Saturday, August 29, 2015

Teamwork

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nehemiah 4:16-23

TO CHEW ON: "From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officials posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall." Nehemiah 4:16

The threats against the workers were real. But still Nehemiah didn’t stop work on the wall. “Now we really need to work together,” he told the people.

He organized workers in shifts. While one half worked on construction, the other half stood guard. Because everyone was spread out on the wall, he made an alarm system. When people heard a trumpet blast, they should all go to where the trumpet was.



The way Nehemiah organized the people to stay safe while they worked is a great example of teamwork. We too can get more done when we work as a team. If you are part of a sports team, you know how important it is for each person to play their position and do their part. The same is true in the things we do for God.

Perhaps you’re part of a your church’s youth group. Your goal is to invite your friends to hang out and hear about Jesus. Your group needs to do many jobs to make this happen. If you’re good at making friends, you could be the one to invite kids to come. Maybe you’re a super game organizer. You could volunteer to do that part of the job. Or maybe you’re quiet and shy, but know how to make really great snacks. Then you could be the one to bring the food. When we work as a team, with each one doing a part, we can get big jobs done.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to play my position on Your team. Amen.

MORE: Part of the Team
1. What is your favorite team sport?


2. What are some positions in this sport (for example, in baseball, positions would be pitcher, catcher, first baseman etc.)?

3. If you play this sport, what position do you play? What makes you good at it?

4. Why does your team need a player in every position to help you win?

***********
 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, August 28, 2015

Trouble

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nehemiah 4:1-15


TO CHEW ON: "After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.' Nehemiah 4:14

The people eagerly set to work rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Each family was responsible to fix the section closest to their home. Everyone helped.

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

But as the piles of rubbish became a strong, thick wall again, there were rumors of trouble. Rulers from the neighboring Samaria and Ammon didn’t want Jerusalem to be strong. They were angry about Nehemiah’s project and made fun of it.


“These feeble Jews think they can bring life back into rubbish,” said Sanballat from Samaria.

“That wall is so weak it would break if even a fox walked on top of it,” said Tobiah from Ammon.

When Nehemiah heard these things, he prayed about them and then kept right on working. Soon the wall was half as high as it had been before.

Then Sanballat and Tobiah began to worry. Secretly they made a plot to come to Jerusalem with an army. News of the plot leaked out to Nehemiah. Again he prayed and then he stationed guards at intervals on top of the wall.


Still more rumors kept coming to Nehemiah. The Jewish people who lived on the borders of Samaria and Ammon came to warn Nehemiah.“They say that wherever we turn, they will attack and kill us unless we stop building.”

But even threats of death didn’t discourage Nehemiah. Instead he made sure that each low section of the wall was guarded especially well. Then he encouraged the workers: “Don’t be afraid of them. Instead think of how great our God is.”

It’s not unusual to get opposition when we’re doing things God has asked us to do. What has God asked you to do – start a Christian club in your school, invite your friends to church, be friends with someone who is unpopular? Whatever it is, don’t be surprised if you get teased, challenged and opposed. Satan doesn’t like it when we take a stand for Jesus. Be like Nehemiah and refuse to be intimidated by mocking, teasing, rumors and threats. Remember that your God is a very big God!

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust You and be brave when opposition comes. Amen.


MORE:
City Walls
Find out about city walls in Bible times. Using books and the internet, discover:

1. What were city walls made of?

2. How high were they?

3. How wide?

4. What were some tools used in building these walls?

5. How did Bible time builders move materials like rocks, beams and bricks to the tops of these walls without cranes and elevators?

**********
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, August 27, 2015

Sure Success

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nehemiah 2:11-20

TO CHEW ON:The God of heaven will give us success . . .” Nehemiah 2:20a

When Nehemiah got to Jerusalem he took a few days to rest. Then he gathered some men and went to look at the wall. As they circled the city, Nehemiah saw that it was every bit as bad as Hanani had described.


What had once been sturdy walls were now piles of boulders and bricks. Where thick wooden gates had once protected the city, there were now only charred posts and empty spaces. He realized this would be a huge project. But he came back from exploring more determined than ever. With God’s help he would rebuild the wall!


The next day he met with the city leaders. He told them who he was. He explained how he had heard about the broken walls and had prayed to God about them. Then he told how King Artaxerxes had given him permission to come and rebuild the Jerusalem walls.

