Preparing to Return to Jerusalem

Open Your Bible

Ezra 8:1-36, Jeremiah 31:1-11, Jeremiah 31:16-17, 2 Peter 3:9

In some of my favorite childhood memories, I’m running into my father’s arms to be swooped up into a ginormous hug. Sometimes he would even throw me toward the expansive blue sky, the air whooshing out of my lungs until I was caught up again, safe and secure in his arms. 

That feeling of being suspended in mid-air, though: I still feel that way sometimes. Whether it’s anxiety about a job situation, uncertainty about finances, or worry over a diagnosis, we all face moments when we realize that if God doesn’t intervene, we’re in big trouble.

Before heading back to Jerusalem, Ezra faced that same realization: without God’s protection and provision, they would never make it to Jerusalem. The Israelites’ track record had little to recommend them, and if God’s answer were dependent on their good behavior, they were toast. 

So they humbled themselves, and God was receptive to His people’s prayers. Because even when we fail, God’s faithfulness holds steady.

Despite Israel’s disobedience, God did not allow sin to derail His good plan. His own faithful character guarantees that His promises will come true in the end whether we live to see those fulfillments or not. Unlike humans—who sometimes keep their promises and other times abandon them—God’s heart of faithful love means He will always come through.

Throughout Scripture we see God’s heart bend toward compassion, forgiveness, and grace. Indeed, “The one who scattered Israel will gather him” (Jeremiah 31:10). He is the promise-keeping, covenant-fulfilling, sin-forgiving God. His unrelenting grace brings the prodigal home, envelops him in the best robe, and declares him “son” once more.

Like Israel’s return to the promised land in today’s reading, we also get to return to our heavenly Father in repentance and humility, to find Him waiting for us with open arms. 

How striking to read in Jeremiah 31:20 that God’s “inner being yearns” for His children to repent, to turn from their patterns of sin, and to return home as the cherished children of God He calls His own! Though God kept His promise to discipline His unfaithful people with exile, He also kept His promise to bring them home to the promised land again. Even when Israel was guilty of apostasy, God wouldn’t let sin get the final word. Rather, His own faithfulness guaranteed that His promises would be fulfilled, no matter what. 

God’s heart beats with compassion. His faithfulness means that no matter whether we’re having a good or bad day, we can always find refuge in Him. So we can throw ourselves on God’s mercy, approaching His throne of grace with confidence, knowing that He’s been patiently waiting for us to return to Him all along.

And because of Jesus, the Father’s same faithful love and compassion is poured out on us as well, welcoming prodigals of all ages to return home to Him again. We are safe and secure in His everlasting arms.

(54) Comments

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54 thoughts on "Preparing to Return to Jerusalem"

  1. Leslie Casstevens says:

    Thank you Hod for your faithfulness

  2. Yesi Cordero says:

    Love this so much for you Chelsey! I too have recently returned to church and resonate so much with your words. Praise God for His faithful love towards His sons and daughters, and for the new fire He’s placed in our hearts for Him.

  3. Jennifer Lumley says:

    This reminder right here…”because even when we fail, God’s faithfulness holds steady.” ❤️

  4. Laurie Crary says:

    Amen and Amen.

  5. Andrea Etkie says:

    That’s wonderful!!

  6. Chelsey Mc Cluskey says:

    I feel the same way!

  7. Chelsey Mc Cluskey says:

    I recently returned back to church and am so fired up to be living in truth once more – I don’t think I have understood in a long time what it really means to be living in the faith so I’m excited to restart my journey! Reading the Bible and diving in, listening while worshipping and taking it all in – I am so much more receptive now. Even though I grew up going to church, as a child and teen it’s a completely different perspective. I wouldn’t say I lost my faith as I did attend Bible studies and go to church on and off from college through adulthood but I think many of you will understand when I say that reflecting back it was like going through the motions and because it was expected and more of a habit. I’m becoming a member of the new church I’m going to in the next few weeks and being baptized so I’m pretty excited!

  8. Kimberly Vohs says:

    This may sound silly, but my son’s name comes from todays reading. When I found out I was pregnant I was hoping for a boy and I wanted a name that started with “Z”. I flipped open my Bible and my eyes landed on Ezra 8:8 “Zebadiah son of Michael.” My husbands name is Michael. I looked up Zebadiah and it means gift from God. I don’t often play bible roulette but this was one time I think it was the Lord’s leading. We call my son Zeb for short ☺️

  9. Teresa Donley says:

    VICTORIA E – I’m praying for you to have God’s peace and comfort as you face difficulties at work. And I’m asking God to give you the wisdom to handle each issue as it arrives.

