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 »

Covetousness

Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-10

The following story was written by Thornton W. Burgess and published in Mother West Wind “Why” Stories in 1915. Now out of print, the book can be read free online.


WHY BUSTER BEAR APPEARS TO HAVE NO TAIL


Peter Rabbit had something new to bother his bump of curiosity. And it did bother it a lot. He had just seen Buster Bear for the first time, and what do you think had impressed him most? Well, it wasn’t Buster’s great size, or wonderful strength, or big claws, or deep, grumbly-rumbly voice. No, Sir, it wasn’t one of these. It was the fact that Buster Bear seemed to have no tail! Peter couldn’t get over that. He almost pitied Buster Bear. You see, Peter has a great admiration for fine tails. He has always been rather ashamed of the funny little one he has himself. Still, it is a real tail, and he has often comforted himself with that thought.


So the first thing Peter did when he saw Buster Bear was to look to see what kind of a tail he had. Just imagine how surprised he was when he couldn’t make sure that Buster had any tail at all. There was something that might, just might, be meant for a tail, and Peter wasn’t even sure of that. If it was, it was so ridiculously small that Peter felt that he had no reason to be ashamed of his own tail.


He was still thinking about this when he started for home. Half way there, he paused, saw that the way to the Smiling Pool was clear, and suddenly made up his mind to ask Grandfather Frog about Buster Bear’s tail. Off he started, lipperty-lipperty-lip.


“Oh, Grandfather Frog,” he panted, as soon as he reached the edge of the Smiling Pool, “has Buster Bear got a tail?”

Grandfather Frog regarded Peter in silence for a minute or two.


Then very slowly he asked: “What are your eyes for, Peter Rabbit? Couldn’t you see whether or not he has a tail?”


“No, Grandfather Frog. I really couldn’t tell whether he has a tail or not,” replied Peter quite truthfully. “At first I thought he hadn’t, and then I thought he might have. If he has, it doesn’t seem to me that it is enough to call a really truly tail.”


“Well, it is a really truly tail, even if you don’t think so,” retorted Grandfather Frog, “and he has it for a reminder.”


“A reminder!” exclaimed Peter, looking very much puzzled. “A reminder of what?”


Grandfather Frog cleared his throat two or three times. “Sit down, Peter, and learn a lesson from the tale of the tail of Old King Bear,” said he very seriously.


“You remember that once upon a time, long ago, when the world was young, Old King Bear ruled in the Green Forest, and everybody brought tribute to him.” Peter nodded and Grandfather Frog went on.


“Now Old King Bear was the great-great-ever-so-great grandfather of Buster Bear, and he looked very much as Buster does, except that he didn’t have any tail at all, not the least sign of a tail. At first, before he was made king of the Green Forest, he didn’t mind this at all. In fact, he was rather pleased that he didn’t have a tail. You see, he couldn’t think of any earthly use he would have for a tail, and so he was glad that he hadn’t got one to bother with.


“This was just Old Mother Nature’s view of the matter. She had done her very best to give everybody everything that they really needed, and not to give them things which they didn’t need. She couldn’t see that Mr. Bear had the least need of a tail, and so she hadn’t given him one. Mr. Bear was perfectly happy without one, and was so busy getting enough to eat that he didn’t have time for silly thoughts or vain wishes.


“Then he was made king over all the people of the Green Forest, and his word was law. It was a very great honor, and for a while he felt it so and did his best to rule wisely. He went about just as before, hunting for his living, and had no more time than before for foolish thoughts or vain wishes. But after a little, the little people over whom he ruled began to bring him tribute, so that he no longer had to hunt for enough to eat. Indeed, he had so much brought to him, that he couldn’t begin to eat all of it, and he grew very dainty and fussy about what he did eat. Having nothing to do but eat and sleep, he grew very fat and lazy, as is the case with most people who have nothing to do. He grew so fat that when he walked, he puffed and wheezed. He grew so lazy that he wanted to be waited on all the time.


“It happened about this time that he overheard Mr. Fox talking to Mr. Wolf when they both thought him asleep. ‘A pretty kind of a king, he is!’ sneered Mr. Fox. ‘The idea of a king without a tail!’


