The story of the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem that began in Ezra, continues uninterrupted in Nehemiah. When the book of Nehemiah opens, about thirteen years have passed since the issue of intermarrying was dealt with. Three distinct phases of the people’s return are covered by Ezra and Nehemiah. The first is the rebuilding of the temple. The second is the rebuilding of the spiritual community, and the third—which Nehemiah will chronicle—is the rebuilding of the city walls. In all three of theses phases, God’s grace is evident.
When we are into the Word of God and dedicated to living according to what God commands and expects, then we cannot help but have we character shaped by it. When we character is shaped in that manner, then we thoughts and deeds reflect it. Not only that, but when we are committed to living out the Word of God, then the Lord is pleased with that. If we commit to living out the Word of God, like Ezra did, we will be shaped by it and others will notice it shaping our character.
538 B.C. A monumental year for the Jews. It was the year that Cyrus proclaimed permission for them to return to the Promised Land. But, the trap that they fell into quite quickly was taking care of themselves and neglecting the main purpose for returning home.
Sometimes, just like this remnant, we need to be reminded to get on with the things of the church. The work the remnant was doing was very practical in nature, yet they had to be prodded to get on with it. Congregations require the occasional prodding and reminding that, besides our main focus of making disciples, there are practical duties that need to be done.
God is faithful to his word. What he says he will do, he does. What he says will come to pass, always comes to pass. It is his nature. He is truth, and He does not lie. He is faithful and his promises and his warnings will be fulfilled exactly as he states them. Just as the people of Judah could not be surprised, neither should we be surprised when the Lord takes action in response to our sinful ways. God doesn’t spare his own people. He is as just with them as he is with those who do not know him. We fool only ourselves if we believe that God will go easier on us because we believe in his Son.
Pastor John begins a series on the book of Ezra
Upon first reading, it seems bold to us that Habakkuk would demand an answer from the Lord in such strong words, but we should keep in mind that this is part of an authorized oracle from the Lord. It is the structure that the Lord is using to get His message across, because even though it is a conversation between Habakkuk and God, we are listening in and learning about God’s ways.
The story of the Prodigal Son is one of the best-known of Jesus' parables. Each of the characters in it represents some deeper aspects of the kingdom of God. So, we will look at each of the three main characters—the younger son, the father, and the brother—to see what lessons we can learn in the telling.
If you are running a 1500 metre race, or a marathon, or a cross-country steeple chase, you must run the same course. You cannot make up your own race route, because if you want to win at the end, you must run the designated course. The same is true with our lives. So, how will your race be run?
“If I could ask God one thing, I would ask...."
Why did you create the world if you knew it would turn out to be a fallen world; that sin and sickness and death would come?
Does God need me/us? Why does he use me/us if he does not need me/us?