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WEEK FOURTEEN: COMING OUT OF EXILE

Prayer:
 

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are  God, my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.

Amen.

 

Psalm 25:4-7

WEEK FOURTEEN | DAY ONE

 

READ:  Ezra 1-8


JOURNAL: Write your initial thoughts on today’s reading. What words or phrases stuck out to you? What questions do you have about what you read?

LEARN: When the Israelites were released from captivity and given the freedom to return to their promised land, we can only imagine the excitement they felt! But as they learned quickly, and as we learn in today’s reading, this return meant a lot of hard work for the Israelites. But, because of their desire to worship the Lord, they rebuilt the alter and the temple. And, despite opposition, Ezra helped this remnant of Israelites rediscover the Law of Moses.

 

RESPOND: When they returned to Jerusalem, the Israelites faced opposition from inside and outside their camp in their efforts to rebuild their beloved city. Ezra, Zerubbabel, and the other leaders had to be persistent in their faith in order to guide the Israelites back to the Lord.

  • How do you typically respond to opposition?

  • Are there any areas in your life right now where you are feeling opposition to your faith?

WEEK FOURTEEN | DAY TWO

 

READ: Nehemiah 1-9 


JOURNAL: Write your initial thoughts on today’s reading. What words or phrases stuck out to you? What questions do you have about what you read?

  

LEARN: Nehemiah is given the king’s blessing to return to Jerusalem with the other Israelites, and he is equipped to govern the people as they rebuilt their city. As we saw in Ezra, Nehemiah faces opposition to his plans to restore Jerusalem. But the two titular characters team up to lead the people in a covenant-renewal ceremony to celebrate their commitment to living righteously before the Lord.

RESPOND: 
Each of the three leaders, main leaders in this combined work – Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah – focus on a specific area in their efforts to re-establish God’s people in the promised land. Zerubbabel restored the temple, Ezra rediscovered the law, and Nehemiah repaired the wall. 

  • Which of these three restoration projects do you think is the most significant?

  • Which one would you be most likely to join?

WEEK FOURTEEN | DAY THREE

 

READ: Haggai


JOURNAL: Write your initial thoughts on today’s reading. What words or phrases stuck out to you? What questions do you have about what you read?

 

LEARN: Haggai is one of the prophets who returned with Israel from the exile. As a messenger of God, Haggai addresses the imperfections that still plagued Israel even though they were back in the land. The people still had not returned to the Lord in their hearts, which is why the prophet challenges them with His words. He tells the people that although they are preoccupied with rebuilding the temple, they should be rebuilding their own faithfulness to God, because that is what truly matters.

 

RESPOND: Some of the older Israelites who had lived through the entire exile were discouraged by the rebuilding of the temple, because it paled in comparison to Solomon’s temple, but Haggai reminds them that they are missing the point entirely! 

  • How do you respond in situations where your expectations are not met?

  • Have you ever experienced a time when God did not answer your prayer in a way that you expected? How did the situation play out?

WEEK FOURTEEN| DAY FOUR

 

READ: Zechariah 7-14


JOURNAL: Write your initial thoughts on today’s reading. What words or phrases stuck out to you? What questions do you have about what you read?

 

LEARN: Zechariah is another prophet sent to the remnant of Israel who returned from exile. Like his counterpart Haggai, Zechariah speaks to the people about the importance of returning to God with their hearts. Israel was sent into exile for neglecting God’s commands, and they were brought back to the promised land because of God’s grace. But just because they have made it back to the land does not mean they are off scot-free. God still desires His people to be faithful to Him and Him alone.

 

RESPOND: One spiritual practice that Zechariah instructs the Israelites to observe is fasting. Fasting is a commitment to abstain from something (often food, but social media is a popular modern option) for a set time. Christians around the world fast to help focus their attention and dependence upon the Lord. 

  • You are challenged to fast from something significant today (or tomorrow, if you’re doing your devotion at night). Remember that you are giving something up because of your desire to draw closer to God.

WEEK FOURTEEN| DAY FIVE

 

READ: Esther


JOURNAL: Write your initial thoughts on today’s reading. What words or phrases stuck out to you? What questions do you have about what you read?

 

LEARN: Even though the Israelites were given the freedom to return to the promised land, not all of them went. There were many who continued to live in diaspora communities, and that is the setting of Esther’s story. Esther is raised up and made queen at a pivotal time in the history of the Jewish people, and she uses her position to save God’s people from death. Even though they may be far from their home, God has not abandoned His people. Instead, we serve a God who is present in our lives, just as He was present in Esther’s.

 

RESPOND: 

  • Did you notice that God is never mentioned in Esther’s story? Even though He is not named, God’s presence can be felt throughout the book. 

  • What are some ways that you see God at work in Esther’s story?

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ABOUT US

Church of the Saviour United Methodist is a multi-generational Christian congregation serving Montgomery, Blue Ash, and other communities in the northern region of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

ADDRESS

Church of the Saviour United Methodist​

8005 Pfeiffer Road
Cincinnati, OH 45242

513-791-3142

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