Monday, July 25, 2016

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Questioning God

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Habakkuk 1:1-11


TO CHEW ON: "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save?" Habakkuk 1:2

Have you ever wondered whether it does any good to pray? That seems to be what the prophet Habakkuk was asking at the beginning of his short book.

Habakkuk was another prophet in Judah. He lived at the same time as Jeremiah did. Instead of God giving Habakkuk messages for the people, he talked to God for them.

He asked questions that people from all times and places have asked:
- If You’re in control, God, why does evil win so often?
- How can You ignore unfairness? Why do evil people get richer and more powerful?
- Why do You use evil people to work Your will?

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

God answered Habakkuk’s questions. Sometimes his answers were surprising. When Habakkuk complained, in today’s reading, that it seemed like God was ignoring unfairness, God replied, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” Then he explained that soon He would use the cruel nation of Babylon even more.

But God’s answers did finally satisfy Habakkuk. And they help us understand that God is working in our time too, even when He seems to be ignoring us. For God’s plans reach across all of history. Though what God allows to happen may not make sense in the small time we’re alive, He has said He will make all the things He has promised come true some day.

1. God said that He will be proved true - when? ____ (Habakkuk 2:3)

2. God said that someday His glory will fill the earth like ______ (Habakkuk 2:14)

If you struggle with understanding God, talk to Him like Habakkuk did. Ask God your questions. Look for answers in the Bible. Pray for faith to believe that what God has said, He will do.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to trust You even when You are silent and Your ways don’t make sense. Amen.

MORE: Hab’s response
After his argument with God, Habakkuk prayed. Read his prayer in Habakkuk 3.

Here is an artist's drawing of God's power as Habakkuk describes it.



What did Habakkuk decide to do even when God was silent? _____ (Habakkuk 3:18).

You and I can do that too!

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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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Temple Superstition

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 7:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!' " Jeremiah 7:3,4

People thronged to the temple after Josiah’s clean-up. Looking at the crowds in “church” you’d think that everything had changed in Judah. But for many people, once they were away from God’s house, nothing had changed.

Crime and murder were common. Widows and orphans were ignored. Foreigners were mistreated. People thought that these things didn’t really matter. They thought Jerusalem would never be destroyed because the temple was there. They had a superstitious faith that the temple would save them no matter what they did.

One day God told Jeremiah to stand at the entrance way of the temple. He was to give the worshipers this message from God: “Change the way you act. Don’t put your faith in the temple. Look at what happened to Shiloh where the ark used to sit. I will do the same thing to Jerusalem if you don’t change your ways.”


It’s easy for us to be like the people of that time. We may think, I go to church and read my Bible. I am part of a Christian family. These things will save me. But if our faith is in these things, we are just as superstitious as the people of Jeremiah’s time.

Only faith in Jesus can save us. The changed lives we live after we have trusted Him show that our faith is real.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Help me to put my trust in You, not in anything or anyone else. Amen.


MORE: Superstitions
Living by superstitions can cause us to have feelings of false security. Or we may feel afraid that something bad will happen if we don’t do the things our superstitions say to have good luck. Either way, superstitions are not truth but lies. Jesus wants us to live by truth. He said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

1. Look up the dictionary definition of ‘superstition’?

2. What are some common superstitions that people believe?

3. Do you have any superstitious beliefs? If you do, ask God to help you get free of them.

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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 19, 2016

A New Start

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 23:19-25

TO CHEW ON: "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses." 2 Kings 23:25

“Everybody come to the temple. King Josiah has called a special meeting.” Quickly word traveled from house to house. When everyone had gathered, Josiah opened the book that the priests had found. He read aloud all the laws God had given Moses. Then in front of all the people he promised God that he would keep these laws for the rest of his life.

After he had dismissed everyone, he got to work.


Wherever there was an idol, he told his servants to smash it. Wherever there was an Asherah pole, he commanded it be taken down. Wherever there were altars, he broke them. He took down statues that had been dedicated to the sun god and made sure every dish, goblet, utensil or piece of furniture that had been used to worship an idol was taken out of the temple.

Josiah burned the rubbish outside Jerusalem.
Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.

He told the people to get rid of the idols in their homes. He even went to Samaria and destroyed everything to do with idol worship there. Finally the land was cleaned up. Then he called the people together again for a big Passover celebration.

