TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 4:32-36
TO CHEW ON: "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32
It was only weeks after Jesus had returned to heaven. But the people who believed in Jesus lived with Holy Spirit power and amazing things happened. The Apostles - Peter, John and others - preached boldly. Signs and miracles happened everywhere. As a result thousands believed in Jesus.
These new followers of Jesus spent a lot of time together - meeting in the temple courts, praising God and boasting about what He had done. They even ate their meals together."The Apostles preaching" - Artist unknown
Another thing they did was share – everything they had. In fact, people were so generous, they sold their things and brought the money to the leaders to help pay for the needs of those who didn’t have enough. Not one of those early Christians needed to beg, use food stamps or go to the food bank....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Malachi 3:6-12
TO CHEW ON: “'You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'” Malachi 3:9,10
“You are robbing God!” Malachi’s words got the peoples’ attention. But how could he say that? They weren’t stealing from the temple.
“You are stealing from God by keeping the tithe for yourselves instead of giving it to Him,” Malachi explained.
A tithe is one tenth. Years earlier God had commanded the people to give one tenth of what they earned and grew (their harvest and their herds of animals) to God. They were to do this whether they were rich or poor and whether times were good or bad. Giving to God in this way showed that they trusted God to supply what they needed. It was also a way of saying thank you for all He had given them. And when they did this, miraculously they...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 25:14-20; 32-35
TO CHEW ON: "David said to Abigail, 'Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgement and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.'” 1 Samuel 25: 32,33
Many people loyal to David began to join him in the cave where he was hiding. Eventually David and his men moved from caves to the desert. While they were there, some shepherds, the servants of a man named Nabal, were herding sheep nearby. David and his men made friends with the shepherds. They protected their flocks from wild animals and bandits.
After the shepherds had taken the sheep home, David heard that Nabal was going to throw a party for his servants. This would be a good time to get a meal from Nabal in payment for protecting him, David thought. He sent one of his men to Nabal with a polite note, asking if he and his men could come to the party.
Nabal, who was very rich, but also very selfish, answered David’s servant roughly. “Why should I take the food I make...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 5: 1-11
TO CHEW ON: "He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat." Luke 5:3
Would you lend it?
~ Your friend asks to borrow your bike to deliver papers.~ Your sister needs to use your markers to finish her homework.~ Your mom needs to borrow change from you for the parking meter.
Would you lend these things? Your answer will probably show if you’re the kind of person who easily shares your things or likes to keep them for yourself.
Simon must have been a sharer. One day Jesus got into Simon’s boat, asked him to row it a way from the shore and then used it as a platform for teaching the people. Never once did Simon say: “Why should I let you use my boat?”"Jesus teaching from a boat" - James Tissot
Later, after the people went home, Jesus thanked Simon in an amazing way. Though Simon and his partners hadn’t caught any fish the night before, Jesus told Simon to try fishing again. What happened when they let down their nets now? (Luke 5:6)...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL:2 Kings 4:27-37
TO CHEW ON: "He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord." 2 Kings 4:33
Elisha and his servant Gehazi did a lot of traveling. One day they went to Shunem. A rich woman there invited them for a meal in her house. Then, knowing Elisha often traveled to Shunem, she and her husband fixed up a room for Elisha and his servant. Now every time they came to town, they had a place to stay.
One day Elisha asked the woman, “After all you’ve done for us, what can we do for you?”
“I have everything I need,” she said.
“She doesn’t have any children,” Gehazi said to Elisha after she had left.
“Right,” said Elisha. “Call her back.”
When the woman came, Elisha said to her, “By this time next year, God will give you a son.”
Sure enough, a year later, she had a baby boy. She had never been happier! But one day, when the little boy was with his dad, he got sick. “My head! My head!” he cried. Servants carried him home. But a little while later he died.
Immediately his mother saddled a donkey and went to find Elisha. If anyone...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Amos 8:1-12
TO CHEW ON: "Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land .... I will never forget anything they have done." Amos 8:4,7
In Israel King Jehu was followed by his son and grandson. They were all evil. Now a new king, Jeroboam II, was ruling Israel. Outwardly everything was going well. Crops had been good. Many people were getting rich. They loved their beautiful homes and their lovely things. Some people were poor. But they didn’t matter, did they?