“‘That’s so,’ assented Mr. Wolf. ‘Why, even that little upstart, Mr. Rabbit, has got a make-believe tail.'”


Grandfather Frog’s eyes twinkled as he said this, and Peter looked very much embarrassed. But he didn’t say anything, so Grandfather Frog went on.


“Old King Bear pretended to wake up just then, and right away Mr. Fox and Mr. Wolf were as polite and smiling as you please and began to flatter him. They told him how proud they were of their king, and how handsome he was, and a lot of other nice things, all of which he had heard often before and had believed. He pretended to believe them now, but after they were through paying their respects and had gone away, he kept turning over and over in his mind what he had overheard them say when they thought he was asleep.


“After that he couldn’t think of anything but the fact that he hadn’t any tail. He took particular notice of all who came to pay him tribute, and he saw that every one of them had a tail. Some had long tails; some had short tails; some had handsome tails and some had homely tails; but everybody had a tail of some kind. The more he tried not to think of these tails, the more he did think of them. The more he thought of them, the more discontented he grew because he had none. He didn’t stop to think that probably all of them had use for their tails. No, Sir, he didn’t think of that. Everybody else had a tail, and he hadn’t. He felt that it was a disgrace that he, the king, should have no tail. He brooded over it so much that he lost his appetite and grew cross and peevish.


“Then along came Old Mother Nature to see how things were going in the Green Forest. Of course she saw right away that something was wrong with Old King Bear. When she asked him what the matter was, he was ashamed to tell her at first. But after a little he told her that he wanted a tail; that he could never again be happy unless he had a tail. She told him that he hadn’t the least use in the world for a tail, and that he wouldn’t be any happier if he had one. Nothing that she could say made any difference–he wanted a tail. Finally she gave him one.


“For a few days Old King Bear was perfectly happy. He spent all his spare time admiring his new tail. He called the attention of all his subjects to it, and they all told him that it was a very wonderful tail and was very becoming to him. But it wasn’t long before he found that his new tail was very much in the way. It bothered him when he walked. It was in the way when he sat down. It was a nuisance when he climbed a tree. He didn’t have a single use for it, and yet he had to carry it with him wherever he went. Worse still, he overheard little Mr. Squirrel and Mr. Possum making fun of it. And then he discovered that the very ones who admired his tail so to his face were laughing at him and poking fun at him behind his back.


“And then Old King Bear wished that he hadn’t a tail more than ever he wished that he did have a tail. Again he lost his appetite and grew cross and peevish, so that no one dared come near him. So matters went from bad to worse, until once more Old Mother Nature visited the Green Forest to see how things were. Very humbly Old King Bear went down on his knees and begged her to take away his tail. At first Old Mother Nature refused, but he begged so hard and promised so faithfully never again to be discontented, that finally she relented and took away his tail, all but just a wee little bit. That she left as a reminder lest he should forget the lesson he had learned and should again grow envious.


“And every bear since that long-ago day has carried about with him a reminder–you can hardly call it a real tail–of the silly, foolish discontent of Old King Bear,” concluded Grandfather Frog.


Peter Rabbit scratched one long ear thoughtfully as he replied: “Thank you, Grandfather Frog. I think that hereafter I will be quite content with what I’ve got and never want things it is not meant that I should have.”


For Further Study:

  • Read Colossians 1:9-12. If David could have read these verses before seeing Bathsheba, how would they have helped him avoid sin?

  • What do you wish you could have/own? What are the things you wish you had money to buy? It’s so hard to deny yourself things, but we can’t own everything we want. And today we studied about how miserable David made himself by wanting something and forgetting all the things he already had. What do you already have? What are the things you can focus on being thankful for so that you won’t dwell on the things you wish for?

On The Sin of Deception

Reading: Proverbs 12:17-22

 

Today’s reading focuses on the way a wise man should speak.  A wise man will tell the truth.  What do these verses teach us about being truthful?  What happens when people lie and deceive?  How does God react when we lie (verse 22)?

