Week Twenty-seven — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Studies in Daniel — Daniel 2: 46, 47

This week we look at Daniel 2 and the interpretation of Nebuchdnezzar’s dream.  In the dream a great giant was broken to pieces by a stone.  The kingdoms of the future were Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The everlasting kingdom to follow was the kingdom of God and the church.

Sunday

Daniel 2: 1, 2 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep.  So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed.  When they came in and stood before the king he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”

Prayer:  Lord God, may we be prepared when others seek words of life.

Thought for the day:  Someone you meet today wants answers to life’s questions.

Monday

Daniel 2: 5, 6 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided:   If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.  But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor.  So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”

Prayer:  Lord God, in the face of unreasonable demand may you give us courage and peace of mind.

Thought for the day:  If you believe the sun shines behind the clouds, you can keep looking through the storm.

Tuesday

Daniel 2: 10, 11 The astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has eve asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.  What the king asks is too difficult.  No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”

Prayer:  Almighty God, we believe the answers to all the mysteries of life are known by you.

Thought for the day:  Great scientists, inventors, and mathematicians believed there were answers to the questions that others could not solve.

 

Wednesday

Daniel 2: 17, 18 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wide men of Babylon.

Prayer:  Lord God, in the midst of our trials the family of faith in harmony lifts to you a prayer of deliverance.

Thought for the day:  If Daniel found a prayer partner in faith, you could too.

Thursday

Daniel 2: 19, 20 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.

Prayer:  Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, day after day you have answered our prayers in mighty and awesome ways.

Thought for the day:  Scripture says: You have not, because you ask not.

Friday

Daniel 2: 44, 45 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.  It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we believe that yours is the everlasting kingdom appointed by God the Father.

Thought for the day:  The King is coming.

Saturday

Daniel 2: 46, 47 then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.  The king said to Daniel, “Surely your god is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

Prayer:  Almighty God, you are awesome, holy, eternal, all knowing, all powerful.  There is none like you.

Thought for the day:  God does have the answers to our deepest and most difficult questions.

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photo: “Nebuchadnezzar 1c” by Joel Cooper on http://www.flickr.com

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Week Twenty-six — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Studies in Daniel — Daniel 1:17, 18

Note: This week we turn our attention to a prophet who lived through the 70 years of captivity, Daniel.

Sunday

Daniel 1: 3, 4 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites form the royal family and the nobility – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.  He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Prayer:  Lord God, may we ever be prepared to bear our faith in the world.

Thought for the day: The world needs to hear our message of faith in God and in Christ Jesus.

Monday

Daniel 1: 5, 6 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table.  They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.  Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Prayer:  Lord God, in all circumstances may we never part company with our faith.

Thought for the day:  Those who have faith do have an edge.

Tuesday

Daniel 1: 7, 8 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.  But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Prayer: Lord God, may we have the courage to serve you in all things.

Thought for the day: Saying Yes to God today is easier than wishing later you had done so.

Wednesday

Daniel 1: 9, 10 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age?  The king would have my head because of you.”

Prayer: Lord God, in faith may we see beyond the fears of others to see the joy of serving you.

Thought for the day: Someone said fear is false evidence appearing real.

Thursday

Daniel 1: 11, 12 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Dani9el, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.

Prayer: Lord God, we pray that we would live holy lives for you.

Thought for the day: Holiness is a matter of the heart and soul.

Friday

Daniel 1: 14, 15 So [the guard] agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.

Prayer: Lord God, we praise you for all the times you have delivered us.

Thought for the day: Those who live godly lives are spared many sorrows others inflict upon themselves.

Saturday

Daniel 1: 17, 18 to the four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.

Prayer: Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, we affirm that knowledge and wisdom come from you.

Thought for the day: God shares classified information on a daily basis.

 

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photo: “Daniel” by Fr Lawrence Lew OP on http://www.flickr.com

Week Twenty-five — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Prophets in Exile: Ezekiel — Ezekiel 1: 2,3

This week we look at Ezekiel as one of two prophets who spoke in exile.  Next week we begin a study of the other prophet who spoke in exile, Daniel.

Sunday

Ezekiel 1:2, 3 On the fifth of the month – it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin – the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzzi by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians.  There the hand of the Lord was upon him.

Prayer:  Lord God, even in our times of exile and alienation you are prepared to speak to us.

Thought for the day:  When was the last time you thanked God for the prophets he has sent to speak to you?

Monday

Ezekiel 2:4,5 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.  Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says,” And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Prayer:  Lord God, for speaking in the hours when we are searching and in the hours when we are not listening we give thanks.

Thought for the day:  God cares enough to speak even when we are not willing to listen.

