Saturday, May 31, 2014

Isaiah- Tell King Ahaz, All is Well

By Mary Vee
Isaiah 7

From the Journals of Isaiah

One day as I prayed the Lord sent me a message to take to Ahaz, king of Judah.

At the time Pekah was the king of Israel and Rezin was king of Aram. 

The people of Israel are our brothers. Our country has been divided many years, but we still are all one people, a chosen nation of God.

Aram has been evil to us ever since I have lived. The king has attacked Israel and Judah so many times. Some times they win. Sometimes they don't.

This why I don't understand why Pekah, king of Israel chose to join armies with Rezin, king of Aram to attack Judah. 

The Lord told me to take my son and go meet Ahaz, king of Judah at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool on the road to the Washerman's Field. God told me to tell him this message: 

"Be careful. Keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart and become discouraged because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood (Pekah from Israel and Rezin from Aram). In his fierce anger, king Rezin and Pekah have plotted to destroy you. 

"They have said to each other, 'Let us invade Judah. Let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves and make the son of Tabeel king over it.'"

Ahaz eyes widened with fear. 

"Don't worry," I told him. "The Sovereign Lord says: 'It will not take place. It will not happen. The capital of Aram is in Damascus and the leader of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years your brothers who live in Ephraim and are helping Rezin will be too shattered to be a people. 

The capital of Ephraim is Samaria, and the leader of Samaria is only Pekah. If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all."

Ahaz still had wide eyes showing his fear.

I said to him, "The Lord your God wants you to ask for a sign to help you understand his message. You can ask anything in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."

Ahaz cleared his thread and finally spoke. "I will not ask. I will not put the Lord to the test."

This man angered me so. How dare he not do as God asked? "Ahaz, you are from the house of David. Your disrespect for the men of Judah is bad enough, trying the patience of all the citizens. Now you also are trying the patience of my God?" 

I huffed. "The Lord himself will give you a sign anyway and this is it: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before this happens the king of Assyria will come and destroy this land."

This man will bring the country of Judah to ruin if he doesn't change from his wicked ways and do what God says.

1. Two kings decided to attack Judah. ____________ and ____________
2  God sent ___________ to warn Ahaz, king of Judah.
3. God said not to ______________.
4. God asked Ahaz to request a __________ to help him believe the words.
5. Ahaz said, ____________
6. God gave Ahaz a ____________ anyway.
7. Who was angry with Ahaz?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

King Ahaz Chooses Not to Listen to Isaiah's Warnings

By Mary Vee
II Kings 16, II Chronicles 28, Isaiah 7

From the Journals of the prophet Isaiah

Photo Courtesy
King Jotham was buried with honors and his son Ahaz crowned king.

Jothan had worked hard to bring Judah back to worshipping God, the people just wouldn't listen. His son, Ahaz, unfortunately loved to please the people. He did not do what was right in God's eyes.

Ahaz followed the ways of the Israelites by making cast idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom which should only be done at the temple by the priests. And he offered his sons following the ways of the nations the Lord had driven out of Israel. Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. None of these things were allowed by God.

While Ahaz was king of Judah, the king of Israel joined the king of Aram to fight against Jerusalem but they could not overpower the city. All the people of Judah were shaken by this attack.

The Lord sent me to meet with Ahaz out at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool. "Ahaz, the Lord has sent me to you with a message."

"I'm listening. What is it?"

"The Lord says, 'Be careful, keep calm, and don't be afraid. Don't give up because of these two armies who attacked Jerusalem.'

"The Lord says, 'It will not take place, it will not happen. If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all."

"What does the Lord want me to do?" Ahaz asked.

"Ask the the Lord your God to give you a sign whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights." I waited for Ahaz to think of something to ask.

Instead he said, "I will not ask. I will not put the Lord to the test."

This had to be one of the most annoying king's I've had to deal with. "Listen, you from the house of David. Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God?" I sighed in anger. "The Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. Before the boy knows enough to do what is only right, the land of the two kings you fight will be destroyed because the king of Assyria will come and attack.

Ahaz raised his head and said, "I will not listen to you, Isaiah. I will battle against the king of Israel and the king of Aram and I will show you who is in charge."

1. Who is the new king of Judah?
2. Did he do what was right in God's eyes?
3. Who came to attack Judah (Jerusalem is in Judah)?
4. What message did Isaiah give to Ahaz?
5. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask for a sign from the Lord. What did Ahaz ask for?
6. What did Ahaz decide to do?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hudson Taylor-God Knows Our Needs

By Mary Vee
Year: January 1875 
Hudson Taylor: age 43

From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

Photo Courtesy
Laying in bed was not what I would have chosen to do, but it seems this was the place God needed me until I can walk again. Last week, I told about the accident I had. You can scroll down to last Monday's post to read about it.

