Ezra 3:1-6 – The Altar Comes First

Read Ezra 3:1-6

While we don’t offer sacrifices like this today, it appears these people’s priorities were in place. They were giving their attention and showing their loyalty to the one true God. They seem intent on following the law in hopes of pleasing the God who had chosen them for the restoration project.

We can learn a lesson from these people. The text said they were meeting “with a unified purpose.” Unity seems to be lacking in our culture today. So many people focus on self and their own personal rights that the idea of unity with others is becoming rare. What does a unified purpose look like? These people were rallying around God’s call to start over.

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1 Peter 3:13-17 – Suffering and Rewards

Read 1 Peter 3:13-17

Peter doesn’t “mince any words” here. The message is clear. We will suffer with Christ, and for that we will receive God’s reward. That’s the gist of this reading.

Have you ever ran a marathon or done any extreme sporting event in your life? I’m probably the most “unathletic” person, but I excelled at kick boxing and karate, ending up as an instructor in both of those mediums for a couple of years. I was fierce. All that suffering in the preparation led to great rewards. I imagine runners, especially iron man participants, feel such a rush of exhilaration at the accomplishment of competing and finishing the race.

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Joel 2:18-27 – Restoration

Read Joel 2:18-27

What divine intervention! If Joel’s earlier words led his audience to believe they would be the laughingstock for belonging to the one true God, this passage lessens the distress. Can we assume that the people did repent and pray and this is God’s response?

Have you ever feared or experienced mockery for your faith? How did that make you feel? Did you realize God was there all the time?

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Jeremiah 32:16-25 – Jeremiah Prayed

Read Jeremiah 32:16-25

praying while looking up with sunset in the background

Jeremiah gives us a great example of prayer. He is still puzzling over his purchase of land from our last reading. And yet, instead of coming right out and asking God why, he includes the situation in his tribute to God’s power.

Think of your last prayer to God. Did you give him praise and honor for all he has done? Did you specify the mighty works that have gotten your attention? That’s what we see Jeremiah doing. God loves our adoration. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

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Jeremiah 25:1-14 – Seventy Years

Read Jeremiah 25:1-14

old hands

The reference to seventy years begins to lessen the tension of being doomed “forever.” Thankfully their judgment is not meant to be an absolute timeless void of time, but more like the “foreseeable” future. Seventy years is still a long time! This whisper of hope does not lessen the unpleasant judgment they will soon endure.

Jeremiah put into perspective for us how long he has been speaking the message of repentance. For twenty-three years he and others sent by God have been risking their lives, obediently listening and repeating the communication they have been given by God. I have a hard time accepting when people don’t listen to me the “first” time I make a request.

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