Doing Good

Reading: Luke 6:27-38

The following tale is an excerpt from the story “Metempsychosis.”  This tale can be found in the book, The Wonderful Pocket and Other Stories which was written in 1869 by Chauncey Giles.  Now out of print, the book can be read freely online.  It is an interesting story that encourages young boys and girls to do good to others.

METEMPSYCHOSIS

“O Father!” said little John Clive, “what is the meaning of this long, hard word?”

“What word?” asked his father.

“I cannot pronounce it. It is too long and hard for me,” said John… John brought the book to his father.

“That is metempsychosis.”

“Me-temp-sy-cho-sis,” said John, pronouncing it very slowly. “What a long, hard word! It must have a big meaning, I am sure. But I don’t see what they make such long, hard words for.”

“They make them to express ideas,” said his father.

“Well,” replied John,” metempsychosis must express a bigger idea than I ever had.”

“Very probable,” said his father; “but it contains a very interesting one, nevertheless; and when I have explained it to you, I will tell you a very strange dream I had about it last night.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Loving our Neighbors

Reading: Matthew 5:21-26

Is it easy to make things right with those around you? Is it easy to “agree with your adversary”? Romans 15:2 tell us to “please our neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” When we can put aside differences, it builds up our faith and the faith of those around us. When we refuse to do so, it displeases our Lord.

The following story is excerpted from Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty. The book was published in 1891 and can be read freely online.

THE LAW OF THE WOOD

“NEVER!”

What a word to be heard in a wood on an early summer morning, before the sun had quite struggled through the mists, and before the dew had left the flowers and while all Nature was passing through the changes that separate night from day, adapting herself gently to the necessities of the hour…. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anger, Beasts & Birds, Humility/Pride, Kindness, Plants. Comments Off on Loving our Neighbors

A Little Footstool

Reading: Isaiah 66:1-2

What kind of picture do these verses put in your head? Do you have a footstool? What do you use it for?

Sometimes in this busy world it is hard to remember that God is ruling over us. There are so many things that make us forget. We have our worries, our chores, and our responsibilities, and sometimes it feels like God is very far away.

We have to remember that God is all-present and all-powerful. He made all things, and therefore He can control all things. Even in a world of sin and sadness, He says that He will be with us.

God is so powerful that one day He will destroy this earth, His footstool, just as easily as you can break up a little footstool yourself. Can you imagine having that much power over this earth? That alone should make us tremble at His Word (verse 2).

However, for the man who is humble and contrite in spirit, God’s power is an awesome and comforting thing. The person who is humble, contrite, and fearful knows that the all-powerful God is on His side. God is looking at him and wants to take care of him. Is that what God wants to do for you?

The next time you need a chair or footstool to reach something, remember that it serves you, just like we should serve God, and obey Him in all things. For He rules over us with wisdom and lovingkindness, wanting all men to obey His Word.

For Further Study:

  • Today’s reading talked about being humble. What does it mean to be humble? Do you know any humble people? Read these other promises that God makes to the humble: Proverbs 22:4; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 18:4. Did you notice that last verse? Children are an example to Christians of being humble! How special you are in the sight of God!
  • I’m afraid that sometimes we become too “used” to God. Sometimes people tend to make Christ their “pal,” instead of giving Him the proper honor that He deserves. This reading today reminds us that the Father and Son are worthy of our fear and awe. Read Psalm 135:20; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Jeremiah 2:19; 1 Peter 2:17.
  • How can you be more humble? What makes it hard to be humble? What can you pray to God about being more humble?
Posted in Earth, Heaven, Humility/Pride, King/Judge, Skies, Worship. Comments Off on A Little Footstool

On Eagles’ Wings

Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31

Do you know any children who are smaller than you? When I was growing up, I was always the smallest one in my class. And now that I am an adult, I am still the smallest in my class. In fact, if you ever met me in person, you would see that I am actually smaller than some children, even though I am quite older than a child. I have always been a very small person. Perhaps that is why I sympathize with little children, who are often told to hurry up, catch up, and grow up. Has anyone ever said this to you? It’s hard to do that when you’re small.

