Bible Devotions

Suffering is Important

First Corinthians 1:4 says “Love suffers long” since God is love He suffered for us.  But in His sufferings many good things came into being.  Reading the book of Hebrews offers a glimpse of the manifold benefits of suffering.

Hebrews 2:10 “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”  By His sufferings we are granted salvation of our souls.  Our bondage to sin is broken.  We are captives set free by His sacrifice.

Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  Through the suffering Jesus endured, He is able to comfort us in our suffering.  He knows what it’s like, for He suffered terribly.  When we suffer, our minds go to His suffering, knowing we have not suffered nearly as dearly as He has.

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”  Through His suffering He learned obedience.  This was the example for us to follow.  In our sufferings we, too, learn obedience to Him and we begin understand the God who saved us.

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  Our sin is dealt with once and for all.  No more sacrificial offerings are required.  Jesus’ sacrifice is enough.  Our debt is paid. 

So you see, good really can come from suffering.  Next time you are suffering, think about what Jesus suffered and ask God to show you what you are to learn through it. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your suffering.  You know what it is like to suffer.  Help us to see our suffering through your eyes of love.  In your name we pray. Amen. 

 

 

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Overcome the World

What does this saying “overcome the world” mean?  Why should believers understand it?

First John 2:15-17 NKJV says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  If we love the world, the love of God is not in us.  The world is full of things not of God; therefore, we believers must overcome the world.

What does overcome mean?  From Dictionary.com here are a few definitions using “overcome” in the verb tense:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.

 

2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.

 

3. to overpower or overwhelm in body or mind, as does liquor, a drug, exertion, or emotion: I was overcome with grief.

 

4. Archaic. to overspread or overrun.

–verb (used without object)

5. to gain the victory; win; conquer: a plan to overcome by any means possible.

It seems that overcome is to defeat our enemy or our weakness and conquer.  Who wouldn’t want to conquer their enemies and weaknesses?

Okay, so how do we overcome? 1 John 5:5 says “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”   How simple it is!  Believe in Jesus the Son of God.  That’s it.  For Jesus even said “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   When we believe in Jesus, His spirit takes of residence within us.  First John 4:4 says “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.

First John 3 is all about abiding in God.  When we abide in Him, He abides in us.  We demonstrate we abide in Him by practicing righteousness.  “Let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  We overcome evil with good, by loving one another as Christ loved us.

The born again believer of Jesus Christ is delivered from sin and abides in Him and the wicked one can’t touch him (1 John 5:18).  Praise God!   Are you ready to overcome the world?  Believe and you receive was you ask for.

Lord, thank you for your victory.  We have overcome the world when we believe in You.  Thank you for your spirit to guide us in your truth and love.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in God’s Word. Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

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By Faith I Stand

By faith I am saved. It is God’s grace through faith in Jesus I am saved. I did nothing to deserve or earn it, except believe it. (Ephesians 2:8)

By faith I have power to do all things through Jesus. For He strengthens me for every task I must complete. (Philippians 4:13)

By faith I have desires to do what pleases God. For God is working in me giving me the desire and power to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)

By faith I will complete what I am meant to complete. I am confident God who began the good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

By faith I will not be anxious about anything but in everything I will bring it to God with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6)

By faith I have all that I need. For my God meets my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

By faith I face trials of many kinds and rejoice knowing the testing of my faith produces perseverance and maturity, so I will be complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4)

By faith I will be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires. (James 1:19-20)

By faith I will do what God’s words say and not just listen to it and deceive myself. (James 1:22)

By faith I will show my faith by what I do. (James 2:18)

By faith I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

What other “By faith” statements would you add to this list? Please comment below and share your ideas with others to be an encourager of the faith.

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The Path before Us

Read Isaiah 55:1-3.

 

Who is God’s salvation for?

It is for everyone.  Does it say it is for the Jews only? No.  Does it say it is for the rule-keepers?  No.  Does it say it is for a certain people group?  No.  God’s salvation is for EVERYONE.

 

How do you know you need salvation?

Everyone thirsts.  God gave you a desire or longing to know Him because He made you after His own image.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together as One in community with each other.  There is something inside us that longs for the same community and compels us to satisfy the thirst.

