My husband had been so gentle and patient with me, even after I had come down on him like a ton of bricks. I knew I had to apologize. As I drove into the parking lot, I saw him standing there, propped up against his car. He had already dropped off my girls in their Sunday school classrooms but he had come back for me. I was pleasantly surprised to see him. Stepping out of the car, I apologized and I asked him, “Why did you wait on me?” Taking my hand, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I thought maybe you needed me.”
As the people came to understand what Ezra was preaching, they also understood they had sinned. They were ashamed, but their remorse was a promising sign. Ezra then tells them to get up, and celebrate. Yes, you read that correctly.
These are Jesus’ words: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
Heaven celebrates when you repent! Jesus is telling us that repentance is an act of humbling ourselves, and admitting a desperate need for a savior. If God never shed light on our sin, how would we be able to fix it? If you don’t know what there is to be sorry for, you can’t deliver a proper apology. When we are able to acknowledge our sin, and bring it to God, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts, bringing us into a deeper relationship with Him.
This is what Ezra wanted the people to understand. Not only was the wall accomplished, but when they acknowledged their sins, it showed God had been up to something bigger. He had worked on their hearts.
Why did he say not to mourn? Didn’t they need to feel sorry for what they had done? Yes, and they did! But there is a difference between repenting and dwelling. When we dwell on our sin, we can become discouraged. Repentance is not just about our sins, it is more so about our need for Jesus Christ, who indeed paid for all sin.
To dwell means to “live in.” We were not meant to live in our past mistake. We are told by Jesus Himself to live in Him: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).
Repentance is a sure sign that the Holy Spirit has not left you, sister; it means that the Spirit is working in you! Come to Jesus, the one who has the power to take away all sin. He is waiting for you and He is glad to see you. You are never too far gone for His love. Dwell in Jesus and celebrate with Him!
Memory Verse: “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:9b NIV
Pride causes resentful feelings to flood into our hearts. Jealousy, insecurity, anger, and bitterness will eat away at us until we are empty. We don’t have to let it though. David shows us there is another option.
David was continuously in prayer. He prioritized what God thought and knew Saul was God’s anointed one. Faithfully trusting the battle was the Lord’s, he turned down the opportunity to kill Saul. He loved Saul. David wrote a song in honor of him after his passing. David was considered a man after God’s own heart. We see why, because Jesus called us to treat our enemies, the way David treated Saul:
“‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven’” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Debbie Burns, a woman dear to my heart, always has something profound to share with our Rooted Mom’s group. One Monday night she gave us a little piece of wisdom I will keep with me forever. It is so good, it almost felt like a secret. “Pray for God to let you see your enemies how he sees them.”
WOW. What a David mentality.
Why give a piece of your mind when God can give you peace of mind?
There is power in praying for our enemies. One of Satan's greatest lies is that hate is more powerful than love. When we give into our worldly feelings (revenge, hateful words, spiteful actions), we give our energy to the enemy; the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn 10:10). Satan wants to instill fear and hate in your heart to kill your faith. He will steal any joy you have and replace it with insecurity. He will destroy you by leading you astray from God, the one who sustains you.
God will give you the strength to overcome the temptation of seeking revenge and wisdom to know the battle is His. He will provide you with the strength to love ones who hurt you and wisdom in knowing who the real enemy is. Prayer is our greatest defense against any troubles the world brings because it connects us with the Prince of Peace. Today be assured your Father in Heaven sees and hears you! Give your energy to Him and you will be showered with His peace.
Memory Verse: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV
The life I had been living did not reflect God. I made lots of mistakes, and there were many consequences. Don't get it twisted though, Kori (my daughter), was neither of those things. God made Kori. God does not make mistakes.
One of my waitressing friends invited me to a Bible study. The people who were in my Bible study came from all different backgrounds. One, in particular, was a former alcoholic. He was the one who led me to Jesus. I was baptized in the river behind his house. He lived just five minutes down the street from my mom's house.
God used my sin and blessed me with Kori. He moved me right where he wanted me. He used this man, despite his former sin, to be a messenger. All because God wanted a relationship with me. I can't type that sentence without being in a state of awe.
God's will is perfect, even when He uses imperfect people. Isaac's family, just like me, was full of sin, but do you remember God changed Jacob’s name to Israel? His family would be God’s children: The Israelites.
God already knew the drama that was going to unfold in Isaac's family before Jacob and Esau were even born: "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23).
Rebekah and Jacob still went to great lengths to make sure Jacob received Isaac's blessing over Esau. Why? God had already promised this! Why did they come up with their own plan when God already had one? They lacked faith.
Then we have Isaac, who also tried to make his own plan, but when it failed, why couldn't he just give Esau a blessing too? I think Isaac may have realized at this point that when God has a will, it will be done. Isaac could have blessed Esau repeatedly, but if something isn't blessed by God, it's not going to happen.
Every family member in this story had their own agenda, and none of it was focused on God's kingdom. Each of them, fearful things would not turn out the way they had planned, sinned against God.
Have you, like me, made this same mistake of ignoring God's guidance to follow the desires of your flesh?
When you are scared, stressed, angry, depressed, anxious, grieving, whatever it may be, do not make plans based on selfish worldly desires. God may not give everything your fleshly heart desires and He did not come to fix everything in your life. He came to fix your heart, so you would live life with and for Him. That is His plan. Seek and ask Him to reveal His plan for you and trust that it is better than your own.
Memory verse: "’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV