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11 November - Ezra 7; Hosea 8; Acts 27


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Posted 11 November 2007 - 09:44 AM

First Portion

Ezra 7


7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 7:2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 7:3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 7:4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 7:5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest; 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylon: and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Yahweh his God on him. 7:7 There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 7:8 He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 7:9 For on the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him. 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances. 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Yahweh, and of his statutes to Israel: 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth. 7:13 I make a decree, that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with you. 7:14 Because you are sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand, 7:15 and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, 7:16 and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; 7:17 therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. 7:18 Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that after the will of your God. 7:19 The vessels that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 7:20 Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house. 7:21 I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence, 7:22 to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 7:23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 7:24 Also we inform you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, on them. 7:25 You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God who is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people who are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach him who doesn’t know them. 7:26 Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with all diligence, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. 7:27 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem; 7:28 and has extended loving kindness to me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. I was strengthened according to the hand of Yahweh my God on me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 09:45 AM

Second Portion

Hosea 8


8:1 “Put the trumpet to your lips!
Something like an eagle is over Yahweh’s house,
because they have broken my covenant,
and rebelled against my law.
8:2 They cry to me, ‘My God, we Israel acknowledge you!’
8:3 Israel has cast off that which is good.
The enemy will pursue him.
8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me.
They have made princes, and I didn’t approve.
Of their silver and their gold they have made themselves idols,
that they may be cut off.
8:5 Let Samaria throw out his calf idol!
My anger burns against them!
How long will it be until they are capable of purity?
8:6 For this is even from Israel!
The workman made it, and it is no God;
indeed, the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.
8:7 For they sow the wind,
and they will reap the whirlwind.
He has no standing grain.
The stalk will yield no head.
If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up.
8:8 Israel is swallowed up.
Now they are among the nations like a worthless thing.
8:9 For they have gone up to Assyria,
like a wild donkey wandering alone.
Ephraim has hired lovers for himself.
8:10 But although they sold themselves among the nations,
I will now gather them;
and they begin to waste away because of the oppression of the king of mighty ones.
8:11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they became for him altars for sinning.
8:12 I wrote for him the many things of my law;
but they were regarded as a strange thing.
8:13 As for the sacrifices of my offerings,
they sacrifice flesh and eat it;
But Yahweh doesn’t accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity,
and punish their sins.
They will return to Egypt.
8:14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces;
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
but I will send a fire on his cities,
and it will devour its fortresses.”

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 09:47 AM

Third Portion

Acts 27


27:1 When it was determined that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan band. 27:2 Embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to places on the coast of Asia, we put to sea; Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. 27:3 The next day, we touched at Sidon. Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him permission to go to his friends and refresh himself. 27:4 Putting to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 27:5 When we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 27:6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and he put us on board. 27:7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and had come with difficulty opposite Cnidus, the wind not allowing us further, we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 27:8 With difficulty sailing along it we came to a certain place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

27:9 When much time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast had now already gone by, Paul admonished them, 27:10 and said to them, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 27:11 But the centurion gave more heed to the master and to the owner of the ship than to those things which were spoken by Paul. 27:12 Because the haven was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised going to sea from there, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, and winter there, which is a port of Crete, looking northeast and southeast.

27:13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to shore. 27:14 But before long, a stormy wind beat down from shore, which is called Euroclydon. 27:15 When the ship was caught, and couldn’t face the wind, we gave way to it, and were driven along. 27:16 Running under the lee of a small island called Clauda, we were able, with difficulty, to secure the boat. 27:17 After they had hoisted it up, they used cables to help reinforce the ship. Fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis sand bars, they lowered the sea anchor, and so were driven along. 27:18 As we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw things overboard. 27:19 On the third day, they threw out the ship’s tackle with their own hands. 27:20 When neither sun nor stars shone on us for many days, and no small storm pressed on us, all hope that we would be saved was now taken away.

27:21 When they had been long without food, Paul stood up in the middle of them, and said, “Sirs, you should have listened to me, and not have set sail from Crete, and have gotten this injury and loss. 27:22 Now I exhort you to cheer up, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 27:23 For there stood by me this night an angel, belonging to the God whose I am and whom I serve, 27:24 saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. Behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 27:25 Therefore, sirs, cheer up! For I believe God, that it will be just as it has been spoken to me. 27:26 But we must run aground on a certain island.”

