Tuesday, September 30: Esther 6- God at work.

You can either believe the timing in this story is a coincidence or it is a God-incidence. There is really no way to convince a person about this one way or the other. It comes down to your beliefs.

I believe this story is filled with God-incidents. I believe the Lord is orchestrating things to work out to His end, which is to save His people. And I love the way God works quietly. God works and we give Him the praise.

Rather than leave this morning’s time with the Lord in the ancient world, I pushed the channel button in my mind and began thinking about my life and the many God-incidents in my life.

·         Meeting and connecting and eventually marrying my wife.

·         The amazing way God opened the doors to my work in Nigeria.

·         My life transition from engineering to pastoral ministry.

·         My coming to faith… all of the God-incidents along the path to belief.

On and on my mind floated from one God-incident in my life to another. I am thankful for each one. They have changed my life and my focus.

God is at work and it is good to pause and recognize His work.

I am so thankful I worship and serve the God of the universe, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit revealed in the Bible the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments!

I pray you know the Lord, too. If you have questions about God drop me a comment or email…

Lord, as I walk today, please open my eyes to Your workings in the world. Help me to see and hear even a few of the ways You are active in the circle of life I will move in today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, September 29: Esther 5- There comes a time to step out in faith.

I love the way this chapter opens. On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance (1).

Esther steps out in faith. She has fasted and prayed. She had friends fast and pray. And when the 3-day fast was over she went to the king…

Sometimes people are debilitated from stepping out in faith. Esther knew she had to pray and because of the gravity of the situation she knew she needed more that a brief prayer. But having set and completed her time of prayer and fasting, she acted.

Esther had wisdom to pray and the faith to act!

God needs us to have both in order to advance His kingdom.

I heard the whisper of God asking me (and likely you as well), “Do you have both wisdom and faith? Wisdom to know you need Me and faith to step out once you have sought Me?”

My observation is that most of us usually struggle with one side of this coin more than the other. A-type decisive people are often good at acting, but sometimes lack the wisdom to seek the Lord first in prayer and listening for His voice. Intercessor types can pray and pray but sometime seem to lack the faith to launch.

For the rest of your time with the Lord today, talk with Him about your tendencies and ask Him to strengthen your weakest characteristic…

Lord Jesus, Father and Spirit, help me to grow in prayer… in intentional listening and discernment so that my decisiveness will lead to kingdom expansion and growth. For Your honor and glory I live. Amen.



Saturday, September 27: Esther 4- Waiting.

Esther, Mordecai and the Jews enter an extreme fast, no food or drink for 3 days.

I thought, extreme situations call for extreme responses.

In this case Esther was requesting prayer that the king grant her audience and respond to her need. And the second half of her need was certainly a reach. Haman, the number two official in the land, had already secured the king’s ‘yes’ for exterminating the Jews.

So many fasted and prayed.

Will God answer?

We are left hanging for now.

So much of life is lived in the ‘hanging position.” We pray, we petition God about something and then we wait to see how God will respond. God responds. Question is will His response be ‘Yes or No’?

Waiting, trusting, and believing God knows best can be difficult and is much of life. And the waiting is what I might call ‘active’ waiting. It is not ‘acquiescing and giving in’ waiting. It is ‘actively seeking and listening’ waiting.

During those times of waiting, our faith is truly tested. Will we trust no matter the answer and outcome the Lord sends?

Lord, grant me faith in my waiting and a heart that seeks after You. Blessed be Your name. Amen.


Friday, September 26: Esther 3- Ugly Prejudice.

I have so many thoughts reading this chapter.

How wicked we humans can be. I get that Haman was offended by Mordecai’s behavior. In fact Haman may have been right in his offense at Mordecai, but to brood to the point where it turns it into hatred for Mordecai’s people… now it is a very bad thing.

