Ezra 1:5-11 – When God Stirs

Read Ezra 1:5-11

Those returning from exile to rebuild the temple will not be empty-handed. God continues to stir the people into action. Cyrus, the Persian king, was certainly doing his part to help facilitate the good will called for in his proclamation from our last reading. Isn’t it something that God knew Cyrus by name before he was even born when the prophet, Isaiah, spoke of this moment in history?  (See Isaiah 44:28)

God orchestrates this whole process. How does that make you feel? One minute the people are living their normal lives and the next some are packing up to move back to their homeland. When I think about seventy years, that’s a long time to get comfortable in the land of exile. Those being stirred by God in today’s reading have likely never even seen Jerusalem.

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Mark 1:35-39 – Quiet Time

Read Mark 1:35-39

I love what Jesus models for us here. No matter how busy and “in demand” Jesus was, he made it a priority to spend time in prayer. Alone. If Jesus needed that quiet time to recharge and reconnect with his Father, how much more do we need such connection? I’m so glad you’re reading this right now, quietly spending time with God and making him a priority!

The distracted disciples were missing out on their own quiet time. Did you sense the urgency in the disciples’ search for Jesus? It was like they felt pressured to satisfy everyone else’s desire to see Jesus. They were so busy trying to manage “everyone,” they didn’t notice Jesus’ need for prayer.

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Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do This!

Read Zechariah 7:8-10

Once again, God spells it out for us. When we ask “how can I please God?” or “what makes a good person?” the answer to both of these questions is right here in these verses. One of God’s primary concerns for his returning community is justice – especially for the weak and vulnerable.

Of course, for me personally, the part about orphans and widows is like a nod in my direction. Until recently, I never understood how God wanted to use me in Mexico. After working with the girls at La Ola Girls Home here in town, I know God wants this for me and this verse is like my confirmation. My dear friend Becky, who runs the orphanage, is also recently widowed. I’ve seen how the oppression is real for both widows and orphans still today. I’m honored to be on her team as she keeps God’s dream alive!

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Habakkuk 2:1-20 – Wide Awake Faith

Read Habakkuk 2:1-20

Two things stuck out to me today. First, how Habakkuk waited faithfully for God to answer. And second, how the oracles in God’s response point to not only what to look for (“what sorrow awaits you”) but also give us wisdom in what behaviors to avoid. As readers, we are encouraged to also be patient.

How are you waiting for God? Do you sit quietly, or do you busy yourself hoping you’ll hear God’s voice through all the noise?

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Habakkuk 1:5-11 – The Lord Answered

Read Habakkuk 1:5-11

The Lord responds by giving quite a speech! Do you think Habakkuk had a hard time getting past the part about God raising up the Babylonians to destroy. But there is no direct mention of the terror they will bring on Judah.

Do you think Habakkuk “connected the dots” and realized God had heard his lament? God had also seen all the disrespect and evil that was troubling Habakkuk. The cruelty of the Babylonians would soon descend to discipline his own people.

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