Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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.

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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, August 15, 2017

Special Favor

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 2:12-18

TO CHEW ON: "Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti." Esther 2:17


Esther gathered the few possessions she was planning to take with her. She said goodbye to Hegai and all her friends in the harem. This was the night she would go to the king. She would never come back to live here again. For after this night, the king would either choose her as his new queen or she would be sent to live in another part of the palace.

Even though this night was the most important night in her life, Esther kept things simple. Though she could have taken anything she wanted from the harem to impress the king, she didn’t do that. Instead she took only what Hegai suggested.

But when Xerxes saw her, he was charmed with her natural beauty. In fact she pleased him more than any other woman. The king liked Esther so much, he named her his new queen.


When we read on in the story, we will find that God had a special reason for Esther to become queen. And because God was with her, she didn’t have to manipulate things to gain the king’s favor. God took care of that.

God has a special place for each one of us to fill. He has a special place for you. When you are in the place that God has planned for you to be, you can trust Him. Don’t give in to the temptation to make things happen on your own. God can make it happen. Just like God gave Esther favor with the king, He will give you favor with the people you need to impress.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust You to bring me favor when I need it. Amen.

MORE: Persia
Esther became the queen of Persia. The date was 479 BC. Using Bible maps, books and/or the internet find out about Persia.

- Where was it?

- What was the religion of the country?

- What kinds of clothes did the people wear?

- What foods were popular?

- What is the present name of the country that used to be Persia?

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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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Top Secret

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Esther 2:8-11

TO CHEW ON: "Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so." Esther 2:10


Why was that man looking at her, Esther wondered as she hurried home from the market. A few days later pounding at the door interrupted their meal. A servant of King Xerxes was there. “She has been chosen for the king,” he said to her cousin Mordecai.

Esther was a beautiful young Jewish girl whose grandparents had been taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Because her parents had died when she was little, she had been raised by her kind cousin Mordecai.

Nebuchadnezzar was now dead and the Persian king Xerxes ruled from his palace in Susa. He had recently done away with his first wife Vashti. Now he was looking for a beautiful replacement to be his new queen.

Mordecai looked shocked and sad at the servant’s words. But the king had ordered it. What could they do but obey?

As Esther packed her things, Mordecai came into the room. “You will be fine,” he said to her. “You are kind and beautiful. You will make new friends. Who knows, you may even be the new queen. But do one thing for me – and yourself. Keep it a secret that we are Jewish.”

"Many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai" - Esther 2:8

Of course the story probably didn’t happen exactly like that. But we can be pretty sure Esther went to the palace with mixed feelings. She may have been excited and looking forward to the new adventures there. But she was also probably a little nervous and afraid.

When she got to the palace, things went very well. She soon became a favorite of Hegai who was in charge of the women. He gave Esther and her servants the best rooms in the harem. And even though Esther may not have known why it was important, she kept her nationality a secret. She never breathed a word about being a Jew.

Opportunities like the one that came to Esther sometimes come to us too. We may get special attention at school or church, be asked to give an interview on TV or be chosen as class president. When these times come, your loved ones may be full of advice. Be wise and listen to what they say, like Esther followed the advice of Mordecai.

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me wise advisers. Amen.

MORE: Advisers
Parents aren’t the only people who can give us wise counsel. Teachers, coaches, pastors, grandparents, older brothers and sisters are just some of the people whose advice we may want to follow.

- Who are the advisers in your life?

- What advice have they given you in the past? Did you follow it?

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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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

King on a Donkey

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Zechariah 9:9-10

TO CHEW ON: "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey"
Zechariah 9:9,


Would you expect a king to ride on a lowly donkey? Kings would usually come riding into town on war horses or decorated camels wouldn’t they? Yet when Zechariah predicted the coming of the King of Zion (Jerusalem), he said it would be on a donkey.


