Ezra 1:1-2:70, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, Psalm 27:7-14, Proverbs 20:22-23
Today is the fifth day of August, welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. Coming to you from the rolling hills of Tennessee. And I pray all is well with you in the rolling hills of wherever you are and maybe are not in rolling hills maybe you are on flat planes or maybe you are coastal or whatever, wherever you may be, it is wonderful to be here with you now, today. And in the Scriptures yesterday, we began a letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, otherwise known as first Corinthians. We also concluded the book of second Chronicles in the Old Testament and so that leads us now into some brand-new territory, the book of Ezra.
Introduction into the Book of Ezra:
And basically, we’re…we’re picking up where we left off, at least in terms of…of time, the children of Israel have been carried away into exile. So, just small review, we remember that after a King Solomon, Israel broke apart into two different nations, the kingdom of Israel in the North and the kingdom of Judah in the South and there were 10 tribes in the North, the kingdom of Israel who were eventually carried away into exile by the Assyrian Empire and they were completely conquered and they were assimilated into the Assyrian Empire because they disappeared from history as cohesive tribes after that. The kingdom of Judah, where Jerusalem is, lasted over a century longer but were eventually conquered and carried into exile by the Babylonian Empire. And so, as with the book of, the books of Kings and the books of the Chronicles we move through the different kings of Israel and Judah, but we come to an end. There is a last King and that is because they were conquered and carried away. Eventually, the Babylonian empire was conquered by the Persian Empire and the Persian kings were considerably more favorable to the Hebrew people. So, we’re kind of picking up where second Chronicles leaves off as we start Ezra. And Ezra covers about 80 years and there will be three Kings: Cyrus the Great, Darius, and then Artaxerxes. And generally, they are kind to the Hebrew people and allow them to return to their ancestral homeland. In fact, Cyrus the Great begins this process and we kind of saw that as we we’re ending second Chronicles. He literally wants to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem for the worship of God. Cyrus wants all of the gods, of all of the lands that he now controls to be happy. And so, he is allowing the Hebrew people, those that want to return to Jerusalem to rebuild, to go there and about 42,000 Israelites are the first wave to return from exile. And they will be under the leadership of a person named Zerubbabel, which we will meet. And you can imagine, 80 years have past, a bunch of people are returning, there are people that are in the land that a been using the land, the exiles want to rebuild the Temple, rebuild Jerusalem and so they’re going to face opposition, largely the kind of opposition known as intimidation, but we’ll also see a bunch of political maneuvering. And we’ll also see that the exiles, they stay true to the task and then before Ezra ends, we see a second wave of exiles being allowed to return to their ancestral homeland in Israel. And there is actually an awful lot in Ezra and the book that follows, Nehemiah, that is extraordinarily relevant to our lives today. So, there is a lot for us to learn and a lot for us to consider. And so, let’s get to that. We’re reading from the New International Version this week, Ezra chapters 1 and 2.