 

Why doesn’t God just save us?

He extends His offer of salvation to us, but we must choose to come.  He is a loving Father who desires us to love Him in return.  Real love is not forced.  If He made us to love Him, we’d be nothing more than robots doing what we were programmed to do.  By allowing us to choose Him, it is a richer, lovelier response.  We have to decide to believe Him.  We have to decide to follow Him.   Without our willingness to love Him, it would be meaningless to Him.

 

How come God gives us more than we need?

He is a generous, loving Father who wants to pour out His love on us.  He doesn’t want to simply satisfy our thirst with water only.  No, He wants to satisfy and fulfill to over-flowing our soul with wine and milk. 

 

Is the offer of salvation really free?

Yes.  It costs us nothing.  We pay no money to enter.  We can’t earn it by being good or following a set of rules.  There is nothing we can do to get salvation through any kind of effort on our part.

 

Why do we work so hard to buy bread that doesn’t satisfy?

We are deceived.  We have chosen to believe working for something makes it better.  When we try to work or earn our salvation, we make our self to be a god saying “this is how to be saved”.  Do you think this is pleasing to God?  How prideful of us!  God made us. He is the One True God, not us.  How dare we think we know better than Him!  He has already given us the gift of salvation.  He told us where to look and who holds the key.  It’s up to us to listen.

 

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you (Isaiah 55:2-3 NKJV).

 Lord, thank you for your gift of salvation.  May we come and buy with no money the bread that satisfies.  May we reject our desires to earn our way and simply come as you have called. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.

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Peace

We all want peace, don’t we?

What exactly is peace? 

From a worldly standpoint peace means absence of war or conflict.  However, spiritual peace, right standing with God, brings a peace not dependant on earthly circumstances.  Have you found yourself in a chaotic situation, yet you were calm and undisturbed?  It was not because you didn’t care about what was happening but on the contrary you were passionate about it and yet this peace exuded from you.     If you haven’t experienced that kind of peace yet, don’t worry your turn is coming.  I remember having a very “blessed” feeling amidst the baby crying, dog barking, phone ringing while trying to have a conversation over dinner one time.  It was such a wonderful moment it still moves me to worship God every time I think about it.  That’s the serenity of the peace we’re talking about today.

 

Where do we find it?

 

Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   After explaining to His disciples the Holy Spirit would come to bring to remembrance everything He taught them, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Peace and the Holy Spirit are inseparable.

 

How do we get it?

 

Unity with the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word is a good place to start.  Listening to the Spirit’s prompting and quickly following through with whatever direction He gives will definitely be rewarded.  Paul taught our thoughts play a huge role in whether we obtain God’s peace or not in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

Did you see the connection?  Meditate on these things and do them.  There it is – obedience to God brings God’s peace.  However, we also need to be careful to obey for the right reasons.  We obey out of love for Christ.  He is the vine, we are the branches.  In Him we bear much fruit but apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

 

How’s your peace today?  If it’s running low, check back in with the Holy Spirit, ask God to help you back on the path, read God’s Word and then be quick to obey.

Lord Jesus, we are so amazed by your wonderful peace.  Thank you for all you do in us. May your Spirit continue to lead us on the path of righteousness as we seek you in obedience to your Word.  In Jesus name Amen.  

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A Comparison Part 2

 We are continuing our comparison between Jesus and humans. 

 

Jesus Human

Forgiving

Struggle to forgive, choosing to hang on to the hurt longer than we should

 

Did Jesus wait until people had there act together before He forgave them of their sin?  No He didn’t.  In some cases, He forgave them when they weren’t expecting it (Matthew 9:2, John 18:11, John 5:14). Jesus knows what we need, even when we don’t.  Forgiveness of sins sets us free to become who God intended us to be.  Jesus seemed to forgive quite easily.  Imagine hanging on a cross, nails driven into your flesh and calling out to God “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  How about us?  How easily do we forgive?  We are never asked to forgive more than we our self have been forgiven (Luke 6:37). 

 

Jesus Human

Unconditional Love

Love when it goes our way (I’ll love you if you do this or that)

 

God so loved the world He willingly sacrificed His Son to pay for our sins (John 3:16).  He did it, while we could care less about Him.  Now that’s unconditional love: doing for another with no expectation of getting anything in return.  Oh how hard it is for us to love like that.  We tend to think along the lines of “I’ll love you as long as you met my needs.”

