READ: Ezra 9-10
THINK: It's been used to define a number of terms: stupidity, futility, failure, frustration and foolishness. It's the notion of doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. We've all done it as we struggle with repeated mistakes. But refusing to learn lessons from past failures can lead to disaster. Because Ezra understood that, he had good reason to be distraught by people's disregard for God's commands. They had been in captivity for a lifetime because of past failure to resist evil influences of surrounding cultures. Now that God had graciously restored them to their homeland, they barely settled in before rejoining the same people and practices that led to destruction decades before. Ezra was determined to put an end to the rebellion before it brought ruin once again.
RESPOND: Why was Ezra appalled that the people and leaders had "not kept themselves separated from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices"? (See 9:1 note.) What trouble had this caused in the past? Why was intermarriage with surrounding peoples such a serious concern? (See 9:2 first note.) Who was "the holy race," and why? (See 9:2 second note.) How and why was this a spiritual issue, not a racial or ethnic issue? In what way are Christians "a holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9-12)? (See 9:2 second note, subpoint 2.) Though followers of Christ need to reach out and influence society, why must they also be careful not to compromise with worldly relationships, values and ideals? In what ways should Christians be distinctly different from surrounding culture? How did Ezra's prayer reflect leadership, responsibility and genuine concern for the people (9:6-15)? How are Ezra's attitudes and concerns an example to all godly leaders? (See 9:3 note, subpoints 1-7.) What reasoning had God given the Israelites for not entering marriages or treaties with the Canaanite's (9:11-12)? How do we know that God has "punished us less than our sins have deserved" (9:13)? What was the "remnant" Ezra referred to in his prayer? (See 9:8 note.)
PRAY: Ask God for discernment and discipline to avoid spiritually destructive influences and relationships. Pray that you'll make the right connections to help you fulfill God's purposes for your life and influence others for Christ.
ACT: Remove yourself from any relationship or association that is bringing you down spiritually or hindering you from fulfilling God's purposes for your life. Don't blame the other person or put the responsibility on them-as if God is against them-but instead, take personal responsibility for moving on.
New Testament FIRE Starters are now available in a yearlong, daily devotional book. This hard cover book is laid out in 365 daily devotionals allowing you to take FIRE with you! Great for personal use, to use as a family or give as a gift.
Order your hard copy of the FIRE Starters book today!
If you do not have a Fire Bible Student Edition, place your order NOW!