READ: Ezra 4-6
THINK: Don't be surprised. When you don't go along with the world's ways, you're going to get grief. People will be suspicious, judgmental and even resentful toward you. As a result, you'll face pressures and difficulties. But God's Word warns that "in this world you will have trouble," so "do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). When you come up against obstacles and opposition, God isn't wringing His hands, wondering what to do next. Knowing what you would encounter, God prepared in advance a way for you to fulfill His purposes despite problems and pain. If you trust God and faithfully press on, you'll accomplish what He wants you to do.
RESPOND: Why did Judah's enemies volunteer to help build the temple, and what did they claim to have in common with the people of Judah? (See 4:2 note.) How do we know they weren't sincere? What can you do when you're unsure of the motives behind someone's offer to help? What is the basis for true Christian unity? (See 4:2 note, subpoint 3.) How did Zerubbabel and Jeshua respond to the deceptive offer, and why? (See 4:3 note.) How do people often respond to Christians who refuse to compromise their faith? How and why do people often misjudge or misrepresent the character and intentions of God's followers (4:12ff)? What tactics did the Jews' opponent use to stop them from rebuilding? (See 4:22 and 4:23 notes.) Why do many people consider Christians to be subversive and dangerous? Why were the Jews able to continue working in the face of opposition? (See 5:1, 5:2 and 5:5 notes.) How had God prepared in advance for the Jews' efforts to prevail (6:6-12)? How can this encourage you regarding the difficulties you face? How can celebrating spiritual victories help you resist future frustration? What methods does God use to change attitudes in those who may be skeptical or opposed to His people at first (6:22)?
PRAY: Pray for discernment regarding where to look for help when you need it. Ask God not to let you get pulled into other people's problems through misguided motives or intentions. Pray for perseverance in the face of opposition. Pray for people who have mistreated or misjudged you.
ACT: Offer sincere help to someone in need of assistance. Demonstrate practical acts of kindness to people who have misjudged, mistreated or misrepresented you. If there is any project or endeavor that you've stopped simply because of resistance or opposition, start it up again with God's help and keep going until He tells you to stop.
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