27:27 But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven back and forth in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some land. 27:28 They took soundings, and found twenty fathoms. After a little while, they took soundings again, and found fifteen fathoms. 27:29 Fearing that we would run aground on rocky ground, they let go four anchors from the stern, and wished for daylight. 27:30 As the sailors were trying to flee out of the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they would lay out anchors from the bow, 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these stay in the ship, you can’t be saved.” 27:32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat, and let it fall off.

27:33 While the day was coming on, Paul begged them all to take some food, saying, “This day is the fourteenth day that you wait and continue fasting, having taken nothing. 27:34 Therefore I beg you to take some food, for this is for your safety; for not a hair will perish from any of your heads.” 27:35 When he had said this, and had taken bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it, and began to eat. 27:36 Then they all cheered up, and they also took food. 27:37 In all, we were two hundred seventy-six souls on the ship. 27:38 When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. 27:39 When it was day, they didn’t recognize the land, but they noticed a certain bay with a beach, and they decided to try to drive the ship onto it. 27:40 Casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time untying the rudder ropes. Hoisting up the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 27:41 But coming to a place where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground. The bow struck and remained immovable, but the stern began to break up by the violence of the waves.

27:42 The soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim out and escape. 27:43 But the centurion, desiring to save Paul, stopped them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should throw themselves overboard first to go toward the land; 27:44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and some on other things from the ship. So it happened that they all escaped safely to the land.

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 11:06 AM

11 November 2008

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 10:07 AM

11 November 2009

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 01:56 PM

11 November 2010

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

THE ELEVENTH HOUR

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month and 90 years ago it was chosen as Armistice Day, now called Remembrance Day as a day of solemn memory of the millions, who had fallen in what was called the “Great War” of 1914-18. There was an ever greater war with many more millions dying in 1939-1945. The 11th of November has become a Remembrance Day for all wars and people with an urge to remember gather in solemn ceremonies at dawn.

There is value in looking back and taking stock. There is even greater value in looking forward! But to what today, can people look forward? The future and see a great many things that cause concern: there are 4 main ones. The weather around the world has become increasingly violent, potentially caused by massive industrial development. The world financial system is a disarray, all kinds of stopgap policies being tried to prevent a total system failure, but no policy to make it sound and dependable seems impossible. There is more and more violent behaviour, especially among and by the young. And lastly, the potential for world wide deadly diseases.

You may have heard the proverb about sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Do you know what it means? Did you know it comes from the Bible? The farmer in ancient times, sowed seed in his field by carrying a basket and scattering the seed around as he walked. He took care to scatter it as evenly as possible but still some fell in unproductive places as the parable of Jesus tells us; it would be very unwise to sow on a windy day [Ecclesiastes 11:4]

Our reading in Hosea today [Hosea 8] has, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” [Hosea 8:7]. The spiritual application here is about how we use our life, our intellect, and our energies. You go to school; you are “sowing” for your future, we learn much more of the ways of living outside of school. What kind of “training” is that giving for the future. Those who sow so that the wind blows the seed all over the place are bringing a lot of useless stuff into their minds that will not only be of no benefit in the future, but has a large chance of being destructive.

The context in Hosea is that Israel, especially the northern ten tribes, had done just that! We read in the very next verse, “Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless people.” Their essential fault is [Hosea 8:14] “Israel has forgotten his Maker” That is exactly the situation in the world today – they are sowing to the wind, believing there is no God, and now they are at their wits end with whirlwinds looming on the horizon.

“The eleventh hour” Do you remember how and why Jesus used that phrase? It’s in a parable that’s in Matthew 20 where a landowner went out “to hire labourers for his vineyard” God is the landowner, the world is his vineyard, who are ready to be labourers for him? Even “about the eleventh hour” [Matthew 20:6] when the day was nearly over he went out and saw more “standing idle” and invited them to work in his vineyard.

