Read: Ezra 1:1-5, 3:10-13
In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing: This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he resides, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.”
When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.
The Israelites had been captives in a foreign land, stripped of their identity and unable to worship freely for 70 years when the Persian king told them that they could finally go home. Have you ever felt like a stranger in a foreign land? Has your faith ever been in ruins like the temple of Jerusalem? How is God calling you to come back to Him and rebuild your faith?
The good news is that no matter how ruined you may feel or how long it’s been since you have truly worshipped God, Jesus bridges the gap for you. Wherever you are lacking, He is always enough. He isn’t waiting to scold you. His arms are open wide and ready to embrace you with love.
Jesus, it’s with both shouts of joy and tears of gratitude that I come to you today. Rebuild my faith and give me strength to persevere even when I feel like I am in exile in a land that is not my home.
Invite someone younger than you to your home to decorate ornaments or to have hot chocolate. Use it as an opportunity to encourage them.