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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Hearing from God (Ezra 1)

Do you ever hear from God? Do you ever hear God directing you to do something? I don't mean an audible voice but a prompting within your soul directing you to do something. Can you tell the difference between God directing you and just your own desires?

The book of Ezra starts off telling us that God moved some of the people in Judah and Benjamin to return to Israel and rebuild the temple. But before God moved the people, He directed King Cyrus of Persia who was over the region that had once been Assyria and Babylon, to build a temple for the Lord God of Israel.

Cyrus' decree was so astounding, it is the ending statement of 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36:23) and the beginning of Ezra (Ezra 1:2). All the people had to know there was no way this Persian king would possibly make this decree without God directing him and moving his heart.

But surprisingly, not all of the Jewish people returned to Israel to rebuild the temple. Only some of them did.

Ezra 1:5 Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.

Why after all these years of captivity did many Jews not return to rebuild the temple? There were thousands who chose to stay behind in Babylon.

They chose to stay behind because following God's direction isn't easy. In their case, the journey to Jerusalem was difficult, dangerous, and expensive. It would have taken them 4 months to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem. Then once they got there, they would have found Jerusalem in ruins and the neighboring people were hostile and frustrated any efforts to rebuild the temple.

But I don't think that's the real reason many were not moved to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Persian records indicate many of the Jews in captivity had accumulated great wealth. They had homes. They were comfortable. Following God to return to Jerusalem meant giving up their possessions and their comfortable lifestyle in exchange for a difficult life full of uncertainties.

It's really just like today, isn't it? Few people are going to be willing to follow God when the road ahead is going to be difficult and full of challenges. Most will prefer to hold on to their security, comfort and routine. In fact, who in their right mind would choose the hard and difficult road if there is an easier one? Only those who are hearing from God and allowing Him to move their hearts will chose the more difficult road.

So how do you know when God is the one directing you to do something? For me there are normally 4 signs:

  1. It interrupts my routine and plans and is not something I really want to do.

  2. It is something I don't feel capable of doing on my own.

  3. It is something I know is consistent with Scripture and will glorify God. In fact Scripture races to the front of my mind showing me how it fulfills God's Word.

  4. It becomes something on the forefront of my mind that I am constantly thinking about even though I don't want to, until I finalize feel like saying, "Ok Lord, I know this is You directing me, so even in this, I will trust you."

Let me give a few examples:

  • In 2004, we were put in a position to move from southern Illinois to Omaha, Nebraska. We did not want to move and leave our family, friends, and church. But God put it on our hearts so clearly that we knew He was telling us to move. In fact, we knew we would be disobeying Him if we didn't. So we trusted and obeyed. In doing so, we have been blessed, our kids have been blessed, and God has given us opportunities to serve Him here in many ways we didn't expect.

  • In 2013, God directed us to start a Bible Study in our home. We didn't want to. It was going to take a huge amount of time away from our family and require that to become our focus. But we knew God was directing us to do it. So we trusted and obeyed Him. Now almost 9 years later, we have learned so much studying God's Word inductively, have made amazing friends along the way, and we have had the opportunity to see many others grow in their relationship with Jesus and in their understanding of God's Word.

  • In January 2022, God directed me to start sharing Bible devotions as I do my daily reading through the Bible as well as Bible prophecy news articles. Again, I didn't want to do it because I just don't have the time. In fact, I kept saying "I don't have time to design a website and do this every day." But I knew God was directing me to do it because I could think of nothing else. So I reluctantly obeyed and carved out time to put it together. This website went live in February 2022. In the first 3 months there have been over 3,000 site visits from people in 42 states in the U.S. and 28 countries.

Over and over again, I am tremendously humbled that God would chose to use me for anything. I am a nobody. Why would the God of the universe choose to use even me?

For the same reason the God of the universe chose to use King Cyrus of Persia, and the Jews who returned to Israel to rebuild the temple, and anyone else today that is willing to listen and say "Ok Lord, even in this, I will trust You and obey You."

God is looking for willing hearts who will follow Him. As we accept that invitation to obey and follow Him, He fills us with the desire to study His Word, hear from Him, and learn what we need to learn to serve Him in the way He is calling each one of us to serve.

How is God calling you today? Are you listening? Are you willing to say, "Ok Lord, even in this, I will trust You and obey You?"

What I have been most amazed by is that when I choose to say yes to Jesus, He not only equips me with the time and ability but fills me with incredible joy as I get to see Him work all around me. So once again today I choose to say, "Yes Lord. I will follow and obey You, even when I know I am not capable."

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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