Most of us have spent a lot more time at home recently. This can be both good and bad. The downside is that we easily get stuck in bad habits. Instead of staying sharp in our spirit, we can “put off” seeking God and ignore His Word. Staying at home for an extended time can dull our heart if all we do is watch TV and binge on movies. For spiritual fruit to grow, we have to “stir our hearts” to desire Jesus and His will. As most of you know, I am preaching a series through 2 Peter entitled, “Stir it Up.” This week in my devotions, while reading the Book of Ezra, I was surprised to discover the expression “stir up” twice in chapter one. The first time is found in verse one: “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing…” (Ezra 1:1, ESV). The Israelites had been in exile from their homeland for about 70 years. Now, God worked in the heart of King Cyrus (who did not even know God) and “stirred” his heart to encourage the Jews to return to their land to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. How would the Israelites in captivity respond to this challenge to return home? The proclamation by Cyrus was not a forced evacuation. They had a choice to stay or to go. To return to Israel was God’s best for the Israelites, but He allowed His people to make up their own minds. “Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5). The Bible tells us that over 50,000 made the choice to do the right thing—to go build God’s city and the Temple. In order to venture into this step of faith, they needed to allow God to stir their hearts. Because of routine habits, it would have been easier for the Israelites to stay in Persia and continue the “same old same old.” When I read this, I thought of all the people I know who have slipped away from the Lord through neglect of their “heart life” with God. Yet, He is willing—right now—to stir our hearts if we let Him! Keep your heart tender toward God by praying, “Lord, stir me up so that I always say yes to Your will! Help me not to drift into bad habits that dull my heart toward You and deafen my ears to hear Your Word.” The Lord is faithful to stir us up…just ask Him!
Pastor Mark Boucher