July 30, 2018 Ezra 7,8; Titus 3

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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ALL Glory is His! | Robin Laney

S~ Praise be to the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 7:27-28 (NIV)

O~ Ezra knew who was leading his journey to Judah and Jerusalem and he recognized that God, not him or the king, had made it all possible. God put it in the king’s heart to support and send this group of exiles. God orchestrated the protection of His people on the journey and the provision gifts and sacrifices through the king. God moved the king to release the people of God who served in the temple from the financial burden of taxes. God opened the king’s eyes to wisdom in Ezra and moved the king’s heart to issue the authority of law to him. Ezra recognized that he was under God’s favor and that his leadership abilities and his courage for the journey at hand was all attributable to his Father in Heaven.

A~ ALL glory to God! Any and every good thing in this world is of God. His Word that feeds us, His Spirit who guides us, His power that equips us, His wisdom that leads us. He can move and change hearts. Any good that is in me or comes out of me is of God, not my own doing. Ezra was so wise to recognize that God’s hand was in every part of his journey. I want to be wise like Ezra.

P~ Lord, You are all. Every good and perfect gift is from You. May Your hand be ever in my journey. May I have eyes to see it and a humble spirit to be thankful for it!

The Hand of the Lord my God | Tara Wiley

S~ [The Lord] has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 7:28 NIV

O~ In verse 25, King Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra to use the wisdom he possessed from studying God’s word to appoint leadership all across his kingdom. He goes further to say Ezra must teach them with the wisdom God has given him. What a monumental task! Anyone would be overwhelmed with the weight of this responsibility.

But Ezra was appointed for such a time as this. He came from a long line of God-followers who took studying and teaching God’s Word as their life’s calling. Ezra took it upon himself to follow in their footsteps. He was already fulfilling his role as priest and teacher when the king took notice of his abilities and increased his responsibility and impact.

This makes me think of yesterday’s reading in Luke 8: Jesus shares that those who are faithful with what they have been given will be given much more. What a promise! Ezra was a living example of God blessing a man’s diligence in living out his calling.

So now, faced with this daunting task, Ezra moved forward with courage because the hand of the Lord his God was on him.

That phrase is repeated over and over in the book of Ezra. In humility he continually acknowledged that all of his success was because of God’s hand in his life. God honored both Ezra’s diligence and his humility. Humble yourself before the Lord and He will exalt you.(James 4:10)

A~ So again today, God hits me square between the eyes: what am I doing with the gifts He has given me? Am I fully using His gifts for His glory? When I think of expanding my gifts with ventures beyond those actions that have become comfortable to me, I get scared. What if I fail? I’m not even sure what it all looks like, these half-sketched dreams in me. But I look at Ezra and am reminded of a few things: first, God’s hand will be with me when I am fulfilling His purpose in my life. So, as I move forward in humility, I can take courage like Ezra and dare to more fully step out in faith. But first, I must be diligent with what is right in front of me.

P~ Lord, let me be found faithful. Let me fully spent for You. Help me understand what that looks like today, and give me vision to see how to prepare for the future.

A Life Well Lived | Kelley Deases

S~ Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.  Titus 3:14 (NIV)

O~ Isn’t this really the goal for all of us?  To have our daily needs met and to live a productive life.  A life well spent.  A life worthy of our calling as followers of Christ.  A life punctuated at its earthly end with the words, ” Well done, good and faithful servant.”

A~ I have been struggling a bit lately with good time management, or, stated more accurately, with living out my priorities.  If I say that my walk with God is primary, followed by investing in my marriage and quality time with my kids, does my daily schedule really bear that out?

P~ Lord, Help me to start each day with You.  I confess that if I don’t sit at Your feet first thing, I rarely will quiet my heart before You later in the day….it just gets away from me.  As I seek Your wisdom, remind me anew of my true priorities and give me Your perspective on how I should be spending my days in a way that will ultimately make my life count.

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