Zephaniah 1:1-6 – God’s Wrath

Read Zephaniah 1:1-6

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and would have spoken God’s words during the reign of King Josiah. You’ll recall when King Josiah learned of the scrolls containing God’s law, great reforms began to help the people of Judah to return to God. Zephaniah would help shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and understand the hope they could cling to comes from God.

Zephaniah doesn’t sugar coat the radical message from God but gets right to the point. God’s wrath will sweep away everything and crush Jerusalem and Judah. Even his own creation will suffer. God’s anger has been fueled by all the idol worship that fills the land.

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Habakkuk 3:1-19 – Sovereign Lord

Read Habakkuk 3:1-19

Habakkuk’s prayer speaks to the supreme power of God, thus his sovereignty. In the face of what he has heard from God and the position he has been placed to share that message, Habakkuk’s world has been rocked. We see how he responds.

Habakkuk prays with humility. First and foremost, he calls out God’s deeds and dreams for his people. He tells God that no matter what calamity happens, “I will rejoice in the LORD!” How often do we praise God in the storms of our life? We’re probably complaining, a bit like Habakkuk did, but do we also give praise, as Habakkuk is modeling for us?

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James 5:13-18 – The Power of Prayer

Read James 5:13-18

What happens when we pray, and no healing takes place? I’m sure you’ve had that happen in your life. Wrestling with God in those moments is difficult. We can feel like God has left us behind or turned a deaf ear to our cries!

Some of us blame God and even turn away. That’s never the answer. God has his reasons for answering prayer the way he does. Not healing is God saying no to our request. I learned a long time ago it doesn’t do any good to get mad at God or demand my way. I may never understand why God allowed someone else to be healed but not the person I prayed about. I trust God knows best, even when I cannot see.

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James 1:1-8 – Trials of Life

Read James 1:1-8

As I read from James, I can’t help but try to picture what it was like to be Jesus’ earthly brother. (This book is believed to be written by Jesus’ half-brother, not James the apostle.) What would the sibling rivalry have looked like? We don’t know much about Jesus as a child, teenager, or young man. As Jesus’ brother, James would have an interesting perspective to be sure. Yet curiously, James identifies himself in the opening as “a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James has taken his own place in helping others navigate their lives as followers of Christ.

In this letter from James, we’ll see how he tries to set things straight in terms of living a Christian life. It’s so much more than just saying you’re a Christian. The truths you’ll uncover could be summed up as a “how-to” for Christian living. Even though James wasn’t one of the chosen twelve, he was a leader in the early church having stayed in Jerusalem to begin his ministry there to Jewish Christians. His target audience for this letter are the persecuted Christians in hostile surroundings, much like we experience in our own trials of faith.

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Hebrews 7:15-28 – Perfect Forever

Read Hebrews 7:15-28

With these words, the Preacher would have rocked the world of those trying so hard to be true to God’s law, given by Moses. “For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” The people had to know the old system was flawed, and that’s why our hope is now in Jesus. He came to be our perfect sacrifice, acting as our high priest forever. As the Preacher concludes this thought, “But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

There’s a lot packed into this passage. The references to Melchizedek have foreshadowed Jesus, anticipating that he will be the perfect high priest who will reign forever. The righteousness, peace, and timelessness we see in Melchizedek point directly to Jesus. It is Jesus’s role as high priest that grants us access to God.

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