The Way Back

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 7:11-22 TO CHEW ON: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 After Solomon had finished the temple, he built a luxurious palace for himself. One night when both those projects were done, God appeared to him again. “I heard your prayer and chose your temple,” He said. Then God gave Solomon some advice. “Keep my laws like David your father did. Worship only me. If you do this, kings will always come from your family. “But if you turn away from me and start worshiping idols, bad things will happen.” 1. Pick out the three bad things God named in 2 Chronicles 7:20: A. I will send Israel back to Egypt to be slaves.B. I will uproot Israel from my land.C. I will reject this temple.D. I will burn your palace.E. I will make this temple an object of ridicule....

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Soap and Fire

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Malachi 3:1-5 TO CHEW ON: "But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? for he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Malachi 3:2,3a "Malachi" by J. James Tissot Ezra’s revival soon cooled. The joy of being back in Jerusalem evaporated. Life was hard for the exiles. They didn’t get rich quickly, as some had thought they would. Many felt disappointed with God. Their disappointment showed in the way they no longer respected Him. Instead they lived to please themselves. No longer did the Levites teach the truth. Men divorced their aging wives and married beautiful young foreign women to take their places. People lied, cheated workers out of wages and were mean to immigrants. That’s when the prophet Malachi came on the scene. “God will return to His temple one day,” he said. “He will come suddenly and purify His people, like soap washes clothes clean or a searing fire burns impurities out of gold and silver.”...

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Tags: selfishness research repent Malachi God’s character consequences

Second Place

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Mark 1:1-8 TO CHEW ON: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” John the Baptist - Mark 1:7 You may have been to a concert where a little-known band or singer played first to get people in a good mood. Then later, the famous person came on stage to sing or play. John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was like that warm-up band. At first people flocked to the desert just to see him. Wouldn’t you be curious about a preacher who lived out in the wild, dressed in camel’s skin, and ate locusts and honey?"John Preaching" - Unknown Artist But if people came first out of curiosity, they came again to hear what John had to say. His preaching made them sorry for their sins. It made them feel like getting right with God. When they said they were sorry and decided to follow God (they repented), John baptized them in the Jordan River. Probably some of them thought he was Messiah, God’s special messenger....

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Repent = Change Direction

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Joel 2:12-19 TO CHEW ON: "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." Joel 2:13 Suppose you did something bad like got mad at your little sister and hurt her. Now you feel really sorry. You wish you hadn’t hurt her and you’re also worried that you might get punished. 1. What thing from the list below will convince your parents you really are sorry and won’t do it again:a] you cryb] you apologize to your sisterc] you promise to never hurt your sister againd] from now on treat your sister with kindness. Though crying, apologizing and making promises might convince your parents you’re sorry, they’ll know you’re really sorry by watching how your actions have changed. When the people of Judah stopped following God and again worshiped idols, they were like a kid who had done something wrong. Prophet Joel told them God was going to punish them by sending locusts and drought. But there was still a way to avoid this punishment. It was by coming back to God and showing Him they were truly sorry and...

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Prophets and Plagues

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Joel 1:1-4 and 10-14 TO CHEW ON: The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. Joel 1:10 Which people do we go to, to find out what might happen in the future weathermen scientists prophets I’m sure you’d agree that in our time we may go to weathermen and scientists, but we don’t often go to prophets. Even in Bible times people sometimes made fun of what prophets predicted. Yet God chose to speak through these ordinary men who didn’t speak their own ideas but said what God told them to say. Joel was such a prophet. He lived in Judah around the time Joash was crowned king. He had seen the way King Jehoram and Ahaziah and then Queen Athaliah had turned the people away from praying to God. When Joash became king, Joel hoped that things would be different. And they were for a while. As long as Priest Jehoiada was alive Joash followed his advice and honored God. But after Jehoiada died, Joash stopped worshiping at the temple. He put up Asherah poles and soon the land was filled with idols again. One day...

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Prison Prayers

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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Tags: worship sin repent problems occult obedience Judah idols forgiveness consequences confession 2 Chronicles

Making Things Right

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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Tags: storytelling Saul/Paul repent Philemon forgiveness confession

Loving Enemies

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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Tags: repent love Judah Jonah God’s character forgiveness

God’s All-seeing Eyes

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 5:1-10 TO CHEW ON: "With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and laid it at the apostles’ feet." Acts 5:2 Some early Christians sold their property and gave the money from those sales to help others. Ananias and Sapphira decided to do this too. But instead of bringing the whole amount, they brought just a part and kept back some for themselves. There was nothing wrong with this. But then Ananias did a sneaky thing. He gave the money to the leaders as if it were the entire amount. He tried to leave the impression that he was giving everything, even though he wasn’t. Later his wife Sapphira lied in the same way. But God saw their deception. He told Peter, and Peter exposed their lie. That day Ananias fell down dead when Peter confronted him with what he had done."Death of Ananias" by Raphael Later the same thing happened to Sapphira. It was God’s judgment on them for trying to deceive....

