Day 10

Preparing to Return to Jerusalem

from the Ezra reading plan

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

BY Asheritah Ciuciu

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.

Post Comments (54)

54 thoughts on "Preparing to Return to Jerusalem"

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Cee Gee says:

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

  5. Teresa Donley says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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❤️

  8. 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.

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