Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Don't Be Afraid

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 2:1-10

TO CHEW ON: " And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people." Ezekiel 2:6

As Ezekiel lay on the ground, a voice came from the bright vision of God. It was talking to him. “Stand up,” God said.

Ezekiel stood and God continued. “I am sending you to be a prophet to the people of Israel. They are rebellious, stubborn and obstinate. They may or may not listen.”

Ezekiel had wanted to be a priest. Now God was giving him a different job – the job of being a prophet. But it sounded hard and dangerous.

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll... On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe." Ezekiel 2:9


Before Ezekiel had a chance to argue with God about how hard this job was going to be, God encouraged him. Three times God said to Ezekiel, “Do not be afraid.”

Ezekiel’s Vision – “And then they shall know that I am the Lord” © 1996 by Darlene Slavujac (Used with the artist’s permission).

God would encourage you in the same way. If you are the only Christian in your family, God says to you, “Don't be afraid.” If you are the only person who talks to your friends about Jesus – and they make fun of you for it – God says to you, “Don't be afraid.” If you want to live for God but don’t know how it will all work out, God says to you, “Don't be afraid.”

Why should we not be afraid? Because we are not alone in this. God is with us. And with Him beside us, we don’t need to fear anything!

PRAYER: Dear God, when I am afraid, help me to remember You are here. Amen.

MORE: Fears

God can help us overcome fears of all kinds. What are you afraid of – dogs, spiders, losing, being laughed at, having no friends, ____________________? David wrote in a Psalm:

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.

In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me? - Psalm 56:3,4

This would be a good verse to memorize. It will help you remember, next time you feel afraid, that God is with you.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Too Beautiful for Words

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 1:22-28

TO CHEW ON: " I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." Ezekiel 1:27,28

Have you ever seen something so amazing you had trouble describing it? That was probably what Ezekiel felt like when he saw a vision of God.


Like Daniel, Ezekiel was an exile in Babylon. One day, when he was beside the Kebar River in Babylon, he saw a strange sight in the sky. At first he thought the cloud with flashes of lightning coming from it meant a storm was on the way. But as it got closer, he saw creatures. They looked like people but had many faces and wings. Then he saw sparkling wheels that moved.

Finally he heard a voice. Looking up he saw a throne. On it was a man. But what a man! He was glowing and fiery. Around him was brilliant light in the colors of the rainbow. Ezekiel knew that this was God and he fell on his face. Then God told him he was to be a prophet to the people in exile.



Few people have seen a glimpse of God as Ezekiel did. But all the Bible descriptions of God, written by people who have, seem similar. In each one the teller can hardly find words to describe how amazing, bright, awesome and incredible God is. These descriptions of God give us just a small idea of what a beautiful, powerful, and glorious God we serve.


PRAYER: Dear God, You are beautiful and full of power and light. I worship You. Amen.


MORE: God looks like...
People who tried to describe what God and the things in heaven are like often compared them to gem stones and precious metals.

~Ezekiel described the wheels he saw as sparkling like chrysolite. (Ezekiel 1:16). God’s throne looked like sapphire.(Ezekiel 1:26).

~Daniel compared God’s body to chrysolite. His arms and legs were made of bronze. He wore a belt of gold. (Daniel 10:5,6)

~To John, God looked like jasper and carnelian. The rainbow that circled His throne looked like emerald (Revelation 4:3).

Using books and the internet find out what these gems and metals look like -- and get a glimpse of how beautiful God is.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Sunday, August 2, 2015

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.




That night King Darius didn’t feel like eating, or listening to music, or watching plays, or laughing at jesters. He couldn’t even sleep. At first light he jumped out of bed and ran to the lions' den. “Daniel,” he called, “did your God rescue you?”


How overjoyed he was when he heard Daniel’s voice, “O King, live forever. My God did save me. He sent his angel and he shut the lions’ mouths.”

King Darius commanded his servants to take Daniel out of the den right away. Then he rounded up the men who had plotted against Daniel and had them and their families thrown to the lions. After that he passed a new law: “Everyone in the kingdom must fear and reverence Daniel’s God.”

How do you think Daniel felt when he discovered that praying to God had suddenly become a crime? Do you think he was ever tempted to stop praying openly as he always did?

We too may someday find ourselves in situations where obeying God is against the law of the land where we live. What will we do then? Will we compromise our beliefs to save our reputations or even our lives? Or will we risk disobeying our country’s law to honor God and trust Him to rescue us, like Daniel did?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to know when obeying You is more important than obeying the law of the land. Help me to be brave and obey You then. Amen

MORE: Civil disobedience
The Bible makes it clear that we are to obey the laws of the land in which we live. However, there are times when obeying those laws make it impossible for us to obey God. Breaking the law at those times is sometimes called ‘civil disobedience.’

