Study from God’s Word… Ezra, Chapters 7 – 8 … Passage for Reflection: Ezra: 8: 22 - 23… NIV 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
My Journal for Today: Let me start my devotional journal entry today with the question posed by LaGard Smith, the author of my devotional guidebook. He posits this personal question for self-inventory: ”How often do I pray for God’s protection, then put my reliance for protection in any and everything BUT God?”
Wow. Ouch! That one hurt – at least for me. How about you? Sometimes it’s just painful – from conviction – when the mirror of truth is held up for us to look at ourselves in the light of God’s truth.
And Dr. Smith began his devotional entry for today with a reminder of the old adage, Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, which seems so logically accurate, doesn’t it? Certainly your financial advisor has probably invoked that old saying; and having a backup plan would probably be thought to be wise by prudent generals in battle. But when it comes to spiritual warfare or our relationship with God, He states, very simply, in Proverbs 3: 5, 6 [NKJV] that we are to “… trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL you ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
And that’s exactly what Ezra finally decided was the only correct and God-fearing way to respond to King Artaxerxes’ offer to provide the Jews returning to Jerusalem with what they needed to rebuild their temple and reinstate their Law. It might have been the prudent and natural thing to do to ask the King for a guard of soldiers to protect God’s people on their journey home; but Ezra realized that this would be a poor witness to this pagan king; and it would be an affront to the God who had delivered His people from Egypt and so many other adversaries along their journeys to and in the Promised Land.
So, Ezra put all of his eggs in one basket; and as we read [see verse 23 above] he led the people to fast and pray for God’s protection; and we also read how God answered those prayers.
So, I’m back to the opening question from Dr. Smith, which I’ll repeat here to close out my journal entry today: ”How often do I pray for God’s protection, then put my reliance for protection in any and everything BUT God?” You deal with that one in your life. I’m certainly going to have to do so in mine.
My Prayer for Today: Forgive me, Lord, for wanting to do things my way, not having the faith in You which You desire from me. Amen