Here We Go Again

going-in-circles1

Today’s Reading – Ezra 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalm 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s blessing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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God Has His Eye On You

God Has His Eye On You

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone” and “Stop Living in the Past

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.” (Ezra 5:5)

“Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.” (Ezra 7:27-28)

The context of these chapters from the Book of Ezra involve the period when the children of Israel were released from captivity in the Land of Babylon. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar had completed his destruction and plunder of the City of Jerusalem, and had take most of the citizens into captivity. After many years in Babylon, and later Persia, a good and godly king named Cyrus gave certain of the captives permission to return to the Land of Israel and begin to rebuild it and the Temple of God within it. Years had passed while the construction dragged on, and finally, during the reign of King Artaxerxes, some opposition came along and actually caused the work of the Temple to cease. This is all laid out very  clearly in the passage, and I am leaving out large portions of the story. However, some more years pass and the prophet Haggai stirs up the people to get back to work, and this time, God prevents the enemies of His people from causing the construction to stop, and the people of God were able to complete the project.

The two phrases that caught my attention in the middle of this drama are found in Ezra 5:5, and Ezra 7:28. In those verses it states that God’s eye was upon the elders of Judah, and God’s hand was on Ezra specifically. I have listed below some verses that tell us about the eye (or eyes) of the Lord. It discomforting to know that God is watching over us, and He is ready, willing, and able to help us as we fulfill His will for our lives. Carefully consider the following verses. God has got His eye on you.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;” (Psalms 33:18)

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalms 34:15)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)


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Help Wanted

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Today’s Reading – Ezra 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “A Fresh Start

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 him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.   (Ezra 1:2-3)

After Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, God commanded Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the Temple.  Everyone did their part.  Some helped with the actual rebuilding and others gave toward the project.

Today, we also need everyone to support the building of churches.  Millions of Americans are in the greatest struggles of their lives.  Financially we are facing rising energy costs, rising unemployment, fears of a national recession – or even a depression. The dramatic stock market losses have taken huge amounts out of retirement accounts.  This is our new way of life: The “Lean Times.”

“Lean times” also may apply to some other areas of life. Relationships can be hard times, grief can leave a person in emotional ruins, and disease can attack. Faith challenged. If you face “lean times,” you’ll need a good foundation Jesus Christ.

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20)

King Cyrus would not be impressed with our version of hard times.  He would tell us, you can choose either defeat, or a victory. His was victory.

Let’s band together and continue the work so the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard around the world.

Thank You

1 John 5:13

 

 


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Here We Go Again!

Today’s Reading – Ezra 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4Psalms 136 – 140Proverbs 29)

Scripture Memorization for May – Romans 10

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  1 John 3:1

Read a great article by Pastor Cary Schmidt– “Seven Big Parenting Mistakes“ from Ministry 127

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s bleesing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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A Fresh Start

Today’s Reading –  Ezra 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 27)

Scripture Memorization for May – Romans 10

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Ephesians 4:32

Read a great article by Pastor Cary Schmidt– “Encouragement for Spiritual Leaders

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“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 him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” – (Ezra 1:2-3)

The children of Israel had spent 70 long years in captivity at the hands of the Babylonians. We cannot really blame Babylon for Israel’s troubles however, as the Scripture makes it very clear that Israel was taken into captivity as a direct judgment of God because they had forsaken Him. However, now at the end of the seventy years, we see a new king, Cyrus of Persia, who is releasing the nation of Israel and giving them the charge to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Again, we cannot fully give the credit to Cyrus for being such a gracious king, as God foretold this event in the Book of Isaiah almost 200 years prior to its happening, even mentioning King Cyrus by name:

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” – (Isaiah 44:28)

At any rate, Israel is given a wonderful opportunity to get things right; they are given a fresh start. What a wonderful thing it is to be given the opportunity to start all over again. Salvation does this to a person’s life. God gives them a clean slate; a new beginning. While we can never go back and undo our past mistakes, it is great to know that those mistakes are in the past, and under the blood. Israel was granted the chance to go back into the land and live for God, and worship Him as had been originally intended. Sadly, however, history wil reveal that they quickly went back to some of their old ways. We do the same thing, don’t we? God gives us a new beginning, but we soon find ourselves making the same mistakes as we did prior to our salvation. It’s really a shame, but it just reveals that the old sin nature is still alive and well. We won’t be rid of this sinful flesh until we are with the Lord; but we can make the most out our fresh start  and do our best to live our lives yielded to the will of God.