In the New Testament when Peter and John were commanded to stop talking about Jesus, for example, they refused. Peter said: “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

In many countries it is against the law to be a Christian. It is also against the law to tell others about Jesus, meet for worship or have a Bible. The penalty may be prison or death.

- Do you have any laws like this in the place where you live?

- Do you obey them? Why or why not?

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Saturday, August 1, 2015

God's Graffiti

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 5:1-6

TO CHEW ON: "Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking" Daniel 5:5,6.

What is the most mysterious thing you have ever seen?

I’m sure that for King Belshazzar it was the night a body-less hand wrote on his wall.

The night started out as a fun party. To make it special, Belshazzar served wine in the gold goblets brought from the temple in Jerusalem. Everyone was having a great time eating, drinking, talking, laughing, and dancing when from nowhere a hand appeared. When Belshazzar saw it, he stared. How could this be? The longer he watched, the more scared he became. Whose hand was this? The words were in a language he couldn’t read. What did they say? What did they mean?


The queen mother saw how frightened he was. “I know who will be able to read this,” she said. Then she called for Daniel.

Daniel Interpreting the Writing on the Wall by Gustave Dore
Daniel told King Belshazzar that the words were a message from God. Because he hadn’t honored God but had even used the temple goblets for his party, God was planning to give his kingdom to someone else. And that very night it happened. Darius, a rival king from Persia killed Belshazzar and took over the throne of Babylon.

Perhaps you have family and friends who are a lot like Belshazzar in the way they ignore and dishonor God. They don’t read the Bible or pray. Perhaps they even make fun of God and insist that He isn’t real. God is not stumped or stopped by this. He never runs out of ways to get someone’s attention. Trust Him to get through to your loved ones when you can’t.

PRAYER: Dear God, please talk to my friends and family members who don’t know You. Amen.


MORE: Creative Communication

There are many stories in the Bible of God speaking with people in interesting ways. Can you complete the sentences that tell of some of them. Use the word bank below to help fill in the blanks.

1. God gave Joseph a glimpse of his future in a _______. (Genesis 37:5-7)

2. God called Moses from a _________ _________ . (Exodus 3:4)

3. When Balaam went to curse Israel, God caused his _________ to speak. (Numbers 22:27-30)

4. God talked to Elijah in a ________ __________ . (1 Kings 19:12-13)

5. Saul saw a flash of light and heard a _________. (Acts 9:3,4)

6. God talked to Peter in a _________ or vision. (Acts 10:10-13)

dream      donkey      gentle whisper

trance      voice      burning bush

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


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Friday, July 31, 2015

Fire Test

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 3:1-18


TO CHEW ON: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18

One day an urgent message was sent to all the provinces of Babylon: “Come to the plain of Dura. Nebuchadnezzar is putting on a special celebration.”

Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego joined the rest of the rulers. When they got to Dura they saw a huge golden statue as high as a six-story building. An announcer was telling everyone what to do: “When you hear the music fall down and worship the statue. Whoever doesn’t will be burned in a furnace.”

Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego didn’t want to pray to anyone but God. Yet the price of disobeying was certain death. What should they do?


Soon the music started. Immediately everyone around them fell to their knees. But Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego stayed standing. Many people saw them. Soon someone came to them and said, “Nebuchadnezzar wants to see you.”

Nebuchadnezzar was furious. “Is it true that you three didn’t pray to my statue?”

“Yes,” they replied.

“Maybe you don’t understand. When you hear the music you must worship the image or I will throw you into the fire.”

Then the three friends said to Nebuchadnezzar, “We don’t have to protect ourselves from you. Because the God we serve can keep us from being burned. But even if he doesn’t, we won’t worship that statue or serve your gods.”

Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego were determined to please only God, no matter what happened to them. Do we have the same determination? There may be consequences. For some those consequences may be people teasing us, mocking us and leaving us out. For others it may be as serious as death. But like Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, we don’t need to fear. For God has the power to save us like He saved them, or to take us to be with Him in heaven.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to stay true to You, no matter what. Amen.


MORE: Picture it
Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego were thrown into the furnace. What happened next? Read the rest of the story in Daniel 3:19-28.

Now draw the ending of the story in three scenes:

(Click on the drawing sheet below. It will open in a new window. Print it from that window.)