 

Many people don’t realize that as soon as we open our mouths, we show ourselves to be a servant of God or a servant of the world.  One way we do this is to be honest and sincere.  Whether we’re having to give good news or bad, our words must be from the heart, without deception. 

 

The following story was written by Thornton W. Burgess and published in Mother West Wind “Why” Stories in 1915.  Now out of print, the book may be read free online.

 

WHY MR. SNAKE CANNOT WINK

 

 

Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck were playing tag on the Green Meadows. Of course Peter can run so much faster than Johnny Chuck that he would never have been “it” if he had tried his best to keep out of the way. But he didn’t. No, Sir, Peter Rabbit didn’t do anything of the kind. He pretended that one of his long hind-legs was lame so that he had to run on three legs, while Johnny Chuck could use all four. It was great fun. They raced and dodged and twisted and turned. Sometimes Peter was so excited that he would forget and use all four legs. Then Johnny Chuck would shout “No fair!” Peter would say that he didn’t mean to, and to make up for it would be “it” and try to catch Johnny.

 

Now it happened that curled up on a little grassy tussock, taking an early morning sun-bath, lay little Mr.  Greensnake. Of course Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck were not afraid of him. If it had been Mr. Rattlesnake or Mr. Gophersnake, it would have been different. But from little Mr. Greensnake there was nothing to fear, and sometimes, just for fun, Peter would jump right over him. When he did that, Peter always winked good-naturedly. But Mr. Greensnake never winked back. Instead he would raise his head, run his tongue out at Peter, and hiss in what he tried to make a very fierce and angry manner. Then Peter would laugh and wink at him again. But never once did Mr. Greensnake wink back.

 

Peter was thinking of this as he and Johnny Chuck stretched out in a sunny spot to get their breath and rest. He had never thought of it before, but now that he had noticed it, he couldn’t remember that he ever had seen little Mr. Greensnake wink, nor any of Mr. Greensnake’s relatives. He mentioned the matter to Johnny Chuck.

 

“That’s so,” replied Johnny thoughtfully. “I never have seen any of them wink, either. Do you suppose they can wink?”

 

“Let’s go ask Mr. Greensnake,” said Peter.

 

Up they hopped and raced over to the grassy tussock where Mr. Greensnake lay, but to all their questions he would make no reply save to run out his tongue at them. Finally they gave up asking him.

 

“I tell you what, let’s go over to the Smiling Pool and ask Grandfather Frog. He’ll be sure to know, and perhaps, if he is feeling good, he’ll tell us a story,” said Peter.

 

So off they scampered to the Smiling Pool. There they found Grandfather Frog sitting on his big green lily-pad just as usual, and Peter knew by the look in his great, goggly eyes that Grandfather Frog had a good breakfast of foolish green flies tucked away inside his white and yellow waistcoat. His eyes twinkled as Peter and Johnny very politely wished him good morning.

 

“Good morning,” said he gruffly.

 

But Peter had seen that twinkle in his eyes and knew that Grandfather Frog was feeling good-natured in spite of his gruff greeting.

 

“If you please, Grandfather Frog, why doesn’t Mr. Greensnake wink at us when we wink at him?” he asked.

 

“Chug-a-rum! Because he can’t,” replied Grandfather Frog.

 

“Can’t!” cried Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck together.

 

“That’s what I said–can’t,” replied Grandfather Frog. “And no more can Mr. Blacksnake, or Mr. Rattlesnake, or Mr. Gophersnake, or any other member of the Snake family.”

 

“Why not?” cried Peter and Johnny, all in the same breath.

 

“Chug-a-rum!” said Grandfather Frog, folding his hands across his white and yellow waistcoat, “if you will sit still until I finish, I’ll tell you; but if you move or ask any foolish questions, I’ll stop right where I am, and you’ll never hear the end of the story, for no one else knows it.”

 

Of course Peter and Johnny promised to sit perfectly still and not say a word. After they had made themselves comfortable, Grandfather Frog cleared his throat as if to begin, but for a long time he didn’t say a word. Once Peter opened his mouth to ask why, but remembered in time and closed it again without making a sound.