This is the stuff of racial and cultural hatred we have seen far too often in our world. Too often we see something we don’t like and extrapolate negatively…

Recently I watched part of the movie ‘American History X’. It is a rough movie with foul language and some very horrible situations and scenes. The underlying premise, however, is powerful. Young impressionable white people are sold many half-truths by a manipulating adult leading them into what I would call a ‘Neo-Nazi Cult’ that hates blacks and other groups. The rising star of the group commits a heinous crime and goes to jail. What he experiences there unravels the lies he has been fed and he begins to see where he has been duped.

I can’t call it a redemptive movie. I wouldn’t even recommend it, but it certainly caused me to think… think about the way we can stereotype people and the bad, evil and sin that can grow within us. Haman nurtured this kind of hatred and used his power and influence to destroy the Jews in Persia.

I find myself driven to prayer that I check the “Haman” within me…

Oh, Lord God, I could be Haman. I don’t like to admit this. But the seeds of superiority, mistrust and racial bias are in me, too. Left unchecked, the selfish ego-centric parts of me could run rampant over Your spirit and grace. a I, too, could let hurt, non-understanding and hatred for one or a few expand into hatred for a class, type, or race of people.

Lord, in moments like this I realize how much I need You. Your love, grace and spirit is the only thing that keeps me from devolving into a mess.

I fall before You, praising and thanking You for Your salvation and reclamation of my life.

I offer myself anew to You. Amen.


Thursday, September 25: Esther 2- Be faithful in little things.

Reading Esther is like reading a short story. The narrative flows chapter into chapter.

In today’s chapter Esther wins the beauty contest and becomes queen.  Mordecai saves the king’s life by reporting a plot to kill the king to the king.

Since there were no particular ‘God-moments’, I sat and pondered. What might God say to me? What is my faith-building nugget for today?

The thought came… little things. Be faithful in little things.

Esther followed the instruction of her uncle and guardian Mordecai as a young adult in the ‘beauty pageant’ even as she had done all of her life. Then she followed the advice of the head eunuch during the contest. Esther was faithful in little things…

Today ads run on TV and radio regularly, “see something, say something.” That’s what Mordecai did. Mordecai over heard a threatening conversation between two of the king’s workers and he chose to report it. He could have passed it off as nothing or said I don’t want to get involved. However, he did the right thing and the king’s life was saved.

Doing little things rightly and correctly builds a foundation to do bigger things rightly and correctly.

Esther and Mordecai are building foundations… the thought emerged within me. Am I building a strong life foundation by doing the little things of life rightly and correctly according to God’s Word and the leading of God’s Spirit?

Lord, for You I live and most of life is filled with little things. A kind word here. An honest behavior there. Lord, I want to build a strong life foundation by doing these ‘little things’ to Your honor and glory. Amen.


Wednesday, September 24: Esther 1- There is always a back-story.

It may not be obvious, but God is working His plan. God can and does use people who do not believe in Him in the working out of His plan. The entire incident of chapter one sets up the rest of the story in which the people of Israel, God’s people, are saved.

At the time the Israelites would have had no idea that God was at work, but He was.

This reminds me that in the headlines of today, God is at work. It may not be obvious to me how God is working or what ‘angle’ God is working, but He is.

Good times or bad times, God is working.

Roman’s Pax Romana, an unprecedented time of peace with wonderful roads and shipping lanes turned out to be the time of the Messiah. Pax Romana allowed the Word of God to spread with incredible speed and agility. God was at work!

A guy named Saul stood approvingly as Stephen became the first Christian martyr. This terrible event launched the church into mission and very likely Stephen’s prayer for Saul was instrumental in Saul’s eventual conversion.

The inventing of the printing press, the German reformation, on and on the pages of history show that God is at work... working His plan that all may know He is Lord.

God is at work today. We may not understand how or where but He is at work.

Trust God … pray for His kingdom advance … seek to live faithfully every day.

Lord, may I have eyes to see, ears to hear and most importantly a heart to believe and follow You every day. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, September 23: Nehemiah 13- How quickly people degenerate from God's ways .

