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September 28, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Haggai
Audio: Haggai

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Ezra 1 (ESV)

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

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Next: Ezra 2

Back: 2 Chronicles 36

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Then rose up the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:5).

    Everyone Whose Spirit God Had Stirred

    In today's opening chapter of Ezra, we see the Lord at work in His people – stirring them up in their spirits to rebuild the house of the Lord. Notice the text emphasizes it was God doing the stirring up? By contrast to the church today, there is an overwhelming number of pastors who will do almost anything to stir people up (as if God needs our help).

    Everything from a well-spoken, good looking pastor with a magnetic personality to match, to teachers who omit (or explain away) the difficult (offensive) Bible verses to avoid anyone feeling uncomfortable or make them feel bad about themselves. Their focus is to draw a large crowd and hope people will start being more spiritual and do spiritual things.

    But these artificial means of reaching people fall short of actually fulfilling the Great Commission established by our Lord in Matthew 28:16-20 to "Go therefore and make disciples" of Jesus Christ and to teach them all that Christ commands. 

    Getting a reaction from someone or getting people to make a decision does not mean those who respond are born again by God's Spirit and are now "new creations" in Christ. 

    Jesus said in John 3:3, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 

    2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

    Just as a dead person can't revive themselves back to life, the spiritually dead person cannot stir within themselves a desire for God. This is a sovereign work of God. 

    Ephesians 2:1-10 says, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

    As you see in Ephesians 2:5, it is God who "made us alive together with Christ" and it is by His grace we have been saved. This is not something we did but something God initiated in us. Even our faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

    Just as Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6), He also said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:4).

    If God didn't take the initiative, no one would be saved! In Christ, God provided the means of our salvation and by His mercy and grace He has made it available to those who by faith believe in Christ for their salvation.

    When the disciples asked Jesus why He taught the crowds in parables, He said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given."

    Again, God is the one who gives. It doesn't come from us.

    The downfall of "decisional Christianity," where people are asked to say a prayer, walk an isle or "come forward" and receive Christ, is that anyone can do this and not truly be born again. Just like someone can wake up to a stranger after a night of drinking, we can make a decision for Christ and wake up the next day unchanged and continue on as the god of our lives.

    Jesus never focused on people making a decision in a moment. And He never used the blessings one receives by following Him as a reason to follow Him. His message was actually the opposite of what you "get" when you follow Jesus.

    Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-28, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

    Anyone can get caught up in a moment or believe God is "stirring" something up in them. But the truth is, our faith is invalid unless we persevere in it.

    If we are relying on a decision we made when we were a child or a prayer we prayed yesterday to save us, our understanding of what it means to be saved may need to be examined according to Scripture.

    In talking with His disciples about false teachers and their deceptive message, Jesus said, "And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:11-14). 

    Jesus also expounded the Parable of the Sower to His disciples so they would understand not only this particular parable but all other parables as well:

    "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty" (Matthew 13:19-23).

    If God has truly stirred in someone's life, it will bear fruit. Not only that, the bad fruit will be removed by God so the good fruit can multiply. If there is no fruit of the Spirit in your life (an increase of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), there is no proof the stirring you may have experienced was from God.

    Just as the Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Corinth to "Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5), we must examine ourselves as well. 

    If you have been stirred up by God and have been fruitful, be sure to continue on the narrow road that leads to life. It's not just the faith we had yesterday or the faith we have today that matters, but the faith we will have tomorrow (and a faith that continues to increase and mature throughout all the various trials and challenges we face). 

    James 1:2-4, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

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