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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Forgotten Dream Dilemma

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 2:14-28

TO CHEW ON: "Daniel replied, 'No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.'” Daniel 2:27, 28a

Arioch, the commander of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard had an unpleasant job. He was supposed to kill all the wise men of Babylon. This was because King Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream which he couldn't remember. When his wise men couldn't tell him what he had dreamed and what his dream meant, he ordered them all killed.

But when Arioch came to Daniel to give him the bad news, Daniel was surprised. He hadn't heard anything about Nebuchadnezzar and his dream problem. Daniel begged for more time. Then he gathered his friends and the four of them prayed that God would tell him what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed and what it meant.

During the night God answered Daniel's prayer. Early the next morning he went to Arioch. “Don’t kill any of the wise men,” he said. “Instead, take me to the king. I know the dream and its meaning.”

Arioch took Daniel to the king.


Then Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar what he had dreamed and what his dream meant.

Though Daniel was intelligent and wise, he knew this job was way too hard for him. But it wasn't too hard for God. After God answered, Daniel could have taken the credit for knowing Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he made sure that everyone knew it was God who showed him these things.

Do you ever pray and ask God for something – like for help on a test in school? Later, when you get a good mark, what do you do? Do you take the credit for yourself (“I studied really hard”) or do you give credit to God for answering your prayer?

Let's remember to give God the credit when He answers our prayers – like Daniel did.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to honor You for answered prayers. Amen.

MORE: Dream-teller Sequel
Daniel got the dream right, for no sooner did he tell Nebuchadnezzer what he had dreamed and what that dream meant than the king did some amazing things. Which statements below tell what happened (Daniel 2:46-47)?

1. The king fell down in front of Daniel and honored him.

2. The king said, “You sure are smart to figure this out.”

3. The king praised God.

4. The king gave Daniel a high position.

5. Daniel forgot all about his friends.

6. Daniel’s three friends became rulers as well.


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No Compromise

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 1:8-20

TO CHEW ON: "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way." Daniel 1:8


“Can you please change the diet of me and my friends?” Daniel asked the guard. “We’d like to have vegetables and water instead of the king’s rich food.”

“You’re asking a dangerous thing,” the guard replied. “The king will have my head when the four of you look weak and get sick.”


Daniel was taking a big chance by asking this favor from the guard in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He and his three friends were Hebrew boys from Judah. They no longer lived at home but were exiles and servants in Babylon. The four boys were in special training to serve the king himself.

But Daniel was determined. He knew that the royal food was not prepared the way God had commanded in the law. He wanted to honor and obey God every way he could.

“How about we try an experiment?” he suggested to the guard. “You let me and my friends have the vegetables and water for ten days. Then you compare us to the others. If we look worse, we’ll eat what everyone else does.

The guard agreed. For ten days Daniel and his friends ate only vegetables and drank only water. Then the guard compared them to the others.
1. What did he find? (Daniel 1:15)? _____________



2. What did the guard then order for the other students too (Daniel 1:16)? ____________

Like Daniel we may be surrounded by people who don’t believe as we do. We may be tempted to compromise and change our actions to fit with theirs. After all, it’s hard to be the only one going to church on Sunday, giving some of your money to God and obeying your parents. But take courage from the story of Daniel and his friends. Refuse to compromise. For God not only blessed Daniel and his friends with favor from the guard when they honored God with their diet. He also made them wise and gave them success with the king himself.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to not compromise in my life. Amen.

MORE:
Daniel Diet
Have you ever been on a diet of vegetables (fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts) and water like Daniel and his friends were? Try it for a day (of course you’ll want to get permission from your parents first).

Some things that will help fill you up:
vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli, corn)
nuts (almonds, peanuts, peanut butter)
seeds (popcorn, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds)
fruits (orange, apple, banana)




ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lament for Jerusalem

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Lamentations 1:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the Lord brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?" Lamentations 1:12

What is the saddest thing that has ever happened to you? How did you handle your sad feelings - by crying, sleeping, staying busy, playing sports, talking to others, writing?

Lamentations is a Bible book that someone (most likely Jeremiah) wrote about a very sad time – the fall of Jerusalem.


It is poetry and full of word pictures. Jerusalem is compared to a widow. She was once married but now she is a slave dressed in clothes that are dirty with the sins she has done. Jerusalem’s former rulers are like deer who are starving and so weak they don’t have the strength to run away from the hunter. The roads leading to Jerusalem weep and its gates are empty.

Though Jeremiah escaped going to Babylon, this poem shows that he felt as sad as anyone. He loved his country. He loved Jerusalem. He hated to see it destroyed and its people taken away. Writing Lamentations probably helped him work through his sad feelings.


