Loyalty

Introduction: David’s son Absalom is trying to take the kingdom from him. Instead of fighting his son, David is going to run away. He doesn’t want to fight his son.

David’s people and servants are going to run away with him. One of his servants, Ittai, is a new man. He has just arrived the day before. David tells him to stay behind. David doesn’t want to make Ittai and his family travel so much when they had just arrived the day before. Let’s see what we can learn from this story.

Reading: 2 Samuel 15:13-23

Did Ittai go or did he stay behind? Ittai said he would go with his king. He was more loyal to the king than Absalom, the king’s own son. That loyalty and faithfulness is something God wants in all of us.

There will be many tough times ahead for people, and especially for children of God. The Lord says that people who follow Him will be hated by the world (1 John 3:13). And this imperfect world will bring us pain and sadness sometimes. But we should be loyal to our King. When we are loyal during battle, then our King will reward us when our battles are over.

MY HEART IS FIXED

My heart is fixed, my mind is made,
I shall not ever be afraid,
Love conquers fear, our God will do
What He has promised me – and you. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bible History, Courage, Government, King/Judge, Work. Comments Off on Loyalty

Christ’s Sacrifice

Reading: Isaiah 53:4-9 (older children can read the entire chapter)

Imagine that you are a young prince in the Middle Ages. What are the many advantages that you would have? I think one of the best ones would be your own personal whipping boy. Imagine not ever getting punished for anything, but instead having someone around to stand in for you and receive your punishment! “Yes, Father, you are right, I did steal a cookie…. Mickey, hold out your hand for Father to spank.”

Now tell me, if that were happening today, who would you pick to be your whipping boy? Do you have someone in mind? Would you pick your best friend, a stranger, or an enemy? What if you were someone’s whipping boy? For whom would you be willing to do that service?

These verses in Isaiah show us the punishment that Christ received in place of men. We cannot compare Him to a mere whipping boy, because the punishment He received was far greater, and led to His death. Yet He received it willingly. How do these verses describe what happened to Him? How do they describe His willingness?

Can you imagine a prince being a peasant’s whipping boy in the Middle Ages? Yet Christ the King took the punishment for man, whom He created.

I hope that today you will think hard about the sacrifice that Christ made for men. When sin lies heavily upon our hearts, there is a wonderful hope waiting for us: the knowledge that Christ has already borne the punishment for it. These verses in Isaiah are dark and sad, but they also contain a wonderful, saving message.

For Further Study:

  • Read Isaiah 53:1-3. Christ did not have the kind of face or body that seemed “kingly.” In fact, most people who knew Him on earth were amazed at how “ordinary” in appearance He was. Read Matthew 13:54-58; John 1:45-46; and Mark 15:16-20. What do these verses tell us about the power of the gospel? What do they tell us about the faith of Christ’s followers? What do they tell us about the way we should think of appearances, family ties, and worldly accomplishments?
  • Read the account of Christ’s trial & crucifixion from one of the gospels today: Matthew 26:47-27:56; or Mark 14: 43-15:41; or Luke 22:54-23:49; or John 18:12-19:30. Note how the prophecies in Isaiah 53 were fulfilled.
  • How willingly do you (or don’t you) receive punishment? How would you feel and act towards your sibling or friend, if they willingly and silently received punishment that was intended for you?

Our Advocate

Reading: Psalm 51: 1-4

 

Do you know where the courthouse is in your town?  In our town, it is right in the very center of the business district, a very beautiful building with tall pillars and many steps leading up to the front doors.  Sometimes there is much traffic and activity in front of the courthouse, as people bustle in and out with their papers and briefcases… but once you walk inside, there is a reverent quiet, for you are not allowed to speak loudly or cause a scene in a courthouse.  Serious business goes on there as different cases are heard, and judges often make decisions that affect people’s entire lives.

 

Have you ever been inside a courtroom?  They are beautiful in an austere way.  The judge sits at the front at a high desk.  There is a small area in front of him that must be kept clear of obstructions, and no one may trespass this area without permission from the judge.  Then there are tables and seating for the parties whom the judge will hear.  Behind them is usually a railing; again, this keeps uninvited persons from approaching the judge.  The audience may sit behind this railing, although sometimes the judge forbids an audience.  In certain trials, there is an area to the side for the jury.  These citizens are called on at times to make decisions about the guilt or innocence of a person.  However, the judge still presides over the trial.