I spent much of my day reading any current news about China. Riots broke out in areas where we had our centers. I feared for our workers safety. Reports came to us stating one of our missionaries had been assaulted and many of his things stolen.

Years ago, when we tried to send missionaries into western territories, I thought we might have an easier time traveling there through Burma. The British recently worked to open a trade route into China through Burma and the Chinese government approved the idea. Everything seemed to go smoothly.

A group of men led by Colonel Browne left England in February to set up the trade route. While traveling through the unknown areas of China the colonel discovered the local people had not been told about the plan. The people became afraid and attacked the uninvited soldiers, killing one British interpreter and six Chinese helpers. 

I couldn't let this hinder our work. I wrote another pamphlet and sent it to every church and supporter in England. I wrote: God does not tell us to try. His command is not to do our best. His command is to do what was commanded.

I spent many long hours praying for my beloved China. A map hung at the end of my bed where I could gaze upon the land and pray. Please, God, I prayed, we need eighteen new missionaries to go to China to reach the nine untouched areas.

While my mind filled with needs for prayer and duties, God gave my wife and I a present. I am happy to say that on January 7, my wife, Jennie, gave birth to my son Ernest. Both are doing very well. 

It took two months of total bed rest before I was finally able to sit up in a chair. The pain returned after a few hours, but still, I liked sitting and couldn't wait to try standing.

More good news came. A good number of applications from men and women wanting to serve as missionaries to China filled our mailbox. Sixty! We looked over each one and found fifteen excellent candidates with good health.

Three months later I took my first steps up and down the stairs by myself. 

A year had passed after the accident on the ship before I could walk with the use of canes. You can't begin to imagine how happy I felt to be able to walk. I asked my secretary to schedule speaking appointments. We needed to remind the people of England about the needs in China. I went to the Brighton Convention and talked about what God had done in only ten years. We had twenty eight missionary stations, helped over six hundred Chinese people to ask Jesus into their heart and trained seventy of those men to become preachers in their own churches.

On the way home I happened to meet a Russian noble who had also attended the convention. "I would like to make a contribution to the China ministry," he said.

He handed me a banknote. I looked at it and saw the amount was for fifty pounds. "Are you quite sure you want to give this much?" I offered the note back to him.

The count replied, "I cannot take it back. I had planned to give five pounds, but God must have intended you to have fifty. I cannot take it back."

I accepted the gift and returned home. As I walked in I heard the missionaries praying, asking God to provide sufficient money to meet a particular need in China. An amount close to what I held in my hand! I set the note on the table as the group echoed their Amens. God knew the need before they even asked.

China Inland Mission is celebrating it's ten year anniversary. The Lord has been with us each step of the way, opening doors, supplying money, and saving lives in China. 

Praise God for His blessings.

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China--Inland China!
So Very Blessed by God 

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr.and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Captivity Begins

By Mary Vee
II Kings, 15, I Chronicles 5

From the Journals of a Captive Man

Photo Courtesy
I was working in my field.

We had no warning. 

I lived on the east side of the Jordan and am from the tribe of Reuben. 

I looked up at the horizon and saw a vast army marching toward my land. It didn't take long for me to figure out the army came from Assyria because of their weapons, chariots, and number. 

Pekah, our king of Israel, said he would protect us, but he has failed. All three tribes, the Gadites, half tribe of Manessah, and Reubenites, living on the east side of the Jordan were at risk to be taken captive.

Our brave warriors could not stand up to the power of the Assyrians. This is our own fault. We have not worshipped God as we should. Rather we all worshipped the gods from the people who lived near us. God warned us with the prophets, but we didn't listen.

My children and wife cried when the soldiers captured us and tied us to a rope. We had to march away from our home and leave everything behind. Our feet hurt and there was a chill in the night air, but still the soldiers made us march.

The army took us and our brothers from our land in Reuben, Gad, and Manessah to their Assyrian towns. We were assigned to live and be slaves in either Halah, Habor, or the river Gorzon.

I don't know if we will ever be able to go home.