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Tags: truth temptation repent Peter lies God’s omniscience consequences Acts

God Wants Us Back

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Hosea 14:1-9 TO CHEW ON: "Return, O Israel, to the Lord you God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: 'Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously that we may offer the fruit of our lips.'” Hosea 14:1,2 Hosea was another prophet to Israel at this time. God asked him to do more than just talk to the people. Even his life was an object lesson of what God was like. “Go marry a woman who won’t be true to you,” God told him. So Hosea married Gomer, a prostitute. They lived together and had children. But Gomer left Hosea and had affairs with other men. This made Hosea sad. God told him, “Your wife is just like the Israelites. She left you just like they left me to worship idols.The Israelites going to worship idols I don’t want you to divorce her. Instead, you are to take her back.” Hosea paid money and took his wife back into their home. Then God said to him, “Tell the Israelites that what you did is a picture of what I will do for them. Just like you took your wife back even though she...

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Tags: repent prophecy prayer memory verse Israel idols Hosea

Dinner With a Sinner

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 19:1-9 TO CHEW ON: "Jesus ... said to him, 'Zacchaeus...I must stay at your house today'...All the people saw this and began to mutter, 'He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.'” Luke 19:5,7 What are taxes? You probably know they are amounts of money people in cities, provinces, states and countries must pay. Government workers collect this money. They use it to pay for things used by everyone - like roads, schools, firefighters and the police. In Jesus’ time, the Roman rulers charged taxes. They got people in each neighborhood, to work for them. These people were called tax collectors. They usually charged the people more than the Romans asked. They kept the extra money for themselves. Everybody thought of them as traitors, cheats, sinners, and hated them. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. One day Zacchaeus heard Jesus was coming to town. He wanted to see Him. But Zacchaeus was too short to see above the crowd. Besides, he didn't much like being in crowds because he was so unpopular. So he climbed into a tree and watched as Jesus and the crowd walked by. Jesus didn’t care how the crowds felt about Zaccheus. When He came to the tree...

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Tags: true/false salvation repent money Luke

Bonfire

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 19:11-20 TO CHEW ON: "Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly." Acts 19: 18-19a Paul went back to Ephesus. His powerful sermons and miracles had made him famous. God worked so mightily through him that people took clothes that Paul had touched, laid them on sick people, and they were healed. "Healings" by Christoph Weigel - 1695 When some Jews in the city tried to heal and do exorcisms (make evil spirits leave people) in Jesus’ name, like Paul did, the evil spirits knew they were fakers. The demon-possessed people beat up the imitation healers....

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Tags: sin Saul/Paul repent occult confession Acts

A Change of Heart

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 12:1-14 TO CHEW ON: "Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed there was some good in Judah." 2 Chronicles 12:12 We left the story of Rehoboam a while back. He was the son of Solomon who said he would be a mean and bossy king. Ten tribes didn’t want Rehoboam to be their king. They chose Jeroboam to be king and were called Israel. We have been following what happened in Israel (King Jeroboam, King Ahab, the prophets Elijah and Elisha). Meanwhile back in Jerusalem, Rehoboam ruled over the two tribes that stayed loyal to him. The part of the land he ruled was called Judah. Rehoboam soon became a strong king in Judah. He forgot all about God and worshiping Him until King Shishak of Egypt started invading. In no time Shishak had captured all the nearby cities and was just outside Jerusalem. Scared Rehoboam and his advisors were huddled in the city trying to decide what to do next when a prophet came to them. “You have abandoned God,” the prophet said to Rehoboam.“Now He is leaving you to Shishak.” This made Rehoboam even more frightened. That day he decided...

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Tags: repent Judah God’s character discussion consequences 2 Chronicles

A New Start

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezra 9:5-15 TO CHEW ON: "Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: 'I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.' " Ezra 9:5,6Ezra and the people were overjoyed when they reached Jerusalem. There were cheers, tears of joy and hugs as old friends met again and families got re-acquainted. But it took only one meeting with the leaders for Ezra to find out that things here were far from perfect. “The men have again begun to marry idol-worshiping women,” the leaders told him. “Even the priests and Levites are doing this.” Ezra was shocked, terribly disappointed, and afraid. He tore his clothes, pulled hair from his head and beard, then sat on the ground in silence. Why hadn’t the people learned their lesson? Would God now need to punish them again? Or would He give up on them and wipe them out altogether? Soon others who were also loyal to God joined him. They...

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Tags: sin research repent prayer Ezra


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