonder why they had such a hard time remaining faithful to God. Of course, we can read how it all turns out, too. They were living through those hard times. Twenty years to rebuild the Temple. Isn't it that way with us? If only we knew our problem was going to turn out all right. But without faith it is impossible to please God. so let's look at how their situation turned out.

Prophet Ezra, the author of this book, pointed out that rebuilding the Temple was commanded first by God and then by the kings. It's it ironic that God's work was carried on by the discovery of a lost paragraph in a pagan library? All the powerful opposition to the rebuilding was stopped by a clause in a legal document. To that we can say that God's will is supreme over all rulers, all historical events, and all hostile forces. He can certainly deliver us in ways we can't imagine. If we trust in His power and love, no opposition can stop us. (Life Application Study Bible)

This reassurance came to Israel and Judah from God: Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. Don't be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple. Zechariah 8:13

The Temple was finally finished, as commanded by God and decreed by the kings of Persia-Cyrus Darius, and Artaxerxes. It was completed during Darius' sixth year reigning as king. (verse 14)

The Temple of God was hen dedicated with great joy by the people of Judah, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the people who had returned from exile.

McGee explained that the children of Israel were not only the children of Judah and Benjamin, but folk from the ten tribes of Israel. There ere no ten lost tribes. They were here with their brethren as they dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem.

What a joyful time! The Jews prospered physically and spiritually during the construction.
In all the events of the rebuilding, God was at work. Verse 17 tells us the great sacrifices made to their merciful and loving God.

The priests and Levites were organized according to their responsibilities,  and a schedule was established for the continuing worship of God. They followed the book of Moses.

God is in control. I don't know about you, but I need to be reminded about it daily.

LET IT GLOW

No, I didn't skip verses 11-13. Not only did King Darius make a decree for the support of rebuilding the Temple and all of Jerusalem, he made more:
  • Violators of his decree would be punished by having a beam pull down their house.
  • They would be tied and flogged, with their house reduced to a pile of rubble.
  • May the God who has chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place to honor His name destroy any king or nation that violates this command and destroys this Temple.
So those guys who sent the false letters to the king, complied a once to the command of  king. The Jewish elders continued their work and were greatly encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. (New Living Translation Bible) The Temple was completed.

They did it speedily-the compliance. (verse 13)

Who doesn't want some answers to a situation given speedily? Maybe we need to speedily obey God's commands.

Zechariah 8:21b says, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.


LET IT GO

Keep waiting on the Lord Jesus; keep trusting Him; keep obeying what we know we should be doing.

Be speedily in obeying His instructions.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Whole Picture

O. T. #1,020  "The Whole Picture"
July11, 2017
Ezra 6


LET IT GLOW

Yesterday, we read of God's eyes watching over us protects and allows us to continue working in His service. He is with us as we walk performing our daily tasks and through our trials. His ears are open  to our cries. God was watching over His beloved Israel and is now watching over us.

When King Darius read the false accusations in the letter from the governor on the other side of the river, he commanded that a search be made for the decree King Cyrus made earlier. Apparently the valued treasures were stored in the same place as the historical documents. When it was found, the king recognized that it was a law of the Medes and Persians, which could not be altered. Darius made a further decree:
  • Tattaenai and his officials to stay away from Jerusalem and not interfere with the Temple construction.
  • The Jewish elders building this House of God were to be supported in their task of rebuilding the Temple-even Gov. Tat. was to use his tax money, animals for sacrifices, and food items.
  • A severe penalty was to be given to violators-execution, houses destroyed, even suffer God's curse.
  • This Temple was to be much larger than the first one. Verse 3 says instead of 30x20 cubits, it would be 60x60 cubits. A more impressive facility, huh?
It certainly backfired-the false letter. The king found out the truth, didn't he? Let truth prevail in our life, our situation, and our nation. Continue to live in the Truth, Jesus.

The king made a decree and it was followed. So it is with God-His sovereign will shall be done. It may not be in our time nor in the way we would choose. That is where faith comes in the picture.
God sees the whole picture. He also has a plan. So let us keep on trusting Him.

LET IT GROW

Cyrus recognized the authority of the Jewish God, and now Darius did. He even sought His blessings.
Look at verse 10, That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Savour in Hebrew means pleasure, a sweet odor.

Darius desired for the Jews to please their God of heaven and offer up prayers for the king and his family. God is sovereign, controlling all event and all things in order to fulfill His Word, His promises, and His will. It is through His sovereign, omnipotent power that all our needs are met.
(The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible)

All things work together for good to them that love God. (Romans 8:28)

It will all work out, one way or another, dear one. It will be for our good and God's glory. So keep holding onto the One who created heaven and earth, the Majesty On High. It will turn our by His decree.
Are we praying for our President and his family?

LET IT GO

Trust God's watchful eye, seeing everything.

Walk by faith, not by sight.