The men listened closely. As Nehemiah talked they became more and more hopeful. “We’re with you,” they said, when he had explained everything. “Let’s start rebuilding.”



But not everyone was happy about this. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem were leaders of the tribes nearby. They didn’t want Jerusalem to be a strong city again. When they saw Hezekiah’s men getting to work on the walls they mocked and threatened them.

But Hezekiah was not scared. “Jerusalem is not your property,” he said. “God in heaven is helping us with this project.” Nehemiah knew that the tribes around would respect God when Jerusalem's walls were strong again. Because this project was for God’s glory, Nehemiah was sure God would give them success.

We need to ask ourselves why our dreams are important to us? Is it because they will bring us fame, attention, money or beautiful things? Or will they bring glory to God. It is for those dreams that God promises success.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to understand why my dreams are important to me. Help me to want Your honor above everything else. Amen.



MORE
Jerusalem Before
Nehemiah 2:13-15 describes what Nehemiah saw when he got back to Jerusalem. Draw a picture of what you think Jerusalem looked like before the wall was repaired.

**************
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, August 26, 2015

A Big Dream

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nehemiah 2:1-10


TO CHEW ON: "The king said to me, 'What is it you want?' Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, 'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.' ... And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my request." Nehemiah 2:4&8


“Jerusalem is a mess,” Hanani said. “Its walls are broken down and the gates are just charred rubbish.”

Nehemiah was shocked and sad to hear this news from his brother Hanani. Though Nehemiah had lived in Persia all his life, his heart was with his people in Jerusalem. He wished there was something he could do.

He thought of going to Jerusalem and getting to work on that wall. But that could never happen because King Artaxerxes had said that Jerusalem should not be rebuilt. And Artaxerxes was his boss. He would never let him leave his job for such a reason.

Yet over the next four months, Nehemiah couldn’t forget his dream of returning to Jerusalem. Every day he imagined working on that Jerusalem wall. He talked to God about it and often fasted when he prayed.



One day when he was at work – his job was to taste the king’s wine to make sure it was good and not poisoned – he was again thinking about Jerusalem when King Artaxerxes looked his way.

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


“What’s wrong?” the king asked Nehemiah. “You look sad.”

Nehemiah’s heart pounded in fear. Why had he let the king see his feelings? He knew of servants the king had killed for being moody at work. Fearfully he answered, “How can I help but be sad when my home city Jerusalem is in ruins?”

“What do you want?” King Artaxerxes asked.

“I’d like to go to Jerusalem and help rebuild the wall.”

“How long would you take and when would you come back?”

Nehemiah could hardly believe his ears. The king was going to let him go!


As Nehemiah discussed his travel plans, he even had the courage to ask for building supplies and travel protection. And Artaxerxes said yes to every one of Nehemiah’s requests. God had prepared the king's heart.

Has God given you a big project or dream? Does it seem impossible that it could ever come true? Pray about it like Nehemiah did. Then leave your plans and dreams with God. At the right time, He will open the door like He did for Nehemiah, and make a way for your dream to come true too.

PRAYER: Dear God I bring to You my dream of ____ . Please make it to happen in Your time. Amen.

MORE: Prayer Promises
The Bible is full of promises about God answering our prayers. Here are three to look up. Pick your favorite and memorize it.

Psalm 91:15

Isaiah 65:24

John 15:7

*************
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, August 25, 2015

Stealing From God

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 always had enough.



Now instead of giving God His tenth, they were spending it on themselves. This was the reason they were having problems with crop failures and pests, Malachi explained. But if they would again give God a tenth, He would bless them with plenty.

Does God still expect us to tithe today? We don’t follow the other laws God gave the Israelites, so why should we tithe?

Though it’s true we no longer keep the Old Testament laws, giving one tenth of all we get to God is still an excellent thing to do.

To whom do we give it? Many Bible teachers agree that we should give our tithe to the place we get our spiritual food – the church we attend. We give the tithe because God promises to bless us if we do. But we also give it because it is a physical way to show that we trust God and are thankful for all He gives us.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to make it a habit to give You a tenth of all I get. Amen.


MORE: Tithe math
How much is one tenth? Calculating the tithe is easy. It simply means dividing the amount of money you’ve received by 10, or moving the decimal point one place to the left.