The time line in this chapter is not clear, but it was within Nehemiah’s lifetime. Maybe it was five or ten years. I don’t know. Whatever the time frame Israel, without Nehemiah, quickly slid from faithfully following the Lord to many indiscretions and infractions of the Law.

I thought, ‘how quickly we can slip away from faithfulness.’

For me combatting this ever-present drift away from the Lord and His ways requires constant diligence. Reading God’s Word, thinking about His Word, examining and measuring my life according to God’s Word are some of the important habits I need to maintain to keep my life in line with the Lord’s Word and Will.

How about you? What do you do to maintain faithfulness with the Lord?

Think about it…

Keep me close, Oh Lord, that I may not drift from You. Keep me true, Oh Lord, that I may remain faithful to You. This is my prayer… In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, September 22: Nehemiah 12- Time to celebrate.

It is good to celebrate God’s goodness! The walls were finished and Nehemiah arranged for an elaborate celebration. He even made sure Levites from outside of Jerusalem came, amassing a great choir. There was marching and songs and praise. How wonderful and glorious it must have been.

Celebrating God’s goodness is a very good thing! And who better to celebrate than the God who enabled them to complete the task… Alleluia.

Sometimes I can be too practical, too frugal, too plain. Appropriate celebration of the Lord is wonderful. God deserves it.

We host a mini-celebration every week. Most Christians call it worship!

We also celebrate Jesus’ incarnation (Christmas) and His resurrection (Easter)! Glorious!!!

God is so good. Today’s reading has me contemplating times, seasons and ways to celebrate the goodness and greatness of our God…

God is worthy of celebration and praise… Alleluia!

Praise the name of Jesus. Praise the name of Jesus. He’s my rock. He’s my fortress He’s my deliverer in Him will I trust…

All glory laud and honor to thee Redeemer king…

Oh, Lord, how great You are… may Your praises never cease to be on my lips…

Alleluia. Amen.


Saturday, September 20: Nehemiah 11- Sacrifice.

What’s the big deal, I asked myself as the chapter began? What’s the issue living in Jerusalem? Isn’t it “God’s City?” Isn’t the temple there? Yes and yes. But the temple is newly rebuilt (and not very grand by former standards) and the walls and gates have just been rebuilt. I had to think about this for a few moments and do some outside reading.

The temple, walls and gates may be newly rebuilt, but it is very likely that the rest of the city, including the infrastructure of the city, is probably still a shambles. Add to this that you have no land. So how do you provide for your family?

Sometimes faithfulness requires great sacrifice.

What is God asking of me (you)? Are you willing to say ‘yes’, no matter what God may be asking of you???

Think about it…

Abraham, Jonah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Mary, Peter, Paul, and Stephen… Lord. God, You required a great deal from each of them and each said, “Yes, Lord. I am Yours.” May I answer Your call the same way. Amen.


Friday, September 19: Nehemiah 10- Rededication.

There is nothing new as far as the law and the things the people are to do. What is new is that these people are rededicating their lives to do what God would have them do.

A new day, a new move of God, the start of a New Year or new life season, these are all appropriate times for rededication to the Lord.

I found it interesting that this rededication was highly specific. People knew exactly what they were signing on to do. I also found it fascinating that a number of the rededication points had to do with money. The shekel offering; the giving of first fruits of crops and trees; offering for firstborn of sons and cattle; the firsts of ground meal, grain, new wine, trees and olive oil to the storehouse; and tithes to the Levites in the towns. That’s a lot of offerings.

Reading all of the dedications, and particularly all these financial/monetary aspects, I realized we are not dedicating ourselves to the Lord if we are not offering our finances.

Too often I separate, or at least make a distinction, between offering myself and my money and this it seems is a distinction the Lord does not make…

The words of the old song goes: All to Jesus I surrender all to him I freely give…

All means ‘all’, including my money, comforts, and the like. All means ALL.

