Ezra 3:1-11 (NIV)

1 When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices. 4 Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. 5 After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD. 6 On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD’s temple had not yet been laid.

7 Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia. 8 In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work, appointing Levites twenty years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD. 9 Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah ) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers–all Levites–joined together in supervising those working on the house of God. 10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Ezra 3:3 (NIV)

Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

DEVOTION -Troy Dennis (New Brunswick, Canada)

“Trust me.  Give it one more shot.”  My teacher was encouraging me to go to the second practice of our school’s jazz band.  During the first practice, he had handed out music I thought was too hard.  I was afraid to fail, to embarrass myself in front of the group.  After a lot of coaxing, I agreed to try one more time.

The second practice was much better, and I have continued to play the trumpet ever since.  Playing in that band gave me confidence to do things I might never have considered.  I’m glad I went – even though I was afraid.

My fears seems insignificant when compared to the fear the Israelite exiles felt as they returned to Jerusalem in the sixth-century BC.  Their ancestors had been taken as prisoners of war decades before, but this was no joyful homecoming.  The residents of the city were openly hostile to them, and the situation had become very tense.  In order to worship they would need to build an altar, risking bodily harm and perhaps death.  Still, they chose to worship God.

All of us experience fear of some kind.  Yet, the Israelites can inspire us to trust God.  They were afraid, but they overcame their fear.  If they could trust God in the midst of great danger, so can we.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we face fear, God is with us.

LINK2LIFE: Go to devotional.upperroom.org/blog to see a photo of Troy with his trumpet.

PRAYER: Dear God, when we are afraid and don’t know what to do, help us to be like the Israelites and trust you – despite our fears.  Amen.