These verses from Isaiah tell us not to worry about being small and weak. You see, we have a strong and mighty God who wants to help us. He is Everlasting, and has known us from our smallest beginnings. He is the Creator, so He knows everything that might hurt us or harm us. Bigger, stronger people may stumble at the problems and trials of life, but we have One who wants to lift us up on eagles’ wings.

Unlike me, YOU will probably grow quite a bit more in your lifetime. And then do you know what? Perhaps you will shrink when you are older. My grandmother became smaller when she grew older. Her bones became frailer, and she stooped lower. I wonder if that will happen to me as well? But it doesn’t matter. I will still have the same Heavenly Father to lift my faith and help me feel strong enough to face the difficulties of life. I hope that, big or small, you will too!

For Further Study:

  • Have you ever seen an eagle? I’ve seen them at the zoo, but not in the wild. The eagle is used to describe swiftness and power in the Bible. Read Exodus 19:3-6; 2 Samuel 1:23; Job 9:25-26; and Proverbs 123:5. What things are likened to eagles in these verses? What can we learn about God’s power and goodness from them?

  • What are the things in your life that make you feel weary? Perhaps there are some responsibilities, activities, and even relationships that are tiring you. What can you pray to God about these things?
Posted in Beasts & Birds, Courage, Elderly, Hope, Loves children, Patience, Savior, Youth. Comments Off on On Eagles’ Wings

The Lord’s Highway

Reading: Isaiah 35:8-10

“I think we are lost,” said Michael to his older brother. He tried not to sound too scornful, but the sun was hot, and he was tired.

The boys had taken a picnic lunch and gone riding through their ranch all morning. Now they were heading home on their horses. But lately there had been no familiar landmarks. The sun was right above them, so they could not use that as a guide.

Matthew scanned the horizon for something familiar, perhaps a windmill or a hill that would tell him where they were. He tried not to look worried. He knew that if they stayed gone too long, their family and ranch hands would come looking for them. However, he didn’t like the idea of being stuck in the wilderness waiting for them, especially when it grew dark. He knew there were wild animals roaming about, as their ranch land covered thousands of acres. Fortunately, the days were long, and they would have several hours more to try and reach home before the coyotes and mountain lions emerged.

Suddenly Michael pointed at something shiny on his left. “Look at that streak of light. What do you think it is? The river?”

Matthew looked carefully for a while to make sure of what he saw, then said a silent prayer of thanks. “That’s the highway. And praise the Lord, it’s on our left-hand side. That means we’re headed in the right direction. We’ll turn a little bit so we come closer to it, but we’re going the right way, Michael. We should be home in about an hour.”

Michael was relieved. He knew that if they had turned their backs to the highway by mistake, their travels would have taken them many miles away from home. “It’s a good thing I saw that.”

Matthew agreed. And though he didn’t admit it, he felt a lot safer knowing where they were headed.

For Further Study:

  • Here are some other verses about walking on the Lord’s way: Proverbs 4:11; Proverbs 16:17; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 25:10; Psalm 119:35; Matthew 7:14. How do we know that we are walking on the right path for God? What has He given us to guide us? Think of the opposite of these verses – what are people like, and what is life like, when His way is not followed?

  • At what times in your life have you felt spiritually lost? Has there been something you are doubting or fearing? Is there something in the future that worries or scares you? Let God know about it today.
Posted in Beasts & Birds, Inspiration of the Word, Pilgrims/pioneers/immigration. Comments Off on The Lord’s Highway

Our Hearts of Clay

Reading: Isaiah 29:13-16

One of the most interesting toys in our home is an electric child’s pottery wheel that was given to us by a relative. It’s been great fun learning how to make things on it. However, pottery is not something that is undertaken easily. Have you ever looked at a piece of pottery? Perhaps in your home there is a cookie jar, clay jug, or some other shaped vessel. Even a plate is an amazing thing if you think about it ~ to think that a perfect circle could be formed so smoothly and evenly! I didn’t appreciate this until I attempted to make one of my own.