Wow, I have enough to chew on here for more than today…

Oh, Lord, very practical, very real, VERY hard-hitting… may I embrace this and all it likely means and not slough it off and dismiss it. Amen


Thursday, September 18: Nehemiah 9- Feasting on the Word.

According to the text, this is the 24th day of the month. It seems like they have been reading and praying since the first of the month. Reading of the law has brought them to confession. Verse 2-3: ...They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.

I am blown away. Never in all my years have I witnessed and being a part of a move like this one, where word, prayer, confession consume a group of God’s people.



Being in the presence of God reveals our need and our brokenness.

As they recounted the history of Israel, the reality of our human brokenness is apparent. Over and over again the people fail. What was true then is true today.

We constantly need God. We constantly fail to live up to God’s intentions. We constantly need infusions of God’s grace.

And God gives it to us time and time again.

It was before the God of the universe that they stood and read and confessed and read and confessed all the more.

Lord, God, as I read I am drawn to confess… my lack, my shortcomings, my failures and sins. You alone are perfect. I am filled with imperfections and everyday some leak out;

In the way I speak to others,

In the thoughts I have about others

In my selfish attitudes

In my …

Lord, forgive me for I have sinned against You and others. I fall upon Your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.



Wednesday, September 17: Nehemiah 8- Listening to the word.

What an incredible day. I found myself straining to picture it. Thousands of people gathering to hear God’s Word read. They have been starved for this Word. For some it may have been the first time they heard it. And it was being read in the safety of their own walled city with the sacrifices of their Temple in full swing. What a glorious day.

Not only was the Word read, but Levites were explaining the Word to the people. Verse 8 paints the picture well. They [Levites} read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

I thought this was a great picture of what should happen in churches every week… those reading God’s Word making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

This is how we learn about God!

I loved the people’s response. They stood when the Word was read. They wept… emotion flowed from them. They were hearing from their God! On day two they heard and then went out and literally did what the Word said (vv. 13-17)!

The spirit of the Lord spoke to me at this point. “Bill, do you respond and do My Word as Nehemiah’s people did? With joy, wonder and delight?”

I am not sure I do… This drove me to prayer.

Lord, God, maker of heaven and earth, joy of my life and Savior of my soul, I pray for ‘child like’ faith and obedience of these people. Their delight these days was contagious. Lord, I would like to taste this… to delight so innocently in You that I might weep, or laugh! That I would, by instinct, stand in the presence of Your Word and thus honor You.

This, Lord ,is my prayer… prayed in the perfect name of Jesus my Lord and Savior. Amen.


Tuesday, September 16: Nehemiah 7- characteristics of a Leader.

When you are talking about work for the Lord, kingdom building work, what is the measure of a person one wants in a leadership position? Certainly you want a person with the gifts and abilities suited to the particular position. But what about the person’s character?

Character matters, particularly in the things of God. Nehemiah faced this situation and here is what he looked for.

Verse 2: I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.

A man of integrity and feared God more than most… that pretty much sums up the character issue for kingdom leadership.

Integrity… am I (are you) a person who is the same no matter who is looking and even when no one is looking? And is that person one who is honorable, loyal and a person of his/her word?

Fear God…am I (are you) a person who is willing to be weighed and measured by the standards God sets in the Scriptures? Does God’s voice, God’s ways, and God’s laws hold sway over you and your decision making more than the ways, voice and customs of the people around you?

These are two character traits God is looking for in His people, and especially in His leaders.

Think about it…

Lord, often my morning prayers are requests for You to mold and shape me into the person You would want me to be. Today is no different. Integrity and fear of You… traits You honor. Traits You delight in. Traits I ask You to build and mold into me. Have Your way in my life. Groom me to be the leader, pastor, person, husband, father You delight in me to be. And Lord, may I be that person for Your honor, glory and the advancement of Your name here on earth. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Monday, September 15: Nehemiah 6- Continued opposition; discernment needed.

Nehemiah’s account reminds me that there will be continued opposition to the work of God right up to its completion.

