Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 18 July 20:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Ezra — https://thebibleproject.com/explore/ezra-nehemiah/
Ezra 1:1, 5 — …that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia…. Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.
The Lord stirs the spirit and directs the hearts of people as He desires in accordance with His will, plan and promises. In today’s readings, we see how God stirred the spirt of the king of Persia and spirits of select Israelites to rebuild the temple according to His promise proclaimed through the prophet Jeremiah that the exiles would one day return to Jerusalem. We see in Ezra 1 an amazing thing — unbelievers (along with believers) dedicating tremendous resources to honoring and glorifying God as a matter of national policy. We saw something similar occur when God delivered the Jews from the bondage of Egypt (see Exodus 12:35-36). Only God, not political action, can incite such a movement.
How God’s divine sovereignty over all things incorporates our responsibility to choose and our ultimate accountability to Him is beyond our understanding. However, we know that God is faithful, we are called to be faithful, and our ability to obey and choose well requires the revelation of God through His word, constant prayer, and the leading of the Holy Spirit – “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding,” (Proverbs 2:6) If you desire to be used by God, go to God. Don’t come up with your own ideas and trust in your own abilities. Also, if you are worried about the heart and decisions of other people (family members, friends, neighbors, employers, political leaders, etc.), go to God who controls the hearts and decisions of people – “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) Additional verses for consideration —
– Proverbs 21:1 — The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
– John 6:44 — No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
– Ephesians 2:8 — For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God….
– 2 Timothy 1:7 — …for God gave us a spirit….
– 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13 — Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
– Romans 8:26 — Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
– Romans 8:14 — For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
– John 3:5-8 — Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
– Ezekiel 36:26 — And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
– Hebrews 10:16 — “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
– 2 Thessalonians 3:5 — May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
– 1 Thessalonians 3:13 — …so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
– Malachi 4:6: “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers….
– Romans 5:5 — God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
– Galatians 1:15 — But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace….
– Philippians 1:6 — And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:24 — He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
– Colossians 1:29 — For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
– 2 Timothy 1:9 — …who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began….
– 1 John 4:13 — By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
– 1 John 4:19 — We love because he first loved us.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 July 20: Abide in Jesus today, and receive His Spirit that you would naturally produce the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Don’t try to create your own fruit. Apart from Him and His Spirit, you can do nothing.