Tag Archives: God’s timing

Ezra 1-3; Getting Our Priorities Straight

This was a great time in Jewish history. After 70 years of captivity, they were going home. King Cyrus gave them the go-ahead to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. He even provided much of what they needed to get the job done. Over 40,000 people packed up their things for the long, happy journey.

I love that the first thing they did upon arriving in Jerusalem, was to repair the altar. And as soon as they could, they began using it for the sacrifices they had so long been unable to make.

They repaired that altar, even though they had a bit of fear concerning the people around them. But they did not let their fear paralyze them. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, offered the regular burnt sacrifices, the New Moon sacrifice, and all the sacrifices for all the sacred feasts. Plus freewill offerings! That altar got a workout. And all of this happened before the temple foundations was even laid.

I like this example. It demonstrates the priorities that we should have when doing God’s work. How many good projects fail when God’s people get ahead of Him? We are excited to get started on that building project, or that outreach program, or hiring a pastor. But we don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the sin in our own lives, worshiping God and praising Him for who He is, and seeking God’s direction first.

The Jews in Ezra took two years at that altar before going ahead with the building project. Two years before the temple foundation was even laid.

We are a people who demand instant gratification. It’s hard to wait, even for the light to change. But so often in Scripture God tells us to wait, to be still, to seek His kingdom, to hear from Him.

Let’s face it. We like to win. We like to be the first church in town with a state of the art sound system, or the catchy named coffee shop in our foyer, or the satellite site, the largest sanctuary, anything that will make us stand out as THE church.

None of those things are necessarily bad. But I wonder if sometimes we get focused on the project, and forget to wait for God’s direction before jumping in. I wonder if our projects are counter-productive when we allow sin to go unchecked in our hearts, if we don’t wait on God’s timing and direction.

Do we want God’s blessings on our efforts? Whether it’s the events of our day, or a major decision we must make, or a big project in our churches, I would suggest we follow the example here in Ezra.

Spend time… a lot of time… at the altar; wait on God… no matter how long it takes; then follow his lead and get busing doing what He asks. That seems to me what getting our priorities straight looks like.

 

 

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I Samuel 21-23; Why Wait?

Are you like me and, no matter which line you get in at the grocery, it seems the person in front of you will most likely need a price-check? All the other cashiers are moving their customers along while you stand there and wait. Again.

Don’t you always look forward to catching up with year-old People magazines while you wait an hour past your appointment time in the doctor’s office? Come on. You know you love it.

Most of us, if not all of us, don’t wait well, do we? Sometimes standing in front of the microwave for 90 seconds seems too long to wait. But there certainly seems to be a lot of waiting in the Bible. What is God trying to tell us?

David was anointed King of Israel way back in chapter 16. Yet here in the chapters we read today, Saul is still Israel’s acting king. And to make matters worse, Saul is following David all over the countryside, trying to kill him. I’d rather have the People magazines.

If God wanted David to be king, why was all of this happening? Why is David still on the run instead of sitting on the throne that was his?

I think about the years David spent hiding out from Saul, living in caves, running for his life. And I thank God that, during that difficult time, David penned some of the most heart-felt psalms that speak to hearts yet today. I can read these chapters in God’s Word and see the shepherd boy grow in wisdom and faith to become a very great king.

David wasn’t anointed king, then sat back and waited in the comforts of home until the kingdom was his. There was pain and suffering and loss in the waiting. But David was the king he was – not in spite of – but because of those waiting years.

Are you getting impatient waiting for God’s timing in some matter? I would encourage you to not resent the waiting. God is most likely trying to teach you some things, trying to grow you into the person He wants you to be as you serve Him in this lifetime.

Don’t just put your feet up while you wait. Feast on your daily bread, and pick up your sword. There are things to do, places to go, people to see.

Remember God’s timing is perfect. And He does all things well.

September 19 – Doing In Waiting

Ezra 4-6, Psalm 137

Just because a project is blessed by God, doesn’t mean it will always be smooth sailing. The Jews were excited about rebuilding the temple. Satan, not so much.

Evil men caused trouble for the Jews, and the work on the temple came to a screeching halt. But what I get from reading these chapters is, the Jews didn’t give up. They must have been convinced that God was in this, so they waited.

But they didn’t just sit on their hands. They wrote letters, I’m thinking they prayed. We know that eventually the work was able to resume, and the temple was completed.

I like how the Jews handled this situation. They could have viewed the stop work order as God closing a door. But before they did that, they tested the waters. They spoke with authorities, wrote a letter to the king, and they waited.

Waiting is not the same as giving up. Sometimes when we wait we reveal our God to people around us. We can always find things to do while we wait: confessing, praying, preparing, witnessing. There is doing in waiting. And God, in His timing, will bless our patience, our diligence, and our trust in Him to accomplish His will.

Septemer 18 – Hold The Reins!

Ezra 1-3

Tens of thousands of people volunteered to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. They came from all over the countryside in order to be a part of this important undertaking. I can almost feel the excitement as they converged on the city.

The first thing they did was to build an altar. They offered burnt offerings morning and evening, they celebrated the Feast of Booths, and had a continual burnt offering going on. For two years they went before God without laying a foundation for the temple. Two years.

There might be a lesson here. Sometimes we are quick to jump on a spiritual sounding bandwagon that ends up disastrously. Sometimes pulling back on the reins, and slowing down a bit, gives us time to deal with our hearts condition, and time to let God reveal His timetable.

It’s not easy. Especially when we are excited about the possibilities. But we should never get ahead of God. And if waiting on God dims the enthusiasm, it’s probably God’s way of shutting the project down.

Has God laid a program, an activity, a project on your heart? Hold the reins and let God take the lead. Take time to confess sin, to spend time in God’s Word, and to pray before you dive in.

May 16 – Again And Again

Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

There sure are a lot of psalms that speak about David’s anguish. He pleads with God. He cries out, moans, with fear and trembling. I have to admit I chuckled as I read 55:17 where David says he will complain and murmur evening, morning, and noon. At least he’s honest.

I notice that in these psalms where David is at his wits end, at the point of despair, he still trusts God. He tells God what is on his mind, and turns it all over to the Lord. I could learn something from David’s example.

What struck me today is the number of psalms that contain David’s expressions of helplessness, despair, and grief. Scripture tells us Saul, the source of much of David’s grief, pursued David for years. It wasn’t the case that Saul was mean to David, David prayed to God and complained about Saul’s unfair treatment, and God eliminated Saul.

Oh, that’s what eventually happened. But it took a lot of praying, a lot of tears, a lot of pouring himself out to the Lord, and a lot of trust in God before that happened.

My takeaway today is to take my requests to God morning, noon, and night if I need to. Lay it all out there. Again. And again.

Then trust God. Again. And again.

During those waiting years, David grew into someone who would be described as “a man after God’s own heart.” It just didn’t happen over night.

Oh God, refine me like you refined David, even when I get impatient and want my prayers answered according to my timeline. As I lay my burdens down, as I bring to You my heart’s desires, as I trust you again and again, please mold me into a woman after God’s own heart.