Tag Archives: return

Through the Bible, June 21

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflection: This is the scheduled day to catch up on your Bible reading for the third week of June in case you may have fallen behind.  Though no Bible reading is planned for today, you may wish to consider the following thoughts drawn from this week’s reading.

  1. It’s hard to imagine, considering the prominence and central role of the temple in Jerusalem for the Jewish people as we read in the New Testament, that it took such great effort to get it rebuilt during the days of Zerubbabel. Many opposing forces and influences had to be overcome.  This serves as a fitting reminder that any worthwhile task will likely require persistence to overcome obstacles and opposition.  Don’t quit!
  2. The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible in which God is not explicitly called by name. Yet, in no other book of the Bible is God’s work on behalf of His people any more evident.
  3. The Bible reminds us that it is in the power of God to exalt man or to bring him low. The case of Haman stands in contrast to that of Joseph.  In a single day,  Joseph went from a prisoner to the third most powerful man in Egypt, while Haman, also in a single day, went from an exceedingly high and powerful position to being executed on his own gallows.  We simply do not know what a day may bring or what God might accomplish.

Devotional Thought:

Wherever You Are, Begin

When Jesus came to earth, the New Testament says it was at “the right time” (Gal. 5:6).

From the vantage point of the return to Jerusalem following captivity and the struggle to rebuild the temple, that must have appeared to be an impossibility.  Things looked so bleak.  The people were so weak.  They were such a small and struggling people with so little to offer.  Kind of like how we feel about ourselves sometimes.

Jerusalem and the Jews were not then what they would become.  Not that they ever became perfect.  The “right time” most certainly involves some other factors than the condition of God’s people and the city of Jerusalem.   Even so, they had to start from where they were.  They had to rebuild the temple, reestablish right practice of their faith and construct the city walls again.  It was a place to start.  Eventually, things would be right.

We may not be right now in our own lives where we want to be, what we want to be or who we want to be.  Things may not be “right” with us.  But they can be.  To get there, we have to begin where we are, right now.

So what needs to happen next?  It may still be a long way from what will ultimately need to be true, but it’s a place to start.  For anyone to reach the destination for which they desire and dream, they must begin where they now are.

And that’s the key, begin.

Through the Bible, June 18

Reading: Esther 1-3

Summary: After the first group of Jews returns to Jerusalem (as led by Zerubbabel, Ezra 1-6), but before the second group (as led by Ezra, Ezra 7-10), an incredible drama unfolds back in Persia and is recorded as the book of Esther.

No greater example of God’s providential care is found anywhere in Scripture than in the story of Esther.

Today’s reading sets all the pieces in place.  Esther is chosen to the position of queen as Haman also attains to a position of high prominence, but also plans his villainous plot to exterminate Mordecai and his people, the Jews.

Devotional Thought:

God is Nowhere and Everywhere

The book of Esther is odd.  Not one time is God explicitly mentioned in this entire book.  Not once.  But neither is the presence of God any more evident than in the events unfolded in its pages.

“God” is nowhere in Esther and God is everywhere in Esther.

A memorable cartoon pictures two figures sitting at the bar of a saloon.  One of them is impeccably dressed; broad-brimmed large cowboy hat, rhinestone studded and colorful western-cut shirt with pressed jeans held up by a belt sporting a very sizable, shiny buckle and tucked into highly-polished pointy-toed boots.  The other wore a crumpled hat, wrinkled shirt, sagging jeans, over dusty, mud (or something else) caked boots—a generally disheveled look.  The latter says wryly to the former, “I see by the way you are dressed that you are a cowboy.”

Externals are sometimes—not always—superficial.  Externals get noticed.  Externals can be seen by others.  Externals can also be deceptive. The appearance they give can belie the reality within.

A cowboy is evidenced more by what he does, not what he wears.  The presence of God in Esther is not measured by the number of times He’s called by name in that book.  Our place as a follower of Christ is not established by the jewelry we wear, the t-shirt logos we sport, or even the assemblies we attend or how loudly we praise Him.  It’s His presence in our lives. It’s His love reflected to others.  It’s His compassion for people in need. It’s His commitment to fulfill the Father’s will.

“God” isn’t in Esther but He is, just as Christ must be in us.

My Delight is the Lord, December 28

Transitions

December 28, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1-11

What started at Bethlehem ended on Mount Olivet. Jesus entered the world in the presence of Mary and Joseph and left it in the viewing of 11 apostles. The Son of God taking on flesh and living among men marked a planned-for and necessary transition in God’s eternal plan. Jesus’ ascension was no less a transition. From this time on His followers’ existence would be lived in light of what He had accomplished and so should be dominated by two realities; one, communicating His message “to the end of the earth” (v. 8), and the other, to anticipate the next great transition–His return (v. 11)! As critical as it is to know and understand the Savior and His message, so also is it to be busy fulfilling the Master’s will in the time in which we live.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jesus talk about between His resurrection and ascension? (v. 3)
  • What was the “promise of the Father”? (vv. 4-5)
  • About what were the disciples concerned? (v. 6)
  • What is associated with the Holy Spirit’s coming? (v. 8)