Ezra 1 & 2
Ezra 4

Ezra 3

Scripture
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.

Observation
Living out our obedience in front of a watching and sometimes antagonistic world is not the easiest thing.

Understanding
No one is exempt from the fear that grabs us when we have to stand out and do something different - especially something that the rest of the onlookers are not favorable to.  Being obedient to God today, like in the days of this story, was not popular and so it stirred up fear in the hearts of the Israelites.  But I love what happens because it is a challenge to me to do the same, "despite their fear, they obeyed."  It didn't say they tried to psychoanalyze their fear, it didn't say they got rid of their fear first and then they obeyed.  It says that "despite their fear."  What a great encouragement to all of us.  

Life Application
I admit there are lots of times I am fearful to be obedient to God because of the consequences of ridicule, punishment, or it what it will cost me financially, etc. but I am challenged to walk like the Israelites (at least in this instance) and do what God commands me to do.  Remember this is not something unique to us, it has happened throughout the ages as God-followers have desired to be obedient.  Paul writes about it in Romans 12:1-2 when he says "don't let the world around you squeeze you into into it's mold..." 

What about you?  Where are you compromising on God's commands because of your fear of the people around you?  Where are you being squeezed into the world's mold?  How have you overcome it?  Share with us so that we can be encouraged and strengthened.

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