A Challenge from Ezra 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 1:6).

After being in exile for seventy years, God, in fulfillment of the words he spoke through Jeremiah is bringing his people back into their land (Jer. 25:11-14; 32:36-38). The leadership of the nation responds by organizing the return and the rebuilding effort.

Who would have thought that God would use a non-believing king (Cyrus) to fulfill his promises? We shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, consider Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” God is completely sovereign. We can rest in him.

But I’m drawn to another phrase in Ezra 1: “. . . everyone in whose spirit God stirred . . .” I find it fascinating that God stirs peoples’ spirits. He burdens our hearts for a particular ministry, for a specific person, a special cause. The question is: Are we willing to yield our lives to him? Do we ignore the impressions he lays upon our hearts? Is God prompting you to do something? To say something? If he is, notice what Paul prayed for the Thessalonians: We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith” (2 Thess. 1:11, NIV).

Lord, make us sensitive to your Spirit. Help us to walk by faith. Let us make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who we are.

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