Monday, July 10, 2017

More Than Conquerors

O. T.#1,019  "More Than Conquerors"
July 10, 2017
Ezra 5-Part 2

LET IT GLOW

Who is going through some discouraging times? Who doesn't need to hear, "You can do this" and "God's got it under control, so trust Him,"  or "Don't quit; just finish this."
 At one time or another, we all need to hear that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Paul reassured us of that in Romans 8. Well, the Jews needed to hear it too. They had been forced to stop the building on the Temple due to some false accusations made to the king. Although, later on, the Prophet Zechariah gave them much needed words.

Zechariah, like Haggai, prophesied during the reign of the monarch Darius, king of the Medo-Persia. During this time Israel had no king. They had stopped building the Temple for about 15 years, but now King Darius blessed their efforts to complete it. The prophet served as a motivator for the task.
In the first chapter of his book, God invited the Jews, though Zechariah, to turn to the LORD, turn from their evil ways, and evil doings. In doing so, God said He would turn to hem, The Jews returned to worshiping God, for they had lived through His judgment during the 70 years of captivity.

One thing the Jews experienced was that Jehovah is faithful and always keeps His word. (Falwell)

Liberty Bible Commentary tells us of Zechariah's 4 messages to Israel:
  1. Obedience is better than fasting. (7:1-7)
  2. Disobedience leads to severe judgment. (7:8-14)
  3. God's jealousy over His people will lead to their repentance and blessing. (8:1-17)
  4. The fasts will become feasts. (8:18-23).
Another point Zechariah made was God's people will be conquerors because they will experience cleansing, according to chapter 12.

Paul encourage the Roman church in 8:37, Nay I all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
The word conqueror in the Greek language is hupernoikao (hoop-er-nik-ah'-o), which means to vanquish beyond; gain a decisive victory.

Now that sounds like encouraging words.

Back in Ezra 5, we read of Zerubbabel and Jeshua began to build the house of God at Jerusalem. With them were the prophets of God helping them. God wanted the Temple built and we know it happened in spite of all the opposition.

Can we be motivators for those discouraged? Keep up the good work, y'all.


LET IT GROW

Here they go again-those discouragers. The devil seems to have his people around for that purpose when God's children are doing kingdom work.
In verse 3, the governor and companions from the west side of the Euphrates River, mind you, came to inspect the building progress.

J. Vernon McGee puts the conversation in our terms: "What's the big idea? You were ordered to stop building!" they were saying. The Jews replied, "It's no one of your business. You have no right to ask that question of us."

You go guys! That reply could have put the Jews in hot water, but it didn't.

Verse 5 states, But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius; and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.

Can we depend on God to keep His eye on His own? Says so here in black and white, folks.

Well, here is another letter sent special delivery:
We didn't go up there specifically to spy this out-we are really not their enemies-we just happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by for a little visit. Those Jews would not tell us who the working men were, nor would they tell us who commanded them to do the building. They told about their history of the Captivity some 70 years ago. It was King Cyrus who commanded the Jews to rebuild the Temple and gave them supplies.

Those guys didn't believe what the Jews claimed, so they asked the king to search out in his records. They were convinced that the Jews were doing it on their own, and no such decree existed.

We know the Jews were in the position where God wanted them to be. Yet, they were discouraged. How much easier it would have been for them to walk away from the project, but they didn't.
Discouraged saint, be anchored in Christ, our Rock and Salvation. God is with His people and His will is going to be done. Let us not forget it. We can be more than conquerors in Christ who loves us!

LET IT GO

Continue on with the work God has called me to do, in spite of the opposition.

Be a "more than conqueror."

Christ loves me and will provide for me.

Be an encourager to a discouraged one.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Remain Strong

O. T. #1,018  "Remain Strong"
July 7, 2017
Ezra 5
The eyes o the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.  Psalm 34:15

LET IT GLOW

King Ataxerxes issued an order that the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem cease. However, it was not the work on the city that stopped, but rather on the Temple, which lasted 15-16 years. (Guess I was wrong in saying 10 years.)

Then God helps His people by sending prophets to move working again. The Prophet Haggai, in 1:2-10 of his book, proclaim the message from the LORD in Jerusalem at a time of deep depression:
  • Why are you living in luxurious houses while My house lies in ruins?(1:12)
  • The people feared the LORD when they heard the message.
  • I am with you, says the LORD! (1:13)
  • So the LORD sparked the enthusiasm in Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, Jeshua the high priest, and the whole remnant of God's people. (1:14)
  • They began the work on the house of their God, the LORD of Heaven's Armies, on September 21 of the second year of King Darius's reign. (1:15)
Is God reassuring us that He is with us? What He begins, He finishes. Nothing can thwart His work.
Is there something we laid aside, but need to get back to so it can be finished, for His glory?

LET IT GROW

How, in comparison to the splendid Temple does this house look now? It seems like nothing at all!
Then the LORD said through Haggai, in 2:1-5:
  • Be strong Zerubbabel.
  • Be strong Jeshua.
  • Be strong all you people still in the land.
  • And now get to work, for I am with you!
  • My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.
God was going to shake things up, according to Haggai 2:6-9. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than the past glory. and in this place I will bring peace. The LORD of Heaven's Armies had spoken. S to verse 19 and God promises to bless them.