I wrote last Friday that no good work, no work of God, goes on without opposition. God has an enemy, the Devil, and his sole purpose is to disrupt the works of God. The opposition Nehemiah felt and the opposition people of God today feel is spurred by the evil one.

Completing God’s work is not about weathering one storm but weathering the storms sent by God’s enemy. Nehemiah understood this and he kept a close connection with the Lord, discerning what was from the Lord and what was not!

God’s Word to me this morning is that discernment is continually necessary. I (we) must constantly be seeking the Lord and asking Him about the source of thoughts, oppositions, ideas. Discernment is key. And for me knowing God’s Word and having trusted wise friends and counsel are key in discernment.

I need to hear God’s voice, which I know is always clear in His Word and I need the voice of friends to make sure I am hearing God’s Word and Spirit correctly and that my flesh isn’t getting in the way…

Think about it…

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. It is hard and challenging many times but it is ALWAYS truthful and ALWAYS correct. Thank You for the gift of Your Word.

Lord, help me to take it in and to build my life upon it. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, September 13: Nehemiah 5-.


When you start a new job, there are always issues that pop up that you could never anticipate. Such is Nehemiah’s lot in today’s reading. He was sent to rebuild the walls, and now he finds that the rich are exploiting the poor by charging interest. People cry out to him and Nehemiah listens and solves the crisis.

Had he not, his main mission could easily have ground to a halt.

Sometimes to complete our main issue, we have to handle side issues. What I love about Nehemiah is that he takes things in stride and doesn’t allow himself to get pushed off kilter when surprises arise.

Nehemiah is a tremendous model for a godly person who understands how to bring faith into her/his work world…

Lord, Nehemiah never looses sight of his faith and the way You want things to run. He keeps his focus on You even as he leads and guides people to accomplish goals.

Lord, I pray that I learn managing others well according to Your way of doing life. In Jesus’ nam, I pray. Amen.



Friday, September 12: Nehemiah 4- Opposition will come.

No great task is easily accomplished. All kinds of oppositions, distractions, and discouragements will arise. Some may be intentionally planned by people who want us to fail. Others issues will pop up, issues we didn’t foresee. Life is like that.

The question is not “will difficulties come?” The question is, “will we have the wisdom and fortitude to deal with them when they do come?”

This is especially true when it comes to things of God’s kingdom and the church. God has an enemy, the Devil, who will try to derail and thwart the advance of God’s kingdom at every turn. When we believe God has called us to some task, great or small, we best buckle on God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) and pray for the wisdom and fortitude to deal with whatever will come our way to get us off track or discouraged (Nehemiah 4).

The work of God is a great and noble task, but it is not for the feint of heart. We will be tested. Our metal and our resolve will be tested. Despite this, as we cling to the Lord’s call, we will prevail. God’s plan and purposes, that is, will prevail as we remain connected to the Lord and labor through with His call.

Nehemiah knew this was a work of God, so he kept to the goal even as he adjusted his plan. There is a Word from the Lord here for every Christ follower.

Think about it.

Lord, God, my heart cries, “Give me the fortitude of Nehemiah! Give me the wisdom of Nehemiah! Give me the strength and the sense of call of Nehemiah. Hone my heart to be fortified with iron so that I stay YOUR course in my life, come what may.

Lord, pour me out as a drink offering for Your work and kingdom, I pray, if that best suits Your will. Put me on the front line where the danger is the greatest or put me in the back in some menial task that serves You and Your way best.

Lord, help it to matter to me only that I am serving You, as You ask. I pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.



Thursday, September 11: Nehemiah 3- Too good to work.

I was struck by verse 5: The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. In the entire chapter this was the only reference to people who would NOT work.

The nobles from Tekoa would not put their shoulders to the work. “Really,” I thought. “Are you too “good” to work?”

Everyone else is working to build the walls and gates of Jerusalem, but these men won’t join in.

Just the thought of this set me teeth on edge. I cannot image this! Why would they not help?

