Christmas 🙏 Luke 2:1-7 – Obedience

Read Luke 2:1-7

The Christmas story never gets old. I know people that play Christmas music year round just because of the hope it brings. There is something indescribably special about the miracle of Christ’s incarnation. Knowing that God loved us that much to send his son into this world can leave you speechless if you let it. All our hopes and dreams can be met by that darling infant King.

But the Christmas story is more than the hope and promise of salvation. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are multiple layers of blessing and wisdom we can glean from this story. The lesson we’ll focus on today is Obedience.

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Ecclesiastes 4:1-6 – Oppression

Read Ecclesiastes 4:1-6

Are you feeling oppressed today? Oppression is defined by Oxford Languages as “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” Solomon was observing such behaviors in his day, too. As king, you would think he could have some control over how his subjects were being treated. The powers of evil were clearly at work then, as well as now.

It’s not pleasant to endure hardship, whether it’s oppression or otherwise. To believe we’d be better off dead is a bit “dark” don’t you think? It helps to remember that Solomon had drifted away from God and was relying on the gods of his many wives late in life. For those living on their own, hardship and oppression must be unbearable.

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Ezra 7:11-26 – A King’s Provision

Read Ezra 7:11-26

This letter to Ezra contains many blessings from this pagan king. King Artaxerxes may not be an Israelite, but he certainly holds God in high regard. Many believers don’t have the same respect as this king. The time of exile must have made quite an impact on the kingly leadership of that day. Those who stayed faithful became tremendous testimonies to the majesty and grace of the great God we serve.

Anytime we can share our witness with others, we can make a difference. You never know who is watching. You never know how God is going to use any of the people you encounter. Ezra wanted to study and bring awareness to his own people, yet he was clearly spreading a message to non-believers as well.

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Ezra 1:1-4 – Prophecy Fulfilled

Read Ezra 1:1-4

It had been seventy years, and now we see how God kept the promise he had given in Jeremiah’s prophecy. The time of captivity in Babylon was coming to an end. The new ruler, Cyrus, had been prompted by God to allow the exiles to return to their homeland. What a proclamation this is!

The Book of Ezra chronicles this return and how the people begin to rebuild their lives. We’ll read about the restoration of God’s people as they retell old stories and address new situations along the way. Would God’s promises still hold true? Had the people forgotten God during their time of exile?

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Mark 8:14-21 – Misunderstandings

Read Mark 8:14-21

You recall in our last reading–Jesus had walked away rather than be bullied by the Pharisees. Our scene continues in this reading as Jesus and the disciples make their getaway in a boat without any food.

Did the disciples miss the lesson Jesus was trying to teach them about the Pharisees and even King Herod? We might have a harder time understanding the reference to yeast. It gives us something to ponder, wondering what Jesus meant. This text doesn’t speak to “what” the yeast was that the disciples should be aware of. What do you think it is?

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