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It is one thing to be broken. A clean break is not impossible to mend. Align the broken pieces, apply some epoxy, wait and time will heal the fractures.

Crushing is a totally different thing. With a horrible blow or a series of repeated strikes to the fragile porcelain of a human heart, a crushing occurs–thousands of tiny pieces are left with no hope of ever being re-aligned or re-assembled.

Humpty-dumpty all over again.

But God . . .

Indeed, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you. Isaiah 42:9

If anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].  2 Corinthians 5:17 (Amplified)

Sometimes with God it is a break, clean and neat. But often with God it is a crushing–to testify to His desire and power and make all things new–to release the fragrance that is within us.

Take heart, beloved, if you are going through a time of crushing right now, He will make all things new for you. Not one of His promises will fall. He will keep each and every one.

 

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The next three chapters of Isaiah are about King Hezekiah. In order to better understand them, we are going to review what the books of the history (Kings and Chronicles) tell us about Hezekiah and his life.

Read 2 Kings Chapter 18
1. Who is the king of Judah at the beginning of this chapter?
2. How old was Hezekiah when he became king of Judah? How long did he reign? How is his reign described?

3. What do you learn of Hezekiah from 2 Kings 18:5-6?
4. What happened to Israel during the sixth year of Hezekiah, King of Judah? Why? (See verse 12)
5. What happened to Hezekiah and Judah in the 14th year of his reign? How does Hezekiah try to remedy the situation? What was the result?

Read 2 Chronicles 29
Some of what is covered is review of the above chapters in 2 Kings Chapter 18.
6. What did Hezekiah do in the first month of his reign? What did he tell the priests?
7. What does Hezekiah lay out as his plan in 2 Chronicles 29:10?
8. What do the priests do in 2 Chronicles 29:12-19?
9. How does King Hezekiah respond?

10. What are you told about Hezekiah and the people in 2 Chronicles 29:36?

Read 2 Chronicles 30
11. What does Hezekiah decide to do in this chapter?

12. What did the runners (couriers) tell the people when they announced the celebration of Passover in Jerusalem and the call for the people to come?
13. What did Hezekiah pray for the people according to 2 Chronicles 30:18-19? What was the Lord’s response?
14. What happened according to 2 Chronicles 30:23?

15. What do you learn from 2 Chronicles 30:26-27?

Read Isaiah Chapter 36
16. What is going on in the opening verses of Isaiah 36?

17. What does Rabshakeh try to do to those listening?
18. How did Hezekiah’s servants respond? Why? What did they do/tell Hezekiah?

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Some days everything’s coming up roses, but often it’s hard to move forward, maybe even to get out of bed. For times when what faces us seems to be dominating us, God has provided in anchors for the soul to hold us and keep us from slipping. Colossians 1:13 is such an anchors.

For He [Adonai] has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [Jesus] (Amplified version)

He has rescued us. This speaks of a completed work. It requires nothing further to be complete. It can’t be undone. It won’t unravel.

We were rescued from imminent danger-the danger of death and the unavoidable wrath of God because it is the fate of man to die once and then face God’s judgment. What an amazing rescue! Without anything else that would be mind-blowing. But Paul goes on.

He has drawn us to Himself. This is the very heart of God–closeness with us, intimate relationship with us. He knows that we are surrounded by darkness–the dominion of darkness. That which has dominion over us rules us, governs us, dominates us. Our necks were under the heel of the boot of the enemy of our souls. God saved us from that. And not leaving us there, He gave us a new destination–a new Sovereign. He transferred us to the kingdom of His Son–a kingdom in which all sin has been paid for and its power eliminated. In the Kingdom of His Son, I am an adopted child, I’m grafted into a rich history with God and the people of God.

Hallelujah! What a Savior! That’s good news (gospel).

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Read Isaiah Chapter 30

  1. Against whom is the “woe” spoken in Isaiah 30:1-5?
  2. What shall become of them?
  3. Against whom is judgment spoken in Isaiah 30:6-11?
  4. How is this group described?
  5. What do verses 9 to 10 say about how they respond to God’s law?
  6. What is the judgment spoken in Isaiah 30:12-14?
  7. What promise does God say to them in Isaiah 30:15?
  8. Compare Isaiah 30:15 to Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:37. What do you notice?
  9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 30:18?
  10. What do you learn from these verses about God’s justice?
    □ Psalm 89:14 □ Psalm 97:2
  11. What promise do you find in Isaiah 30:19?
  12. What do you learn of the LORD’s willingness to answer from these verses?
    □ Psalm 20:6 □ Psalm 118:5 □ Psalm 138:3 □ Jonah 2:2
  13. What will be the result of the adversity the people of God suffer according to Isaiah 30:20-22?
  14. What promises are given in Isaiah 30:23-26?
  15. What judgment is described in Isaiah 30:27-33?

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Mother’s Day

Honor (respect, obey, care for) . . .  your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12 Amplified)

The commands of God are often easier to read than to follow. Mother-daughter relationships can be challenging. I have had my own struggles.

