Sound the Warning

Joel 2

Saturday, November 5, 2022

This week I saw some internet footage taken of a tornado. At first, an individual was videoing a stormy sky, perhaps anticipating what was to come. In a horrifying moment the distinctive funnel cloud appeared in the storm. Then you could hear the siren go off, blasting out a warning. Everyone in the screen view began heading inside or getting in cars to speed away. For some reason, the person making the video, just kept it rolling.  Obviously, he was in danger, so I was surprised that the person kept filming.

This reminds me of our passage today. Joel 2 announces that the day of the LORD is coming. “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble.” This is a horrifying warning of a powerful force of desolation. No one could stand against it. So what is the answer?
Return to the LORD with all your heart.

Realize how far we may have wandered. Show your repentance by fasting, weeping and mourning. Let your heart be broken because we have sinned against Him.  We are reminded that He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and He often shows us mercy. Instead of getting what we deserve, He may forgive and leave a blessing behind.

We see our LORD here as wanting to bless His people, wanting to protect, wanting to remove fear and replace it with love. Wanting to dwell among his people. Let’s call on the name of the LORD and open our hearts wide to receive Him so we will be delivered.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Read Joel’s description of the Day of the Lord. How do you envision the Day of the Lord (what other Scriptures might be helpful) and how would you describe it to someone who has never heard of it before?
  2. How does Joel describe God?
  3. What does God desire for you today? What does God desire from you today? What does God desire for you for eternity?

A Father and His Child

Hosea 11

Friday, November 4, 2022

I was touched by the beautiful imagery of the LORD calling to Israel as a child. Teaching him to walk and taking him into His arms. Here the LORD is also leading with kindness and bonded to His people in love. And I can just imagine a compassionate care taker releasing an animal from its burden-taking off the bridle and bit to allow the animal to freely eat and drink. The love and compassion of God are so evident in these passages. But Israel’s obstinance is also evident. These collections of poetry are calling out again to the people. Turn to God, do what is right and be saved. God desires for people to come to Him to be healed, forgiven and saved, but as we have seen over and over, the people continued to reject Him.

We are told what the result is, “Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore, the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes (4:1-3a)”. It is disturbing that this scripture could be describing parts of our own country today. But the poetic words of the prophet Hosea still speak through this book. Telling us about the LORD’S perfect character and His justice. We still hear a main theme of not rejecting, but accepting and remaining faithful to our God. How horrible to become stubborn and self-willed against the Only True Living God. That is a place that we never want to occupy. Unfortunately, I know that we could name some individuals who have turned away and have chosen lives that are in complete opposition to God. But we want to be those that faithfully hold to God. Hosea 14 describes it this way, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them (v.9)”. Hosea explains that someday the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God; they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness. It is incredible that we can know, walk with, and most of all be in a loving relationship with Him right now.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. How is your nation like Israel? How are they different from Israel? How are you like Israel? How are you different from Israel?
  2. How would you describe God as a parent?
  3. How will you respond as His child? When have you been rebelled against Him? What is His desire for You?

Time to Wake Up

Daniel 12

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Daniel played many roles in his life including a great prophet of God. We continue to be blessed, inspired and perhaps warned by the writings of Daniel. Not only did he share God’s insights with the kings and people of his time, but today we also see God’s plan unfold in Daniel’s writings. We see the future for those who faithfully follow God. It states, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”.

We read about deliverance for everyone whose name is found written in the book. King David had written of this book of life in Psalm 69:28 and many years later we see the book mentioned again in Revelation 3:5. It states, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

These amazing truths were passed down from one group to the next, sometimes one generation to the next. Daniel faithfully served the LORD at the time and in the place that the LORD set for him. We have that same privilege today. Don’t feel that you are unable or are unqualified to share. You have the message from the LORD through the scriptures and when you walk closely with Our LORD, that is all you need. Share the Good News with those around us. We want to share in the assurance that Daniel had. It states, “then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. When you think of the future do you usually think about tomorrow, 5 years down the road, 25 or 50 years from now, or eternity? What part of the future excites you? What part scares you?
  2. How often do you consider the book of life? What are your thoughts and feelings when you do? How many familiar names do you expect will be found there?
  3. How can you lead many to righteousness by sharing the good news? What has God given you to do so?

