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Hosea 10-14; Joel 1:1-2:17 

If Jesus were here in person today, I think He would use flannel graph and PowerPoint to get His points across. When we look at the end of Hosea and the first part of Joel, we see Him speaking to us in word pictures. In the last three weeks I have experienced two sermons where those preaching used visuals and word pictures to get their points across. God does the same thing here. Read Hosea 10:12 below: Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Are you far from God today? What a beautiful way He entreats you to come back to Him. They idea of rains of righteousness falling on us is awesome. Are you seeking the Lord today and experiencing His refreshing rain fall on you? Then we see His ability to predict and foreshadow the future. We see a messianic prophecy in Hosea 13. Many years later the Apostle Paul quotes part of this chapter (1 Corinthians 15:55) in reference to the Messiah. Hosea 13:14b … O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Perhaps not to those reading this for the first time does it make sense, but to us, on this side of the cross it brings more credibility to the message of the prophet Hosea many years before and we can take great confidence as we read God’s Word that what we are reading is true and sure and that this book we read each day has a common theme and structure that leads us to the Saviour. Our readings today end in Joel. His writings are considered apocalyptic (perhaps apropos for todays circumstances). And yet how beautiful His words. Can you see that it’s our hearts that need rending not our outward appearances and presentations. As we return to God, He will be merciful and gracious to us. This world may seem apocalyptic at times, but God’s haven of peace and love and safety is always waiting for us. Joel 2:13 “… and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Father God, thank You for caring so much for us that You use language that is sweet and picturesque to draw You to Yourself. I pray as we read today’s verses, we will be drawn back into a strong relationship with You. It’s in the strong and wonderful name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

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Daniel 7:13- 11:13

So glad for today’s reading to start out on a positive note, because God needs to keep reminding us that the darkness is not forever, and that one day it will turn into a glorious light.

I saw a human form, a son of man, arriving in a whirl of clouds. He came to The Old One and was presented to Him.  He was given power to rule—All the glory of royalty.  Everyone—race, color, and creed—had to serve him.  His rule would be forever, never ending.  His kingly rule would never be replaced.  (Daniel 7: 13-14 MSG)

But unfortunately, the world, and especially I, am going to have to go through some stuff, to get to the point where Jesus is the ruler, now and forevermore!  The visions Daniel saw shook him to his core, so can you imagine what it will be like to actually have to live through it.  There are going to be leaders that rise up and who will be determined to make war with God’s holy people.

I watched as the ram charged: first west, then north, then south.  No beast could stand up to him.  He did just as he pleased, strutting as if he were king of the beasts.

While I was watching this, wondering what it all meant, I saw a billy goat with an immense horn in the middle of its forehead come up out of the west and fly across the whole country, not once touching the ground.  The billy goat approached the double-horned ram that I had earlier seen standing at the gate and enraged, charged it viciously.  I watched as, mad with rage, it charged the ram and hit it so hard that it broke off its two horns.  The ram didn’t stand a chance against it.  The billy goat knocked the ram to the ground and stomped all over it.  Nothing could have saved the ram from the goat. (Daniel 8:4-7 MSG)

Then I overheard two Holy angels talking.  One asked, “How long is what we see here going to last—the abolishing of daily worship, this devastating judgement against sin, the kicking around of God’s holy people and the Sanctuary?’

“The other answered, ‘Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning.  Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.”  Daniel 8:13-14 MSG)

And then he continued, “I want to tell you what is going to happen as the judgement days of wrath wind down, for there is going to be an end to all this. (Daniel 7:19 MSG)

The horns represent leaders and kingdoms.  All battling to be the greatest among all.  Killing and destroying whatever and whoever gets in the way. Daniel was obviously disturbed by his visions.  He couldn’t make sense of it.  It made him sick, but he kept it all to himself (7:28). What he did is the same that I, myself can do:

I, Daniel was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy.  I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God: (Daniel 9: 2-4a MSG)

Daniel believed compassion from God was our only hope! And he is right.  I need to keep the scriptures in front of me and pour my heart out to God.  Like Daniel, my answer may become part of a spiritual battle and be delayed (9:23), but God hears even the smallest voice, and He know the intention of every heart. He can calm in the middle of chaos!

“Then this humanlike figure touched me again and gave me strength.  He said, ‘Don’t be afraid, friend. Peace.  Everything is going to be all right.  Take courage. Be strong.’

“Even as he spoke, courage surged up within me.  I said, ‘Go ahead, let my master speak. You’ve given me courage.’ (Daniel 10:18-19 MSG)

If I look to God, as my one and only source, He can calm me on the inside, even when the outside is falling down all around me.  He is truly a great reward to me, and has proven Himself faithful through many things, building my faith and trust greater and greater each time.  He can do the same for anyone who gives Him the opportunity to show up in their lives!  But to me, I can find comfort knowing that at the end of the destruction of many people, good and bad, that there is an end to it all, and that there is a Kingly rule that will never be replaced. 

Father God, like Daniel, I thank you that you hear my prayers, I thank you for your forgiveness! Please look at what is going on around me and in this world and do something.  Please do not delay! There are so many that need to be lifted up out of their troubles! It is more than my mind can comprehend.  Only you can come to our rescue!  I trust you, and I am looking to you to bring the change that all these hearts need, including mine. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

Carol (carolvorwe)

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Daniel 4:28-7:12 

When God steps in my life, I know what He wants to do. Do I try and deny, definitely, but deep down I know the truth. When people say they do not know why God does what He does, something goes against who God is with that statement. I think God tells people what He is going to do because He wants the honour that comes with the actions. Nebuchadnezzar was no different.