This world is in its “eleventh hour” and so many are sowing to the wind or at best “standing idle”. We must all think carefully about what we are doing – or not doing.
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Posted 11 November 2011 - 10:46 AM

11 November 2011

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

"WE WERE VIOLENTLY STORM TOSSED"

Today we have Luke’s account in Acts 27 of the epic voyage to Rome he made with Paul. The dangers of sea voyages in those days are graphically illustrated in this account. Those exploring the Mediterranean seabed with today’s modern equipment have located the remains of many ancient wrecks. Paul’s journey was made on 2 different ships and as they sailed on the second ship the pilot and owner of the ship decide to take the risk of sailing on although winter is approaching; they ignore a warning by Paul. The ship is caught by “a tempestuous wind … they were driven along … we were violently storm tossed … all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.” [Acts 27:15,17,18,20]

There is a spiritual parallel to this most fearful experience. Jesus speaks of this world’s ‘voyage’ in the last days as being when there will be “on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world.” [Luke 21:25,26]

Our world is becoming increasingly “storm tossed” with greater fears about the future; especially about climate change, also the world’s financial mess which has no apparent solution and now emerging nuclear fears in connection with Iran and a potential Middle East war. We sometimes sing a hymn with the words, ‘With Christ in the vessel we’ll smile at the storm.’ How strong is our faith that we are really in the vessel that has Christ in command?

We note that such was Paul’s strength of faith that those on board were “encouraged” [Acts 27:36] and finally put their confidence in what he was saying. But in these last days there is no Paul ­ and those who look to the Bible now ­ do they have real confidence in it? Let us build up our confidence by feeding our minds on it daily so that when this world becomes really “storm tossed” we will possess the “full assurance of faith” [Hebrews 10:22]

One final thought ­ today’s date is 11/11/11 and the “peace” at the end of the World War 1 was signed on this day 93 years ago ­ at the eleventh hour. Now there is only one place in the Bible that refers to “the eleventh hour”! It is in Matthew 20:1-9, have a look at it and see if it applies to you.
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Posted 11 November 2012 - 04:21 AM

11 November 2012

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

“FOR THEY SOW TO THE WIND”

You may have heard the proverb about sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind? Do you know what it means? Did you know it was taken from the Bible? The farmer in ancient times, sowed seed in his field by carrying a basket and scattering the seed around as he walked. He took care to scatter it as evenly as possible but still some fell in unproductive places as the parable of Jesus tells us; it was very unwise to sow on a windy day.

Our reading in Hosea today [Hosea 8] has God, through his prophet telling the nation, “For they sow to the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” [Hosea 8:7]. The spiritual application here for them – and for us - is about how we use our life, our intellect, and our energies. When you go to school; you are - or were - “sowing” for your future. Those who sow to the wind blow the seeds of thought and purpose in their minds all over the place. Lots of useless stuff comes into their minds that will not only be of no benefit in the future, but has quite a chance of being destructive.

The context in Hosea is that Israel, especially the northern ten tribes, had done just that! We read in the very next verse, “Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.” They have become a ‘vessel’ sailing they know not where – there are no thoughts about direction- only about their immediate future.

Hosea’s contemporary prophet in Judah, Isaiah, was similarly telling them, “…the Lord God … called for weeping … and behold (instead) joy and gladness … drinking wine (and saying) ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” [Isaiah 22:13]. This is living totally for the enjoyment of the moment, today, this week, this month …

The essential fault, as Hosea puts it is that [Hosea 8:14] “… Israel has forgotten his Maker”. That is exactly the case today, most do not want to believe their Creator even exists!

The result of this non-belief – this sowing in the wind, is that our world today is now getting very worried about the whirlwinds looming on the horizon. Some of these are literal as the effects of the apparent climate change become more and more evident and violent.

Jeremiah, the final prophet God sent to his nation as it collapsed, said, “I know O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” [Jeremiah 10:23] We can only direct our steps, our future in a meaningful way if we direct our minds to the ways of God: daily Bible reading and meditative reflection will lead us to know how to direct our steps, not only preventing us from sowing to the wind, but giving us a totally wonderful eternal future.
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Posted 11 November 2013 - 11:08 AM

11 November 2013

Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27

“THE GOD OF HEAVEN”

The king of Persia, one named Artaxerxes, that we read of in Ezra today, was a remarkable king. We read yesterday in Ezra 6 that the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem was finally finished. “They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia … in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” [Ezra 6:14-15]

The actions of the next king, Artaxerxes are fascinating. Today’s chapter tells us that “in the seventh year” of his reign [Ezra 7:7] there was a big effort by the exiled Jews, apparently all Levites, to return to Jerusalem and put the rebuilt Temple into proper use.