 

At last Grandfather Frog cleared his throat once more, and with a far-away look in his great, goggly eyes began:

 

“Once upon a time, long, long ago, when the world was young, lived old Mr. Snake, the grandfather a thousand times removed of little Mr. Greensnake and all the other Snakes whom you know. Of course he wasn’t old then. He was young and spry and smart, was Mr. Snake. Now there is such a thing as being too smart. That was the trouble with Mr. Snake.  Yes, Sir, that was the trouble with Mr. Snake. He was so smart that he soon found out that he was the smartest of all the meadow and forest people, and that was a bad thing. It certainly was a very bad thing.”  Grandfather Frog shook his head gravely.

 

“You see,” he continued, “as soon as he found that out, he began to take advantage of his neighbors and cheat them, but he would do it so smoothly that they never once suspected that they were being cheated. Mr. Snake would go about all day cheating everybody he met. At night he would go home and chuckle over his smartness. It wasn’t long before he began to look down on his neighbors for being so honest that they didn’t suspect other people of being dishonest, and for being so easily cheated.

 

“Now one bad habit almost always leads to another. From cheating, Mr. Snake just naturally slipped to stealing. Yes, Sir, he became a thief. Of course that made trouble right away, but still no one suspected Mr. Snake. He was always very polite to every one and always offering to do favors for his neighbors. In fact, Mr. Snake was very well liked and much respected. When any one had been robbed, he was always the first to offer sympathy and join in the hunt for the thief. He was so spry and slim, and could slip through the tall grass so fast, that he could go almost where he pleased without being seen, and this made him very bold. If he did happen to be found near the scene of trouble, he always had a story ready to account for his presence, and it sounded so true, and he told it in such an honest manner, that no one thought of doubting it.

 

“So Mr. Snake found that lying helped him to cheat and steal, and all the time he kept thinking how smart he was. But even Mr. Snake had a little bit of conscience, and once in a while it would trouble him. So what do you think he did? Why, cheating had become such a habit with him that he actually tried to cheat himself–to cheat his conscience! When he was telling a lie, he would wink one eye. ‘That,’ said he to himself, ‘means that it isn’t true, and if these folks are not smart enough to see me wink and know what it means, it is their own fault if they believe what I am telling them.’ But always he took care to wink the eye that was turned away from the one he was talking to.

 

“Dear me, dear me, such terrible times as there were on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest! They grew worse and worse, and when at last Old Mother Nature came to see how all the little people were getting along, she heard so many complaints that she hardly knew where to begin to straighten matters out. She had all the little people come before her in turn and tell their troubles. When it came Mr. Snake’s turn, he had no complaint to make. He seemed to be the only one who had no troubles. She asked him a great many questions, and for each one he had a ready reply. Of course a great many of these replies were lies, and every time he told one of these, he winked without knowing it. You see, it had become a habit.

 

“Now, with all his smartness, Mr. Snake had forgotten one thing, one very important thing. It was this: You can’t fool Old Mother Nature, and it is of no use to try. He hadn’t been talking three minutes before she knew who was at the bottom of all the trouble. She let him finish, then called all the others about her and told them who had made all the trouble. Mr. Snake was very bold. He held his head very high in the air and pretended not to care. When Old Mother Nature turned her head, he even ran out his tongue at her, just as all the Snake family do at you and me to-day. When she had finished telling them how cheating and stealing and lying isn’t smart at all, but very, very dreadful, she turned to Mr. Snake and said:

 

“‘From this time on, no one will believe anything you say, and you shall have no friends. You will never wink again, for you and your children and your children’s children forever will have no eyelids, that all the world may know that those who make a wrong use of the things given them shall have them taken away.’

 

“And now you know why little Mr. Greensnake cannot wink at you; he hasn’t any eyelids to wink with” finished Grandfather Frog.

 

Peter Rabbit drew a long breath. “Thank you, oh, thank you ever so much, Grandfather Frog,” he said. “Will you tell us next time why Bobby Coon wears rings on his tail?”

 

“Perhaps,” replied Grandfather Frog.

