TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 40:1-6
TO CHEW ON: "But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please." Jeremiah 40:4
The people from Jerusalem, bound and chained, had set out on the long march to Babylon. Jeremiah was with them. Then at Ramah a surprising thing happened. Nebuzaradan, a commander in the Babylonian army, found him.
“I know about your God and how this is a punishment for the sins of the people,” he said. “But today I’m going to set you free.”
With that he took the chains off Jeremiah’s hands and feet. “You can come with me,” he went on, “or go wherever you like in the country. If you stay here you might want to go to Mizpah. There Gedaliah is watching over everyone who is left.”
So Jeremiah went to live with Gedeliah. Again God had helped him. This time He had sent an enemy commander to set him free....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 28:3-20
TO CHEW ON: "He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him . . . . Saul then said to his attendants, 'Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.'” 1 Samuel 28:6,7
The Philistines were threatening again and Saul was terrified. He wanted to talk to God and find out what to do. But Samuel had died, Saul had killed the priests, and no prophet came with any message. God was silent.
In desperation Saul asked his servants to find a medium. A medium was a person who could contact the spirits of dead people and get messages from them. But this power came from Satan and not God. God had commanded Saul to rid the land of all mediums and spiritists.
Still Saul’s men managed to find a medium. Saul disguised himself and went to her house. He persuaded her to try to bring up the spirit of Samuel so Saul could talk to him.
Soon the woman saw something coming out of the ground. And then Samuel’s voice filled the room, “Why have you disturbed me?...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jonah 1:1-15
TO CHEW ON: "But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord." Jonah 1:3
Have you ever been asked to do a job you really didn’t want to do?Did you a] do it anyway or b] try to avoid it. If you tried to avoid it - how?
Jonah was an avoider. One day God gave him a job. “Go to the city of Nineveh and preach against its wickedness.”
But Jonah didn’t want to. Instead, he went the opposite direction. In the city of Joppa he bought a ticket and set sail for Joppa.Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
Soon a violent storm came up. The wind and waves tossed the boat so fiercely the sailors were sure they would all sink. They threw baggage into the sea and prayed to their gods to stop the storm.
All the while, Jonah was sleeping. The captain found him. “Get up. Pray to your God,” he said.
But still the storm raged. Finally the sailors decided to find out...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL:2 Chronicles 26:16-22
TO CHEW ON: "But after Uzziah became powerful his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense." 2 Chronicles 26:16
Back in Judah, years had gone by since King Joash’s reign had ended. Now sixteen-year-old Uzziah, Joash’s grandson, was king. Like his grandfather Joash, Uzziah was trained by a priest. Just like Joash he started out well. He strengthened the army, defeated his Philistine enemies, built cities, and gave lots of people good jobs on his farms and in his fields. Soon he was famous in the nations all around. Best of all, during this whole time he was careful to do what pleased God.
That is, until one day when his success went to his head. That day he decided there was nothing he couldn’t do. So he went into the temple, lit the incense in the portable burner called a censer, and was about to make a sacrifice on the altar when Azariah and a crowd of priests stopped him.
“What are you doing?” Azariah asked. “This isn’t right. Only priests are allowed to go into the temple...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Numbers 11:4-6, 31-34
TO CHEW ON: "But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague." Numbers 11:33
The Israelites camped at Mount Sinai for a long time. Then one day the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle. Quickly the people packed up their tents and belongings while the Priests and Levites took down the tent church. It was time to move on.
The cloud led them from place to place. Though their feet got tired from walking, they were never hungry for long. Each morning they awoke to a new supply of manna on the ground.Israelites gathering manna - A. F. Pearse
The manna kept them from getting hungry but after a while they got bored. “We’re so tired of this manna,” they whined. “We want the food we had in Egypt – the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks onions and garlic.” As the wailing spread through the whole camp, Moses prayed for God’s help.
God was angry with the Israelites for their grumbling. Even so, He sent a great wind. It brought quail from the sea. Quickly news spread around...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Numbers 20:1-13
TO CHEW ON: "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.' ” Numbers 20:12
Now the Israelites kept traveling from place to place. While in the desert of Zin they ran out of water. As usual the people came to Moses to complain. “Why did you bring us here,” they whined. “There is no grain. There are no figs, grapes, and pomegranates. Now we have no water.”
When Moses and Aaron asked God what to do, God said to Moses, “Take your staff, gather the people and speak to that rock.”
So Moses did exactly as God had said – almost. He took his staff, gathered the people at the rock but then, instead of speaking to the rock, he hit it with his staff.
Water gushed out and the people stopped complaining and began drinking and filling up water jugs.
God had answered Moses’ prayer. But He was not pleased with Moses’ disobedience. Even though he was the leader God had chosen, and God had often talked to him like...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 10:18-29
TO CHEW ON: “So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit – the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.” 2 Kings 10:28,29
Jehu lost no time getting to work on job the prophet had given him. When Ahab’s son King Joram was recovering from a war injury in Jezreel, Jehu rode there in his chariot and did away with Joram. Next he had Queen Jezebel killed. Finally, he destroyed the worship of the idol Baal.