I thought of Paul’s comment, knowledge puffs up but love builds up (1Cor 8:1). This may not be knowledge but it certainly is privilege and I believe privilege puffs up, too.

The corrective Paul notes in 1Corinthians is love. Did these nobles not love the brethren or love Jerusalem? That’s what I think must be the case.

And that is something I don’t want to be or become… so puffed up that I can’t help move God’s kingdom ahead, no matter the task at hand!

Lord, protect me from becoming puffed up. Better, Lord, help me major in love… love in action. Love in action in practical helpful ways. Please, Lord, fill me with true love for You and for Your family and for Your Church. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, September 10: Nehemiah 2- Faith and life do mix!.

Reading this chapter I am reminded why so many business people I know appreciate the books of Ezra and especially Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s story is that of a business-minded, goal driven person accomplishing the task he has in mind.

What caught my eye this morning was the mix of ‘get-things-done’ savvy and prayerful ‘ask-God-for-strength-&-wisdom’ dependence on God. This is a mix I don’t often see running together.

Get-things-done savvy: Nehemiah’s ability to articulate what he needs for the job. He sets a timetable to return and then assesses the situation in Jerusalem before he tells others his task. He is a man who understands what needs to happen. Little surprise that he has risen to cupbearer for the king, a highly trusted position.

Prayerful-ask-God-for-strength-&-wisdom dependence on God: In the last chapter the way he fell before the Lord in prayer and fasting.   Then in today’s, the way he prayed before answering the king. The way the text records it makes it sound as if this is a natural response by Nehemiah. As if this was his very nature and habit… The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven (4)….

I find this mix of faithful connection with the Lord and ‘get things done’ attitude so refreshing. It confirms to me that one can have a deep living faith in Jesus and work effectively in the business world.

Faith and life do mix!

I know that but it is great to see it again affirmed in God’s Word!

Lord, help me to live faithfully in this world… in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, September 9: Nehemiah 1- A broken heart.

God moves people to action in various ways. In Nehemiah’s case God broke his heart.

Nehemiah’s heart longed for his people and his city Jerusalem. As a man of the Word, he understood the exile as God’s punishment for sin. He also knew God would receive back after a time of punishment, so he kept himself informed about how the returning remnant was doing in Jerusalem.

The day came when his heart broke… When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven (4). Through prayer God unleashed a servant, the right person at the right time.

One of the ways God prepares us for action is when our heart breaks for the things that break God’s heart.

The heart of a Christ-follower broken over an injustice, broken for a people-group, broken for the lost, is a powerful tool in the hands of Almighty God.

In Nehemiah’s case, his broken heart led him to a first action of prayer and fasting. It occurs to me that there is great wisdom here. Rather than jumping in with all the strength he could muster, Nehemiah prays. And from this position of humility and submission God gives both an assignment and empowerment for the assignment. No longer will Nehemiah be operating in his strength. Now he has the strength and wisdom of God to attend to the issue of Jerusalem and His people.

A heart broken with the things that break the heart of God, plus humility to go first to God for wisdom and strength, is a MOST powerful tool in the hand of God.

Is your heart breaking??

Lord, break my heart… break me with the things that break Your heart. But also, Lord, break me. Break me lest I think I can do something about the problem. Break me so that I realize that only in You will I be able to act in a way that affects the problem in a God honoring manner and for a God honoring result.

Break my heart, Oh God, and break me in the process, I pray through Christ, my Lord. Amen.


Monday, September 8: Ezra 10- Calling it like it is.

Wow, Ezra laid it straight on the table. He didn’t mince words or soften the blow in any way. “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives” (10-11).

It is both sad and refreshing to read these words. Sad because the people had failed God mightily. Refreshing because a leader stood up and said so…

And Ezra’s words put in motion a move of repentance, a difficult move of repentance!

As a leader I know the pressures that truthfulness like Ezra’s took calls for.

