Saturday, April 4, 2020

COMMUNICATING GOD’S TRUTH

Today’s Reading: Amos 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Carts were used not only for transporting goods, but sometimes for fun…these children in Nazareth Village enjoy the ride, especially when their father pulls them. Today we begin reading in the book of Amos. Unlike other prophets who lived in the cities, Amos was a farmer who not only worked the fields and cared for the herds of sheep, goats, and cattle, but he was also very knowledgeable in the Scriptures.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Amos 1:3a

“Thus says the Lord…” (repeated 8 times in Amos chapters 1 & 2)

There are eight prophecies to eight different nations. We can draw the conclusion that God cares about every nation on earth. Each message from God in today’s reading begins with the statement, “For three transgressions of [people group] and for four.” In our courts today, the judge tends to be lenient on the first offence, but after three or four, the repeat offender can expect the hammer of justice to come down hard. Just imagine how a judge feels when he or she must sentence a person to a prison term or even execution! God, who knows in minute detail all the evidence, is never unjust in His sentence of judgment. The law of God is clearly stated in the statutes written by Moses and others; the penalty for sin is death! To satisfy the demands of the Law, God sent His Son to pay that penalty on behalf of His human family by execution on a Roman cross. This is how justice is done in God’s eyes, and God is able to forgive us our sins when we ask forgiveness, repenting of our sins. How thankful we should be that God deals with us as individuals with such love, mercy and grace. But what about the sins of the nations? Let’s think about that as we continue in Amos’ prophecies.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, according to Your promises, You have forgiven my sins as I confess them. You have even removed them from Your record books. For this I am totally thankful. I pray for grace to live a holy life for the next minute, the next hour, the next day, and for consistency in doing so. I believe that with Your help, I am growing in grace, becoming more like Jesus, in whose holy Name I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Last week I pointed out that the prophet Hosea wrote of God’s “roar” like a lion, getting the attention of His people for His message to them. Amos used the lion’s “roar” (Amos 1:2a) to symbolize prophecy before Hosea did. No doubt Hosea had read Amos’ words and picked up on the lion’s “roar.” The books of the Bible, including Amos and Hosea, are not always in chronological order, as is the case with these two books. Amos was of a generation before the time of Hosea. I’m learning every day, as a 79-year-old, how to use this amazing thing called “the internet.” I’ve just gone into Google and searched 100words.ca and scrolled down to the blog, where I found that fantastic picture of a lion roaring out his message. This whole internet business comes under the heading of “What Will They Think of Next?” If Amos and Hosea had the internet, I think they would’ve done a daily blog too. What about it?

Yours to encourage us all to infuse God’s Word into our thoughts and our lives daily,

David

Friday, April 3, 2020

DECISION TIME

Today’s Reading: Joel 3

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

In Israel at the southwest end of the Dead Sea this valley can be seen, which leads into the Jordan Valley wilderness.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Joel 3:14, 16b

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!

For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

…But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,

and the strength of the children of Israel.

 

The “decision” made concerning the multitudes gathered in the “valley of decision” is to judge the Gentile nations. In Joel 12:12, God says through Joel what will happen in the valley: “I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.” To Israel, Jerusalem and Judah, God, the righteous Judge, whose decisions are always just, decides to give “shelter,” “strength,” “security,” “holiness,” “prosperity,” “a future,” and the Judge will “acquit” His people of all “bloodguilt!”

The nation state known as Israel was restored by the action of all the security counsel member countries of the United Nations, and almost unanimously by the entire membership of nation states represented there. This happening, unprecedented in the history of the world, took place in 1948. Joel prophesies that “The Day of the Lord is near!” Joel tells us to watch for signs in the sky. What astronomers, and those who observe carefully see, will indicate God’s pending action. Jesus Christ, as the greatest Prophet, spoke of “signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.” He said that when these things “begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near!” (Read Luke 21:25-36).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, in Your prophecy about the happenings just before Your “coming in a cloud with great power and glory,” I am to “take heed!” You warn us against carousing, drunkenness, and the “cares of this life!” (Luke 21:34). Help me, I pray, to hold lightly to the things of this earth, and to give my highest priority to the things of eternal value. In Your Name, Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