Now go to Ezra 5:2,The prophets of God were with them and helped them rebuild the Temple. (NLT)

Yes! Shall we get to work?
Did I ever need this Word today! Everything is almost ready for our annual Vacation Bible School and going smoothly until a teacher has a health issue and had to quit before anything was prepared for her class. Lord, you know what is going on, so I will not get stressed out this time.
Well, I thought the teacher had the book and kit, and she thought her assistant had them, and I thought one of them had them. Nought! So I am going this morning to look for the much needed missing things and get things prepared. If I can't find them, then I have to drive to the bookstore and see if they are available to purchase again.
But God is in control. We people mess up, He doesn't. Pleaseeeee help me find it, Jesus!!!! I don't have time for this detour. But maybe I do. My granddaughter and I can have lunch together while on the detour. God will make me strong while His Spirit remains with me. It will all work out. Please pray for me and the sick teacher.

LET IT GO

Trusting Jesus today to meet my needs.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Double Dose

O. T. #1017  "A Double Dose"
July 6, 2017
Ezra 4-Part 3

LET IT GLOW

We thought everything would go fine. Governor Zerubbabel (appointed over Judah) along with the returnee Jews, built an altar right away to worship God upon their arrival in Jerusalem. They worked hard to build their homes and the Temple, laying its foundation. The excitement was in the air as the Jews sang, shouted, and rejoiced over the progress their God had given them.

Then the trouble came. The Samaritans were refused to be allowed to help build the place of worship. (They were a half-reed nation of mixed Jews and Gentiles, who worshiped God along with worshiping idols.) The people of the land hired men at court to resist the Jews and it succeeded in stopping the work on the Temple.

Two letters were written to the kings of the region. The second one was successful in its purpose-to stop the Jews from rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. False accusations included a description of the Jews as a rebellious group who would not pay their taxes and would lead a revolt against King Artaxerxes. The king was challenged to check the royal records for further proof.

In checking the historical records, it was found that mighty kings came from Jerusalem. Solomon had ruled the mighty regional empire. Zedekiah had revolted against Nebuchadnezzar. Artaxerxes did not want to aid the building of a rebellious city and nation as Cyrus established the ruling.

How discouraging for the Jews. However, one day a king Jewish king would come back to Jerusalem to rule over his kingdom and beloved Israel-King Jesus. Let us take courage friends and followers of Jesus. False accusations, slander, ridicule, and mocking may come, but let us not loose heart. Let us consider our self as blessed.

Luke 6:22 says, Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

LET IT GROW

Sadly, the work on the Temple stopped for 10 years because the king issued such an order.

Life Application Study Bible says:
Setbacks and standstills are painful and discouraging to God's workers. These exiles had a double dose (4:1-5 and 4:6-22). Leaders should do everything to keep work from grinding to a halt, ye circumstances sometimes really are beyond our control. When you have been brought to a standstill, remember to still stand strong in the Lord.
James 5:10 says, Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

Paul wrote to the Philippian church, found in1:29, For unto you is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for His sake.

Let us stand strong in the Lord, as Joshua was told repeatedly. We know God brought down a wall through Joshua's army (Jericho). He can do the same for us.

LET IT GO

Be faithful to the death.

Stay close to Jesus during affliction.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Stirring up Trouble

O.T. #1016 "Stirring up Trouble"
July 3, 2017
Ezra 4-Part 2
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building.  Ezra 4:4

LET IT GLOW

The Samaritans offered to help the Jews build the new Temple on the same site as the previous one in Jerusalem. However, Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Jeshua, and other leaders refused their help. (The Samaritans were a mixed race of pagans and those Jews who remained in the land during the 70 year captivity, local residents. They worshiped idols.) Idolatry was the reason for Judah being deported to Babylon, so they wanted to avoid it again. Did this make the Samaritans angry?

How did the Samaritans react to this rejection?
  • They weakened the hands of the people of Judah. In the Hebrew language, weakened is the word raphah (raw-faw'), which means slacken, leave, let alone, be still.(Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
  • They tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah.
  • They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. (verse 4)
  • This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.
  • They hired counselors against the Jews to frustrate their purpose. (verse 5)
  • Those consultants appeared in the Persian court to misrepresent the Jewish community. They did this or a total of 14 years. (Falwell)
  • Darius the Mede reigned in Babylon (522-486 BC) after Cyrus (559-530 BC). Then Ashasuerus, called Xerxes I, reigned in 485-465 BC. 
  • Haggai and Malachi prophesied during this time. Esther became queen of Persia by marrying Xerxes and later saved the lives of the Jews, her people. (478 BC)
  • Artaxerxes I ruled from 465BC to 424 BC.
  • Ezra was sent to Jerusalem later in 457 BC, leading the second group of Jews, who were 2,000 in number.


LET IT GROW

I recall a time when my husband got an accusing letter, unanimously, and delivered at our business. Was it stirring up trouble? It was concerning a church member living in sin, yet singing in the choir. Apparently the author did not have the courage to say it in person. Nothing was done about the letter, but in the meantime, the couple got married. so was it true? Doesn't matter now. People can try to cause messes. The Samaritan were stirring up trouble for the Jews, who were enduring hardships to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.

