Zephaniah 2:4-15 – I Will Survive

Read Zephaniah 2:4-15

The universal judgment is spelled out in a little more detail here. It is thought that the nations mentioned represent the whole world, each being in a different geographical direction (Egypt/Ethiopian to the south; Assyria to the north; Philistia to the west; and Moab/Ammon to the east.) What did the other nations do? They disrespected their creator. You can’t taunt or insult God or his people without consequence. God will have the final word.

Pride is another divisive quality that God will punish. “They will receive the wages of their pride, for they have scoffed at the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Here we see that those people who balk at us, look down on us for our faith and ridicule our belief system will see consequences. We don’t have to fight that battle; God has our back!

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1 Peter 1:10-12 – What the Prophets Foretold

Read 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament did not only talk about events that were going to happen in their day. Some of their messages pointed to a future time, the day of the Lord, the day of God’s deliverance. Interesting that Peter would include a reference to the prophets so early in his letter. I suppose he was making a connection with his audience.

Everything about being a Christ-follower was new. But reflecting on the prophets of old would be comforting and familiar to those with Jewish roots. Think about what the prophets must have thought when they spoke of “gracious salvation.” That was a foreign concept to them.

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1 Peter 1:1-9 – Greeting & Blessing

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9

Let there be no doubt, we are reading a letter from Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ! We get a glimpse at what Peter wants us to know about our Christian walk. As you read Peter’s words, don’t forget he spent time in Jesus’ presence! The extreme authority this letter carries is for us and other Christians struggling with their faith. Are you ready to dig into the wisdom Peter is about to share?

Peter likely wrote this letter from Rome. Throughout the Roman Empire, Christians were being tortured and killed for their faith, and the church was being scattered. These new Christians were in an “exile” of sorts from all that they knew, as aliens living in foreign lands. I know what it feels like to be living in a different culture; and we’ve known people who are never able to adjust. Peter’s greeting is very encouraging when he says, “May God give you more and more grace and peace.”

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Luke 19:45-48 – Jesus’ Anger

Read Luke 19:45-48

Yes, Jesus gets angry! Our intimate walk with Jesus to the cross continues as he enters Jerusalem. You’ll recall how he cried out to Jerusalem in our last reading, lamenting her future. Now he sees firsthand how the holy Temple has been abused! Jeremiah’s prophecy had predicted it, “Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 7:11)

What did Jesus’ disciples do at his outburst? They were certainly surprised. Jesus was usually the calm, level-headed one who loved even the unlovable. This display of anger made sense, especially considering the pressure Jesus was under knowing his final hours were approaching.

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James 5:19-20 – Are You Wandering?

Read James 5:19-20

James has an interesting way of bringing this letter to a close. There’s no “see you soon” or “have a nice life” kind of ending. This letter has been full of content from the start. Certainly, James’ parting thoughts have been full of wisdom. And his devotion to his readers by calling them “dear brothers and sisters” concludes what has been a recurring theme. James is not a stranger to his audience.

In these two short verses, we see James’ version of searching after the lost. Matthew’s gospel reveals a series of stories about lost items. Jesus used those parables to emphasize the importance of not leaving anybody behind. Or, as Paul puts it, God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

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