A while back, I called an all night of prayer for the ministry of Crossroads. During the night we read together 50 different quotes about the power and importance of prayer. Here are just a few…

“Prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure, and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). – J. Hudson Taylor

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick

Those who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in last place the remainder of the day. – E.M. Bounds

Yours for strong consistent prayer,

David

Thursday, April 2, 2020

BLOW THE TRUMPET

Today’s Reading: Joel 2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Many messages have been preached from this podium at Christ Church which is located inside the Old City of Jerusalem. In our readings of the writings of the prophets, God has sought to communicate messages of mercy, forgiveness and also inevitable judgment for sin. The message of the church to Jerusalem and to the entire world is represented by the cross carved into the olive wood. Jesus has taken upon Himself the judgment of God for sin, and through Him we receive mercy and forgiveness.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Joel 2:13, 17, 28-29

“So rend your heart, and not your garments;

Return to the Lord your God,

For He is gracious and merciful,

Slow to anger, and of great kindness;

And He relents from doing harm.

…Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,

Weep between the porch and the altar;

Let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord,

And do not give Your heritage to reproach,

That the nations should rule over them.

Why should they say among the peoples,

“Where is their God?”‘

…And it shall come to pass afterward

That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your old men shall dream dreams,

Your young men shall see visions.

And also on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

There is so much in today’s reading from which we can learn. Because of the importance of Joel 2, we have quoted more verses in this blog than in any other to date.

(1) Twice Joel writes in this chapter, “Blow the trumpet in Zion!” The central mountain in Jerusalem is Mt. Zion. The trumpet symbolizes the preaching of the Message. May we proclaim God’s message faithfully!

(2) Tearing garments still symbolizes extreme grief for many Jewish people. May our hearts be broken in “fasting,” “weeping,” and “mourning” over our sins and the sins of our world!

(3) Priests, whose job it is to represent the human family to God, are to weep over the sins of the people and over the mess we have made of the beautiful garden God intended this earth to be. The New Testament teaches that all believers in Jesus should consider themselves to be priests. John referred to all the people in the seven churches as “Priests.” Therefore, we should weep over sin and separation from God.

(4) God has poured out His “Spirit on all flesh.” All will not receive this outpouring of God. Nevertheless, it’s our responsibility as “sons,” “daughters,” “old men,” “young men” (women inferred), “Menservants” (all males), “Maidservants” (all females), to “Prophesy!” What is New Testament “prophecy”? “The testimony of Jesus is the “spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10b). Sharing Jesus with the whole world is the primary responsibility of all believers who have opened their lives to receive the outpouring of God’s Spirit! Every time we share Jesus, know that the Holy Spirit is “on all flesh.” The Holy Spirit is doing His work! Are we doing our most important work of inviting people to give their lives to Jesus?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I don’t know how to put fasting, weeping and mourning into the words of this brief prayer, but I’m committed to practicing those evidences of a heart that is torn up by the desperate human need I see all around me. I pray for grace to keep on being filled with Your Holy Spirit, 24/7! I pray for the fulfillment of the dreams and visions You are giving me as prophesied by Joel and quoted by Peter on the birthday of Christ’s Church here on earth! In the Name of the One who sounded “the trumpet in Zion” more loudly and more urgently that any other, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As a Pastor of local congregations in my early years, I would often take literally the call of Joel to weep “between the porch and the altar.” I would walk the aisles, between the pews, and at the church altar, praying early in the mornings for my members, their families, and for our community. I also did this on the road as an itinerate Evangelist, and I did this daily in the TV studios where later in the day we would “Blow the trumpet” of God’s message to our continent and beyond.

Yours for the success of God’s cause!

David

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD

Today’s Reading: Joel 1

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A view from the top of Masada. The “snake path” seen in the centre of the photograph was the only access to this mountain fortress until the installation of the cable car. Masada represents the war-torn history of the Jewish people. Joel 2:3 speaks of “a desolate wilderness.”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Joel 1:14,19a

Declare a holy fast;

call a sacred assembly.

