Stumbling Blocks and a Promise

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S (Scripture): Ezra 4:1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the families and said to them, “Let’s build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we’ve been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Assyria’s King Esarhaddon, who brought us here.”

3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of the families in Israel replied, “You’ll have no part with us in building a house for our God. We alone will build because the Lord, the God of Israel, and Persia’s King Cyrus commanded us.”

4 The neighboring peoples discouraged the people of Judah, made them afraid to build, 5 and bribed officials to frustrate their plan. They did this throughout the rule of Persia’s King Cyrus until the rule of Persia’s King Darius.

O (Observation): God’s people returned to Jerusalem thanks to God’s ability to persuade Babylonian King Cyrus to not only allow God’s people to return, but also to give them their stuff back (and more!).

So they begin to rebuild. They are elated!

But a neighboring group comes over and they want part of the action. When they are told “No!” they go tattle-tailing to the king, until a new king shows up back in Persia: King Artaxerxes. This new king doesn’t like what God’s people are up to…so he tells his people to stop the rebuilding.

Ugh!

A (Application): Just when we think we have a clear path for ministry, something likes to get in our way. God worked on King Cyrus to get him to support the people of God. Now, it’s all turned upside-down.

Lots of times I think I have a great idea for ministry or life, and things get in the way. Stumbling blocks.

Is it my fault? What did I do wrong? Why is this so hard?

Doubts and challenges creep up on us all the time. Does that mean we are headed down the wrong path? Or just tired? Or unclear?

I don’t think I can answer that question. Instead, we turn to Christ. Jesus is ready to take on our frustrations and concerns and the Spirit will guide us.

If I can assure you of anything, it is this: God is with us every step of the way. We are constantly reminded in the scriptures of God’s command and promise: Fear not, for I am with you.

P (Prayer): God, release us from frustration. Guide us forward. Amen.

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