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DAY 10

Return

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: On day one we asked where you were in relation to God. It has been a few days now, has that changed? Are you finding yourself any closer to the Lord? Worship is one of the best ways to connect with God and prepare our hearts to hear from Him. Turn on your favorite worship song and take a few minutes to soak up God’s presence before getting into the reading for today.

[15 minutes]
Scripture reading:

Ezra 10:1-44
1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Psalm 31:9-18
Proverbs 21:3

Devotional thought
Let’s talk about Shekaniah. We are introduced to this character in today’s story about a dark time for Ezra and the group in Judea. The name Shekaniah means dwelling and is the masculine version of the word Shekhinah meaning the presence of God. Shekaniah, then, translates to something along the lines of “the dwelling place of God.”

In chapter 10, Ezra dedicated the returned exiles to the Lord. Soon after the dedication service, he discovers some of the people have become distracted, even to the point of marrying foreign women. We see other examples of women from non-Jewish groups being accepted into the Jewish community throughout the Old Testament. So, some scholars believe that this passage means the people were worshiping other gods and following other religions. A darker interpretation taken by some scholars is that these men have replaced their Jewish wives with foreign installments.

Into this mess comes the voice of Shekaniah. We know that he is the son of one of the men who married a foreign wife, but that does not stop him from speaking up and supporting Ezra. In the midst of Ezra’s grief and disappointment, Shekaniah is a voice of encouragement “We have been unfaithful to our God…….but in spite of this there is still hope…” Ezra 10:2

What applies to me?
Isn’t this what the presence of God does? When we find ourselves faced with our sin; when we have lost the plot or gotten off course. The Spirit of God says “Yes, you are a bit off the path, but there is hope.”

Shekaniah will tell Ezra to “rise up” and “take courage”. This is the heart of God toward us when we repent. The word for repent in Hebrew is “teshuva,” which means return. When we realize the price of our complacency or that we are headed in the wrong direction, God invites us to acknowledge our sin, take hope, rise up and return.

Sin moves us away from God, and it makes us forget we are “made in the image of God.” Sometimes we don’t even realize the direction we are taking until we find ourselves feeling lost. If you are adrift and disconnected from God today. If you are going the wrong direction, this is an invitation to make a U-turn; an invitation to come home. Take hope, rise up, and return.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: Have you lost your way, do you need to return? Write out where you are, what makes you feel lost and what is causing disconnection between you and God.

Pray it out: Pray and tell God where you have missed the mark, apologize for your complacency or distraction. Ask God to help you return.

Live it out: If you find yourself disconnected from God, take hope, rise up and return.