 

Jesus Human

Secure with who He was and where He came from

Insecure, doubting and fearful

 

Jesus was secure with Himself. He was confident in who He was.  There was no doubt about what He came to do (John 13:3).  Insecurity in us is caused by our refusal to follow God’s perfect plan.  When we rebel against God we open our self up to the tricks of our enemy.  Satan’s main weapon is doubt and fear.  Our slowness to accept what God has for us causes us to doubt our purpose, our identity and our meaning which robs God’s glory.  

 

Jesus Human

Compassion for others

Occasionally care for others when it’s convenient

 

How many times does the Bible say Jesus looked on them with compassion?  Matthew 9:36, Mark 1:41, Luke 10:33 are just a few examples. He had compassion many more times as well.  The point is no matter how busy or tired Jesus was He always had compassion for others.  He focused on the bigger picture—saving souls.  How often are we compassionate towards others?  We occasionally care for others, when it is convenient to our schedules.  True compassion reaches out always.

   

Jesus Human

He is truth

Struggle to be truthful, tell “little white lies” or fail to speak the truth in love

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is truth, therefore He can not lie (Titus 1:2).  The James 1:21 teaches “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  If don’t practice the truth in our lives are deceiving our self.  What is it to deceive but to lie to our self?  We lie to our self when we don’t do what God calls us to.  We lie to others when we choose not to speak the truth in love. 

 

So why do this comparison?  If was not to injury us, but to encourage us.  These things cannot do be done without God’s grace and power.  If we attempt to do all these things in our own strength we will fail.  But Jesus hasn’t abandoned us; instead He fills us with His Spirit.  It is His Essence in us with all power and might which carries out God’s desire through us.  Jesus says follow Me.  Are you willing?

 Lord Jesus thank you for all you have done for us.  Enable us to recognize your hand in our life.  Teach us to depend on your might rather than our own efforts.  Lead us in your way.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

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Proclaim the Good News

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2 NKJV 

What is the Good News?

God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever in heaven.  But because we have a sinful nature our relationship with God has been broken.  God loved us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to mend our relationship with God.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16).  We are no longer under judgment for our sins.  We are pardoned.  We are forgiven.  We are set free from bondage of sin.  We call this Salvation (Romans 6:23).  That’s only part of the good news.  There’s more! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives those who believe in Him a new life.  It’s a second chance to do life right.  He came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). 

 

How do we proclaim it?

We start by reading God’s Word to obtain a firm understanding of what God’s done for us.  The more God’s Word is allowed in our heart, the more we become like Him.  Our life, the choices we make, and the things we think about and the words we say become godly.  Morphing into the person God created us to be, we become lights to other around us.  Obeying God’s Word and living it out means we’ll use our gifts, talents, and abilities for God’s glory.  We’ll begin serving God by what we do and the attitudes behind why we do it.  The result is serving others as we learn to walk by the spirit rather than satisfying our own selfish desires (Romans 8:4).   We do these things moment by moment and day by day.

 

Who do we proclaim it to?

We proclaim the good news to anyone who asks about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).  As we go about our business we have an eye on the look out for anyone downtrodden, hopeless and hurting.  We take special care for the widows and orphans and poor among us (James 1:27).  We come along side them, serving and helping where we can, waiting for an opportunity to share God’s love and salvation story. 

 

 Where do we proclaim it?

Anywhere we are we proclaim the good news.  We share at work as we conduct business, or at home while having dinner with our family.  It could be at school in between classes or on the soccer field while we’re playing.  We can proclaim the good news any time and any where.  Remember we live in a free country.  We are not persecuted for our faith, as in some countries.  So what’s holding us back?  People are dying for good news.  We have it, so let’s start sharing it.

 

Why do we proclaim it?

God does not want a single one to perish but all to come to Him for salvation (2 Peter 3:9).  He wants people to come to faith and trust in Jesus Christ so they will be saved.  We share the good news out of love for God and love of others.  We share out of respect for God and obedience to His commands.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go make disciples of all the nations”.   We proclaim the good news to praise God for all He’s done.  In doing so we strengthen our own convictions and help other’s faith and trust grow in God’s plan. 