No one before or after Josiah worked so hard at doing what God had said. Always before, the kings had done a half job. They rid the land of some idols and altars. But the ones they left soon lured the people back to idol worship again. Josiah’s thoroughness helped Judah to turn from their old ways and make a new start.

We can clean up our lives like Josiah cleaned up the land. We can name the things we’re sorry for in prayer. We can get rid of things like books, games, music and anything else that will tempt us to again wander away from God. We can be as thorough in our new start as Josiah was.

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me everything that comes between You and me. Help me to rid my life of it. Amen.


MORE: Your new startYou start a new day energetic and fresh from a night’s sleep. You start a new basketball tournament with no losses. You start a new school year with clean books, long pencils, maybe a new backpack and even new clothes. What changes might happen when you make a new start with God:

1. You feel clean inside
2. You sing
3. You feel peaceful
4. You get a different body
5. You feel joyful
6. You make a new set of friends

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, July 18, 2016

Finding a Special Book

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chron 34:14-19 & 31

TO CHEW ON: "Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, 'Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.' And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes." 2 Chronicles 34:18,19

When King Josiah turned sixteen something changed. Perhaps after being king for eight years he realized what a hard job it was. Maybe he wished he had help and wanted to be sure that God was on his side. He may have asked, which god? For the people in Judah worshiped many gods.

Perhaps he remembered his grandfather, King Manasseh, and thought of how he had smashed the idols and taken down the Asherah poles after he got back from prison. Then he had told everyone to worship the unseen God of the temple.

However it came about, over the next four years, Josiah took down every altar and high place and pole connected with idol worship. Then he decided to clean up the temple too. He put the priests and Levites to work. One day as they were clearing out garbage, they found a book. It was the book of the Law that God had given Moses.

When Shaphan the secretary showed Josiah what they had found, Josiah wanted him to read it. So Shaphan read God’s laws to Josiah. He had never heard them before.


He became so upset and afraid, he tore his clothes. Then he asked Shaphan and the priests to pray to God for him and the nation, that they would be spared the terrible punishments God had promised.

Hilkiah the priest and others prayed for Josiah. God answered that He would punish Judah just as the book said. But if Josiah would keep on doing the right things, this punishment would come after his lifetime.

We have God’s book with us today. It is the Bible. Unlike Josiah’s time, Bibles today are not lost. They are plentiful and common. But in order for the Bible to help us as it did Josiah, we need to follow his example. We need to read, respect and obey it.



PRAYER: Dear God, help me to read and obey Your word. Amen.

MORE: Bible Search
1. How many Bibles or parts of the Bible do you have in your home?

2. Which is your favorite Bible?
Why?

3. What is your favorite Bible verse?
Why?

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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 17, 2016

The Majority Loses

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 14:13-16

TO CHEW ON: "Then the Lord said to me, 'The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.'” Jeremiah 14:14

Have you ever been outvoted by the majority? Perhaps you were working on a project and most people in your group didn't like your idea. Or you had a suggestion for a family outing, but everyone else wanted to do something different.

It’s not fun when no one agrees with you and you have to stand alone. Jeremiah found that out when he gave God’s messages to the people of Judah. “Unless you change your ways, God will send plague, war and famine,” he said.

But other prophets said the opposite: “Don’t worry about war or shortages of food. There will be lasting peace.”

Of course the people liked the message of the other prophets more than the Jeremiah’s message. The people thought he was annoying and simply ignored him.



Jeremiah talked to God about this. God told him, “I haven’t sent those other prophets. They aren’t saying my words. They’re telling lies. As a result, they’ll be destroyed by the exact things they say won’t happen.”

"I will bring nations upon you from afar." Jeremiah 5:15

As a Christian, I’m sure you sometimes feel in the minority. There may be only a few people who believe in the God of the Bible in your school or neighborhood. But just because you’re not in the majority doesn’t mean that you’re wrong and that the beliefs of others are right. In the end, God is right. And if you’re on His side, you’ll always be in the majority.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have the courage to stand against the majority when what they say is against what You say in the Bible. Amen.

MORE: Comfortable lies
Some common beliefs in our society are like the things the false prophets in Jeremiah’s time said. They are comforting but untrue. Below are four such beliefs. Match them up with the verse from the Bible that tells us they are wrong:

1. ____ It doesn’t matter what or who you believe in, so long as you’re sincere.

