Ezra 3 – Returning Home

Ezra was a priest, a scribe, and a great leader. His name literally means “help” and this is exactly what Ezra did.  Ezra helped fulfill the promise of the Jewish people returning to Jerusalem. In this short chapter,  Ezra 3 has some powerful insights and reminders that can speak to your heart today.

The first insight is noticing one of the most important things the Jews did upon returning to the city.  Their first focus was on creation and use of the alter.  It was the symbol of God’s presence back in Jerusalem .  What does God’s presence look like to you? Is there a presence in your home? For me I think of some of the little things that represent and remind me of our trust in Him.  The verses that hang on our walls, the calendar that shows family pictures with verses written, the kids Sunday school handouts hanging on our fridge, the Resolution certificate framed from our marriage small group study sitting in our dining room.  In a kitchen you can find a mason jar full of prayers and praises from this year.  I also reflect on what do we model when others come stay? What are we modeling when we are alone? Are we intentional in having a place where we can rest in His presence and show our trust in His protection and presence like the Jews did upon returning home?

3 Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

The second focus was on building of the temple, the people didn’t look ahead at the finished product, or the walls to protect the city, they focused on the foundation.  This could be a sermon on its own but I’ll keep it short.  Our foundation is everything.  It doesn’t matter if you are building  temple, house, or a fort.  The foundation is essential.  It’s Just like in our lives.  Our marriages, decisions about jobs, raising a family, making a decision to move…  really anything we do has to be given to God first. Our foundation has to be in God. If you short change, alter the appropriate materials, or modify the accurate dimensions of a foundation it can lead to disaster.  For some of the Jews, this had already happened to them once.  They didn’t want it to happen again. If our foundation is not strong, and when pain kicks in, hardships, fear, anxiety or lowliness sets in, without a solid foundation you will waiver and eventually fall.  Take time daily to build your foundation! Now, think about how the people reacted once the foundation was done. It says they sang, praised, and gave thanks. For He is good, and His loving kindness endures forever… Ezra 3:11 Take time today to sing, praise, and give thanks! Amen

2 Timothy 2:19 says, 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Lastly, look at the end of Ezra 3.  At first I was unclear about verses 12-13. The contrast between shouting for joy and weeping? In my study bible it talks about the mix of emotions being felt at that time between the generations.  That some Jews had lived when their first temple was originally built, while others were part of something for the first time.  How many times does the Holy Spirit produce that same emotion in us?  I can be standing in church arms up, praising God singing,  without any care for my pitch.  The next moment, my hands wiping tears from my face convicted once again.  I can often become sobered by my shortcomings, and full of joy, thanksgiving in other moments. In these moments I can see how there are times when it is hard to decipher.  Only God can move us that way.

12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.


Where do you turn when your world has been flipped upside down? Maybe it was a marriage, job, your own child, a bad decision? Where do you return? You return home to the Lord.  If you have been lost, or maybe just need to rebuild.  Head into the wonderful arms of our Lord.

Have a blessed Tuesday.

Daily Washing

Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles 5–6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalms 148-150

This past week I wrestled with the daily events between home, work, school and other commitments sprinkled in and out. In the midst of my yearning for putting the “No” in November I was juggling many things. In the middle of this circus I was losing sight of God and His will for how I should be handling everything. In hind site,  much of what I was trying to accomplish was on my own. This selfish attitude lead to a shortness of patience, love, and understanding for those around me. I sinned and fell short by my own selfish desires to control a situation. Unfortunately, my lack of faith had succeeded once again.

After many prayers and apologies I still felt this guilt over letting my family and God down. I turned to God’s word and asked for direction.  Prayerfully, there is only one way out of this situation and it was through Him. I needed to surrender it all to Him and hear His voice instead of my own.  In Hebrews 10 I’m reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Back in Hebrews 10:3 as people gathered for sacrifice on the Day of Atonement , people would be reminded of their sins and felt that guilt all over again.  But by His grace, Christ has provided us with permanent forgiveness that once we have confessed this we need not think of continue to cause pain. We are all broken and yet cleansed by an amazing God who sent his only son to die for all of our sins.  Encourage growth in our daily lives by applying and living out God’s scripture in all areas of our lives.

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds,“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

As we face these struggles its important to continue to encourage and meet with other Christians sharing our faith and love. We can help provide the strength we need to make it through each day.  I’m grateful for this daily group of writers, our weekly small groups, and the messages we hear each Sunday that deepen our relationship with God. Yesterday, I was talking with Micheal Summers about this scenario and he reminded me of the conversation Jesus had with Peter in John 13.  What a timely reminder. In Humility of Love by Grace to You, the authors remind us how Jesus provides us with spiritual washing when we confess and submit to Him.  Thanks Mike!jesus-washing-apostles-feet_1299230_inl

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Thank you for reading and being in the scripture together daily.  Psalm 150 reminds us to,  Praise Him for Everything!

Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Psalm 150:2

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6 

So what spiritual cleaning do you need?

Any dust collected on your feet?

We need our feet washed every day. As we walk through this world with our earthly desires we can get our feet dirty.  1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us [literally, keep on cleansing us] from all unrighteousness.”

Thank you Jesus for washing our sins away. Amen

Because He Lives – Matt Maher

Read Humility of Love by Grace to You.