Tuesday

Ezekiel 11:16, 17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I will gather you form the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.”

Prayer:  Lord God, in keeping your promises you give us great hope.

Thought for the day:  God believes in restoration.

Wednesday

Ezekiel 18: 19, 20 “yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely life.  The soul who sins is the one who will die.  The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Prayer:  Lord God, we humbly worship you knowing you are righteous and just.

Thought for the day:  When we know God better, we are better prepared to understand righteousness, mercy, and love.

Thursday

Ezekiel 33: 10, 11 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: ”Our offenses and sins weight us down, and we are wasting away because of them.  How then can we live?’’ Say to them, ‘ as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I taken no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.  Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’”

Prayer:  Lord God, may we humbly receive the salvation you prepare for us.

Thought for the day:  God wants all to be saved.

Friday

Ezekiel 37: 12, 13 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from the; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.

Prayer:  Lord God, in the face of hopelessness, you have given us a hope beyond the grave.

Thought for the day:  An old preacher asked his audience, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?”

Saturday

Ezekiel 43: 6, 7 While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple.  He said: ’Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet.  This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.  The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name – neither they nor their kings – by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places.

Prayer:  Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, through Christ, the messiah, you have called us out of the depths of despair to dwell in your presence.

Prayer:  The traveler who plans to enjoy his or her vacation should pack smart.

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photo: “The Prophet Ezekiel” by Gerald van der Leun on http://www.flickr.com

Week Twenty-four — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Babylonian Captivity — 2 Kings 25: 18, 19

Note:  This week we return to the Babylonian captivity and imprisonment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Sunday

2 Kings 25:18, 19 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.  Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers.  He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city.

Prayer:  Lord God, in good and bad you have been true to your word.

Thought for the day:  Predictable people can be a blessing.

Monday

Exodus 3:7, 8 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.  I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good an spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey –the home of the Canaanites, Hittities, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Prayer:  Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, through the ages you have heard the cries of your people.

Thought for the day:  Someone is listening 24/7.

Tuesday

Judges 16: 27, 28 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. then Sampson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me.  O God, please strengthen me once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Prayer:  Lord God, your justice is sure and comes in your divine time.

Thought for the day:  Eternity can afford to be patient in bringing about justice.

Wednesday

I Samuel 21: 10, 11 That day David fled from Saul and went to Ackish king of Gath.  But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David the king of the land?  Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: “’Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?”

Prayer:  Lord God, when we fled from one trap only to land in another, we call to you for safety.

Thought for the day: Everyone should know where they can take shelter in a storm.

Thursday

Jeremiah 38: 9, 10 “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.”  Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “take thirty men from here with ou and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.

Prayer:  Lord God, we give thanks for all those who have had the courage to love justice and truth.

Thought for the day: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

Friday

Jeremiah 39: 15, 16 While Jeremiah had been confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go and tell Ebed-Melech the Cushite, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, say: I am about to fulfill my words against this city through disaster, not prosperity.  At that time they will be fulfilled before your eyes.

Prayer:  Lord God, in your love you have not abandoned justice nor left us to our destruction.

Thought for the day:  Matches are not play toys.

Saturday

Psalm 106:45, 46 for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented.  He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive.

Prayer:  Almighty God, in Egypt, in Babylon, and to this hour you have remembered your people and rescued them.

Thought for the day:  Today is another day to see God’s mercy and blessings.

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Week Twenty-three — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Waiting upon God — Psalm 40: 1, 2

The theme of last week was the captivity of Israel.  This week we consider waiting upon the Lord.

Sunday

Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and game me a firm place to stand.

Prayer:  Lord God, whenever we have waited upon you, we have found your mercy and grace.

Thought for the day:  God is a person who is worth the wait.

Monday

Psalm 37: 7, 8 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads oy to evil.

Prayer:  Lord God, though the ways of humanity often confound us, we wait in faith on you.

Thought for the day:  Through forty days and nights of rain and more Noah waited on the Lord, and the Lord rescued him.

Tuesday

Isaiah 30:18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him.

Prayer: Lord, we give thanks that your desire is for our good.

Thought for the day: Waiting for God is a divine appointment.

Wednesday

Isaiah 40:30, 31 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble an fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Prayer: Lord God, in our weary hours, may our hope in you give us renewed strength.

Thought for the day: The best athletes reach for their second wind.

Thursday

Lamentation 3:25, 26 the Lord is good to those whose hope in is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Prayer: Lord God, we long to be saved – saved from others, saved from the world, saved from ourselves.

Thought for the day: Time spent in waiting is time with a purpose.

Friday

Micah 7: 7, 8 But as for me, I keep watch for the lord, I wait in hope for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Prayer: O Lord, we believe that your justice shall vindicate the upright in heart.