Excelling

Facing Lions for God’s Glory

Daniel 6

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Daniel continues to walk faithfully with God and to serve kings. His abilities are obvious to the new king, King Darius. Daniel excelled above the other leaders. In fact, he was noticed because “he possessed an extraordinary spirit”. The king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom. Unfortunately, Daniel’s extraordinary abilities gave rise to jealousy from other leaders. They went about investigating Daniel’s character or work, but he was flawless. So then they devised a malicious plan to turn Daniel’s faithfulness to God along with his routine prayer life against him. They appealed to the king’s pride while ensnaring him with his own law. The continued prayer of Daniel was the offense that they used to throw him into the den of Lions.

It is easy to see the jealousy boiling over in this situation. You know that it will not go well for Daniel’s accusers. It reminds us of the leaders who accused Jesus and later the leaders that went after Paul the apostle. Jealousy was present there, too. In fact, the scripture states that where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. As followers of Jesus, when we see other Christians excelling, we should be happy for them. Encourage and rejoice in their success. We should never let jealousy begin in our own lives. And we should also imitate, the actions of Daniel. He stood strong and remained faithful for God’s glory – not for his own. Not only did his devotion to God save him from the Lions, but it also turned the heart of a king. Then Darius made a decree about God to everyone in his kingdom, “He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26, 27)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Has jealousy ever caused a problem for you? What is the best way to combat your own feelings of jealousy?
  2. How would you describe Daniel’s prayer life and his relationship with God? How would you describe your own? Where do you see opportunities for improvement?
  3. Re-reading Daniel 6, what can we learn from Daniel in regards to his relationship with God and with men?

Excuse Me, Could You Move Your Golden Image?

Daniel 3

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

You would think that King Nebuchadnezzar would have set aside his pride after he witnessed a miracle. He was astonished that God could give Daniel ability to recount his own dream and reveal the mysteries of that prophetic dream. The King even stated, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” The king gave Daniel a promotion and honored Daniel’s request by appointing  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon.

But a surprising part of this story is that King Nebuchadnezzar does not seem to have a change of character from the experience. He had received the true interpretation from Daniel that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” We would think that news would be a life changer for the king, but it isn’t. In fact, we find him setting up a ninety-foot image of gold so people can practice idol worship. If they refuse, he will quickly have them killed. What in the world is wrong with this guy? A lot, but first his pride. He refuses to take his focus off himself and his kingdom so he could acknowledge God and the everlasting Kingdom.  I must admit that it is so easy in this life to get so caught up in what we are doing and what others are thinking or saying about us that we find that we have lost our focus of what God is wanting us to do for His Kingdom. It is so easy to let the temporary things of life remove the eternal.

Let’s take some time today and examine where we are spiritually. Are we wasting our time polishing up an idol or are we living in a close relationship with God? The Lord wants to guide us through every area of our lives. Thankfully Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were ready for the king’s challenge. As we see, God delivers these faithful men from the fiery furnace. They were walking closely with the One True God so He sent His angel to walk with them through that fire. Let’s toss out any idols that try to surface in our lives so there is only room for Our God.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Are you wasting your time polishing up an idol or are you living in a close relationship with God? Consider carefully. What are you focused on?
  2. Look at how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered the King in Daniel 3:16-18. What can you learn from them? How will you put it into practice?

