Esra’s heart

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. (Ezra 7:10 ESV)

I don’t know if there is something to add. I am speechless before Ezra’s heart.  I want to be as determined as he was to know God’s word, to understand it, and to obey and teach it. When you set your heart, there is no place for being lukewarm; there is no place for compromising a little. When you set your heart, God is first, His honor is your goal, pleasing Him your pleasure, and you will let nothing come between you and His will.

That is the kind of woman I dream and pray to be. That is the kind of person I pray you will be.

All we like sheep

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4 ESV)

Today I read about God being our shepherd and it was encouraging, a blessing. It is always encouraging to  hear/read that God meets all our needs. Yes, we shall never want. However, today, here is what was really encouraging:

  1. God choosing to be a shepherd, choosing in Christ to get His hands dirty to save and keep us;
  2. God protecting us against our enemies with His staff, and disciplining us with His rod to prevent us from wandering far from Him. (2 Samuel 7:14)

To be honest, I don’t like the “discipline” part, but I am grateful for it because the world is filled with dangers, with waves, torrents, falls, wild animals,etc. All things that would kill my soul if God were not my shepherd.

I guess it is the reason God’s word commands us to be grateful in all circumstances. Indeed, even in the worse, we are never alone and we are safe.

“Fear, don’t believe and you will be well”

So often when we read the Bible, we read our own words instead of reading what God is saying. And we wonder why our faith is not increasing, why we are not changing, why we have no power. We begin to doubt God and His power. We doubt His willingness to help us, to transform us. It seems like we fight with all our strength and nothing happens.
I have been there so many times, crying and wondering where God is. Sometimes it feels like God does not see me. Should I wave my hands, jump, yell to be noticed by the one whose “eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)? I tried so many times so many things to capture God’s attention. And He kept telling me: “Without faith it is impossible to please me” (Hebrews 11:6) and “Faith comes from hearing my Word” (Romans 10:17).
So when God says in Ephesians 1:4 that He chose me before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him, I used to hear: “Anne, I need you to be holy, but I will not lift the little finger to help you unless you give me a good reason to do so.”
So I spent time trying to convince God to transform me into Christ’s likeness, to use me for His glory, to accept me and not to reject me. Of course, when Jesus says He will never reject whoever comes to Him (John 6:37), I always read, “except you, Anne.”
So when He said to Jairus: “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well”, I read that we should worry, panic and doubt to expect to be well. Then I did not understand why I was not well.
It makes all the difference to hear Christ’s words. To hear and believe that His goal is to make us holy and blameless, that He prepared good works for us to do beforehand (Ephesians 2:10), that He wanted us so much in His family that He willingly adopted us (Ephesians 1:5). To hear Christ gives peace and freedom and our soul can finally enjoy the rest He promised (Matthew 11:29).
The King of kings, the sovereign LORD loves me. He died for me when I was the most “unlovable” possible and therefore He will not stop loving me, never. When I hear this truth instead of “ I will not love you until you become a better person, until you are holier”, I feel safe and quiet (Romans 5:6-11). Then I can be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).