Suppose you earned an allowance of $5.00 and you want to tithe it. How much would you give?
$5.00 ÷ 10 = $.50 (or 50¢)
What is the tithe of:
1. $6.60

2. $10.98

3.$78.00

4. $150.00


ANSWERS


***********
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

Monday, August 24, 2015

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 James Tissot
"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.”


Through Malachi God told the people that He saw their careless living and were aware of the ways they broke His laws. Malachi gave them a warning to change their ways. But if they didn’t have a change of heart on their own, they could be sure that God would clean things up – and it wouldn’t be pleasant.

God still works in the two ways we see here. His patience shows in the way He sends warning after warning before judging us. But someday His patience will run out. Then we will see His judgment – as strong as soap and as hot as fire. If there are things in our lives that God doesn’t approve of, let’s take advantage of God’s patience. Let’s confess our sins to Jesus and accept His forgiveness now so we don’t have to fear His coming later.

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me the things in my life that don’t please You. Help me to deal with them now. Amen.


MORE: Soap
Through books and the internet find out about soap.

- What ingredients are used to make soap?



- How does soap make things clean?

************
 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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

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 9:5,6

Ezra 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 sat there all day.



Finally in the evening Ezra got on his knees to pray. He raised his hands and cried out, “We’ve sinned. You told us not to become like the idol-worshiping people in the land, but we’re doing it again. Please forgive us and don’t destroy us completely.”



When onlookers saw Ezra’s reaction, they realized how serious their sin was. His prayer reminded them of how God wanted them to live without compromise. That day many decided to turn from their sinful ways. That day was the beginning of a new start with God in Jerusalem.

How easily we become like the Israelites and slip back into old habits and sins. But we don’t need to stay in them. We can ask for God’s forgiveness like Ezra did. We can stop our sinful habits and again live to please God. If we repent, God will give us a new start too.

PRAYER: Dear God, I have slipped back into old habits of ______. I want to turn back and follow You again. Please give me a new start. Amen.



MORE: Revival
When people who once followed God come back to Him, we call it a revival. A revival can happen to one person at a time. It can also happen to many people at once and affect whole churches, towns, cities, and countries. Ezra’s revival happened about 2500 years ago. Many revivals have happened since then. Below is a list of some of them. Pick out one and using books and the internet, find out how that revival started and what happened.

- the Welsh Revival - 1904

- the Azusa Street Revival - 1905

- the Hebrides Revival - 1949

- The Indonesian Revival - 1965

**********
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 22, 2015

Travel Protection

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezra 8:21-32

TO CHEW ON: "There by Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children and all our possessions." Ezra 8:21

Ezra hugged the king’s letter to himself. He could hardly believe it – permission to go back home! He opened the letter and read it again. Yes, there it was. Not only could he gather the people for the trip back to Jerusalem, but the king was also sending gold and silver to replace the temple furniture.

About sixty years had passed since the first exiles had returned to Jerusalem. King Xerxes and Esther were now dead and a new king, Artaxerxes, ruled in Babylon. Ezra, a man who had spent his whole life studying God’s laws, was the leader of the exiles.


Quickly Ezra spread the word that they could go home to Jerusalem. People packed their belongings and gathered at Ahava Canal from where they would set out. Soon the crowd had swelled to 1700 people. Everyone was eager to get going.

But Ezra was worried. The trip would be long. With all the gold and silver they were carrying, they would be a target for bandits. The king had offered to send some soldiers along to protect them. But after telling the king how powerful his God was, Ezra felt stupid accepting the king’s protection.

So now Ezra called everyone together. “Before we leave,” he told them, “we’re going to fast and pray for God’s protection on our trip.” And that’s what they did before they set out.

The 900-mile trip took four months. Though I’m sure everyone got tired and sore from walking all that way, every person and all their possessions arrived in Jerusalem safely. God answered their prayer.



Do you ever pray for God’s protection for everyday things like travel? God is able to protect us on our travels just like he protected Ezra and the exiles. Next time you set out on a trip – long or short – remember to pray for God’s travel protection.

PRAYER: Dear God, please protect me in all my travels today. Amen.

MORE: Travel
Travel was not common in Ezra’s time – before cars buses, trains and planes. The 900-mile trip between Babylon to Jerusalem may have been the first trip some of these people had taken. Chances are you’ve traveled much farther than that already in your life. Tell about some of your travels.


