Friday, April 04, 2014

April 4 - Go and Build

Today's Reading:
Ezra 1:1-2:70
2 Thes. 3:1-18
Psalm 119:41-48
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses:
Ezra 1:1-3
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: 2 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Anyone of his people among you—may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem."

God had used foreign powers to humble, discipline, and purify his people. Seventy years later, just as he had promised through the prophet Jeremiah, he used the King of Persia to restore the Israelites to their homeland. During their years of exile, God had used prophets and leaders like Ezekiel and Daniel to preserve a remnant of Israel. These faithful Jews were now given the chance to return to their homeland.

The first thing those who returned to Jerusalem did was to build an altar to the Lord. They reestablished the priesthood, and restored the practices of worship, feast days, and sacrifices. Zerubbabel led the effort to rebuild the Temple.

Response and Action:
God is able to accomplish his purpose in my life. The very things that challenge, humble, and refine me today, God can use to restore and renew me tomorrow. The most important thing I can do is to seek and love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

If my eyes are fixed on Jesus, I will not need God's hand of discipline to turn me toward him. If I seek him with my whole heart, he will sustain me through times of challenge and hardship. When I experience times of favor and success, I will be careful to make worship my first priority and concern.

O God, you are sovereign. You are able to accomplish your purposes in the world and in my life. Give me the wisdom to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and my heart turned toward you. Help me to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, trusting that everything else I need will be provided. Thank you for your great faithfulness and the hope of restoration you have given me in Christ. It's in his redeeming name that I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses:  
Jude 1:24-25
24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight

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