Reading Lamentations these many years later can help us too. All of us have sad times in our lives. Lamentations shows us that it’s okay to cry and express our sadness. Lamentations also shows us one way (writing) to work through sad feelings when they come. But most of all, Lamentations helps us see, and feel, the sad end of disobeying God.



PRAYER:
Dear God, please help me to obey You and avoid the sadness of disobedience. Amen

MORE: Your Lament
Think of a time you were very sad. What happened? How did you feel?

Now think of some word pictures that help describe your sad time:
- Color: If you were to give your sad time a color, what would it be?
- Music: If you were to make a video of that time, what kind of music would play in the background?
- Animal: Does your sad time remind you of an animal or animal action?
- Weather: Does your sad time remind you of a certain kind of weather?

Using one or all of your word pictures, write a lament of your own.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Set Free by the Enemy


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.

The God who helped Jeremiah is the same God we worship today. If we obey Him and live for Him like Jeremiah did, He can and will look after us in wonderful and unexpected ways.

PRAYER: Dear God, please look after me today.

MORE: Jeremiah’s End
A few months after Jeremiah came to live with Gedaliah, Gedaliah was killed in a plot. The new leaders were afraid of Nebuchadnezzar. They thought he would come after them because the man he had put in charge had been murdered.

They decided to get far away from Babylon and go to Egypt. Their new leader Johanan asked Jeremiah to find out what God thought about their plan. You can read the answer God gave Jeremiah in Jeremiah 42:7-18.

But Johanan didn’t pay any attention to Jeremiah’s words. Instead, all the people went to Egypt, as they had planned. They took Jeremiah with them. He probably died there.



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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Sunday, July 26, 2015

As Good as His Word

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 36:15-20

TO CHEW ON: "The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place.  But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy." 2 Chronicles 36:15,16

Have you ever been in a situation where your teacher or parent keeps threatening to punish you, but never does? Maybe that’s how God’s many warnings felt to the people of Judah. Prophets had been telling them for years that God would judge them if they didn’t change their ways.

They probably thought that God’s patience would last forever. But they were wrong.

Finally the day came when Nebuchadnezzar made his final move. After a siege of Jerusalem, today’s reading tells us what happened (2 Chronicles 36:17-20). Complete the sentences by filling in the blanks using the words below.

1. People of all ages were ____ .
2. The temple furniture and dishes were _____ to Babylon
3. The temple and palaces were _______.
4. The Jerusalem wall was ______ .
5. Everyone still alive was ___________.
6. There they became ________ .

carried into exile     killed

Babylon   servants

broken down     burned


We can be a lot like those people. Though we read and hear God’s warnings, we don’t take them seriously. But if we keep on ignoring them, we do so at our own risk. Someday all the things God has said will come true, just as He said.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to listen to and act on Your words. Amen.


MORE: Driven From Home
Imagine you were a boy or girl alive at the time of Jeremiah. You watched from inside Jerusalem as the army from Babylon camped all around the city.


Then you saw them attack. They broke down the city walls. They raided the temple


They burned the temple and the palace.


Finally soldiers rounded up you, your family, and friends. They marched you all the way to Babylon. There you were forced to work as servants.


Choose one of these scenes and write a journal entry about what you saw, heard, thought and felt.

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Saturday, July 25, 2015

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.”

“Take thirty men and get him out,” King Zedekiah commanded.

What was that sound, Jeremiah wondered, as he shivered in the cold and dark. Was someone calling his name. “Jeremiah,” - there it was again. “Can you hear me?”

“Yes.”

“We’re going to get you out of here. We’ve got ropes. Put the rags under your arms to keep you from getting cut.”

Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.



Jeremiah was pulled out of the cistern that day. Though his situation looked hopeless, God reminded Ebed-Melech about Jeremiah. And when Ebed-Melech talked to the king, about Jeremiah , he was rescued.


God still looks out for those who trust in Him. Are you or is someone you know in an impossible situation? Trust God to help you like He helped Jeremiah.


PRAYER:
Dear God, please send Your help to _________ (name the person or situation). Amen.


MORE:
God’s Promised Help
There are many places in the Bible where God promises to help. Below are two. Choose your favorite and memorize it. It will give you hope next time you’re in a deep dark cistern of your own.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25


“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Friday, July 24, 2015

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 discouraging our soldiers!” they told Zedekiah.

“Do whatever you want with him,” Zedekiah said.

So they took Jeremiah from his prison cell and lowered him into a cistern.


