Today’s Reading: Ezra 3:1-4:23 (additional reading: Psalm 28:1-9 and Proverbs 20:24-25)
It is easy to become discouraged. Discouragement comes in many ways to all of us. It comes through circumstances of daily life that happen to us all and it comes through people. Sometimes we allow these things to stop us right in our tracks. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to give up on our goals and dreams completely.
Right along with our negative self-talk comes people who say, “ I don’t think you should attempt that. You will never succeed. I think you should quit while you’re ahead.” Can you think of a dream you have given up on because discouragers came and frustrated God’s plan in your life? I think we all can. It is not something that only happens to you.
The Book of Ezra in 539 B. C. God moved upon the heart of Cyrus the king to help the exiles to return and rebuild the temple that had been destroyed over 50 years before. Anyone who wanted to return to Jerusalem in Judah was free to return and Cyrus had given them not only the authority to rebuild but the resources –the timber, the gold, silver, the cash to do it and human resources. They had the green light, and they were “good to go.”
It was so far so good, but then things began to change for them. Everyone was not happy about their successful progress in rebuilding and set out to stop the work. There were a few methods discouragers used to frustrate God’s work. These same methods are used for us to focus on is deception.
DECEPTION: Chapter 4 begins by saying, “when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord…, they came to Zerubbabal saying, “Let us help you build, because, like you, we seek your God…” (v. 2). You might think, “That’s great! The more the merrier. Two hands are better than one. We could sure use your help.” But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families said, “No way. You have no part with us in building the temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord.”2 Kings 17:24, 41 tell us why – They PERSISTED in their former practices. Even WHILE THEY WERE WORSHIPING THE LORD, they were serving their idols.” These people would have been nothing but trouble and therefore the builders didn’t take them up on their offer to help. They didn’t say, “This is a definite maybe.” They just said “No,” to their offer because they perceived that they were trying to DECEIVE them by becoming a part of the group and then working against them.
Can you think of times that discouragers came to you in the form of deception and you found out too late to do anything about it?
- Have you been discouraged in your call?
- How do you need to guard yourself against deceivers?
Father, Thank You for the wisdom that You give us. Help us to be careful with whom we partner with and to protect our hearts from discouragement. In Jesus’ name, Amen