1. What three groups of Israelites were taken in this first captivity?
2. What army captured them?
3. Why did God allow them to be captured?
4. Where did they take the Israelites?
5. How long will they be in captivity?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Micah's Warning-What God Really Wants From Us

By Mary Vee

From the Journals of the prophet Micah

Photo Courtesy
I am only writing a small portion of my words here. If you'd like to read more, please look in your Bible in the book called by my name, Micah.

The Lord gave me a message concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

The sins of our country are great. The people are greedy, selfish, and take things from the poor. The leaders do not grant justice.

There will be a time of silence broken only by the coming of one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. He will come from Bethlehem even though she is a small clan in Judah.

This ruler will stand up and care for the people in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And the people will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.

Several people have asked me what does God really want. I will tell you. He doesn't want burnt offerings, thousands of rams, rivers of oil, or for you to offer your children. He has shown you what is good. What does the Lord want from you? He wants you to act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Let us offer a prayer of praise to God:

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of those receiving his inheritance? 
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 
You will again have compassion on us. 
You will tread our sins under your foot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 
You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago.

1. Micah was a _______________________
2. His message was concerning __________ and ____________
3. What was the problem?
4. Who will break the silence?
5. What does God really want?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hudson Taylor- Fell From a Ladder

By Mary Vee
Year: June 1873 
Hudson Taylor: age 42

From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

Photo Courtesy

The ministry had been spreading widely throughout China. New missionaries continued to arrive. Each spent a time of adapting to the culture with others before being sent out to start new centers.

China Inland Mission expanded to the west. There were nine territories we still needed to establish ministries. Despite illnesses and deaths of workers, we pressed forward.

My sweet wife, Jennie kept the work going at home, while I ventured out to each station to help. 

On June 2, I had been sailing to Wuhan to visit a Mission center. The ship stopped in Jiujiang for a short stay before continuing the journey. Everyone stepped off the boat to walk about until it was time to depart. 

I went into a local shop for some tea and to think about tasks that needed to be done. When the ship's captain signaled all to board I joined the line and waited my turn. To get on board, we had to climb a ladder up to the main deck. I juggled the belongings I'd carried and stepped up. Somewhere in the process I lost my balance and fell to the ground, landing hard on my heals.  

The pain was quite severe, but I managed to climb the ladder and return to my cabin. My ankle throbbed and shooting pains fired through my back. I removed my shoes and reclined on the bed for the rest of the journey, hoping I would be fine by the time we reached Wuhan.

Fortunately, the local missionary allowed me to stay in his home instead of having me rest alone in an inn. I wrote to Jennie about the accident and reassured her my injury was improving. I could stand for short period of times and put weight on my foot.

I didn't think much about my back or ankle because the ministry had successfully moved toward the west. Millions of Chinese were ready to learn of God's love. With everything under control here in China, I felt a need to check on the home office in England and see where I could help. 

Jennie and I sailed back toward England August 30th. One of the missionaries sailing with us became too ill to continue traveling back to England. Jennie offered to stay with her in France until she could finish the journey. I went on to London with the children and one other missionary. 

My pain had increased through my back, though, and forced me to walk with crutches. Soon the injury worsened, paralyzing my legs. I may have been forced to stay in bed, but I couldn't let the work stop. I called for a scribe and gave instructions, conducted meetings, and wrote new pamphlets to let those in England know of the progress and continued need for 18 more missionaries in China.

I don't know why I have this injury at this time, but I do know that I can continue the work, even while laying on my back, and so I shall.

Please pray that God will supply the new missionaries needed and supply fund for their support. Praise God for His blessings.

Written from my bed in England.

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China--Inland China!
So Very Blessed by God 

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr.and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Isaiah's Vision

By Mary Vee
II Kings, 15, II Chronicles 27, Isaiah 6

From the Journals of the prophet Isaiah

Photo Courtesy
King Uzziah had died and his son Jotham was crowned king of Judah.

It seemed Jotham had learned from his father's wrong doing (offering incense in the temple), because he was careful not to do the same. I was glad for that.

Jotham worked to rebuilt the Upper Gates of the temple of the Lord and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. He built towns in the Judean hills and forts and towers in the wooded areas. 

Jotham attacked the king of Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand core of wheat and ten thousand core of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years. 

Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

Unfortunately, the people of Judah continued their corrupt practices.

The year that Jotham's father, king Uzziah, died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted. The train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And they called to each other, saying,

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
the whole earth is full of his glory."

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 

"Woe is me!" I cried. "I am ruined."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me. "See this has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sins are paid for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send to tell the people my message?" And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

The Lord said, "Tell them my message. They will not listen, though."

"How long will they not listen, Lord?"