Two letters were sent to the kings with accusations against the Jews. The first one was sent to Ahasuerus, with no details given. The second letter was sent to Artaxerxes, was written by three men named in verse 7.
This letter, written in Aramaic instead of Hebrew, falsely accused, lied about, and slandered the Jews.
The letter mentioned 5 accusations:
  1. The Jews were building the rebellious city of Jerusalem.
  2. They would disregard or refuse to pay their taxes if the city was rebuilt.
  3. The honor of the king was at stake.
  4. Royal records would reveal the Jews were a rebellious people.
  5. The Jews might lead a revolt so the king could loose his land west of the Euphrates River.
Time passed between the two letters. Chronologically, verse 6 fits between chapters 6 and 7; 4:7-23 refers to the events between Ezra 7 and Nehemiah 1. So that makes better sense of it all. I was confused when reading my Chronological Bible NLT.

Discouragement and fear can be two obstacles in our completing God's work. Discouragement eats away at our motivation, while fear keeps us from acting. God's people always faced opposition. When we are trying to live holy lives, those who live in sin will oppose us.

We read of encouragement from God in Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."

2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

So let us hand in there by faith in God who is in control of our situation.

LET IT GO

Beware of lies, accusations, ridiculing, rumors, and those seeking to embarrass and shame me.

Be a true follower of Jesus Christ, no matter the suffering for it.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Let us Help

O. T #1015 "Let us Help"
June 30, 2017
Ezra 4

LET IT GLOW

Sometimes when people offer to help us in kingdom work, it is not always best to accept it. Do e pray about it before giving the answer? Thing are not always as they seem. Now it may seem a bit odd, I know. Looks like the more the better to get the work done, but this was not the case for the Jews in todays chapter.

Things were going well with the Jews in Jerusalem. The Temple foundation was laid and dedicated to the LORD. At least the good times lasted for a while. The exiled Jews were busy building homes, planting crops, establishing business and a city. Keep in mind that a settlement of about 50,000 Jews would be a threat to the power, control, and authority of the surrounding communities.
When things were going good, the enemy approached. Let's check it out.

First, the enemies heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the LORD, God of Israel. Obviously, they were very prejudice against the Jews. This went way back to the tie of the southern kingdom.

Next, their strategy was to offer to help the Jews with the work of the building Yeah, we worship your God just as you do. Poey. They also sacrificed to and worshiped false gods in addition to Jehovah. This was against the commands of God.
Those people had settled in Samaria and began the Samaritan nation. They were a mixture of Jews and heathens, not the pure race of Jews. (2 Kings 17:24)  (Falwell) When Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel, other people were brought into their land; the Israelites intermarried with them. If allowed to settle in the new Jewish settlement, their wicked lifestyle and false worship would eventually infiltrate the pure race of Jews. Those adversaries were determined to discourage or even stop the completion of the Temple, causing them to fail in doing God's will. Things do not always appear as they truly are.

Do we see how we can be urged to cooperate with the enemy, compromising with unbelievers?
Our enemy, Satan, never wants the Lord's work to prosper. Christ is the Builder; Satan is the destroyer. Jesus clearly rejected the Samaritans and their false religion in John 4:20-24. The Samaritans finally built their own temple on Mt. Gerazim and remained separated from the Jews.(Wiersbe)

LET IT GROW

How did Zerubbabel and the high priest answer this offer? Look at verse 3:
You have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

Good answer, sir. We worship only God and Him alone.
Damage was done. The hands of the people weakened. Maybe they were physically threatened and became fearful.
W can expect opposition when we do God's work (2 Tim. 3:12)
Opposition may offer us compromises as in verse 2. Expect this tactic so we are not discouraged.

LET IT GO

Keep worshiping God only.

Stay committed to doing His work; be hopelessly devoted.

Expect opposition.

Study the Word so I have weapons to stop the arrows of discouragement.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Weepiing and Shouting

O. T. #1014  "Weeping and Shouting"
June 29, 2017
Ezra 3-Part 3
With praise and thanks they sang this song to the LORD: "He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!"  Ezra 3:11 NLT

LET IT GLOW

Beginning the second year of the Jews at the old Jerusalem site began with the laying of the new Temple foundation. The Levites ages 20 and up did the work. The Levites were given the responsibility of oversee this task. Can you hear the enthusiasm? There were trumpets playing and the singing of Psalms. The enthused people could not contain their loud shouts of excitement.

Look at our key verse, friend. Insert your name in the place of Israel. Make God's Word personal to us.
God is good! His faithful love for Linda endures forever!

Oh how He loves us! Forever is a very long time. Now that is something to shout about, I'd say.


LET IT GROW

God was doing  the impossible in this situation, as Jeremiah foretold of this in chapter 33.

But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple's foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud nose that could be heard in the distance.  (verses 11-13 NLT)

I cannot imagine what it would have been like those 70 years of having no place of worship.
What mixed emotions there were at this time. The older folks sadly remembered David and Solomon's splendid Temple, which stood over 350 years. The younger folks did not have those memories so they were joyful.