If you are saved, God has given you a fresh start. Make the most of it. Experience the fullness of a life filled with the Spirit of God in the very center of God’s will. Every day, we have a fresh opportunity to get it right. Let’s ask God to help us live our lives to the fullest today, representing Him well to the world around us.


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Here We Go Again

Today’s Passage – Ezra 8 – 10

Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 29

Scripture Memory for May –Psalm 51

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would not repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s bleesing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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Leave Them Alone

Today’s Passage – Ezra 3 – 7

Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28

“Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.” (Ezra 6:7)

This verse jumped out at me when I read it.  Darius the King of Persia ordered the governors that were over the land of Judah to let the people of God alone; and stop trying to hinder them in their work of re-building the Temple.  If you recall from chapter 4, the devil had used some people to complain to the king about the Jews and the work they were trying to do.   The king (Atexerxes at the time) ordered the work stopped, because he believed the lies of these men.  Later, however, the people of God went back to work, apparently without authorization.  Again the children of the devil began to complain and worked to stop the people of God from their work.  This time, King Darius (whose heart was in the Lord’s hand) not only approved their work; but also financed it.  And best of all, he commanded that the enemies of God were to “leave them alone” in their work.

Today, there are many people inside and outside of the church that are working against the cause of Christ.  We can’t really do too much about the government, or anybody else outside of the local church; but let me offer some advice to those of you within the local body.  You need to find a way to support and serve your church as it strives to fulfill the Great Commission.  Keep your hands of hindrance off those who are trying to bring the ministry forward.  Lead, follow, but by all means get out of the way of the folks who are trying to do what God has called them to do.  Leave them be.


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Living in the Past

Today’s Passage – Ezra 1 – 2

Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27

Scripture Memory for May – Psalm 51

Listen to this morning;s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read – “3 Characteristics of a Servant Leader” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:12 & 13)

In chapter 3 of today’s passage we see the children of Israel (or at least some of them) back in their land after a long captivity in Babylon and Persia.  Eventually they begin the process of rebuilding the Temple of God that had been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar years earlier.  Remember, the Temple that had been constructed by Solomon was perhaps the most beautiful piece of architecture that has ever been constructed, with literally tons of gold covering much of the building itself, and also the furniture and instruments used in the temple.  The building that they were in the process of constructing now could not possibly compare to the old one. However, it is important to note that these elder men who were despondent over the lack of luxury in this new temple had actually never seen the presence of God in the old Temple.  At the time that they were there (before the captivity), the glory of God had long since departed because of the falling away of the people of God.  So these elders were upset simply because of a building.  They failed to see that this new building, though not nearly as ornate and expensive as the old, had the potential for being a place where God would actually meet with His people.

In my 22 years or so of being saved, I have seen this same mentality.  I have seen church buildings that were absolutely gorgeous with large auditoriums, countless classrooms, fellowship halls, and even landscaped gardens.  However, many of these buildings, though beautiful, have “Ichabod” written all over them.  But on the other side of town there is a storefront building with no classrooms, where a preacher and church are boldly proclaiming the Truth, with the Spirit of God all over them.  Yet, most people in the world; and even most Christians would say that the church with the beautiful facility is the “real” church.

One more thought from this passage:  Sometimes, those that have been saved for awhile, and have seen the power of God in previous years, tend to live in the past.  God does not live in the past.  Actually he is way ahead of us.  We are supposed to be following Him.  This is partially what Paul meant when he said, “leaving those things which are behind”.  I believe the greatest movement of God is yet to come.  I believe the greatest days of Jersey Shore Baptist Church will be in the tomorrows; not in the yesterdays.  While I rejoice over what God has done in the past, I am looking for “greater works than these”.


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I Am Ashamed and Blush

Today’s Passage – Ezra 8 – 10; Proverbs 29

(Second Milers also read 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Memorize – Proverbs 13:3)

“And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” – (Ezra 9:6)

Just a quick thought from Ezra 9 this morning. Ezra finds out that God’s priests had quickly polluted themselves by not separating from the people of the land. Remember, they had just been granted a fresh start in the land of Israel by God, but now they had sliiden back to their old ways. Upon hearing this news Ezra is distraught, and is ashamed to even face God to talk to Him about it. He says in verse 6 that he was ashamed and blush to lift up his face to God.

