Ezra – Ester
— Read and listen to the Bible being read at the same time; also, A. R. Wells, 1908, shares a (self-application) “tiny meditation” on each chapter.
Click for a brief easy English summary of the book of Ezra.
1) Read the “tiny meditation” before and/or after you read the Bible chapter to help make a self-appllication of the scriptures read.
2) Want to use both your eye gate and ear gate in taking in the Word? Just click the “Read” chapter to get started.
Click to Read Ezra 1—My Return
My punishment—ever let me be sure of that—is not a day longer than it need be. It is never in wrath, but always in mercy. It is never revengeful, but always reformatory. My return from exile, my going back to my Father’s house, depends always upon me, and never upon my Father. His arms are always open for me.
King Darius of Babylon sets the captive Jews free
Read Ezra 2—My Genealogy
Some of Ezra’s list could not reckon their families backward, and the Jews held it to be a great disgrace. Many of us moderns cannot go far back in our family histories. But what of that? I know whence my spiritual life, the only important part of me, has had its source, and has its continuance. What are the genealogies of earth, to that of heaven?
Read Ezra 3—My Praises
I do not rejoice as I should. My praises are feeble, few, and often wrongly directed. Do I thank the Lord for the things in which He chiefly rejoices in my life? Or is it not for the least valuable blessings, the temporal gifts, the mere framework of the unspeakable gifts? O my God, teach me to praise Thee as I should
Read Ezra 4—My Associates
Shall I let men work with me just because they want to work with me? No; my comrades must become a part of myself, and they shall be those that may without harm to me become a part of myself. When I am yoked with unbelievers it is always an unequal yoke, and my burden is not lightened, but increased.
Read Ezra 5—My Encouragement
How these Jewish records embody human history! For I also have enemies, as they had; and I also have a great task; and I also have many hindrances and fears in my task; and I also have prophets of encouragement, my Haggai and Zechariah. God grant that I may listen to my prophets, and be deaf to my enemies.
Read Ezra 6—My Decrees
No king has ever made a decree in my favor, and bade my foes leave me alone, and ordered his officers to prosper my work. Ah, but is that true? Has not just such a decree been issued concerning me, and by the King of Kings? Let my enemies hear it, let His officers heed it, and let me in the strength of it be bold about my work!
Read Ezra 7—My Purpose
It will be a happy day for me when I also can say, as Ezra said, that my life-purpose is “to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and judgments.” See, do, teach! Seek the highest, do the noblest, teach the wisest!
Ezra before Artaxerxes
Read Ezra 8—My Confidence
When the Lord has promised to be my Helper, let me not affront Him by seeking the help of the world! Let me not rely upon money, or the aid of men, or human learning, or my own ability. One only is Captain over me, and He will not share His authority with another.
Read Ezra 9—My Humiliation
I should grieve more over sin, my own sin and the sin of others. I should rend my heart, and sit in sorrow of soul. Do I not go lightly, as if it were a little thing? This thing which tore the son from the bosom of the Father, and sent Him to the horrors of Calvary!
Read Ezra 10—My Separation
There is but one thing to do with sin, and that is to leave it! Yes, with whatever tears and groanings, with whatever pitiful woe, to leave it, and leave it altogether. There are other ways than the knife, but the disease returns. There are others ways than the fire, but the plague spreads.
Click for a brief summary of the book of Nehemiah.
Click to Read Nehemiah 1—My Prayers
How selfish are my prayers! How seldom do they melt in sorrow over the sins or misfortunes of others! How engrossed are they with my own hopes and fears, or with my own sins and repentance! Let me grieve, as Nehemiah grieved, over the iniquities of my people. Let the sorrows of my friends send me in an agony of supplication to my God. Yes, let me bear upon my heart the woes of the ends of the earth.
Rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem under Nehemiah
Read Nehemiah 2—My Survey
My work often fails because I go about it too hastily. I do not know the outlines of it. I have not counted the cost. I have not provided the tools. I have not made out my program. No wonder I fail. Let me henceforth move wisely through life, with the leisureliness of one that is to inherit eternity.
Read Nehemiah 3—My Portion
Just the particular bit of work entrusted to me, the portion over against my own house, that, O Lord, let me do, and do it well. Is the portion opposite another man’s house poorly built? What is that to me? Is my portion larger or harder than any other’s? So much the greater glory!
Read Nehemiah 4–My Adversaries
How should ridicule disturb me, or threats, or camps of hostile men? Am I not about the Lord’s work? Am I not building the wall of the Holy City? I shall look to the Lord to defend His own. I shall keep my weapon in one hand, my tool in the other hand, and my heart lifted up to God.
Read Nehemiah 5—My Brethren
What am I, to make gain of other men? What do I deserve of the Lord more than they? Are we not all children of the same Father, gathered around the same table? And shall I, because my arms are longer, reach out and grasp more of the food? For shame, for shame, O greedy soul!
Read Nehemiah 6—My Tobiahs
Humble as I am in myself, when I am about the Lord’s work, no man on earth is before me. Let them send crafty messengers. Should I go down to them? Let the false prophets beseech me to hide myself. Should such a man as I flee? It is not my power, but the Lord’s; and it is not my dignity, but His.