Okay so, there is a lesson for us in the portion of first Corinthians, the letter the Paul wrote, for us today. So, have you ever thought about what we actually believe as Christians? Like, have you ever tried to, sort of step away from the faith part of it and just look at what we believe? When…when we do that, we can see that, if faith were not in play then it’s hard to make sense of it all. It sounds foolish. It sounds like foolishness and that’s not a new development. It was considered foolishness in the time of Paul as well. So, I…I quote from first Corinthians, “for since, in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” So, what Paul is beginning to lay out here, is this lesson that I was talking about. God can’t be found in the confines of our personal intellect or experience alone. Paul told us, in our reading today that, in effect, God’s weakest thought is still far above humanities greatest thoughts and God’s weakness is stronger by far than the greatest human strength. So, no matter how much we can accumulate in our brains and reason out about who God is and what He is like and what He will and will not do, we do not have the capacity to even reach God’s weakest thought. Like, He is far above us. And so, through our own human wisdom we can’t explain God. Or, let me just put it in Paul’s own words, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were like when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God.” So, this really resonates with me, particularly because I have devoted my life to understanding God and knowing God, to understanding the Scriptures, to diving as deep as possible. What I have found very, frustratingly as a person who is a thinker, that faith is required, faith is the way for everything to make sense. Without faith, it doesn’t. Which has led me to understand over many, many years, I don’t know all that I think that I know. None of us know, all that we think that we know, about anything but we definitely do not know all that we think that we know about God. At the same time, we know what we know and we reason what we reason and what we are invited to when we, when we come into a relationship with Jesus, is to take this leap of faith that supersedes any of our intellect or any of the things that we think we’ve figured out about God, we have to leap into an unknown. It is our faith that makes it a known. Generally speaking, that would be perceived as foolishness, but it is actually this foolishness that gets us to the end of ourselves, we literally have to take a blind leap of faith and reach beyond ourselves and then we encounter God. And then we realize that the ways of the Lord and following Jesus are rarely ever going to fit into our intellectual framework. And yet at the very same time, those of us who have taken that leap of faith into the arms of Jesus as it were, realize that this is the only way life makes any sense at all. The foolishness, as Paul called it, of our blind leap of faith is what makes life makes sense. So, trying to approach God as an intellectual exercise, so we can figure it all out, gives us all kinds of problems. And yet, as an intellectual exercise, can we figure our own selves out? Do we not do things that we don’t understand why we chose to go that route? And so, if we can’t perfectly understand and figure our own selves out, and what would make us believe that we are wise enough to figure out the Almighty most-high God? We figure out the most-high God, if we want to call it figuring out, by taking a leap of faith and entering into a relationship with Him and surrendering our control and submitting ourselves to Him, giving up our rights and offering our lives as a living sacrifice. That sounds foolish. In most any other kind of context, we would advise against such behavior. And yet, for those of us, again, who have taken that leap of faith and surrendered ourselves and our destiny to God, this is the only way actually find peace. To actually realize, we don’t have anything, about anything, figured out, but we have a Father, who loves us and desires to Father us in this world, teaching us what we need to know, which can only be done through faith. And so, as we ponder this today, may we acknowledge that we don’t know all that we think that we know, but faith has led us here. And we don’t have anything to brag or boast about, all we really can do is marvel at the unspeakable love that is impossible for us to comprehend, that came to rescue us and revealed to us what life is supposed to look like. And then we get to participate in revealing that to the world.
And so, Father, we love You. We acknowledge that You are most-high. There is none higher, there is no one like You. And we don’t really care if it seems foolish to put our faith in You. This is the only thing that has ever made any sense. So, may we live into this and may it spill out of our lives, that we may be an example to everyone in our sphere of influence. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that’s it for today, I’m Brian, I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here, tomorrow.
Prayer and Encouragements:
Hey DAB family, this is Vicky in Texas and I’m asking for prayer for you to sew a blanket of prayer over Owen and all the young women and men, heading to start their careers or moving into college for the first time, including my own sweet son Russel, who we’re taking to the University of North Texas on August 18th. And I am already struggling with the grief of his absence and it’s not even here yet. So, this prayer is also for all the other parents who are sending their children out into the world. It’s a miracle that I had this baby, all babies are a miracle but because of a series of medical problems, it truly was a miracle that I even got pregnant and was able to retain the pregnancy and have this boy. When I found out I was pregnant I remember dropping to my knees and dedicating him to God, just telling God I knew that this baby was more His then mine. That I would raise him to know God and serve God and I hope I’ve done well with that. I have truly been blessed to be his mom. He has been a joy all 18 years that he has been in my life. Never has there been one of those times where I thought, oh my gosh, this is a teenager, I can’t wait for him to leave. But now it’s time to watch him grow into the man God wants him to be. It’s no longer so much that he’ll be under my wings and my teachings but truly just sending him out to be under God’s wings and God’s protection. It’s truly time I gave him over to God, like Jocabed letting go of Moses and Hannah letting go of Samuel. So, God, please grant me the peace and faith that those women had. And please wrap all of our children in your wings. Together with my fellow DABers, I bind the catastrophizing voices of the enemy, who tries to box us and our children in with fear to keep us from faithfully handing ourselves and our children over to You. I ask you please to bless all these children. Bless you Owen, bless my son Russel and bless all of us parents.