1. What is the longest trip you’ve ever taken?

2. Circle how you got there: car/van/truck boat bus plane train other ________

3. Name some other places to which you have traveled.

4. What is your favorite travel memory?

***********
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, August 21, 2015

From Sadness to Celebration

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 8:11-17

TO CHEW ON: "In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating..." Esther 8:17

Quickly things turned around in Susa. Haman was gone. When Esther told the king that Mordecai was her cousin, he gave Mordecai the job Haman had before. But the king’s law still stood. The Jews were still in danger.


Again Esther went to the king. “Please spare the life of my people,” she pleaded.

“My law from before can’t be overturned,” the king told her. “But you can write another one.”

So Mordecai called together the secretaries. They wrote a new command. It said that the Jewish people could now fight back to defend themselves from anyone who attacked them. Couriers on horses raced to the farthest parts of the land to post the new law.


When the people of Susa heard the news, there was great happiness. On the day that Haman had picked for the slaughter, Jews everywhere fought against their attackers and were successful. Now instead of that day being a day of death and weeping, it became a day of feasting and celebrating.

I’m sure Esther and Mordecai wondered, on those first grim days after Haman passed his law, if they would ever feel like smiling again. But with God’s help everything changed. Instead of tears, a big celebration ended the story.

We too may be in sad times. We may wonder if and how things will ever get better. Like Esther and Mordecai, let’s pray to God about our problems. The God of Esther and Mordecai is our God too. He can still turn sadness into a celebration!

PRAYER: Dear God, I bring my problem of __________ to You. Please change my sadness into celebration. Amen.

MORE: Purim
Every year after that the Jews celebrated the day when God saved them from their enemies through Queen Esther. They called it the Feast of Purim.

The Jewish people still celebrate the Feast of Purim today. Here are some things they do on that day:



1. They read the story of Esther from the Hegillah (the Scroll). They cheer whenever Esther’s name is mentioned, boo at Haman’s name and wave graggers or noisemakers. They also act out the story in plays.


2. They wear costumes, disguises and masks to remind them of how Esther had to hide the fact that she was Jewish.

3. They send gifts to each other and the poor. They also invite people to join them in a special Purim meal.

4. They make special food. One treat is called Hamantaschen (Haman’s Hat). It is a three-cornered pastry filled with poppy seeds or prunes.

***********
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, August 20, 2015

Evil Haman

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 7:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, 'Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?' Esther said, 'An adversary and enem! This vile Haman!' Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen." Esther 7:5,6

The food was delicious. The wine put everyone in a good mood. Now Esther waited for just the right moment to tell the king what she wanted.

Then he said, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? Whatever you want, I’ll give it to you.”

Esther took a deep breath and began, “O king, if I have found favor with you, please spare my life. For I and my people are about to be slaughtered and wiped out.”

Xerxes’ eyes got wide with surprise. “Who would do such a thing?” he demanded.

“The enemy is this vile Haman!” Esther said.


The king looked in horror at Haman. Then he left the room, too angry to speak.

Haman, who minutes before had been talking and laughing was now shaking and pale. He staggered over to where Esther lay on her couch, fell on his knees and begged for his life. That’s how the king saw him when he came back into the room a few minutes later.


Now the sight of Haman so close to Esther made the king even angrier.

“Haman built a seventy-five-foot gallows in his yard,” one of the servants said

“Hang him on it,” Xerxes commanded.

Esther didn’t know how things would turn out when she decided to go to the king. But because of her courage and faith in God, the lives of thousands of Jews were spared.

How do we respond to things that aren’t right and fair? Do we pretend they aren’t there? Do we ignore them because we think they have nothing to do with us? Or do we take action, like Esther did? Let’s ask God to help us take a stand against the unfairness and injustice in our world.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be brave and take a stand against unfairness, injustice and evil. Amen


MORE: Genocide
Killing people because they are a certain race or nationality, like Haman wanted to do to the Jews, is called genocide.

1. Can you think of some modern examples of genocide?

2. Though we probably can’t imagine ourselves being involved in genocide, the feelings that result in killing a whole race of people have small beginnings. Racial discrimination is treating people who have a different skin color, speak a different language and have different customs than we do differently from people who are like us.

Even small actions can be signs of racial discrimination:
- avoiding someone because of the color of their skin.
- making fun of the way they talk.
- not letting them into our group of friends.