  10. ClaireB says:


  11. Victoria E says:

    Theresa Donley I am praying for you! Cee Gee praise God for your good results. Ladies the problems at my work are nonstop, I cried yet again today and thought about quitting but my husband is convinced a resolution to the ongoing madness is imminent. If I can ask again for prayer for the ongoing issues at my work for peace and wisdom through them. Thank you!

  12. Kimberly Z says:

    @MERCY – praying for to have a well rounded conversation with your manager! My heart completely understands what you’re going through. Almost a year to the DATE I was in the same situation. I got an offer from a different company and my only option was to go talk to the manager about a raise when she had only been working there for about two months. A very hard situation when she doesn’t really know me or my work ethic. I know the Lord will guide you through exactly what you need to say. @THERESA DONLEY – Praying your diagnosis comes back negative and you’re able to find the answers you need to live a healthy life. What a great reminder today. Lifting ALL of you women up In prayer. @SARAH D – praying your school year is going well.

  13. Tami C says:

    Thank you for all of your beautiful prayers!! So full of faith and wisdom. They have boosted my spirit and given me direction for my prayers for Chela. Sometimes I just don’t know what to pray. Praying for your requests also @Teresa Donley – praying for Gods perfect peace to surround you. For His wisdom for the you and the doctors to get to correct diagnosis. And for complete healing in the mighty name of Jesus.

  14. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I pray that I would remember that I can alsoways come back to God’s loving arms. No matter how far I feel o may have stumbled, I can always come back .

  15. Jennifer Anapol says:

    @Teresa- I will be praying for God’s peace and strength while you wait for your diagnosis. I also pray that the results will come back negative for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

  16. Teresa Donley says:

    MERCY – praying for God’s guidance in speaking with your manager regarding a raise. I’m also praying that your coworker realizes that sometimes, technical issues put us behind on the project we’re working on.

  17. Teresa Donley says:

    I shared yesterday about my potential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Thank you to all who are praying; it is so good to know that my situation is being lifted to God by prayer warriors. In today’s devotion, I saw myself: “ That feeling of being suspended in mid air, though, I still feel that way sometimes. Whether it’s anxiety about a job situation, uncertainty about finances, or worry over a diagnosis, we all face moments when we realize that if God doesn’t intervene, we are in big trouble.” That’s me…praying God will intervene. I trust Him. However all the test results go, He’s with me. God’s got this. Now I just need to put that verse into practice…God’s timing is not a delay like I define delay. He’s patient with me as I learn to lean on Him in the uncertainty.

  18. Cee Gee says:

    I just want to THANK YOU again for your faithful prayers! I got good news from my recent test! Praise God!

  19. Teresa Donley says:

    RHONDA – I’m praying for you and your volunteers as you minister to inmates in the jail.

  20. Teresa Donley says:

    TAMI C – praying for your daughter as she adjusts to college life, as well as big, big city life. Praying that God brings Christian friends into her circle, and they can give her a safe space to be.
    AIMEE D-R – I join you in prayer for this generation – and this nation – to repent and return to the Lord.
    JENNIFER ANAPOL – praying for your situation with your children and MIL that things will calm and peace will fill your heart and your home.
    ALEIDA – praying that all goes well with your home purchase and subsequent move. Also praying for Victor. You’re right that he probably isn’t in the best physical place for healing near Hollywood. I pray that he will feel God walking with him, and lean on Him.
    COLLEEN DEVEAU- continuing to pray for you, your daddy, and your brothers. (Just an observation…I love that you call him daddy! I always called my dad, daddy. And still do when I’m talking about him. )
    LAURA – isn’t it amazing when The Lord brings just the right verse to us? I’m praying with you for the return of your prodigals, and praying for you as you wait.

  21. LindaK says:

    So thankful that God always keeps His promises and He is faithful even when we are not. Alesia praying for Victor. Colleen praying for your dad. Tami C praying for Chela as she navigates life. Praying for all❤️

  22. Mercy says:

    Morning she’s,
    What a wonderful devotional and powerful scriptures. I also did the throwing up my baby into the air all the time, as she squealed for excitement.

    Fast and prayer got my attention today:
    Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods (Ezra 8:21). Fast & prayer is to humble ourselves and to seek God for safety & victory.

    “You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy” (Ezra 8:28).

    “…The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22)

    “So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he LISTENED to our entreaty”(Ezra 8:23). God answers to our fast & prayers.

    “…I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9). Though Ephraim (Double Prosperity) is the second born of Joseph, God called him firstborn so he could receive the firstborn portion. The last shall be the first. We are bumped up in ranking by His grace. God is doing that for us, Gentiles are 2nd born but He called us first. Hallelujah.

