When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion.
If you want to reestablish your relationship with God, when you pray, first of all begin with an exultation of God’s name. Second, that leads to an appreciation of God’s grace. The bulk of Ezra’s prayer in Nehemiah 9 is a recounting of Israel’s history–specifically, the history of God’s grace in their lives. What is grace? Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. That is different from mercy. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. Let me illustrate the difference this way: If your child disobeys you and deserves to be grounded for a week, but you choose not to ground him, your child is the recipient of mercy. But if you go one step further and say to your child, “Let’s go shopping at your favorite store,” your child is the recipient of grace, getting something he really did not deserve. God had done the same thing with Israel. Ezra reminded the people of how many times God had dealt with them by grace. He started with the founding of the nation. Look at verse 7: “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham.” In Genesis, we find that Abraham was just as sinful as every other person in Ur. Why is it that God chose Abraham to make him the father of Israel? One word: grace. It had nothing to do with Abraham’s goodness; it had everything to do with the goodness of God. If you are a Christian, why is it that God saved you? Is it because when God looked at you, He saw something that made you better than other people? No. Your salvation had nothing to do with your goodness; it had everything to do with the graciousness of God.
Ezra continued in verse 9, “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea.” How did the Israelites respond to God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt? “But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; they became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments” (vv. 16-17). God poured out grace; they sinned. Nevertheless, God still gave them the promised land. Ezra was saying, “God gave you grace again and again. Remember God’s grace in your life.” What Ezra instructed the Israelites to do, I encourage you to do as well. Take thirty minutes sometime this week and write a brief history of God’s grace in your life. What is it that led you to Christ? Maybe you were born in a Christian home. Did you have anything to do with that? No. That was God’s grace. Or maybe God put into your life somebody who shared the gospel with you. Did you have anything to do with that? No. That was God’s grace. Have there been times that you have sinned against God, that He had every right to destroy you, but instead He gave you what you did not deserve? Have there been times that you have cried out to God in desperation and He has answered that prayer? Take thirty minutes and write down a history of how God has dealt with you graciously throughout your life. Whenever you feel distant from God, just pull out that brief history of God’s grace.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Prayer For Drifters” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org