Ask God to show you if there is racial discrimination inside you. Pray for God to give you His love for people of every color, nationality and language.


ANSWERS

**********
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, August 19, 2015

What Are the Chances?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 6:1-14


TO CHEW ON: "That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him." Esther 6:1

King Xerxes was tired of tossing and turning and trying to fall asleep. “Bring the record books and read to me,” he commanded.

A servant began reading to him and soon came to the part that told about Mordecai telling about the plot to kill him.


“Has anything been done to honor him for that?” Xerxes asked.

“No, nothing,” the servant replied.

Just then there was a sound in the courtyard. It was Haman. “Call him in,” the king commanded.

Haman was excited. He had just finished building a 75-foot gallows in his yard and was on his way to get permission from Xerxes to hang Mordecai on it. But before he had a chance to say anything, the king asked, “What should I do for the person I’d like to honor?”

Who would the king want to honor more than me, Haman wondered. And so he told Xerxes the best thing he could imagine. “That person should wear a royal robe,” he said. “He will be put on the king’s horse which will be decorated with the king’s crest. Then the most noble prince will lead this horse and rider through the streets shouting, ‘This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor.’”

“Excellent!” Xerxes responded. “Go at once and do this for Mordecai the Jew.”



Who would imagine that the very night Haman was going to get permission to kill Mordecai, was the night the king wouldn’t be able to fall asleep and would hear about the way Mordecai had saved his life? Some people would call this luck. Others would call it coincidence, chance or fluke. But we know that this was God working out everything according to His plans, even to the smallest details.

Are you in a tight spot? Perhaps it seems there is no possible way out of your predicament. Don’t get down. God is never short of ideas. He is able to use the smallest thing – like keeping someone awake – to accomplish His plans for you too.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to trust You with every detail of my life. Amen.


MORE: Everything fits
God works everything in our lives into His plan. Here is a verse that tells about that. You may want to memorize it. Then next time something in your life doesn’t make sense, you can hang onto God’s promise that everything fits.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

************
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, August 18, 2015

It's Not About You

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 4:1-17


TO CHEW ON: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this." Esther 4:14

Esther eyes opened wide as the servant delivered Mordecai’s message. Was he telling her to go to the king without an invitation? Didn’t he know that could get her killed?

It had all started when Esther’s servants had seen Mordecai dressed in sackcloth, covered in ashes and wailing as if someone had died. She had sent fresh clothes for him and asked what the problem was. Now the servant had returned with a copy of Haman’s new law and Mordecai’s request. He was asking her to go to the king and beg for the life of the Jews. And she would have to tell him no. Because what he was asking was impossible.

But her servant returned with Mordecai's reply: “Esther, you too are a Jew. Don’t think you’ll escape Haman’s law just because you’re in the palace. Who knows, it may be that you are queen now just so that you can help your people.”

Esther knew Mordecai was right. But the thought of going to the king without an invitation was still very scary. She would need help.


“Tell this to Mordecai,” she told her servant. “Gather all the Jews in the city and have them fast and pray for me for three days. I will do the same with my servants. Then I will go to the king – and if I die, I die.”


When Esther became queen, she may have thought it was all about her – her talents, beauty and charm. Now, though, she was beginning to see that being chosen queen might not be about her at all, but part of God’s plan to save the Jews.

Have you ever had a time of special favor and success like Esther did? Perhaps you were chosen to be yearbook editor, voted class president, or picked for the all star team. Maybe, like Esther, you thought that this was all about you. Has it ever occurred to you that God may have a special reason for your being in an important position, just like He had a special reason for Esther to be queen?

Ask God to help you understand why you are where you are. Make up your mind to be like Esther and fulfill God’s destiny for you in that place – no matter what it costs.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be part of Your plan in the place you have me now. Amen.


MORE: The Plot Thickens
After three days Esther took action. Did the king accept her? Read about it in Esther 5:1-14. Then number the mixed up events, below, in the order that they happened.

___ The king asked Esther what she wanted.

___ On his way home, Haman became furious when he again saw Mordecai refuse to bow to him.

___ Esther got dressed in her royal clothes and approached the king’s throne room.

___ Esther invited the king and Haman to a special banquet.

___ The king held out his gold scepter to Esther, giving her permission to enter the throne room.

___ Haman built a gallows on which to hang Mordecai in his yard.


ANSWERS

**********
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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Proud Haman

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 3:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes." Esther 3:5,6

Haman smiled as he walked around the palace. It made him feel good when everyone knelt to him as he went by. Lately life had been altogether excellent. King Xerxes had given him a position above all the other officials. He had even passed a law that everyone should bow to him. He really was pretty special!