Summon the elders

and all who live in the land

to the house of the Lord your God,

and cry out to the Lord.

…O Lord, to You I cry out!

 

When in trouble “CRY OUT!” There are two ways to do this: (1) In a sacred assembly together with the elders (leaders of the church) in fasting and prayer. And (2) In our personal prayer times. According the the prophet Joel, when hungry and thirsty, even the “beasts of the field” (cattle, etc.) “cry out” to the Lord! Cattle will “bawl” when they are hungry or thirsty.

Joel reminds his hearers of a time in the past when chewing, swarming, crawling locusts descended on their land and stripped away in hours every vestige of plant life. The people had no refrigeration, no freezers, and no canned foods such as we have in today’s developed world. Yes, they probably had stored in advance some grain products and dried foods, but they were in big trouble! These people knew what to do! No doubt they had sung Psalm 50 from their hymnbook, the Psalms. The Temple worship leader, Asaph, had composed a song of worship in which God says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).

The theme of disaster runs throughout Joel’s book. There are the locust plagues, famine, raging fires, invading armies, and fearful phenomena in “the heavens” (cosmos). But Joel does not give way to despair. Hopeful promises from God are interspersed between pronouncements of the judgments which the people have brought on themselves.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I am blessed with food and drink in abundance; some of these provisions are the result of modern technology along with the plants that You have created. But modernity has also brought with it bigger troubles than ever, it would seem. I think about today’s world and I cry out to You! I pray the promises You have made to humanity and to me personally. As Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, reminded me, You said, O Lord, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). I cry out to You in the Name (the Person) of the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

The “Crossroads” ministry has received well over 10 million telephone calls from people crying out to the Lord, with the help of our prayer partners. Through the years, we have referred to Jeremiah 33:3 as God’s telephone number (“Call to me and I will answer you…”). I’ve called 1-866-273-4444 (our 24/7 prayer line) from home, on the road, and even from my office upstairs, when I was President, to the Prayer Ministry Centre in times of trouble. What a blessing! Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven” (Matthew 18:19).

When Joel says that even the beasts of the field “cry out” to the Lord, I thought of the many times when, as a teenager, I would do chores for a local farmer. I would arrive at the barn to find the cows bawling for their morning supply of hay. I would oblige them and while they munched contentedly, I would help to milk them. There is a branch of philosophy that says, “Learn from the animals.” Many times over the years I’ve “bawled” and would “cry out” to the Lord! The way I bawled did not sound like the cows, but it surely was an indicator of the fervency level of my prayers. James wrote, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much!” (James 5:16b). The righteous part I leave for God to judge, and I claim that promise from God.

Yours for “crying out” loud, if we feel we need to (and we don’t bother others too much!),

David

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

HEALING AND LOVE

Today’s Reading: Hosea 13-14

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This olive tree may be 2,000 years old. It is located near the vicinity of the ancient capital of Israel, Samaria, in the West Bank. This photo was taken in the Palestinian village of Sebastia, which today has a population of almost 5,000. This was the heartland of the northern tribes to which the prophet, Hosea, delivered God’s messages. Throughout the Bible, the olive tree is the symbol of the spiritual life of Israel. It is said that once rooted, the olive tree never dies. It may be cut down when it is not producing fruit anymore, but it grows again from the roots.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 14:4, 9

“I will heal their backsliding,

I will love them freely,

For My anger has turned away from him.”

…”Who is wise?

Let him understand these things.

Who is prudent?

Let him know them.

For the ways of the Lord are right;

The righteous walk in them,

But transgressors stumble in them.”

