06/06/23 The Hard Work of Encouragement

READING: Ezra 5-8

When I entered ministry more than 42 years ago, I had little idea what the work entailed. I knew the joy of preaching, and I loved encouraging people to follow the Lord—but no one told me the effort that ministry would demand. Had I known, I would have made much more effort to thank my own pastors for leading us when I was a young believer. 

Today’s reading reminds me of the work of spiritual leaders. The workers toiling to re-commence building the temple were hardly on their own, as God’s eye was on them (Ezra 5:1, 5). His divine guidance, though, still demanded their ongoing, diligent efforts at the task. The people worked, and the prophets stood with them. Through their exhortation—and perhaps even through their hands-on efforts in building, though the focus was clearly on encouragement—the prophets pushed the people forward. The spiritual leaders were critical to the task. 

All of us who shepherd God’s people have the assignment of walking alongside other believers, caring for their souls, and encouraging them to be faithful. That’s a privilege, indeed—even if it is hard work. 

PERSONAL REFLECTION: Who is the person you most need to encourage today? 

DAILY PRAYER: “Thank You, Father, for others who have encouraged me through the years.” 

TOMORROW’S READING: Ezra 9-10, Nehemiah 1-2

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