Sunday Devotional: Nehemiah 8:9-12

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.  Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”  And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (Nehemiah 8:9-12)

The people were returning to Jerusalem.  The temple was rebuilt.  The walls around the city were rebuilt.  But more importantly, hearts were turning back to God.  The people realized their wrong and wept for it.  But the great thing was that God forgave.  Nehemiah and Ezra told the people to worship and celebrate God for all that He had done.  He had protected them in their time of exile.  He brought them back to their home.  And He stood ready to forgive them.  Because of this, the people could eat and drink and celebrate, because they had something to truly celebrate.

This week, remember all that God has done.  More importantly, remember that He stands ready when you want to repent and turn back to Him.  He is waiting with open arms.

Sunday Devotional: Ezra 7:1-10

“Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.

And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants.  And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.  For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.  For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

Ezra knew what he was supposed to do.  He had those who came before him and their track record of following God and leading the people in worshiping God.  He had the education in studying God’s word.  And he had the calling on his life from God to serve.  Ezra led a group of people from Babylon back to Jerusalem while the temple was being rebuilt.  There was spiritual rebuilding as well that needed to take place.  Ezra knew what he was supposed to do in helping in the spiritual rebuilding in Israel.

This week, there may be places and opportunities for us to help in the rebuilding of someone’s spiritual life.  Let us be like Ezra and have our hearts set on studying God’s Word and doing what it says to do & be willing to share what we learn with others.

Sunday Devotional: Ezra 3:10-11

“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel.  And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”  (Ezra 3:10-11)

The Israelites were in exile, away from their homeland.  Then, they were allowed to go home and slowly but surely groups of people began to go home.  With this began the rebuilding of lives and family in what was to them the promised land.  This included rebuilding of the temple.  When they had laid the foundation for the temple, they took time to sing praises to the Lord.  They had a lot to be thankful for as they had endured so much.  But God was always there and God provided for them in exile and when they returned back home.

It is good to remember and be thankful for all that God has done.  When we go through tough times and get beaten down, it’s good to praise God for helping us get through it.  As the foundation for a new year approaches, let us give thanks for all that God is done and all he will do.