 

It’s amazing!!! After being rejected, and after God’s great heart has been broken by the sins of His people, the words “ransom,” “redeem,” “return,” “heal,” “love,” “grow,” “beauty,” “help,” and “revived,” stand out in today’s reading. Yes, we bring judgment upon ourselves, and in this life we reap what we have sown for good or evil. And yes, we may need reminding that the most often-repeated sentence in the Bible is “His mercy endures forever!!!” God always responds to our sincere prayers. His answers may be “Slow” (circumstances must change first), “Grow” (He has a work to do in us first), “No” (it’s not best for us), or “Go” (YES!) Here’s one prayer to which He always says “Yes.” (Let’s pray this together)… “Lord Jesus, I know I have sinned and cannot save myself. Please forgive me. I believe You died on the cross for my sins. I thank You for that. And I believe that You rose from the dead and that You live forever. I truly desire that You come into my life. Right now I open the door of my life and ask You to come and live in me. I receive You now, Jesus, as my Lord and Saviour. Thank You for answering my prayer. Help me to live for You. Make me the person You want me to be. Amen.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that by Your grace I will be “on fire” for You! May I burn with a passion to do Your will on earth as it is done in Heaven. May I give light in dark places, illuminating Your loving eternal purposes for having created me. In the Name of “The Light of the World,” Jesus Christ, I ask these blessings. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

From the olive tree, oil is produced which fed the flames rising from the menorah, a seven-branched candelabra, which provided the only light in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle of Moses, and later in the Temple. The fires burning from the oil-drenched wicks and the offering of the smoke of the incense symbolized the prayers of the people. I’ve read a great book on prayer, and I’m challenged as never before to consistently spend quality time in prayer. The book is called, Pivotal Praying! By John Hull. The subtitle is, Connecting with God in Times of Great Need. Be prepared to have your prayer life and God’s answers to your prayers become all that God would desire. Amen!!! (click here to order the book).

Yours for listening to God (reading His Word) and then having confidence that God listens to us as we pray!!!

David

Rev. Rick Heibert, portraying the High Priest, prays in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. He stands between the Golden Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. Olive oil feeds the flames which symbolize prayer which ascends to God and light which comes from God.

Monday, March 30, 2020

ROAR

Today’s Reading: Hosea 11-12

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The “Lion’s Fountain” in the Peoples Square in Piazza Del Populo, Rome. Jesus Christ, known as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water!” (John 7:37-38). The “roar like a lion” statement in today’s reading symbolizes the power of God’s Word to communicate God’s desires for His people.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 11:8, 10

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I set you like Zeboiim?

My heart churns within Me;

My sympathy is stirred”…

“They shall walk after the Lord.

He will roar like a lion.

When He roars,

Then His sons shall come trembling from the west.”

 

A prophet represents God to people. A priest represents people to God. In today’s reading, Hosea reveals God to us as One whose great heart “churns” because of His love! God is moved to action and He roars like a lion, thus getting attention for His call to return. About 6,000,000 of the children of Israel, who were scattered throughout the world, have come to the land of their ancestors. Israel is now a nation state once again. God has not given up on His ancient people.

But what about the rest of the human family? He has not given up on us either. The Apostle Matthew, a Jew, quotes his prophet, Hosea, referring to the fact that, as a Child, Jesus was taken to Egypt to protect Him from the murderous rage of King Herod. “Out of Egypt I called My Son!” (Hosea 11:1). Let’s read Matthew 2:1-15. Jesus Christ, as no other, revealed the compassionate, longing heart of God for all people. He roars with the Words that come from His mouth. God’s final Words in the Bible through John, who ministered as the final Bible prophet, says to the entire human race, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel [messenger named John] to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” John goes on to proclaim, “And the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him come and drink of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:16,17).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Yes, Lord, I tremble at Your Word, and I do come to You every morning! You roared from the cross the most powerful communication ever, and You have gotten the attention of at least 2 billion people currently on earth. You did not give up on the human race, and You continue to call to us to come to You! I thank You that I heard You and responded the day I received You as Saviour, and I remain in Your holy presence. I pray that Your “Roar” will be heard around the world today. May many more come to You! In the Name of the One who has gotten the attention of more people throughout the centuries than any other person, Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Yes, I know that God also speaks in a “still small Voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13). Whatever it takes for God to communicate to me, bring it on! I need to hear from God daily. I do so by consistently, without fail, listening to God as I read His Word. I must confirm anything I’ve heard, or think I’ve heard, by checking it out in the written Word!

