MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Suggested Reading: Ezra 9-10
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Key Verse: Ezra 10:1
Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large congregation of men, women, and children assembled to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.
During the captivity in Babylon, much very serious prayer took place. Daniel prayed three times every day while facing Jerusalem. No doubt there were many others doing the same. God answered their prayers with a resounding, “YES!” The result was that God moved the heart and mind of the Persian Emperor Cyrus and his successors.
Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, states in “Antiquities of the Jews” (11.1.2) that Jews showed King Cyrus, who defeated Babylon, the prophecy of Isaiah where his name was mentioned over 100 years before his birth. Isaiah described Cyrus’ role in the plan of God. Josephus writes that this motivated Cyrus “to fulfill what was written.” Archeological excavations in 1879-1882 found what is known as the “Cyrus Cylinder.” At the opening of the Crossroads Centre in 1992, we had a replica of this cylinder on display. It is an important confirmation of the accuracy of the Biblical account, and of the policies of Cyrus in his rule of his vast empire. It says of Israel, “All their peoples I gathered together and restored to their dwelling place” (see photo of the Cyrus Cylinder below).
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, You do hear and answer prayer. Sometimes You say, “Yes,” sometimes, “No,” sometimes, “Slow.” I pray for deliverance of people today from captivity, yes, in Iraq (ancient Babylon) and Iran (ancient Persia), and also here at home. Destructive addictions, bad decisions, a self focus rather than seeking the good of others first, and other things, are holding people in captivity. I cry out to You for restoration of all that is good, kind, and loving. I pray in the name of the One who modelled the life we need, Jesus, Himself, Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
Last week I walked several blocks in the area of Sherbourne Street in Toronto. Norma-Jean and I lived for a time on Seaton Street, just one block east of Sherbourne. I passed the Salvation Army Men’s Centre where we volunteered on several occasions. I thought of our city in history. I had read that in the 1880’s Toronto was a mess! Open sewers, contaminated drinking water, much public display of intoxication, prostitution, and other ills that made Toronto a bad place to live. One man made a difference. The city became known as “Toronto the Good.” William Howland attended an evangelistic series of meetings at St. James Cathedral, where history records that he realized he was a sinner who needed the Saviour. Fired up by his new faith, he set out to bring change and hope to his city. He regularly visited people living in the slums. He became an active worker in the YMCA. To help people find jobs, he raised the money to build an industrial school. At age 42 he ran for Mayor of Toronto and won (see photo below). His first act as Mayor was to create a morality squad, which patrolled and cleaned up the streets. He instituted a complete overhaul of the city’s water system. He so involved himself in the plight of the underprivileged that he wore himself out and died at 49. Those years impacted Toronto for at least a century.
I saw evidences, particularly in the park on Sherbourne Street, that Toronto needs another William Howland. I’m praying for the intervention of God in Canada’s largest city, in our entire country, and around the world!
Yours for hearing from God and for making the best personal decisions possible,