Unwelcome News

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 38:1-6 TO CHEW ON: "This is what the Lord says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes out to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives: they will live.’" Jeremiah 38: 2 None of us likes to bring unwelcome news. Yet when God told Jeremiah to say things that were opposite of what everyone wanted to hear, he said them even though it got him into big trouble. It was now about sixteen years after Jehoiachim had burned Jeremiah’s scroll. Jehoiakim had died. Babylon was getting stronger every day. Its king Nebuchadnezzar had made Zedekiah king of Judah. But Nebuchadnezzar really wanted Judah for himself. When he came with his army and surrounded Jerusalem, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah if God had any message for him. “Yes,” Jeremiah told him, “the Babylonian army will capture the city and burn it down.” Zedekiah and his officials didn’t like the sound of that, so they put Jeremiah in prison. But he had more to say. “Give yourselves up to the Babylonian army,” he told everyone who came to see him. “If you stay in this city, you’ll die.” Jeremiah’s words enraged Zedekiah’s officials. “He’s...

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Turnaround

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 9:1-9 TO CHEW ON: “'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked." Acts 9:5 Saul thought he was pleasing God by killing the followers of Jesus. "Saul was breathing murderous threats" - Artist unknown God saw that Saul was sincere. But he was also wrong. In one amazing moment God turned Saul around. He was traveling on the road near the town of Damascus, on his way to kill more Christians, when a light blinded him. He fell to the ground. A voice asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”...

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Tags: Saul/Paul salvation persecution Jesus God’s presence Acts

The First Martyr

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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Tags: testing persecution forgiveness courage Acts

The Fickle Crowd

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 14:8-20 TO CHEW ON: "Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead." Acts 14:19 Have you ever been to a sports game where the hometown team starts making mistakes? Very quickly a cheering crowd turns into a hissing, booing one. Paul and Barnabas found this out. When they came to Lystra, Paul healed a man who had never walked. "Paul heals the man at Lystra" - Caspar Luiken, 1672-1708 After seeing that, the people were in awe of Barnabas and Paul....

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Tags: Saul/Paul perseverance persecution lies Acts

Silent

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Mark 15:1-5; 15-20 TO CHEW ON: "So again Pilate asked him, 'Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.' But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed."Mark 15:4,5 Judas led the soldiers into Gethsemane. He walked up to Jesus, called out “Teacher!” and gave Jesus a kiss. It looked like a meeting of good friends. But it wasn’t. This kiss was not a love kiss but a kiss of betrayal. It was Judas’s signal telling the soldiers which person to arrest. "Judas the Betrayer" - Artist unknown The soldiers arrested Jesus and took Him away for a trial at the High Priest’s house. There false witnesses lied about what Jesus had said and done. The Jewish leaders pronounced Him guilty of blasphemy - a crime that deserved the death penalty under Jewish law....

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Tags: persecution Mark Jesus God’s plan Christ’s passion

Obedience + Persecution = Joy

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 13:42-52 TO CHEW ON: "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." Acts 13:52 Barnabas and Paul traveled to Perga and then to Psidian Antioch. When they preached in the church (synagogue), many people listened and believed. In fact at one meeting almost the whole town came out to listen. "Through this man (Jesus) is preached the forgiveness of sins" - Artist unknown But the Jewish leaders didn’t like Paul and Barnabas because they said the good news about Jesus was for non-Jews (Gentiles). When more and more people believed, the Jewish leaders got jealous. They gossiped and lied about Paul and Barnabas and turned the city’s important people against them. Soon persecution started again. Barnabas and Paul had to leave town....

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Tags: Saul/Paul persecution obedience joy Acts

Jailed

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 28:11-16;30-31 TO CHEW ON: "Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 28:31 Three months after the shipwreck Paul, his guards and companions set sail again. Soon they arrived in Rome. When they got there, the soldiers took Paul to a house. "Arrival at Rome" by Johann C. Weigel, 1695 For two years he had to stay in that house with someone guarding him all the time. "Paul preaches at Rome under guard" - Artist unknown Even though he was a prisoner, Paul didn’t whine, sulk or feel sorry for himself. What did he do? (Find the words for the blanks in the word bank below - Acts 28:31)...

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Tags: problems Peter persecution Matthew Judges Jeremiah God’s presence God’s help God’s care Genesis Acts

Jail Joy

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 16:23-34 TO CHEW ON: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." Acts 16:25 What things would fill you with joy?1. Getting a new pet.2. Winning a contest.3. Being teased about being a Christian.4. Finishing a hard job.5. Being arrested for helping someone. My guess is you didn’t choose 3. and 5. But Paul and Silas were joyful even after helping someone and being put in jail for it. After the Philippi officials beat them, Paul and Silas were locked in a jail cell for helping the slave girl. But they didn’t get angry, complain, whine or grumble. Instead they prayed and sang hymns. What happened next gave them even more reason for joy. An earthquake shook the jail. Their chains came loose. The doors flew open. "Earthquake in the prison" - Sir James Thornhill The jailer, afraid that everyone would escape, was ready to harm himself....

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Tags: Saul/Paul persecution joy good news God’s help Acts

Insults = Blessings?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: I Peter 4:12-19 TO CHEW ON: "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." I Peter 4:14 Which of these things has happened to you because you are a Christian?- called names- left out- teased- made fun of It’s not fun going through things like that. But it shouldn’t surprise us. People in the past were insulted and persecuted because they trusted in God:"Goliath" - Artist unknown David’s older brother made fun of him when David came to the battlefield and started asking questions about why no one was challenging Goliath when he insulted God. (1 Samuel 17:28)"David" - Artist Unknown Nehemiah was teased by Sanballat and Tobiah when he began rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. They made fun of his work, joking, “..if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones.” (Nehemiah 2:19; 4:3). Jesus said that his followers would be arrested, persecuted, even killed (John 15:20)....