God is Not Scared

Daniel 1

Monday, October 31, 2022

Today, I heard a conversation with someone explaining why something is or is not scary to them. Sometimes when we look at Bible stories and really try to imagine what it was like for the people living through these experiences, we think “that must have been scary”.  Let’s try to imagine the anxiety and fear Daniel experienced when Babylon’s forces came through and he was taken into captivity. He was chosen as one of the youths who had ability for serving in the king’s court. He was described as flawless, good-looking,“showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge.” So here is this amazing young man facing captivity in a foreign land and serving a king in a foreign court. He faced overwhelming obstacles as he began his three-year program of education learning the language and literature. But he immediately faced pressure to just conform-just accept the social norm, don’t worry about what is right or wrong? Just believe and do what you are told. But Daniel did not just do what he was told.

As you might know, Daniel is remembered as a righteous and wise follower of God. So how did he do it? How did he choose the moral and right course when he was facing a culture that did not even consider what is right in the eyes of God?

In verse 8 we read that Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself. In that instance, it concerned the food he was offered.  But the phrase “made up his mind” or “set upon his heart” speaks volumes about who Daniel was and who we should be. He had resolved the matter. He first looked to God who could show him right or wrong, he firmly decided on the right course of action and he followed through. Daniel chose to follow God by doing what was right and moral. This was Daniel’s practice throughout his life and it was sometimes met with opposition and I imagine he experienced fear. (A Lion’s Den is not a place anyone wants to be.) But he was willing to suffer for doing what was right. His actions proved his devotion and love for God. And the Lord sent angels to help along the way.  God was with Daniel and his companions. He gave them abilities and miracles to prove that He was there, even in the middle of their captivity. He gave them the strength to stand for what was right. He gave them the ability to conquer fear. Of course, He will help us to do the same.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. When was the last time you were in a scary situation surrounded by the foreign or unknown? How did you handle it? What would you do again in that situation? What would you do differently?
  2. How would God want you to resolve not to defile yourself?

I Will Put My Spirit Within You and You Will Come to Life

Ezekiel 37

Sunday, October 30, 2022

This time of year can be a little dark-physically and spiritually.  Days are getting shorter and common themes of shock, terror and death seem to ride in the wake of Halloween. But several years ago, our church decided we could push back and do something positive for our community. So we host a Fall Festival with all kinds of activities for families. This event is a source of excitement for children and a bright spot for a lot of our church family.

The message of Ezekiel 37 is a huge encouragement in the middle of a very dark time for God’s people. They felt depleted and described their situation as “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” 

But God is a giver of life! He tells them that He will open their graves and cause them to come up out of those graves. God says that they are His people and He will bring them to the land of Israel.God will put His Spirit within them and they will come to life.

This vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is God’s message of bringing life and hope. God gives us the ability to live in newness of life now, but we also have the promise of the coming resurrection. How exciting to know that there is a resurrection of the righteous someday. We will all have one shepherd and will walk in God’s ordinances and keep and observe His statutes (v. 24). We are so blessed to have the opportunity to have a loving relationship with God in Christ right now and we can also experience the ultimate joy of having God’s dwelling place with us on earth someday. So even when your circumstances may seem dark remember that God abides with His obedient children and lets us know that we are His by the Spirit (1 John 3:24)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. What does it mean to you to have life because you have God’s Spirit? Do you have God’s Spirit?
  2. Where do you find encouragement in the middle of a dark season? How can you share that encouragement with others?

A Mountain Top Experience

Matthew 17

January 17

When I was growing up our youth group would take a hiking trip up a mountain in the fall each year. The owner of the mountain was a member of our church so we were the only ones there. When we reached the top we would take in the views and have a picnic. I also remember our descent (which was so much easier and faster than our hike to the top). 

That experience reminds me of our reading today. Just imagine what was going through the minds of Peter, James and John as they came down the mountain with Jesus after witnessing the transfiguration.

Jesus had told them six days earlier that some standing there would not taste death before they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. The experience of the transfiguration accomplished that.