    Ladies, I am asking for your prayers again please. I received an offer from another company, and I would be asking my director for a raise to match this offer. I don’t know her too well (she is new) and she is on the east coast. We had a zoom meeting once with other team leads. I need to build my case and present to her in ways that are diplomatic and favorable- which I need wisdom to do. Could you please pray for me? It’s my first time doing this. Thank you so much for your prayers about my tech issues at work. They stopped happening today. And my teammates were nicer, except one person that was still faulting me for my delay- which I am still praying that he will overlook and put this behind. I had apologized but he did not seem to let go. I would appreciate your prayers for him too so he could forgive me for what the delay cost him his time. Thank you so much dear shes.

    Be blessed dear sisters.

  23. Pamela Randol says:


  24. Terri Baldwin says:

    17 There is hope for your future,
    declares the Lord,
    and your children shall come back to their own country. – Jeremiah 31:17

  25. Cindy Hanna says:

    @ Colleen DeVeau. Feeling blessed to read yesterday’s tribute to God for his goodness to your Father and your family. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of sunsets,ducks and peace you described. Praying for you.

  26. Laura says:

    2 Peter 3:9 really spoke to my heart today, “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” As a mom who is waiting for two prodigals to turn around and come home, this comforts me. It feels so long sometimes, and I often pray, how long Lord, until they come? My heart hurts because of their unbelief and rebellion. But the Lord is not delaying as I understand that delay. They must need the time to experience whatever they need to experience, or meet whomever they need to meet, or fail at whatever they need to fail at…I just don’t know, but God knows, and that needs to be enough for me!

  27. Rhonda J. says:

    YES Annie and Donna, perfectly said what I was thinking! SO Good, that we have a SO GOOD God! How often do I rely on myself, and make my plans despite knowing that I need to, have to, rely on my Heavenly Father?!. Boy, I wish we were so faithful today to give it all; our time, energy, love, and abundance to Him, the One that gives it ALL to us. I wish we would fall on our knees as a nation…putting the ONE HOLY God on reverent display and heeding His voice, and wisely following after Him. But, I can still do it, luckily, for now.

    We made it back home this morning after a long night of travel! It’s not as easy as it used to be! But nothing feels like home! I am sure that’s how it felt to journey back to Jerusalem! Thank you for your prayers! I am excited to be able to make it to jail this afternoon, I didn’t think we would be back yet! That will be helpful because our main leader is out of town, and I am the only other one that goes on a regular basis with her, But God has faithfully brought some new volunteers into the ministry that agreed to go today!

    Love you all, my SRT SHE”S and Friends!!

  28. sophie marie says:

    feeling so so thankful for the promise that in my unfaithfulness, He will be faithful, in my doubt, He is sure, and in my wandering heart, He WILL carry me home. thank you Jesus for the ways you pull our heart back to yourself time and time again, and how when you do you recieve us with open arms!

  29. HL says:

    @TAMI C-praying for your daughter that she will find the community there that she longs for and that this medication tweak will ease her anxiety. Praying for you to continue to be reminded by God that you both made the right decision for her college as well.
    As someone who has willingly moved many times and had to find community (while being a introvert),I understand how much of a difference it will make in her experience while she’s there.

  30. sophie marie says:

    praying for you and your daughter Tami C! for encouragement and peace in the difficult transition time<3

  31. Donna Wolcott says:

    As I read today’s reading in my devotional book, “Jesus Always, it echoed some of what written in Ezra. “As you go through this day that I’ve gifted to you, watching over you continually. On bright, joyful days, speak to Me about the pleasures I provide; as you thank Me for them, your joy will expand abundantly. On dark, difficult days, grasp my hand in trusting dependence. I will help you, beloved.” We are indeed safe and secure in His everlasting arms and hands. Requests lifted!

  32. Annie Morel says:

    When I’m reading the Old Testament I can’t help but think “God’s people just can’t get it right” haha. It both makes me feel better (sometimes) and confirms for me that God is still willing to use imperfect people who lay before Him — Just like they did.
    But no matter what God’s people do, in any part of the Bible, it blows my mind that He is so good to still accomplish and fulfill every single promise He made His people.

    THAT is the definition of good. Like He is actually good and ultimately accomplishes His will and His promises that is the reason WE get to live an empowered, Holy Spirit filled life (boom, already fulfilled that one). AND if He did what He said before, that actually reignites the excitement that He actually is coming back!

    What a sweet Jesus!

