Today’s reading: Ezra 1:1–2:70, 1 John 3:5–10, Ps 106:1–15
Today’s Themes: Moved by God
Today we learn that God is at work in the nations and in the lives of individuals, by His own Sovereign power. This should fill our hearts with hope, faith and praise as we trust in His good plan. Let God be at work in you and through you today.
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2 (ESV)
The rise of Cyrus is one of the most amazing fulfilments of prophecy. Isaiah prophesied the coming of Cyrus by name, almost 200 years before he came to power in Isaiah 44:28–45:6. He said that he would restore Jerusalem and the temple (note that when Isaiah wrote this down, the temple and Jerusalem were still standing).
When we first read this declaration, it may seem that Cyrus truly believed in the Lord but in fact, he remained a Pagan king, worshiping his god Marduk and honouring other false god’s too. This makes it even more remarkable that the Lord was able to use him for His own purposes.
In the prophecy in Isaiah 45:4–5, God makes a point of stating that Cyrus did not know Him (he was not a believer) and God goes on to affirm that He alone is God and proves so by this very prophecy.
This fulfilment of prophecy is one of the proofs that the bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. No other “holy book” has direct fulfilled prophecies like this.
God demonstrates His Sovereign power over the nations in bringing about His purposes. This should boost our faith today, that God is well able.
Be Stirred Up
Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:5 (ESV)
God was not only at work in awakening the heart of the king, He was also at work with the people.
We must recognise the sovereign power of God in our own lives. God is not acting in a random way, everything He does is planned. God knows the end of everything, His plans and works are always in accordance to the counsel of His own will, see Ephesians 1:11.
We must allow ourselves to be stirred up and awakened by the Lord, to do His will. Paul encourages us in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit”.
Paul also encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…”.
We need to allow ourselves to be stirred up by God the Holy Spirit and actively take part in stirring ourselves up through seeking God in His word, in prayer and being open to God’s move.
Let’s stand today, ready to be used.
Also see Ephesians 4:30, 1 Corinthians 14:30 and 1 Timothy 4:14.
1 John 3:5–10
We do not practise sin
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:6 (ESV)
As Christians, it is clear that we no longer habitually practise (remain, stay in) sin.
I enjoy reading the book of John because he cuts straight to the chase! Those who live in and practise sin, do not know God and are simply not saved. The evidence is quite clear.
Some say “well God knows my heart”, but this is said in self deception and out of context, because God does know how wicked the unregenerate heart is and Jesus Himself told us, we would know true believers by the fruit of their life.
Our behaviour is clear evidence of genuine salvation. We either stay (abide) in Christ or we stay (practise) in sin, it is not possible to do both.
The Complete Work
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:8–9 (ESV)
Those who practise sin cannot be of God and are not in Christ, John’s logic and reasoning are simple and are inspired truth from God the Holy Spirit.
The work that Jesus did on the cross was fully accomplished and applied to the saints, the works of the devil have been destroyed in the lives of believers and we have been set free to serve God.
What Jesus did on the cross was an actual atonement, a real life redemption, a bonafide victory, He provides a sure salvation.
Our redemption is not some halfway house, it is the perfect and complete work of God, which undoes and destroys the works of the devil.
Because of this complete work, those that are in Christ are no longer subject to the power of sin or the devils dominion, we belong to Christ and our nature has been made new because we are born of God.
We should encourage ourselves and one another with this truth, to press forward in faith.
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10 (ESV)
The Christian life is certainly not a life of sin, but it is also not a passive life of inaction, we do not drift along carried to and fro by our own passions, moods and circumstances.
We must actively practise righteousness, the very desire to do this is evidence of true salvation.
This can also be an indicator to us of where we are in our walk with the Lord, if the desire to practise righteousness goes cold, we need to examine ourselves and allow God to stir up our hearts again.
For His Name’s Sake
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. Psalm 106:8 (ESV)
This is a great key when we pray, we can ask God to move for His own name’s sake.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 1 John 3