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READ IT

Read: Ezra 4

We don’t know how long Adam and Eve enjoyed the Garden of Eden before the serpent came along. But we do know that, as soon as Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, where he fasted for 40 days and nights. And there Satan did his best to tempt Jesus into sinning against God (Matthew 4:1-11).

What does this tell us?

It tells us that Satan doesn’t let a good thing just happen. He’ll show up and do his best to mess it all up.

When the exiles returned to Jerusalem, they rebuilt the altar and the temple foundation. The sacrificial offerings resumed and the people celebrated. There was still a lot of work to do, to rebuild the city, but they were up for the task.

Then opposition came.

Some leaders from the surrounding area showed up, asking if they could help with the rebuilding efforts, but Zerubbabel and Jeshua knew their true intentions. These men wanted to thwart the Israelites’ efforts. So Zerubbabel and Jeshua said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

That’s when their real motives were revealed.

The men wrote a letter to the new king of Persia, inciting distrust against the Israelites. In response, the new king shut down all the reconstruction happening in Jerusalem. When the Israelites heard this news, deep discouragement set in.

When opportunities for ministry and service come our way, we shouldn’t be surprised when opposition follows.

That’s how Satan operates. But we’re not left defenseless. We must remember that Christ has already defeated Satan on the cross. And Jesus now lives to intercede before the Father on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).

With prayer and the sword of the Spirit — God’s Word — we have everything we need to fight whatever battle we’re facing.

Friend, I don’t know what battle you’re facing today. We live in a society that seems to share — through social media — every waking moment with the rest of the world. But what we see online is really just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s always more to a person’s life than what we see in their social media feed.

But there is someone who sees it all. The God of heaven sees and knows. And I’m so thankful he does.

When opposition follows opportunity, we can trust that God’s has a plan. We’ll read Chapter 5 tomorrow to see how God responded on behalf of the Israelites. But a space of time passed between Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.

In the same way, there’s usually a space of time between the opposition we face and God’s response. Our job is to trust him in the process.

WRITE IT

In a journal or notebook, write Ezra 4:4.

“Then the people who were already in the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.”

Or write any passage from today’s reading that stands out to you.

PRAY IT

Thank you, Jesus, for always interceding on our behalf. When opposition strikes, help me to remember that nothing happens beyond your knowledge. Nothing is a surprise to you. Help me to look to you in times of struggle. Help me to grow my trust in you through every circumstance and outcome. Thank you for always being there for me. I’m so grateful that, because of you, I am never alone. In your name I pray, amen.

Denise J. Hughes

A lover of words and the Word. Author of #DeeperWaters and the #WordWriters Bible studies.

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