TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 7:51-60
TO CHEW ON: "Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60
Stephen was known for his wisdom. He was full of the Holy Spirit. He did many signs and miracles. But even such a special man had enemies.
Some important people argued with him about Jesus, and lost the argument. They decided to silence him. So they got people to tell lies about him. Then they arrested him and put him on trial. Stephen used his trial to talk about Jesus even more."Stephen before he is martyred" - Artist unknown
When he told the High Priest (his judge) and the crowd, they were enemies of God because they had killed Jesus, it was too much for them. In anger they dragged him outside the city and threw stones at him....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Titus 3:3-8
TO CHEW ON: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:4,5Who is the worst person you’ve ever heard of? What did they do that made them so bad?
We may think of some people, like mass murderers or violent thieves as beyond help. People may say things about them like, “Put them in jail and throw away the key. That’s the best they deserve.”
This may be true. But then, none of us deserve any better as far as God is concerned. For though you and I may not have done really big bad things, we have sinned. And the punishment for our sin is death. All the good things we could ever do are not enough to earn God’s pardon and to make us His friends....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Isaiah 6:1-10
TO CHEW ON: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'And I said, 'Here am I. Send me.'” Isaiah 6:8
God sat on a high throne. The train of his majestic robe was more glorious than any bride’s. It filled the temple. Angels were all around. Some flew back and forth calling “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is filled with his glory.” At the sound, the temple pillars shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
These are things Isaiah saw in a vision. He would never forget what happened next. As he saw God’s glory and heard the angels, Isaiah suddenly felt like he wasn’t good enough to be there. “Woe is me,” he said, “for my mouth is dirty with bad words.”
Then one of the angels came to him. He had a coal from the altar, and touched that coal to Isaiah’s lips. “God has taken away your guilt and sin,” he said.
Then Isaiah heard God’s voice: “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
Without knowing what God would ask him to do, Isaiah replied, “Here am I,...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 33:7-13
TO CHEW ON: "And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God." 2 Chronicles 33:13
“The Assyrians are coming!” A messenger blurted the news to King Manasseh.
Manasseh called his priests and told them to pray to the gods, check the omens, and make sacrifices. But not to the God of heaven. For Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son and Judah’s king, was not like his dad. Instead of worshiping God, he rebuilt hilltop shrines where people went to pray to statues of Chemosh and Baal.Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible © American Bible Society 1976, 1992
He sacrificed his own sons to idols, was deeply into witchcraft and even built idol altars in the temple. God had tried to talk to Manasseh and the people, but they refused to listen.
The sacrifices Manasseh made that day did no good. He was captured by the Assyrian generals, chained and taken to prison in Babylon. There, in a dungeon and all alone, he had time to think. He remembered the things his father...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Micah 4:1-5
TO CHEW ON: "He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Micah 4:3
Can you remember a time when there was not a war happening somewhere on earth? I can’t. It seems that every night the news is full of problems in one part of the world or another. It’s much more usual to get news of more wars starting than to hear of people getting along. But Micah the prophet predicts such a war-free time.
Micah lived in Judah at the same time as Isaiah. God gave him messages for Samaria (capital of Israel) and Jerusalem (capital of Judah). They were messages of doom. “Samaria will be destroyed. Jerusalem has become just as bad. Soon it will be flattened and just a garbage dump.”
But Micah didn’t only predict bad news. God also gave him a message of hope. “In the last days Jerusalem will come back to life,” he said. “God Himself will rule from...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Philemon 1-25
TO CHEW ON: "I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me." Philemon 10,11
Onesimus was a slave who lived in Colosse. His master’s name was Philemon. One day Onesimus stole some money from Philemon and ran away to Rome.
After some time, perhaps after all the money was spent, Onesimus found Paul. He may have met Paul before because Philemon was a Christian and a church met in his home. Paul had probably visited there.
Soon Onesimus became a Christian too. Then he faced a big problem. What should he do about his master Philemon and the money he had stolen? If he went back, Philemon might punish him or even kill him. He would certainly be a slave again. But if he didn’t, his conscience would bother him and give him no peace.
What would you have done? Do you think it’s important to confess and make right the wrong things we’ve done to people? Why or why not?
Paul wrote Onesimus’s master a letter. In it he asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus and...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jonah 3:1-10
TO CHEW ON: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened." Jonah 3:10
God did ask Jonah to go to Nineveh again. This time Jonah said “yes.”
When he got to this large city, he walked around, shouting: “If you don’t stop being wicked and violent, God will destroy in you in forty days. Instead fast, put on sackcloth and pray to God. Pray hard. Who knows, God might still spare you.”
Jonah was secretly wishing God would destroy Nineveh. It was the capital city of the country of Assyria. The Assyrians were known for their cruelty. They had often been mean to the people of Israel and Judah
But the people of Nineveh were not mean to Jonah. They didn’t tease or laugh at him. Instead, they listened. Even their king came out to hear what Jonah had to say. Then he did exactly what Jonah said. He told all the people to do the same....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Isaiah 61:1-3
TO CHEW ON: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners," Isaiah 61:1
If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you’ll know that if you get sent to “Jail” there are consequences. You must miss your turn. You don’t get to move around the game board like the other players. By the time you’re free again, all the best properties may be bought by others. Unless you have a “Get out of jail free” card. Then you get to go free!
The way Isaiah described the deliverer or Messiah who would come someday sounds a lot like a “Get out of jail free” card. As well as bringing good news to the poor and comfort to the brokenhearted, the promise was that He would free captives and release prisoners.Hundreds of years later, Jesus was about to give His first sermon. In front of the gathered listeners He started by opening the scroll of Isaiah...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 22:12-21
TO CHEW ON: "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.." Revelation 22:17
“Come!” What a welcome word to hear when we’re homesick. What a comforting word to hear when we’re lonely. What a delicious word to hear when we’re hungry or thirsty.
"Let everyone who is thirsty, Come" Designed by David Hetland (stained glass window Trinity Lutheran Church, Jamestown, North Dakota.)
The book of Revelation ends with this arms-wide-open invitation from God. Though our sins separated us from Him, Jesus made a way for us to be friends with God. God invites each one of us to come to Him by putting our faith in Jesus. When we do, God sees us as clean and holy. And we can look forward to spending eternity (forever and ever and ever and ever... to infinity) with Him in heaven....
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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 33:1-11
TO CHEW ON: “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” Genesis 33:10
The day Jacob had looked forward to and dreaded was here. Today, after many years, he would see Esau again.
1.What happened when the brothers met? Genesis 33:42. Who of the brothers had done something wrong and needed to be forgiven?3. Who did the forgiving?
The meeting of Jacob and Esau
Seeing Esau again and knowing he was no longer angry was a big deal for Jacob. He compared getting Esau’s forgiveness to seeing the face of God.
Are there broken friendships in your life? Be like Jacob and Esau, and mend them.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me forgive the people who have hurt me, and help the people I have hurt to forgive me. Amen...
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