For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. Ezra 7:10
Devotion to something is being committed to it. It is being willing to focus on whatever it is one is devoted to, regardless of what else is going on around. It is giving all of one’s time and attention to something.
People are devoted to many different things. Some common things people are devoted to are jobs, sports teams, and hobbies. Often these and other devotions are held so tightly that they can cause the expense of neglect in other areas of life.
Some things should hold this level of devotion, but are often not. Marriage devotion is often ignored. Time with God is often ignored. Many things that should be long-term or eternal are ignored in devotion.
Ezra was a priest during the time of Israel’s exile in Babylon. He had devoted himself to studying and teaching God’s laws to the people of Israel. Since he had devoted himself to God’s word, God’s hand of favor was upon him.
Although today there is grace the overrides the law of the Old Testament, God’s word is still to be used. Believers can devote themselves to studying His word and teaching others about it. This teaching is discipling others, which is what God commanded every believer to do–go and make disciples in all the world.
Studying God’s word does not mean one needs a bible college degree or cannot do other work, it is just taking time daily to get into His word and learn what it is says. It is more than just reading a verse or two each day and running on with the rest of the day. It is taking time to understand what it says and how to apply it to life, then take that word to others.
You, like most people, may have some things that you are devoted to in your life. Your first devotion should be to God and His word. It is His word that lets you know what God wants and how to do it. Take time daily to focus on His word and apply it to your life. Then take time to share what you have learned with others.
Being devoted to His word is making God’s word a priority each day in your life.
Is God’s word a priority in your life?
I pray today that God will place a hunger for His word in your life; that God’s Holy Spirit will guide you in understanding His word; that you will apply God’s word to your life; and that you will share God’s word with everyone you meet.
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. Ezra 4:4
Doing something great will often have some great challenges to make happen. Beyond just the challenges of knowing how to do something great is the opposition that can occur.
Men and woman who are striving to do something great are often told that they are crazy and should not try to do it. The reason they are told that they are crazy and shouldn’t do it is for several reasons. Sometimes it is so different that others think it cannot really be done, and one should not waste it time trying. Other times it is out of fear of it actually working and getting done.
The Israelites had been put into captivity in Persia, yet, were given direct permission from the king of Persia to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple to God. As they had begun to do the work, the people around them worked hard to stop them. They tried to discourage them from finishing the work that they had started to do.
Fear of Christians accomplishing something is still around to this day. The world is an enemy to Jesus and does not want Him or His followers to ever accomplish anything. The thing that believers do is following and obeying God. They are working to build God’s kingdom here on this earth.
Any time a believer is doing God’s will, Satan and this world will rise up in opposition. He does not want the believer to be successful, because it means it will be his downfall. The world does not want it, because they can feel God’s judgement upon their lives in seeing the lives of believers.
God has or will call you to do something for His kingdom. It may be building a new temple or it may just be a simple thing of telling someone about Jesus. Either way it is doing something for Him.
As soon as you begin to do what God has asked of you, the world will begin to attempt to discourage you and stop you. They may say it is a waste of time and that it won’t work with just words. Or they may be physically violent against you.
Do not be surprised. There was opposition to the Israelites and against Jesus. You will receive opposition. Stay true to God and do what He has given you to do. Don’t be discouraged, God is with you.
I pray today that you will know the mission God has for you; that you will not be discouraged; that you will stay true to God; that God will give you strength to do His work; and that you be His witness.
With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Ezra 3:11
The foundation of the house is one of the most important parts of the building it. It is the foundation that holds the rest of the house up. It must be strong and well built to endure. If the foundation is weak, the house will fall.
There is always a lot of excitement in the beginning of building a new building, whether it is a house or a business. Many times people hold a great celebration with the breaking of the ground to begin laying the foundation. It is the end of a lot of planning and designing and the beginning of the actual building process.
The Israelites had been put into captivity in Persia, but the king allowed them to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple that had been destroyed. As they laid the foundation, all the people rejoiced very loudly. They were excited at the idea of the temple being rebuilt. It showed them that God was still with them despite what had occurred. It represented the foundation of God in their lives and nation.
Since then the foundation and temple has changed. People are the temple and it is no longer a physical foundation, but one that is built upon Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection is the foundation of the new temple, the heart and life of a person.
Every time a person turns to Jesus, all of heaven is rejoicing in the salvation being done. There is also great rejoicing when a believer, who has strayed away, turns back to Jesus. His foundation is being re-set. The life is no longer built on the shifting foundation of this world and sin, but upon Jesus Christ and His righteousness.
Now is the time to build your foundation of your life on Jesus Christ. If you have never built the foundation, you can start now. If you had built it on Jesus, but let it fall in disrepair, you can return to Jesus and have it rebuilt. Allow your entire life to be built on Jesus and His teachings. It is a firm foundation that will stand for all eternity.
As the foundation is built in your life, rejoice greatly, because God is with you. His love endures forever and He is good.
I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that your life will be built upon the foundation of Jesus; that you will know the joy of serving God; and that you will know God’s love and presence in your life.
This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.’ Ezra 1:2
People receive things all the time. Recognizing who gave it does not always occur. Often people think that they got it completely on their own. They are unwilling to recognize who helped them along the way. They become a one-man show in life.
Wealthy people do not get their wealth completely on their own. They come up with some idea, but others work for them to make it possible. If others did not work for them, they would be very seriously limited in how much they could earn.
God had destroyed the nation of Judah and put the people into captivity in Persia. Cyrus was the king at the time. Immediately he recognized that God had given him all the nations that he had possessed. He gave God the credit for what He had and so He was going to have the temple built in Jerusalem to worship God at.
It is easy for people to forget how they got what they have. Most often people think that they got everything that they have on their own, without any help. While help from people in this world can go a long ways, a greater help is from God.
God is the One who oversees everything that occurs upon this earth. There is nothing that He does not have control of. He is the One who moves people to do things to help others in ways not directly seen. He is able to use those who follow Him and those who do not follow Him to fulfill His desires.
Believers are the first to recognize that it is God who is in control. It is God who is the provider of everything.
Everything that you have has been given to you by God or God has allowed you to have it. Without His hand of provision or allowance, you could not have it.
Through Jesus you have been given all power and authority in heaven and on earth. You have been given all the kingdoms of this earth. The purpose of this is to be His witness and to build His kingdom, to build temples to worship God.
You did not get all this on your own, it is only through the work of Jesus. Recognize this and give Him the praise.
I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will recognize God’s hand at work in your life; that you will recognize God’s provision in your life; and that you will build a temple in your heart to worship God.