Fast forward about five hundred years to the time of Jesus. One day Jesus sent two of His disciples to a village to borrow a donkey. Then He rode into Jerusalem on its back. As he went through the streets the people began cheering. They took off their coats and laid them in the donkey’s path, just as they would for a king. They waved palm branches and cheered, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21)


Jesus was the special king that Zechariah predicted. But He turned out not to be the king of the nation of Israel, as the people then expected. Instead, He is the king of all time – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who died for us, rose again and is reigning in heaven now. If you have given Him your heart, He is your king. Some day all people on earth will honor Him as their king too. (Philippians 2:9-11)

If you haven’t bowed to Him as your king, you can, today. Tell Him you are sorry for the bad things you have done. Accept that He paid the penalty you deserved for doing those bad things when He died on the cross. He rose again so you and I can be free of the sins that once had us under their control. Now in gratitude we can serve Him for the rest of our lives as our loving, generous king.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You are my King. Help me to be Your worthy subject. Amen.

MORE: Predictions Coming True
This section in Zechariah is just one of many Bible prophecies that told details of Jesus’ life long before He was born. Below are six more prophecy predictions that came true. Use the letters in bold to make the title that the Jews called their expected savior.

1. He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
2. He would be offered vinEgar to drink (Psalm 69:21).
3. Jesus’ Mother would be a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
4. He would win over deAth (Isaiah 25:8).
5. Thirty pieceS of Silver would be paid for Him (Zechariah 11:12).
6. He would be pIerced (Zechariah 12:10).

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___


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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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hope!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Zechariah 8:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there' " Zechariah 8:4-5.

After winter comes ________
After night comes _________
After sadness comes _________

The Israelites had had years of sadness when they lived in Babylon. Now some of them had returned to Jerusalem. There was much to do – a city to clean up, homes to build, a temple to rebuild. Would things ever get back to the wonderful way they had once been?

God sent Zechariah, another prophet, to encourage everyone. His message was as hopeful as spring after winter, morning after night, joy after crying. “Jerusalem won’t always be like this,” he said. “Exiles from all over will come home. Then old men and women will visit in the streets. Boys and girls will play there.

"Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there." Zechariah 8:4,5

“Because you have done the right thing and laid the foundation for My house, I will bless your crops and give you peace with your neighbors. Take courage and stick with the job.”

We sometimes find ourselves in the middle of difficult times too. At those times it’s hard for us to imagine things will ever change. It seems like we’ll always be sick, or poor, or in trouble. But if we turn to God and obey what He says, He can change things around for us like He did for the Israelites.

Are you in a discouraging time right now? Instead of losing heart, remember these wise words someone said: “No condition is permanent.” Don’t let your present circumstances get you down. Instead, be careful to live in a way that pleases God. Then pray to God to bring change – in His time and His way.

PRAYER: Dear God, I am discouraged about ________ . I believe You know how to change it. Please do that in Your time. Amen.

MORE: Before and After
Draw before and after pictures of Jerusalem.

Before: the wall is broken, the houses are crumbling, the temple is wrecked, the streets are empty.

After: The wall is fixed, the houses are standing, the temple is up, the streets are full of life!

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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, August 11, 2017

Celebrate!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezra 3:7-12

TO CHEW ON: "With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: 'He is good: his love to Israel endures forever' And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid." Ezra 3:11

Haggai’s message to put God first got everyone’s attention. Zerubbabel called the priests together. They decided to again worship God even though there was no temple in which to do it. They built an altar outside and again made the sacrifices and kept the feasts the way God had said.

Next they took a collection of money for building supplies. What a busy time followed, clearing away the rubble of the old temple and bringing in logs, cut stones and bricks for the new one.


Finally the day came when the foundation of the new temple was in place. That day they decided to celebrate. The Priests and Levites got dressed in their special clothes. They brought their trumpets and cymbals and praised God with singing and music like in the time of King David. Then all the people watching gave a shout of praise. God’s house was back!


