THE CYRUS CYLINDER
The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia. —Ezra 1:1
In 1879, archaeologists discovered a remarkable little item in an area now known as Iraq (biblical Babylon). Just 9 inches long, the Cyrus Cylinder records something that King Cyrus of Persia did 2,500 years ago. It says that Cyrus allowed a group of people to return to their homeland and rebuild their “holy cities.”
It’s the same story told in Ezra 1. There we read that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” to make a proclamation (v. 1). And in that proclamation, Cyrus said he was releasing the captives in Babylon to go home to Jerusalem, re-establish their homes, and rebuild their temple (vv. 2-5).
But there’s more to the story. Daniel confessed his sins and his people’s sins and pleaded with God to end the Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9). In response to Daniel’s prayer, God sent an angel to speak to Daniel (v. 21). Later He moved Cyrus to release the Hebrews. (See also Jer. 25:11-12; 39:10.)
Together, the Cyrus Cylinder and God’s Word combine to show us that the king’s heart was changed and he allowed the exiled Hebrews to go home and worship.
This story has great implications for us today. In a world that seems out of control, we can rest assured that God can move the hearts of leaders. We read in Proverbs 21:1 that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” And Romans 13:1 says that “there is no authority except from God.”
The Lord, who is able to change our own hearts as well as the hearts of our leaders, can be trusted for He is in control. Let’s ask Him to work.
Dear Father, the world so often seems out of control. We know You are sovereign over everything. We pray that Your will be done in our homeland and in the hearts of our leaders.
Rather than complain, pray.
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6, AMP
Do you need guidance or counsel about something in your life? One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to be your Wonderful Counselor. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Counselor, the Spirit of God comes to live inside of you.
Notice He’s not just any kind of counselor, He is the Wonderful Counselor. He’s the very best counselor you could have because He knows all things!
Do you need counsel today regarding your job? Do you need counsel regarding your relationships or an important decision? Do you need a counselor to act as your defender today? Call on the Wonderful Counselor. Open your heart and let Him show you His wisdom. Receive His truth from the Word of God. Receive His counsel from the godly people in your life. Keep your heart open to Him because He promises to show you paths of life and victory!
Because of Jesus you qualify for salvation, healing, deliverance, favor, soundness, wholeness, prosperity and everything you will ever need in life!
(2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. )
God I give you full freedom and access to get involved in my situation. (Psalms 32:7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. )
God’s love for you isn’t based on your performance; it’s based on who He is. He never changes, and His love for you never changes!
What do you need today? Do you need healing in your body? Do you need to get out of debt? Maybe you need deliverance from harmful habits, or you’re asking God to mend a broken relationship. Whatever it is you need, God has the answer. It’s right there in His Word.
FREEDOM FROM TEMPTATION
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. – Luke 10:19
Although these are examples of God’s protection from harm caused by the physical creation, this scripture is also speaking of mastery over the spiritual realm of the enemy (i.e., Satan). This Scripture does not say that Satan cannot inflict any harm. The scriptures abound with examples, and warnings of the enemy’s damage on the godly and the ungodly alike (2 Cor. 2:11, 2 Tim. 2:26, 1 Pet. 5:8-9). However, he cannot harm us when we are walking in faith in Christ’s redemptive work.
There are no unique temptations. The devil likes to make us think there are. If he can convince us that no one understands, no one has ever had this problem before, then he can isolate us and take away our hope. But any temptation we face is just some variation of the same old thing. It may come in a different sized box, be wrapped in a different paper, and have a different bow, but the contents are the same. Understanding this diffuses much of the power of temptation.
Even though temptation is universal to mankind, we are not left on our own. God is faithful. Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, and yet He overcame every time (Heb. 4:15). Part of His ministry is to specifically aid us in overcoming temptation (Heb. 2:17-18). Most of us have experienced times when we thought we couldn’t resist another minute. Either we were wrong, or we were on the verge of a breakthrough. The Lord promised that He would not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear. So, at those times when you can’t stand another minute, stand two and this promise will pull you through.
YOU CAN’T COLLECT A DEBT FROM SOMEONE WHO CAN’T PAY. THEREFORE, FORGIVE!
The word “forgive”, as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, means “to absolve from payment”; that is, to cancel a debt.
Unfortunately, many people try to force others who have hurt them to “pay” for their actions. Rather than forgiving — “absolving from payment” — such people try to force others to pay them back.
Other people may have committed evil against you; however, the Bible says that we overcome evil with good(Romans 12:21).
An excellent example of this principle of overcoming evil with good can be seen in the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). He had many opportunities to be bitter toward others, yet he refused to do so. Indeed, he kept a good attitude even during greatly unfair circumstances.
