Thank you dear Lord for a wonderful November filled with family, dear friends, fall descending around us and Thanksgiving. What a blessing to travel for most of the month and spend time with my dear family in Kansas and friends in Colorado. We came home to a wonderful Thanksgiving with my son and his family and time to catch our breath, reflect on You my dear God and so many reasons to be thankful to you, my faithful, loving God. Lord each day has brought rest and time. What a wonderful blessing both of those are. I loved seeing my dear friends and my precious loved ones and now I am loving being back home. Thank you for our home of 42 years. I love our city and though it is going through a really tough time with financial difficulties and much crime, I know that you are working to make it the best city to live in! It will be your miracle and all the praise needs to go to you. Thank you Lord! Thank you for today, a new beginning. That is one of the greatest of your many, many gifts. Each day we get to have a brand new start! Thank you!! Thank you!!
Ezra Chapter 7
Dear Lord, in today’s study of growing in knowing you in the book of Ezra we learn about who Ezra was. When I think of who you are, I can see that at times in how you work in the lives of people. Today I will see what you did in Ezra’s life to bring him to such a time as this in his life. After the first 5 verses establish his genealogy that validates his priesthood back to Aaron the chief priest, we get to see some interesting insight as to why you may have chosen him for the job of going back to Jerusalem to the rebuilt temple to restore it in the spiritual practices as You planned. Some of these facts follow:
- He came up from Babylon.
- He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses. This was the law that the Lord, the God of Israel had given.
- The King had granted him everything he asked for, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
- He arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.
- Verse 9 says he arrived when he did, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. Why? Verse 10, For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observances of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
Dear Lord! As you give us a peek into Ezra’s personal life we get to see your gracious hand in it. Ezra not only studied your word and made it a part of his life, he devoted himself to study and then obey what you gave him. He took it even further when he then shared with others by teaching them your decrees and laws. You in turn Lord personally placed your own gracious hand upon him.
I am so very humbled by the thought Lord of you placing your gracious hand upon mere man. You mention this in other places as we read your Word. You don’t just watch our lives play out before you. That would be amazing enough. But you personally touch our lives. I am moved to tears as I think of the way that you do this daily in my life. I know your personal touch that gives such peace and joy even in the midst of circumstances that can on their own look really bleak or sad. I am so grateful to you my awesome Lord for wanting a personal relationship with us. You are a gracious and awesome God! I am so blessed! So very Blessed!!
Take the time to read the letter that King Artaxerxes wrote to Ezra. You will gain more insight as you see how that gracious hand of our God intervened on his behalf and for the Jewish people who would return to Jerusalem. He made provision financially and set Ezra up to be the head of making sure things were restored there as they should be.
Starting in verse 27 we are given even more on Ezra and our gracious God. Ezra is praising our Lord and giving Him the credit for putting it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Again as we have read in previous places in this book of Ezra we see that God not only changes the hearts of His people but also has control of even pagan kings. Ezra also shows how God works in our lives when we step out in faith to do something He calls us to do. “…who has extended His good favor to me before the king and his advisors and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.” Ezra was changed by the hand of God upon him. He was able to do things he could never do on his own or that he ever thought possible.
There we have it! We see our God so entwined with Ezra’s life and story. You can’t read this chapter without seeing both so clearly. God was Ezra’s gracious, personal God. He devoted his life to studying and teaching God’s decrees and laws. God placed his gracious hand upon Ezra and called him to be more than he dared to be. Let Ezra’s last sentence sink in. “I took courage…” This wasn’t easy for Ezra. He was probably very comfortable studying and teaching but now he was called into a different kind of leadership. He was to gather new leadership and people to leave their comfortable lives and move back to Jerusalem where over the past years they had faced much opposition. God had intervened but at times many years went by with seemingly no forward movement. Would you have signed up with Ezra? I am not sure I would have!
Are you devoting yourself to studying God’s Word and sharing it with others? I am pointing this same finger at myself and you can see from the dates of posts that I am not totally devoted to this study alone. I am praying that you are daily seeking God and in His Word. I have a new prayer to pray from this study. Lord, please place your gracious hand on me and all who join in this study. Allow us the awesome privilege of being who you see us to be and not limited to what we see ourselves capable of. Then one last question from today’s study. What is God calling you to do that you need to have the courage to do? He has made it abundantly clear that if we are devoted to Him He will do mighty things in our lives. We just need to have the courage to step out and follow Him.
Enjoy this day and continue to grow in knowing God as you study His awesome gift of His Word. I would love to hear the things that God gives you from this chapter. I would really enjoy learning from you! Blessings to you and yours!