A Silly Dove

Bible:

Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
As they go, I will spread over them my net;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me. Hosea 7:11-13 ESV

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

Has a bird ever flown into your house? Occasionally a bird flies into an open window or door. When that happens, the bird will be very afraid. It knows it’s trapped in a place it doesn’t belong, and will try to find the way out. It might try to fly through a closed window and bump hard against the glass it can’t see. It might fly frantically from one wall or corner to another, but it will be afraid of the people who try to help it get out, and the bird will try to get away from them. Sometimes you might even have to call an animal management expert to come and use a net if you just can’t get the bird out of your house by yourself.

God’s people were in serious trouble, and God spoke to them through the prophet Hosea. He said that they were like a silly bird, flying from here to there, looking for help, but avoiding the God who loved them and would be able to help them. There were two powerful nations at this time. To the south and west was the nation of Egypt, and to the north and east was the nation of Assyria. These two nations were fighting with each other, and God’s people were stuck in the middle. Sometimes they tried to make friends with Assyria and get their help, and then they might try to get Egypt to help them. But it was really foolish of them to go to Egypt or Assyria for help. These countries were only trying to get power for themselves and defeat the other one, and to them God’s people Israel were just people to be used for their own benefit. They didn’t care about Israel at all. God cared, but he was angry with the lies that people were telling about him. They were saying that their best bet was to look somewhere else for help, because God didn’t care and couldn’t help them.

Sometimes people still listen to lies. They look in many places for help with their troubles, but they refuse to turn to God for help. We all do this at times. We know that we are sinful, but we sometimes think we can save ourselves by being good or working hard. This is very foolish, because we can’t save ourselves. God loves us and sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we are God’s people. We don’t have to figure out how to solve our problems all by ourselves, and we don’t have to worry about saving ourselves. Because of Jesus, we know that God is there for us and always ready to help us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Help us always to trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Careless Love

Bible:

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:4-6 ESV

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34 ESV

Reflection:

Peter Pan was a little boy who lived in Never Never Land, and he had the magical power to be able to fly. He flew into the nursery window of three children named Wendy, John, and Michael, and with his help they were able to fly with him to Never Never Land. They had many adventures there before they returned home. Peter and Wendy were especially good friends, and he promised that he would come back again to bring her back to Never Never Land, and a year later he did that, but then he forgot to come back for a long time. When he came back again, Wendy had grown up and couldn’t fly back to Never Never Land ever again. Peter had forgotten about her for so long that she was too old to go with him anymore. He had been her friend, but his friendship was a careless one. When other things got his attention, he forgot all about his friend Wendy.

The Lord said that his people Israel were like that. They said that they loved him and wanted to return to him and live his way, but they soon forgot and went back to doing things the way they had done them before. God said that their love was like a morning cloud that fades away in the sunshine, or like the dew on the grass in the morning that dries up as the day gets warmer. He sent prophets to warn them, and for awhile they made some sacrifices and burnt offerings to God, but then they went back to living their own way. God wanted them to love him and know him, but instead they thought a sacrifice now and then would do the trick. Their hearts didn’t belong to God.

God wants our love and our hearts to be completely his all the time. But we often forget to put God first in our lives. We go our own way and don’t follow his ways or obey his laws. God sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus loved his heavenly Father perfectly, and he obeyed God with all his heart. Jesus’ obedience took him to the cross, where he died as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. Because of Jesus, God forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts and to help us live our lives in ways that please him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your perfect love and sacrifice for us. Amen.

Source:

Barrie, J. M. Peter and Wendy London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911.

Let Us Return to the Lord

Bible:

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3 ESV

And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a poem about an old hired man named Silas who had worked for Mary and Warren for awhile. Silas hadn’t been a good worker, and he had broken his contract and left them right when the harvest needed to be done. This had made Warren angry, and he didn’t want Silas to come back to them again. But Silas did come back, and he promised Mary that he would dig a ditch for her. Mary wanted Warren to forgive Silas and to help him. She knew that Silas had come back to them because he felt that his home was with them. The poem describes home as, “the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.” and as, “Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”

For awhile the people of Israel had gone their own way and not lived their lives as God’s people. They had worshiped false gods and goddesses and broken God’s laws, and God had punished them for this. Then they started to say to each other that they should return to the Lord. Even though God had punished them for their sins, they believed that he would forgive them and heal them. They felt that they had died as a nation, but they believed that the Lord would revive them and bring them back to life again. They told each other that they should press on to know the Lord and to live in his ways with him in their lives.