Hello Daily Audio Bible, Shawn here from England, UK. I’ve fallen by the wayside lately. Suffering from severe crack and heroin addiction. I’m a binger and when I binge, I’m completely out of control. I’m pushing everybody away from me. I’ve stepped away from the Bible. Today, I’ve come back to the Bible after a couple of weeks away. It’s been 11 days but I spent over $2,000 pounds on drugs. And I’ve hurt some of the people that I love the most in my life. I’m stuck, I don’t know. I wake up depressed every day. I know is from no fault but my own and I need to come off the drugs. I need to get better for myself and I know I could be really well if I wanted to, really well. I don’t know what I don’t do the things that I want to do, you know. I do the things that I don’t want to do. I don’t want to take crack and heroin. I don’t what comes over me, something just come over me and bam, all hell breaks loose. So, I’d appreciate it if people would pray for me. I’m very selfish in the fact that I can just call in like this. I feel selfish asking for prayers cause I need to help myself a little. But I’m always listening guys and I’m always praying for you. Not like that, I’m not saying I should be prayed for just because I pray for other people but I really would appreciate some prayers if you can. Yeah, thanks for listening. God bless you all.
Hello, Daily Audio Bible. I am calling in anonymous today. Some of you recognize my voice. I’ve been on a couple of times. I’m calling in to confess my sins. Because James 5:16 says that we should confess, it’s says confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Lord, I thank You, you know, for just waking me up today. But you all, I ask that you all pray for my strength in God. I decided a year ago that I was going to abstain, you know, from, I was going to wait until marriage. But a lot comes with that and there are, you know, things the enemy uses, you know, to veer us off from that faith. So, I ask that ya’ll pray for my strength in God. Pray for my patience and my faith in the Lord. Cause it’s difficult. It’s difficult waiting on the man that God has for me. However, I know that it’s possible and I know that I just need to stay prayed up and stay in my word. Sometimes I feel this spirit coming over me and just this dark, this darkness coming over me and you know, just darkness of submission to sin and I don’t want to. I don’t want to but I do intentionally every now and then and I just want to be free from that. So, I ask that ya’ll pray for me and continue to pray for me as I continue to pray for you all. God bless you all, I love you all. This is an amazing platform. Brian, thank you so much for Daily Audio Bible. God Bless.
Hey, Daily Audio Bible family, this is Billy from Montgomery with A Trinity Stone. I wanted to put a praise report out there for my Kiros. We have, we go into Stayton Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama. We did a Kiros in June and there were 22 guys that accepted crosses on Sunday. And basically, that means there’s 22 more believers in Jesus Christ. So, that’s awesome, I’m very, very happy about that. And also, we go back in once a month to do a reunion group meeting with those same guys and other guys. So, we need prayers for that, going back in to do a reunion group. Also, there is another Bible Study we’re going to create out there. It’s called Every Man a Warrior. It’s a Bible Study that is awesome because you’re actually talking directly with the creator, nobody else. It’s a, it’s an awesome Bible Study. There’s gonna be 15 guys that are gonna sign up and do this Bible Study. It’s gonna be led by one of the prisoners inside. His name is McArthur Duncan and he is leading this Bible Study. So, I would just like prayers for McArthur and these 15 guys that are going through this Every Man a Warrior Bible Study. Anyhow, I will talk to you guys later, love ya’ll, talk to ya’ll later. Bye for now.
Hey DAB family, this is Brian in Florida. I’m reaching out because I need some brothers and sisters to partner in prayer with me. I have, through no fault of my own, been facing a lawsuit that somebody has placed and I have been dealing with this now almost 7 years. And the sum of money is huge and I believe I have a promise from God that this case is gonna be dismissed and it is dragging on and on. And my prayer is that I will stand in faith and keep my eyes focused on Christ because He gives me perfect peace. And that me and my family will be protected and for the promise, case dismissed. If you’ll pray with me, that would be wonderful. God bless you.