Sunday, January 8, 2017

January 8 - Ezra 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ezra 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • The Israelites/Jews (the people back then who (for the most part) believed in and worshipped God were divided up into tribes, and sometimes are referred to in this way, such as in verse 1, "Judah and Benjamin". Their enemies (verse 1) were people who had moved into the area years earlier when the Israelites were forced out.
  • These "enemies" don't want the Israelites to rebuild because they don't want them to become strong again. They offer to help with the project (verse 1), claiming they also worship God, but their true motives were to infiltrate and disrupt the work. The Jews saw through their ruse and reject their offer (verse 3).
  • These enemies aren't permitted to work with them, but do everything they can to discourage the Israelites as they rebuild the Temple (verse 4-24), including writing letters filled with lies to government officials.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Discouragement and fear are two barriers to people doing what God wants, and to finishing the "assignments" He gives us. When you feel discouraged or afraid, realize that believers of all times have had to face and overcome discouragement and fear and that, with God's help, they have overcome and fulfilled God's purpose. We can overcome with God's help as well. "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up" (Galatians 6:9).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where is fear getting in the way of you obeying God? Where have you started doing the right thing, but then experienced discouragement? When you're afraid or discouraged, do you turn to God and pray? What would help you make that your automatic response? Do you have anyone in your life who can help you turn to God when you're afraid or discouraged?
    • Consider memorizing Galatians 6:9 so you can have it in your mind when you need it.