Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012 … Swimming Upstream With God’s Plan

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 261

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Ezra, Chapters 4-6 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Psalm 137 To study this Psalm, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Ezra 4: 1-5; 23- 24 : [NLT] … 1 The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the LORD, the God of Israel. 2 So they approached Zerubbabel and the other leaders and said, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God just as you do. We have sacrificed to him ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria brought us here.” … 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied, “You may have no part in this work, for we have nothing in common. We alone will build the Temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus of Persia commanded us.” … 4 Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. 5 They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their aims. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne. … 
23 [Through the latter part of Cyrus’ reign in Persia there were delays in the rebuilding of the Temple] … When this letter from King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum, Shimshai, and their colleagues, they hurried to Jerusalem and forced the Jews to stop building. 24 The work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem had stopped, and it remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.  
Highlight Passage: Ezra 5: 1-2; 5; 17 : [NLT] … 1 At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied in the name of the God of Israel to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. 2Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by beginning the task of rebuilding the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them. …
 5But because their God was watching over them [i.e., those rebuilding the Temple], the leaders of the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision. 17 [From the letter to King Darius requesting the continuation of the Temple rebuilding] … “So now, if it pleases the king, we request that you search in the royal archives of Babylon to discover whether King Cyrus ever issued a decree to rebuild God’s Temple in Jerusalem. And then let the king send us his decision in this matter.”  
Highlight Passage: Ezra 6: 6-7; 14-15; 19; 22 : [NLT] … 6 [After locating the documents from Cyrus’ proclamation to rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem] … So King Darius sent this message: “To Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, to Shethar-bozenai, and to your colleagues and other officials west of the Euphrates: “Stay away from there! 7 Do not disturb the construction of the Temple of God. Let it be rebuilt on its former site, and do not hinder the governor of Judah and the leaders of the Jews in their work. … 
14 So the Jewish leaders continued their work, and they were greatly encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia. 15 The Temple was completed on March 12, during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign. … 19 On April 21 the returned exiles celebrated Passover. .. 
 22 They ate the Passover meal and celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There was great joy throughout the land because the LORD had changed the attitude of the king of Assyria toward them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God, the God of Israel.  

Cross Reference Passage: Prov. 3: 5-6 : [NLT] … 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Cross Reference Passage: 1st Cor. 10: 13 : [NLT] … The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

My Journal for Today: Continuing on in the next three chapters in the Book of Ezra, I was led to read about how God’s plan for the rebuilding of the Temple and [later with the help of Nehemiah] the walls in Jerusalem was a real test of faith, conviction, and commitment from those who were called to carry out God’s plan, as were Ezra and Nehemiah under varying leadership in the Medo-Persian empires.

You’d think that if God was THE PLANNER that He’d make the way clear, straight, and easy for those who were called to carry out His plan; but as we read in these early chapters in Ezra’s journal, as well as many other stories of God building His character into the lives of His chosen and anointed leaders, like Ezra, the way is seldom downhill, straight, and clearly lit.

Generally, when God has a plan and He selects and anoints one (or more) to carry out the plan, as He did the rebuilding project in Jerusalem in Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s day, He will make a way; but the process of making that way a reality will, more-often-than-not, be like swimming upstream against a rather heavy current of worldly challenges. I think that’s why Jesus, when he was giving discipleship instructions to those who would follow Him, He told those who would come after Him (in Luke 9: 23) to … “deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” Simple instructions, … yes. Easy to accomplish, … absolutely not!

Ezra was given an anointing and a designated role as Priest, as well as the Spirit-given gifts, to carry out the task of rebuilding God’s Temple in Jerusalem; but getting that task done in a resistant and recalcitrant world was not an easy one; and it required starting, stopping, and restarting along the way. But Ezra was a “keep on, keeping on” kind of servant; and God provided what the Priest needed to get God’s plan accomplished in God’s way and in God’s timing.

And when I think of the two cross reference scriptures I’ve been given above this morning in my meditation, Proverbs 3: 5,6 and 1st Cor. 10: 13, I realize that God doesn’t promise us, as His called ones, to have an “easy” way,. No, He only promises us that He will give us HIS way; and that will be enough, with His faithfulness, to get the job, HIS JOB, in His timing and for HIS glory.

So, let’s keep looking for God’s way and swimming upstream to accomplish it for His glory.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, show me THE way, … YOUR way, and I will follow. Amen

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