My thought this morning is this: Have we lost our “blush” in America today. There is so much wickedness all around us that we have just gotten used to it. It does not bother us anymore. As a nation, we have lost our innocence. We have lost the ability to be ashamed and blush because of the sinfulness of our nation. God has not changed His mind about sin, and neither should we. It ought to cause us great shame, when we are exoposed to the wickedness around us; but instead we joke about it. God does not think it is funny.


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Stop Living in the Past

Today’s Passage – Ezra 3 – 7; Proverbs 28

(Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Memorize Proverbs 11:13)

“But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:12 & 13)

In chapter 3 of today’spassage we see the children of Israel (or at least some of them) back in their land after a long captivity in Babylon and Persia.  Eventually they begin the process of rebuilding the Temple of God that had been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar years earlier.  Remember, the Temple that had been built by Solomon was perhaps the most beautiful piece of architecture that has ever been constructed, with literally tons of gold covering much of the building itself, and also the furniture and instruments used in the temple.  The building that they were in the process of constructing now could not possibly compare to the old one.   However, it is important to note that these elder men who were despondent over the lack of luxury in this new temple had actually never seen the presence of God at the old one.  At the time that they were there (before the captivity), the glory of God had long since departed because of the falling away of the people of God.  So these elders were upset simply because of a building.  They failed to see that this new building, though not nearly as ornate and expensive as the old, had the potential for being a place where God would actually meet with His people.

In my 20 years or so of being saved, I have seen this same mentality.  I have seen church buildings that were absolutely gorgeous with large auditoriums, countless classrooms, fellowship halls, and even landscaped gardens.  However, many of these buildings, though beautiful, have “Ichabod” written all over them.  But on the other side of town there is a storefront building with no classrooms, where a preacher and church are boldly proclaiming the Truth, with the Spirit of God all over them.  Yet, most people in the world; and even most Christians would say that the church with the beautiful facility is the “real” church.

One more thought from this passage:  Sometimes, those that have been saved for awhile, and have seen the power of God in previous years, tend to live in the past.  God does not live in the past.  Actually he is way ahead of us.  We are supposed to be following Him.  This is partially what Paul meant when he said, “leaving those things which are behind”.  I believe the greatest movement of God is yet to come.  I believe the greatest days of Jersey Shore Baptist Church will be in the tomorrows; not in the yesterdays.  While I rejoice over what God has done in the past, I am looking for “greater works than these”.


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A Fresh Start

Today’s Passage – Ezra 1 – 2; Proverbs 27

(Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Memorize – Proverbs 11:14)

“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 him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” – (Ezra 1:2-3)

The children of Israel had spent 70 long years in captivity at the hands of the Babylonians. We cannot really blame Babylon for Israel’s troubles however, as the Scripture makes it very clear that Israel was taken into captivity as a direct judgment of God because they had forsaken Him. However, now at the end of the seventy years, we see a new king, Cyrus of Persia, who is releasing the nation of Israel and giving them the charge to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Again, we cannot fully give the credit to Cyrus for being such a gracious king, as God foretold this event in the Book of Isaiah almost 200 years prior to its happening, even mentioning King Cyrus by name:

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” – (Isaiah 44:28)

At any rate, Israel is given a wonderful opportunity to get things right; they are given a fresh start. What a wonderful thing it is to be given the opportunity to start all over again. Salvation does this to a person’s life. God gives them a clean slate; a new beginning. While we can never go back and undo our past mistakes, it is great to know that those mistakes are in the past, and under the blood. Israel was granted the chance to go back into the land and live for God, and worship Him as had been originally intended. Sadly, however, history wil reveal that they quickly went back to some of their old ways. We do the same thing, don’t we? God gives us a new beginning, but we soon find ourselves making the same mistakes as we did prior to our salvation. It’s really a shame, but it just reveals that the old sin nature is still alive and well. We won’t be rid of this sinful flesh until we are with the Lord; but we can make the most out our fresh start  and do our best to live our lives yielded to the will of God.

If you are saved, God has given you a fresh start. Make the most of it. Experience the fullness of a life filled with the Spirit of God in the very center of God’s will. Every day, we have a fresh opportunity to get it right. Let’s ask God to help us live our lives to the fullest today, representing Him well to the world around us.


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