 

 

 

 

For Further Study:

 

  • Today’s story by Thornton Burgess was about a snake that lied.  Can your emember another snake who lied in the Bible?  See Genesis 3.  Who was this serpent?  The Bible calls the devil “the father of lies” (John 8:44).  When we tell lies, we aren’t being like our Heavenly Father, but instead are following the habits of the devil.  That is why it makes God so sad when we don’t tell the truth.

 

 

  • Here are some other verses about the sin of lying: Psalm 5:6; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:0; Revelation 21:8

 

  • Think about what the world says about “white lies,” “fibs,” and other ways to gloss over this sin.  Does God see a difference in “big” and “little” lies?
 

 

 

  • Is there some area of your life that is tempting you to be deceptive?  Perhaps with your schoolwork, your relationships, or the chores & responsibilities entrusted to you?  Think about these things, and how you can strengthen your faith so that you can be more truthful and trustworthy.
Posted in Beasts & Birds, Holiness/purity, Honesty, Humility/Pride, Love. Comments Off on On The Sin of Deception

Obeying His Word

Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-10

Introduction: In the book of Deuteronomy, God repeats the laws that he previously gave to Israel. He does this so that the people can remember what they must do to follow Him. He also repeats His promises to them, so that they will continue to have faith. He tells them that He will cause them to defeat their enemies, that He will give them the land He had promised, and that He will provide all they need when they enter that land (verse 5).

God expects the same of us today. First, we have to be careful to learn the Bible. That way, we can learn to follow it completely. When we obey Him, it spreads His Word to others through our example and teaching. And God still expects parents to teach their children His Word.

The story “Cutting Corners” was written by Howard J. Chidley and published in Fifty-Two Talks for Boys and Girls in 1914. Now out of print, the book is available free online.

CUTTING CORNERS

Have you boys and girls ever noticed how all the curbings at the corners of the streets in the city are worn smooth by drivers of carts and wagons trying to cut the corners as closely as possible?

But the principal thing to notice about those curbs is that you will often find on them the paint, sometimes red and sometimes black or yellow, scratched off the wheels of these carriages that are so anxious to cut corners. And the wheels that cut corners soon get to looking shabby from lack of paint.

That is the way it nearly always happens with people who try to cut corners. I know boys and girls who try it in school.

They try to skim through by doing just as little work as possible. They cut the corners as closely as possible with their lessons, so that they can have time for play. They do that with the work in subtraction, and then, when they get into multiplication or division, they have all sorts of trouble. And soon their arithmetic looks very shabby indeed.

Other boys and girls try to cut corners with the truth. They see just how near a lie they can come, and yet keep within the bounds of truth. Something inside tells them it is not quite fair. And again, when that happens, they have rubbed some of the bright, beautiful paint, so to speak, off their consciences. And before long their consciences get to be quite shabby, and not at all new, and people begin to say that they don’t quite trust that boy or girl.

And so I say to you, boys and girls, it does not pay to cut corners. Give yourselves plenty of room. Be open and fair and industrious. For one who cuts close corners as a boy or girl, usually grows up into a very small sort of man or woman.

For Further Study:

  • Verse 6 says that the nations would notice how the Israelites were led by God. People who obey God are noticed. Sometimes they’re persecuted for obeying God, but many times their life of peace and joy in God makes a good impression on others and makes others want to know more about Christ. Read these verses to see what a good influence we can be in the world for God: 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:6-8; 1 Peter 3:1.

 

  • Can you think of how different religions have added to these ~ Matthew 19:9; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 3:16. Can you think of how they’ve subtracted from these ~ 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 20:7

  • What’s your favorite flavor of pizza? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Imagine that you went somewhere for pizza or ice cream, and the server decided to add other toppings, or add a different flavor to it. Imagine that he left something out. How would you feel? What would you do? If you talked to the server about it, and he just shrugged and said, “Oh well, that’s the way I like it,” what would that tell you?
Posted in Holiness/purity, Honesty, Humility/Pride, Jealousy, Joy, King/Judge, Love. Comments Off on Obeying His Word