We also are people who go away from God, our heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and when we go away from him, he is always ready to forgive us and to welcome us back and heal us of the sins that have been hurting us. God was ready to forgive the people of Israel for turning away from him, and to bring their nation back to life. The sad thing is that they soon turned away from God again. But even though God’s people were not faithful to God, he stayed faithful and kept his promise to send the world the promised Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for the sins of all people, and after he died he was put in a grave. But after two days God revived him, and on the third day he was raised up from the dead. Because of Jesus, we have life with God now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times we turn away from you. Help us to always turn back and live life in your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44261/the-death-of-the-hired-man

Look for Help in the Right Place!

Bible:

When Ephraim saw his sickness,
and Judah his wound,
then Ephraim went to Assyria,
and sent to the great king.
But he is not able to cure you
or heal your wound.
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear and go away;
I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.

I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me. Hosea 5:13-15 ESV

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry. Psalm 146:3-7 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about a man who was looking for his car keys on the street at night. He was searching near a streetlight when another person came by and asked him what he was looking for. The man said that he was looking for his car keys. The other person asked him where he had been when he lost them, and the man pointed down the street. “If you lost your car keys over there, why are you looking here?” the other person asked. The man replied, “The light is better here!”

When God’s people in both the northern and southern kingdoms saw that they were in trouble, they didn’t turn to God for help, even though they should have known he was the best one to turn to for help. Instead they went to Assyria and to the king of Assyria, who seemed to be strong and powerful and easier for them to see. So God spoke to them through the prophet Hosea. He told them how foolish they were to go to Assyria for help, and said that the great king wouldn’t be able to help them. God was angry that his people went to an earthly king instead of to him, their heavenly King, for help. They showed that they didn’t trust him or remember how much he had helped them in the past. He said he would punish his people for forgetting him, and that he would leave them alone until they realized that they were wrong and came back to him.

Sometimes we are as foolish as the people of Israel and Judah. We look for help everywhere except God. Adults might look to political leaders and expect them to solve all their problems. People trust in money or good luck or even things like the stars or fortune tellers. God calls us away from all the things we trust instead of in him to take care of us. Only God is able to give us the help we need when we have trouble. He sent Jesus when we had our biggest problems of all, sin and death and evil. Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead to defeat death and the devil. Because of this, we know we can trust him to help us with all the trouble we have in this life.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the help you give us when we have problems, and for Jesus our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

God’s Creation Suffers

Bible:

Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away. Hosea 4:1-3 ESV

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21 ESV

Reflection:

On March 24, 1989, a huge oil tanker named the Exxon Valdez ran aground up north in Prince William Sound, by Alaska. Its oil tank burst open and spilled over 11 million gallons of oil into the water. The effects on the all birds and fish and animals were terrible. The oil contaminated the shoreline for over a thousand miles. Two thousand sea otters, 302 harbor seals, and about 250,000 seabirds were killed in the days that followed. Even more than ten years later, the oil contamination continued in the water, causing a higher than normal death rate to salmon and mussels. Human carelessness and sin very often causes pain and suffering in all of God’s creation.

God’s people Israel continued to sin and turn away from him, even though he sent prophets to warn them of his punishment if they didn’t turn away from their sins. The prophet Hosea said that the people didn’t know their God, and that they weren’t faithful or loving to him or to each other. Instead, they were doing things like swearing, lying, murdering, stealing, and not being faithful in their marriages. There was a lot of violence and blood being spilled. Their sins were not only hurting each other, but even their land was suffering. The animals in the fields, the birds in the air, and the fish in the water were all hurt because of the sins of God’s people.

The Bible says that the whole creation is hurting and groaning under the weight of the sins of all people. When our first parents sinned, it didn’t only hurt them, but death and disease and suffering spread not only to all the people who would be born, but also to all of creation. The whole world is waiting with us for the time when God will make everything new and right again. We wait eagerly, and sometimes it’s hard to wait and live with all the suffering in the world. But we can be sure that death and pain will come to an end someday, because Jesus came to defeat sin and death when he died on the cross and rose again. Jesus undid everything that went wrong with his creation, and someday we’ll see everything made beautifully and wonderfully new again, the way God meant it to be in the beginning.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your good creation, and for caring for everything you made. Thank you for sending Jesus to make us and everything new again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/environmental-effects-of/

Compassion for the Enemy

Bible:

Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim . . . stood up against those who were coming from the war and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the Lord in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria. II Chronicles 28:12-15 ESV

Jesus [said], “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” Luke 10:30-35 ESV

Reflection:

Jesus once told a story about a man who was traveling and was beaten up and robbed by some bandits. The poor man was almost dead, but a priest and a Levite both passed by him without helping him. Then a Samaritan came by. Samaritans and Jews had been enemies from far back in history, and no one would have expected him to stop and help. But he did stop, and he did everything he could for the man. He took care of his wounds and put him on a donkey and took him to an inn to be taken care of, paying for it out of his own pocket. The Samaritan did this because he had compassion on the beaten man. He didn’t see an enemy, but instead he saw someone hurting and in need, and it stirred his heart.