It was like that for our church people whenever we left the old sanctuary and began to worship God in the new sanctuary. (A few never did cross over for the change was too much for them.) Baptisms, weddings, revivals, former pastors, youth groups-all were connected with the old building. However, the younger generation did not have those ties. They were excited to be in the new sanctuary which the Lord had provided. Now we use the old sanctuary as the fellow hall.


LET IT GO

Thank God for His love for me that lasts forever!

Rejoice in all that God has done.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What is First?

O. T. #1013  "What is First?"
June 28, 2017
Ezra 3-Part2
Seek the LORD and His strength, see His face continually.  1 Chronicles 16:11

LET IT GLOW

I don't want to shamefully stand before my God, having no fruit/jewels to present Him. I want to be a "well done faithful servant" for Him. Although many things knock me down spiritually, He lifts me up and walks with me along this rough road I call faith. How can I not praise my Savior Jesus and seek Him first each morning, for He has given me life and breath. What is first in your life, friend?

They are back! Israel, which was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, arrived back at the previous Temple site in Jerusalem. For these faithful returnees, this was a moment their hearts longed for-worshiping God in freedom. The Spirit of God bound them together as they determined to restore worship Him, rebuild God's Temple, and rebuild their nation.

What happened?
  • They rebuilt the altar of God first.
  • Those involved were High Priest Jeshua and Governor Zerubbabel and their brethren.
  • The altar was the center of the Jewish worship, for without their sacrifices they could not approach God or expect His blessings. (Wiersbe)
  • The gifts from the king, their brethren back in Babylon, and their gifts were enough for the task.
  • The altar was rebuilt on the same site of the previous one Solomon had placed it. Although this Temple would not be as splendorous as Solomon's, it was built according to God's Word and Law as in Exodus.
  • It was rebuilt despite the fear of the local residents who were unbelievers.
  • Upon it the daily burnt sacrifices were offered to God.
We know there was joyful shouting and weeping, according to verse 13.
Can we see the importance of obeying God from the heart and not out of habit? Staying close to Him should be our top priority, as the Israelites did.


LET IT GROW

The festivals are described in Leviticus 23. The sacrifices were originally set up under the Law of Moses in Leviticus 1 and 6. The Hebrew calendar was based on lunar months. so at the beginning of every month and at the time of the new moon, they had special observances.
Do we regularly gather with believers in Jesus to worship?

Why was the Temple built before the wall? It was used for spiritual purposes, while the wall around Jerusalem was for military and political purposes. The Jews realized that God had always been their protector, so without Him, the strongest stone would not protect them. He was their national defense.
Is Jesus the cornerstone on which our life is built?

The people hired masons and carpenters for the foundation. They bought cedar logs, paying for them with food, wine, and olive oil. King Cyrus had given permission for the logs' transportation. (verse 7)

So far we have read of the proclamation, precious gifts, faithful people, and the establishing of the new altar. Next we will see the foundation of the Temple laid. God was doing the impossible.

I can remember the excitement whenever the foundation of our new sanctuary was laid. Although it was  years before we entered for the first worship service, the excitement continued. He is the God of our cities and our nation. There is no one like our God, as the song says. We can see His wonderful works surrounding us. Truly there is no one like our God!
Are we expecting greater things to be done by Him in our life, our family, our church, our nation?

LET IT GO

Worshiping God must be first in my life.

Love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Obey His leading.

Remain faithful in kingdom work.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ovecoming Hardships

O. T. #1012  "Overcoming Hardships"
June 27, 2017
Ezra  3
This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:"Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of Host.  Zechariah 4:6

LET IT GLOW

Come to think of it, we don't read about the hardships and difficulties the Jews encountered while making the 900 mile journey to their homeland. Were there enemies and wild animals and hot weather to encounter? It took about 4 months for them to make it, but make it the did. Anyone going through any hardships in their current situation? Sometimes the worst of all is discouragement, so we need to stay in God's Word.
It was God's Spirit that took those Jews out of captivity into freedom. since we worship the same God, can He do the same for us?

Who was this Zerubbabel that lead the first group of Jews back to their homeland?
  • His Hebrew name was Shashbazar.
  • King Cyrus appointed him as the governor of the Jewish settlement in Palestine.
  • He was a descendant of David according to Matthew 1:12.
  • Zerubbabel was an ancestor of Christ.
  • His name means "Born in Babylon."
  • Zechariah had a vision about him in chapter 42 .
  • Haggai prophesied to him chapters 1 and 2 of his book.
  • He completed there building of God's Temple.
  • He showed wisdom as he accepted and refused help.
  • Zerubbabel started his building project with worship as the focal point.
Are we willing to give up all in order to be a leader in God's kingdom work?

LET IT GROW

The journey for the returning Jews took them about 4 months to travel 900 miles. There were 42,60 returning. They pressed on through the hardships and overcame difficulties. There were among that group some people who could not prove their Jewish origin. Although they were allowed to return to Jerusalem, they were never granted the right of citizenship. They are not listed in chapter 10.

