Ezra 7:1-8:20 ~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 ~ Psalm 30:1-12 ~ Proverbs 20:28-30
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Old Testament - We have great readings in Ezra today! It is very encouraging that King Artaxerxes wrote such a strong letter of endorsement for Ezra, the priest and scribe. It made me think that government and religion can work together for good. Below is a wonderful engraving from Gustave Dore of King Artaxerxes proclaiming freedom for the Israelites from Babylon:
I found chapter 7 verses 9 & 10 intriguing: "He had left Babylon on April 8 and came to Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel." What I noticed here is that it says about Ezra - "the gracious hand of his God was on him." And why was this? "Because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the Lord AND to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel." Ezra was living his life not just for himself. He was committed to studying God's law and teaching it to those around him. And thus, the gracious hand of God was on him. And this just makes me wonder about our lives today. Are we committed to studying God's Word, the Bible, and then teaching it to those around us? Are we like Ezra in any way? Should we be? Below is an image from a 14th century illuminated Bible of Ezra teaching the law:
New Testament - Allright... so Paul has a little bit of scolding for the church in Corinth in our readings today! Perhaps we would do well to listen to some of this scolding today too? Verse 5 is powerful for us to consider: "So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due." I think far too often we ourselves try to judge others - saying that someone is wholly righteous or that someone is a doomed sinner. Neither this excessive praise nor condemnation is ours to give. It is only for God. God is the judge. We are not. So be careful not to jump to conclusions about someone else...
If you blinked, you just might have missed verse 20 today - "For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God's power." Great stuff! I am afraid that sometimes we do indeed reduce the Kingdom of God and living out our faith to just fancy talk. We sometimes talk a lot, but we do not practice what we preach. Rather than focusing on our fancy talk, how about if we simply live by God's power? It's a revolutionary idea! :)
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Follow the Leader" is at this link.
Psalms - Today in Psalm 30 verses 4 through 5 we read: “Sing to the Lord; you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” How does this verse speak to you? Do you believe that God’s anger can last only a moment, but his favor last a lifetime? If you are weeping now in some area of your life, do you believe that God can bring rejoicing to you? Will you pray to God to grant you favor in this life and in life everlasting? Will you pray to God to heal any situation that you are weeping over today, and to bring you rejoicing tomorrow? Do you look forward to this rejoicing that will allow you to sing to the Lord as a saint and to praise his holy name?
Proverbs - I love Proverbs 20 verse 29 today! "The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old." I think the beauty of this Proverb is to show that there are unique values & contributions we can make both when we are young and when we are old. When we are young we are full of strength. We can do much and with much energy. However, when we are young, we do not have much experience, so we will likely make some mistakes in our youthful zeal. When we are older, we are blessed with experience. So that when we act, we act wisely. We know how to spend our time and what type of activities are important. We don't have the strength perhaps that we had when we were younger. We may not be able to do as much with as much energy. But the experience focuses us, such that we can prioritize what we do. Whether you are young or old, are you utilizing your strength or your experience for Kingdom purposes? Are you spending your time on things that have eternal value rather than things that are fleeting and temporal? How are you using your strength and experience for God this very day?
Worship God: Chris Tomlin songs seem to be on my mind this week. First Corinthians chapter 4 verse 20 reminded me of Chris' song "Enough." I ended up finding this great YouTube clip below of Chris and Louie Giglio being interviewed on how "Enough" was written (and Chris plays the song around the 3 minute mark):
Is God enough for you? Click here for more than enough!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. " Psalm 30:4-5 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray for rejoicing in your life, if you are going through a dark night of the soul. Pray for the morning. Pray in thanksgiving that God's favor lasts a lifetime for those who love Him. Praise His holy name!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!