What things do we celebrate? Certainly a new church is a good reason for a celebration. But we don’t have to wait for something so big to have a praise party. Baby dedications, baptisms, Christmas, Easter, weddings, birthdays – these are all good times to praise God and celebrate.

PRAYER: Dear God, You are so good to me. I want to include You in all my celebrations. Today I thank and praise You for __________ Amen.

MORE: Celebration Favorites
1. What events and special times do you celebrate in your home? In your church?
2. What things (like guests, decorations, foods, activities) make those celebrations special?
3. What’s the best celebration you remember?

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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, August 10, 2017

First Things First

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Haggai 1:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "You have planted much but have harvested little. You eat but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1:6

“Pack your things, some of us are going home!” The exciting news spread amongst the exiles in Babylon. Zerubabbel, grandson of King Jehoiachin, led the happy travelers back to Judah.


But when they entered Jerusalem, what a mess they found! Houses were broken down. The streets were full of broken bricks and garbage. The temple was a heap of rubbish.

So the people got to work. They cleaned up the garbage. They made bricks and rebuilt their homes. Some started working on the temple. But they didn’t get very far. It was such a big job, they just quit in discouragement. Instead they worked in their fields, gardens and workshops to earn money to make their own houses nicer. It seemed, though, that no one was doing very well.

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

One day God gave a message to the prophet Haggai. He told Haggai to talk to the people about how they were living.



“God sees that you’re working hard but aren’t getting ahead," Haggai went on. "You plant lots but harvest little. Your food doesn’t satisfy you. Your clothes don’t keep you warm. You earn money but it disappears as if you had holes in your pockets. There’s a reason for this. God is not blessing you because you are thinking only of yourselves and not of Him.”

Aren’t we often like those people? In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget God. And so we don’t read the Bible, pray or gather with others to worship. Should we be surprised then, if God takes His blessing away from us? Life becomes just like the life Haggai described – a lot of effort with little results.

But we can change. We can get our priorities right and put God first. When we do that, we can expect His blessings in all kinds of ways.

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

MORE: Choices
Our everyday lives are full of choices. The choices we make show if our first priority is ourselves or God. Below are three situations you could face. Choose the response that shows that God is your first priority.



1. You get your weekly allowance and you:
a] spend it all.
b] save it all.
c] take out one tenth of it to give to God before doing anything else with it.

2. There is a new kid in your class so you:
a] introduce yourself and welcome her to join your group.
b] make fun of her.
c] ignore her.


3. Your parents have you in music lessons so you:
a] practice the bare minimum to get by.
b] work at getting better and developing the talent God gave you.
c] skip out of practicing whenever you can.



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, August 9, 2017

A Special People

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Obadiah 1-10

TO CHEW ON: "Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever." Obadiah 1:10

Do you have brothers and/or sisters with whom you quarrel? Arguments and quarrels between siblings are common. Bible brothers and sisters had their differences too.

Take Jacob and Esau. Though they were twins, they were always competing against each other. Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the birthright (the inheritance that belonged to Esau as the oldest). Then he tricked Isaac, their father, into blessing him instead of Esau. This made Esau so angry, he threatened to kill Jacob. So Jacob left home.

Isaac and Eau - by Raphael"Isaac and Esau" Fresco painting by Raphael (1518-1519)

Over the years the descendants of Esau became the nation of Edom. Jacob’s descendants became Israel. But there was no more love between the nations of Edom and Israel than there had been between their great-great-great-... grandfathers.

Obadiah by James Tissot"Obadiah" painted by
James Tissot


When Nebuchaednezzar destroyed and looted Judah, he was joined by soldiers from Edom. They took stuff from Judah for themselves and turned the Israelite people who tried to escape over to Nebuchadnezzar.

It was at this time that the prophet Obadiah lived. The book he wrote is short (one chapter). It was a message condemning Edom for their treatment of the Jews. Obadiah scolded them for their pride. He told Edom that though they thought their strong cities couldn’t be conquered, because they had mistreated the Jews, they would be defeated and disappear as a nation. And this happened. After 70 A.D. there is no more mention of Edom anywhere in history.