 

In summary the good news is forgiveness of sin, eternal life in Christ, and a new life now.  We share the good news through obedience to God’s Word and coming along side the hurting, serving and helping them.  We proclaim the good news where ever we may be all for the glory of God. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us.  Thank you for your Word to us.  Give us the wisdom, discernment and courage to share your good news with the world around us.  May we be obedient to your Word shining your love on those around us all for your glory.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

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What Would You Die For?

Have you ever stopped to consider what you would be willing to die for?

After reading in Mark chapter 16 about the torture and death of Jesus on the cross, it got me thinking about His willingness to go through all that.

Sure, Jesus struggled, as any man would, with the idea at the garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, “Abba, Father all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36

But Jesus went through it anyway. Though it was agonizingly painful and people didn’t understand, He still did it. He did nothing to prevent God’s will. He did not try to get out of His responsibility. He held fast to His purpose – to save mankind from sin.

Why did He do this? He is God, all powerful. He could have changed time, erased the sin, or changed us so we wouldn’t sin again. Why go through this messy, painful ordeal? Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him.” What was the joy that kept Jesus on track? To accomplish God’s will to save mankind!

He did it for love. To satisfy God’s wrath over the sin you and I committed. The Just God of the Universe had to punish sin or else He wouldn’t be Just. To prove His love and great mercy towards His most priced creation, He took our place and suffered on our behalf! God did this for you and me!

Now what about you? What are you willing to die for? Would you die for any of these things?

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Possession
  • Power
  • Fame
  • A lie

I’m guessing you would answer no to these items. After all if you died you would be able to enjoy any of those things you died for, right? Seems silly doesn’t it?

People and truth are worth dying for. Jesus proved it. He died to save people. He died to reveal truth of His word. What He said would happen (and was foretold in Scripture) actually did happen.

The best part of this story is Jesus lives! He came back to life after the cross! He lives. He wants a relationship with us. He offers to live in us. He gives His Holy Spirit to anyone who believes. They become part of His family, granted the right to become children of God.

Do you want to be part of His family?

Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Lord I believe you are the Son of God. I believe the Bible is your word. Save me this moment and make me part of your family. This I pray in your name Jesus. Amen.

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Seven Examples of How Jesus Helps Me

  1. In the workplace, I received a task I knew not how to do. I sat horrified of failing, but not knowing who could help me finish the task. In desperation, I prayed, “Lord help me!” The next moment I saw my fingers typing away doing what I doing know how to do. The Holy Spirit did the work for me! God knows how!
  2. At home, my husband was installing a ceiling fan. I walked into the room to see how it was going. I noticed a flange was upside down. My pre-Christ self would have pointed it out quickly in order to save time and be more efficient.  But now I felt the Lord telling me to hold my tongue and allow my husband the opportunity to discover the upside down item on his own.  I reached up, without saying a thing, to hold the unit while he did the wiring. Guess what? He figured out the flange was upside down and fixed it on his own. Had I not yielded to the Spirit, I would have dishonored my husband, robbed him of his manhood and stolen an opportunity for him to grow. God cares about relationships!
  3. At bedtime, my young son and I read stories. One night I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open. So we prayed for God to keep me awake long enough to read to my son. Sure enough God answered that prayer. You see we read the Bible before bed every night no matter what.  It’s God’s will for children to know Him. He gave me the strength I needed to accomplish His purpose. God’s strength is like no other!
  4. Lost things can be frustrating. One very early morning my husband couldn’t find his glasses. We searched the whole house, even in the garage and in the car but still couldn’t find them.  As the tension mounted and clocked ticked closer to being late for work, I stopped and asked the Lord to help us find them. No sooner did I finish the prayer, when I saw the glasses appear on the stove! God’s help works!
  5. When I felt compelled to tithe, my husband wasn’t ready to do so. I started to tithe anyway and setup automatic deduction from my paycheck.  As the date approached for the first deduction to show up on my paystub, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell my husband what I had done. I didn’t want to do. I struggled internally for a bit but finally was obedient.  I shared my plan to tithe with my husband and why it was important to show God how much I trust him through tithing. However, he responded as I thought he would, with a big fat “No! It’s not a good time.” So I honored his decision and cancelled the automatic deduction to tithe. Less than one week later, my husband changed his mind and allowed me to start tithing!  God’s way is always best!
  6. Answered prayer is another way Jesus works in me. I have several notebooks filled with prayers and their answers. As I write out my prayers many times the answers come flowing out of my pen! These journals filled with prayers are a treasure trove of God’s faithfulness, his compassion towards me.  When I need encouragement I just read a few of these answered prayers and it always makes me smile. God is so precious!
  7. His word is a directional guide. Not only do I gain wisdom revealed in His word when I make time to read and study it, but He makes sure I get what He intends. When a particular verse stands out to me, I will encounter it three or four times throughout the day, without even trying.  It might be sung on the radio. I might read a devotion and discover the verse appears. I might hear it being taught by a radio pastor. These are clear signs He is speaking to me.  God is so personal!

