Advent 🌟 Micah 5:2 – Humility

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf. (Micah 5:2)

Micah would have written this prophecy sometime during the the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Other prophets in his day include Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. It’s hard to believe these words were written some seven hundred years before they were fulfilled in the birth of our Messiah, Jesus.

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Ezra 8:1-23 – Ezra’s Return

Read Ezra 8:1-23

Ezra headed up the second wave of returnees to Jerusalem. In today’s reading, we get an accounting of who came with him. Interesting that he had to recruit some Levites and temple workers to join the traveling group. You’ll recall a good number of Levites were included in the first wave.

Ezra is again setting a good example for us when he fasts and humbles himself before the journey. I can remember many family car trips beginning with a word of prayer asking for God’s protection over our journey. Those five-hour car rides are nothing in comparison with the several month trek on foot through the wilderness to Jerusalem. No matter the distance, God travels with those who ask!

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Zephaniah 2:1-3 – Act Now!

Read Zephaniah 2:1-3

What does repentance look like? Zephaniah shows us in today’s reading. This is not only meant for the remnant of faithful ones who are wanting to stay true to God in the days before the exile, but to us as well. The prescription for living is not hard, unless you have a hard time humbling yourself and being obedient to God’s will.

Many will choose the independence this world offers. The evil one wants us to believe there is freedom in those choices. Rather, it’s a death sentence with no hope for eternity. Is it hard for you to humbly obey God?

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1 Peter 5:1-7 – Passing the Torch

Read 1 Peter 5:1-7

Peter concludes this letter and passes the torch, so to speak, to the other elders in his audience. Peter’s words, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you,” are similar to the charge Jesus himself had given Peter after the resurrection. Jesus had told Peter in John’s gospel to “Feed my sheep,” referring to his own flock of believers. This letter is evidence that Peter did just as Jesus said.

When I think of an “elder,” I think of someone who has been a Christ follower for a long time and experienced many of God’s life-changing moments. In the context of Peter’s letter, the term “elder” signifies the leaders of the church to whom people look to for an example of faithfulness.

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James 4:1-10 – Enemies of God

Read James 4:1-10

We need God. It’s plain and simple, lest we fall into the traps set in this world and become enemies of God. Only God can transform us from the thrill seeking, self-serving humans we are by nature into humble servants dedicated to pleasing God.

James’ counsel here is a bit over the top when he talks about our envious desires leading us to killing someone. It appears his audience needs the “wow factor” to get their attention. I can just hear someone saying, “God doesn’t listen because he didn’t give me what I wanted.” That’s a great example of having the wrong motives. God knows our heart. He knows why we ask for what we do. Is what we’re asking for merely for our own pleasure?

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