I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll never forget hearing a Vancouver pastor of Chinese extraction “Roar!” (he made a noise like a lion). I said to Gideon Chiu, “What are you doing?” He answered, “The serpent has had my Chinese people for far too long. The ‘Lion of Judah’ roars against the serpent!” It was a prophetic gesture. We have many examples in Scripture of the prophets making various gestures to illustrate their points. Pastor Gideon is so on fire for God, that I know I need to stoke the fires of my fervency more and more.

Yours for making ourselves available daily for God’s communication to His human family through His written Word!!! Whether it’s a “Roar” or a still small Voice, are we listening?

David

P.S.

I came across some pictures of lions roaring (one is below). When a lion roars, we’d better listen!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

PLOUGHING/SOWING/REAPING

Today’s Reading: Hosea 9-10

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A Farmer at Nazareth Village in Nazareth uses a sickle. Reaping before modern farm implements was a very labour intensive task. Over and over again, the Scriptures make the point that what we sow in our lifetimes, we will inevitably reap as a harvest, as in our key verse, either “mercy” or “iniquity.”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 10:12-13a

Sow for yourselves righteousness;

Reap in mercy;

Break up your fallow ground,

For it is time to seek the Lord,

Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

You have plowed wickedness;

You have reaped iniquity.

 

In Hosea 9 & 10 the message is clear. A Holy God and sin cannot co-exist. Therefore, sin must be dealt with. The sacrificial offerings were a way of covering sin by the picture they presented of the final sacrifice for sin by Jesus Christ (Messiah) on the cross. We can learn from Hosea. We must determine to live holy lives in order to please God. Every day we are sowing by our actions and we reap in our lives, and in our families, the consequences of sin. Breaking up fallow ground (ploughing) is hard work, requiring firm discipline. “IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD!” Sin almost totally destroyed God’s chosen people. They sowed sin and reaped a crop of destruction and pain. While our sins are forgiven and we have the assurance of eternal life because of the cross of Christ, as long as we are in this life, we hurt ourselves and our loved ones as a result of sin.

Jesus taught about sowing and reaping. When our hearts are hardened by sin, the Lord’s efforts to plant good seed are thwarted. Are there stones that need removal from our lives? Or have thorns grown in our lives which hurt ourselves and others? (read Luke 8:4-15).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I repent!!! I pray for Your rain of righteousness to fall on me, soaking me with pure and holy living. I seek You, Lord Jesus! Forgive my sin and change my heart and mind! May I take deliberate actions to move away from the occasion of sinning and from those who would entice me to sin. By repentance I break up the hard ground in my heart, and I ask for the good seed of Your Word to penetrate into my innermost being, producing a harvest of holiness!!! In the Name of Your 100% Holy Son, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Here are some random thoughts. Surely Hosea 9:17 has been fulfilled, “They shall be wanderers among the nations.” Until 1948 God’s ancient people had not had a sovereign state for over 2,000 years. They wandered the world over. They are gathered back to Israel, but a national revival of faith in God and obedience to God is still to take place there.

Hosea 10:3b, “As for a king, what would he do for us,” reminds me of President Kennedy’s statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” It is rather obvious that the people of Israel were refusing to take responsibility for their own lives and wanted big government to do almost everything for them.

The summer I turned eight, my Uncle Harvey Lindsay, on whose farm we lived while my Dad was overseas during the WW2 years, taught me to break up the hard ground with a one-furrow plough behind Mischief, his one and only horse. He reprimanded me whenever I was distracted and took my eyes off the post across the field. By a steady gaze at that post, I was to plough a straight furrow. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. As long as I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and by focusing on His unchanging holy Person, I can continue to live straight.

