A New Start

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezra 9:5-15

TO CHEW ON: "Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: 'I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.' " Ezra 9:5,6

Ezra and the people were overjoyed when they reached Jerusalem. There were cheers, tears of joy and hugs as old friends met again and families got re-acquainted. But it took only one meeting with the leaders for Ezra to find out that things here were far from perfect.

“The men have again begun to marry idol-worshiping women,” the leaders told him. “Even the priests and Levites are doing this.”

Ezra was shocked, terribly disappointed, and afraid. He tore his clothes, pulled hair from his head and beard, then sat on the ground in silence.

Why hadn’t the people learned their lesson? Would God now need to punish them again? Or would He give up on them and wipe them out altogether?
Soon others who were also loyal to God joined him. They sat there all day.

Finally in the evening Ezra got on his knees to pray. He raised his hands and cried out, “We’ve sinned. You told us not to become like the idol-worshiping people in the land, but we’re doing it again. Please forgive us and don’t destroy us completely.”

When onlookers saw Ezra’s reaction, they realized how serious their sin was. His prayer reminded them of how God wanted them to live without compromise. That day many decided to turn from their sinful ways. That day was the beginning of a new start with God in Jerusalem.

How easily we become like the Israelites and slip back into old habits and sins. But we don’t need to stay in them. We can ask for God’s forgiveness like Ezra did. We can stop our sinful habits and again live to please God. If we repent, God will give us a new start too.

PRAYER: Dear God, I have slipped back into old habits of ______. I want to turn back and follow You again. Please give me a new start. Amen.

MORE: Revival

When people who once followed God come back to Him, we call it a revival. A revival can happen to one person at a time. It can also happen to many people at once and affect whole churches, towns, cities, and countries. Ezra’s revival happened about 2500 years ago. Many revivals have happened since then. Below is a list of some of them. Pick out one and using books and the internet, find out how that revival started and what happened.

- the Welsh Revival - 1904

- the Azusa Street Revival - 1905

- the Hebrides Revival - 1949

- the Indonesian Revival - 1965

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