Pottery clay is a tricky thing. Ours came in a plastic bag and we had to cut off chunks of it that could be easily managed. Then it had to be kneaded and warmed by our hands so that it would be pliable enough to work with. We had to squeeze the air bubbles out of it and, sometimes, drip water onto it to make it the right consistency ~ not too wet and not too dry. The children were impatient. When could they use the pottery wheel? “Not yet, for if you tried to make something of this clay before it’s ready, it would not form properly. There would be air bubbles in your piece which would make it less strong.”

Finally, we could put our lump of clay on the wheel and start it spinning. The clay felt so nice and cold in our hands. But oh, what was happening ~ the wheel spun too quickly, we’ve pressed too much on this side, and now our piece is turning into a cone. Stop the wheel… mash the clay… start over. This happened many times.

We were able to make two lumpy little bowls that day. One is painted beautifully and sits on my kitchen counter, holding marbles and bracelets and game pieces, or whatever else I pick up from the kitchen floor for my children to put away. The other little bowl was dried and painted, but then promptly broke when we set it on the counter. We don’t know why. How sad to lose something for which we had worked so hard!

It’s no wonder that God compares our hearts to clay. Do they conform freely to His will? Do they struggle within His hands, wishing to follow their own tradition? Do they sin and show others by their behavior, “He did not make me”? Do they act like pretty little pieces but then shatter at the first sign of stress?

Now that I think about it, we haven’t used our pottery wheel since that first time. My children say it is too difficult. Perhaps in a few years they will have bigger hands ~ and more patience!

For Further Study:

  • Read Jeremiah 18:1-12. How did God show the Israelites that He was “the potter”? How did His “clay” behave?

 

  • Verses 13 and 14 from today’s reading are repeated in Matthew 15:8-9. Jesus used those verses to show that the Pharisees were hypocrites. They told others to follow God, but they did not follow God themselves Read the verses preceding these. What tradition were the Pharisees doing? What law of God were they breaking?

 

  • What have you done lately to show that you are “good clay” in your Father’s hands? What have you done that may have declared to others, “He did not make me”? What can you pray about these things?
Posted in Earth, Heart, Humility/Pride, Inspiration of the Word, Worship. Comments Off on Our Hearts of Clay

Surviving Difficulty

Reading: Isaiah 17:1-8

As I write this Bible lesson, it is December in West Texas. This is a deceptive month, for some days it is bitterly cold, and some days it is as sunny and warm as an April morning. We may leave the house at breakfast in coats and jackets, then abandon them in the afternoon to play in the park; yet by nightfall, it is time to light a fire in the fireplace.

This is the time that our trees are losing leaves and the garden has been put to bed. Yet, one may see a few brave flowers in the fields. Birds that are flying south for the winter stop here to sing. We see these little reminders of the warm weather, before the January frost arrives. They remind me of these verses in Isaiah.

God says that difficult times will come for His people. Sometimes these include trials and distresses, persecution and wars. But God said He would strengthen His people, and that some would survive. Those are the “gleanings” left in the field, and the “four or five branches” left on the fruitful tree. Those are the ones whose faith remain intact. Could that be you? When things are difficult, will you be that brave little flower in the field, that bird still trilling his song into the gray December sky? Pray that your faith will grow in strength and wisdom, so that you can be a certain reminder of God’s love to those around you.

For Further Study:

  • The idea of a “remnant” is that God would allow some of the faithful Israelites to survive, because Christ was coming from this people (remember the theme of the Old Testament?). See Isaiah 1:9; Jeremiah 23:3; and Ezekiel 14:22. God gave these words to be a hope to His people Israel.
  • In a sense, Christians are a remnant as well. Do you sometimes feel like you’re in the minority because you serve God? There was a young person in the Bible who might have felt the same way, but who stayed loyal to Christ and His cause. Young Timothy traveled with Paul and “stuck with him” even when others didn’t. You can read about him in Philippians 2:19-23.
  • Talk to an older person this week about his or her life in Christ. What things have helped them remain faithful? What things have shaken their faith? What advice could they give you about staying true to God?
Posted in Beasts & Birds, Bible History, Courage, Hope, Joy, Patience, Plants, Savior, Skies, Wars, Weather. Comments Off on Surviving Difficulty