What is remarkable is that they have the full support in words and deeds of King Artaxerxes. The central Jew involved is “Ezra (who) had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” [Ezra 7:10] The text records “a copy of the letter that king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD (it read - from)….’Artaxerxes, king of kings, (to) the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.” [Ezra 7:11-13]

It is very strange that a foreign king should talk of the God whose Temple he and his predecessors had just encouraged and greatly helped and financed in its’ rebuilding should speak of their God in this way – all the gods of human imagination are gods of the earth!

The letter is completed by stating, “and you Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province … all such as know the laws of your God. And those that do not know them you shall teach. Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king let judgment be strictly executed on him …” [Ezra 7:25-26]

These events are a kind of cameo of the kingdom age – when a glorious age-lasting Temple, “a house of prayer for all the nations” [Mark 11:17 ] is built and all the world knows there is “the god of heaven” – the only God - with his Son reigning over the earth. Will you be one of his subjects? Will you be helping him rule? Our decision is made - now - in both words and deeds.
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Posted 12 November 2014 - 12:38 PM

11 November 2014
 
Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27  
 
“… FOR I HAVE FAITH”
            
We read today of two outstanding characters, believers who had an active faith with whom God could work to perform his will, they are great examples for us.   First we have Ezra who is a direct descendent of Aaron [Ezra 7:5] "who had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach ..." [Ezra 7:10]  The "king of Persia ... granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. " [Ezra 7:1,6]
            
May that be true of you and I because of our commitment to serve our king, and, as we develop our faith, to see him ever more clearly as we gain "a true heart in full assurance of faith" [Hebrews 10:22].  The attitude of Ezra convinced the Persian king and so, says Ezra, "I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me" [Ezra 7:28]
            
God's message through Hosea is one that applies to our world today and its total lack of faith and ignorance of God. He tells his prophet, "My anger burns against them ... they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" [Hosea 8:5,7] And they, the northern nation of Israel to whom he was a prophet, were soon no more.  The whirlwind for our world  is developing more and more and is looking increasingly fearsome as the people of the world convince themselves there is no Creator who watches over them and sees all that they do..
            
In our Acts chapter [Acts 27] the ship sailing to Rome reaped "the whirlwind," but wonderfully 'Christ’ was watching over Paul and he was able to tell those with him that "this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,  and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.'   So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told." [Acts 27:23-25]
            
Paul's faith was supreme in the crisis - and our faith? How have we “set” our heart? Ezra is an example.  God's word reveals to us the extremity of the crisis that faces our world - and which it deserves.  But, as Paul wrote, let us make sure "we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." [Hebrews 10:39]
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Posted 11 November 2015 - 05:49 AM

11 November 2015
 
Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27  
 
“FOR THEY SOW TO THE WIND”
 
You may have heard the proverb about ‘sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind’. Do you know what it means?  Did you know it comes from the Bible?   
 
The farmer in ancient times, sowed seed in his field by carrying a basket and scattering the seed around as he walked.  He took care to scatter it as evenly as possible but still some fell in unproductive places as the parable of Jesus tells us; it was very unwise to sow on a windy day [Ecclesiastes 11:4] 
 
Our reading in Hosea today [Hosea 8] has, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” [Hosea 8:7]. The spiritual application here is about how we use our life, our intellect, and our energies.  You go to school, college, and some to University; you are “sowing” for your future.  Those who sow so that the wind blows the seed all over the place are increasingly bringing a lot of useless stuff into their minds that will be of no benefit in the future.
 
The context in Hosea is that Israel, especially the northern ten tribes, had done just that! We read in the very next verse, “Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless people.”  Their essential fault is [Hosea 8:14] that “Israel has forgotten his Maker”.
 
This is exactly the situation in the world today – they are sowing to “the wind”, believing there is no God, and now they are at their wits end with political whirlwinds swirling around in the Middle East in key areas the Bible’s prophets have been caused to make predictions about.  
 
We have also the ‘winds’ of nature – with greater and greater extremes – and the impossibility of the powers that exists to set a worldwide policy to combat climate change that all nations are comfortable with. A few years ago they had great hopes for what they might achieve; there was a sense urgency in the air! 
 
