I pray that you enjoyed sweet fellowship with God's people yesterday at church and were able to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Today we will be looking at God's provision and protection for those He loves. We can lean on Him when we don't know where else to turn!
Today's readings: 3 John, Ezra 7-8, Psalm 94
"Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, 'The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.' So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer." -Ezra 8:21-23
"Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, 'My foot slips,' Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul." -Psalm 94:17-19
Let's continue on in our history lesson from Ezra: God's people had been in captivity, but had returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. It was an exciting time for God's people! Now, Ezra arrives on the scene, he was a priest who had a great understanding of God's Law and God was with him. Ezra found favor with King Artaxerxes of Babylon (which is where they had been in captivity for 70 years) and the king granted Ezra permission to take with him anyone of God's people who wanted to return to Jerusalem. And he even sent Ezra with provisions for the journey and treasures to bring to the temple of God! But then Ezra reached a crossroad, he ran into a dilemma. He wanted to be sure that he was leading God's people in the right direction, and that God's presence and protection would be with them. He was nervous because they would be traveling in enemy territory, and his human-ness wanted to ask the king for some soldier escorts- but he didn't want to ruin his witness to the king (since he had already claimed that God was big enough to protect them). So it was a crisis of faith- where the rubber meets the road- where Ezra really had to put feet to his faith and trust that God was who He said He was.
I'm sure we have all been in situations like that before- or may even be in a situation like that right now- where we say we believe something about God, and then we actually have to take action based on that belief. It is a scary, yet envigorating place to be, if we actually go forward in faith! There are some ways to help us in these times of testing and it is good to prepare for them now!
Ezra and his people took time to fast and pray for God's leading and God's presence as they went forward in faith. And God answered their prayer. There are some times that God calls us to fast in order to teach us to depend solely on Him and to declare our faith and our seriousness. If you are in a crisis of faith- set aside some time to fast and pray- asking God for the strength and the discernment needed for whatever lies ahead- and don't give up until He answers you!
The other thing you can do to prepare for times of crisis is to get to know God more personally! The better you know Him, the more you will fall in love with Him, and the easier it will be to trust Him when times get tough! Like the psalmist said: "in the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul." The psalmist was crazy stressed and didn't know what to do- but he spent time in God's presence and His comforts gave him the peace he needed.
Today: read Psalm 86, its title in my Bible is: Prayer for Mercy, with Meditation on the Excellencies of the Lord. And I would encourage you to do just that- meditate on the excellencies of the Lord- ponder all the things you love about your God- remember all the ways He has been faithful to you in the past- praise Him for being who He says He is! And as you do so, you will be creating a storehouse of faith from which to draw from in times of crisis. Take time each day to bask in His presence and get to know Him better- and you will cultivate that friendship you can depend on when you need it most!
Praying that you would know Him better, and love Him more, so that you can trust Him daily!