Ezra 6:1-12 – Stamp of Approval

Read Ezra 6:1-12

As we expected, King Darius confirmed the Israelite’s story. It took a little digging from the sounds of it, but the message was exactly as Tattenai had been told. Did you love King Darius’ response to the meddling Tattenai and his cohorts! “[S]tay away from there!” In other words, don’t mess with the Israelites.

King Darius took it a step farther as well. He decreed that Tattenai actually help the Israelites. The king’s instructions left little doubt of what should be done. I can just about feel Tattenai’s blood boiling even after all of these generations. He was probably very sorry that he had “opened that can of worms” when he first made his inquiries.

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2 Peter 3:1-7 – Last Days

Read 2 Peter 3:1-7

Peter believed this “last days” discussion to be of utmost importance for us moving forward in faith. He isn’t discussing the “when” or “how” the last days will take place but tells of a sign we can expect. We may even be seeing good examples of Peter’s description today. He said, to expect people to be “mocking the truth and following their own desires.” You can’t turn on a news program or read news on the internet without seeing some group or individual challenging Christians and mocking the truth on which we stand. And with such a self-seeking society, people regularly follow their own desires seeking to “be happy” or to live “their” truth.

The truth Christians profess is Jesus, the Word made flesh. We know there is no other truth, yet we stand by and let other people do their “own thing” in the guise of “freedom.” Certainly, we expect the same courtesy to be able to speak the truth about Jesus, without being criticized or marginalized. Sadly, many Christ-followers keep quiet out of fear because we do take the heat for trusting Jesus.

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1 Peter 2:1-10 – Living Stones

Read 1 Peter 2:1-10

It’s all about representing Jesus well. We just heard in our last reading about holy living, and now we learn we’re to be living stones! To get ready for that, Peter begins by commanding a cleanse. He knew firsthand how easily it was to fall prey to the world and let fear or doubt take control. You may even say things you don’t mean! Peter calls us to be real and not fake.

What does a living stone do? What are our job requirements? Peter was a living stone, building his life on the truth of Jesus Christ. What did Peter do? He told people about Jesus. Peter describes us as: “You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” There’s that bit about being holy again. Peter wants for us to be holy because that’s what Jesus wants for us. His kingdom is being populated with royal priests who are holy!

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1 Peter 1:13-25 – Holy Living

Read 1 Peter 1:13-25

Who said we are born without an instruction manual? Once we’re born again and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Bible is the only reference we need for life. Peter’s counsel here is brilliant to point us to the truth found in scripture when figuring out what being holy is all about.

Our reading starts with a call to action by Peter. He wants us to pay attention. The words that follow are just that important. Peter opened his letter (see our last two readings) by reminding us of our salvation and God’s sovereignty. This section shows us our response, what to do with that gift. Be holy.

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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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