On that mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. There appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

What an amazing confirmation that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. The appearance of Moses representing the Law, Elijah representing the Prophets and God’s voice confirming that Jesus is the beloved Son of God. God confirmed that Jesus’ message is true and should be heard and followed.  

The disciples were terrified and fell facedown. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Christ later explains that he will be killed and on the third day he will be raised to life. These men were about to experience the horrific trial of their lifetimes. Just hearing that it was going to happen filled them with grief, but they had also witnessed Jesus Christ as he will be when He is “Coming in His Kingdom.” This life may throw some awful situations at us. Just like the disciples, we need to remember who Jesus Christ truly is. No matter what is happening in our world, we must Keep Seeking, Keep Growing and Keep Loving God and Others. Remember that with our very own eyes we will “see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom”. 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. The Transfiguration allowed Peter, James and John to experience a bit of what it will be like to, “see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”. (Matthew 16:28) How do you think they felt during and after this event? How might it have changed or added to their understanding of who Jesus is and what will take place? Do you think seeing what they saw will change their actions, is so how?
  2. Jesus told Peter, James and John to not tell anyone what they had seen until what event took place? Why do you think, were they to keep the secret of the Transfiguration at first? Why do you think, were they free (and expected) to share it later?
  3. The Bible contains many descriptions of the return of Christ and the Kingdom of God it will initiate, most notably Revelation 19-22. What are you most looking forward to seeing and experiencing? What do you feel when you read about or talk about the coming Kingdom? What parts are hardest for you to imagine and picture in your mind or describe to others? How might knowing what you know about the Kingdom affect your actions?
  4. Matthew 17 includes the beautiful mountaintop experience and also the revealing of a very difficult “valley” experience to come – the betrayal and death of Jesus – followed by another mountaintop- the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death. What are some spiritual mountaintop and valley experiences you have faced? What benefit could be found in each?

Who is the Son of Man?

Matthew 16

January 16

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They told Jesus that some people believed He was John the Baptist, some Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. At that time there was a lot of speculation and incorrect information about who Jesus was.

But Jesus cuts through all those wrong assumptions of his identity to ask the disciples a couple of important questions. Questions that they personally needed to answer with what they knew to be true of Jesus. Questions we need to ask ourselves. “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Peter was certain. His understanding of Jesus had been established beyond doubt. Christ then provides Peter with His new identity. He blesses him, confirms that his beliefs are from God, and gives him a new name. Who wouldn’t want to be named the Rock? Jesus established his church. Jesus also gives them authority to carry out spiritual work. They were to continue Jesus’ work of making disciples, baptizing, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Opening up the Kingdom for generations of followers of Jesus Christ.  

So with all this in their grasp, what could possibly lead the disciples to later desert and turn away from Jesus (Matt. 26:31, 56)? An angry mob armed with swords and clubs. We are often faced with a similar dilemma. It may not be an angry mob, but when we stand for Jesus Christ we may face rejection. We may face trials and temptations and we need to hold on to the truth of who Jesus Christ is. We need to remember who we are because of our relationship with Christ.  It is easy to speak boldly about the truth of Jesus when we are not in dire circumstances, but we need to learn from the disciples’ situation. No matter what circumstances this life throws in our way, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. As we are promised in verse 27, when Jesus returns He will reward each person according to what they have done. You can be at peace knowing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. If Jesus were to give you a new name that represented what you do for the church now what might it be? What would you like your new name from Jesus to be if it were based upon what you could and would do for the church? What steps do you need to take to earn that name? How will you continue the work of Jesus?
  2. Jesus says, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (vs 11). And in Matthew 13:33 he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” What is the purpose of yeast? What are some examples of negative yeast in your life? What are some examples of positive yeast?
  3. How would you describe who Jesus is? Who do you know who needs to know who Jesus is? How can you share what you know?

Consider Your Allies

2 Chronicles 19-20 & Romans 9

When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.

From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 19-20 and Romans 9

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