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.

Keep Moving Forward: Perseverance and Rocky Balboa

Perseverance is a word that is at the forefront of those who are followers of Jesus.  Throughout the Bible, there are stories of those who had to deal with hard times and had to persevere.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to persevere in our journey of faith.  It is understood that this life will be hard.  The apostle Paul used the analogy of boxing or fighting in several of his letters (1 Corinthians 9, 2 Timothy 4).  It was a good metaphor then and still is today.

One of my favorite film series are the Rocky movies.  I grew up watching them over and over again (except for Rocky V….which in my opinion belongs with those movies that do not exist).  When Rocky Balboa came out in 2006, I saw it in the theaters while I was living in Seattle.  The movie really struck a cord with me.  I’ve rewatched it several times, especially when I’m going through a tough time.

One scene in that film that is very poignant is the scene with Rocky and his son talking outside.  Here’s the scene:

The key line from that scene is this:  “But it ain’t about how hard you hit.  It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  How much you can take and keep moving forward.”  That is perseverance.  We will get knocked down in this life.  We will get beat down.  That is a given.  Sometimes we get knocked down so hard it rocks our world.  It is no fun at all to go through those times.  I can speak from experience (and recent experience at that) that it is no fun.  But as a follower of Jesus, I am called to persevere.  I’m to keep moving forward.  I know that I cannot do this alone.  Each time I’m knocked down by life, Jesus is right there to get me back on my feet and moving forward again.  That’s perseverance.

Lessons That I’ve Learned (Or Relearned) On The Journey This Week

It is good to reflect on a regular basis the lessons learned (or in some cases relearned).  Here’s some of those for this week:

*Pain is a part of life.  I say this not as something that I didn’t know but as something I was reminded of this week.  I helped my brother put on a new roof on his garage.  One day was spent tearing off the old roof and another day was spent putting on the new roof.  After one day, I was sore.  After two days, I was very sore.  It’s been two days since and I still feel a little sore from it.  Pain is a part of life, at least in the fallen world we live in now.  There will come a day when pain will no longer be a part of the equation.  There will be life with no pain.  I do look forward to that day.  In the meantime, just keep trusting in Christ to help overcome.

*All you can do is your part, you can’t do anyone else’s part.  I learned this phrase while I was in South Carolina.  It was in regard to discipleship and following Jesus.  It was this “There’s your part, there’s their part & there’s God’s part.”  You are only in control of your part.  I know for me that sometimes I wish that I was in control of all of it.  But that’s not the way it goes, and that’s a good thing.  It is hard enough to do my part.  But the good part of this is that if I do my part then I can live with that.  If I’m not doing my part, then that’s on me.  This can relate to all parts of my life & in all the different relationships I have.  It’s not easy but it is something I’m working on and trying to get better so I can be a good example of this.

I’ll leave you with this song.  It is the theme song from the movie “From Up on Poppy Hill”.  It is one of my favorite films from Hayao Miyazaki.  The song is in Japanese but listen to the melody and the music.  The title is translated into English as “Summer of Farewells” fitting since summer has essentially come to an end.