"Until the cities are ruined and no one lives there, until the houses are left empty and the fields are ruined, until all the people have been sent far away and the land is totally left alone. And though a tenth of the people will remain in the land, it will not be enough to take care of it.  Still, the few who remain will be a seed to kindle my people."

1. Who is the new king of Judah?
2. Is he a good king? (One that obeys God)
3. Are the people worshipping God?
4. What does Isaiah see in his vision?
5. What does God ask for?
6. Who will do the job?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Uzziah's Big Mistake

By Mary Vee
II Kings 15, II Chronicles 26

From the Journals of Priest Azariah

One of the other priests noticed king Uzziah walking to the temple. This seemed a bit strange.

Uzziah has been a strong man of God, leading the country of Judah to worship Him. 

We have experienced great prosperity. Buildings have been built. Our armies have been strengthened. Everything has gone so well.

Why king Uzziah is going into the temple baffles me. I sent for the other priests to meet with me.

It took a little time but eight priests gathered around me. "Do any of you know why king Uzziah is in the temple?"

"No," they responded. But he isn't allowed to offer incense on the altar of incense. We better go see what he is doing.

"I agree," I said. "You realize that any priest who goes with me is risking his life by questioning the king?"

The group nodded and stood strong. I led the willing priests into the temple where we found Uzziah preparing to burn incense on the altar of incense.

"King Uzziah."

He turned around abruptly with a guilty look on his face.

"It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense to do." I held my arm out and pointed to the door. "Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful. You will not be honored by the Lord God."

King Uzziah held the censor tight in his hand. "What right have you to tell me what to do?" 

The king yelled for a few minutes at us and while he raged, leprosy sores broke out on his forehead. I and the other priests stepped back and gasped.

"What? What's wrong?" the king yelled.

"Leprosy, my Lord. We must get you out of here at once." I nodded to a few other priests to help me lead the king out of the temple and to his chamber in the palace. 

"Hurry," the king shouted. "Get me out of here before something else happens to me."

The doctors used every means to comfort the king. King Uzziah was taken to a separate house where he lived until his last days. He never was able to return to the temple.

His son, Jotham, helped reign the country of Judah until Uzziah breathed his last breath.

1. Who saw Uzziah enter temple?
2. Why was Uzziah doing?
3. Why was he not allowed to do that?
4. Uzziah listened--did not listen to instructions to leave the temple.
5. What happened to Uzziah?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hudson-Taylor-How Can My Sins Be Forgiven

By Mary Vee
Year: April 1874 
Hudson Taylor: age 42

From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

One day as I returned to my boat, an old Chinese man followed me. I'm not sure where he came from, he simply followed me to my boat. "Would you like to come with me?" I asked him.

"Yes. My name is Dzing. I have a question."

He must have been in the crowd at the last place I spoke. He seemed quite burdened by his question. "How may I help you?"

"I don't understand. What am I to do with my sins? The scholars say there isn't any future place where we go after this life. I find this difficult to believe."

I shook my head. "Don't believe any such words. There is an endless future for all of us. Either burned in hell for ever or rejoicing in heavenly bliss forever."

"But, what can I do. What am I to do with my sins? Some say we should only eat vegetables. Should I have a vegetarian or a mixed diet?"

I realized the man had never truly heard of the name of Jesus Christ or the simple gift of salvation. "It doesn't matter whether you eat a vegetarian or mixed diet. You can have either. Both of the diets affect the stomach, not your heart."

"This is what I thought. Eating one way or another would not affect sins. I try so hard to think of what I can do about my sins and fail to come up an answer. I am seventy-two years old and won't live another decade. I don't know how long I will live. So I must know. Can you tell me what is to be done about my sins?"

I nodded. "Yes, I am happy to. I have come thousands of miles to tell anyone who wants to know. Listen and I will explain what you want to know." I told him of the living, loving God and of His fatherly love and care for all people. 

Dzing listened intently. "And what are we to do to pay back such a favor, God's goodness? I don't see how it can be repaid. One scholar told us to worship Heaven and Earth and the idols at the end of the year. This would be enough. But it doesn't satisfy me."

"True." I nodded. "And there is so much more we need to give thanks for." I told him of the the consequences of sin, of God's pity, the coming of Jesus Christ and his death as payment for our sins. Jesus paid for our sins so we could be with God."

"I see. And how can we to pay for such grace?" Dzing asked.

"We don't," I answered. "There is nothing for us to do but to receive what Jesus did for us as a free gift from God, just like we do the sunlight, wind, and rain."