2. ____ A loving God would never send anyone to hell.

3. ____ There are many ways to God.

4. ____ The good things we’ve done earn us a place in heaven.

A. John 14:6           B. Isaiah 64:6 
C. Revelation 20:15    D. John 3:36

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 16, 2016

Only a Child

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 1:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord." Jeremiah 1:7,8

Do you have any idea what you’d like to do when you grow up? Have you ever thought that God may have a special job for your life?

God talked to Jeremiah when he was just a child. He told him what his job would be. He would be a (Jeremiah 1:5) 1. _____.

Jeremiah argued back. What two reasons did he give for why he couldn’t do what God asked (Jeremiah 1:6) 2. _____ 3. _____.

But God didn’t buy Jeremiah’s arguments. For He had chosen Jeremiah before he was born. Now God touched his mouth and said, “I have put my words in your mouth.”


Jeremiah’s words would be not only to his nation Judah, but to the nations all around. They would have much power – power to uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build and plant.

Have you ever asked God if He has a special job for you? Just like Jeremiah, He has known you from before you were born. He does have a plan for your life. You are never too young to get your special assignment from Him.

PRAYER: Dear God, please tell me the special job You have for me, and prepare me to do it. Amen.


MORE: How well does God know you?
It’s comforting to know that nothing in life is a surprise to God. He knows you as well as anyone could. Two verses that tell you God knows you and has a plan for you are:
Psalm 139:15,16 and Ephesians 2:10.

Read them, and then pick out the true statements that tell what God knows about you:

1. God fits you into His plan after you’re born.

2. God doesn’t have a plan for some people.

3. God had the good things you will do for Him all planned out before you got here.

4. God knows how long you’ll live but not much else about you.

5. God knows each day of your life from before you were born.

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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.


ANSWERS

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Friday, July 15, 2016

God's Lullabies

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Zephaniah 3:11-17

TO CHEW ON: "The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17


Again Judah was in a mess. When King Manasseh died, his idol-worshiping son Amon became king. Amon was king for just two years when officials murdered him and crowned his eight-year-old son Josiah to be king instead.

God gave another prophet named Zephaniah, messages for King Josiah. Most were not popular. “God’s judgment day is coming,” he said one day. “If Judah doesn’t return to God, it will be destroyed, just the like nations around it. Jerusalem will be destroyed too. Only a few people from it will be saved.”

Then Zephaniah ended his stern message with the beautiful picture of a God who can also be gentle. He is a God who loves and cares for those who stay true to Him.



Have you ever seen a mother or father quiet a crying baby? How do they do it?

In our reading today, God is that parent. He quiets His restless children with love. He sings over them – lullabies perhaps or story songs that remind them of the things He has done for them.



Next time God seems mean and strict and far away to you, remember this picture of God. He is near you even when you don’t feel Him. He can save you from any problem you are in. He delights in you and sings over you. Let Him love you.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to know Your parent-love for me. Amen.

MORE: Pictures of God.
God is pictured in the Bible in many ways. These pictures help us understand what He is like. Match the references with the way God is pictured in each verse (one verse has two descriptions).

A. Psalm 121:4      B. Psalm 91:4
C. Isaiah 25:4      D. 2 Timothy 4:18

1. ______ Shelter from the storm.
2. ______ Rescuer.
3. ______ Bird who shelters us under His wings.
4. ______ Watchman who never sleeps.
5. ______ Shade from the heat.


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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The End of Nineveh

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nahum 1:1-11

TO CHEW ON: "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness." Nahum 1:7-8

Remember Nineveh, the city where Jonah went to preach? Though the people turned to God after hearing Jonah’s warnings, they were soon back to their idol worshiping, cruel and warring ways. God gave the prophet Nahum a message about Nineveh.

Nahum explained that God was patient and good. But there would come a time when He would act.

God had used Assyria (the country of which Nineveh was the capital) to discipline the people of Israel and Judah. But that didn’t mean God wouldn’t make them pay the consequences of their idol worship and cruelty. Nahum prophesied that the city of Nineveh and the nation of Assyria would be completely destroyed. And this is exactly what happened.


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

Today, Nineveh is only a mound called Tell Kuyunjik which means ‘the mound of many sheep.’