He did this by tricking all the Baal prophets. He told the people to call them together for a big, big sacrifice. “Ahab served Baal a little,” Jehu said. “I will serve him much. Any Baal prophet who doesn’t show up will be killed.”
When all the prophets had gathered in Baal’s temple, Jehu posted guards outside. “Don’t let anyone escape,” he said. Then he made the sacrifice. And right after that he gave the signal to the guards to destroy every Baal prophet in the temple.
After that was done, Jehu tore down the Baal altar and the temple. In this...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 13:7-14
TO CHEW ON: "He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, 'Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.' And Saul offered up the burnt offering." 1 Samuel 13:8,9
One day after Saul had been king for a while, Saul’s son Jonathan attacked a Philistine outpost. This was like poking a stick into a wasp’s nest. Immediately the Philistines gathered their army and came against the Israelites to fight.
Saul’s army was only two thousand men. In a panic he sent trumpeters through the land to call back the rest of the army and anyone else able to fight. Then he and his men waited. They waited for more soldiers to come. They also waited for Samuel, the prophet and priest, to offer a sacrifice and ask for God’s help. Saul knew that it would be useless to go to war without that.
Meanwhile every day the Philistine army grew larger. It swelled to three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers and thousands upon thousands of soldiers.
The men in Saul’s army watched and grew more terrified by the hour. Soon they lost...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Psalm 51:1-19
TO CHEW ON: "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." Psalm 51:17
After Nathan had talked to David, he felt terrible. Now he knew how seriously God took what he had done. It wasn’t just some little "mistake." It was sin – adultery, lying, murder. He felt guilty. He felt dirty. He felt sad. He felt afraid that God wouldn’t be his friend any more. He was very sorry.
David wrote his thoughts and feelings in Psalm 51.
1. Even though David had killed Uriah, whom had he sinned against the most? ____ (Psalm 51:4)...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 16:1-13
TO CHEW ON: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
When Asa had been king for a long time, Baasha the King of Israel blocked the border between Israel and Judah.
1. The last time King Asa was faced with a problem (2 Chronicles 14:11) he had: (choose the correct answer):a] asked for help from Egypt.b] asked for help from God.
2. This time he (2 Chronicles 16:2):a] asked for help from Ben Hadad of Aramb] asked for help from God.
Shortly after that, the prophet Hanani came to him and asked, “Why did you make your own plan instead of asking for God’s help? Didn’t God help you in your fight against Cush? God is always looking out to help anyone who depends on Him. What you did was foolish. From now on you’ll always be at war.”
What Hanani said made Asa so angry, he put Hanani in prison.
After that Asa stubbornly refused to ask for God’s help with anything. A few years later when he got a disease in his feet, he only went to doctors. He ignored God completely....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Joshua 7:10-25
TO CHEW ON: “Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.” Joshua 7:11
Have you ever done something sneaky – stolen something, told a lie, or cheated on an exam? Achan did such a thing when he went into Jericho. He had heard Joshua’s command about what to do with the loot. But when he saw a beautiful robe, some silver coins, and a wedge of gold, he sneaked these things home, dug a hole inside his tent and hid them in the ground.
A few days later Joshua sent scouts to Ai, the next city. “It’s a small town,” the scouts reported when they got back. “We’ll only need part of the army to capture it.”
But the people of Ai chased the Israelites from their city, beat them and killed many soldiers.
Joshua and the people were stunned. Joshua fell on his face before God and asked, “Why didn’t you help us?”
“Get up!” God told him. “There’s sin in the camp. Someone has stolen and lied. You need to deal with...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Exodus 32:1-6
TO CHEW ON: "He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' ” Exodus 32:4
Moses was on Mount Sinai for a long time. When he didn’t come back, and didn’t come back, the Israelites camping at the bottom of the mountain wondered what was taking so long. Maybe God had destroyed Moses in the fire that rested on the top of the mountain. Maybe a wild animal had killed him. Who could help them if Moses never came back? They remembered Egypt. There the people had prayed to statues or idols.
The people went to Aaron. “Make us a god idol!” they demanded.
“Give me your jewelry,” he said. Then Aaron melted the gold he collected and cast it into the shape of a calf.
“This is our god,” the people shouted to each other. “This is the god who brought us out of Egypt.” They offered sacrifices to the idol and then they began to party.Israel celebrating around the calf idol - Artist unknown
Which statement, below, tells why this...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Exodus 32:7,8, 15-26
TO CHEW ON: "They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt'.... And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made." Exodus 32:8, 35
While the people were worshiping and celebrating around the idol, God told Moses, “It’s time for you to go down. The people are doing something bad.”
So Moses went down the mountain, carrying the tablets of stone on which God had written. But even God’s warning hadn’t prepared him for the sight that met his eyes when he got back to camp. There, in the middle of everything, was the gold calf idol. Around it the people were dancing, singing and celebrating.