The returnees were bound together by the Spirit of God for three great purposes:
  1. to restore worship of the LORD;
  2. to rebuild His Temple;
  3. to rebuild their nation.  (The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible)
Can you imagine the excitement and humility of this faithful group of Jews walked by faith with a purpose? Did they discuss the preparations for the Temple, their feasts to celebrate, homes, city, the clearing and cultivating for crops, and the water supply?

LET IT GO

Trust in Jesus though the hard times.

Keep praying for our nation, our Christian brothers and sisters, and our church.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Step of Faith

O. T. #1011  "A Step of Faith"
June 26,2017
Ezra 1 and 2


LET IT GLOW

Judah had been captives in Babylon for 70 years. Now in the historical story three groups of Jews return to their homeland, the Promised Land of Israel and Jerusalem. It was after Persia took over the Babylonian Empire and during King Cyrus's first year reign that the LORD stirred up his spirit to declare a proclamation allowing their return. Zerubbabel lead the first group of Jews.

Liberty Bible Commentary has these comments:
Only those whom God had touched responded and answered the call. Returning to Palestine was a step of faith. The land was desolate and occupied with heathen nations. Those who returned would leave the security of Babylon. They were launching out into the unknown, but they went with a vision, to build the house of the LORD. People with a vision can always accomplish the impossible. They can overcome dangers, hostility, and opposition and emerge victorious.

Cyrus did not command the Jews to go up, but granted them permission to go to Jerusalem.
Was it difficult for them to leave the comforts of an affluent society?

McGee says the group that returned was of the poorer class. They were the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, priests, and the Levites. They were humble folk.

These prophecies were fulfilled here: Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10; Daniel 5:17-30.


I experienced an example of stepping out in faith last week. Six groups of people formed teams out visiting the community, highways, byways, and hedges, including dusty dirt roads, and invited children and youth to come to a Sports Camp on Thursday and Friday nights. Also, we had a Community Block party at the city park.  The Lord blessed our efforts with 2 salvations, and over 60 folks attending. The gospel was presented many times during the fun activities. (A sister church lead the activities.) Although it was exhausting, what a shower of blessings! God rewarded our steps of faith.

Is God calling us to take a step of faith?

LET IT GROW

The preparations for returning were made:
  • Neighbors assisted by giving them articles of gold and silver, supplies for the journey, livestock.
  • King Cyrus brought articles Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, mentioned in verses 9 and 10.
  • There were 5,400 articles of gold and silver.
  • The number of returnees was 42,360 Jews with 7,337 servants, and 200 singers.
  • Some family leaders made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding of God's Temple.
  • They gave gifts of 61,00 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 robes for the priests.
  • Cyrus gave those protection and money for the rebuilding and returning journey.
When we are asked to serve, we should do so faithfully as a team member, no matter who gets the credit. Of course, all we do should be done for the glory of God.

In the New Testament is the story of Peter who stepped out of the boat by faith and walked on water toward Jesus. Do we have that much faith in Jesus?


LET IT GO

Trust Jesus as I obey His leading.

Give to Kingdom work.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Good Word

O. T. #1,010 "A Good Word"
June 23, 2017
Ezra 1
For thus saith the LORD: That after seventy years  be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  Jeremiah 29:10

LET IT GLOW

Do you feel outnumbered, overpowered, outclassed? Anyone need a good word today? For sure! The Jews received it after being in captivity for 70 years, so why can't we?

Judah, after 70 years living in another country of Babylon as slaves, gets released. Here is a future and a hope for the Jews, which is given by their God: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.


Aren't we encouraged by a leader who stirs us to move ahead; one who believes we can do the task he has given; one who will be with us through it all and all the way? God is that kind of leader. After all, He knows the future, has good plans for us, and gives us a hope. When He provides the agenda, is with us to fulfill the mission, then we can have boundless hope. God will see us through to a glorious conclusion, in spite of pain, sufferings, or hardships we encounter.

Cyrus made a decree proclaiming that the nation of Judah could return to their land. The will of the Lord was fulfilled in that act. Cyrus is a type of Christ.
In John 14, Jesus tells us that He has gone to prepare a place for us; He will come again; He will receive us unto Himself, that where He is we may be also. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the heavenly Father except by Him.

Are you prepared for an expected end-death? Our end can be only the beginning of life eternal with Jesus, if we have made the preparation. Are others prepared for that day?

LET IT GROW

Here are some questions about this passage:
  • Who charged (commanded) Cyrus to build a house, a Temple at Jerusalem? God did it.
  • Who may go and complete this task? Those who were God's people.
  • Who should be allowed to support them? Their neighbors contributed toward their expenses with gold and silver, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem. (verse 2)
  • Whose hearts did God stir up for the task? Priests and Levites and leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were stirred to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the LORD. (verse 3)
Did we notice that King Cyrus did not command the Jews to go to Jerusalem, but he granted them permission to go up? He gave them protection, money, and the temple articles taken by Nebuchadnezzar.

Life Application Study Bible reminds us: "When you face difficult situations and feel surrounded, outnumbered, overpowered, or outclassed, remember that God's power is not limited to your resources. He is able to use anyone to carry out His plans."

When it is for His glory, it will be accomplished. David confronted a giant with only a stone and a sling. Daniel faced a den of lions. Three Hebrews were thrown into a fire. All were successful. Do we serve the same God?