With that attitude, the rich were secretly cheating the poor. When they sold grain to them, they didn’t put the full amount in the bags, but raised the price. Sometimes they put the sweepings or the garbage from the bottom of the wheat bin into the bag and charged for that too.
God saw this unfairness. He called a shepherd named Amos. He sent Amos to be a prophet to Israel....
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ruth 2:1-12
TO CHEW ON: “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12
The first thing Naomi and Ruth had to do when they got back to Bethlehem was figure out where to get some food. So Naomi sent Ruth to the food bank, right? Well, not exactly. But she did send her to a place where food was free.
In those times, farmers harvesting their crops were supposed to leave a little behind for exactly this reason - to feed the poor. People who needed food were allowed to go to harvested fields and pick up what was left over. This was called gleaning.
I wonder what Ruth’s thoughts were as she went out to her first gleaning job. Perhaps she wondered if there would be any grain left to glean in the fields. Maybe she worried that people would find out she was a foreigner and make fun of her or chase her away. In spite of any anxious thoughts, Ruth went out, as Naomi asked her to.
Ruth gleaning in the field - Artist unknown
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 17:7-16
TO CHEW ON: "Elijah said to her, 'Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land." ' ” 1 Kings 17:13,14
After Elijah had lived by the brook for a while, he noticed a change. The hot sun was drying it up. It no longer flowed fast. Soon it was only a trickle. One day there was no water left in the brook at all.
That day God spoke to Elijah again. “Go at once to Zarephath in Sidon. A widow there will feed you.”
So Elijah walked to Zarephath. It was a hundred mile trip through scorching dessert, over rugged hills and through mountain passes. When he finally got to the Zarephath gate he was covered with dust, famished and very thirsty. “Could you please give me a drink...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Samuel 9:1-12
TO CHEW ON: “'Don’t be afraid,' David said to him, 'for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.'” 2 Samuel 9:7
One day after David had been king for some years, he remembered a promise he had made. Years earlier he had promised his friend Jonathan that he would save and protect his family. Now he wanted to keep that promise – but how?
He asked around and discovered that Ziba, a former servant of Saul, was still alive. David called Ziba to the palace. “Do you know if any of Saul’s family is still alive?” David asked.
“There is Mephibosheth,” Ziba replied. “He is the son of Jonathan and is crippled in both feet.”
Immediately David called Mephibosheth to the palace.
Mephibosheth was frightened when he heard King David wanted to see him. It was the custom in those times that a new king would kill the whole family and all the servants loyal to the old king. In fact it was the day that Saul’s family ran from the palace after...
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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Exodus 40: 1-16, 34, 35
TO CHEW ON: "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." Exodus 40:34,35
After Moses had cleaned up the golden calf, God rewrote the smashed tablets of stone. Then Moses asked the people to collect things for building the tabernacle. People brought gold jewelry, beautiful cloth, colorful thread, dyed animal hides, gem stones, spices, incense and oil. Soon there was enough.Israelites bring treasures for the Tabernacle - Artist unknown
Next God told Moses which talented artists and builders to put in charge of building the tabernacle. They organized and taught volunteers who made all the parts of the tabernacle and its furniture and tools.
Finally the tent church and all its furniture was built. On the first day of the first month God told Moses to put up the tabernacle. He also told him exactly where to put each piece of furniture along with each utensil and tool.
God told Moses to dress Aaron and his sons in the special priest clothes. As they stood...
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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Read Genesis 13:1-17Abram and Lot - Artist unknown
TO CHEW ON: "So Abram said to Lot, 'Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me.... Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.'” Genesis 13: 8,9
Abram did take one member of his family along – his nephew Lot. Lot also had flocks and servants. Soon their servants were fighting over the same pastures. Abram didn’t want fighting. He had a meeting with Lot. “I think it’s time for our families to part,” he said.
Abram was the leader and the respected older person on this trip. He could have told Lot to graze his cattle on the scrubby hills while he (Abram) took his cattle to the green valley. Instead Abram let Lot have first choice about where he’d go.
What an easy decision for Lot. Of course he picked the lush green valley for himself. Besides being the best pasture land, it was near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah where his wife could shop and he could get supplies.
If Abram was sorry about his decision to let Lot pick first, it wasn’t...
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