Ezra 4:1-5 – Stay on Track

Read Ezra 4:1-5

Can our enemies also worship our God? That’s a good question. Maybe we should explore what makes someone our enemy? For me, it would be anyone who doesn’t believe as I do who is trying to harm me or distract me from my mission. With that understanding, I don’t think my enemies would be Christians who love Jesus.

The enemies discussed in our reading were giving good “lip service” to those working on the temple. Their attempts to trick the workers in believing they could also be worshiping the LORD failed. The help they offered as a lure was also rejected.

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Ezra 3:7-13 – Let the Rebuilding Begin!

Read Ezra 3:7-13

Have you ever been part of a building project? Maybe you built your own home or worked for a company that broke ground for a new office complex. Interestingly, my husband David and I have been part of three huge building projects for three different congregations during his time of ministry in the United States. Now, I’m part of another large building project here in Mexico for the orphanage where I serve.

Construction projects take time and lots of planning. The coordination that goes into each facet of the design and implementation still boggles my mind. It’s with this background that I come to this text. If you’ve never been involved in any construction, suffice it to say that it’s a big deal. I can’t imagine what it would have been like in ancient times without all the conveniences we now have.

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Mark 9:33-37 – Who’s the Greatest?

Read Mark 9:33-37

Like willful children teasing each other about who is mom or dad’s favorite, the disciples were at odds amongst themselves. Wondering who was greatest, I have to assume, meant who did Jesus favor the most. I wonder what Jesus thought when they admitted to their squabble.

Jesus’ answer was clear and to the point. We, too, can see an opportunity to be great. What do we need to do to find this kind of favor? Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Do you think the disciples were a little shocked over this?

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Malachi 1:6-14 – Shortcuts * Part One

Read Malachi 1:6-14

Have you ever taken a shortcut to lessen your load? Apparently, these priests sure have. The LORD is not happy with them at all. I’m not sure I’d be that lazy or disrespectful to take a shortcut where honoring God was concerned.

But don’t we all do it from time to time? We rush our devotion time because something more pressing or important is crowding out our day. We sometimes skip our quiet times with God all together. I don’t think I’m the only one who has.

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John 12:1-8 – Extravagant Worship

Read John 12:1-8

We are approaching the beginning of Holy Week 2023. During this time every year, we remember the sacrifice and miracle that took place because of how much God loves us. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we’ll walk together with Luke and the other gospel writers through some of the events of Jesus’ last week. It’s our special time to reflect on the immense sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our freedom from sin and death.

Our reading today sets the scene for what is to come and challenges us in our own worship practices. The Passover celebration was about to start, and little did the folks attending this dinner party know these were Jesus’ final days. Jesus knew, and his startling words about his burial must have shocked his friends.

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