Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ezra 1-4

Persia is the new world power in Ezra 1-4.  And after 70 years of living in exile (in Babylon), King Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return home to Jerusalem and rebuild the Lord's temple.  We begin to see that our God is a God full of second chances for His people.  The relocation and the rebuilding projects turn out to be huge undertakings.  But God is with His people, and we can sense new life and new energy in their faith.  It's exciting.

How about you?  Think about a time in your life when you have had to relocate, rebuild, or start over in some way.  Did you allow God to be part of your undertakings?  How so?  

How are we to recognize God-given second chances in our lives?

Let's take today's reading.

For starters, God works on hearts behind the scenes in unexplainable ways, according to His good plans.

I mean it's been 70 long years of captivity, and God works in the heart of the Persian king.  What are the chances of that?

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lordmoved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing

If God did that back then for His people, He most certainly can work in the hearts of those that have influence in our lives.

Another thing about God's second chances is they come with His directions and provisions for the journey.  

Check out the items God's people got to take with them.

In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

When God calls us to go somewhere and do something, He doesn't get us where He needs us empty handed.  He blesses us with exactly what we need.

And the last thing I think today's reading teaches us about God's second chances is that they aren't easy, just purposeful.

God's people agree to build the temple.  Seeing God's temple in ruins is a hard scene to digest.  There's heartache there.  And even though they find strength in God to do what He is calling them to do, outsiders are threatened by them and intentionally frustrate their honest efforts.    

As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Dariusking of Persia.
With second chances, we are forced to face obstacles along the way.  We just have to know that even the obstacles are a part of God's big promises for our lives.  We can't let road blocks, big or small, weaken our faith in the second chance God is offering us.  
We'll read more tomorrow to see what happens next with this huge relocation and rebuilding project.
A prayer for today-
Dear God,
Thank You for the endless supply of second chances I have in Christ.  Help me to recognize your powerful hand at work when You call me to renovate, rebuild, and renew areas of my life.    
Forgive me for all the ways I fail to give second chances to others.  Open my heart to forgive as I am forgiven.  
I pray for ________________ today who really needs a second chance in his/her life.  
I love You, Lord, and I know that nothing can separate me from Your amazing love for me.  I am so grateful for that.
In Jesus' name I pray,

Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.


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