God hasn’t changed in His fairness. He still watches individual people and whole nations. There will come a time when He will judge each one of us, our cities and countries and the whole world. Let’s turn to Him now, while we have the chance. Let’s pray that the people in our city and country turn to God too.

PRAYER: Dear God, I pray for my city ________ and my country ________ that they will honor You and obey Your ways. Amen.


MORE: What Can You Do?
As one single person, it’s easy to feel small and powerless to change the ways of your city let alone your country. But even one single young person like you can make a difference. Here are some ways. Can you think of more?

1. Pray for your country’s leader. His/her name is ___________

2. Pray for other leaders.
State Governor or Provincial Premier _________
Mayor_______
School Principal _________
Pastor __________

3. Join the Christian club at your school to find encouragement and multiply your influence.

4. Join with others (family, friends) to work on projects that honor God like visiting the sick and elderly, and helping the poor.

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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 13, 2016

Prison Prayers

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 33:7-13

TO CHEW ON: "And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God." 2 Chronicles 33:13

“The Assyrians are coming!” A messenger blurted the news to King Manasseh.

Manasseh called his priests and told them to pray to the gods, check the omens, and make sacrifices. But not to the God of heaven. For Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son and Judah’s king, was not like his dad. Instead of worshiping God, he rebuilt hilltop shrines where people went to pray to statues of Chemosh and Baal.

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


He sacrificed his own sons to idols, was deeply into witchcraft and even built idol altars in the temple. God had tried to talk to Manasseh and the people, but they refused to listen.


The sacrifices Manasseh made that day did no good. He was captured by the Assyrian generals, chained and taken to prison in Babylon. There, in a dungeon and all alone, he had time to think. He remembered the things his father Hezekiah had taught him. He knew what he had done was displeasing to God. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe God would still take him back.

One day he cried out to God. He told God how foolish he had been. He begged God to save his life and set him free.



Soon after the prison keeper unlocked his cell and sent him home. Oh joy!! Now he knew that God was real and powerful. When he got back to Jerusalem, he demolished the idols, shrines and altars. He cleaned up the temple. He told the people that from now on, they were to worship only the Lord God of Israel.

Sometimes God uses hard things like sickness, accidents, tragedies and facing the consequences of our choices to bring us back to Him. How much better to serve God all along than to risk such problems. But then, better the problems that bring us back to God than being separated from Him forever and ever.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for using even troubles to bring us back to You. Amen.

MORE: God’s Invitation
Over and over in the Bible, God invites us to come back to Him if we have gone away. 1 John 1:9 is such an invitation. Can you fill in the missing words from this verse. Use the word bank, below, if necessary.

If we 1. ___ our sins, he is faithful and just and will 2. ____ us our 3. ____ and 4. ____ us from all unrighteousness.

Word bank:
sins   purify
confess   forgive

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 12, 2016

A Deathbed Prayer

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 20:1-11

TO CHEW ON: “'Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: "I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life . . ."’” 2 Kings 20:5,6a

Hezekiah was very ill. The doctors expected him to die. Even the prophet Isaiah said, “Put your affairs in order, because you’re going to die.”


But Hezekiah didn’t want to die. As Isaiah left the room, he turned his face to the wall and began to cry. As he wept, he prayed, “God, I’ve tried to please you. I’ve served you wholeheartedly...”

Isaiah wasn’t even out of the palace when God spoke to him again. “Go back inside and tell Hezekiah, ‘I’ve heard your prayer. I’ve seen your tears. In three days you will get better.’” And that’s exactly what happened.


What is the first thing you think of doing when you or someone in your family is sick? Take a pill? Go to the doctor? Do you pray too?

Because Hezekiah prayed, God healed him and lengthened his life. That’s not to say we don’t go to doctors and follow their instructions. Isaiah told the servants to put a poultice (medicine) on the boil that was making Hezekiah sick. But when we’re sick, let’s not forget to pray – to go first to the One who created us and knows more about curing our sicknesses than any doctor.

PRAYER: Dear God, please heal ________ (name of person) from ______ (name of sickness). I thank You! Amen.

MORE: Does God Heal Today?
Some people think that God only healed people from physical sickness in instant and supernatural ways in Bible times. But the Bible tells us to take all our problems, including physical and mental sickness, to God. These words from James remind us that God invites prayers specifically for healing from sickness. You might want to memorize it.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. James 5:14,15
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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