Moses stormed into camp. He threw down the stone pieces he was carrying and they shattered."Moses Breaks the Tablets of Stone" from Treasures of the Bible (Moses)
Then he tore the calf idol off its stand and heaved it into a fire....
Read More about Gold Frappuccino »
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 15:17-26
TO CHEW ON: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22
Samuel came to Saul one day to give him a new job from God. He was to fight Israel’s old enemy, the Amalekites. After the battle was over, Samuel gave him plain instructions not to let any person or animal escape alive.
Saul’s army won easily. Then they did as Samuel told them and destroyed all the people. But they kept the best cattle and Saul saved the life of king Agag.
After the battle God talked to Samuel. “Saul hasn’t carried out my instructions,” He said.
So Samuel went to find Saul. When Saul saw him he was all smiles. “I did exactly what God told me to,” he said.
“Then what are the sounds of sheep and cattle I hear?” Samuel asked.
“The soldiers kept those,” Saul said. “They’re planning to sacrifice these animals to God. I destroyed all the people just like you told me to. I only kept Agag the king.”
But Samuel wasn’t fooled by the Saul's excuses. “God wants...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 17:15-20
TO CHEW ON: "But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, 'Do not do as they do.' " 2 Kings 17:14,15
Israel was in big trouble. It was about thirty years and five kings after Jeroboam II. Shalmaneser king of Assyria had discovered that Israel’s present king Hoshea had secretly made a pact with Egypt. When Hoshea stopped paying the tax that Shalmaneser demanded, he arrested King Hoshea and took him to an Assyrian prison.
Then his army went through the countryside, rounding up the people. When they came to Samaria, the gates were locked. But Shalmaneser had all the time in the world. His army camped outside the city and waited for the people inside to surrender.
The Samaritans hung on for three years. But finally, desperate for food and water, they surrendered. In no time Shalmaneser had rounded up all those people...
Read More about Copying the Wrong Cat »
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 13:1-14
TO CHEW ON: "They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it." 1 Chronicles 13:7
One day, sometime after he had become king, David thought of the ark. For many years this special gold box had been sitting in Abinadab’s house in Kiriath Jearim.* Now David wanted to bring it back to the tabernacle in Jerusalem.
He went with a crowd to Kiriath Jearim to move the ark. They put the ark on a new cart. Then he and the people celebrated with singing and playing harps, lyres, tambourines, trumpets and cymbals. Behind them came the lumbering oxen pulling the precious load.
Suddenly one of the oxen stumbled. Uzzah, who was guiding the animals, saw that the ark was starting to slip. He reached out to steady it. The minute he touched it he fell down – dead!...
Read More about Breaking the Rules »
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 36:1-26
TO CHEW ON: "The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes." Jeremiah 36:24
“I’m sure the people will change their ways when they hear all this,” Baruch said, as he put the final touches on the scroll.
God had told Jeremiah many months before to try another way to get the people to listen. “You write down all the things I’ve told you,” God told him. “Then read them to the people. When they hear about the judgments that are coming, surely they’ll change their ways.”
Jeremiah had hired Baruch as his secretary. He had spoken the things God had said to him, while Baruch wrote them on a scroll. It was slow work and took a long time. But finally they were done.
On a day when many people were in Jerusalem, Baruch read Jeremiah’s words at the crowded temple courtyard. Micaiah heard them. He hurried to a room where the king’s officials were gathered. “You’ve got to hear this!” he told them.
They invited Baruch to read Jeremiah’s scroll. After he finished they said, “This is serious. We’d better make sure the king hears this!”
On a cold winter...
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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Read: Genesis 4:1-12
Detail from "Cain and Abel Offering Their Sacrifices" by Gustave Doré
TO CHEW ON: "Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.'” (Genesis 4:6,7)
God told Cain and Abel to sacrifice animals to Him. Cain and Abel both worshiped God by making sacrifices. But Cain disobeyed and offered fruit from the plants he had harvested. Abel obeyed and offered animals from his flock.
God was pleased with the animal sacrifice. He didn’t accept the plant sacrifice. He had told Cain what He wanted. Here are some things Cain could have done. Which one did he choose to do?...
Read More about Choices »
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Read: Genesis 3:1-9
TO CHEW ON: "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8)
Up till now Adam, Eve and God had been friends. When God was in the garden, Adam and Eve hurried to meet Him, eager to tell Him about their day. But this day was different.
This day Adam and Eve broke God’s rule by eating the fruit from the only tree that God had forbidden. Now they felt guilty. Instead of hurrying to meet God, they hid from Him....
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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Read: Genesis 2:15-17
TO CHEW ON: “...but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Match the action on the left with what will probably happen on the right:
We know what will happen if we do the everyday things above. When we lose our grip while we're in a tree we’re not surprised that we fall down towards earth, rather than up towards the sky. Neither is it a shock that we hit the ground hard enough to break a bone. We know about earth’s gravity. It helps us make a rule (Don’t jump from a high place) or there will be consequences (or you’ll hurt yourself). It's something we expect....
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