I am not so sure that I have always been so straightforward and truthful…

Forgive me, Lord, if I have fallen short of prophetic truthfulness in my role as pastor. Moving forward give me the heart and courage of Ezra, should I need to speak to issues of sin… and, Lord, keep me from speaking until I have come under the full weight of Your scrutiny first. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


I also know the incredible ability we humans have for justifying our actions, our actions that sin against the Lord. Just look at my denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA; it is one of a number of denominations that are turning their back on the plain meaning of Scripture and millennia of orthodox teaching. Oh, that our denominational officials would call us to repentance rather than lead the charge away from God’s Wword.

Lord, we need an Ezra today. Someone in denominational leadership to stand up and call the church to repentance before You. Send us, Lord, an Ezra for today. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, September 6: Ezra 9- Facing our sin.

Ezra the priest is confronted with a new issue. The people have not been faithful. They have married women of different faiths in direct disobedience to the Lord.

It is never easy to face our sin. Ezra has to do it and he will have to lead the people to do it as well.

It is Saturday night. Tomorrow is worship and as a first Sunday of the month, tomorrow will be communion too. And it is a good habit to spend time prior to worship facing myself honestly… taking time in self-examination and confession where my self-examination leads me.

Search me and know me, Oh, God. See if there is any wickedness in me and purge the wickedness from me. I pray this, Lord, so that I might be an apt ambassador for You in all I say and all I do…

Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Friday, September 5: Ezra 8- Fasting as second resort.

I often imagine certain Bible characters as perfect men or women, somehow less human and more godly than those of us who walk the earth today. And generally these inclinations turn out to be false. The men and women of the Bible come off the pages of the Bible as a mixed bag, just like us.

Today I had one of those glimpses of Ezra. He chose prayer and fasting as a second resort, not a first resort, yet the Lord still came through. Check out verses 21-23:

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra called for a fast because he was ashamed to ask the king for a security detail. Think about that… “God, I don’t want to go to the king, so I will come to You. Help us. Protect us!...” Not the picture of faith that I expected. And still he did turn to the Lord and God did protect.

We are people of mixed motives and we don’t always get to faith and trust in the Lord via a straight line. It seems God’s concern is that we get there, the path apparently is less important than the destination.

Trust God… He will be there for You.

Think about it.

Lord Jesus, I think back to the many times over my life You have showed up in wonderful ways. Sometimes in a surprise or miracle or a friend’s words or a letter in the mail. I sit this morning in the quiet, delighting in the truth that You are with me and have been for years and years. I love You, Lord. And I am so blessed to be part of Your family. Amen.



Thursday, September 4: Ezra 7- Pedigree and diligence.

The author goes to great lengths to show Ezra’s lineage as a member of the priestly by naming his ancestors all the way back to Aaron. Ezra was blessed with his bloodline, a gift to him from birth, which he did not earn in any way.

I began thinking. We all have certain gifts from God, given at birth. It might be ancestry or intelligence or specific talents or certain personality traits, you name it. Question is… what will we do with the gifts God gave us?

Ezra made the most of his ancestry. Ezra knew what being a priest meant so he devoted himself to the Word. Verse 10 tells us, 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. It doesn’t say Ezra was smart; it says he devoted himself to study… Ezra took the time and gave his heart and soul to prepare for the priestly work, which was his birthright. He didn’t sit on his haunches and live off the priestly silver-spoon in his mouth. He developed himself, through hard work and devotion.

I flipped back to thoughts about gifts given by God at birth.  Am I developing (are you) and devoting myself to using them for God’s glory? Have I honed them with the devotion of Ezra, who honed his ability to teach the Word?

This summer I went on a mission trip with others. I watched a corporate CEO, a therapist, a computer specialist and a mechanic/jack of all trades use the gifts they had been given for the glory of God in ways unique to their gifting’s. Gifting each had honed over a lifetime…

Two final thoughts for me (and readers):

1) Are you devoting yourself to honing and developing the gifts God has given you?