The situations are just as ‘impossible’ – indeed, more so – in the politics of warfare and control in the Middle East, especially just north of God’s Holy land!  Jeremiah, the prophet God sent in the final days of his nation more than 2500 years ago said, “I know O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” [Jeremiah 10:23]   How few have learnt the lessons of history!  Let us make sure we do.
 
Whirlwinds of various kinds fill our world more and more!  Do they affect us?  Only those who direct their minds to the ways of God will know how to direct their steps, especially as the winds increase.  Let us “sow to the wind” – following the guidance of God’s word. Those who don’t do this – will “reap the whirlwind.” 
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Posted 12 November 2016 - 02:32 AM

11 November 2016
 
Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27  
 
“THEY SHALL REAP THE WHIRLWIND”
 
Our chapter yesterday, Hosea 7, was an awesome prophecy the Almighty gave him of his judgements on Israel because “they do not consider that I remember all their evil.” [Hosea 7:2]
 
God remembers! And we are commanded to do the same! Paul challenged the Thessalonians, “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? [2 Thessalonians 2:5] We do not have Paul visiting us, but we should have God’s word in our hands every day.
 
We read today in Hosea 8 that “they cry ‘My God, we ­Israel ­know you.’" [Hosea 8:2] But what is it to “know” God? In the Bible sense, it is to have a relationship with Him. We read in Hosea 5, “For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the LORD.” [Hosea 5:4] Sadly we fear that can be said today of many who like to think they are ‘christian.’ Let us make sure that this is not the case with us.
 
Hosea conveys a blunt message from God and warning to them Hosea 8:7 “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” What they sow, is talk, just words, it is not from their heart, because they have no genuine relationship with God. “Israel is ... as a useless vessel” [Hosea 8:8], that is why they are about to “reap the whirlwind.” What is our world about to “reap”?
 
There is a strange and awesome comparison with this in Acts 27 also read today. They are about to “reap the whirlwind” - but the presence of Paul saves them. He is travelling, as a prisoner, toward Rome ­ the vessel is caught in a “whirlwind” an awesome storm that is so great that “all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” [Acts 27:20] Our world is approaching the time when, we suspect, our “ship” will be enveloped in a “whirlwind” of anxiety because of events! This godless world will reap what it has sown. 
 
We will read next week an awesome prophecy that the LORD gave to Joel. “For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened … But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold … So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwells in Zion” [Joel 3:14-17] As our world “reap(s) the whirlwind of God’s judgements, let us have faith that we have a “stronghold” a place of “refuge” because we are “his people”. It may even be the lot of some of us ­ to be like Paul on the way to Rome, who, as we read today, was told “Do not be afraid, Paul … you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God …” [Acts 27:24-25] Let us make sure our faith is real.
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- DC


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 02:44 AM

11 November 2017
 
Ezra 7
Hosea 8
Acts 27 
 
"… FOR I HAVE FAITH"
 
We read today of two outstanding characters, believers who had an active faith with whom God could work to perform his will, they are great examples for us. First we have Ezra who is a direct descendent of Aaron [Ezra 7:5] "who had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach ..." [Ezra 7:10] The "king of Persia ... granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. " [Ezra 7:1,6]
 
May that be true of you and I because of our commitment to serve our king, and, as we develop our faith, to see him ever more clearly as we gain "a true heart in full assurance of faith" [Hebrews 10:22]. The attitude of Ezra convinced the Persian king and so, says Ezra, "I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me" [Ezra 7:28]
 
God's message through Hosea is one that applies to our world today and its total lack of faith and ignorance of God. He tells his prophet, "My anger burns against them ... they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" [Hosea 8:5,7] And they, the northern nation of Israel to whom he was a prophet, were soon no more. The whirlwind for our world is developing more and more - and is looking increasingly fearsome, especially in the long term, as the people of the world convince themselves there is no Creator who watches over them and sees all that they do.
 
In our chapter in Acts, Acts 27, the ship sailing to Rome reaped "the whirlwind," but wonderfully Christ was watching over Paul and he was able to tell those with him that "this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told." [Acts 27:23-25]
 
Paul's faith was supreme in the crisis - and our faith? How have we "set" our heart? Ezra is an example. God's word reveals to us the extremity of the crisis that faces our world - and which it deserves. But, as Paul wrote, let us make sure "we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls" [Hebrews 10:39].
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- DC





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