God met with King Nebuchadnezzar and called him on his pride – 7 years is what God knew it would take for him to repent and praise and honour God at the end. I have never been given a timetable, but God has always given me a reason for what I am going through. When people ask me if I would live my life the same way again, my answer is always – yes. It was that journey, His journey, that made me who I am today.

The secret in the hard times and the redemption, reconciliation or restoration that comes after those times was that God would be praised and receive all the honour as God. I have seen this first hand in my life. It is what makes me a little weird and passionate. Let’s face it, Nebuchadnezzar saw the miraculous hand of God more than any other king. While he might have acknowledged God each time, he does not give Him full honour and praise.

Consequences are not normally as extreme, but some people have thick heads. He lost the honour of his kingdom. He was deprived of his honour as a man. And the animal he turned into was not a royal one, but rather, like an ox, ate grass.

At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever:

“His sovereign rule lasts and lasts,
    his kingdom never declines and falls.
Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much,
    but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going.
No one can interrupt his work,
    no one can call his rule into question. – Daniel 4:34-35 MSG

Is this worth 7 years to wait for and then to spend eternity with God? For all those complaining as to what God has done in your life – I judge because so many have judged God without knowing Him. However, I need to love them back into the kingdom of God.

This is God’s goal in my life. It is why I was created, it is why Jesus came to save me – everything must serve God to His honour and praise.

What a difference between the path Pharaoh took from that of King Nebuchadnezzar. I love the choice of choosing Nebuchadnezzar’s path as wild as that might seem. I love how God restores his honour and when honoured, Nebuchadnezzar praised God for his honour. Beautiful.

Father, do what it takes to get my attention when I stray from honouring and praising You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 41-43

Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple was God’s language of love to the Jews who had been exiled from Israel and whose glorious temple had been destroyed. The first thirty-eight chapters of the Book of Ezekiel were filled with visions condemning Israel for their faithlessness. Ezekiel’s latter prophecies were intended to bring hope to the Israelites still in exile – hope in God’s promise that He will return in all His glory to His people, His temple, and His land. Ezekiel’s earlier visions brought meaning to the suffering, but God was not done with Israel. Hope blazed anew with God’s measuring out the beautiful restoration of His dwelling place among Israel. Yet the temple painstakingly described by Ezekiel was never built.

I read an article by Dr. Solomon B. Freehof who pointed out that the Book of Ezekiel initiated acceptance of national and individual responsibility (social ethics) with ritual ceremony (Temple worship). He said, “Because it was Ezekiel who pioneered the principle that ritual and righteousness need not compete for the soul of the true worshiper of God, and that priest and prophet can teach together, one may well say that he, more than any other [Old Testament prophets], was responsible for the fact that at every Jewish public worship service, on every Sabbath and holiday, a reading from the prophets always follows the reading from the Torah.” Dr. Solomon B. Freehof, Author at My Jewish Learning(opens in a new tab)

Not being Jewish, I cannot speak to the impact the Book of Ezekiel has on modern Jews of faith. However, I get the tension between addressing the suffering with social responsibility and giving all one’s devotion to spiritual matters. Some say that Christianity is a private matter that needs not be discussed outside of the Sunday church service. Others proclaim social responsibility and denounce the ‘pie in the sky’ focus. The great leveler, however, is when tribulation and adversity rains down, and they will – on all of us.

Then we look to the heavens and ask, “Why, God?! Why me? Why now?” If no answer comes, we may lose our faith, lose our hope, and neglect to worship God. Our focus is on fairness (is this not what we expect in being socially responsible) and frustration when we do not get our fair share. Disappointment thwarts our worship and spiritual devotion. At those times, we may need an Ezekiel to remind us that God is good and that His hand that stretches out to correct is also the hand that pulls us back to Him and the hope of His blessings. And not because of who we are or what we have done.

Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, we are always in Your hands. Our hope is in looking to You for rescue, restoration, and forgiveness. Through worship we understand Your faithfulness and Your mercy. For You alone are with us and for us. All for love. So, we sing Hallelujah.

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Ezekiel 38:10-40:49

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“This is what the sovereign Lord says…” Ezekiel

Do you hear God? I was talking with someone the other day about how they hear God and it was very different from how I hear God. And, neither of us felt like hearing from God was a very frequent occurrence.

Throughout our reading today the words above were said many times. God spoke. God made Himself heard among His people. I have so many questions!

  • Did the Israelites Hear Him?
  • Did they understand what He said?
  • Did they believe what He said?
  • Do I believe what He says?

I would love nothing more than to sit face to face with God and hear clearly from Him. My heart longs for His clarity. The Israelites are such a clear reflection of how we continue to hear God, walk away, experience suffering, cry out to God, repent and experience His forgiveness.

When I struggle to Hear, I still have His presence. When I wonder if He hears me, I still have examples of how He heard His people in scripture. When I wonder if things will ever be ok, I have His promises.

Dear God, thank you for your words to the Israelites which speak directly to my heart today. May I be more and more aware of your promised presence. May I listen more closely to You. May I remember what You have done and that you are not done yet. Amen.


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