LET IT GO

Say yes when God stirs my heart to do a task for Him.

Support others in their tasks.

God is the One who outnumbers, overpowers, and outclasses.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Beginnings

O. T. #1009  "New Beginnings"
June 22, 2017
Introduction to Ezra
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth: and He hath charged me to build a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2

LET IT GLOW

How about a new beginning? The excitement of it all. It may come in the form of another birthday, another anniversary, a move into a new house or community, the joining of a new church, starting a new job or new project. Yes, we seem to thrive on the new beginnings. We find it here in the very beginning of this book.

Here is some background of Ezra the man and the book:
  • Ezra was the author of this book, a scribe-priest, whose name means "Jehovah helps." He was a descendent of Aaron, the high priest.
  • This book was written in Aramaic.
  • After he arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra changed from writing in the third person (chapters 1-6) to the first person (chapters 7-10).
  • He shows how God fulfilled His promise by returning His people to the land of Judah after 70 years of captivity by Babylon. We read the promise in the last two verses of 2 Chronicles.
  • Cyrus, the king of Persia, overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C., and Ezra wrote this book concerning the first year of his reign.
  • Daniel held a high position in Darius the Mede, who was the father-in-law of Cyrus, so Cyrus was familiar to the teachings of Jehovah.
  • There were 3 deportations of Judah into Babylon, likewise, there were 3 returns to Jerusalem.
  • The first return was lead by Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. with 50,000 Jews to rebuild the Temple; the second was lead by Ezra in 458 B.C. with 2,000 Jews some 80 years later to reform the spiritual and religious restoration; the third was lead by Nehemiah some 13 years later in 445 B.C. to rebuild the city walls and gates, but not the houses.
  • Since Ezra was a scribe, he had access to the collection of Persian administrative documents-decrees, proclamations, letters, lists, genealogies, and memorandas.
Isn't it something to read how God used even the pagan kings to fulfill His purposes. I find it exciting every time I read of this new beginning for the Jews. Come to think of it, 70 years in captivity would have been a generation. To the younger Jews, slavery would have been a way of life. Isn't this similar to the Jews leaving Egypt after being slaves some 400 years?

LET IT GROW

What are the main themes or primary message of this book from various references?
  • God orchestrated the past grim situation (captivity) and would continue to work through a pagan king and his successors to give Judah hope for the future (return). God's administration overrides that of any of the kings of this world and, thus, the Book of Ezra is a message of God's continuing covenant grace to Israel. (MacArthur)
  • It shows God's faithfulness and the way He kept His promise to restore His people to their land.(Life Application Study Bible)
  • The Word of the Lord is the theme of the Book of Ezra according to J. Vernon McGee. There are 10 direct references to God's Word in this little book. It is seen in the lives of these people: religious, business, and political.
  • God kept a "lamp lit" at Jerusalem in order that His Son might be born through the Hebrew nation and come to save the world. (Wiersbe)
Did you notice the Spirit of the LORD stirred in Cyrus' heart in verse 1? Even 100-200 years before he reigned, Cyrus was mentioned in Isaiah 44:28.
The God who created the world and who is sovereign over history itself can predict the future. Their deliverance was from the LORD, not from Cyrus, a mere interment in the hand of God. (Falwell)

Forever He is glorified and lifted high; forever He is risen and alive, as the song goes. What an awesome God we serve! He kept a remnant for Jesus to be born a Jew, His beloved. He keeps His promises today, sweet one. Let us trust Him in our life.

LET IT GO

Let each day be a new beginning as I serve God.

Endure through those hard times as the Jews did through their captivity.

Trust the Word of God to be truth; He is faithful to His children, loving us in and  through the hard times.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

O. T. #1008  "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful"
June 21, 2017
Summary of 2 Chronicles
If My people, which are called by name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

LET IT GLOW

People are so different. While a family may have some who are a good influence, some who are a bad influence, there usually are a few who are beautiful. By that I mean those beautiful folks rise up above their rough circumstances and hard times, showing faith in God as they serve Him and others. Those are the Christians that shine through with the ray of hope-God is faithfully with them, in control, and is victorious. Judah seemed to have had some of each kind.

I always like to review what was covered in the book that we finished studying. It seems to put things in perspective, especially since we have covered so much of Judah's history. The Priest Ezra was the author. He lead the second group of Jews out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem to help rebuild their city, its walls, and the Temple. He wrote this book so this new generation would in fact know their history, both good and bad.

King David's son Solomon became king after his father's death. David had prepared the materials and the intricate plans for the Temple. Then Solomon implemented those plans. He built a magnificent Temple for the worship of Israel's God, including the sacrificial system. (Israel had not split then.)
It took him 7 years to build the Temple  and 13 years to build the palace. So Israel was in a 20 year building program.

Solomon wrote 2 Psalms, 72 and 127. In Psalm 27:17, Solomon refers to Jesus: His name shall endure forever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.

Jesus is our Beautiful One. He shines as the Savior who endured so much so we could have the free gift of salvation and grace. He is always with us, always loves us, and is always going to be, as the song goes.