 

There are many more ways Jesus helps me but these I shared because I thought they might be encouraging to you. Can you add to this list?  How specifically does Jesus help you?  Please add your own comment below.

Let the people praise Him!

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If it’s God’s Will, He Makes it Possible

Ezra discovered this truth about God, even though it took a long while to finish what he was called to do.  In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, a proclamation was put in writing to rebuild the house of God. An offering was made. All those carried away as captives into Babylon were numbered. There was 42,360 remaining who could prove their lineage.

Adversaries arose to frustrate the plans to build God’s house. These enemies were able to cause the building to cease until the 2nd year of King Darius.  But God made King Darius search the archives for King Cyrus’ decree.  Once he found it, he too allowed the building to continue.

The temple was finished in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. The children of Israel, the priests, Levites, and the rest of the descendants of captivity, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

Getting to this milestone took time.  How long we don’t know exactly.  But we do know it took all of King Cyrus’ reign and six years of Kind Darius’ reign.  This was only the first part of Ezra’s calling to fulfill God’s purposes.

As the children of Israel began following God’s laws once again, we see them offering sacrifices. The priests purified themselves and prepared the Passover Lambs.  The people who returned from captivity separated themselves from the filth of the nations in order to seek the Lord God of Israel. They kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy. The Lord strengthened their hands in the work of the house of the God.

Seven years later Ezra came to Jerusalem. Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. King Artaxeres says to Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges to judge the people who know the law of God and teach those who don’t know. Whoever won’t observe God’s law, let judgment be executed speedily. This judgment could be death, banishment, or confiscation of property or imprisonment.

Ezra took 1,754 people and priests with him. He proclaimed a fast to humble themselves before God, to seek from Him the right way for them to go. God answered his prayer.

When the Levites came to Ezra, they had not separated themselves from the land. They had married pagan women and had children born to them. To understand why this was such a big deal, we need to journey back to discover what the Levites God-given role was in the beginning.  We are not going to recount everything from the book of Leviticus, as there are twenty-seven chapters! The Levites were God’s chosen priests who were responsible to carry out the offerings; peace offering, sin offering, trespass offering. They were to be consecrated to God for this service.

The Levites who came to Ezra had defiled their God-appointed office! Ezra tore his garment, sat astonished and fasted. After a time of reflection Ezra fell on his knees and spread out his hands to God in prayer. He confessed the sins of the people. He praised God for not punishing them as they deserved. He wept bitterly.

The sons of priests came and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God and taken pagan wives. Now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and children born to them, according to the commandment of God.”  Ezra made the priests, Levites and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word.

After several days, the people came, the proclamation went out. The people came in great assembly. Ezra preached to make confession to the Lord to call the people to separate themselves from the people of this land and from the pagan wives. All the assembly answer, “Yes as you have said, so we must do!”

Ezra’s role was to remind the people of God’s ways and teach those who don’t know it yet. God used Ezra to not only rebuild the house of God, but also to restore the people’s hearts to God. The later part of Ezra’s calling is the same for us in our age.  If we know God and His words we need to share it with others that they might turn their hearts to God and be saved in Jesus’ name!

Lord, you have a plan and purpose for each of us. Help us to see it, and work with you to complete it no matter how long it takes. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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