This is a collection of devotions and thoughts prepared by various members of the family.

The Priesthood of the Believer

One of the most cherished doctrines that I hold dear, and that is one of our Baptist Distinctive, is the priesthood of the believer. The Bible teaches in I Peter 2 and other places that all born-again believers have direct access to God; we don't have to go through an earthly priest to get God's attention.

In Ezra chapter 2, we see the Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah; everyone to his own city. In verses 59-63, it gives the account of some who claimed to be in the priestly line, but their names were not recorded.

The right seed

"...They could not shew their father's house and their seed, whether they were of Israel." They sought a claim based upon who their parents were, but couldn't take it any further.

Today, many people make a claim on salvation based up on the wrong thing: "my parents said," or "I did this," or "I'm a good person," or "I think." The reality is that nothing matters but being born again: 1 Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

There is hope in Jesus Christ

"...Till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim." This is a reference to the high priest. Since their names were not written down, they were told to wait until the high priest came and could get direction from God on the matter. Jesus Christ is our High Priest - Hebrews 4:14-15, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

If your name is not written down in the Book of Life, turn to Christ today. Then you, too, can be included in the priesthood of the believers (I Peter 2:9).

(Ezra 2:59-63) "And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: (60) The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. (61) And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: (62) These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. (63) And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim."

Who Can God Use?

I find the story in Ezra chapter 1 to be a fascinating testament to the working of God. It was the end of the Babylonian captivity of Judah, and time for God's people to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the house of God. But how did God accomplish this? Did God's people rise up on their own to go home? Did God raise up a leader from within the Jewish people to lead them out, as God raised up Moses to lead his people out of the bondage of Egypt?

No, in this case, God used the pagan king himself, who was in charge of their captivity, to send them home and support them in rebuilding Jerusalem. The Bible says that the Lord stirred up his spirit to do this. God clearly used him to do a great thing.

God doesn't use us because we are special. God can use whoever He chooses to accomplish His will and keep His promises. Its not about me, and what I can do for God; its about God, and bringing glory to Him and fulfilling His Word.

(Ezra 1:1-3) "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, (2) Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. (3) Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem."

When You Boil It All Down

As the book of Daniel comes to a close, we see an important focus in chapter 12 - one that I think should matter to all of us. When you boil down the great prophecies and events found in Daniel, they are just events and future events unless you remember Daniel 12:2-3: physical death is not final and does not conclude our lives. Every person will face either everlasting life or everlasting shame and contempt. Every person will face his Creator. Then verse 3 shows us that the wise will be involved in pointing others to righteousness.

I think that Daniel got ahold of this focus and burden early in his life. Very few people have gone through the likes of Daniel's traumatic life, yet he stayed focus on serving the Lord, and through some of the clearest and most detailed prophecy in the Bible, is still pointing others to righteousness to this day.

So what's my excuse? When I boil it all down, there is still a Great Commission that commands me to give the Gospel, and to be involved in pointing people to righteousness. I can get involved in programs and become an expert in any doctrine or any subject, but if I lose my focus on souls, I've missed the point of that program or study or expertise.

Daniel saw the destruction of his beloved country in the Babylonian captivity, yet he didn't lose his focus, and kept on for God.

Daniel was kidnapped and made to serve ungodly kings, yet he didn't lose his focus, and kept on for God.

Daniel was falsely accused and disliked by the others he had to work around, yet he didn't lose his focus, and kept on for God.

Daniel faced "sure death" in the lion's den, yet he didn't lose his focus, and kept on for God.

Daniel faced uncertain times and changing leadership, yet he didn't lose his focus, and kept on for God.

I hope that I may be able to glorify God in my life in even a fraction of the way that Daniel did, and work with others, pointing them to salvation and the goodness of God.

(Daniel 12:2-3) "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (3) And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."