The road to understanding, accepting and honoring my mother has been smoother since I became a mother. I began to see through my own experience as a parent of only one child how one might say and do the things that my mother, who had 4 children, did.

In the end, God needed to break my heart for my mother, to see her in truth, not colored by my needs, desires, disappointments. To give me a heart for her, God needed to cut mine.

As I pressed in to God to learn to be a better daughter, God reminded me of the command–honor your mother.

It isn’t a suggestion; it’s a command. It isn’t something I can do when I feel like it; it is required of me by God. I guess He knew there’d be days when we’d want to give up, when disappointments and unmet expectations would threaten to crush us like bugs.

On a day like today, when my heart is overwhelmed by love for my mother, for all that she is and all she went through in her motherhood journey, it is easy to love and to treat her well.

On the difficult days, I fall back on the command. I honor her because that is my reasonable service to God.

Mom

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The Last Supper

Read Matthew 26:17-30.

The scene described in these scriptures is of the Last Supper (as it is known by the Church) which was a Passover meal (a Seder) which Jesus (a Jew) celebrated with his disciples (all Jews) the night He was arrested. The Seder was very ritualized.

Passover was to begin at sundown which in March or April would be at approximately 6 p.m. The meal had to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem. For that reason, at the time of Passover, pilgrims from all over Israel would crowd into Jerusalem, and its population would swell. Passover was a very intimate meal to be shared with family and close friends. Here Jesus is with his very closest friends and disciples.

  1. What do you observe? Why are we given this part of the story?
  2. Read Luke 22:7-23
  3. According to Luke 22:15-16, what does Jesus say about this Passover?
  4. In Luke 22:19, how did Jesus describe the bread?
  5. In Luke 22:20, what did Jesus say about the cup?
  6. What does Jesus say about the fruit of the vine in Mark 14:25? What is implied by His statement?
  7. What were the Jews told to teach their children about Passover according to Exodus 12:25-27?
  8. What is the significance of the Passover for the Christian? (Hint: 1 Corinthians 5:7)
  9. What prophecy did John the Baptist speak over Jesus in John 1:29? What did he mean?

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It may not be the most exciting region of Israel to the average Bible scholar, it is no Sea of Galilee or Capernaum or Jerusalem, but the North of Israel, the region of Dan, is a beautiful place to visit in the Spring when the foliage is lush and green and the mustard plant flowers are blooming, blanketing open meadows and hillsides with their bright yellow.

The area  reminds the visitor that Israel is diverse in its landscapes and geography.

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Head waters of the Jordan River, Israel

The head waters of the Jordan rush down into the land from the mountains above.

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Petra: What’s all the fuss?

The part of Jordan that one must transverse to get to Petra is a wasteland – endless rocky and plant-less desert. According to our guide, only 10% of Jordan is green.

Petra is an ancient city, tracing its roots to a time before Christ. It was interesting to me not only because it evidences a civilization thriving in the barrenness of the Jordanian desert, but also because of the possible significance this city could have in the future, specifically the future of Israel and the Jewish people.

Petra is one of the possible locations to which the Jews may flee during the tribulation period after the abomination of desolation spoken of in the book of Daniel.

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The following images will probably not be your typical idea of the Holy Land, but Eilat is in Israel, and it does offer special treasures to the traveler.

In Eilat, one can relax and enjoy the warm sun, the clear sky and the blue water. Eilat is a very short drive or boat ride to either Jordan or Egypt, and it is but a few hours drive to the Dead Sea, the Negev or even back to Jerusalem.

Eilat is a resort town at the most southern tip of Israel complete with snorkeling and other water sports, but for the student of the Bible, Eilat is the jumping off point for a journey to the rock city of Petra in Jordan. The importance of Petra to Bible prophecy will be outlined in an upcoming post.

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Usuites, Eilat
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Usuites, Eilat
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Sunrise over Gulf of Aqaba
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Sunrise over Gulf of Aqaba
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Sunrise over Gulf of Aqaba
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Sunrise over Gulf of Aqaba
Border Crossing to Jordan from Eilat Israel

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On the road from Jerusalem eastward to Jericho is a great expanse of Judean desert or what is often called the Judean wilderness. It is to such a place as this that Jesus may have gone when he fasted for 40 days before being tempted by Satan. See Luke 4:1-13 for a reminder of the story.

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It may also be the place of which David spoke in the Psalms 63:1, O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You;  my soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

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It is a place which, at first glance, appears to be devoid of life, with no obvious plant or animal life and no observable source of water. But when one peers over the edge of the cliff and looks below, one sees green in the valley. Small trees, bushes and grasses grow  in the valley, fed by the water that gathers.

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Like our circumstances which can loom like a great desert or wilderness before us – overwhelming us with their apparent impregnability – there are valleys which can only be seen as we near the edge of the cliff and peer over into the crevices below. Life exists in the valleys – verdant, prospering life.

So when faced with a wilderness or desert of impregnable, unnavigable circumstances, go to the edge, look down and see the truth that life is continuing, even prospering in the valley of those circumstances. Know the truth that God would never leave you nor forsake you. God is in the valley.

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