Bible Order: Psalms 137–143
Chronological Order: Amos 1-5
New Testament Only: Acts 11
The Seed Of Hope Springs Eternal
Today we learn of some specific events that happened along the way from exile to the Promised Land. Ezra and the remnant that chose to return paused before they began their journey and prayed for God’s protection. Brothers I believe every successful journey that leads us closer to God begins in prayer. The members of the remnant fasted and prayed. They put their trust not in the arms of men but the arms of God.
Once they arrived in Jerusalem, it was discovered that many of the Israelites had intermarried with the pagan peoples in the area which was strictly forbidden by God’s law. Why was this forbidden? As we have discussed before, marriage to a pagan typically leads to the child of God wandering from right relationship with God. Pagan religious practice became rampant and caused separation from God. I found the reaction of Ezra and the people fascinating. Their grief and despair reminded me of the moment of conversion each new Christian must pass through.
God calls us to hear His truth. When He gets our attention it is natural for us to fall to our knees in prayer to ask for his help. It is in the midst of our journey back to God that we come face to face with our hopelessness before a Holy God. Grief and despair are a natural response to our discovery of our true selves and our sinful past. It is only from this place of painful regret that we can truly ask for God’s forgiveness and the courage and strength to obey Him. It is only from this place of painfully honest truth that we can truly accept the sacrifice of Christ and surrender ourselves and our future to Him.
This, in a sense, is what happened with Ezra and the people of Israel. This story today illustrates true repentance. It is at this crucial moment in time that each of us is saved. It is from this place of horror and surrender that a new life begins. What a wonderful story of hope God has given us. Not just in today’s reading but through the entire Bible. From day 1 God has provided hope. That hope flows from Christ through the centuries and now out from you to a lost and dying world. When a politician offers hope, run for the hills. Politicians can only offer more of the same. Only God offers hope, and here today He reminds you of the hope He has planted in you and of His expectation that you plant a seed from that fruitful hope in others.
What a wonderful, merciful, amazing God we serve.
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
P.S. As I was looking for an image to go along with this post I came across a picture of a seed called “Shepherd’s purse” and have subsequently posted that picture above. The name caught my attention. The hope I have is in what Jesus said, that no one that the Father placed in His hand would be lost. A purse is a container one uses to keep ones valuables safe.
As I looked into the plant itself I found some very interesting characteristics. One description I read stated that the petals of this plant form a cross. Looking further I found that it is considered a “mustard” green. Do you remember Jesus talking about the power one has if they have faith the size of a mustard seed?
I also discovered that the plant is used in herbal medicine to stop bleeding. Here is what one source said, in part, about its medicinal use: “…still considered by herbalists one of the best specifics for stopping hemorrhages of all kinds – of the stomach, the lungs, or the uterus, and more especially bleeding from the kidneys.” Do you remember the woman who had a chronic issue of blood and, reaching out to touch Jesus, was cured?
What is the price of sin? Blood. Whose blood stops the need for your own to be spilt? Jesus; the shepherd. Does not every one of these stories from the Bible provide us hope? Is it not wondrous that God can even use a weed of a plant to illustrate His mercy and the hope He provides?
(Originally posted 5/26/10)