Read Nehemiah 7—My Charge
O that this might be my epitaph: “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many!” Happy Hananiah! Happy any man, above the possessors of gold or laurel wreaths, who fears God and does His holy will! In that is the sum of human blessedness.
Read Nehemiah 8—My Bible
The Covenant Renewed
If I would have a Bible, I must work for it. I must spend much time reading it and studying it. I must understand the meaning. I must hold my heart open to its rebukes. When I comprehend one of its commands, I must go straightway and do it. And this, for me as for the returned exiles, will prove the way of gladness.
Read Nehemiah 9—My Past
It has been a sad and sinful past. I have often turned aside from Thy way. I have forgotten Thy commandments. I have mocked Thy word. I have disregarded Thy warnings, and the punishments Thou hast sent have not touched my heart. But still Thou keepest hold of me, and still I will keep hold of Thee, O my God!
Read Nehemiah 10—My Agreement
The things that I know I should do for my God, God give me grace to promise to do them, and grace also to keep my promise! Seriously to consider the conditions of my life, boldly to enter upon my full duty, frankly to assent to it before men,–these are marks of a heroic soul. O that they may be true of me!
Read Nehemiah 11—My Jerusalem
Let me dwell in the holy places! It is a great temptation to live elsewhere, amid the noisy throngs, beside the marts, along the caravan routes, in Tyre, in Alexandria, in Babylon! But I will shut my eyes to all that, and Jerusalem shall be my home. “And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell in Jerusalem.”
Read Nehemiah 12—My Thanksgiving
I will mount my wall. I will look over the goodly lot in which my God has placed me. I will fill my heart with the memory of all my Father’s goodness to me. And there I will lift up my voice in praise, “so that the joy may be heard even afar off.”
Read Nehemiah 13—My Sabbaths
Grant me, O God, a Sabbath of the heart! If my soul goes not to church, it matters little whether my body goes or not. If my hands itch for the ledger and my mind is casting up figures, the choir may be singing and the minister preaching, or the carts may be rumbling in the streets, it is all one to me. Grant me, O God, Thy Sabbath in my soul!
Click for a brief summary of the book of Esther.
Click to Read Esther 1—My Compliance
What another commands is not therefore mine to obey, but only when God commands as well. If I am sure that God commands a refusal, then the glory of obedience is mine in refusing. Among all the conflicting orders of earth no confusion of duty is possible for me. One alone has a right to give me orders, and His commands are always consistent.
Read Esther 2—My Advancement
The pious soul, like Ester, will always consider favor among men to be of the Lord. To be sure, the decision of the fickle Ahasuerus may have depended upon any one of a thousand chances; but God controls chances. In any event, His children will always regard popularity as a gift from Him, to be used in His service.
Esther Made Queen
Read Esther 3—My Foes
If Esther is advanced, so also is Haman. On this earth the evil flourish as well as the good; but it is only on this earth, and often only for a short time on this earth. Over the head of every Haman hangs an invisible noose, which the Mordecais may see, If Haman does not.
Read Esther 4—My Destiny
I am “come to the kingdom” for a purpose. I was born at just the right time, my life’s circumstances were precisely what they should have been, my abilities, my friends, my possessions, all are exactly in accord with the task God has marked out for me. It has all been planned so carefully! And what disappointment there will be in heaven if I fail in my part of the enterprise!
Read Esther 5—My Daring
If I have the spirit of Christ, all doors will be opened to me, and all scepters held out to me. If any doors are closed, they will be the doors that my Lord does not wish me to enter, and those doors I must not wish to enter. And if any scepter is held up against me, threatening trial or death, such trial shall be joy, and such death shall be glorious!
Esther approaches the king, Esther 5:1-2
Read Esther 6—My Enemy’s Triumph
Sooner or later, my enemy shall triumph, and I shall assist at his triumph. If not to the eyes of men, at least in my own jealous imagination, he will don his rich garments and mount his royal steed, and I shall fancy I hear his praises shouted on every breeze. How much happier it will be for me not to have any enemy!
The triumph of Mordecai
Read Esther 7—My Gallows
Whatever gallows I erect for another, upon it I shall surely hang myself! I desire poverty for him, and how poor do I become in spirit! I wish him to be friendless; and, behold! I go lonely through the world. I pray for his death, and at the very thought my better nature expires.
Read Esther 8—My Reversals
It is happy for the man that is permitted to reverse the evil decrees he has promulgated, repay his thefts, obtain pardon for his faults, make reparation for the injuries he has committed. Happy is the man whose ledger is balanced! And let me never forget that only One can balance the blurred ledger of my sinful years!
Read Esther 9—My Memorial
If I should keep days sacred to the memory of God’s special kindnesses to me, every day of all the year would be a festival! My mercies are more than I can number or recall. None the less, let me hold in memory those I can, and let me brighten all my years with those memorials.
Read Esther 10—My Exaltation
From a seat in sackcloth at the gate, to a seat next the king on his throne! That seemed impossible for Mordecai. It seems impossible for us. And yet that is just the thing that is promised us, that we shall be seated upon thrones, and that we shall reign with the King of kings and Lord of lords. What sackcloth shall be insupportable to us?