When Joseph was seventeen years old, his brothers sold him into slavery (see Genesis 37). The slave traders took him to Egypt, where, Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, had a dream, which Joseph interpreted to mean that Egypt would have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph that he placed the young man in charge of the entire food supply of Egypt. Joseph stored food during the first seven years so that the country would survive during the subsequent seven.
After just a year or two of famine, Egypt was the only place around that had food left. And, sure enough, Joseph’s brothers came to get food. Joseph could have demanded that his brothers repay him for abusing him, mistreating him, and selling him into slavery. But instead, Joseph forgave them — he canceled their debt.
In your life, you will certainly be presented with situations in which you must choose either to try to force others to repay you for what they did to you or in which you can simply forgive them. Like Joseph, forgive!
IN THE FACE OF DEATH …
In Western culture, many people place great value on possessions and on what one owns. This greedy mentality is embodied in the phrase: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
Yet when you die, you can’t take anything with you: Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs (Ecclesiastes 5:15). It’s no wonder that, when faced with the immediacy of death, one most easily realizes that everyday things are meaningless in the scope of eternity.
In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul lists many reasons why he could boast about himself. Yet, he recognizes that they pale in comparison to eternity, which is why he considers them rubbish in order to gain Christ (Philippians 3:9).
All this “stuff” we chase after will be gone. Therefore, make it your aim to live with eternal purpose and invest in eternal things; to spend all you have on what lasts forever.
YOUR BLIND SPOT (4)
May…the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You… – Psalm 19:14 NLT
Jesus said when the Holy Spirit came He would convict us of sin, but conviction is not the same as ‘getting caught’. When we get caught doing wrong we feel pain, but it’s not necessarily conviction over sin. Often it’s just embarrassment over how others are thinking about us. If we thought no one would ever know, we wouldn’t be in pain. And conviction isn’t the same thing as fear of punishment. Conviction is when you get a glimpse of what you’re capable of: ‘How did I become the kind of person who can lie, cheat on a test, have an affair, claim credit for what I didn’t do, act in a cowardly way instead of courageously, or use people for my own ends?’ These aren’t questions you’d normally ask yourself. The Bible says, ‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light…’ (John 3:19 NIV) When God is at work in your life, the pain isn’t about other people knowing, or even about the consequences. That’s all external. The pain of conviction is internal—it’s over who you are. Unless your car windscreen is clean, you run the risk of ending up in a ditch and you can’t clean it yourself while you’re driving—that’s why you have windscreen wipers. Similarly, the Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal sin, let you repent of it, and cleanse you so that you can go where God wants to take you in life. Each day you need to pray, ‘Lord, send as much light as I can stand. Clean off my windscreen so I can see more clearly. Cleanse me.’
YOUR ANSWER IS FOUND IN THE PERSON OF JESUS
…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. EPHESIANS 1:17–19
The solution to all your problems can be found in the person of Jesus.
My friend, if you are worried about your daily provisions, see Jesus as your provider—the One who multiplied five loaves and two small fish to feed more than 5,000 people with 12 baskets full of leftovers. If you need wisdom for a particular situation, see Jesus as your wisdom—the One who always has the right answer and response to every challenge. And know that He is in you and with you to guide you in your decision-making.
Beloved, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a personal revelation of Jesus in the area of your need. He Himself is the solution for your every need!
SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM AND HE WILL SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS
Romans 14:17 – …the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Are you troubled by many things today? For example, are you concerned about your rebellious teenager? Perhaps you see him as your problem, so you do your best to discipline him, only to end up with a heart full of worries and pain. And he is no better!
God says to you, “Don’t focus on controlling your rebellious teenager. Instead, seek first My kingdom, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Be conscious of the righteousness you have as a gift from My Son. Keep your inner man flowing with My peace and joy, and I will take care of your child.”
We tend to think that the people around us are the problem. When we don’t get the promotion we want, we blame our bosses and colleagues. When we lose our temper, we blame our wives and kids. However, God wants us to stop looking outside and to start looking within because His kingdom is within us. (Luke 17:21)
The abundance of the kingdom of God is already inside you. As you seek first God’s kingdom, and follow His righteousness, peace and joy, the abundance within you will flow out and become a reality in your circumstances.(Matthew 6:33) You will find that God has not only taken care of what is troubling you, but has also added blessings to you, be it a promotion, well-behaved kids or a loving wife.
“But Pastor, how do I keep my inner man flowing with righteousness, peace and joy?”
Be conscious of your righteousness in Christ. Don’t be conscious of your sins and problems. Listen to anointed sermons that remind you of how righteous you are because of the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Peace and joy flow when you know that all your sins have been forgiven because of Jesus’ finished work.
So the next time something troubles you, don’t focus on correcting the problem. Instead, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Make it a priority to have your inner man flowing with His peace and joy, and He will take care of that problem for you!