2) Are you using them for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom?

Think about it.

Lord, You have given all of us talents. We can bury them in the sand or put them to work earning kingdom fruit. Help us to do the latter so that at the end of things we will hear You speak, “Well done good and faithful servant….” Amen.


Wednesday, September 3: Ezra 6- God comes through.

One great theme of the OT is repeated again. God comes through. When things seemed darkest and the work on the temple was halted… God comes through, confirming the word He had spoken to them. God comes through. His will is accomplished. His word is upheld. And all things are accomplished in a way that increases the faith of the people and the honor of the Lord.

My thoughts flip to one of the great NT themes, God’s saving message of faith in Jesus Christ reaching the ends of the earth. Here, too, God will come through. God will confirm His word by accomplishing this task. It will happen.

Question is, “Will I take part in the advance of God’s name around the globe or not?” Will I give my service to the King by working to advance God’s cause? Will I be numbered with those who labor for God’s cause?

God saw to it that the temple was rebuilt, but it took the labor of all the repatriated Israelites to accomplish God’s feat. Likewise, will I be part of God’s labor force extending His name to the ends of the earth?

Will you?

I bow today and rededicate myself to Your cause, the advance of Your name, Your ideals, Your will and Your ways to the ends of the earth. Amen.



Tuesday, September 2: Ezra 5- Honest with ourselves.

The people of God’s honesty about their past impressed me. When queried about building the temple and who authorized them, they gave a fair and honest answer, which began like this:

 “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon (11-12).

It was the second sentence that got me. They were upfront and honest about their past.

I generally don’t like admitting my failures, and sins. I am embarrassed and disappointed with myself and I’d rather look forward. Given their situation, I would likely have left out the sin and angering God part and gone right to the part about Cyrus sending them to rebuild.

I wondered and meditated on what I just wrote. Am I trying to hide my real self from myself? Am I trying to put on airs about my “goodness?” I am not exactly sure and more time will need to be spent examining my inner self.

One realization I did have is that I might be hiding from myself, and other people, the grace God has poured over me. God’s grace took the sinner that I was and redeemed him. God’s grace forgave my sins. God’s grace made me new. And God’s grace continues to do all these things because I am far from perfect. And if I hide from myself who I was, I am missing the wonder of God’s grace…

Grace, grace, God's grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God's grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Lord God, thank You for all of Your grace; grace that continually flows into my life. Thank You, Lord. Amen.


Monday, September 1: Ezra 4- Opposition with arise.

Yesterday God spoke to me about priorities and prioritizing worship and devotion of the Lord as foundational to all of life.

Today God built on that theme, reminding me that all kinds of opposition will arise trying to distract me (and you) from our devotion and service to our God.

First the Israelites opponents tried trickery in order to water down the efforts of rebuilding the temple. Sometimes my most difficult opposition comes from within. Warring factions of my life saying, ‘Do this, no do this, no do this’… each trying to keep my eyes and efforts off the prize of being with my God.

Then they tried discouragement. It is easy to look at the Bible and think; I will never read all of this! And so many of the stories, especially in the OT, I mean how do they apply to my life today? And so on, discouragement grows and many give in and stop attending to the Word of God, the entire Word of God.

Finally out right opposition. Phone calls, distractions, early mornings, late evenings… our lifestyle can get in the way of offering the Lord quality time each day to be with Him.

Any of these and many other difficulties will surface, working to keep us from the priority of personal devotion, worship, prayer and service… don’t let it. Stand against it and keep to your priority of making your relationship with the Lord #1 in your life.

This is what the Lord spoke to me about this morning…

Think about it.

Ok, Lord, I am in. I know it will be a struggle, but I commit my heart and mind and will and soul to following You, and You alone.  Please come to my aid when I am weak. And don’t allow me to get to heady when I am encountering an easier time with less opposition. And Lord, keep reminding me so that I stay the course all my life until I am with You in glory! Halleluiah. Amen.