Ezra 4:6-24 – More Opposition

Read Ezra 4:6-24

It’s not often we read a letter exchange like this in Scripture. Sure, the apostle Paul wrote letters in the New Testament, but they comprised whole books of their own. These letters are nothing like those because they are full of nonsense and devoid of facts. The purpose of these letters is to upset the King and drive a wedge between him and the people rebuilding the temple.

These attempts to sabotage God’s kingdom purposes in rebuilding the temple are blatant and mean. I find myself getting a bit defensive on behalf of God’s people. Did you? Will such an exaggeration go unpunished?

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Mark 3:20-30 – The Unforgiveable Sin

Read Mark 3:20-30

What an encounter we witness in this reading! Jesus is busy fulfilling his mission, but even those closest to him don’t yet understand. They think Jesus has gone mad because he’s so busy serving by helping, healing, and casting out demons. The religious leaders are the ones who really miss the mark. Is their pride so strong that they must blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

I suppose if they were to accept Jesus’ actions, they would have to admit Jesus was the Messiah. Would that have been so horrible? Have you ever thought what Jesus’ ministry may have looked like had he not been an “enemy” in the eyes of the religious leaders who were anxiously awaiting the Messiah?

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Mark 1:29-34 – The Healer

Read Mark 1:29-34

Mark’s first recorded healing miracle is for a woman related to one of his disciples! I’ve always marveled at the story. How fitting for this Hebrew woman to be healed and immediately start thinking of how she can serve. That speaks to the mindset of women in the household during those times, and how quickly a healing can take place.

Simon’s mother-in-law did not “milk” the illness. Once the fever left her, like the “energizer bunny” she was determined to make food to show her appreciation. Isn’t it what was expected of her when there were guests in the house? Did you ever wonder what she cooked?

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1 Peter 5:8-9 – You Are Not Alone

Read 1 Peter 5:8-9

Too often we let ourselves be blinded to the work of the enemy among us. We stop being vigilant. In these final words of Peter, he is talking about that “elephant in the room” we all try to ignore. Evil. The more we ignore the evil one or look the other way, the more he takes a grip on our lives.

“Stay alert!” is Peter’s cry. I’ve been amazed at how when watching a television program or movie produced within the last couple years how many things I see as contradictory to the Christian life and God’s word. Decades ago, people were upset when swearing became commonplace in these entertainment mediums. Today, we can become immune to hearing that kind of language. That’s only a small fraction of what we should be appalled by. Peter told us to “stay alert,” to not forget about God’s desire for us.

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1 Peter 3:8-12 – Good Behavior

Read 1 Peter 3:8-12

This reading applies to everyone who calls themselves Christian. The behavior Peter describes is all very basic, yet we still stumble and need the reminder. It’s also affirming to see behaviors on the list we can recognize and feel good about, knowing we’re already acting in those ways. Imagine wearing a crown because you are a son or daughter to a king – is your behavior fit for a child of a king? King Jesus that is!

Of course, there are times when evil desires or influences can overtake our good intentions. We know we’re not immune to evil just because we’re followers of Christ. Even Jesus himself encountered the crafty evil one on more than one occasion! We need to stay strong like Jesus did to resist the devil. I think of James 4:7, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

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