Yours for consistently living a holy life by God’s grace given to us as we plough up the hardness in our lives, sowing daily the seed of God’s Word in our hearts and minds, reaping holiness before our Holy God,

David

Saturday, March 28, 2020

WHIRLWIND

Today’s Reading: Hosea 7-8

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

A field on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee is ready for harvest. Galilee is over 600 feet below Sea Level with a bowl-like topography. Strong south-west winds are drawn into this 5 mile by 8 mile rift in the earth’s surface and can create strong whirlwinds which destroy the crops, and as we read in the Gospels, turn the peaceful seascape we see here into violent storms.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 7:2 and 8:7a

They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before my face…They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.

 

Five times in today’s reading we see the name of the largest tribe in Israel, Ephraim. Ephraim was farthest away geographically from the Temple in Jerusalem, and it seems that they were also furthest away from God during the time of Hosea’s ministry. Ephraim represents all ten northern tribes of Israel. To try to communicate to them their need to repent, Hosea uses word pictures like “band of robbers,” “an oven neglected by a sleeping baker,” “a silly dove caught in a net,” and farmers who “sow to the wind and reap a whirlwind.” In the first verse of our reading, God speaks through Hosea and says, “I would have healed Israel!” God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (read 2 Peter 3:9-11). But just like Hosea preaching in his day that “Israel has forgotten his Maker!” (Hosea 8:14a), God also wants to bring us close to Himself and not reject us, but our sin and our foolish pride create a wall between God and us that stops reconciliation. Jesus broke down that wall for all who repent of their sins and trust in Him. Through another prophet, the Lord says of a future time, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34b).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I repent of my sin. I pray with the man whose prayer has become so well known, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). By Your forgiveness You erase my sin from Your records. According to Your promise, You don’t even remember my past sin. Thank You!!! I ask for Your grace for this new day so that I will be kept pure in thought, word and deed. I ask this through the only One who had no need to repent, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

We have a 21st century Jeremiah (Johnston) who says,

“In an age of acute Biblical illiteracy, the vision of the Christian Thinkers Society is to lead the vanguard of a new movement that will have a notable impact on the shape of contemporary Christianity by providing the essential training to transform and enrich believers, Christian leaders, and Pastors who will be characterized by a thinking faith, capable to communicate confidently, and committed to escape the tendency to offer trite answers to a sceptical world.”

I’m asking my blog readers to pray for Jeremiah and share Jeremiah’s vision with others. Check out his website HERE. I like Jeremiah’s slogan, “Teaching Christians to Become Thinkers, and Thinkers to Become Christians”…and a big “AMEN” to that!!!

Yours for a greater understanding of the heart and mind of our “Maker!”

David

Friday, March 27, 2020

THE THIRD DAY

Today’s Reading: Hosea 5-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Convent of Pater Noster is on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It is located at the site of the ruins of the “Eleona” Basilica, built in the 4th Century by Constantine over a cave where, according to tradition, Jesus taught the “Our Father” (“Pater Noster” in Latin). The walls of this convent are decorated with 140 large ceramic tiles, each one inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in a different language (Matthew 6:9-13).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 6:1-2

“Come and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind is up. After two days, He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

 

The prophets of God were given insight into the judgment for sin that God would place on His Son, Jesus, Son of God and Son of man. Jesus was torn and stricken in our place. But through Him, God heals us and binds up our wounds, and then there is the resurrection of Jesus “on the third day.” Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah. Hosea preached his message to the northern tribes of Israel and Isaiah to the southern tribes. Let’s take the time to read again from Isaiah 53. We can never read often enough Isaiah’s revelation of Jesus, the suffering Saviour.

God sent Hosea when Israel was at its lowest point morally and spiritually. Hosea’s message is that God promises to forgive, heal, restore, revive and establish God’s Kingdom, if only they will call upon Him. The northern ten tribes failed to return to God. The result was that they were scattered all over the world by their Assyrian overlords. The history of Israel is in our Bibles so that we may learn and not repeat the same mistakes and thus bring judgment on ourselves. Jesus gave us the “Our Father” prayer which calls out to God these words, “YOUR KINGDOM COME!”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that I will learn the lessons You are teaching me. Grant grace so that I may put what I’m learning into practice daily. I desire to please You and to live righteously before You! Continue to draw me ever closer to Yourself!! I pray this in the Name of the One who always loved and served You at 100%, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

