Beyond the Obstacles
Today’s scripture selection: Ezra 1-5
Key verse: Ezra 4:4
“Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.”
Long ago, during the time when those who had been exiled returned to Jerusalem to build their temple, not surprisingly opposition arose.
Why do I say “not surprisingly”? Because it’s often that way.
There are forces in this world – some seen; some unseen – that are at work to thwart God’s plans. It’s nothing new. And it will continue into the future – until one day God puts a stop to it – according to His timing.
What do we do in the meantime?
We keep on building.
Fear and doubt; people telling us we are foolish and misguided; depression and thoughts that we will never accomplish what we have set out to do – this is all part of the opposition.
But faith and hope; a community of believers that trusts in God’s providential love; encouragement and conviction that we, with God’s help, will finish what He has called us to do in His name – this is all part of the victory.
So, don’t be surprised when, now and then, you feel defeated.
It’s only an illusion – “smoke and mirrors”.
God knows what He is doing and how He is going to get it done – to His Glory.
And you are part of it all.
Prayer: Almighty God, may I always trust in your plan, even when I cannot see it unfolding. AMEN.
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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