It held no water but the bottom of it was soft with cold, sticky mud. As Jeremiah sank deep into the mud he wondered, would this be the place he would die.


It’s hard to imagine having Jeremiah’s courage. But there are many people today in places around the world who are just as brave. In some countries, the good news about Jesus is the unwelcome news. People who love Jesus live for Him anyway. They read their Bibles, meet to pray, sing, and learn more about God. Then they go out and tell others about Jesus, even though it’s against the law. Sometimes that gets them put in prison, tortured, even killed.

Let’s pray that if the news about Jesus becomes unwelcome news where we live, we will be as brave as Jeremiah and the persecuted Christians alive today.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to have the courage to follow You, no matter what the cost. Amen.


MORE: Persecuted Christians
From books or the internet, find stories of Christians who are persecuted for obeying Jesus. Choose one story.

Some web sites for you to check:


Voice of the Martyrs - Persecution.com
Open Doors Ten Top Countries for Persecution

1. On a globe or in an atlas, find the country where your story happened.
2. Using an almanac, encyclopedia or the internet, find out about that country.
3. Pray for the person and the country in your story.
- that the government leaders in that country will find Jesus.
- that God will help the persecuted person and their family to stay strong.
- that the good news of Jesus will be spread in spite of persecution.
- that the persecution will stop so that people in that country will be free to worship Jesus.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Burning

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 day King Jehoiakim called Baruch to come. But when he heard the words written in the scroll, he didn’t seem the least bit worried. Instead, after Baruch had read a bit, Jehoiakim took the scroll from him. With a knife he cut off the part he had just heard and dropped it in the fire.

Baruch read on, but a few minutes later, Jehoiakim took the scroll again and cut off more. He kept on doing this until Baruch came to the end. When he had read the last words, Jehoiakim burned the rest of the scroll as well. Maybe he thought that if it was gone, the things it said would never happen.



How sad Jeremiah and Baruch must have been to see all their hard work destroyed in a few hours. How sad God must have felt to see His patience and love treated with such contempt.

We have God’s written-down words too. They are the Bible. Of course we don’t physically cut out and destroy the Bible words that make us uncomfortable. But might we be doing that in a different way when we hear God’s words but don’t do them?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to hear Your words and obey them. Amen.

MORE: Chapter 2
When he burned the scroll, Jehoiakim didn’t make things better for himself – only worse. Read the end of the story - Jeremiah 36:27-32. Then pick out the statements that are true:

1. God told Jeremiah and Baruch to rewrite what had been in the first scroll.

2. Jehoiakim’s son would replace him as king.

3. When Jehoiakim died, his body would be treated with disrespect.

4. None of the predictions in Jeremiah’s scroll would come true.

5. All of the predictions in Jeremiah’s scroll would come true.

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Unpopular

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 26:1-15


TO CHEW ON: "As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.” Jeremiah 26:14,15

Josiah was dead. Jehoiakim, his son, was now king in his place. Jehoiakim didn’t follow his father’s ways. Quickly the country slipped back into sin.

One day early in Jehoiakim’s reign, God gave Jeremiah another assignment. “Stand just outside the temple,” He said, “and tell the people if you follow my laws and listen to my prophets with all your hearts, then I will change my mind about destroying this city. But if you don’t do these things, I will really destroy Jerusalem, just like I destroyed Shiloh.”


Jeremiah did what God said. But instead of listening and obeying, the priests and false prophets got angry. “How dare you say Jerusalem will be destroyed?” they asked. Soon the king’s officials arrived on the scene. “This man should be sentenced to death for what he is saying,” the priests said.

But Jeremiah was not scared. “I am only saying what God told me to say. Kill me if you like. But the only thing that will change is that it will add killing an innocent person on top of your other sins.”


Jeremiah was so fearless because he respected God more than anyone else, even the king. He would sooner do what God said and be in trouble with people than care what people thought and be in trouble with God. Let’s have Jeremiah’s attitude next time our friends or classmates make fun of us for talking about Jesus or believing the Bible.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to always put You first in my life. Amen.


MORE: In Trouble - Who Am I
Jeremiah was not the only Bible character who got in trouble for obeying God. Can you name these in-trouble Bible characters?

1. I refused to sin with my boss’s wife. Then she told lies about me and I was put in jail. Who am I? _____________ (Hint)

2. A wicked queen threatened to kill me after I killed her Baal prophets. Who am I? ____________ (Hint)

3. The neighbors wanted to kill me after I broke down my father’s idol altar. Who am I? ____________ (Hint)


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Adult readers - DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR ADULTS  are available too at Other Food: daily devo's