January 02, 2014


Ezra 1:5-11

King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem …
—Ezra 1:7


For many years, my mother kept most of my high school awards at her house. I won them in academic competitions with other high school students on Chicago’s West Side. But one day thieves came and destroyed old family photos and ran away with my awards. I grieved the loss of those symbols of past achievements.

The Israelites probably thought their old valuables for temple worship had been destroyed long ago. But Nebuchadnezzar had placed the bowls, basins, and other items in the house of his god. And King Cyrus knew where they were. God had a backup plan for his keepsakes. The lost items were returned for use in the new temple.

Was Israel ready to build God’s house of worship? Yes. Were the priests excited to lead God’s people in worship? Absolutely! And King Cyrus was ready to give back the stolen items because he knew God had a greater plan at work: to restore his people and guide them back to putting the Lord first in their lives.

God always has a plan for keeping worship vital. Jesus told a Samaritan woman one day that true worship was not tied to things or places. He said, “True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). Does the Lord have first place in your life?

Jesus, I place my complete trust in you as the one who came to take away my sins and restore the joy of my salvation. Let nothing steal my devotion to you alone. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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