When God Moves

Bible Reading: Ezra 1; 2; 3; 4:1-5 - Listen

"In order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart" of King Cyrus to allow the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (1:1). Then "everyone whose heart God had moved" packed up their belongings and traveled to the ruins of Jerusalem (1:5). "Despite their fear of the peoples around them," the first thing they did after they settled in was to rebuild the altar of God and sacrifice burnt offerings to him (3:3). They began observing all the feasts, offerings and celebrations that were originally set up in the Law of Moses. When the foundation for the temple was laid, they sang to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving, and gave a great shout of praise to the Lord.

The people expressed a mixture of emotions that day. Some shouted for joy over God's goodness, while others wept as they remembered the fabulous temple that had been destroyed over fifty years earlier because of their sins. When their enemies heard that they were building a temple for the Lord, they offered to help. But when their help was rejected, their real intentions became more obvious. They then "set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans" (4:4-5).

Just as God is the one who worked in the heart of the King and in the heart of each Jew that returned to Jerusalem, God is the one who works in our hearts to accomplish his purposes. When he moves in our hearts, it often takes shape much like it did in the lives of these Jews. First, we feel a gentle tugging on our heartstrings, prompting us to move in a new direction. Then we step out, in faith, in the direction that God is leading. Though we may fear ridicule, persecution or failure, we dedicate our lives to living the way God wants us to. We learn what pleases and displeases him by studying his word; we choose to obey the truth written there. Our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving as we worship God with songs and shouts of praise. As we work on building a strong spiritual foundation, we grieve over past sin and rebellion while, at the same time, rejoicing in the work that God is doing in our lives. We may encounter resistance from those who oppose the direction we've taken, or opposition may come from evil forces that war within our spirits. These enemies attempt to deceive us by feigning support. They try to discourage us, make us fear God's plan, and frustrate our efforts at spiritual rebuilding.

Lord, help me to discern when you are moving in my heart. Help me to build a strong spiritual foundation on your timeless truth that will firmly endure the calamities of life. Despite any obstacle or opposition, help me to resolutely continue the task of building. As I see your purposes unfold in my life, I will shout with joy and sing to you with praise and thanksgiving: "He is good; his loves endures forever" (3:11).