Still today the Jews have a special place in God’s heart (Deuteronomy 26:18,19). They are the people through whom God chose to bring His Son Jesus to earth. God has promised to raise them up as a strong nation again (Deuteronomy 30:3). God promises to bless those that bless and help the Jews (Genesis 12:3).

Though we may not understand or agree with everything that modern Israel does, God’s feelings about Israel haven’t changed. This nation is still His treasured possession. It is a nation Christians everywhere love and pray for.


PRAYER: Dear God, please bless the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Amen.

MORE: Jews in the News
1. Since Israel became a nation again in 1946, there has been a lot of conflict in the Middle East between the Jewish people and their neighbors.

- Using newspapers and/or the internet, find out what is presently happening in Israel.

2. Pray for Israel’s peace (Psalm 122:6).

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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, August 8, 2017

Glory Returns

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 43:1-5

TO CHEW ON: "Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." Ezekiel 43:5

It was September of 592 B.C. when Ezekiel had his first vision of the temple. Everything about that vision was horrible. As God took him to Jerusalem he saw an idol of the goddess Asherah set up right in the temple. He saw priests offering animal sacrifices God had never commanded. Women were mourning the death of the Sumerian idol god Tammuz. Men worshiped the sun. Then he saw God’s glory cloud lift and move out of the temple and away from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8, 9, 10).

Now it was about twenty years later. Ezekiel was getting old. Maybe he wondered if things would ever change for the Israelites in Babylon. Would they ever go home again? Would they ever experience God’s glory again? One day God gave him hope in another vision of the temple.


Like the first time, Ezekiel felt like he was physically there. The temple was rebuilt. As God showed him around it, Ezekiel measured each room and gateway. Finally he came to the east gate. He looked at the sky and noticed a cloud. It got bigger and brighter and he heard a sound coming from it, like a waterfall. He recognized this was God’s glory cloud. It went into the temple. Again the temple was filled with God’s presence!


Is there something in your life that feels as disappointing as Ezekiel’s glory-forsaken temple? Maybe you can no longer play a favorite sport because of an injury. Maybe someone has abused you so your innocence is gone. Maybe your dad or mom walked out on your family. Whatever your disappointment, bring it to God. He can restore old dreams like he restored the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. He can bring back the glory!

PRAYER: Dear God, please bring Your glory back to the places in my life that are filled with disappointment. Amen.


MORE: Glory Sightings
Other Bible characters also saw God’s glory. Match the people who saw God’s glory with how it looked or felt.

1. Israelites (Exodus 24:17)
2. Priests (1 Kings 8:11)
3. Shepherds (Luke 2:9)
4. Stephen (Acts 7:55)


A. God’s glory shone around angels
B. God’s glory looked like fire on top of a mountain.
C. He saw heaven, God’s glory and Jesus just before he died.
D. God’s glory felt so powerful they couldn’t do their jobs.

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

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dem Bones

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 37:1-14


TO CHEW ON: "Then he said to me, 'Prophecy to these bones and say to them, "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you and you will come to life."’” Ezekiel 37:4,5

Valley of Dry Bones by Duncan Long"Valley of Dry Bones" © Duncan Long (Used with the artist's permission)

One day Ezekiel had another vision from God. A vision is something like a dream. Put the parts of Ezekiel’s vision in the order they happened (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

____ There was a rattling sound and the bones reconnected to become lifeless bodies.
____ Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones.
____ God’s Spirit breathed life into the bodies.
____ Ezekiel told the bones God would make them live again.


Ezekiel’s vision had a meaning. The bones in Ezekiel’s vision were a picture of the Jewish people. They were discouraged because they could no longer live in their own land. They had been captured and taken to live in Babylon. In that country they felt as hopeless as if they were dead. God gave Ezekiel this vision to give the Jewish people hope.