This same beautiful thing happened at the end of the battle between Judah and Israel. The army of Israel had taken many people captive and planned to make slaves out of them, but God warned them through a prophet not to do this terrible thing. Some of the chiefs of Israel also urged the army not to do it. So the leaders of the army had compassion on all the captives. They gave them food to eat and clothes to wear, including sandals for their feet. People who were too weak too walk were given donkeys to ride. Then the whole group of people were taken back to their families in their own country.

Our God is a God of amazing compassion. He sees the hurts and the needs of people and he wants to help them. Our greatest need was to be saved from sin and death and evil, and God came to us in Jesus to save us. Jesus died on the cross to defeat all the things that hurt us, and his death brought us back to the love of our Heavenly Father. God’s great compassion gives us the love and concern to help others in need. When we do that, we are sharing all the love that God gives us every day.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your compassion for us. Help us to share your compassion with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Too Much Punishment

Bible:

Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel.

Therefore the Lord his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with great force.

The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven. And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.” II Chronicles 28:1-2a, 5, 8-11 ESV

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. Psalm 123:3-4 ESV

Reflection:

In England in the last half of the 1800s, there were many prisons that were called debtor’s prisons. These were jails where people who owed money and couldn’t pay it back were taken. They weren’t allowed out of the jail until they could pay back their debts. The prisons were full of rats, lice, and fleas. The prisoners sometimes didn’t have enough food or water or clothes. About a quarter of the people in jail died there, and many people stayed in prison for 30 years or more. It was a terrible system. Getting into debt was a bad thing for a person to do, but debtor’s prisons showed no mercy to these people, and the punishment they suffered was much worse than any wrong they had done.

Syria and Israel came against Judah and King Ahaz in battle as they had been planning. God had promised Ahaz that he wouldn’t be completely conquered, but he punished Ahaz for his evil by letting him be attacked and defeated. The army of Israel showed no mercy to the people of Judah. They took 200,000 people captive into their own country and planned to make them slaves, even though they were their relatives and part of the same people of God. This was a terribly wicked thing to do, and a prophet named Oded met the army with a warning from God. He told them that the Lord had allowed them to win so that the people of Judah would be punished for their sins, but that Israel also had many sins, and if they did this terrible thing and didn’t show mercy to their own relatives, the anger of God would turn against Israel too.

Our God is a God of both justice and mercy. He punishes sins, but he also shows mercy to people who sin. He gives us love and care all the time far beyond what we could ever deserve. Most of all, he sent Jesus to take our sins away. Jesus took all the punishment for our sins on the cross, and because of what Jesus did, God forgives our sins every day. No matter how bad our sin is, we can always go to our Heavenly Father for mercy and forgiveness and know that he will give them to us for Jesus’ sake.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us all of your mercy through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Victorian Era England Debtor’s Prisons History & Living Conditions

Ask for a Sign!

Bible:

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:10-14 ESV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). Matthew 1:18-23 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a poor woodcutter who was about to cut down a tree, when a fairy appeared and begged him not to cut down the tree. The woodcutter did what she asked, and to thank him the fairy granted him three wishes. When the man came home from his work, he was hungry, and he wished for a sausage. Magically, a delicious sausage appeared in front of him. He explained to his wife what had happened, and she was very angry with him for not making a better wish. She said angrily, “I wish that sausage would get stuck at the end of your nose!” That’s exactly what happened, and no matter how hard they pulled, the sausage wouldn’t come off his nose. What could they do? They had only one wish left, and they had to wish for the sausage to come off the woodcutter’s nose!

If you enjoy fairy tales, you know that it’s best not to trust in fairies and in the wishes they grant, because often something goes wrong. King Ahaz felt the same way about the Lord. God had promised him through the prophet Isaiah that Israel and Syria wouldn’t completely conquer him, and then God told King Ahaz that he could ask for a sign. He could ask for any sign he wanted, as deep as the grave or as high as heaven. But Ahaz didn’t trust God, and he didn’t want God’s help or to ask for any sign. This was very foolish of him. He wouldn’t be able to save his kingdom without the help of God. God was angry, but he said he would give a sign anyway. This sign would be the birth of a baby, and this baby would be called Immanuel, a beautiful name that means “God with us.”

We know that this baby, the wonderful sign from God that shows he cares for us and is always with is, is the baby Jesus. God himself came to us in Jesus to help us and to show us his love. Jesus lived among his people and taught and healed the sick and did many good things. He showed his love and care in the greatest way of all when he died on the cross to pay for our sins. He came out of the grave on the third day, and he promises to be with us always. We can always trust Jesus to be with us and to love and care for us, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you coming to us and dying for us, and for being with us always. Amen.

