Tuesday, October 6
The gracious hand of the Lord
Scripture: Ezra 7-8, Luke 20
Ezra 7:6 This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him.
Ezra 7:9 He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year, and he arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.
Ezra 7:28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.
Ezra 8:18 Since the gracious hand of our God was on us, they sent us a man named Sherebiah, along with eighteen of his sons and brothers. He was a very astute man and a descendant of Mahli, who was a descendant of Levi son of Israel.
Ezra 8:22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.”
Ezra 8:31 We broke camp at the Ahava Canal on April 19 and started off to Jerusalem. And the gracious hand of our God protected us and saved us from enemies and bandits along the way.
“The gracious hand of God” shows up six times in these two chapters. It is the reason for Ezra’s success, for the king’s favor, for travel mercies and safe arrivals, and for volunteer leaders and exiles willing to return. Ezra recognized that God was at work and was the reason for their success from start (in Babylon) to finish (in Jerusalem).
First, recognize that the Lord is at work. He is the source of whatever success I have. It’s “not by my might or power, but by His Spirit.” Give credit where it’s due—it’s the hand of the Lord at work! This doesn’t mean that we do nothing—Ezra did plenty. My pastor used to say, “You do the possible and God will do the impossible.” We do our part, but we recognize that we need God’s blessing on our efforts—we need the gracious hand of the Lord.
Second, pray for the gracious hand of the Lord to be on us. Don’t assume—ask for His favor. When we ask, He answers, and sometimes His answer is to point out what is keeping us from experiencing His favor. I desire God’s gracious hand to be on my life—every part of it—so I’m asking.
Third, look for where God is working and join Him there. Follow His lead. It’s one thing to ask God’s blessing on our efforts (good); it’s another to see God’s blessing on some effort and join Him there (even better). When you see the gracious hand of the Lord at work, join Him!
Prayer: Lord, I ask for Your gracious hand to be on me, on my family, on our church and all our efforts to do Your work and advance Your kingdom.