Just then he caught sight of someone who wasn’t kneeling. He glared at the man but still that man wouldn’t bow. This must be Mordecai, that Jew he’d been told about. He’d heard that these Jews wouldn’t bow to anyone but their God.

Haman sees Mordecai who will not bow (Artist unknown)
Haman sees Mordecai who will not bow (Artist unknown)
Now his day was wrecked. He couldn’t get that picture of Mordecai out of his head. How could he get back at him? He could have him killed. But that was too easy. Suddenly he had an idea. He would go big. He would take care of all these Jews.

First he wrote a law that said on a certain day everyone in the land should kill all their Jewish neighbors - even the children and babies. Next he showed it to the king and got him to stamp it with his ring. Finally he sent the new law out by messengers. They read it in every part of the kingdom.

The new command: All the Jews are to be killed - Artist unknown
The new command: All the Jews are to be killed - Artist unknown
Haman may have been cruel, scheming and vindictive. But behind all that was pride. He wanted to be known as the greatest. He wanted everyone to bow to him.

What is pride? It’s having feelings that you’re better than others. It’s being arrogant and filled with conceit over yourself and your importance. God has strong feelings about proud people. He opposes them, but blesses those who are humble (James 4:6).

Do we love it when people praise us for having a beautiful voice, being smart, good at sports, artistic, or any number of other things? Love of praise and recognition is natural, but also dangerous. For it’s a form of pride. Let’s ask God to show us where there is pride in our lives and then help us to deal with it.

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me the pride in my life. Help me to become humble. Amen.

MORE: Proud - Who Am I?
Pride got a lot of people in the Bible into trouble. Can you name the following proud people?

1. I am a beautiful angel who was thrown out of heaven when I wanted to be equal with God. Who am I? (Isaiah 14:12-15 NKJV) ___________

2. I am a king who got leprosy when I insisted I offer the sacrifice instead of the priests. Who am I? (2 Chronicles 26:16-19) ______________

3. I am a king who became insane when I took the credit for all my success. Who am I? (Daniel 4:28-33). ______________

4. I am an army general who almost didn’t get healed from my leprosy when I was too proud to bathe in the muddy Jordan River. Who am I? (2 Kings 5:9-14) _______________

Naaman   Uzziah    Lucifer   Nebuchadnezzar

ANSWERS


************
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 16, 2015

Mordecai Uncovers a Plot

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 2:19-22


TO CHEW ON: "But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai." Esther 2:22

“Xerxes is a tyrant. He’s gone too far!”

"We should kill him . . .”

Mordecai sat motionless as he strained to hear the secret conversation. In his job at the king’s gate, he had heard a lot of things. But never before had he overheard people actually plotting to murder the king.

As soon as the plotters left, Mordecai hurried to the palace and straight to Queen Esther. He told her everything he had heard.



Esther lost no time in reporting the plot to the king. “And Mordecai your servant, who sits at the king’s gate is the one who uncovered this,” she told him.

Esther before Xerxes - by Annie VallottonIllustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.

Immediately Xerxes had the two men arrested and killed for their plans. Then the whole incident was recorded in the king’s record book.

Let’s think about what Esther did for a minute. Now that she was queen, her responsibility to Mordecai was done. She could have taken the credit for uncovering that plot for herself. It would have made the king think more of her and almost no one would have known the difference. Instead, she chose to be honest and gave the credit to Mordecai.

What about us? Do we give other people credit when they deserve it? We’re quick enough to make sure no one blames us for something we haven’t done. Are we just as quick to do things like say that it was our partner who did most of the work on the project, or our sister who really cleaned our room? Let’s make a habit of that kind of honesty. Let’s make sure that the people who deserve it get the praise.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to give others the credit they deserve. Amen.


MORE: Honesty.
Make a collection of sayings about honesty. Here are three to get you started:

1. Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom - Thomas Jefferson

2. A few honest men are better than numbers - Oliver Cromwell

3. Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success. Each time you lie, even with a little white lie, there are strong forces pushing you toward failure. - Joe Sugarman.

4.

5.

*************
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