Thought for the day: Those who laugh at people do not have the last laugh.

Saturday

James 5: 7, 8 Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the fall and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Prayer: Lord God, may the seeds of lovingkindness and good will bring a rich crop in their season.

Thought for the day: If your garden is producing strange plants, check the seed package.

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Photo: “Noah boarding the ark” by Fr. Lawrence Lew O.P. on http://www.flickr.com

Week Twenty Two — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — Captivity begins somewhere — 2 Kings 17: 5, 6

Sunday

2 Kings 17: 5, 6 The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria.  He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River in the town of the Medes.

Prayer:  Almighty God our Heavenly Father,  may you forgive us when we have loved the world and strayed from your loving presence.

Thought for the day:  As it is in the natural it is in the spiritual world:  you never know how good love is ’til it is gone.

Monday

Deuteronomy 7: 9, 10 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations for those who love him and keep his commandments.  But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

Prayer:  Lord God, you have proven true to your word in generation after generation.

Thought for the day:  In hindsight one finds trusting the Lord is the best thing one can do.

Tuesday

Deuteronomy 8: 10, 11  When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.

Thought for the day:  Lord God, for all the loving-kindness you have shown us we surely owe you our devotion.

Thought for the day: The songwriter said, “Count your many blessing.  Name them one by one.  See what God has done.”

Wednesday

Deuteronomy 11: 16, 17 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.  then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will  soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.

Prayer:  Merciful God, may our hearts always be turned to you.

Thought for the day:  Small changes can become the seeds of life changing results.

Thursday

Deuteronomy 11: 22, 23 If you careful observe all these commands I am giving you to follow — to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him — then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.

Prayer:  Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, in the power of your spirit may we faithfully serve as your ambassadors of good will.

Thought for the day:  Making friends or enemies is an art.

Friday

James 1: 16, 17 Don’t be deceived my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Prayer:  Lord God, for all the good in our lives we owe our thanks to you.

Thought for the day:  Mirrors reveal many things both good and bad.

Saturday

Romans 6: 11, 12 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Prayer:  O Lord, may we so live that our worship of service pleases you.

Thought for the day:  At the close of the day ask yourself, “Today diid I make someone’s day?”

 

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Week Twenty One — Verse by Verse Devotional — Babylonian Captivity — 2 Kings 25: 10, 11

Note: Today’s primary text for the week’s readings focuses on the captivity of Judah.  Some further study of captivity may follow in preparation for reading prophets of captivity.

Sunday

2 Kings 25: 10, 11 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.  Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon.

Prayer:  Lord God, in hours of uncertainty we turn to you in faith.

Thought for the day:  The creator knows.

Monday

Deuteronomy 28: 64, 65 Then the Lord will create you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other.  There you will worship other gods – gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.  Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot.  There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.

Prayer:  Lord God, we would be faithful in our covenant relationship with you.

Thought for the day: A promise is only as good as the one who offers it.

Tuesday

Isaiah 55: 6, 7 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our god, for he will freely pardon.

Prayer:  Lord God, we set this day and hour aside to seek you in the midst of the turmoil of the world.

Thought for the day:  When bad news is breaking, you can still reach out to God.

Wednesday

Ezekiel 12: 10, 11 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel who are there.  Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.’ “As I have done, so it will be done to them.  They will go into exile as captives.”

Prayer:  Lord God, as your prophet captured the attention of your people may your servants capture our attention today.

Thought for the day:  What are the prophets of this hour saying to us? To you?

Thursday

Jeremiah 29: 10, 11 This is what the Lord says: “when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Prayer:  Lord God, we rejoice that you would plan for our future blessing.

Thought for the day:  Why not open up a tax exempt spiritual savings bank of prayers for your loved ones today?

Friday

Ezra 1: 1, 2 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: “this is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “’The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.

Prayer:  Lord God, we give thanks for the way you keep your word again and again.

Thought for the day:  God’s messengers appear in many forms.

Saturday

Matthew 24: 30, 31 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Prayer:  Lord God, may we be ready for the ingathering of those who have accepted your Son.

Thought for the day:  Christ can set the prisoners free.

A – W – A – Y

Alliance with God through the covenant.  God gladly covenanted with Israel for their good.

Woes promised to those who disregard the covenant. The covenant with God had  positive and negative consequence — positive consequences for obedience, and negative consequences for disobedience.

Abandonment of God for the ways of the nations, the world. When the ways of the world became more attractive to Israel and Judah, they were lured into disobedience.

Yielding to God in captivity and in return restores the relationship God intended.  After suffering the consequences of their disobedience, God still had a plan for Israel.

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