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Devotion's by Deborah

Devotion 3-8-24, Ezra 8:21-22- "Then I proclaimed a fast...that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us...we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” The devout Jews, exiles in Babylon, believed God was "favorably disposed" to them because they had retained faith in God. It had been 70 years since Babylon had captured them. Now they had permission to return through dangerous territory. They had refused an escort from the king, not wanting to make God appear weak. So they fasted and prayed for God's hand to be on them, protecting them as they traveled home. They had testified of their relationship with God to the king. Now they had to live it out. God did protect them as they traveled and they arrived safely. They fasted and prayed and depended on, trust it in, leaned on, God. They are our example today. Life gets very difficult, dangerous, unnerving at times. What do we do? Do we run for others to fix the issues or do we fast and pray? Is our relationship with God strong and trusting or weak and based on what God is giving us? Is it a relationship or just His gifts? The Israelites, in their 70 year exile, had suffered, but God had been faithfully present with them. Their suffering had produced a deeper love for God. It had produced faith that He was trustworthy and good. They fasted, prayed, proclaimed God's power and strength, and set off into dangerous territory. Is that your experience with God? He does not prevent discipline or suffering; but, He is right there in the midst of it with you! "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8a

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