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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Daily Devotions

Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The Timing of These Events

by Wally Fry

Monday, March 18

The Timing of These Events

Nehemiah 1:1, 11; 2:1

“O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer,” Nehemiah 1:11.

At this point, there had been two waves of returns to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. Some thirteen years had passed since Ezra headed home, and reports had come back to Nehemiah that were not good. The wall of the city was still torn down, and the possibility that the newly rebuilt Temple could be destroyed by enemies was very real. We can see by his reaction that Nehemiah was very distressed by this news.

First, Nehemiah prayed; he prayed as we all should pray—asking God to forgive his errors and that His will might be accomplished. He petitioned God openly and honestly for what he felt on his heart. In this case, it was that the wall of the city be restored and the Temple and people be safe. This was truly a great prayer.

Nehemiah did far more than just pray, however. Our devotional verse closes with this, “For I was the king’s cupbearer.” Nehemiah had a plan and was ready to leap into action. He understood the need, he prayed for the need, and he looked at how he might actually be the instrument God had selected to fill that need. Nehemiah brought something that we all can possess; he brought something that requires no training or knowledge at all. He brought his willingness and availability. If we bring that and offer it to God, He will take care of the little details like skill and ability. Are we available?

JUST A THOUGHT: God does not always call the equipped, but He always equips the called.

 

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The People Return to the Land of Promise

by Wally Fry

Sunday, March 17

The People Return to the Land of Promise

Ezra 8:31-34

“And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days,” Ezra 8:32.

The second wave of Jewish returnees from the captivity had arrived in Jerusalem. After some months of travel from Persia to their homeland, they entered Jerusalem. God’s plan to restore His nation has taken another step forward.

Much more happened here than just a bunch of people hitting the road and moving out. I think we can see a good model for us here of how God’s work, even today, should be carried out.

Ezra, the man called by God, prayed, prepared and made himself ready to proclaim the truth to the people. He made an assessment of the spiritual condition of the assembly and exhorted them to take a look at themselves (Ezra 9; 10). The people were honestly convicted of their trespasses, repented and committed to turning in another spiritual direction (Ezra 9:15). Only then did the work begin and the trip to Jerusalem was made.

This could not have been an easy trip, being some months long through likely hostile territory, into what was also probably an unfriendly place; yet, it was done. Then, the people rested; they “abode there three days” (Ezra 8:32). On the fourth day, they began working again.

What a great example for us today! God still has a plan and purpose, and He still needs those among His called out assemblies to get it done.

JUST A THOUGHT: God has work to be done. Are we in the proper spiritual condition and willing to do it?

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-Rejoicing in the God of Our Salvation

by Wally Fry

Saturday, March 16

Rejoicing in the God of Our Salvation

Habakkuk 3:1-19

“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” Habakkuk 3:18.

Habakkuk had quite the interaction with God. He had seen the events that were unfolding. He had seen God clearly foretell Judah’s judgment, and even the judgment of the people God used to exercise judgment on His own! He had questioned God, and even somewhat challenged Him on the nature of His promise keeping to His people. By the time we get here, the prophet had been told a lot. Yet, in this prayer he keeps on asking for mercy from God. Has the prophet gone too far? Not at all!

God expects persistent prayer even when we understand what His plan is and even when it might not be the way we would have caused things to unfold. Sometimes, praying in the will of God is far more than simply hanging our heads and taking what He dishes out; we keep talking in order to learn and bring ourselves on board with His will. So, even knowing what God has planned, Habakkuk continues to plead for God’s mercy.

God knows and preserves His own. While we may face chastisement and rebuke for our bad choices, in the end, if we are His, we remain His. That is the ultimate mercy, is it not? I suspect Habakkuk, during the course of his very own prayer, came to this realization. The prophet wraps up by acknowledging that—despite what was coming—the people could always rejoice in the Lord and the salvation He offers. We can, too.

