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1 John 4; Ezra 1; Ezra 2; Psalm 91

1 John 4

The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now. 4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

Knowing God through Love

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. 13 This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God-God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.

Keeping God's Commands

20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.

Ezra 1

The Decree of Cyrus

1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and [to put it] in writing: 2 This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Whoever is among His people, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 Let every survivor, wherever he lives, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem."

Return from Exile

5 So the family leaders of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites-everyone God had motivated-prepared to go up and rebuild the Lord's house in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors supported them with silver articles, gold, goods, livestock, and valuables, in addition to all that was given as a freewill offering. 7 King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the Lord's house that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and had placed in the house of his gods. 8 King Cyrus of Persia had them brought out under the supervision of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This was the inventory: 30 gold basins, 1,000 silver basins, 29 silver knives, 10 30 gold bowls, 410 various silver bowls, and 1,000 other articles. 11 The gold and silver articles totaled 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought all of them when the exiles went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Ezra 2

The Exiles Who Returned

1 These now are the people of the province who came from those captive exiles King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had deported to Babylon. Each of them returned to his hometown Jerusalem and Judah. 2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the Israelite men [included]: 3 Parosh's descendants 2,172 4 Shephatiah's descendants 372 5 Arah's descendants 775 6 Pahath-moab's descendants: Jeshua's and Joab's descendants 2,812 7 Elam's descendants 1,254 8 Zattu's descendants 945 9 Zaccai's descendants 760 10 Bani's descendants 642 11 Bebai's descendants 623 12 Azgad's descendants 1,222 13 Adonikam's descendants 666 14 Bigvai's descendants 2,056 15 Adin's descendants 454 16 Ater's descendants: Hezekiah's 98 17 Bezai's descendants 323 18 Jorah's descendants 112 19 Hashum's descendants 223 20 Gibbar's descendants 95 21 Bethlehem's people 123 22 Netophah's men 56 23 Anathoth's men 128 24 Azmaveth's people 42 25 Kiriatharim's, Chephirah's, and Beeroth's people 743 26 Ramah's and Geba's people 621 27 Michmas's men 122 28 Bethel's and Ai's men 223 29 Nebo's people 52 30 Magbish's people 156 31 the other Elam's people 1,254 32 Harim's people 320 33 Lod's, Hadid's, and Ono's people 725 34 Jericho's people 345 35 Senaah's people 3,630 36 The priests [included]: Jedaiah's descendants of the house of Jeshua 973 37 Immer's descendants 1,052 38 Pashhur's descendants 1,247 39 and Harim's descendants 1,017 40 The Levites [included]: Jeshua's and Kadmiel's descendants from Hodaviah's descendants 74 41 The singers [included]: Asaph's descendants 128 42 The gatekeepers' descendants [included]: Shallum's descendants, Ater's descendants, Talmon's descendants, Akkub's descendants, Hatita's descendants, Shobai's descendants, in all 139 43 The temple servants [included]: Ziha's descendants, Hasupha's descendants, Tabbaoth's descendants, 44 Keros's descendants, Siaha's descendants, Padon's descendants, 45 Lebanah's descendants, Hagabah's descendants, Akkub's descendants, 46 Hagab's descendants, Shalmai's descendants, Hanan's descendants, 47 Giddel's descendants, Gahar's descendants, Reaiah's descendants, 48 Rezin's descendants, Nekoda's descendants, Gazzam's descendants, 49 Uzza's descendants, Paseah's descendants, Besai's descendants, 50 Asnah's descendants, Meunim's descendants, Nephusim's descendants, 51 Bakbuk's descendants, Hakupha's descendants, Harhur's descendants, 52 Bazluth's descendants, Mehida's descendants, Harsha's descendants, 53 Barkos's descendants, Sisera's descendants, Temah's descendants, 54 Neziah's descendants, and Hatipha's descendants. 55 The descendants of Solomon's servants [included]: Sotai's descendants, Hassophereth's descendants, Peruda's descendants, 56 Jaalah's descendants, Darkon's descendants, Giddel's descendants, 57 Shephatiah's descendants, Hattil's descendants, Pochereth-hazzebaim's descendants, and Ami's descendants. 58 All the temple servants and the descendants of Solomon's servants 392 59 The following are those who came from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer but were unable to prove that their families and ancestry were Israelite: 60 Delaiah's descendants, Tobiah's descendants, Nekoda's descendants 652 61 and from the descendants of the priests: the descendants of Habaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, the descendants of Barzillai- who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name. 62 These searched for their entries in the genealogical records, but they could not be found, so they were disqualified from the priesthood. 63 The governor ordered them not to eat the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim. 64 The whole combined assembly numbered 42,360 65 not including their 7,337 male and female slaves, and their 200 male and female singers. 66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.

Gifts for the Work

68 After they arrived at the Lord's house in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders gave freewill offerings for the house of God in order to have it rebuilt on its [original] site. 69 Based on what they could give, they gave 61,000 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 priestly garments to the treasury for the project. 70 The priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and some of the people settled in their towns, and [the rest of] Israel [settled] in their towns.

Psalm 91

The Protection of the Most High

1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter's net, from the destructive plague. 4 He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. 8 You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord-my refuge, the Most High-your dwelling place, 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. 12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent. 14 Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will exalt him because he knows My name. 15 When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor. 16 I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation.
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