 

It is a formidable thing to approach a judge.  Imagine approaching a high desk and having to look up, up, up at a person who holds your fate in his or her hand; with one word, your future is decided.  You may not speak without the judge’s permission, and every word and action from you is weighed.

 

The judge knows what you have done.  The judge knows the laws of the land and the options for your punishment or release.  Wouldn’t you want someone standing next to you who also knows those things – and not only these things, but all the good things you have done as well, your dreams and intentions, and the future good you wish to do?  That is why people hire lawyers.  Lawyers know how to speak to judges and plead their cases for them.

 

I have told you this story so that you could understand not just the importance of obeying the laws of your land, but also the importance of obeying your own Judge, the Creator and Heavenly Father, who sits on high and sees every thought and deed of mankind.  It is a formidable thing to approach this Judge, but we have a great Comfort – we have a “lawyer,” an Advocate, who can speak to the Judge for us.  And not only that, but this Advocate is His very Son, Whom He loves, and who earnestly entreats the Judge for mercy and love on behalf of the little children who need Him so.  He wants to be our Brother and Friend, if we would but listen to His words, which give us warning and guidance through life’s many battles and trials.  Then we may approach the Judge with confidence, knowing we have One to plead our case for us.

 

The next time you drive past a courthouse, remember the beauty and the importance of its function, and that we need not fear judgment if we have a Friend beside us.

 

 

For Further Study:

  • Find a Bible that has descriptions before each Psalm (you can search online for a New American Standard or New King James if you don’t have one in your home).  What was happening in David’s life when he wrote this Psalm?  Read the story of David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11-12.

 

 

  • Read 1 John 2:1-2.  Look up the definition for the word “advocate.”  What does an advocate do?  Do some research into modern-day advocates.  Try to find examples of advocates who volunteer their services.  Why do they do what they do?  What motivates them?  What kind of risks do they take?  Whom would you be willing to be an advocate for?

 

Posted in Government, King/Judge, Repentance & Forgiveness, Savior. Comments Off on Our Advocate

A Foolish Young Man

Reading: 1 Kings 12:6-15


Once upon a time a young man decided to leave home and make his fortune in the world. So he bid his mother and father farewell and set off across the land. He came to a foreign country and decided that he would settle there and find work. During this time he rented a room above a little store. In the daytime, he worked at the docks, unloading goods from the ships for a few pennies a day. He made friends with the other workers, young men with dreams like himself. He was a strong young man, and he worked hard, so that by and by he was able to save up some money.


The young man thought to himself, “I have enough money now to buy some land and build a house. Once I have those things, I can perhaps find a wife and start a family.”


Eventually he found just the right piece of land. There was room for a house and barn, plus fields for planting and meadows for grazing the sheep that he imagined he would raise. By now the young man had made himself known at the docks for his diligence, and being put in charge of the other laborers, he was able to earn even more money.


The young man decided that the time had come to build his own house. He had never done this before. But it didn’t seem difficult. He consulted with others at the docks and was told that a certain gentleman in the area was known for having built many houses. The man was hiring laborers; perhaps he would like to be hired on and learn the trade? But two of his good friends told him that they would help him build a house. It was easy, they said – a door, some rooms, some windows, a roof – what could be hard about that?


The young man continued to rent his little room above the store, but after work every day he and his friends would go to his piece of land and work on the house. It was a fun project. Sometimes they had a contest to see who could build the fastest. During this time the young man met a lovely girl, the daughter of the merchant who owned the store above which he resided. They spent time together and quickly fell in love. The merchant gave them their blessing, and they held a pretty little ceremony on the beach, not far from the docks, where the young man now oversaw and managed the unloading of goods from every ship that landed at their seaside town.


