Ezra 6-8

Our God is a God of restoration. As we read Ezra, we see His mighty hand, and we also see His methods.

Yesterday we left the temple work at a standstill. The local adversaries had finally sent a letter to the king of Babylon charging the Jews with evil motives, so the work had been halted. Then we saw the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah (we will get to their prophecies when we get to those books), encouraging the builders. They reminded the Jews that they were building by order of Cyrus the King.

So a letter was sent to the new king, Darius, asking him to search the records and find the letter from Cyrus in the archives. Darius did just that, and he sent another letter to the local officials, basically saying, “You will not hinder the work, and you will even pay for the rebuilding!”

Our God can do it, can’t He? So the temple work resumed, and the building was finished.

Then Ezra, the scribe who wrote down this book, was sent back to Jerusalem to help the Jews reclaim the laws and the practices which had been given them by God.

Remember yesterday how we talked about the plots of the enemy to stop God’s work – and how that applied to our lives also? Well today we get to see God’s answer to those attempts.

The original letter written by king Cyrus, when he issued a decree for the Jews to return and to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, could not be nullified. Once the decree had been made by the king, the generations after that had to obey. Of course, the Jews didn’t think about that until the prophets came and encouraged them.

Now when we come to the Lord, or for that matter, if we have been with Him for awhile, there are areas of our lives which haven’t been totally restored. When we look at these chapters on restoration, let’s bring it down to our own lives.

You might know that there are areas of your life which need to be restored. You may have tried, but you find yourself going through all of the resistance from the devil that you saw in Ezra 4. Fear, discouragement, compromise, etc.

Your answer is to look at the official word of the King. And what is that for us? The answer: the Bible, of course. When you hold up the official Word of God to the bombardments of the devil, it becomes our “sword of the spirit” and you are able to put him on the run.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil, this is the weapon He used. Instead of just saying, “Get out of here,” Jesus would answer every taunt with “It is written…” and He would quote the scripture.

When our minds are bombarded with thoughts of fear or anxiety, we have scriptures with which to fight our fight. We say, “It is written ‘I shall not fear, for the Lord is with me.'”Or, “I cast every care upon Him, for he cares for me.”

To effectively ward off the devil during your period of restoration (which is the rest of your life, as you restore one facet after another), you collect the appropriate words for your issues. Words that relate to your health, your children, your finances, your marriage, or your ability to live a holy life before God.

These words from God are edicts from the King of Kings. The devil has no choice but to obey them. We are blessed to be able draw out just the right the sword of the spirit we need in the time of battle.

If God is for us, then who can be against us?

John 21

John shares the final episode of Jesus’ appearing before He ascends to Heaven. The disciples are  happy to see Him, of course, but they only recognize Him after He demonstrates a miracle: the nets full of fish.

The Lord  and Peter have an interesting exchange. Remember, Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night that He was arrested. So Jesus gives Peter a chance to affirm his love three times. But one thing might be missed in the translation. Jesus says “Do you love Me?” And Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, I Love You.” That’s the English translation, but they weren’t speaking in English.

The Greek words which were used in this episode were different. There are three words for “love” in Greek. Eros, which means erotic love, phileo which means brotherly love, and argapeo, which means God’s unconditional love.

In this exchange between Peter and Jesus, Jesus says “argapeo,” meaning, “Do you love me unconditionally?” Peter answers, “Lord you know that I love you.” But he uses “phileo,” the word that means brotherly love. Finally, Jesus says, “Do you phileo Me?” Peter knew that his love didn’t match the Godly love which Jesus showed. His love was human and not divine. Jesus’ love was the love of God – that unconditional, merciful love.

One final note, John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” He has the right idea. Jesus loves each of us so completely that when we receive that love the way He wants us to, we feel like we are His favorite.

That’s the nature of our Father’s love. When we fully receive the love of God, our emotions and memories get healed, we gain confidence, we rise to the challenges confronting us.

We are empowered to live our lives for Him.