What things in your life make you feel discouraged and hopeless? Is someone in your family very ill? Do you find school hard? Is your family split up because of separation or divorce? Whatever it is, God can breathe life and hope into the dead “bones” in your life too.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust You to bring life to the things that seem hopeless to me. Amen.


MORE: Human Bones
Find a photograph or drawing of a human skeleton.

1. How many bones are there in an adult’s skeleton?

2. What is the largest bone?

3. What is the smallest?



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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

God Our Shepherd

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 34:11-16

TO CHEW ON:  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, ...” Ezekiel 34:15,16

If you were compared to an animal, you would probably not want someone to say you were like a sheep. Sheep are easily led astray. When they get lost, they are not smart enough to find their way back home. They are not agile and quick but clumsy and slow. Their heavy coats of wool slow them down even more, making them an easy catch for wolves or mountain lions. In order for sheep to survive, they need someone to look after them.


But the Bible often compares people to sheep. That’s what God said the Israelites were like when they were far from home in Babylon. God promised to be a shepherd to them, even though their problems came from their headstrong, sheep-like ways. He would search for the lost ones, rescue the ones that were trapped or caught, bandage the hurt ones and make the weak ones strong.

Someday He would bring them back to their home. Again they would eat on its lush green hillsides. When they felt full they would lie down without fear because He would be watching out for danger.
Shepherd and Sheep by Annie VallottonIllustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.

This message that God gave Ezekiel for the people shows how much God loved them. Though today’s reading was first a promise that God would someday bring the Israelites back to their land, it is also a picture of the way God is a shepherd to us. We are like sheep just as those Israelites. God will be our shepherd too.

Are we lost? God can find us. Are we hurt? God can make us better. Are we hungry? God can feed us. Are we weak? God can make us strong.

How will God do these things? He may use the people we know or strangers. He may use things that look like ordinary happenings or miracles. However He does it, we can trust Him to be our shepherd.

PRAYER: Dear God, please be a shepherd to me like You were to the Israelites. Amen.


MORE: Shepherds
Through books and the internet find out more about shepherds.
1. What was a shepherd’s life like in Bible times?

2. Are there still people who work as shepherds today? What do they do?

3. How is the life of a shepherd today different from a shepherd in Bible times? How are they alike?

Sheep grazing on a field in Saskatchewan, Canada

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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 5, 2017

Heart Idols

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Ezekiel 14:1-6


TO CHEW ON: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Ezekiel 14:3

The Israelites in exile soon discovered that Ezekiel heard from God. They came to him often to find out if God had something to say to them. One day when some of Israel’s leaders had come to Ezekiel in this way, God gave him private information about them.

Ezekiel Prophesying - Gustave Dore
“These men have idols in their hearts,” God told Ezekiel. “Tell them, ‘Don’t think I am going to give you messages from Me knowing all the while you are worshiping something else. You need to get rid of these idols before I will tell you anything.’”

In the past the people of Israel had worshiped actual idol statues. Here God showed that idols don’t have to be physical things at all. They could be anything people admired, or trusted in, or relied on more than God. Even though these people may not have been going to actual shrines and praying to figurines, the idols were there just the same in the attitude of their hearts.

Today we may not worship idol statues either. But is it possible that we have idols in our hearts? What could those idols be? Some are money, luck, the earth, superstitions, sports and movie personalities, our own good looks, talents and abilities. Can you think of more? __________________.

Do you have any of these idols in your heart? If you were one of the people coming to Ezekiel to hear from God, what message might God be giving Ezekiel about you?

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me the idols in my heart. Help me to get rid of them and worship only You. Amen.

MORE: Modern Idols- What is an idol?
- What is a heart idol?
- Choose one of the following and explain how it could become an idol.

money,    luck,    Mother Nature,    superstition,

sports and movie personalities,        yourself

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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, August 4, 2017

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.

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

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