"I have sinned a great deal. I've worshipped idols. I didn't know this was a sin against the living God."

A few other missionaries joined us by this time. We continued to speak with Dzing until he had no more questions. When the old man left, he still seemed bewildered, but comforted. I was confident we'd have many more conversations.

What a blessed joy to have this man come and ask his questions. Do you have any?

Please pray that God will give us the right words to say and put us in the right place to help others like Mr. Dzing. Praise God for His blessings.

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China--Inland China!
So Very Blessed by God 

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr.and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Amos is Threatened

By Mary Vee
Amos 7

From the Journals of Amaziah, Prophet of Israel

Photo Courtesy
I am the priest of Israel. I must admit that I am quite upset about the news I've heard. There is a shepherd living near Bethlehem named Amos who is causing trouble.

I and the other priests of Israel have set up the ceremonies and ways for our people to worship God. We had everything under control with the people doing everything we asked.

Now this man, Amos claims the people are not really worshipping God. Hah! What does he know? 

I cannot allow his words to stop what the other priests and I have set up. I drafted a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel. "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. This is what he is saying:

Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.

I immediate took my cloak, journeyed to Bethel, and searched for Amos. Maybe I can talk him into putting a stop to his crazy messages that he claims are coming from God.

I found him in a pasture and called out. "Amos. I need to speak with you."

Amos turned to my voice and stepped toward me. "What have you to say, Amaziah?"

I raised my walking stick toward him, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom."

Amos didn't look threatened by my words. He remained standing tall and said, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and told me to 'Go prophesy to my people Israel.' 

"Now, Amaziah, listen to the word of the Lord. You say to me, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac.' 

"Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'Your wife will leave you and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and Israel will certainly go into exile, away from their native land."

I turned and walked away. Not willing to listen to Amos. I am the one in charge, not him.

1. Who was Amaziah?
2. Why was Amaziah angry?
3. Who did Amaziah go to see and what did he tell him?
4. Did Amos feel threatened by Amaziah?
5. Did Amos back down with his message from the Lord when Amaziah visited?
6. What will happen to Israel?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Amos-Worship with an Empty Heart

By Mary Vee
Amos 5-9

From the Journals of Amos

Photo Courtesy
As a shepherd, I spend a lot of time with my sheep. I hear the sounds of nature around me. I see the stars and sun in the sky. My main job, though is to care for my sheep.

Last time I wrote to you about the message God had given me to tell His people. There is more to tell.

The Lord, God of Israel is angered with the people for coming to the temple, saying they are worshipping God by offering their sacrifices and then return home without having really listened or worshipped with their heart. 

Since God looks at the heart and not what man does, He knows the people only come to impress each other, to say they have gone to the temple, to brag about what they have given. In their heart they have no repentance, no sorrow for their sins. They sing songs to make noise and not to declare their love for Him.

Once the people have left the temple they go and sacrifice to other gods as well. Don't they realize God sees them?

They live in prosperity, having much to eat and drink, yet take no time to worship Him, the one who has given them all that they have. They lay around and do no work, expecting their prosperity to continue.

The Sovereign Lord said He is preparing swarms of locust to eat the crops. I asked Him to forgive Israel. How can we survive?

The Sovereign Lord said He is calling for judgement by fire. I asked Him to forgive Israel. How can we survive?

The Sovereign Lord showed me a plumb line and a basket of fruit. He said, I will not spare the people any longer. The foreign gods will be destroyed and the songs in the temple will be silenced.

The Israelites don't even care. The sellers cheat their customers, sell the needy as slaves, look only for a profit. The Sovereign Lord said He will send a famine in the land--not a famine of food, but a one of hearing any words from the Lord.

In that day, the Sovereign Lord says He will restore Israel. He will repair the broken places, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess what is left and all the nations that bear His name.

The Sovereign Lord says He will bring back His exiled people, Israel. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards, they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 

The Sovereign Lord says He will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the place He has given them.

This ends the message God gave me to tell the people.

1. What did the people of Israel do wrong?
2. Who did the people of Israel think of mostly?
3. In the end, God says what He really wants to do for Israel. What is it?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hudson Taylor-The Personal Mentor

By Mary Vee
Year: November 1873 
Hudson Taylor: age 41

From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

The best way to teach anyone is to show them, wouldn't you agree?

Fred Ballard and the other new missionaries had just stepped off their boat in Shanghai. They followed me through the crowded streets not daring not satisfy their curiosity by looking side to side or they'd be lost in the thick mass of people. 