There is only one city on earth for which the Bible specifically tells me to pray. That’s Jerusalem! (read Psalm 122). I’ve been praying for Jerusalem fervently over the past few days. More than 1,000,000 Jews and Arabs live in that great city today. The clearly-spoken threats of annihilation by Iran (formerly Persia) hang like a sword over their heads.  A few years ago, when Iraq (Babylon) was about to complete their nuclear facilities, Israel bombed their reactor in what they considered a preemptive strike. Iran is about to complete their development of nuclear weapons in spite of the recent agreement with the U.S.A. I wonder and I pray. On “THE THIRD DAY,” Jesus arose from the dead and lives forever to, as Hebrews 7:25 says, pray for “those who have come to God through Him.” That includes me! Hallelujah!!! Have a wonderful Easter celebration soon!

Yours for encouraging prayer for “the peace of Jerusalem!!!”

David

Norma-Jean and I with our son Ron and his wife Ann at the empty Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. ‘HE IS RISEN!!!” “HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

HOSEA AND GOMER

Today’s Reading: Hosea 1-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

At the entrance to the modern city of Jerusalem is the Light Rail Bridge, known as the Jerusalem Chords Bridge. It was built in 2008 and symbolizes King David’s harp. In King David’s time, all 12 tribes of Israel were united under his rule. They divided under David’s grandson, north and south. Hosea ministered to the north at the same time Isaiah ministered to the south.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Hosea 2:23

I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’

 

Hosea’s personal family life is a tragic reflection of God’s dysfunctional family, Israel. Hosea has a three-point message: (1) Sin brings great heartache to God. (2) Because of sin, the people bring inevitable judgment upon themselves. (3) In spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness and spiritual adultery, God’s love is constant.

By calling Israel (northern tribes) “not my people” (key verse), God dissolved His covenant with them. But He also promised to make them His people once again at some future time. Hosea 2:23 quotes God, “You are My people, and they shall say, You are my God!” Ethnic cleansing dispersed the 10 northern tribes all over the world. According to the Apostle Paul (Rabbi Saul of Tarsus), salvation has been achieved through Jesus Christ. Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 in Romans 9:23-26. We who believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord have been transferred from being “not His people,” to being “His people!” Hallelujah!!! God employs a variety of ways to bring us to Himself once again. He sends us anonymous gifts. He attracts us by “allure” (Hosea 2:14a). The dictionary says “allure” means, “the quality of being powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating.” Gomer, Hosea’s estranged spouse, ended up for sale on the auction block as a slave. Hosea paid the highest price for her, redeeming her and restoring her by his forgiveness and undying love. God loves us and has paid for us with the death of Jesus. Jesus said, “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32, 33).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I have a very real sense that You are drawing me into greater intimacy with Yourself. Your Word is as the earth’s magnetic force. The compass of Your Word points me to You. I pray that, as I’m consistent in getting to know You through what You say to me in my daily readings, I will be drawn closer and closer to You. Thank You that You loved me first and that, by Your grace, I love You and am committed to being faithful to You! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

While serving as a Pastor in the northern city of Sudbury, Ontario, I performed a wedding in August of 1964. A couple just showed up wanting to be married, and after a counselling session during which they both invited Jesus into their hearts, I joined them in holy matrimony. I may not have done a good job, because I heard that the bride’s parents convinced them to go to a priest and get him to perform another marriage ceremony. I lost touch with them, but approximately four years later, I was told that they had divorced. In the Fall of 1968 I noticed from the pulpit of the church that they began showing up separately at services. At different times they made their way to the altar, recommitting their lives to Jesus Christ. I married them for a second time in December of 1968. In fact, their two weddings were the first and the last weddings I performed in Sudbury. I’ve lost touch now, all these years later. I trust they are living happily ever after! As the story of Hosea and the love of his life, Gomer, illustrates, God is in the business of restoring lost love.

Yours for running into the outstretched arms of Jesus and being held in His nail-pierced hands,

David