Firm in Faith

Bible:

In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.

And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” thus says the Lord God:

“‘It shall not stand,
and it shall not come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.’” Isaiah 7:1-9 ESV

[Jesus said:] “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 ESV

Reflection:

Many years ago, a beautiful suspension bridge was built across a channel of water called “the narrows” into the city of Tacoma in Washington State. This bridge was called the Narrows Bridge. Almost right away the bridge swayed and rocked in the strong winds that whipped across the narrows, and it also bounced and rolled. People that drove across this bridge sometimes saw the headlights of the of the car ahead of them disappear as the bridge rolled in the wind. There had been a mistake in the design of the bridge, and it wasn’t able to stand against the wind, even though engineers tried to reinforce the bridge so that it wouldn’t bounce so much. On November 7th, 1940, strong winds hit the bridge sideways. After some time the bridge began to twist and then to rip. A good part of the span collapsed and fell into the water. The design had been bad, and it couldn’t be easily fixed to make the bridge sturdy and safe.

The southern kingdom of Judah was afraid of a terrible disaster hitting them. The northern kingdom of Israel had made an alliance with Syria to come against Judah and Jerusalem, and Judah’s King Ahaz and his people were terribly afraid. God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to comfort him and tell him that this alliance wouldn’t completely conquer him. He also said that within 65 years the kingdom of Israel would fall. Then Isaiah gave Ahaz a warning. He said that if wasn’t firm in his faith, he wouldn’t be firm at all. Ahaz was like the Narrows Bridge, shaking in the wind without having a strong faith in God. He wasn’t able to be strong and confident when trouble came because he didn’t trust that God would be with his people and care for them.

Jesus warns us that if we don’t build our lives and hopes on him and his word, we also will collapse in the storms of life. He used the picture of a house that collapses when a storm hits because it doesn’t have a firm foundation. But if we build our faith on Jesus and his word, we’ll be firm through all the troubles and storms of life. We can trust in Jesus’ love and care for us, because he showed us how strong his love is when we went to the cross and died for us. When Jesus died for us, he claimed us as his own people, and we can trust him to be with us and keep us close to him now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us and making us your people. Help us to always trust you and to build our lives on your word. Amen.

Source:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/tnbhistory/connections/connections3.htm

Greedy and Lonely

Bible:

Woe to those who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
and you are made to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.
The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
“Surely many houses shall be desolate,
large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.
 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath,
and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.” Isaiah 5:8-10 ESV

Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch,
so is he who gets riches but not by justice;
in the midst of his days they will leave him,
and at his end he will be a fool. Jeremiah 17:11 ESV

Reflection:

Smaug was a dragon who lived in the Lonely Mountain. Many years before he had stolen all the treasures of the dwarves, and now his whole life was spent in guarding the rich ornaments, utensils and weapons. All of this wealth was in a pile, and Smaug slept on top of this pile. He could only sleep fitfully because he was always afraid of a thief coming in and stealing something from his hoard. The worst part of all was that Smaug was all alone. He didn’t enjoy his treasures, and he had no one to share them with or to enjoy them with. Being selfish and greedy also often makes people very lonely.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to warn people who were behaving in a very greedy way. They were buying more and more houses and more and more land from other people, until they had a huge amount of land all for themselves. This was against God’s law for his people. In the promised land, the Lord didn’t allow land to be sold forever. It had to go back to the family who owned it in the Year of Jubilee. This made sure that a family would never lose its land forever, and it kept a rich person from taking all the land and leaving poorer people with no way to make a living. But the people were ignoring God’s laws, and the powerful people were buying as much land and as many houses as they could. Their selfishness made them end up living far away from other people. They had no close neighbors to enjoy or help or share with. God warned them that he would punish them with famine and with an invasion. All their wealth would be lost, and they would be as poor as everyone else.

God often warns his people not to be selfish and greedy, and not to think that life is all about becoming rich and powerful. The most important things are things that money can’t buy–love and friendship and the joy of loving and helping others, and most of all peace with God. God gives us every good thing as a free gift because he loves us. We can’t buy his love or the forgiveness we need every day, but God send Jesus, our Savior, to win it for us. Jesus didn’t pay money to bring us back to God, because all the money in the world couldn’t have paid for that. Instead, Jesus gave his life to make us God’s children. This is a gift we could never buy, and no one, no matter how rich or powerful, can ever take this gift away from us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and forgiveness and all the other good gifts you give us freely every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Tolkien, J. R. R The Hobbit London: George Allen and Unwin, 1937.