Once or twice I heard one call, "Taylor! Wait."

By the time I looked back, they managed to find their way. I led them to the local post office and entered. To the side was a corridor leading to a small door with a padlock. After unlocking the door, I invited the new missionaries up the narrow, dark stairs to a room I had rented.  

The small room had only table, and chairs and a basket containing food. The window had thin paper, rather than glass. I invited the men to sit and tell me of their voyage. We read scriptures and prayed.

The men's eyes looked weary and in need of food. "Would you like to wash before we go to a restaurant to eat?"

"Yes." They looked around the room and shrugged. "But how?"

I smiled and walked to the door. Speaking in Chinese I called in a servant who went to a basket in the corner of the room and took out a wooden basin and a small cloth. He left the cloth on the table and went out to the street. Nearby was a hot-water shop where he went to buy enough hot water to fill the basin. 

Upon his return he set the hot water on the table, picked up the small cloth, dipped it in the water, rung it out, and handed it to me. I washed my hands and my face then handed the cooled cloth back to the servant. He dipped it again in the hot water and handed it back to me. I cleansed my hands and face again with the hot, wet cloth. The missionaries watched closely.

I handed the cloth back to the servant, and he offered the ceremony to each of the missionaries who copied my actions. "Now let's go have breakfast."

I took them to a Chinese restaurant where we were seated at a table for four in the back portion of the building. The food was cooked in the front of the restaurant. The men glanced at the worn table but didn't say anything. I wanted them to make these observations, to understand the culture and what the Chinese people had. 

The waiter soon brought four basins of rice, piled to the top, and placed them before us. Next he served several basins of hot vegetables and a large basin of chunks of fat pork. My servant, wanting to make a good impression, chose out the biggest pieces of pork and set them on the new missionaries bowls of rice until they laughed and begged him to stop. 

This first meeting and introduction to China proved worth every minute and penny spent. They immediately took to wearing the Chinese clothes, ate only Chinese foods, and adapted to the Chinese manners in short order, showing their love for the people and desire to share the love of God with them.  

Thanks be to God for sending missionaries who have a desire to fully serve Him here in China. Praise God for His blessings.

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China--Inland China!
So Very Blessed by God 

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr.and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Amos-A Lowly Shepherd Called to be a Prophet

By Mary Vee
Amos 1-4

From the Journals of Amos

Photo Courtesy
I have been a shepherd watching my sheep near Bethlehem in Judah for quite some time.

One day as I looked out at the pastureland, the great God of Israel spoke to me, telling me to take His message to the people.

The messages needed to be delivered right away because God wanted the people to know He saw their evil deeds.

First, the Lord said He will destroy the house of Ben-Hadad in Syria for attacking Gilead.

Second, the Lord said He will destroy the Philistines for taking whole communities of His people and selling them as slaves in Edom. 

Third, the Lord said He will destroy the great city of Tyre for taking whole communities of His people and selling them as slaves to Edom--disregarding the treaty of brotherhood.

Fourth, the Lord said He will destroy the fortress of Bozrah in Edom for continuing to attack His people. Edom's rage overwhelmed the country so much there was no compassion at all.

Fifth, the Lord said He will destroy Rabbah in Ammon for killing the women of His people just to make their cities bigger.

Sixth, the Lord said He will destroy Kerioth in Moab for disrespecting the burial place of Edom's king.

Seventh, the Lord said He will send fire on Jerusalem in Judah for worshipping false gods.

Eighth, the Lord said He will destroy Israel because in their time of prosperity the people have not worship Him. They are filled with greed, selfishness, and immoral deeds. They harm the poor and have no justice in the courts.

The Israelites have witnessed God stopping the Amorites, they knew He was the one who rescued the nation from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and gave them a new land. He even provided prophets to instruct them. Yet they have commanded the prophets not to give their messages.

Because the Lord has chosen, Israel, as His own, He will punish them for their sins. All they had to do was turn to Him to avoid these troubles.

All the Lord asks is that you seek Him instead of the false gods. Then you will live.

Again I say, seek good and not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you. Hate evil, love good; be fair to all people. 

Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph, Israel.

1. What did God say He would do first? ___________
2. What did God say He would do second? ____________
3. What did God say He would do third? _______________
4. What did God say He would do fourth? _______________
5. What did God say He would do fifth? _______________
6. What did God say He would do sixth? _______________
7. What did God say He would do seventh?_________________
8. Why did God say He would destroy Israel? ___________________
9. What did God really want from the people? _____________________