Solomon's dedicatory prayer was sincere and lengthy as we read in chapter 6. After all the splendor of the day, God spoke to Solomon informing him that God had chosen that Temple and Jerusalem for His dwelling place. Then He added some conditions to be met when Israel strayed away, found in our key verse. Solomon had 49 years of peace and prosperity during his reign. His purpose of centralizing and unifying Israel in the worship of God was accomplished. Wealth, fame, and political power were the greatest during this time.
However this did not last, sadly to say.

LET IT GROW

It was happened-the downward spiral. It was  during the reign of David's grandson and Solomon's son Rehoboam that Israel split into two kingdoms-the northern kingdom known as Israel, whose history is recorded in the first part of 2 Kings. They were taken captive by Babylon 135 years before Judah was.

Judah's problem (sin) was their worship of idols instead of worshiping God. Out of the 20 kings they had, there were only about 5 who were considered good kings, the ones who brought back revival into the land. this list included: Asa (chapters 14-16), Jehoshaphat (chapters 17-20), Uzziah (chapter22) , Josiah (chapters 22-24) Hezekiah (chapters 29-33).

On the other hand, Manasseh was the most wicked and longest reigning king over Judah (chapters 33-36). He had been born during the 15 extended year of life of his father Hezekiah.

So we do not end on a sour note, remember the ray of hope Judah had as Cyrus, king of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, released the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, its wall, and Temple.

You know, as I consider all of this, we are not any different from Judah. We get into the same cycle of worshiping God with complete commitment, then fall into sin and stray away, finally we return back to God, usually after His discipline us. do I hear an amen?

Thank God for His mercy and grace! All we need to do is humble our self, pray, seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God promises to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

I am looking forward to studying the book of Ezra next. Restoration is coming, so don't miss out, dear ones. There was a remnant who stayed faithful to God during those 70 years of captivity and they are rising up. 

LET IT GO

Stay faithful to God.

Love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Bless the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Ray of Hope


O. T. #1,007  "A Ray of Hope"
June 20, 2017
2 Chronicles 36-Part 5
To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate and she kept Sabbath, to fulfill three score and ten years.

LET IT GLOW

Have you seen lately a beautiful sunset in which clouds hide the bright sun, allowing the rays to shine through? What a gorgeous sight! Anyone need a ray of hope? For sure! Our God always comes through for us friends. Oh, it may not be in the way we expect or in the time we wish, but He is faithful. That is one thing we can know for certain.
Judah had a ray of hope after 70 years of captivity, of servant hood away from their homeland. Join me as we find out the source through whom this ray shone.

Judah's people remained in captivity of the Babylonians until the land was compensated for the years (dating from the beginning of the monarchy) when the sabbatical years had not been observed as the Law said.
Leviticus 25 and 26 allowed Israel to sow the fields and prune their vineyard, and gather their fruit for 6 years. Then they were to allow the land to rest, by not planting and harvesting it. However, their greed caused them to disobey the Law. For 490 years this was done, so they thought they got away with it. but not so-God rested the land 70 years, which was one year out of 7 required.

Galatians 6:7 tells us, Do not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Ezra, the author of this book, passed over those 70 years of exile for Judah in his writings. The people were out of the land and out of God's will.
God's clock is not spelled B-U-L-O-V-A  or G-R-U-E-N; it is spelled I-S-R-A-E-L, and it only runs while Israel is in the land. (McGee)
The clock of judgment began in 605 B.C. until the first deportation in 536 B.C. when the first group of Jews returned to Jerusalem and started to rebuild the Temple, found in Ezra 3:8.  (MacArthur)

Throughout this book, we read of 5 periods of revival, renewal, and reformation in Judah. Within each period, Judah returned to worship God and His sacrificial system, in obedience to the Word of God, which lead to repentance and temporary reformation of the nation: Kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. (Sadly the other 15 kings did not do so.)

LET IT GROW

As we read the conclusion of Second Chronicles, we find a bright hope, with a ray of hope for the future of Judah.
King Cyrus of Persia made this proclamation for the Jews in captivity after the Temple:
  • This was the Word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.
  • So the Lord put His hand upon Cyrus for this proclamation.
  • It said: The LORD , the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of His people may go up, and may the LORD his God be with him.
The next book which we will study is called Ezra, entitled by its author, who is the same one for the books of Chronicles. In it he tells the story of this proclamation and the return of the exiles of Judah.

The nation of Judah was stripped off its foundation-kings were gone, the Temple was destroyed, and the people were removed from their Promised Land. God is a firmer foundation, however. When everything in life is stripped away from us, we too still have God-His Word, His presences, and His promises. (Life Application Study Bible)

How gracious God is! We will be reading of the lamenting and broken heart of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the trouble Daniel and the remnant encountered while captives in Babylon. Let us not forget that God is sovereignly in control and faithful to His children.

If God is with me, whom then shall I fear? The song goes.

LET IT GO
                              ... and remain faithful to God.
                               ... of my focus on surrounding circumstances and focus on God.
                               ... and ask Him for a ray of hope, letting go of my dreams.
                               ... as I allow God's ray of hope to shine through me.