Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from October 18-24 are provided by Kate Moon who serves as a missionary in E. Asia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Ezra 8:15-17: “ . . . When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. 16 So I summoned . . . [leaders and men of learning], 17 and . . . I told them what to say to Iddo and his fellow Levites, the temple servants in Kasiphia, so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God.”
Ezra 8:32-35: “So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days. 33 On the fourth day, in the house of our God, we weighed out the silver and gold and the sacred articles . . . 35 Then the exiles who had returned from captivity sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel . . . ”
If the church is the Bride of Christ, Sunday worship is the bride’s date time with her bridegroom.
It’s the time when, as a body, the church decides to set aside all other things and focus solely on building her relationship with Him. Just as each believer builds his or her own special relationship with God through individual Bible reading and prayer, I believe there is a special and unique relationship each believing community builds with God as they all physically come together as a group once a week, hearing the same message together, praying and singing the same songs of adoration together. The worship service, then, becomes the core of a church’s relationship with God; one could say it is the most important thing that she does.
That people spend time with Him together, as a group, has been important to God from the earliest days of the Israelites’ history with Him as His people. In today’s passage, we see how central worship was to this community by how much attention it is given throughout the chapter. Ezra’s entire description of the journey is about everything they needed in order to worship God, whether it was the Levites (without them, how would the sacrifices be made?) or the temple articles and offerings, and how they made it safely from Babylon to Jerusalem. When they do arrive, after a few days’ rest, the first thing they do is gather at the temple and worship God. This was the most important thing for them to be able to do.
How precious is our church’s time of corporate worship to me? If I haven’t been as committed as I should, or if there is another activity that brings a time conflict this week, what decision do I need to make about this today? How can I prepare my heart, my offering, etc., even today, as I look forward to this weekend’s service?
Lord, what a special example this heart of Ezra is for me today. Just reading about his preparations and concerns blesses my heart. Help me to have the same concern and passion for our church’s times of meeting with You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joel 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Ezra 8:24-25, 28-29 : “Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests . . . and ten of their brothers, 25 and I weighed out to them the offering of silver and gold and the articles . . . 28 I said to them, “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your ancestors. 29 Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem before the leading priests and the Levites and the family heads of Israel.”
1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Questions to Consider
- What is described as being “consecrated to the Lord” (v. 28)?
- What did Ezra ask the priests and their brothers to do (v. 29)?
- What conclusion can we draw from the answers to the two questions above? How should we consider those (including ourselves) who serve at the temple so that His people can worship?
- Both material goods (temple articles & offerings) AND people (priests + brothers).
- Guard the offerings carefully.
- If material goods were to be guarded carefully because they were set apart for God, all the more the priests should also take care of themselves – not just so that they can protect the offerings but because they themselves are also set apart for God. As people set apart to serve, we are important and should take care to guard our conditions so that we are able to serve Him and His people well when the time comes.
The weekend is just around the corner. Do I have excitement and anticipation in my heart as I look forward to meeting Him with my brothers and sisters in gathered, corporate worship?