  33. Cheryl Blow says:

    So thankful that God is faithful to His promises. We just need to humble ourselves, repent and ask God for His help. I think this book is a beautiful example of how God is always desiring to redeem us and help us. We just have to receive Him and His instructions and correction.

  34. Aleida says:

    Love this devotional and reading today! He first loved us and that is why He has rescued us. Please pray that my son, Victor will return to the Father who loves him more than I do!❤️

  35. Mari V says:

    “Because even when we fail, God‘s faithfulness, hold steady.” This is why I trust Him. He remains faithful, even when we’re not. Now that’s, OUR GOD!! Happy mid week sweet She’s. My new position is keeping me busy and exhausted by the end of the day. But I’m still here. There have been moments where I haven’t caught on quickly, or miss something. Please pray the teacher well, exercise, grace and patience, and I will catch on much quicker. Also, she’s pretty approachable, so I’m going to approach her about a few things of how I can better assist her.

  36. Cee Gee says:

    TAMI C – Correction – * REFINE ME! My eyes are blurry this morning!

  37. Cee Gee says:

    A PROMISE TO CLING TO: “Despite Israel’s disobedience, God did not allow sin to derail His good plan. His own faithful character guarantees that His promises will come true in the end.”

    A PROMISE OF HOPE: “Like Israel’s return to the promised land in today’s reading, we also get to return to our heavenly Father in repentance and humility, to find Him waiting for us with open arms.”

    A PROMISE OF OUR FUTURE:”And because of Jesus, the Father’s same faithful love and compassion is poured out on us as well, welcoming prodigals of all ages to return home to Him again. We are safe and secure in His everlasting arms.”

    ASHERITAH CIUCIU – This was so good I could copy the whole thing! Thank you!


    TAMI C – Agreeing in prayer and advice for your precious daughter. INE more thought. It helps me to ponder what God is trying to teach me (define me) when I am in a hard place. One of my favorite verses:
    Isaiah 49:31- But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. NLT

  38. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    “I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    Wow! Yes, that was me! But God!
    I am praying for you all and your requests. Have a blessed Wednesday Sisters!

  39. Kris says:

    I just love how God is always in the business of redemption, always ready to extend His grace to us, always yearning to pull us to Him. O, if I could grasp that kind of love. Jeremiah 31:17 really spoke to me, “There is hope for your future – this is the Lord’s declaration…” If He said it it has to be true. O, Father, that I might have that kind of faith to truly believe.

  40. Jane K says:

    TAMI C – praying for Chela at NYU. May she find God’s peace as she adjust to all these new challenges. I also pray she would find some Christian friends that would encourage her. She might be already going, but if not, have her attend one of the campus Christian groups, such as Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. My daughter was really struggling at college and then she got involved with Intervarsity and thrived.

  41. Michelle Patire says:

    Agreeing in prayer with other sisters here for your daughter, @TamiC- Chela. When I moved to NYC as a young woman, what really helped me feel at rest was a godly community. Like @Searching prayed, I pray she finds some Christians to walk alongside. I didn’t know anyone in New York, except for my friend who moved with me, so I considered my believing community “family.” I think of the verse, “God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6)” and believe He will help her find people to walk alongside. I agree with @Virgina- I don’t think you heard Him wrong, but He is using these situations to mold and shape her. Have faith. God’s got her. Keep in prayer but trust Him to grow her and make her more emotionally reliant on Him (and not on herself or anyone else!) Moving to NYC was the step God wanted me to take in being more intimate with Him. I no longer live there, but that season marked my faith story. I wouldn’t be who I am without the reality of living there! Praise God.

    @Aleida – “He is the promise-keeping, covenant-fulfilling, sin-forgiving God. His unrelenting grace brings the prodigal home, envelops him in the best robe, and declares him ‘son’ once more.” Thought of your, your husband, and Victor when I read this part of the devotional. God can bring him “home” to Him. Praying you don’t lose faith and believe this.

    @Teresa Donley- I pray you stay close to the Lord and trust Him with this situation. May you rest in His presence.

    God bless you this morning, Shes! Remember God is faithful to us not because of who we are, but because of who He is. He is unchanging. Your will be done, Oh Lord, in our lives.

  42. Sharon, Jersey Girl says:

    Such a comfort to know God yearns to bring all His prodigal children home. All praise to You, our loving, compassionate, heavenly Father! Praying for all our prodigal children today – young and old.

    Praying for you all dear sisters.

  43. Erica Chiarelli says:

    Thank God He is always welcoming the Prodigal…I was the Prodigal and He brought me back to Himself!! ❤️❤️ Thank You, Jesus!!