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Tags: write true/false persecution Nehemiah Jesus friendship David 1 Peter

From Bad to Good

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 8:1-8 TO CHEW ON: "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." Acts 8:4. Have you ever had to move because it wasn’t safe for you to live in your old home any more? That’s what happened to the followers of Jesus after Stephen’s death. Everyone, from people in government to neighbors, was out to get them. They were threatened, arrested, and many more were killed. So they moved to other places in Judea and Samaria. Now there were no more big gatherings in the Jerusalem temple court. The large praise meetings stopped. There was hardly anyone left to go to the prayer gatherings and potluck dinners. Because of persecution the Christians left Jerusalem and were scattered all around."Conversions of the Samaritans" - Matthias Scheits, 1972 But they didn’t stop talking about Jesus. Everywhere they went, they spread the good news. Jesus had died for sins. People could be friends with God again. Everyone could live in Holy Spirit power. People could look forward to heaven when they died....

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Tags: testing persecution good news God’s plan God’s help Acts

Fiery Trial

TODAY’S SPECIAL: I Peter 1:3-9 TO CHEW ON: "These (trials) have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.." I Peter 1:7 The year was 64 A.D. One night the sky above Rome glowed bright long after the sun had set. Soon the air was thick with smoke. The streets filled with panicky people crying, “Help! Fire! The city is burning!”The burning of Rome - Artist unknown But at the emperor’s palace Nero laughed at the dancing flames. Then legend tells us that he took his fiddle and began to play. “Who set the fire?” the people asked later. Many thought Nero, who liked to build things, set it himself so he could build Rome over again. Nero blamed the Christians....

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Tags: testing research Peter persecution death 1 Peter

Ephesus Riot

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 19:23-41 TO CHEW ON: "About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way." Acts 19:23"Paul preaching before the Temple of Diana at Ephesus" - by Adolf Pirsch, 1885 It didn’t take long for the people in Ephesus to notice the enthusiastic Christians. Demetrius, a man who made and sold silver idols of the goddess Artemis, saw that if people kept believing in Jesus there would soon be no one left to buy his idols. He called a meeting of other silversmiths and crafts people and complained about Paul and this new religion....

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Tags: Saul/Paul research persecution courage Acts

Defiant Daniel

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 6:12-23 TO CHEW ON: “ 'My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.' ” Daniel 6:22 “Bring them in!” commanded king Darius to his servant. The Babylon rulers smirked as they entered and bowed before the king. “We’ve found someone who broke your new law,” they said. “We caught Daniel praying to his God.” Darius was shocked. Not Daniel! He was his favorite servant. And then he understood. The other rulers were jealous of Daniel. They wanted him gone. They knew that he prayed to his God three times a day. So that was why they had come to the king and suggested he pass the new law. It said that for thirty days it was illegal to pray to anyone but the king. Punishment for disobeying was death by hungry lions. All day King Darius tried to get Daniel freed. But he couldn’t. “May the God whom you serve rescue you,” he said to Daniel as servants tossed him into the lions' den....

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Tags: trickery persecution miracles God’s help Daniel courage consequences

Cistern Rescue

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 38:7-13 TO CHEW ON: “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.” Jeremiah 38:9 As he sank ever deeper in the filthy mud, Jeremiah wondered, is this it? Will I die here? He had done and said what God had told him to. But his message was so unpopular, King Zedekiah’s officials had put him in prison and then thrown him into this wet cistern. But that wasn’t the end for Jeremiah. Ebed-Melech, an official in the palace, heard what had happened. He knew that it was not fair. He went to the king about it. “These men have been most wicked in the way they treated Jeremiah,” he said. “They’ve put him in a cistern and he’ll starve to death.”...

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Tags: trust persecution Judah Jeremiah God’s help

Building Faith Muscles

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jude 17 - 25 TO CHEW ON: "In the last time there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires...But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." Jude 18b, 20 Have you ever met a scoffer? That’s someone who mocks or jeers you for who you are, what you are doing, or what you believe in. How many of these Bible scoffers can you name? (Need help? See the names of Bible scoffers and references below.) 1. “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks...Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” ____________ 2. “He saved others but he cannot safe himself. He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we’ll believe in him.” _______________ 3. “What they are building – if even a fox climbed upon it, he would break down their wall of stones.” _________________ 4. “What is this babbler trying to say?” ________________...

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Tags: trust testing persecution Jude faith

Angel Jail-break

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 12:1-12 TO CHEW ON: "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." Acts 12:5 Peter was in big trouble. After King Herod killed James, he arrested Peter. For days Peter had been in a cramped, uncomfortable jail, chained and guarded by sixteen soldiers. The night before Herod was going to put him on trial Peter was asleep in his cell. He was awakened by strange man shaking him. “Quick, get up and get dressed!” the man said. The cell was filled with light even though it was the middle of the night. Then his chains fell off.Peter's miraculous escape from prison - Artist unknown I must be dreaming Peter thought as he pulled on his clothes, wrapped his cloak around him, and followed the man out of the prison. It was not until he had walked a block or two and his companion disappeared that Peter realized - I’m not dreaming. This is real. I was just set free by an angel....

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Tags: prayer Peter persecution God’s help angels Acts


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