Monday, July 31, 2017

What is Deserved?

O. T. #1031  "What is Deserved?"
July 30, 2017
Ezra 9-Part 5


Give 'em what they deserve. Look at what they did to me. Bring it on, Lord. Sure people deserve to be punished for the wrongs they do to us. After all, we are a child of the King. But what about when we hurt others? Do we want justice or mercy? When the tables are turned, it is a different story, isn't it? We talk out the other side of our mouth. Dear one, experience has taught me that leaving it to God to recompense the wrong, His punishment is far worse than I could ever give or think of doing.
Well, Ezra knew what his people deserved, but he was including himself in with them. They all needed God's mercy and so do we. Shall we see what happened?

How excited and hopeful Ezra and his returnee Jews must have been to be in Jerusalem and the Temple. On the fourth day, they worshiped God, made sacrifices, and checked the treasures from the king they had brought.
Then the bomb hit him-Ezra found out the first group of Jews, after 57 years, had strayed away from God's commands, taking on the ways of the heathens, marrying unbelievers, and worshiping their idols.
Ezra must have been mortified, for this news of unfaithful Jews knocked him to his knees praying to his God, including himself with his brethren:
  • First was Ezra's confession of Israel's past sins. (verses 5-7)
  • Next was his confession of God's goodness to them. (verses 8-9)
  • Then he confessed their present sins. (verses 10-12)
  • Last, Ezra confessed Israel's unworthiness of God's goodness toward them. (verses 13-15)
Did Ezra realize that had God given Israel the justice which they deserved, they would be in captivity again or wiped off the face of the earth?
The next time we cry out for justice to be done upon those who treated us unfairly, remember the judgment we deserve due to our sins. Let us plea for God's grace and mercy instead of His judgment.


In verses 13-15, Ezra confessed their unworthiness of God's goodness because:
  • of their terrible wickedness and guilt;
  • of God's goodness(He had punished them less than they deserved);
  • they were again breaking God's commandments-mixing unbelievers and their evil ways;
  • they deserved God's judgment;
  • of God's righteousness;
  • they were only a small remnant-once again guilty before God and not worthy to stand in His presence.
[Resource: The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible]

The only places Ezra describes God as being righteous appears in verses 8 and 15. In the Hebrew language, righteous, tsaddiyq (tsad-deek'), means just, lawful.

Consider this-God is a righteous God, committing no sin. We are sinners, committing no righteousness. Our righteousness are as filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6 tells us. We fall short of God's standards. However, His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sis, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

Through the blood of Jesus, which He shed on the cross, we can be made right with God. It is our sin that separates us, but Jesus who is our bridge to God. Are you right with God today, my friend?

Was Ezra admitting that the Jews did not get all that was coming to them? That they deserved more punishment for their sins than they received?

Only the mercy of God, the confession of sin, the sacrifice of Christ, and the grace of God could make it possible for Him to save these people, restore and revive them. God is going to do all of these things because of the prayer of Ezra. The remnant that was there will cry out to God for mercy. When we take that position, God is ready to hear. (J. Vernon McGee)


                     ... of the hurts and let God handle the pain.
                                ... of the wrongs and let God make it right.
                                ... of sin and seek the Savior.
                                ... and thank God for His mercies.

Friday, July 28, 2017

To What Are We Nailed?

O. T. #1030 "To What Are We  Nailed?"
July 28, 2017
Ezra 9-Part 4


A nail is put in a wall and used to hang utensils on it. God intended for the Jews to always be His chosen, loved, and obedient people and nation. Jesus would be given as their nail on which they
could hang their hopes and future.

Ezra offered up a prayer of confession. He confessed God's goodness, the sins of himself and his people in the past and the present, as well as their unworthiness. In verses 13-15, Ezra, in his prayer, admits to their undeserving any blessing of God. He points out 6 things:
  • They were guilty of terrible wickedness.
  • God in His goodness, had punished them far less than they deserved.
  • They were breaking God's commandments, missing wit unbelievers and participating in their wicked behavior. (verse 14)
  • They deserved God's judgment because of their unworthiness.
  • They were clearly and totally short of God's righteousness. (verse 15)
  • Although they were only a small remnant, they were guilty before God. Thus they were so sinful and guilty that they were not worthy to stand in God's presence. (verse 15)
[Resource: The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible]

Confession is an absolute essential to receive forgiveness of sin. When we sin, we must confess it before God. Failure to confess means that we bear the guilt of sin ourselves. Are we prepared to bear the guilt and punishment ourselves? Confessing our sins is the key to escaping God's coming judgment.

Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 1:9 reassures us, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Ezra knew the remnant must live obedient and righteous lives if God was going to fulfill His promises to them. God's plan of redemption was to be carried out through the Jews. The Savior and the Word of God was to come through them.

In verse 8, we read that God had showed them a little space grace, a remnant of escape from bondage, had given them a nail in His holy place, to enlighten their eyes to see a hopeful future, and a little reviving opportunity for a new life.

A nail signifies a strong, binding, and secure place in the sanctuary of God's presence. As long as they followed the LORD, obeying His holy commandments, they had security in Him.

A wall was essential for security and defense. Jerusalem's wall was broken down, not only physically, but also spiritually. We will read of Nehemiah leading another remnant to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding its walls.

McGee explains, "That nail is Christ. Christ was nailed on the cross down here so that I might be nailed yonder at the throne of God for eternity. Believers are nailed up there, not on a cross, but in heaven for eternity. A nail is fixed in a sure place. The Jews did not loose their salvation, but blessings and rewards."

In Isaiah 22:22-23, God tells us, And the key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder; so He shall open, and none shall shut; and He shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for  a glorious throne to His father's house.

Are we nailed to Christ Jesus? Is He our sure place? Or are we nailed to our job, our bills, our activities, our bank account?


Be nailed to Jesus, my hope of eternity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


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


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?


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


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


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.


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.


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


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?


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)


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


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?


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.


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


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.


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?


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


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?


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?


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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./


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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?


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


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.


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!


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


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?


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.