JUST A THOUGHT: Prayer never dictates God’s will or actions; it teaches us how to understand and love His will and desires.

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-Judgment on Evil Nations

by Wally Fry

Friday, March 15

Judgment on Evil Nations

Habakkuk 2:5-20

“Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the 
remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein,” Habakkuk 2:8.

Even though this prophecy took place as the Babylonians were rising to power, God knew what their future would hold. The Babylonians would carry away Judah, hold it captive seventy years, and they would themselves be displaced by another. This is exactly what happened when the Persians under Cyrus defeated the Babylonian empire and ascended to preeminence. Of course, it was ultimately the Persians who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. God’s got this, and God is in control! He knew and foreordained exactly how things would unfold in order that His plan would be accomplished.

It’s hard to imagine the grimness facing the Jews as they watched the world falling under the conquering Chaldeans and knowing their turn was coming. While things may seem tough on us, they very likely are not, and will not be that bad. Nonetheless, it is easy to lose hope occasionally.

Our story is not the same as the story of the Jews, and we do not have the same national relationship with God that they did. Despite this, there are clear lessons for us in these Old Testament accounts. A lot of years passed before the Babylonians met the judgment they deserved, but it did come. God’s promises never fail. We can look into the past and see the promises that came to be, and look ahead to see the promises to come; we can know beyond a doubt that God promises will come to pass!

JUST A THOUGHT: We know God has done every single 
thing He said He would do; we can also know He will do all the things He has said He will do.

 

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The Need For Patience in Times of Trouble

by Wally Fry

Thursday, March 14

The Need for Patience in Times of Trouble

Habakkuk 2:1-4

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” Habakkuk 2:3.

People can be strange in their outlook about getting out of trouble. When we get caught and suffer a consequence, we are quick to expect to be released from the suffering caused by our own actions! Judah had erred, and deserved the consequences of its long-term actions; even a casual reading of the history of the time shows that. Sometimes long-term actions have long-term consequences. Often, just because we change our ways and turn in a positive direction, but it will not change those circumstances. We can be committed to a changed life, but things from the past continue to unfold.

The Jewish nation as a whole was going to suffer mightily; this likely included those who were living righteously; yet, all would suffer the effects of the coming judgment.

Even today, the just often suffer along with the unjust. The things that seem to assail us hit all of us; in fact, sometimes they seem to affect the faithful even more. So, what are the faithful to do? That answer is simply that we are to remain faithful and steadfast in the Lord. God instructed the prophet Habakkuk to preserve his vision so that all would know God’s Word came to pass. We likewise have a Word from God in the form of His Holy Bible. We can also know that what He promises in His Word will come to pass at an appointed time.

JUST A THOUGHT: As the song says: “Farther along, we’ll know all about it; farther along, we’ll understand why.”

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The People Who Took Judah Captive

by Wally Fry

Wednesday, March 13

The People Who Took Judah Captive

Habakkuk 1:1-17

“For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their’s. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves,” Habbakuk 1:6, 7.

At the time of this prophecy by Habbakuk, history was turning quickly. The kingdom of Judah was at a low point. Sin, idolatry and lawlessness were the norms in the land, and God was about to exercise judgment on the nation. Parts of the judgment against Israel had seemingly already started. The Chaldeans (Babylonians) were rising to their position as the preeminent world power, and the prophecy was that they would be God’s tool and means of judgment on Judah.

The question seems logical: why would God be using a godless people to judge God’s people? In fact, Habakkuk had a dialogue with his Lord concerning that very issue. Today, Christians feel similar pressure. We often feel as if we are beset from every direction by those who do not acknowledge the Creator of the universe. Clearly, we are much like those in the time of Judah. Sin, idolatry and lawlessness are the norms today among many of God’s own. God has not changed His mind about these things, and He will judge them eventually. Why would He use the heathen to accomplish this then, and why now?