After their wedding and a honeymoon at sea, the young man brought his bride to their home on the farm. As tradition dictated, he was to carry her in his arms over the threshold. Alighting from their carriage, the young man picked up his bride and proceeded to carry her to the house. He had not seen the house for a month. Walking up to it, he noticed with alarm that the roof was sagging and the windowpanes had fallen out of their frames. Several bricks were loose, and – horrors – the very door under which he was to carry his beloved looked very much in danger of caving in over their heads! Embarrassed and afraid, he realized the folly of trusting those without experience or wisdom with the blessings he cherished most.


For Further Study:

  • Read Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, and 20:18. Is it a sign of weakness to ask others to help you with a problem? When it comes to listening to others, what’s the difference between a wise person and a fool?

  • Read 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9, and Titus 2:1-2. These list qualities that older people should have. How do these virtues help older people be wise counselors for the younger people? For example, if someone is hospitable, it means they like spending time with others and having them at their home. How does this make it easier for them to give advice? How does this make others want to get advice from them?

  • How can you grow up to be a wise old man or old woman? In 50 or 60 years, your older friends at church will be gone; will you be ready to take their place? Pray to God about it. Pray for the older people in your congregation. See if you can invite an older couple over, or send them a friendly note.

Posted in Elderly, Government, Humility/Pride, Talents, Youth. Comments Off on A Foolish Young Man

Being Right with God

Reading: Judges 17:6-13

Introduction: Once there was a Levite looking for a new place to live. Do you remember that Levites were to have their own special cities? What was the job of the Levites? Why wasn’t this Levite taking care of the temple like God had commanded? We don’t know why this Levite was wandering around, but I have an idea. Verse 6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” What did the men in this story do instead of obeying God?

“Doors” was written by Bruce S. Wright and published in The Children’s Six Minutes in 1922. Now out of print, it is available free online.

DOORS

This morning, after you were awake, you passed through your bedroom door. Then you went through the bathroom door. Later you entered, through a door, the dining room….Every day you are passing through various doors. What wonderful things doors are! I wonder who invented doors. What would we do without doors?

There are doors to houses and there are doors to life. Let me tell you about them. A door is made of wood….The doors of life are made of our will. By the exercise of our will we open and close whatsoever doors of life we choose.

The doors of our houses swing on hinges. Heavy doors seem as light as a feather because they are so delicately hung upon hinges. The hinges of the doors of life are made not of brass or iron, but of love….

What about the lock? Yes, doors have locks. So also have the doors of life. Can you guess what locks the door of life? It is faith. If you have faith, faith in God, faith in the Saviour, faith in things that are true and pure, you need never fear that your house of life will be broken into by burglars. You are secure if you have the lock of faith. Now here is a strange paradox, namely–you lock your door only by opening it. Open your door to the Master.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice
and open the door, I will come in to him,
and will sup with him and he with me.”
Revelation 3:20

Memory Verse: …let us not love with _____ or with _____, but in _____and _____. 1 John 3:18

For Further Study:
Have you ever looked at an optical illusion? Have you ever watched a magic trick? You know that your eyes can fool you. That’s why God does not want us to rely on what “looks” right to us. Read Genesis 3:6; Luke 12:16-21; and James 4:13-15.

Journal:
You can pray to God to help you “see” things the right way. God wants us to have a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). God doesn’t want us to be unsure (1 John 2:3). What things are you unsure about in your life? What would you like God to help you figure out? What (and who) has God given you to help you through life?

Posted in Government, Humility/Pride, Priesthood. Comments Off on Being Right with God

God’s Wonderful Family

Reading: 2 Samuel 9

“Now look at what I’ve done,” said Judy. She held up her knitting for Mary to see. “I’ve missed a stitch down here and I’ll have to unravel the whole thing and start over.”

Mary looked at the red and blue scarf that her sister was knitting. Unfortunately, the mistake was too obvious in her sister’s pattern.

Judy began pulling unraveling the scarf. Mary watched as the colorful yarn came curling out of the scarf. Mary helped by winding the yarn into a little ball while her sister pulled. Little by little, the scarf became shorter as the ball became larger. “It’s too bad you can’t just undo it down there where you missed a stitch,” she said sorrowfully.

