The Touch of a Stroke
Do you comb your hair in the morning before you head out for the day? Why do we comb our hair? As the brush strokes through our hair it altars it. What may have been discheveld is now smooth. What may have been tangled is now untangled. We look better. The same is true for journaling our prayers. The stroke of a pen on paper has profound effects. It changes us. As we write out Bible verses it straightens our disheveled emotions. As we prayerfully apply the stroke of our pen to journal pages, it untangles our thoughts. Applying a brush to our hair changes our outer appearance. Applying verses and prayers to the pages of a journal changes our innermost self. (Psalm 51:6) Get a copy of Prayers of My Heart journal and begin seeing changes in your life from the inside out.
Heavenly Father, You tell us in Psalm 51:6 that You desire truth in our innermost being. Change us from the inside out as we prayerfully meditate on Scripture and take it into our innermost being.
Lord who Turns King’s Hearts
If you haven’t read Ezra in a while, jump in! It’s been so awesome. I’m in chapter 6 today, so let me bring you up with what’s happened since the Lord stirred the spirit of King Cyrus to let the Jews rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 1 & 2 record all who returned. It lists ALL the families. It’s neat to read through them all. Ezra 3 tells how they began reconstruction “as one man.” I loved reading that part. In other words, they really came together for this project!
Ezra 4 is so cool because it tells how their enemies, who didn’t want them to rebuild the temple, played like they did and asked to be a part. Do times ever change??? However, and this is a big however, in Ezra 4:3, Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest replied, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.” In other words, “thanks, but no thanks.” Somewhere in there is a whole sermon on being astute.Let’s jump forward to verse 4.
After the foxes in lambs’ clothes were told “thanks, but no thanks,” they got mad and began a campaign against the rebuilding of the temple. It’s a long story. You can read about it in Ezra 4:4-24. Bottom line, the rebuilding was stopped. Don’t you hate that? What a reminder that we live in a fallen world and there will always be opposition to the ongoing work of the Lord. Opposition, but not ultimate defeat! Keep reading.
In Ezra 5 the construction is renewed due to the “preaching of the prophets.” (Amen and amen to pastors preaching the Word of God.) A letter was written to counter the enemies’ letter that had thwarted the rebuilding, and guess what? King Darius not only affirmed Cyrus’ original blessing on the rebuilding, he added his own blessing. See Ezra 6:8-10.
In addition, Daius made sure no more sassy enemies would deter the Jews and rebuilding. Listen to his warning in Ezra 6:11, “And I issued a decree that any man who violates this edict, a timber shall be drawn from his house and he shall be impaled on it and his house shall be made a refuse heap on account of this.” I mean he is one serious guy. Thankfully, he’s on the Jews’ side this time!
Let’s continue with the kings’ thoughts in Ezra 6:12, “May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to chage it, so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree, let it be carried out with all diligence!”Now, to the part I really want to emphasize today. Ezra 6:22, (upon completion of the temple) “And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
Oh, my dear friends, did you hear that? The Lord turned the heart of the king. We should never despair. The Lord hears our prayers. I pray you are calling out to the Lord who turns kings’ hearts.
For those journaling in Prayers of My Heart, this is an awesome attribute of God upon which to base your prayers for others and yourself. Need a heart change? Know someone who does? P.R.A.Y. to the One who changes hearts.