This is a two-part answer. On the most basic level, God is God and is fully entitled to accomplish His will in any fashion He chooses. Maybe, it is also because God’s people simply have ceased to listen. If His own will not hear Him, then perhaps the use of the godless is the only way to make us hear?

JUST A THOUGHT: When we stop listening, God may have to speak more loudly.

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-A Need for Spiritual Renewal

by Wally Fry

Tuesday, March 12

A Need for Spiritual Renewal

Ezra 9; 10

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to 
me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites,” Ezra 9:1.

The biggest failure of God’s people has not changed in millennia; we persist in turning away from God and towards the world around us. God calls us to be separate, yet we constantly and consistently fit in more with those we live among than we do with God’s desires for us to be separate and apart from the world.

Just recently at our own church, we had what we loosely term a revival. Like the Israelites we had built our building, gathered together and made our offerings. Physically, we were the ultimate in preparation for service to God. I have no doubt that our preacher for the week made an assessment of our spiritual condition. I also have little doubt that he found us lacking just as Ezra did with those he was responsible to shepherd. I know for a fact that he preached and exhorted us to have an actual spiritual renewal as individuals and as a local assembly of believers.

By themselves buildings mean nothing, finances mean nothing and regular faithful assembling together means nothing. We can have an overflow of all of those things; yet, if we leave them behind after a couple of hours once a week and go back to being just like the world around us, they are nothing but empty shells. It is time we take our own spiritual assessment and respond accordingly, either by proclaiming the message ourselves or reacting to the proclamation of others.

 

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-Those Who Returned with Ezra

by Wally Fry

Monday, March 11

Those Who Returned with Ezra

Ezra 8:1-20

“These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king,” Ezra 8:1.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, they did not just all pack up one day and move back; they returned in several stages or waves of returnees. Ezra and the roughly fifteen hundred men, plus families, represented the second wave of those returning. Zerrubabel was the first, Ezra the second and Nehemiah was to be the third. Like those before, Ezra was willing to step out in the face of what must have been extreme uncertainty and execute God’s plan for His people.

It is easy to imagine that many had serious misgivings when various prophets started announcing to them that God had revealed a plan to return to their homeland, and He was looking for those willing to go. The Jews had been in Babylon for seventy years; for some Babylon was their homeland. There were likely at least a couple of generations of Jews who knew nothing of their old homeland other than what the older generations had told them, or perhaps what they had read in accounts of the times. Many were probably quite comfortable and perfectly happy for all things to remain the same.

Even today, we need Zerrubabels, Ezras and Nehemiahs; we need leaders willing to step up and proclaim what God has put in their hearts. We need people willing to respond to those exhortations, leave their comfort zones and step out by faith into the unknown. Where do we stand?

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Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The Blessing of Spiritual Reflection

by Wally Fry

Saturday, March 9

The Blessing of Spiritual Reflection 

Psalm 119:59-60

“I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments,” Psalm 119:59, 60.

God has a work, and He has a plan. As we see from the very beginning of humankind to the present day, people do not always go along willingly with God’s plan. God teaches us that His plan will come to pass; yet, it also teaches that we play a role in those plans and their success. Can we reconcile these thoughts? When God’s people get with the plan, we see time and time again that things move forward quickly and the people are blessed.

“I thought on my ways” (verse 59). Before we even try to move forward with God’s plan, we have to understand where we stand in the first place. Next, the psalmist said, “Turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” Once we know where we stand, God’s Word provides the place we need to go when determining what comes next. Finally, the psalmist “made haste, and delayed not” (verse 60). God’s plans are eternal through the ages; yet, they have an urgency for His children right here and right now!

There is an urgency for us today. Those folks knew that the Messiah was coming. Some recognized Him and some did not, but they expected Him. We now know that the Messiah, Jesus, did come; we also know from God’s Word that He is coming back. We desperately need to think on our ways, turn to His Word and make haste. Time for this lost and dying world is running out.

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