  44. Virginia says:

    Praying for you Tammy C. My daughter is in her first year of college, too. I recently read this that helped me…”Remember that God is in the process of molding your child’s character to match their calling. Character is molded when our children are stretched and bent and put through some fire. Remember that God is with them, and they are safe in His hands to grow.”

  45. Lynn Sokolowski says:

    Prayers for your daughter Tami! I wonder if NYU participated in a program called UWill. It’s a 24/7 service for college students to have free access to a therapist who can help her with coping skills and talk to her when she is struggling. The first year is so tough!

  46. Erin L says:

    Tami C. Prayed for you and your daughter. I have a daughter who struggles with anxiety as well. Praying peace for your hearts today and comfort from God.

  47. Searching says:

    TAMI C – praying for Chela as she adjusts to all these changes, for comfort, strength and guidance, to consider the newness of everything more as exciting rather than overwhelming, the ability to view things as several manageable steps rather than seeing NYU/NYC challenges as only one huge thing, for Christian friends and resources at school to walk with her as she adapts. ❤️

  48. Aimee D-R says:

    A cry for prayer that this generation will repent and return home to the Father! We need revival. Holy Spirit come. In Jesus name, Amen

  49. Searching says:

    Trusting the Lord, praying for wisdom, following His guidance. Ezra (thanks KRISTINE LOUGHMAN) wobbled briefly in his faith for protection, stopped to regroup and moved forward in faith.

    COLLEEN DEVEAU – great testimony on God’s faithfulness and provision for your daddy and family. Praying for all. ❤️
    AG – thank you for teaching! Praying for you and your students in the challenges and difficulties, that they would feel calmed and encouraged by the peace you display, and for extra patience with the big behavior children. I always wonder what’s going on (or has gone on) in their lives.
    JENNIFER ANAPOL – praying as you balance life with your children and MIL
    TERESA DONLEY – praying, sister, and thank you for your prayers. For relief of fear and anxiety as you wait, for the Lord to comfort you, and to also guide your doctors. ❤️
    CEE GEE – love what you pointed out yesterday that Ezra prepared himself spiritually before leading- as we should too! Praying our leaders at all levels of government would come to this realization. re: same verse yesterday :) Great minds think alike ❤️ Thank you for your prayers. Agree 10,000% about advocating for ourselves when it comes to our health.
    ALEIDA – praying as you complete your home purchase, sale and preparation for the move. Continuing to pray for Victor, to overcome his struggles.

  50. Tami C says:

    Good morning ladies. Loving this study. Thank you for those who faithfully comment. I take notes! May I humbly ask for prayer? My 19 year old daughter Chela has started her first year at NYU. Choosing a school was a big deal and I felt God had given me a clear confirmation when it came down to making the choice for NYU. She’s been there for two weeks and is having a really tough time transitioning. Transitioning to college is one thing, but doing so and then living in New York City is another and she is completely overwhelmed. She suffers from anxiety and is near panic every day. I am receiving phone calls and texts constantly, trying to talk her off the ledge. My mamas heart is breaking and I feel completely helpless. I’m also questioning if I heard God right although it was so clear to me at the time. I’m getting so much out of this study because I feel like the Israelites right now. “God you told us to rebuild The temple but we’re meeting all this opposition. What’s the deal God?” Anyway would you kindly pray for wisdom in the situation and for me to be able to stand on Gods promises for my daughter, even though I don’t see them right now. Also her doctor had tweaked her medication so praying that does the trick. Thank you ladies. Have a blessed day

  51. Kristine Loughman says:

    So Ezra tells the king they won’t need a military escort to Jerusalem to keep them safe, because God will protect them. Then just before setting out, he realizes what he’s done. It’s the moment of faith. Can he have faith that God really will keep them safe? Because if something goes wrong… How many times do I proclaim I have faith, yet I’m also working on my back up plan. I would totally have taken the king up on his offer instead of relying solely on God. Grateful for Ezra’s example. And grateful for all you ladies!

  52. Kelly (NEO) says:

    “God wouldn’t let sin get the final word. Rather, His own faithfulness guaranteed that His promises would be fulfilled, no matter what.”

    Can I get an “Amen”? Thank you, Asheritah (from NEO!) great reflection.

    Praying for your requests, She’s.

  53. Mary Ann Graves says:

    Safety and security in His arms forever!

  54. Andrea P says:

    Thank you Asheritah for your words of wisdom. So many good nuggets of truth! Even when we fail, God’s faithfulness holds us steady. We can ALWAYS find refuge in him- let’s us throw ourselves on God’s mercy! ❤️ Thanks be to God.