Judy shook her head and said with a sigh, “It doesn’t work that way with knitting. You can’t just cut and patch it like a piece of fabric. It won’t be as strong afterwards. Do you see how the yarn winds in and around itself because of the way I’ve knit it? It’s very strong. I want this scarf to last and last.” Judy’s hands paused for a moment and she looked at her little sister. “Do you remember that this is the way God described Jonathan and David’s love for each other? In the book of 1 Samuel, He said their hearts were knitted together.”

“I didn’t remember that,” said Mary, looking at the length of scarf still left on her sister’s lap. When knitted correctly, the scarf would last her for many winters. “What a nice, strong friendship they must have had.”

“It was. And when David found out that Jonathan’s little boy was in need, David took care of him. He remember his love for Jonathan, and this made him love David’s little boy.”

“That was a very nice thing to do.”

“But Mary, that’s the way we’re supposed to be with God’s people. When anyone in God’s family is in need, He expects the other members of the family to help. We should be that way with our church family. It’s a great comfort and blessing.” Judy held up her scarf and smiled. “If we’re knit together correctly, our love will last and last!”

I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people…
And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18

For Further Study:

  • Read Acts 2:41-46. How did the early Christians show that they were a family?
  • How does it feel in your own family when….
    ….someone doesn’t show up for a meal, without explanation? See Hebrews 10:24-25 and think of what this does to God’s family.
    … or when family members argue constantly? See 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 and imagine people in the Lord’s family acting that way.
    ….when people do not properly handle their problems with one another? See 1 Timothy 5:1-2, and also verse 19, and imagine what that does in God’s family.
    ….when the children do not submit to their elders? Read Hebrews 13:17 and think of what that would be like at church.
  • Do you think of your church as your family? Do you think of God looking down and wondering how His children are behaving? Do you treat people at church better or worse than your own brothers and sisters at home? Ask God to help you be more loving and patient with others. Think of some things you can do for others at home and in the church so that God will be pleased.
Posted in Benevolence, Church, Family, Government, Humility/Pride, Jealousy, Kindness, Love. Comments Off on God’s Wonderful Family

Kings & Camels

Reading: 2 Chronicles 26: 14-21

“Jacob, I must have your help,” said Jacob’s grandmother. “My eyes are simply too weak to thread my needle, and I need to sew this button onto your shirt.”

Jacob went to his grandmother and threaded the needle for her. In return, she gave him a hug and her thanks. “Now, Jacob, do you think you could put a camel through the eye of my needle?”

Jacob laughed, “Oh no, Grandmother! Not even a toy camel from my Noah’s ark set can go through your little needle!”

“That’s right,” said his grandmother. “Jesus said that it is as difficult for a rich man to enter heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

“Why did Jesus say it would be that hard?” asked Jacob.

“Well, I believe it is because a rich person would have a harder time trusting in God. When a person gains and owns many things, he is more likely to trust in himself. You remember the lesson of King Uzziah, who had a great army and many weapons. He became so sure of himself that he thought he should be a priest also. He thought he should be allowed to enter the temple and offer sacrifices. But do you remember what happened to him when he did this evil thing?”

Jacob nodded. “God made Him very sick.”

“Yes. And in the end, Uzziah lost all those wonderful things he had as a king. He should have been thankful to God for his blessings, and used them to obey God, instead of being so proud and disobeying God’s law.”

Jacob looked at the little needle in his grandmother’s hand as it flew in and out of the button on his shirt. “Grandmother, how can a camel go through the eye of a needle?”

“It’s impossible, my child. But with God, all things are possible. And if a man trusts in God instead of his riches, then he can enter the kingdom of heaven, just as easily as you threaded this little needle for me.”

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with the food that is my portion,

Lest I be full and deny Thee and say,”Who is the Lord?”

Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

~ Proverbs 30:8-9

 

For Further Study:

  • The Bible has many warnings against honoring ourselves instead of God and others. Read Proverbs 11:12, 16:18, and 25:6-7; also Matthew 23:12. Compare these with the description of Christ from Philippians 2:5-8.

 

  • Why did Azariah thrust Uzziah out of the temple after seeing his leprosy? Do some research into what the Scripture said about leprosy, both in the Old Testament and the New.