Daily Devotionals

When to Trust God

When to Trust God

We had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him.” (Ezra 8:22)   A FRIEND AND HIS FAMILY returned from the mission field, where they had lived in a remote region. His son became sick and doctors determined he needed to have his...
Serving Courageously

Serving Courageously

Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage. (Ezra 7:28)   THE MOTION PICTURE Chariots of Fire won four Oscars in 1981. It tells the story of Eric Liddell, who was favored to win the 100-meter race in the 1924 Olympics. However, when he learned the...
Rejoicing in Your Spirit

Rejoicing in Your Spirit

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:46–47)   PUT YOURSELF IN MARY’S SANDALS. An angel of the Lord appears and gives you the best and worst news of your life. The angel says, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Excellent news. He...
All I Want for Christmas

All I Want for Christmas

The king had granted him everything he asked. (Ezra 7:6)   Remember the old Sears catalog? Beginning in 1888, Richard Sears used a printed mailer to advertise watches and jewelry. Over the next few years, the catalog grew, expanding beyond watches and jewelry to...
Praise for Heaviness

Praise for Heaviness

I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Ps. 108:3–4)   ANXIETY CRIPPLED MY HEART when I checked our bank account one morning. We had to pay a bill that day, but we didn’t even have...
Won’t He Do It?

Won’t He Do It?

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. (Matt. 2:17)   MY LITTLE GIRL is currently obsessed with the Disney movie Moana. The premise is that a young girl is destined to save her island from destruction by traveling across the sea on a great...
Dust Off the Dream

Dust Off the Dream

A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it: Memorandum. (Ezra 6:2)   AT HOME I HAVE a large box that I have filled with notes and letters from dear friends and family members. They contain precious words of...
The Unmarked Path

The Unmarked Path

And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matt. 2:23)   MY HUSBAND IS THE KING of detours. I don’t know how often I get in the car with him thinking I am going to one...
Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt. (Matt. 2:14)   GROWING UP, whenever my mother told me to do something and I asked why, she responded with what we called “the train reason.” The train reason went something like this:...
Follow the Star

Follow the Star

They went on their way. . . . When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. (Matt. 2:9–10)   WHERE’S THE FARTHEST YOU’VE TRAVELED? Anyone who has ever been on an extended road trip or traveled overseas knows the exhaustion that comes with traveling long distances. So...
Unqualified

Unqualified

When Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matt. 2:3)   WILLIAM J. SEYMOUR was an American minister best known for his involvement in the Azusa Street Revival during the early 1900s. At a time when separation of both race and gender was...
Point of View

Point of View

Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. (Ps. 107:43)   WHEN TEACHING YOUNG PREACHERS about proclaiming God’s truths, I often spend a great deal of time discussing the importance of considering from which point of view one is...
God Will Accomplish His Work

God Will Accomplish His Work

The Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria. (Ezra 6:22)   HAVE YOU EVER PRAYED that God would change the attitude of a person or of a group of people? Perhaps someone in charge needed to listen to God more, or a group of people,...
Seek the Lord!

Seek the Lord!

The Israelites . . . separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the Lord. (Ezra 6:21)   AN OLD CARTOON called Dennis the Menace featured an energetic young boy named Dennis who drove his neighbor, Mr. Wilson, crazy. In...
God’s Structure

God’s Structure

And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem. (Ezra 6:18)   THE YOUTH OF ANY SOCIETY usually struggle with structure. Boundaries are too stifling. Too controlling. I used to think that about many...
Celebrate the Work of God Often

Celebrate the Work of God Often

Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. (Ezra 6:16) AROUND TWENTY YEARS AGO, I was seated on the platform of the church I was pastoring. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”...
When God Commands

When God Commands

They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. (Ezra 6:14)  SOVEREIGNTY IS NOT A CONCEPT or doctrine that is frequently talked about anymore. Often, we have become...
When the King Speaks

When the King Speaks

Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. (Ezra 6:3)  WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF MOUTHS. Yes, there is a real thing in society called “word of mouth,” which spreads even more swiftly in our day thanks to social media. News...
The Idol of Tolerance

The Idol of Tolerance

They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. (Ps. 115:7)  A CHRISTIAN LEADER RECENTLY stated that what was once a commonly quoted favorite verse—John 3:16, the gospel in mini form—has changed for many. The new...
No Need to Fear

No Need to Fear

Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. (Ezra 4:4) THE APPROACHING ENEMY surrounded Elisha and his servant, but the prophet seemed unafraid. As soon as he saw the fear in the servant, he prayed a...
Help Not Needed

Help Not Needed

We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us. (Ezra 4:3) THE MAN WAS VERY POPULAR as teacher of his Sunday school class. However, the pastor of the church learned that he was living an immoral life and...
Those Praises

Those Praises

But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud. (Ezra 3:12) THE MAN AT THE HEAD of the table started crying, as I had not seen before. Eventually, I realized what had happened. This man had given some money to a...
Second Chances

Second Chances

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” (Ezra 3:11) AS A TEACHER, I GAVE my students a chance to raise their test averages. If they made a poor grade on a test, they had the option of retaking an...
New Beginnings

New Beginnings

They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. (Ezra 3:4) THE CHURCH SHOWED THEIR LOVE to a young man and tried to give spiritual guidance. He attended church often, but his heart seemed divided. He was...